Category Archives: Life

“psych! i’m actually mafia and i just gatling-gunned all of you.”

just got back from new life’s middle school retreat, and it was the best ever.

matt and i lead the guys’ middle school study on wednesdays, so most of the boys who came were ones that i’ve been getting to know over the course of the year, but there were a couple that i only get to see once in a while, so it was really great to catch up with them. plus there was a new guy who decided to join after only visiting new life last sunday! it was so cool; he was the perfect addition to our group and all the guys really liked him. we had a total blast together.

we did a ton of stuff. lots of games and times of hanging out. we played a lot of body body, which is a live-action version of mafia. have you ever been sneaking around in a pitch-black, slightly unfamiliar house, hoping that no one slips silently behind you and whispers “you’re dead”? it’s creepy. and lots of fun. it was a blast.

saturday we went outside to play in the snow.

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it was rather cold. we were actually out on a frozen lake (it was safe… there had been a hockey team practicing on it the other day) and some of the guys found some cattails that were on the edge of the frozen shore. naturally, they soon figured out how to make them the most obnoxious weapon ever invented.

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we also spent a ton of time playing polish pool, a classic from last year’s retreat. we had a tournament and sydney, a newcomer to the game, swept it (to the chagrin of all the boys, who grudgingly presented her with the championship trophy). Whenever there was a free minute, it was a guarantee that you’d hear the guys downstairs, hooting and hollering around the pool table.

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adam’s parents, the fantastic jaque and steve, hosted us. jaque’s reputation as a fabulous cook may or may not have convinced some of the kids to come. meals were my favorite because everyone eats together and laughs and tells stories and just gets to know each other. it was also the place where we heard the most “thank you!”s. but no surprises there. one of the boys snagged my camera to take an instagram of sorts.

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a stuff-your-face-for-the-camera picture is standard for pretty much all youth events, i’ve learned. no shame.

stark, the youth group baby, made a couple of appearances as well. he’s everyone’s favorite. this guy is, no joke, probably the cutest baby i’ve ever met. he is always smiling and laughing, he’s adorable, and he recoils after kissing my beard as if he just licked a lemon.

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like the high school retreat, our theme verse for this weekend was ephesians 4:1, in which paul encourages the people of ephesus to “live in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called”. we talked about how our first calling is to believe the gospel, and how when we are rooted in the love of God, it should affect how we interact with other believers and non-believers. we had some great discussion and it was, as usual, really encouraging.

this group of kids is just awesome. it’s been such a privilege to be able to work with them the entire year.

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it’s hard to describe just how cool it is to see how the guys i help lead are growing in their faith. i’ve seen the changes in their lives, the way they take their faith seriously, the way some of them are recognizing sin in their lives and seeking to pursue God more closely. it’s encouraging and convicting and inspiring and fills me with awe for how God interacts so intimately with each and every one of His children.

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the more time the Lord allows me to spend walking with kids as they pursue Him and grow in understanding of what that means and what it looks like, the more He affirms that this is something it seems i will be doing long-term. i don’t presume to know what God’s will is, but i hope i will always have the chance to lead and learn with kids about God’s grace and how His gospel will never not be essential to every moment of every day.

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“is it really just a coincidence that we’re struck with such apocalyptic snow mere weeks after frozen became such a hit? is it?!”

there are so many awesome things that are happening right now.

i’m in my final semester as an undergrad. that’s insane. and i’m not taking any classes, i’m just at practicum, which is kind of like the social work equivalent of student teaching. since i want to do counseling with kids, i’ve been placed at a local elementary school, longfellow, under the school counselor, leslie.

it’s been incredible so far. i’m learning a lot, and it’s been a privilege to get to know the students and faculty. it was pretty clear from the first week that all the teachers and staff really love these kids. leslie knows the names and seemingly the stories of each student, and it’s obvious that they love her. plus, even though i’m sure it’s annoying having to explain things to the new guy (who will only be there for a few months), i’ve felt nothing but welcomed and appreciated since i arrived.

while it’s been an odd schedule so far (i’m supposed to be there from 8-3 every day, but we’ve had so many cancelations and delays from the snow that i only have about half my hours right now), it’s been a change to get into a new routine, which has been really refreshing. i get up early, get ready for the day, and have some time with Jesus before I leave. most days i have other commitments upon my return, but i usually manage to get to sleep around 10 or so. i feel oddly grown up.

i’m also getting a taste of what it looks like to be a school counselor, at least in an elementary school. it’s exciting and nerve-racking at the same time. this could legitimately be what i’m doing in the future. like near future. like way sooner than i would have thought possible.

to be honest, i’m not sure what kinds of updates i’ll be posting this semester. clearly i haven’t made it  priority so far, but there were many reasons for that. mostly i was wanting to settle in and get my rhythm. in considering the benefits of including relaxation in the midst of a busy schedule, i’d like to post once a week, or more if time allows. so we’ll see.

so what else has been going on? list time!

1.) youth group stuff. so much fun. with each passing week, i am praising God all the more for the blessings that come with helping to lead such an incredible group. i’ve been growing closer with matt, adam, jessy, and jami. just a few nights ago we got together to eat dinner and play games. just the five of us. and it was the best. matt and i are loving the direction that the middle school guys are taking. we’re leading them through the hand illustration developed by the navigators that teaches about five different aspects of being in the word. then we plan on studying 1 peter together. the guys have shown such growth over the year, and both matt and i have been humbled and excited to watch God work.

2.) okay so maybe i got way too excited at the thought of a list. because that’s kind of it with the main things. but i have been continually blessed by the guys i live with. God has provided a lot of time lately for me to spend individually with many of them, and it’s been really awesome. such a testament to the power of blessing of fellowship in the body of Christ.

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so. there’s that. looking forward to a more consistent blogging schedule, and hopefully a full week of practicum!

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fall is the best.

but really. fall is my favorite, for so many reasons. the colors, the weather, the smells… everything. it’s always been easiest for me to see and appreciate the presence and creativity of God in the midst of nature, and autumn is the time, in my opinion, when nature is at its most beautiful.

last weekend was fall break, and it was wonderful. for the first time in a while, the entire family was together. plus, chris joined me for the weekend, so he got to experience my family in its fullness, which was really cool. friday evening and saturday were full of laughter and talking and joking and love. we caught up on each others’ lives, we watched movies, we played games, and we ate some delicious food. one of the things i love most about my family is that we don’t have to be doing anything in order to have fun with each other. i love it.

plus, on saturday, the wilhites showed up! everyone except britt was there (though we managed to skype her in for a minute), and we spent some time loving on each other.

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on sunday, chris and i headed up to camp. i had been given the opportunity to speak at camp’s annual meeting (a state of camp address, if you will) about why camp is special. lots of what i said was covered a few weeks back, and it was cool to have the chance to talk about it all over again. camp is a unique and amazing place, because it is both rooted in and permeated by the love of Jesus. with that kind of love, a love which defeated death itself, as its foundation, how in the world could camp not be special?

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but the coolest part was seeing camp in the fall. i’m not exaggerating when i say that i was speechless at the beauty i saw there. pictures don’t do it justice. it was like God had taken camp and infused every piece of it with a soft, golden glow. everywhere i looked, deep reds and rich oranges and yellows saturated the trees. it was stunning.

 

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man. i love that.

after getting lost on the way back from camp, chris and i just hung out at home monday and part of tuesday.  we went down to the river and walked to the old lock and dam. i grabbed lunch with owen at panera and got to talk about life and show choir and high school, and how weird it was that almost four years had already passed since we met. on tuesday morning mom and i went to breakfast, which was wonderful. we always make time for some kind of date when i’m home, and it’s always a highlight.

and then it was over, and life was back to normal at ball state. it snowed… but that’s okay because i’m still a firm believer in fall extending itself for a few more weeks. possibly. hopefully. either way, it’s been wonderful so far.

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the top ten things i love about being home.

1.) i am always surrounded by people i love who love me back.

2.) there is always something to laugh about.

3.) there are no expectations. everyone is who they are, wherever they’re at.

4.) sitting around each other and doing nothing is just as fun as anything else.

5.) there is a feeling of such stability at home… it’s where i feel anchored.

6.) Jesus can so clearly be felt here.

7.) there is real talk. we don’t settle for anything surfacy.

8.) so. many. inside. jokes.

9.) i always learn something… about life, about loving people, about God.

10.) did i mention there’s love? like it’s everywhere.

 

bonus: chris gets to experience all of it this weekend too! i love sharing things that i love with people that i love.

“knock-knock.” “who’s there?” “squirrel.” “squirrel who?” “look, a squirrel!”

so this year i’m in college mentors again, as i mentioned earlier last month. but GREAT NEWS, i actually get to be henry’s mentor this year, as well as malakai’s! this is the best news ever, because, especially after meeting them both, i have decided they are two of my favorite people ever. since they’re on fall break this week (and ball state is on fall break the following week), i won’t see them for a while. so i decided to post about them instead.

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henry (the one on the right) is the one who always has something brilliant to say. the past two weeks he entertained us with his on-the-spot knock-knock jokes. here’s a typical one:

“knock-knock.”
“who’s there?”
“grasshopper.”
“grasshopper who?”
“i don’t want to eat grashoppers!”
“that is one of the best knock-knock jokes i’ve ever heard.”

we decided that he gets five knock-knock jokes per tuesday, so he has to make them super awesome.

henry spends most of our time together telling me to watch him do awesome things like jump really high or run really fast (racing places is our favorite). he’s always happy, always ready for whatever is planned, and never has anything but a huge grin on his face.

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malakai is the thinker. he’s quieter than henry, but not in a rude or withdrawn way; he simply takes time to process things before reacting to them, and usually is more reserved when he does. i see a little bit of my younger self in this guy.

malakai is super friendly and polite. he loves to engage with the older mentors, but also loves playing with his friends during the activity days. he’s very intentional with everything he does, and conversations with him are great. also, he’s super into being a gentleman. i asked him (and henry) to start holding doors open for the rest of the buddy family wherever we go, and he is totally into it. he got the biggest grin when i thanked him for being a gentleman. it is precious, and so encouraging to see someone so young have a heart for being kind to others.

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our past few activities have been lots of fun! the first week we had a picture scavenger hunt around campus so the little buddies could see ball state. walking around gave us lots of time to get to know each other, as well as point out some cool places that they hadn’t seen before (frog baby was especially fascinating to them).

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last week each of the little buddies tie-dyed their own bandanas, which was both incredibly messy and incredibly fun. henry and malakai loved it, the idea that they were the ones designing their very own bandana (and, i’m sure, the fact that it was way messy… henry looked at his hands, exclaimed “whoa! it’s not coming off!”, and then promptly stuck his fingers back in the dye).

plus, while we were waiting for our turns, we got to run around and play tag and stuff. and race, of course. maybe i’ve just forgotten, but man, that is like every other activity we do, and it never gets old with these guys. i love that energy!

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we spent the rest of our time creating designs for this year’s college mentors t-shirt! between that and a little journal time, we finished out the activity day, and said goodbye to our buddies for the next few weeks.

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i love seeing the connections already being made between little buddies and their mentors. hannah had been waiting for a while to meet her little buddy and it was a happy day this past week when they finally met for the first time. it was jenna’s little buddy’s birthday, so she got him a present, including a sweet iron man mask. let me tell you, he was all over it. and everyone thought it was the coolest.

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things like that are the reason i do college mentors. we get to show kids that we love them and we think they’re awesome just for who they are. i’m a fan of that.

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