Thursday, April 28, 2016

"Ok wait, I want to guess how many bracelets you've made this year... I'm going to guess really high... Like 50?!"

When ESPN looks back at the sports reel they're always pointing out all the highlights of the game, the stuff you don't want to miss. Little do they know, those sports guys are really talking about the highs of the day. After a tornado watch across Indianapolis the weather cleared and sports teams headed out to their fields and tracks and diamonds for their sporty things. Maddie and I headed to Zionsthrill to take in all the sports.

Maddie and Sar's ESPN Sports Games Highlights:

1. Chik-Fil-A Pre-game Dinner 

2. Walking into the track meet we saw Cal Pal and one of his little brothers. A CILT from Session 1 last summer and a new DC counselor, Cal is the greatest. He promised to stop by the Lax game later.

3. Fall Creek v. Heritage Christian v. Zionsthrill Junior High Track-- Alex Craig is in the house, Brookie Cookie is a champ, Jace and Tylin are BFFs with KCraig, Feldman got her Coke Zero and we cheered for all of our pals.

4. Maggie Big Girl Drake is the greatest-- she's been my go-to for all Zionsthrill spectator super fan opportunities. Mags breaks out the bleacher seats, blankets and sports passes like a champ. We're also not anything but proud about our matching socks with Chacos/Tevas.

5. People always talk about Friday Night Lights, but Thursday Night Lights are where it's really at.

6. Seeing the players after they finished up the game-- Emma Big Girl is our MVP, Annie Leonard gets enthusiasm and I was thrilled to see the Cathedral Lax Stars Katie Swanton, Kate Flynn and Grace Gregor.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

"Sometimes I cry because I love my dog so much."

These girls are my kind of gang. Wyld Life is my kind of thing. Campaigners is my kind of night. 

Tonight we watched The Gnomist together. It's a story about 3 different families and a magical Firefly Forest where little homes begin popping up overnight. It's a story about pain and tragedy. It's a story about compassion for strangers. It's a story about finding hope. It's a story about believing that life is beautiful and creating your own magic.

It's the most beautiful act of compassion that a stranger would notice our pain and do something about it.

In the beginning we did it for us. But once we saw the happiness it brought, we were hooked. Once you see that, once you're part of that, you want to do more.

We love you, we'll lift you, you'll find your way. 

We talked about how these small acts of love made a huge impact. In 1 Thessalonians 3 it says, "May the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people." Sometimes pain is a way our love increases, sometimes our love takes away other people's pain. Often, we finding healing, hope and love in community.

Tonight I sat in a circle with Payton, Sydney, Jayla, Mallory, Ellison, Marcella, Sarah, Olivia, Chloe and Caroline. They range from 7th grade to Junior year. We talked about the video, shared stories of pain in our lives right now and encouraged one another with where we've found hope in similar situations. Just witnessing these stories is a gift.

Each group came up with a list of the things that give them hope. Conveniently, after my group finished, Maddie came downstairs. "Dance parties" was one of the things on our list so Maddie turned on the music through the speakers. Soon all of the other groups had joined us for a spontaneous dance party to end the night.

 KCraig put some of what Wyld Life kids said on Instagram tonight...

My list of things that bring me hope:

friends coming out of hard things
handwritten notes
dance parties
little kids playing
Wyld Life girls
cool people making cool things
real talks
friends praying for me
surprises of great love
stories of forgiveness
laughing till we cry

What gives you hope?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

"Homework is over! Wanna celebrate? ICE CREAM! ICE CREAM! ICE CREAM!"

Belated-appreciation for the Love Does girls. There are not many kids I would wake up early for on a Monday, but they're always worth it. This time of year I'm always glad that we'll still be in the same school next year. 

This came in the mail today. I can't reveal what's inside just yet but it's FREAKING AWESOME. I'm stoked about it. 

After school I knew I was hanging out with Megalien. Little did I know that she was going to surprise me by bringing Chloe too. They're both more than a bit ridiculous and I love that they have no volume control. They also both crave meaningful conversations and intentional friends. I dig that.

So Chloe, Meg and I were just hanging out when we spotted Ryan and Conner walking across the parking lot to Subway. Of course we called them over. Then Ryan told us all about his daughter's resemblance to Julie Andrews and his plan to go drive around aimlessly with Conner and their delicious subs. As they walked away Meg said in a monotone voice, "Wow. That man is funny. I like him."

I met up with Rachel Phillips later for dinner. We'd just finished our food when YL leaders Lauren and Mike Feldman showed up-- a whole day of YL leaders overlapping.

Want to know the coolest thing that Rachel's doing? She's making this The Best Week Ever for two of her best friend. Each day she surprises them with notes, yellow flowers, paintings, a favorite food, "Hey Girl" Ryan Gossling signs in the bathroom and more surprises that they don't know about yet. She's the nicest.

Honorable Mention Blog Titles:
"Look at you guys, just doing your job."
"I didn't mean to write it. I didn't mean for the publisher to accept it. It just happened!"

Monday, April 25, 2016

"Wow, I guess people really want to feel loved." Love Tanks Spring 2016

This Storyline Post from my fav girl Shauna Niequist has stuck with me. She writes,  

"It doesn’t matter how you feel in your heart about your friends—what matters is showing those feelings through words and actions. Aaron had a college professor who said over and over, “It doesn’t matter how much you love your kids. What matters is communicating that love in a way that they can understand and feel that love.”

And the same is true for friendship. As it is true for marriages and all relationships. It’s so easy for me to feel warm, loving thoughts about friends or family members… and then go on about my day, never reaching out, sending a text, or setting a date to connect.

I think about them all the time, pray for them, and watch the details of their lives spool out over Facebook—first day of school photos, last moments of summer photos. I feel connected and warm, full of affection for these lovely people.
But how on earth would they know that?

I’ve been noticing all the times that I think loving thoughts about the people in my life… and then produce no corresponding action to show that love.

Now that I'm noticing it, I’ve sent more texts and emails, a couple old-fashioned letters. I’ve scheduled a walk and a coffee and a dinner. I’ve looked people in the eye and said, “I love you. I’m thankful for you.”

Because at the end of the day, Aaron’s professor is exactly right: It doesn’t matter how much you love someone. What matters is that they know it."

Once a semester at Young Life we gather together kids and leaders for Love Tanks. On this night we practice being intentional about making sure our people know we love them and are thankful for them. It's become a tradition that's anticipated like Christmas morning.

And people can't get enough of it. When we announce that it's Love Tank time the kids show up in packs. They might have been MIA the last few weeks or months, busy with sports or homework or a thousand other things, but on this night they wouldn't dream of missing Young Life.

They get their parents to let them skip practice. The Juniors and Seniors bring along underclassman. Suddenly the Barn is packed with more kids than we've seen in a very long time. Because we all have this desire in common don't way? The desire to be loved and to share that love. It's a rare opportunity and when it's being offered up like this you'd be crazy to turn it down.

A girl said to me tonight, "I just learned what Love Tanks is! No one can say anything mean to me-- that's awesome!" School isn't the safest place for her, but YL has become a community where she feels safe and loved. This may have been the first time that she would ever feel encouraged and supported like this.

Here's how it works:
Every person gets a brown paper bag that we call their Love Tank. You grab a stack of squares of paper and start writing your notes as fast as you can. You fill up the page with compliments, with memories, with hopes, with thank yous. You write until your hand cramps and scrawl your name at the end. Then you're on to the next note. There are so many people here and you want to write to as many as possible. 

Music blares through the gym as our piles of notes grow. "It's so stressful," a YL girl told her mom when she got back home. "You want to write to everyone and you just can't make your hand go faster." You know that you'll write to your best friends and to the leader that took you to camp last summer. But then you want to write to the girl who you want to become friends with, the person who is new to YL and may not know that many people, to the newest member of your volleyball team that you just started playing with.

When there are 5 minutes left, the room turns into a chaotic frenzy of note delivery. Everyone is buzzing around the room stuffing their stack of notes into the recipients' love tanks. Slowly the bags get full-- all of them-- no one gets left out. You might run back to write one last note so no one is forgotten.

Then we circle up, a giant hand-holding mob, to pray together before we head out. Love Tanks bags in hand, we head home, reminded of what it feels like to be intentional about loving others and being loved so well.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

"Real crossing of the Mexican border." CILT Summit

What: CILT Summit

Who: A collection of 20 HS teachers, coaches, full-time Tecumseh staff, CILT counselors and previous CILT campers

Why: As part of Tecumseh 5-year program improvement plan it's time to take a closer look at CILTs, one of camp's most popular programs, and find ways to take it to the next level

How: Design Thinking, facilitated by Eric Glanders

Highs of the weekend:

Reuniting with gal pals Jamie Z, Arielle, Ellyn, Shelby and Mel

Having a guy counselor from every single summer that I've been a CILT counselor at camp this weekend-- Eric (2008 and 2009), Beef (2010), Evan Frick (2011, we missed you Kraft), Morph (2012), Alex Allison (2013), Mike Jones (2014), Tim (2015) and Todd (2016)

Brainstorming in a whole new way

Evaluating with "I like... I wish... I wonder..."

Trying out the Human Barometer

Going to dinner with this whole gang and then to Cold Stone just like a night off

Sleepover in the TLC like DC staff training and battling in Fishbowl

Cycle of prototype, testing and iteration phases


Walking away with things to think about, ideas to develop, and tangible things that we can implement this summer for the CILTs of 2016

Honorable Mention Blog Title:
"My experience is a little different as most people I'm interviewing are middle aged women."

Friday, April 22, 2016

"He looks like a bag of granola." CLER Vision

Meet Rachel and Chloe. They're two of my favorite humans. I've known each of them since they were 7th graders and I can't say enough great things about them. One thing they share is a passion to travel the world with a mission focus. They're both preparing to go on grand adventures in the next few months and have a lot of money to raise before they leave. 

Earlier this year they were approached by another friend named Lauren. She's another Jesus lover and great explorer. She had an idea. What if Chloe, Lauren, Esmerelda (another friend) and Rachel all teamed up to join creative forces and raise money for all of their trips together. They ended up calling their efforts CLER Vision and have been working on projects ever since.

This year, because of these girls, we've gone to Chik-fil-a, bought t-shirts, gone to an open mic night at Mama Bear's and now this craft fair. 

There were tables full of different crafts that Lauren (and a few other friends) had made for this event. It's obvious that she had devoted an enormous amount of time into making this a success.

I walked away with these four beauties and I freaking love them all. As a crafter myself, I love finding treasures like these that are totally my style but might be difficult for me to duplicate on my own. These will immediately find a spot on the wall collages of art and pictures at home. 

I left CLER Vision with Cami, Samone, little brother Luke and cousin Caroline to go eat dinner at Chipotle. You can't have a bad time at Chipotle but this pair made it even more entertaining than usual.

p.s. I visited Wellness during 2nd period today and got to hang out with the gal pals Lauren and Haley. They let me play DJ so we were filling the gym with the musical gifts of Wannabe, Sk8r Boi, Everybody (Backstreet's Back), Baby and This is real, this is me. We really love Fridays.