Thursday, March 31, 2016

"I always try to throw something into the conversation and hope it'll end up on your blog."

Today was awesome. Not only did Spring Break start as soon as the final bell rang, but Haleigh, my cadet teacher, came to the Clubhouse for the WHOLE day. And our school had our first ever Activity Period to reward all of the kids with great behavior this past 9 weeks.

Each teacher planned an activity i.e. recess, minute to win it, movie, kickball, friendship bracelets, service project, concession sales, etc. Kids signed up online for the Activity Period they wanted before those 25 spots ran out. I'm sure you could predict that my room was friendship bracelets, best friend necklaces and Netflix.

Activity Period got even better when the snack cart rolled by with pop, candy and chips-- only $1 each. And these 7th and 8th graders could buy as much as they want. One boy in my room bought three Mountain Dews and said, "I hope that's enough." 

Earlier this morning our administration sent us an email with instructions that started with, "Have fun today with students. Today is all about creating positive relationships with students. I challenge you to get to know someone that you don’t know very well." Gosh, I just love the Clubhouse. 

(I will be traveling to Ethiopia with a team of 9 people through YL Expeditions this week. I'll be back with pictures and stories when we return to the states.)

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

"Now what you really want, is a chocolate quinoa cake."

One of the greatest privileges of being a teacher is not just showing up to school to see my kids every day, but getting to be a Wyld Life leader to a handful of those students. When I started college I didn't know if I'd pursue a career in teaching or student ministries. God had a bigger perspective and made a way for me to work at a public school and do ministry with both Junior High and High School kids.  

Being a Wyld Life leaders looks a lot like building relationships. The beauty is that it happens slowly and often you don't even realize it's happening until you've got this whole crew of friends. Girls like Marcella who come from other Junior Highs and can't wait to reunite at the next event. Sarah and Jayla who I've known for over a year and have been living life with them. Brooke and Claire who I just met this year but I already know will be close friends for years to come.

With Spring Break just a day away, we wanted tonight to be a way for leaders and kids to just hang out. Friendship Bracelets. Basketball. Coloring books. Dance party. Sitting on the porch. Sometimes no set agenda is just what we need.

We were thrilled that our gal pal Tiffany came to the barn for the very first time. Sometimes trying something new can be a little intimidating, but she hung out with Jayla and Grace the whole night and I'm sure she'll be back again soon.

This crazy, weird, funny life is totally living the dream. KCraig, the rest of the leaders and I are all about hanging out with these kids, getting to know them better and hopefully continually pointing them back to Christ.

Tonight KCraig gave a Club Talk that was just beautiful and incredibly applicable. I told her she's ready to give talks at summer camp-- especially because no distraction from J can ever phase her. (See how he just watches her adoringly?)

Kathy told our kids that leaders are here asking them questions and trying to be their friend because that's exactly what Jesus did. And for most of us, we had a leader that befriended us and introduced us to Christ. Now we want to do that for someone else.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

"Problem solved. Everyone can breathe now." Tecumseh Tuesday Moments

Highs of the Day:
1. Sending funny letters to fun people
2. Dinner and ice-cream with Liz
3. Only 3 more sleeps till Ethiopia!
4. Packing everything for Spring Break and just knowing that part is done
5. "Shhh! It's Tuesday!" on Libby Grace's forehead

On this #TecumsehTuesday I'm thinking about moments at Summer Camp. Not about specific people at that make Tecumseh so special, but the little moments that so many of us can relate to, some of the reasons we think this place is the greatest. 

The moment in the check-in line when you find out the names of your counselors and cabin.

The moment you snap on your new blue band after swim checks.

The moment when your name gets called to receive your 5-year bandanna at Opening Campfire.

The moment when you're walking to the lake, ready to sprint to the blob line with your lake buddy. 

The moment when your clinic runs through the entire hip hop routine for the first time with the music.

The moment you start to hear the chapel song as you walk through the woods to the Green Cathedral.

The moment when your counselor, carrying the biggest care package, brings it to your bunk at the start of rest hour.

The moment when you counselor surprises you and says something like, "Main Field is filled with Easter eggs! Go!" and everyone runs.

The moment you hear, "Color Guard at ease!" and everyone screams.

The moment one counselor lights the candle in the middle of the circle and the other counselor turns off the cabin lights.

The moment when you hear the distant drum announcing the coming of the Chief and you hear the Torchbearers start crying.

The moment when you see your parents car coming around the circle to pick you up.

What moments would you add to the list?

Monday, March 28, 2016

"Your forehead is brighter than my future."

I really love these kids and our time together on Monday mornings. Today we practiced putting the chapters we read into practice. First we talked about how, "Words of encouragement have their own power. The words people say to us not only have shelf life but have the ability to shape life." All 13 of the girls sent an encouraging text to a friend of mine that is going back to school today after being on Spring Break. Because she's a couple hours behind us, she woke up to the love bomb on her phone. 

Then we talked about how Jesus asks us to, "Give up that thing we're so proud of, that thing we believe causes us to matter in the eyes of the world, and give it up to follow Him." We actually went around and each said the thing we think other people define us by most often, "Swimmer... Dancer... The little sister... The principal's daughter..." Then we went around the circle again and said one word that describes how God defines us, "Caring... Creative... Determined... Artistic... Compassionate." The second round of words mean so much more.

In Love Does Bob talks about a game called Bigger or Better. You start with a penny and then trade people over and over to continue to get things that are bigger and better than what you had last. I gave each girl a pencil to start their trading with today. They ended up with masking tape, hand sanitizer, a battery, a pack of Swedish Fish, a marker, an apple, an art textbook, a basket, a pack of mints, Zebra duct tape and a ceramic bowl.

Tonight Young Life Club turned into a student section. We tailgated with hot dogs and popcorn, showed up in our sportiest outfits and got ready to cheer on our teammates.

We played a little corn hole, shot some hoops and hung out before the main event got started.

I love when Rachel shows up with Grace and I know they just had the most awesome karaoke in the car on the way here.

There's a break in cheer world so Maddie got to come tonight for the first and last time of the year. Cami is still on break from dance too so the whole gang was together.

Something very exciting has happened in the YL leader world. With the addition of Emily Kitchen (math teacher and softball coach), we now have a teacher representing Elementary (Abby), Intermediate (Jackie), Junior High (me) and High School (Emily). School is the coolest. 

On Monday nights there is no place we'd rather be than at the Barn hanging out with our friends.

Every kid and leader got in line to play the largest game of knock-out we've ever participated in.

Will was victorious. Later he also said, "This was the best night of YL ever."

Then we broke up in teams to retreive balloons, pop them while wearing oven mitts, grab the ping pong balls and then decipher the mystery word. RISEN!

My home girls claimed the prize.

Next we had four quarters of the craziest Kid v. Leader basketball game you've ever witnessed. In the 1st quarter we played with regular rules. In the 2nd quarter we cranked things up and teammates were tied together.

Things got a little crazy in the 3rd quarter. All of the players had to put panty hose over their whole head. They could still completely fine, they just looked pretty funny to the rest of us.

In the 4th quarter we threw six different balls onto the court-- now you could score with any of them at any time. Beautiful, utter chaos.

The kids won by a slim margin and Grace and Gracie took home the trophies.

Oh how I love this family.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

"But how does the milk become chocolate?! How does it happen!?"

Favorite quotes from "You're Going to Be Okay"

You may not be able to see the difference you're making, the lives you're touching, the joy you're bringing. But it's there. It's real. It's truer than true.

The moment you say yes to God and move forward into what he asks of you in the moment you become successful. Not when you hit the numbers. Not when you meet expectations. Not when you make heads turn. True success happens when no one is looking, when no one hears, in the quiet of your heart when there's only a divine invitation and an acceptance of it.

You'll want to quite. More than once. And fear is always at the root of it. You'll say, "I'm not going to make it. I can't do this. It's too much." But listen here-- you can do it. You're stronger than you know. Your God is bigger than you've seen. That hill isn't as unending as it seems right now. Just keep going and going and going. Until you leave fear and trouble in the dust. 

Change always costs us. There's simply no way around it. But here's the encouraging part: we can move through change and say either, 'What a waste' or 'That was so worth it.'

The nature of growth is that it comes with weeds. 

Here's the secret-- you're not a quitter. You're a climber. You just may not know it yet.

Highs of the weekend:
Dinner with some of my 7th grade bible study and going to see Miracles From Heaven together (we cried, a lot, it was really great)

Running into Brookie (from Cathedral), Devon (Carmel YL Alum), Molly (Tecumseh counselor alum) and Jeannie (co-teacher) at the mall

Reunion lunch with our friends Grace and Rachel who are just all kinds of creative, positive, kind and world-changing

Easter service at iTown and dinner with the Halkyards and Cecilia Saturday night

Easter service at Northview at starting the Easter Tour at the Dewolf house with my second family

Hanging out with Ellyn's family and especially Jarn on the Easter Tour-- plus the Easter egg scavenger hunt on a rope, calling for Heather, the joy of Paint and poking a dead fish with a stick

Finishing the Easter Tour at the Halkyards with Apples to Apples, a hail storm and the mystery of chocolate milk