Saturday, December 30, 2017

December Varsity FBC Project: Christmas Surprise

Varsity FBC is in year four of advanced friendship bracelet making. Our team includes 56 girls from around HSE and across the Midwest. Besides just making cool bracelets, 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.

In the spirit of the holidays, I invited the Varsity girls to think about surprising a loved one with a bracelet this Christmas. They could tie the bracelet to the Christmas tree, hide it in a stocking or wrap it up. I loved hearing the stories of the girls who gave away Christmas bracelets. 

Cassidy: I gave a bracelet to my friend Katelyn because she did Dressember with me to raise awareness about human trafficking. On Christmas I put friendship bracelets in the stocking of all of my family members. 

Carolyn: Alana and I got really close during Volleyball this season and she is one of my favorite human beings. I tied the bracelet to a gift bag with her favorite popcorn. She didn't see that I put a bracelet on the bag until I told her. She was so excited!

Rose: I made one for my sister's friend Jordan. I always love being around her and wanted her to know that I think she's so much fun.

Reagan: I gave a bracelet to my friend Lauren after we finished finals and I told her I was so proud of her. The day before finals my friend Emma was stressing out. I told her how smart she is and how she is the kind of person who never gives up, even when it's hard.

Brooke and Sarah: We conspired together to surprise Bailey with a Varsity t-shirt and invitation to join Varsity FBC on Christmas morning. Brookie wrapped up the t-shirt and put it under the tree with a note that said it was from Santa's elves. Bailey was shocked and so excited when she pulled it out.

Holden: I gave my little cousin Madison a bracelet at Christmas!

Kendall: I gave a bracelet to my new friend Jayden from Tennis. We've been playing together in classes for the last weeks and we always have fun together. She loved the bracelet and it made her day.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

"Purposefully went to your Insta Story so I could read today's quote before my final."

Highs of the Day:
1. Cassidy made up a Kahoot about us and it made me laugh
2. A note from Grace in 5th period
3. Taco Triangles for lunch
4. Hannah told me she showed up for her friend, even when she had to do it by herself
5. Jane asked me, "How are you really doing?"
6. FBC was off the walls
7. Got to have dinner with Smelko and it was so good for my soul
8. Started a list of 18 in 2018 I'm going to make happen
9. We started planning about a grand Smelko and Sar adventure for this year (remember Niagara Falls in 2017?)
10. Sitting by the fire at Starbucks
11. Finishing "One Of Us Is Lying" by Karen McManus-- OH MY GOSH IT WAS SO GOOD

Monday, December 11, 2017

"Yesterday I found a pair of my matching American Girl doll earrings and I put them in. I just realized I didn't take them out and I've been walking around the HS with dangling star earrings on all day!" Love Tanks

We have a handful of HSE Young Life traditions that we've cultivated over the years, but love tanks is one of my favorites. At the end of each semester, we spend our last night of Campaigners writing notes to kids and leaders about why they're important, valued, loved and appreciated. 

This simple act of love is something that kids are pumped about. They look forward to it for weeks, start writing their notes in advance and make sure that their friends come with them. 

Without fail, Love Tanks night is always the biggest crowd of the whole year. People want to be loved and embrace the opportunity to love others. Tonight as I walked down the row of bags and looked at the names, there were so many that I didn't recognize. Our YL family has grown to the point where I don't know every person AND where new people are showing up each and every week. There is something exciting happening in this space that these HS students want to be part of. 

Tonight I'm thankful for intentional time to build people up. I love these kids-- the Wyld Life leaders I work alongside, the YL leaders I get to partner with, and the girls who have become like little sisters and friends to me. So many of my favorite humans are in my life because of Young Life. Tonight I got to remind them of how their loved, that I believe in them and that God has great plans for their lives.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

"I feel like we never left." CILT Reunion 2017

The CILT Reunion has been one of my very favorite December traditions for the past 10 years. This weekend I got to live the "best 25 hours of the year" one more time. I love reuniting with kids like Sara who were main characters of my summer and continue to be so important to me. 

All of the CILT counselors were back and Grace was in charge of creating CILT signs to put all over Lake Village-- she makes things so fun. 

There were camp games, jump-roping, song creating and scavenger hunting...

 We had our "Would You Be My Friend If I Wore This?" theme dinner. We sang and danced through the dining room while simultaneously devouring camp nachos.

 We love dressing up silly in the summer, but the outfits kids come up with for this night are always some of my favorites.

Session 1

Session 2

Session 3

The counselors

The reunion is crazy-- 25 hours with 100 people and tons of energy and excitement. Because we know that building friendships and having intentional conversations are two of people's favorite things about camp, we try to make sure that's part of the weekend too. We split into families-- one counselor with about 16 CILTs from combined sessions. We met together four different times and talked through different questions each time. I'm so thankful for this group of rock stars and that I got to have this bonus time with them.

One of the highlights of the night: Just Dance Competition between sessions.

We played some crazy games, watched a video recap of the CILT life, did the ever-popular Newlywed Game and ate ice-cream sundaes.

Hopi cabin summer 2017

Abanaki cabin summer 2017

Choctaw cabin summer 2017 (we're only missing two girls!)

The Kiva summer 2017

Grace's campers (cause she spent time in Hopi and Choctaw)

My favorite moments of the CILT reunion are often when I'm just hanging out with these girls, laughing about silly things, catching up, reminiscing and sharing stories. I really, really love them and am so proud to call them my friends.

Chapel on Sunday morning is extra special at the reunion. We still sing songs like normal, but then a CILT from each session shares their story of how God has been at work in their life this year.

I admire the courage and heart it takes for them to stand up and share about their faith in-front of all of their peers. This year we heard from Sarah Nelson...

Ethan Krone...

and Emily Weibel.

I love when campers can take something tangible home with them to remind them of Tecumseh and the encouragement and support and friendships in this place. That's why we always carve out time to do love tanks together. All 3 sessions, guys and girls, counselors and campers-- everybody's in.

We met with our families for the fourth and final time on Sunday morning.

Sean's family

Sav and Kate's family

Grace's family

Mike's family

Katie's family

Sarah's family

We ate one more meal together and then it was time to start saying good-bye. When I first started doing reunions years ago I was always so tearful at the end. I don't cry much anymore, but it's not because I love the kids any less. I've learned through the years that friendships last, that distance doesn't have to keep you apart and that it's such a gift to walk away filled up with encouragement and love.

I'm thankful for all of you-- how you've impacted my life and that I've gotten to be part of your story.  Love you CILTies.