Faves on faves

This past year was a light one on posting. Well, 2013 was I mean. I think from January 2014 to now, I’ve posted more than I posted in the entirety of the last calendar year.

Why? Because life. I dunno. But I’m glad to be getting back to (semi-)regularity.

In honor of five years today (had you heard about how I’ve had this blog for five years? Have I driven it into your brain enough?) I picked out my five favorite posts from the last year. In no particular order, I’ve listed (and linked) ’em below.

A little less medicated: Wherein I start going off of my anxiety meds. Jesus take the wheel.

• New Year’s Eve Mystery – The Case: AKA Best New Year’s Eve Of My Life

Wherein I am either the worst chaperone or the best one: That time I got a tattoo while chaperoning a church trip.

• You can take the girl outta Kentucky, but you can’t take the Kentucky outta the girl: Otherwise known as when I got to tell Travis Tritt my parents’ (and mine and several others’) favorite story about my whole childhood.

• Self-esteem boosters with Sarah: The one that started it all.

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Self-esteem boosters with Sarah

She’s been quiet with the compliments (backhanded and otherwise) for a while, but never fear, today she made up for it.

When we were getting ready to get in cars and head over to do a service project, she and three other middle school girls claimed my car for the trip over. However…

“Laura’s car always smells like a cat for some reason..”

I don’t even know…

Best Week Ever. Part 2.

Things you would have told me 10 years ago I’d be doing and I wouldn’t have believed: Chaperoning six teenagers on an overseas trip for eight days and having one of the best times of my life in the process.

But it happened.

You see, this summer I decided to be real nice and I took these goobers with me to Jamaica.

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I was in charge of them and getting them to and from Jamaica safely and if that phrase puts fear in your heart, you are not alone, my friends.

I’ll be real honest. I didn’t know what to expect. Not that I thought anything would go wrong, or I’d have any problems, but I’ve always had someone there to ask how to handle something or to refer all questions to. But now I was the lone answerer of the questions. The keeper of the information. And medical release forms. And rules.

Luckily I took the best group of teenagers in the world with me and had no problems at all.

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Watching this group experience what I had twice before was amazing for me. Watching them make new friends and learn about new cultures and try new foods and live without WiFi for hours at a time.. there were times I just sat there and smiled, glad that I could be a part of a week I know they won’t forget.

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I didn’t always know that I wanted to work with teenagers, that I wanted to work with a youth group. But now I can’t really imagine not doing it.

And it doesn’t hurt that the youth I work with are the best ones on this planet, either.

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I tease and call them my babies sometimes because I feel like i have to take care of all of them. And I got it right back on this trip, when they called me “Mom” at various times. But that’s fine. I did have a Mom Bag.

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And later, when we got home and I watched them share their experiences with others and heard about what that week had meant to them, well yeah. I was Mom all over again. All proud of my little ones for who they are and what they’d done and the love they’d shown each other and our friends – new and old – in Jamaica.

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OK enough mushy stuff. More pictures.

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Awesome week, awesome-er company. Couldn’t have asked for a better group.

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Best Week Ever. Part 1.

This summer, for the third time in 10 years, I’ve gotten to take a trip to my happy place.

You see, in 2004, our youth group got the chance to visit with our sister church in Mandeville, Jamaica. We gained some awesome friendships (more about that later) and a home away from home that we couldn’t wait to return to.

Fast-forward to 2009, when I went back, this time not as a “youth” but as a “chaperone.” I’m going to go ahead and leave that one in quotes because I still don’t believe I should be in charge of anything ever. But people keep asking me to be…

This exchange – us going to Jamaica and our friends coming here – started because of an amazing youth leader/associate pastor we’ve had for the past 10 years.

Earlier this year, we had the unfortunate and gut-wrenching task of saying goodbye to her as she moved on from the church and myself and two other young adults tried desperately to keep our heads above water and come even the slightest bit close to filling one of the toes of those shoes.

One big thing to contend with in her absence was this exchange program. For the first time, it fell on me to get it all together. Again – why am I in charge of things? I’m not old enough to be. Definitely not mature enough.

Long story short, because of the amazing foundation she’d built and all she’d prepared for us within the church, the trip this summer went off without a hitch.

I went to Jamaica for the third time this summer and have it on good authority that that makes me officially Jamaican.

Along with me this time were six of my youth group babies (aka my high schoolers) and, for part of the week, our pastor.

I’ve got so much to tell you about this trip but you’re 300 words in now so I’ll give you a break until next time. For now, look at just a few of the pictures I took. (Don’t worry you’ll get more later.)

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I filled up my memory card that week, you guys. That’s like 1,000 pictures.

I’m tellin’ ya. Happy place. Stay tuned.

Iron Cheflets

Every Sunday afternoon I spend a couple hours with some pretty awesome teenagers. Allegedly, I am kind of responsible for what they do during that time, which is why last week I had them cook lunch for all of us.

Those who can’t do, teach, right?

No seriously, I can’t cook, but the mission of the day wash’t just to make food for us. We didn’t give them recipes, we just gave them ingredients. And said “Here, make some stuff.”

And we ended up with a delicious lunch, with no help from adults whatsoever.

Here’s a look at how we got there, because that’s way more entertaining than saying “We watched them cook for an hour.” ‘Cause that’s what we did. Chaperoning, y’all. And not a single person got burnt on the oven. I call that a successful day.

I’m going to see about hiring them to make dinners to send over to my house every night. That could work, right?

Chaperoning at The Happiest Place on Earth

I may have mentioned it a few ten times, but I spent MLK weekend in Orlando, chaperoning 11 kids – middle-schoolers and high-schoolers through a youth faith conference/time at the Disney parks.

Lots of fun, lots of rides, lots of standing, dancing, singing, running to get ahead of teenagers who had no idea where they were going and had to be told 30 times to “Stay behind an adult!” Needless to say, I’m still recovering.

That said, I love those kids like they were my own flesh and blood and I loved spending time with them. They’re a great group and I can’t wait to watch them grow and do great things.

I could give you a play-by-play of the whole weekend, but that would be less fun than what I have in mind. So. For your viewing pleasure, I’ll give you a little idea of what that three-day weekend — that felt like 10 days but went by as fast as one day — was like through pictures from the new ballin’ camera and several tweets from the weekend.

Yeah, that’s right, I live-tweeted as often as I could and for those of you who don’t/can’t follow me on Twitter, these tweets pretty much sum it all up.

Without further ado, my MLK weekend in photos and tweets.

Enjoy.

Crazy, busy, fun, a little bit stressful for a few minutes, awesome, unpredictable weekend. That about sums it up.