Sunday, April 30, 2017

"Bye! The next time you see me I'll have a chinchilla!"

What's better than a Pizza Party?

Two Pizza Parties.

My SOAR class raised over $800 for the Pennies for Patients fundraiser several weeks ago and today were rewarded with pizza and breadsticks at the end of school. Nothing makes kids, or me, happier than pizza at school.

I joined up with the Wilderness gang, which added more members since Alaina's Thursday arrival, at Metazoa downtown. Abby and Tony were the MVP's of the night when they showed up with five amazing pizzas from Bazbeaux's. Smelko tried them all and picked her favorites, Charlie dog chilled under the table, I became best friends with Molly and all the guides were just so happy to be together. 

The rest of the weekend I did a horrible job of taking pictures... I didn't take any... but there were so many good moments.

- Breakfast with Annie and talking about life and the end of Senior year and what's coming next
- Visiting the ever-growing Wilderness gang living the dream out at the barn
- Running 3 miles at a new PR
- Getting to introduce Justin to the Houghton's, Nikcevich's and so many other friends
- So much time to sit and talk with Hannah Rapp
- Bailey and Grant's whimsical, love-filled wedding in a beautiful barn
- Smelko owning the dance floor
- Getting back to church at Northview
- Lunch date with Maddie girl and getting to embrace our organizing passion at the barn
- Running in the rain
- CHIPOTLE Party with Justin and Lee

Thursday, April 27, 2017

"My mom took my phone away yesterday until I shaved my armpits."

I think everyone needs to be reminded of this truth every single day. Yes, we are loved by our friends and our family, but first we are loved by a God who loves us more than we can ever imagine. That love changes everything.

Wilderness pals met early Wednesday morning and finished the last chapter of Matthew together. We've got four more Wednesdays of gathering together around this table. 

One of my favorite ways to use Instagram is to throw out a question with a bracelet pic... kinda like a meal question. Today I posted, "Every single day I make a friendship bracelet, eat greek yogurt and listen to podcasts. What are 3 ordinary things you do every day?"

Smoon- Read theSkimm, drink caramel vanilla chai tea and check nutrition labels for food I can't eat
Yashi- Drink coffee, tweet and listen to podcasts
Claire- Read your blog, listen to my 2010 throwback playlist and eat peanut butter
Brookie- Run, swim and take tests
Lauren- Drink a bottle of water at lunch, laugh and cross things off my to do list
Ellen- Eat Eggo waffles, make Gilmore Girl references and use my hairbrush as a microphone
Ellyn- Make a smoothie, read a book and count to make sure I still have 10 toes
Molly- Hit snooze a minimum of 3 times, listen to my real housewives breakdown podcast to and from work and eat an apple
Lizzie- Rock climb, the quadratic formula and Grey's Anatomy
Smelko- Make coffee, listen to Spotify playlists and make new friends but keep the old
Es- Work out, sing at the top of my lungs and watch Netflix
Mikaela- Eat chocolate, nap and dance by myself
Charlotte- Eat Goldfish, reminisce about camp and jam out to some Adele
Cydney- Read the Bible, dance party and calculus


After spending a week together on Wilderness last summer, our gang of gals has continued to stay in touch with our guides Alaina and Hannah. Thanks to a wedding of Wilderness friends this weekend, Alaina came to town. The girls all attacked Alaina when we pulled up-- a tackle of love that was so overwhelming Smelko stayed in the safety of her car to watch. It was a beautiful thing.

98% of our time together was spent outdoors in CO so it only made sense that the first thing we would do together here in Fishers was to take a walk. Lucky for us, right in the middle of the neighborhood we've got a little dirt pile... hill... mountain...

On day 6 of our trip we peaked above Goose Lake in the San Juan Mountains. It was a moment and an experience that we won't soon forget. 

Smelko pointed out that our set up with the Saxony Beach pond behind us was pretty darn similar to good ol' Goose Lake.

This crew--- I'm so proud to know each of them and call them my friends. I love that we get to show up in one another's lives all year round. I love that we've eaten chicken fett on the side of a mountain together and that we get to eat breakfast at Sunrise. We shared life stories under tarps and sat in circles during Campaigners at the Barn. We've done it all together. 

Smelko. Goodness. A year ago we barely knew one another and now she's one of my favorite humans. I love that I tag along to Carmel YL stuff or she comes to HSE YL stuff and we meet up at Chipotle and we talk about self-awareness while eating corn dogs and we take spontaneous road trips to see friends and we sing Dixie Chicks and Duncan Fellows at the top of our lungs in the car.

And then today we got lucky enough to play with Alaina Girl. I love watching their friendship and I'm so thankful that I got to become real life friends with Alaina. This one is the kind of person who makes you better and makes life better and you just never have enough time with them.

So today we adventured...

We walked beside our friends...

We told old stories...

 And we were so happy to be together.

Honorable Mention Blog Titles:
"That doesn't mean you're fake-- that just means you're using your manners."
"Mom, you don't always have to bring up Jesus."

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

"Invite, include, welcome and celebrate the people around you, and you'll be doing exactly what Jesus was talking about." Love Lives Here

Bob Goff's book Love Does became a favorite of mine years ago. He regularly mentions his wife, Sweet Maria, and you can't help but fall in love with this woman. When I attended the Story Line Conference in 2014 I actually got to meet her.

Bob is the extrovert in the relationship, but they're both incredibly wise. I was beyond thrilled when I first heard that Maria had written her own book, Love Lives Here. It was just as incredible as I hoped it would be. 

I read this book slowly, soaking it up a few chapters at a time, because I didn't want it to end. This is going in my stack of favorite books and at the top of the list I recommend to friends. 

What I'm learning is that the good news in our faith isn't found in avoiding the pain, but in living through the loss, walking through the ashes, and stacking the logs once more knowing they could burn down again. What has been growing inside of me is a confidence that whatever it is we put our efforts into, it's God's, and He can do whatever He wants with what we build in our lives.

Trusting isn't something we achieve merely by agreeing with someone. It's earned through shared experiences. 

You know your family. Keep up the good work. You should spend your free time doing what lights you and your family up, what frees you up, what works for all of you. Do what makes you the most loving, hopeful version of yourself. It's that's baseball, soccer, line dancing or cage fighting-- go do a lot of that. The point is simple. Go be your family, not someone else's. 

While we go about what we do with our lives in different ways, the important things we want in life are the same. Family, faith, love, purpose, respect and joy to name a few... I realize God made us different individually so we could be better together.

I stopped listening to the loudest voices in my life and started listening to the truest ones. To do this, I needed to put together some trusted advisors... I picked a couple people to listen to on purpose rather than listening to many people by accident.

Don't compare the number of friendships you can manage with how many someone else has... Surround yourself with the right number of people who make you hungry in your faith, strong in your resolve, and more available to your family. That is your board of directors.

Over the years, I've noticed a common thread in the lives of the people I identify with. They're big-hearted and humble. They know how to have fun while also growing in their faith. They would rather serve up love than dish out opinions. If you ask them what they think, they'll tell you what lights them up, gives them joy, and about what they're learning. They know what they believe but they don't go around acting like they're right all the time. When they have to choose between being right and being humble, they pick both because they know each have their own undeniable strength. My friends are fun, too. Some of them have serious jobs and serious things going on in their lives, but they all love to laugh.

Sometimes when we ask God for an answer, he sends a friend.

Independence wasn't something we feared for our kids, it was something we cultivated. 

The best adventures involve leaving what's comfortable for a time. Long or short, it doesn't matter, only that we do it. The kids were running toward a beautiful adventure, not away from any difficulties. Don't be fooled. There's a big difference between the two. One's worth doing; one's worth staying and learning from.

Invite, include, welcome and celebrate the people around you, and you'll be doing exactly what Jesus was talking about. 

Sure, there will be more celebrations to come in heaven, but the party is already happening. Right now, right here. I've wondered if some of us are so busy getting ready for the one in heaven that we're missing the one that's going on right now.

The time together around the table has shaped us. It's where we share our hearts and our dreams, not just our food.

We're all like plywood in many ways. The thin pieces of wood in our lives are the things we value the most and what we're good at. Rest is the glue that keeps all of these things we value together.

It was more than just doing things together that brought us close; it was doing things for other people that made it purposeful. 

A stable and abundant home life is what I wanted deep down. A home full of people who practiced love, joy, peace, patience, and understanding, until we got it right, even if it took a lifetime to figure out how. I wanted a place where people felt nurtured, where exploring, adventuring, trying, and failing were supported. I envisioned a home where gathering for meals not only filled our stomachs but also nurtured our souls, and where we'd rally when one of us got sick or suffered or struggled. What I desired most was an environment where laughter and music hung in the air, where the flames of creativity were fanned and the fires lit by fear, judgment and condemnation were snuffed out swiftly, and where everyone was safe from emotional trip wires and landmines. In short, I wanted my family to live where we could serve God, each other, and be able to say wholeheartedly to everyone entering it, Welcome Home.

The reality is that we are all more capable than we realize of creating a life of whimsy and adventure.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

"Some call me the Queen."

Highs of the Day
1. Celebrating Richter's 25th birthday and having Lauren come in to lunch
2. Finishing grading a mountain of research papers
3. Adventuring to the Geist Reservoir Dam and finding a spot I'd never seen before

4. The weather still feels like summer and the sun stays out for so long
5. Finish Love Lives Here by Maria Goff
6. Vitality Bowl for dinner
7. Walking on the Monon in Carmel

Monday, April 24, 2017

"You are my hero."

"Words are valuable, and everyone needs to know that they're loved, that someone's proud of them, that someone sees the magic that makes them them.  So this is my challenge for you: Use your words. Use them today. For someone you love, someone you're proud of, someone who needs to know they matter. Everyone needs to know they matter." -Shauna Niequist

Today was a whole day of using words well that began with a chapter from Shauna and this group of 8th grade girls. Already, they are so good at loving people well and using their words in a powerful way. I'm proud to know them. 

Tonight our Young Family showed up big time for our bi-annual tradition of Love Tanks. For some of these Seniors, this is their 8th time doing this with us and they look forward to it more every time. It feels like summer in Fishers so we sang together outside. I love when Ryan takes requests from the kids and we sing whatever they ask for and Isaiah sings the loudest of us all. 

Right here on these rocks, with these people has got to be one of my favorite places to sing worship songs. It's right up there with the olden wooden pews of Dimnent Chapel and the leafy canopy of the Green Cathedral. This is such a golden place to be.

Love Tanks starts with everyone writing their name on a brown paper bag. Those bags are alphabetized by first name and then taped up on the wall in one long line. 

For the next hour, you write notes to as many friends and leaders as possible. You write why you love them, what you think they're awesome at, what they need to be reminded of, reminders of the time when you shared something significant, a call to be the very best version of themselves.

We left the barn door open, turned on music and the kids spread out. They were grouped in pairs or small groups all across the basketball court, the front porch and the yard. Everywhere you look, kids were writing love tank notes.

Earlier today a YL girl asked me how many people come to YL on a weekly basis. I thought about it and guessed, "Maybe 50? Some weeks it's more and some weeks it's less. There are so many kids that I think are part of YL but they're never all there at the same time." Tonight never fails to be a time when everyone shows up. Kids make it a priority to be here for Love Tanks. No matter if they have to get someone to cover them at work, skip practice or procrastinate homework a little longer, this is where they want to be. That's all evidence that we all have this deep desire to both love and be loved.

At the end of the night the kids have this peace about them that wasn't there when they walked in. There is a joy that comes from loving others well. Then they take their own bag off the wall and head home to read the notes that they received. Both the giving and receiving of love is beautiful.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

"Yeah, I'll take a chicken taco, chicken burrito and chicken quesadilla."

Smooney came to town Friday night and her one request was that we go back to Taco & Burrito Place. She and I went together the very first time and I know she'd be a regular with me if she lived in Indy. I hadn't been since before Spring Break and when I walked in the door the woman behind the counter said, "Where have YOU been?!" 

The whole gang was there and we ate a feast. Taco & Burrito Place really is the promised land. It won't be long till I'm back again I'm sure.

Smoon and I bopped over to Mama Bear's for Cassidy's Poetry Night to raise money for her upcoming mission trip. I was blown away by the talent and some of the pieces shared. Cass has some pretty talented friends.

We had a mini Camp T crowd show up in support which was a fun reunion.

This girl is really such a champ. I'm so encouraged by the ways that Cassidy lives her life-- in pursuit of equality and compassion for others, a heart seeking adventure rather than monotony, transparency and honesty in who she is and what she's about. This girl is a game changer.

Saturday morning Smoon headed back home as I headed to camp. Even when our reunions are short I'm reminded that Smoon is really one of the greatest friends I've ever known and I'm so lucky for the ways she has made my life better.

For the first time in the history of Camp Tecumseh YMCA, we had an official CILT Counselor Training this weekend. J and Tom met with our team of counselors who will be working together all summer long. It was what we had hoped for and more.

The weekend included pulling garlic mustard, growing relationally, working as a team, sharing a vision, dreaming together, walking Tecumseh, turning ideas into plans, laughing and telling stories, and drinking plenty of coffee.

Grace, Katie, Sean, Mike and I are beyond thrilled about what is to come. After these two days, I feel so excited about the impact this team will have together. CILTs 2017-- what a time to be alive.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

"Basically I wanted to be Sarah Wright since I was in third grade."

Tuesday was for the Party People. We had a Wyld Life Love Bomb at the HIJH track meet to cheer on our friends. Hanging out in the stands is always the greatest place to be-- especially when you're surrounded with people like this. I'm thankful for Morgan's hugs, Mal's laugh, dinner dates with Maddie, the way KCraig and Johnna scream for kids and the love in this little family. 

I got to spend Wednesday and Thursday at the Wooded Glen in Southern Indiana for Wide Open Country. Twice a year, Young Life staff from the Raceway Region gather together. It's not a meeting, or a conference on purpose. Instead, this time is about passion and innovation, growth and relationships, rest and celebration.

Johnna and I are not on Young Life staff, but we enthusiastically accepted the invitation to come and be part of this group for two days. It was a huge gift to get to sit in a room with these people who show up for kids day in and day out, who lead leaders, who bring people closer to Christ as their full time job. This time was so, so good for so many different reasons.

Monday, April 17, 2017

"Our new motto should be to live a life worthy of a bear hug from Jesus right when we we enter heaven."

Pen pal letters are even more fun with unexpected treasures inside. Today I got a letter from my Texan friend Ally Reid that had this blue apron seedling inside-- she's going to make me into a gardener! 

I've got just over a month of prime letter writing  left before I head off to camp for the summer (where it's too hectic to write letters, make friendship bracelets, etc). Let's keep the USPS busy!

Tonight wasn't crazy exciting or entertaining at Campaigners, but it was one of those nights when I just felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be doing exactly what God has called me to.

I'm so thankful for all the kids who show up her on Mondays, the Senior girls I've know for six years, getting to share YL with Anna Morgan, heart to hearts with Jayla. There is just so much good going on here.

Other favorites of the day:
1. Daily Odd Compliments
2. Cutting string for the next round of 14 bracelets
3. Running in the sun
4. Checking things off my to-do list
5. So much to look forward to

Sunday, April 16, 2017

"Basically Pokemon is a gateway drug to other gaming. You know it's true."

 Just so many great things to be happy about this weekend...

1. Sunny weather for three days when the forecast predicted rain
2. Road tripping with the boy to Michigan
3. Reuniting with my whole family in Holland

4. The best food day-- breakfast at DeBoer's
5. Running into Sue and Ray Smith
6. Wandering Holland trying the newest coffee shop The 205

7. The best food day- lunch at Good Earth
8. Seeing Katie and Nick's NEW house
9. Watching Linc and Red run around, climbing their fence, throwing water balloons and giggling and scheming together

10. Double pizza date at the new MidiCi Pizza "People are the best thing that can happen to anyone"
11. Running two 5ks and not stopping to walk
12. Walks in my parents' neighborhood

13. Omelet party on Easter morning
14. Linc and Red's hunt for Easter baskets
15. Easter lunch featuring cheesy potatoes, brussel sprouts, asparagus and challah bread

16. Ang's pizza party bday dinner at the Croyts' house on the way back to Indy