Monday, January 11, 2016

"If we have Grandparent's Club, I'll bring my grandpa's ashes."

I still remember sitting on the stool in the hallway during passing period when I heard two 7th grade girls talking about a bible study. Haleigh Devoe was just a 7th grader in my class and I barely knew her yet. Of course I asked more questions and discovered that a group of her friends met every other Friday morning at her house. It didn't take long before I was there every other Friday too. After they moved on to HS, I started leading a new bible study at Julia Dewolf's house with friends like Alli Sams, Erin King, Kegley and Malena. The next year I was asked to lead two different groups and alternated weeks between Audrey Andritsch's friends and Maddie Halkyard's group. I met with those crews for two years and got to spend so much time with the girls that are now freshmen. 

Last semester was the first time in five years that I hadn't led a bible study. It was a great break, but over Christmas I decided that it was time to start something again. 

"Faith is at it's best when it's owned... Living a life fully engaged and full of whimsy and the kind of things that love does is something most people plan to do, but along the way they just kind of forget... It has all the potential you bring to it-- nothing more, nothing less.. To find out just how much that is, all you have to do is show up. You don't need a plan; you just need to show up."  I was ready to show up again. 

This time I was the one doing the organizing. I thought about who I had in class first semester, who has been coming to Wyld Life and FBC, who their friends are. All of that brought us to this morning with our first meeting of the new Love Does girls: Molly, Megan, Lydia, Mallory, Claire, Ellison, Evie, Paige, Libby Grace, Brynn, Brooke, Maddie and Jordan. I'm so excited about spending this next semester with them. 

It's our first Monday back in school which means that Young Life is finally back too. Since the roads and hill on the way out to the Barn are really icy we met at the Dewolf's house instead. Talk about a party. 

 We love the Barn, it's been such a huge gift that HSE YL can meet there, but there was something so cozy and fun about meeting in the house tonight. Everyone piled in the basement, curled up on couches, packed together on the floor, squeezed into the booth.

This YL family is one of my favorites-- full of friends of different ages, different friend groups, different stories. I love how the group shifts a little bit every week but everyone is always welcome here. I love that Anna Cooke showed up tonight, that Rachel always brings Grace now, that boys came even when the National Championship was on, that Alana quit dance and can be here every week now. 

There are people in this room who have become some of my dearest friends. I've got so much respect and admiration for Olivia Kegley. She's an incredible big sister and the most encouraging teammate I've ever witnessed on the court. Haleigh Devoe has been my friend since the very start, we've partnered together as the Dream Team half a dozen times and I love her spirit for adventure and discovery. We've only got a semester left together here and it will be hard to see her leave because she's become such a huge part of my heart.

Finally back together, Ryan led us in singing and announced that we would have a Twitter poll to vote on our next Club theme. Will it be "Bachelor Club" or "YL Camp in a Club Club" next time?

Will Michaelis loves Young Life.

I went upstairs with my group of girls when we broke up into small groups. In Jeremiah 1:5 it says that God knew us even before we were in the womb and that we were appointed with a purpose. In the Message version of Jeremiah 29 it says, "I’ll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for me, you’ll find me."

We were talking about purpose--how to figure yours out, how long your purpose lasts, if you can have more than one, if it's a concrete thing or more of an idea-- and then decided that we should do the two word purpose activity that Julia and I did last week with her mom. We found paper and markers and all the girls worked through the bracket to find the words that best resonated with them.

Haleigh- unearthing treasure
Erin King- being true
Olivia Kegley- revealing passion
Alli Sams- inspiring joy
Emma MacAbee- imparting wisdom
Sarah Wright- celebrating life
Liz Huston- embracing grace
Hools- inspiring joy
Hailey Hess- bringing light
Hannah Hutch- celebrating life
Genna- realizing value
Anna Cooke- expanding territory
Alana- celebrating life

We decided to each share the thought process that made us stick with those words till the end. I loved hearing each girl speak, obviously passionate about the words they ended up with.

Here's what I'm thinking through right now. I think it's true that I've been called to work with teenagers and that has been lived out as a camp counselor, a YL leader and a teacher. But I think maybe that's different than my purpose. The words I ended up with are Celebrating Life. Those words can be lived out through my calling, they can be central to who I am today, 5 years from now and 20 years from now. Maybe our purpose can transcend different seasons of our life. Or maybe I would have picked completely different words 10 years ago and I'll change again 10 years from now.

Right now, we can work on living out our purpose each day. Today I will celebrate life. For me that looks like finding the small things to be excited about. It's celebrating life in others as I greet them, ask them how they're doing and live life with them. It's making choices about how I spend my time so it's all about showing up, make things that matter and living the best story that I can.

Getting to be with the older girls tonight was awesome, but at the same time I missed getting to see and connect with my freshmen girls that were in a different group downstairs. I'm so thankful for these kids that show up week after week to Campaigners--they're choosing to make this a priority in their life and growing in faith and community. I'm the luckiest to get to have a part in that.

The greatest surprise of night was conspiring with Emma and Hannah, CILTs from Session 2, to have them show up tonight. They drove across town to be here and Hools and I were ecstatic. We love when we get to live life together.

Ryan is back from spending the last week in Orland for #YL75. He brought me back a Toms friendship bracelet which is amazing. Ryan cracks me up and I'm thankful for his friendship.

It's Day 10 of the Dewolf sleepover and it's looking like it's also the last day. When I visited the apartment today it was full of painters and people working on the kitchen floor. So if the cleaners show up tomorrow I'll be able to move back in and try to figure out the chaos I left behind.

Hools and her family have been the most gracious hosts. Thank you Hools for letting me take over your room and embracing your basement apartment. Thank you Jeff and Janelle for letting me invade your home and feeding me. Thank you Jack and Lucy for being equally entertaining. I love your fam. 

Honorable Mention Blog Titles:
"My mom likes to say that I wasn't an accident, I was a blessing. But my dad says I was an accident."
"My friends say my guitar is like a 13 year old Trapper Keeper."

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