Monday, October 31, 2016

The October Varsity FBC Project: Best Buddies

Varsity FBC is in year three of advanced friendship bracelet making. Our team includes 43 girls from around HSE and across the Midwest. One of our goals is to provide opportunities for these girls to partner together to do small things with great love. Each month I'm going to give them a project where they can make bracelets for a cause. Together we can make a bigger impact than if we were trying to do it on our own.

Best Buddies International is a nonprofit organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. 

I first learned about Best Buddies when I moved to Indy after college. I heard about HS students involved in the club who were spending their time hanging out with their special needs buddies both in and out of school. It blew me away and I wanted to know more. Some of them spend a class period working with these students, they go on outings, they give their buddy a ride to Young Life and in every case they form an authentic, genuine friendship.

This month, Varsity FBC has made friendship bracelets for buddies at HSE High School. I've got to know friends like Grace and Gracie, but most of these pals I haven't had the privilege of meeting yet. Our friend Hannah Dillon is the president of Best Buddies and will help distribute the bracelets to our friends.

Kaylee told me, "I fell in love with Best Buddies because of all the happiness in the room. I have met so many people and my heart is filled with joy when I see everyone smiling so big. Their impact on me is humongous and I can't describe how it feels."

Rachel Buckingham said, "Best Buddies is just an amazing social program which will truly give you your friends for life. Just being able to be apart of bridging the gap between disabled and non-disabled students is huge. If it weren't for Best Buddies and the Peer Tutoring program, these students would be isolated and distant from the rest of the school. But with Best Buddies, I got to go through my school day with them and be part of their lives. I got to know them and saw a whole different side of life. It's the most eye opening and life changing experience. I truly came out of it with my best friend for life."

Bracelets this month were made by Mollie Krone, Sophie Sams, Rachel Kent, Brooklyn Seagrave, Makenna Hoftiezer, Carolyn Nohren, Brooke Ratliff, Sarah Wright, Ellen Baker, Grace Eckhardt, Claire Shumaker, Izzie Wallace, Kate Shreck, Ellyn Hessong, Cassidy Ogan, Payton Snyder, Caroline Shumaker, Kendall Herron and Liza Herron

"And what was the most important day of Michael Jordan's life? Yes, when he got a $3 burrito at Chipotle and dressed up like himself from Space Jam."

Today is the day-- trick or treaters abound, Chipotle is selling $3 boo-ritos and costumes are everywhere. Last year I wrote about why Halloween feels a bit anti-climactic. But today I embraced all that is silly and fun.

I threw on some overalls and snagged a Tide Pod, 50's girl and Patrick to go to the land of burrito bowls. We sat in the parking lot and I read them Shauna Niequist's post Why I'm A Halloween Person. (You should read it-- totally worth your time) 

Life is full of opportunities to love someone well by loving their thing, not just your thing, by stretching across your preferences and opinions and comforts.

It’s so easy to love people who like all the same things you do—who never listen to music that makes you cringe, or who believe all the same things you believe. But love sometimes asks you to lay down your preferences, and dive into someone else’s world for a little while.

Sometimes that world is full of fake spiders. Sometimes it’s the ballet or country music or Russian novels. Sometimes it’s staying quiet when you want to talk, sometimes it’s giving space when you want to rush in. Love asks what’s best for the person you love, not what’s best or most convenient to you.

I want to be a friend, a teacher, a person who loves like that-- who will put down my preferences to love what someone else loves. Easier said than done right? But those people, the ones who do this well, are the ones I love spending time with. It's not that they let people walk all over them, but they can embrace any situation, celebrate your celebrations and make you feel loved and known.

Today I passed out candy and glow sticks, laughed with friends, sent letters in the mail and dressed up. It was a good Halloween my friends. I hope your day was a party.

Honorable Mention Blog Title:
To a kid wearing sombrero and poncho: "What are you dressed up as?"
Kid smiling: "Donald Trump's nemesis."

Sunday, October 30, 2016

"I'm just so excited to walk around and eat candy. Can we eat candy on the plane too? And in the hotel?"

Dictionary Day, aka the most brilliant way to celebrate Halloween at school without actually celebrating Halloween. Every kid in the building is assigned a word in their English class. On Dictionary Day they dress up as the definition of that word. The result is a building full of fantastic costumes and richer vocabulary.

Highs of the Weekend:

1. After school Steak n' Shake snack with Ellyn
2. Hanging out with Emily and Kath, celebrating National Breadstick Day and reminiscing about the good ol' days with Bieber fever and potholder headbands
3. A Saturday morning walk with Cass through the neighborhood
4. So much time to bracelet and watch my favorite TV shows and run and sleep in and all the most important things
5. Hanging out on a porch swing with christmas lights and talking to good people
6. Family dinner with Halkyard family
7. Spontaneous decision for the Halkyard's, Ruby's and Devoe's to all come to Mother Daughter Quilt Camp in December at Tecumseh

Thursday, October 27, 2016

"I picked #14 because of Troy Bolton."

Dear Johnna,
What did I ever do without you? This friendship was meant to happen. I loved having you sub at the Clubhouse today so that our paths could overlap multiple times. You're silly and compassionate and relational and kind and sympathetic and brave and all about the things that really matter. I'm already better for knowing you. And your new cheer girls are so gosh darn lucky to have you as a coach-- I wish I could be on that team. 

Dear FBC Gang,
7th graders-- I'm so impressed with you already. I love that you're working so hard to figure out these patterns, staying focused even when it's tricky and being your goofy, enthusiastic selves.
8th graders-- You're my kind of people and some of the best Falcons in the building. I hate not having you in class this year, so I love this hour of the week when we get to hang. Thank you for teaching the other girls, for helping me clean up and for making FBC so much fun.
Freshmen-- I'm so glad you came to visit today. You are some of the greatest friendship bracelet makers of your time and I love that you're still doing it. You never really grow up, so keep making friendship bracelets, making time for your friends and making each day worthy of a party. 

Dear Pen Pal gals, 
I'm going to go ahead and make a bold statement-- this could be my greatest year of pen pals yet. The envelopes. The letters. The speedy turn-around of correspondence. The random things you send in your notes. This writing revolution is a strong one. I love that our letters are criss-crossing the country making postal workers smile everywhere when they see your colorful handwriting and drawings. 

Dear Hools, Mads and Han,
It was just the best to be reunited tonight-- Han we're so glad you're back from Bama even if it's a quick visit. You're some of the greats my friends. I love that each of you care so much about your friends, that you strive to be yourself and that you want to see Jesus more. I pray that you will always find your identity and purpose in Him no matter where life takes you. Love each of you so much. Thank you for making our lives overlap. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

"I feel alive." Best Day Ever. Chicago Holland Indianapolis. Happy Maddie's Birthday.

Before School:
Maddie's 16 today!!!!! I picked her up at 6am and took her to IHOP for breakfast. Little did she know that Cami, Shub, Hools and Smelko were all there to celebrate too. Plus, Smelko brought a birthday balloon because balloons are hype.

"One of my goals for this year is to stay awake for an entire week."

We all shared something we love about Maddie, put candles in her pancakes and sang Happy Birthday before she made a wish. Oh holy, we love Maddie. She's one of the greats and so worthy of celebrating.

During breakfast
Me: Are you really going to see Alaina today?
Smelko: Yes. I'm picking her up with other Wilderness guides in Chicago and taking them to Holland, MI. 
Me: What the heck. I want to come. 
Smelko: Ok, come!
Me: I have to work, I can't.
Smelko: Ok. 

30 minutes later
I text Smelko: I'M COMING WITH YOU
Smelko texts: SARAH WHAT
Me: There was an unassigned sub in the building. So I'm coming. Just printed out lesson plans.

9:11 2nd Period
Music. Coffee. Two pals on an adventure. Chicago here we come. Happy birthday Maddie!

11:30 4th Period
Pit stop at Portillo's for the world's best hot dogs and Diet Coke

Happy birthday Maddie!

12:30 5th Period
Arrive at Gas Light coffee to find Guide Girls Tina, Alaina and Allison waiting at the counter drinking coffee
Smelko greets all the pals and Alaina still doesn't see me for a second, then turns around and freaks out (p.s. Alaina was one of my two amazing guides on Wilderness in Colorado this past summer)

p.s. Have you heard the Cubs are in the World Series? We must be good luck because they won their game tonight

Passing Period
Walking around Chi Chi City with the Guide Girls
[Sidenote: It's a beautiful thing how these girls love one another, how they spend their summers loving groups of campers and leaders selflessly and how they enthusiastically welcomed me in today. They are phenomenal humans.]

Happy birthday Maddie!

"Chi Chi City loves shawls. The City of Industry!"

1:20 6th Period
Giordano's for garlic cheese bread and stuffed deep dish pepperoni pizza

"I'm going to do the bathroom trick. I'll go to the bathroom. That'll make the food come."

Extra credit for the cheese pull

"We came all the way to Chicago to go to Target." Cubs gear for everyone

"Let's live 10% more dangerously so life with be 90% more thrilling." Today was maybe 15% more dangerous, maybe 20%

Happy birthday Maddie!

Sometimes, when you're surrounded by the best of the best kind of people you can literally feel that your heart is full. So much happy. Today was one of those days the entire day.

After School Activities
Car full of Guide Girls. Chicago Rush Hour. Rain. Holland here we come.

 "We're horribly dedicated to one another."

"After I finished my first week of babysitting and made $500 I sat in my car, turned on Drake and just threw around my 5 $100 bills."

"Yesssss. You're an adult and you're doing it--you're doing cool and spontaneous things."

Holland, MI. Dropped off Marissa, Tina, Allison and Alaina at Bethany's cottage with their guide friends. Said good bye to sweet Alaina. Surprised my sister Katie and the boys. Surprised my parents. Ran into Dimnent Chapel and found my bench to show Smelko.

Back on the road with Smelks. Snacks from Dave and Beth. Deep talks about Young Life, teenagers, self-awareness, genuine friendship, freedom in Jesus. Listening to Stolen Black Cars and the best of Hannah Montana, Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber.

Made it home after curfew. Best Maddie's Bday ever. Totally worth it.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

"Because of camp I am who I am today."

Mike Lang is brilliant once again. After our #tecumsehtuesday campaign of shouting out the people who have inspired, loved, encouraged us at Tecumseh, he came up with another winner. Today's Instagram feed was filled with posts beginning with "Because of camp..." Counselors, campers and full time staff took a moment to reflect on the ways Tecumseh has directly influenced their life from caffeine addictions to best friends,  finding faith to what it's like to be a human sundae and everything in-between.

Because of Camp Tecumseh, thousands of lives are impacted every single summer. Starting with 5-year-olds in Day Camp, we're teaching people about living a life that embraces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. In River Village and Lake Village we make sure we laugh daily, pray often and focus on the the things that really matter most.

At the Annual Dinner at Tecumseh a few weeks ago, it was pointed out that because Tecumseh is changing thousands of lives, we're literally changing the world. There are Tecumseh alumni in every state and on every continent. Tecumseh counselors fill dozens of schools in the US. Camp T kids are in hundreds of schools here in the midwest and around the world. And if all of us are taking what we learned at Tecumseh with us, shining this authentic, relational, Jesus-filled light then the world will be changed because of camp.

Did you know that #tecumsehtuesday has a friend named #postawildernesspictuesday? Though quieter, it's just a nostalgic, scenic and relational. My girls were all missing the trail today-- How could they not?

Walking for miles and hours through willows, drainages, valleys and forest...

Finding Goose Lake after days of hiking...

Spending every waking (and sleeping) moment together for six days...

And sharing one of the most unique, challenging, awe-inspiring experiences of our lives.