Sure I wanted to loose weight, but being healthy - there's nothing better!
When I lost 100 pounds I decided that I wanted to go get my lab work done to compare. I knew that they would be different than the labs I had draw in 2018. They just had to be. What I didn't anticipate was how drastically different EVERYTHING would be.
All my numbers were lower, better, and improved. I was stunned. When my sweet friend and PA went line by line through the comparison report, I just cried. She said they were link teenager scores. She never gets to tell people their labs are perfect, but I sure loved it when she told me!
It's incredible to see how what you fuel yourself with really changes everything. There are things that you know like, "Eat less. Move more." Easier said than done, but when you SEE the results, it's astounding.
Sure I wanted to loose weight, but being healthy - there's nothing better!
In our family we do birthdays big. I think everyone should be celebrated at least once a year. A day when everything is about you. When people notice the contributions you make. A day to be pampered and have all of your favorite things.
When it came time for our oldest to turn 16, I started asking early when he wanted to do for his 16th birthday. He told me, his mother, that he thought he would probably just go out to dinner with some friends. When I explained to him that idea didn't really work for me, we sort of walked away - and an idea was born.
Surprises all day long.
With the help of some of his friends, we planned a parking lot party.
I designed a shirt for him and had his friends sign it.
We got him an old 1984 Dodge Ram Truck. It's so old it has a tape deck!
He was genuinely pleased.
We got him a few of his favorite things - just little things hidden around.
He said one of his favorite things about the day was wearing his birthday button around all day.
One of his dear friends help me by decorating his locker for us.
So we're an hour away from home running on 5 hours of terrible sleep a night and our 3rd movie of the trip. There are kids all over this bus, literally. Its starting to smell a little.
For those of you who have been ohh-ing and ahh-ing over the photo overload all week, here are a few things you need to know and going to camp as a sponsor:
1. Arranging to go on the trip is just part of the adventure. Taking off work and making preparations for life to go on while you're at camp is a bit like being a ringmaster on the moon. Plan to take off an extra day to recover after camp. You'll thank us.
2. The twin bed life is exactly what you remember. 2 inch mattresses and bunk beds for adults is just as harrowing as you might imagine, especially in the morning when everything creaks and crackles and nothing works the way you expected.
3. Everything is up hill both ways in the snow at Glorietta. Even in July. Trust us.
4. Don't miss the morning leader meeting. It's good for your soul. They teach you and then you in turn teach it to your life group. It's always got some blessing inside that speaks to you.
4. Mornings can be an amazing 70 degrees until the second it is time for Rec and then the clouds roll back and it feels like the face of the sun. Pack sunscreen in your back pack and aloe in your suitcase.
5. After Rec, it's free time. Take a nap. Trust us. Its that or don't plan to shut your eyes for prayers for the rest of the day.
Twice a day, we meet with everyone else at camp, about 2,500 others, for worship. It was always incredible. As I asked the youth what their favorite part of camp was, student after student, told me worship. It was phenomenal to watch our kids worship with total abandon.
They dove into the Word like it was finals time, cramming every bit they could in before the closing prayer. Students were not only attentive, but enthralled with the speaker, the content, and their Savior.
After Celebration in the evening, we had a meeting with our whole church group. Wednesday Zack invited a man who was a Compassion International sponsored child and is now working with Compassion, just finished his Bachelor's degree in Accounting, and is serving his people back in Kenya as a pastor.
Each church is added to one of four spirit teams. This year we were Green Rumble... and we went for it. We like to win! You were green, paint yourself green, yell for green... all week long. We saw capes and tutu's, tribal paint, and even fanny packs! in team colors!
Each day at Rec students play and are challenged It's just for fun - lots of fun. At the end of Rec there is always a devotion, led by one of the camp staff.
The first day was water day and each station was designed to soak the kids. They played with sponges, tarps, baby pools, and lots and lots of water.
This was the most fun and most logistically awful day. Trying to get 60+ girls through 8 showers in 30 minutes was a challenge. Zack told the kids to wear clothes that they could just take to the dumpster.
Quite a few were hesitant, at best, about mud day, but after it started they were all in. The looks on their faces - and mud in the eyes and ears - speaks volumes about how much fun they each had playing in the mud.
This day was Shallowater against like 5 other churches and we dominated. Over 96 tasks were arranged at various stations, each with a point value attached. Points earned plastic ball in baby pools. Upon the completion of your task, you were allowed to move "points" from their pool into your pool. Whole team challenges offered opportunity to earn lots of points all at once.
Our students were in it to win it. When it was announced they we won at the end the students even sung the fight song - twice!
After the devo this day, Zach encouraged the students to do everything with that level of commitment and zeal - study, worship, play.. .all of it.
Time away. Time with your thoughts. Time with Jesus allows for room for relationships to form, others to strengthen, and others to heal. It was amazing, but not surprising, to watch the Lord work in the lives of the students and heal some deep hurts. He brought people together to inspire one another and light fires to take what they've learned with them into the school year.
Adventure is typically a given when you move 100+ people 5 hours on way and this trip was no different. At least one bus over heated each way, Jeremy told football stories from back in the day, and we watched movies - and mostly slept - to pass the time.
Each morning these group leaders would meet with others from LOTS of other churches to learn about the theme and the lesson for the day. After the meeting each day, as a group, we stopped to visit and to pray. It was a wildly diverse group - and just who God intended for this trip.
I just woke up from a 48 hour nap after returning from camp. Last week, I took off with 104 of our youth to Glorieta, NM for 5 days of Student Life Camp. On our way to camp - a 5 hour drive on two packed tour buses - one of my youth minister friends told me that going to youth camp as a sponsor was like taking care of newborn triplets and advised me to sleep when I could.
The week was exhausting. It was wild. It was a blessing. It was memorable. We learned so much throughout the week and by day 2 the other adult sponsor and I were already talking about, "next year we should..."
On the last night the youth leaders were asking who was going again next year. They didn't want to break up "the dream team." Even with the sleep deprivation, I think that I'd still like to go again. However, I can't imagine why there isn't an application process and a waiting list of adults clamoring to go. I feel like I should have to rotate with others who want to go.
We are blessed with some incredible kids. So for those who think they might want to jump on the big bus next year, here are my top tips:
Plan on it. We often think nothing of plunking down hundreds of dollars for soccer camp, gymnastics camp, band camp, or (fill in the blank with any other activity) camp. We will even schedule family vacations and other commitments around them, because we recognize the benefit of concentrated efforts in those areas.
Imagine what could happen if we put as much effort and financial investment into our children's spiritual development!
Take the time off. Reschedule. Commit to it.
Mentally, get ready for this, as much as possible. Pray. Pray. Pray. Get ready for anything. Be open to whatever God has been preparing for you and the youth.
I left the night before from a baseball tournament in Sweetwater, drove home, tossed stuff in a suitcase, and left with the youth at 8am the next morning. I forgot all kinds of stuff - like a towel (Thanks for saving me, Danae) and had too much of others - like clothes. I thought that I would change for chapel each night. That didn't happen.
Practically, bring stuff. The kids will forget stuff, lots of it. Bring some stuff. Hairdryers. Band-aids. An extra towel. Extension cord. If I get to go on the trip again, I will have a very different packing list.
I brought a backpack and that was wonderful. I packed things for the day in it and it came in handy.
Although it looked like we brought two of everything, I was surprised by the things that youth asked, "Hey, do you have a..."
My own child wore the same clothes SEVERAL days in a row. Not sure why. Don't want to know.
The more you put in, the more you will get out. Go. Get out. Jump in. Be part of the group by participating in activities, not standing on the side.
That said, I didn't participate in the Rec activities, except by encouraging, cheering and taking photos - lots of photos. The youth were probably thankful for that, although they would have been gracious and allowed me to mess up their groove. I am glad that I went to Rec time, walked around, and visited with them. Watching them play allowed me opportunities to observe the group dynamics too. It also allowed me a different avenue to create relationships with some of the students I didn't know.
Some of the best moments of camp are the unscripted times.
Share. Be ready to share with the youth about your testimony and your faith. They are curious. Once they know that you listen and will keep their confidences, they will start to open up. Remember though, you share to get them to open up.
The youth kept their phones so we could keep track of them and we practiced that we need to be fully present with the people that we are with and the experiences that we are having. They were fantastic and disciplined and respectful.
Camp is a great time to disconnect and to get away. Do it. The lack of cell service in areas will certainly help facilitate this, but be intentional about it too.
I went with the idea of getting some work done while I was gone. Didn't happen.
The real work, kingdom work, that happened will have benefits that last so much longer.
Also, take time to process and reflect. The schedule allows time for you. Take it. Think about what God's doing in you. Pray about how you can play a role in what God is doing in the youth group.
I don't ever take naps. I tease my college students about naps and staying up all day long like big kids, but man, at camp, I LOVED me some nap time. Take time for some naps too. It will make the late nights and early mornings a bit easier.
Camp played a significant role in my spiritual life as I grew up. I learned to have a quiet time at camp. I learned to recognize God's Spirit speaking to my heart at camp. I learned to work out my faith at camp.
At some point, our kids will choose to either make your faith their own or reject it entirely. You can't make that choice for them, but you can give them opportunities along the way.
A Bible-believing camp is the perfect opportunity for kids to step into their own relationship with God. For a few days they are not distracted by home life, sibling squabbles, or pressure from school. It's just them and God.
Serve the youth minister and the kids. Help create opportunities for those encounters to occur.
The 5th and 6th grade girls that I have been teaching on Wednesday nights since they were in 1st grade, were invited to sit in on youth group for the first time. There was a special speaker and an extended worship time. You could tell they were nervous as we filed into "big church" and as the service progressed, they relaxed. As we were leaving, they were talking about how they couldn't wait to be in youth.
Being in a youth group was essential to my well-being. I cherish the relationships and lessons I learned there.
Those years can be difficult and lonely, struggling to fit in, taking on new responsibilities, and filtering messages from all sides. Teens can use as much encouragement and love as we can give them!
I had a verse taped inside my locker each year. One of the most memorable I remember, I traced a picture our of my Precious Moments bible. The verse read, " I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord...." Reading Jeremiah 29:11 between classes offered comfort many times.
Here are a few options for middle school or high school lockers you may know of...
My sister made appointments for all of the girls to get a royal make over at the Bippity Boppity Boutique during one of the first days on board. She booked it online weeks before we ever set sail. With the on board credit we recieved from our travel agent, it was virtually free.
Girls can be princesses, mermaids, Tinker Bell, Minnie, or a pirate. When you make the appointment they ask for dress and shoe sizes, and the child’s personal dress package is compiled and ready when you arrive. My tween choose to be a Disney Diva and was embarrassed by all of the attention and fru-fru, but at the end when she saw how adorable she was, she was pleased.
She giggled the entire time. The bet part was that she made friends with the girl in the chair next to her. They ran around and played together the rest of the trip.
I have no idea how I first learned of this dog ball. (My husband brought it home) I have no idea what ever possessed me to actually buy one. (He bough it) Perhaps I thought that it would be funny. (You guessed it, he thought it was hilarious) It's not. (It was for the first few minutes.)
This Bable Ball is the MOST annoying dog toy ever.
This is a video we found on YouTube. It's proof that others find it annoying too.
It's so anoying that we actually hid it - months ago. However, you'll never guess what amazing discovery one of of kids made this week. And then gave it back to the dog. Yep. The Ball.
We heard an unfamiliar voice chattering and we kept looking and looking... and then we made the discovery. The Ball was back. We have taken the ball away from our dog over and over. Yet, we still have The Ball.
We love Santa Land. Even though the kids are getting older they still enjoy this tradition. Every year when we top the hill on Broadway and can see the lights welcoming everyone to Santa Land, they kids still gasp. It was nothing different tonight.
Everyone should take the time to walk around, look at the scenes, and huddle with friends and neighbors by the fires. Most nights there are live music performances. There is hot coca for sale and of course, the main attraction is Santa Clause.
These days it's a given that at some point our children will have a cell phone. Just like the gift of a bicycle, there are some basic rules and responsibilities of cell phone.
When our oldest child recieved his first cell phone, which he was probably too young to have, we looked in quite a few places (There is a great list here) to creating a cell phone contract to teach him about the responsibilities that come with having a cell phone, as well as the consequences for not seeing those responsibilities through. We went through the contract, asked and answered questions, and have since edited and revised the original contract based on usage and trends.
Cell Phone: Tween Responsibilities
Really, I never thought that I'd say, "... table for 6, please." going to dinner with my family. I had plans to be a professor and travel the world. I moved from Missouri to West Texas for graduate school and was just passing through, when I met a man that captivated my heart and held my hand.