Wednesday, May 24, 2017

It's been quite a year.

It's been a year of Monday mornings with 8th grade girls, #tecumsehtuesdays, Wilderness Wednesday morning, FBC Thursdays, Friday adventures, WL Club Saturdays and Sundays at Northview.  

It's been a year of mantras.
There is room at the table. Everyone's in.
Less stuff.
True beauty doesn't seek attention.
Leadership is the willingness to take initiative for the good of others.
Defensive people cannot empathize. 

It's been a year of reading books-- 36 this school year and I LOVED almost all of them. I passed books along to friends, gasped out loud at all the best parts, and didn't want to put my favorites down after the last page. 

It's been a year of bottle flipping, slime and spinners. And a year of asking students to put away their bottles, slime and spinners.

It's been a year of selfie's from Brookie and passing period visits from 8th graders.

It's been a year of writing letters to pen pals-- 320 letters and decorated envelopes sent in the mail to friends who live across town and across the country.

It's been a year of kids like Ellie who make me want to come to school every single day.

It's been a year of the warmest Washington DC trip in history, special administration visits to FBC, a field trip week at Tecumseh that was one of my favorites so far, C lunch with Richter and Hauser and quitting Diet Coke.

It's been a year of hanging out with YL girls like Sophie, Campaigners and Club with WL kids and attending a crazy amount of sports for someone who really doesn't care about sports at all.

It's been a year of friendship bracelets-- I'm over 550 bracelets (a new PR, last year was 523) and I still have a week and a half before I'll retire when I go off to camp for the summer.

It's been a year of treasures like this caricature poster from Kaylin-- notes, bracelets, canvases, mugs and pictures that kids have created for me. I keep every single one.

It's been a year of learning from people around me-- like Chloe Green who is changing the world around the globe, KCraig who speaks with honesty and love, Johnna who has opened her home and invited me to be part of their family, Smelko who puts friendship into action and does life so well, Smooney who puts in the hard work of making her dreams come true and never gives up, Rachel who has resiliency off the charts and embraces all kinds of change.

It's been such a good school year.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

"Holy shampoodles I love that."

One of my all time favorite Junior High traditions-- the dodgeball tournaments. Teams of 3 girls and 3 guys draft a teacher to be their team captain. The entrance fee to the competition goes to Riley Hospital. Teams come up with names and uniforms.

Everyone stays after school for the tournament and I love how pumped all the kids and teachers are about winning. Dodgeball is serious business.

This year I was recruited to be on the Sassy 7 with Emily, Audrey, Mary, Erik, Blaine and Nolan. They played smart and we made it to the Final 4 of the bracket. We'll be back again next year. 

Cassidy and I knew we were going to hang out tonight but weren't quite sure what that would entail. I suddenly had some inspiration that we needed to go strawberry picking! After a quick google search we found Spencer Farm in Noblesville and were delighted to find they're open till 7.

They gave us a box, sent us down our own row, told us to start picking at the flag and then put the flag back in the ground when we stopped. You guys-- these strawberries are easily the best strawberries I've eaten in my entire life. You need to go pick some ASAP before the season is over (it only lasts 2-4 weeks).

They weighed our strawberries and then we went inside the little store to pay for what we had picked. Little did we know they also had ice-cream inside and it was SO GOOD. Cass and I sat in rocking chairs on the porch while we ate and chatted with the woman watering the flowers. These strawberries are so good that other orchards come buy these to resell in their stores.

I've got 7 more days of summer till I start at Tecumseh. The plan is to cram in as many summer adventures as possible until then.

Monday, May 22, 2017

"We want to be in this with you."

A major chapter is coming to a close. I've spent the last year and a half with these girls, sitting in a circle on Monday mornings talking about life and Jesus. They're the people I can't wait to see in the hall during passing period and the ones I show up at vball, bball, cross country, dance and track to cheer on. They've got more potential then they realize and they're some of the most fun loving kids I know. I'm so thankful that because of Young Life we'll keep being part of each other's lives. 

Now we're running into the last week of school like these Junior High rock stars from every school in the county. I got to cheer on the 4 x 8 team before I had to leave for the barn. After an incredible season, the Clubhouse girls got third place overall tonight. 

All Sophomores and Juniors interested in being a Wyld Life leader next year showed up at the barn for a meeting to learn more about WHY we do what we do and HOW we make that happen. Taking this step isn't for everyone, it's a sacrifice of time and energy, but the life that comes from being part of this community is a beautiful thing. I'm so excited for this ministry to keep growing and improving so we can love one another and serve Junior High kids even better.

Senior Night is the last Young Life event of the school year and so bittersweet. We gathered outside the barn one more time for worship.

Tonight, like all nights, we're thankful for all the groups of kids who make up this YL family. The Seniors...




and Junior High kids.

Tonight was another night for alumni to show up-- we ran to see Hannah when she pulled up in her car. These days I'm so confident that friendships can thrive even when people live so far away.

It's become a tradition on Senior Night to have all of our Seniors upfront as a panel. Ryan asks questions and opens the floor to them-- What's a specific memory with a leader or another YL friend that has stuck with you? How have you changed since you first walked into YL? What are you fearful about in the next season of life?

Then we tried something new. Each Senior got a spot on the wall with a giant sheet of paper behind them. All of the leaders, kids and parents in the room went and wrote behind them, filling up their paper with words of encouragement and support. The idea is that even when they can't see us, we are still behind them and with them every step of the way. These friendships and this community won't disappear when they head off on their next adventure. 

This class is special for so many reasons. Anne, Kaitlyn and Genna were the first 7th grade girls to go to Wyld Life camp, in KCraig's cabin, back in 2011 at Timber Wolf Lake.

These girls were part of the first 8th grade girls bible study-- they'd show up week after week at coffee shops or Dairy Queen to read through The Story together. They were hungry in their faith and they asked important questions and they wanted to know more. It was one of my favorite seasons with them.

These are the girls I go to camp with-- to Michindoh, to Sharp Top, to Castaway, to Wilderness. We've done it all together-- lived in cramped cabins, beautiful dorms and tiny tents. We've driven across the country together and walked miles around camp on one on ones.

If the last five years of Young Life were a series of pictures, these girls' faces would be in almost every one.

I love how these Seniors have impacted the YL kids in the grades below them. They've made girls like Cassidy and Maddie feel at home here and welcomed them in as their best friends. So many of these Seniors have served as Wyld Life leaders and partnered with us in ministry.

Shauna's words from Cold Tangerines ring true when I think about this Senior class, "I began to love them, not because they were the finest, most-upstanding kids in our ministry, because actually they weren't. They had their moments of upstanding-ness, and they had moments of absolute insanity. I loved them because they were mine, because we were us, because of the funny and sweet and strange things they did and said. They're smart and honest and they make big mistakes and dream gorgeous bright dreams. They fall in love hard, sometimes with the right people and sometimes with the wrong people. Sometimes they tell me everything, and sometimes they try not to tell me things, but then the other girls tell me anyway. I think at this point, I know almost all the things they think I don't. And I love them more than they know."

Sunday, May 21, 2017

"We went to a garage sale today and all the clothes smelled like you. I bought a few things just because of that."

At the end of each week of Tecumseh, we talk about the Sagamore Creed. It challenges campers and staff to not be content with how we are, but to always strive to become more like the Sagamore and to improve in areas of initiative, friendship, responsiblity, trust, faith and joy. Recently, Camp T released these Sagamore Creed inspired posts on Instagram. I'm obsessed and would like to have each one as a poster in every cabin. 

This was a Chicago weekend of epic wedding proportions...

Road trip to Chicago
Friday rehearsal and rehearsal dinner for Justin's cousin Natalie and her soon to be husband Mike
Meeting allll of the family members
Saturday morning donut adventure

Brunch at Le Pain aka Cafe Patachou's Chicago cousin

Walking in the rain down Michigan Avenue
Meeting up with the one and only Maggie Shadid

Hanging with Justin's Grandma Frances and showing her old family video footage

Wedding at Holy Name Cathedral in the late afternoon
Meeting up with Emily and Kara
Justin reading from the Book of Tobit and 1 Corinthians (and then getting so many compliments for how well he read the rest of the weekend)

Wedding reception at the Knickerbocker-- note the illuminated dance floor

The fanciest place settings that you ever did see-- four courses and four forks
Father of the bride toast that made everyone cry and a best man speech that concluded with a gigantic $100 check for the happy couple

Sunday morning brunch with the family
Walking Lakeshore Drive all the way to Maggie Daly Park and the Bean

Tom's surprise birthday dinner in Lafayette and hanging with Tecumseh friends

Did you know it's the last week of school before summer break?! There is so much to anticipate in the next 7 days.

Honorable Mention Blog Title:
"Seriously-- that's like getting a face tattoo. You're basically just giving up."