When you hang out with teenagers

You overhear a number of different things, but one thing remains the same: You never have any idea what they will say. They’re kind of like toddlers in that way…

Case in point, overheard at a recent youth group meeting:

“My mom cut our hair but we had to stop when she got my ear once.”

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…And you will hereafter refer to me as such

You might have heard that I work with teenagers at my church..

If you haven’t, I suggest reading one or all of these before going further:

Chaperoning at the Happiest Place on Earth
Wherein I am either the worst chaperone or the best one
Joining the club
Self-esteem boosters with Sarah

So yeah. I’m one of five adults that helps lead our youth group, and with that title comes power and as Uncle Ben Parker says, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

(Or Stan Lee says it – I took a picture of him from five feet away once, look!)

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Anyway, I’m getting off topic. Sorry. It’s the holidays, I’m delirious.

Most recently, one of the events we did with the youth was the 30-Hour Famine, a fundraising event benefiting World Vision’s hunger relief efforts and as part of it we play a bunch of games, have a lock-in and don’t eat for 30 hours straight.

I took charge of this particular event, at least as far as getting the info and game stuff we needed ordered.

Well. Apparently if you have stuff delivered to a church now it automatically makes you a Rev. Because this is what was on the box.

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I think that means I can perform weddings now, so… add that to the resume.

Went to the chapel..

..but I wasn’t the one who got married. Don’t worry, y’all will know long before that happens someday.

Nah, my most recent wedding is one where I TOOK THE PICTURES. Like, the official pictures. That people buy. And will keep in their house forever.

Yes I’ve done this twice before (most recently last summer for my BFF, Ashley).

But this wedding was for someone I didn’t know personally until she called and asked to meet me to discuss photographing her wedding.

She got my business card from my therapist, of all people, and liked my portfolio and what do ya know, the second weekend in August, I was shooting a special day for a sweet couple in maybe one of the most beautiful churches I have ever seen.

I gave them about 500 or so to choose from. Here are a couple less than that.

Self-esteem boosters with Sarah

Welcome to a new feature, here on the ol’ blog, in which you will hear the frequent “compliments” I get from one of the teenagers in the youth group I work with – an eighth-grade girl named Sarah.

She’s been on a roll lately. She’s unfiltered, which I can definitely appreciate because, well, people are amazed at things I say most of the time.

She’ll give me what she calls “compliments.” I wouldn’t go as far to call them that. But I appreciate every single one.

Most recently, I got this one after I started walking up the ramp to the youth room in front of her.

Sarah: “Laura, you’ve got a flat butt.”
Me: “I KNOW.”
Sarah: “No, but like, I mean that in a good way. It’s nice.”

Best Week Ever. Greatest Hits.

I’m just about done telling/showing you about the Jamaica trip. Except for one more thing to tell you about later that’s such a big deal it gets its own post. And here’s a hint: It involves crossing something off my List.

But that’s for another time.

I took almost 1000 pictures that week. Well personally I probably took about 600. I gave my camera to kids/Jordon a whole lot.

I’ve shown you several, and none really do the week or the relationships we have with our friends there any justice.

But these are my absolute favorites from the trip. Please enjoy.
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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.

Secret ingredient

So at youth group, we let the youths cook.

Yeah, I really just said “youths” so I could use that gif. Because I love it so much.

We gave them the ingredients but no recipes. However, next time they would like things to be different.

Jonathan, twelfth-grader: “Next time we should get to bring our own ingredients.”
Mark, sixth-grader: “Yeah, I’m bringing my mom.”

Mark has already figured out my approach to cooking. Good on him for learning it at such a young age.

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?

Pretty sure that name didn’t appear in the Bible but bonus points for creativity

I’ve signed up to help teach four- and five-year-old Sunday School because I’m a glutton for punishment I enjoyed helping Rachel out when she was teaching last year and the one week I’ve attended so far did not disappoint.

The lady that’s doing most of the teaching (I’m there for cat-herding and craft assistance) is the sweetest woman you’ll ever meet and she has a grandson in the class. Her other grandson, Wyatt, apparently came to the class last week, even though he’s 3.

That age is big on repetition so for Sunday School the past two weeks they’ve learned the story about Abraham and Sarah.

Or they’re supposed to.

Because apparently, last week, after the lesson when the teacher asked the class what Abraham’s wife’s name was (after it had been repeated multiple times) Wyatt called out confidently: “LADY GAGA.”

It’s gonna be a fun year…

Decapitation and Detectives

Maybe it’s because I keep watching True Blood right before bed. Maybe it’s because I saw Sherlock Holmes on New Year’s Eve and haven’t been able to NOT think about Robert Downey Jr. – or Jude Law for that matter – since. Maybe the Weight Watchers Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream has drugs in it. Maybe all this insomnia is finally getting to me.

Whatever it is, it is giving me some CRAZ-AY dreams. Yes, I realize that is not how the word is spelled, but, ya’ll, the “A” is for emphasis (even though it should be “E” for emphasis…).

I’m thisclose to giving a notebook and pen a permanent home on my nightstand so I can write this crap down the second I wake up, otherwise it tends to get a little fuzzy and I forget.

Recently, though, two of my dreams were so random and one was so seriously messed up, that I still remember a good portion of them, or at least the important points.

First one was right after Christmas, even though it wasn’t Christmas-y AT ALL. I don’t remember how it happened or why, but in the dream, I had been decapitated.

Let that sink in for a minute or two. De.cap.i.tat.ed. As in MY HEAD HAD BEEN CUT OFF, kids.

Not only that, but somehow, miraculously, I woke up (in the dream) in the hospital, where they had apparently succeeded in re-attaching my head. No one else was in the dream – that I can remember – except me and whoever the doctor was. And then, this guy came in my hospital room with a flier for an event. That he wanted me to make sure GOT PUT IN THE NEWSPAPER. And I was like, “Um, my head just got cut off and re-attached. I don’t have time for typing things up right now.”

The other one I can still remember happened over the weekend. On Dec. 31, I saw Sherlock Holmes – great movie, you should see it, if not for the amazingness that is RDJ and Jude Law, at least go for some awesome previews. A couple days later, Robert Downey Jr. was in my dream. I don’t remember how the dream started, or really what all was going on.

All I know is I was in the parking lot of my church and RDJ was running around inside the church. And for some reason, we weren’t allowed to go in and get him. The middle of the dream is fuzzy, but I do remember that he came back outside at the end. After that, I woke up.

Second one is a lot less crazy than the first, and trust me, I’ve looked up what it means to dream about decapitation. It was interesting. As was what it means to dream about celebrities and the church. Apparently there are different interpretations depending on if you saw the church from the inside or the outside.

I couldn’t find anywhere where it said what it means to dream about Robert Downey Jr. Guess it just means I’ll have to go see Sherlock Holmes again. Darn.