Three Little Luxuries

Happy Thursday!! I think Thursday's are usually my favorite day in any given week.  My "weekend" is usually Friday and Saturday, so Thursday's are my "Friday." Yipee!

Brian and I are not people who splurge often. It feels like a waste of money I almost always regret. But I'm always tickled pink whenever I realize something was a great purchase. Like a $12 layering t-shirt that has lasted nearly 100 washes, or an $95 graphing calculator that carries you from 8th grade through grad school... All about cost-per-use here. 

Three little luxuries I enjoy in my life that have earned the title of Totally Worth It:
1. Turbie Twist. (Or as Brian calls it, "Kirby Twist") My grandmother gave me a two-pack of Turbie Twists for Christmas and it seemed like such a goofy gift but I seriously love it. I always shower a night, and my hair is so long and thick it would get my PJ's soaked. Not anymore! Cost: $12.
2. OXO Travel Mug. This seemed like an impulse decision when we put some nice stainless steel travel mugs on our wedding registry. We already had some cheap-o plastic travel mugs that worked okay. But DANG bringing coffee to work and it's still hot after an hour is a total game changer. Cost: $20

3. Fuzzy slippers. Who knew something so simple could make mornings so much easier? Even in the heat of summer, my feet are always little ice cubes. I've worn through two pairs of slippers in the past year but I think I'll keep buying the cheap kind instead of investing in a long-term pair that will soak up my foot sweat for even longer. Cost: $15 every 6 months or so. 

What little luxuries and splurges are Totally Worth It in your life? Let me now! 

You Don't Even Have to Try

I used to try kind-of hard to be unique. Actually it's a little embarrassing how hard I tried to be unique. I think I was accidentally a moderate hipster.

A photo posted by Kirby Darden (@kirby.darden) on
I wore ill-fitting clothes from thrift stores, pictured above. I only listened to little-known indie musicians. I took great pride in the fact that I went to a tiny college and chose the least popular major. I even shopped high and low to get "limited edition" Chacos that nobody else would have. I loved to brag about anything and everything unusual that every happened in my life. What a waste of energy. I am unique. I don't have to try.

Even now that I listen to Top 40, I am unique. Even now that I buy my clothes at regular stores instead of thrift stores, I am unique. Even now that I have a normal, full-time office job, I am unique. Even not that I religiously watch The Bachelor, I am unique.

When I was a dummy I thought I had to make sure I wasn't too normal or boring. But who was I kidding? My freaking name is "Kirby," that's already definitely not normal. Hy humor, smile, and laugh are unique. My opinions, experiences, and skills are unique. My interests, values, and priorities are unique. I don't even have to try.

Do Not Fear

Stuff scares me all the time. I startle incredibly easily, I cover my eyes during the intense parts of movies, and I refuse to squash bugs and spiders because I'm certain they'll somehow retaliate. Talking on the phone, talking to strangers, trying new foods, turning left at an intersection without a green arrow... All things that terrify me.

But that's stupid. And if you're scared of stuff too, that's pretty stupid.

The only think that logically makes sense for us to fear is death. The end. But we don't even have to fear that, because death isn't death anymore. On Easter, I actually got to go to worship and listen to the sermon (very rare for me-- children's ministry problems) and our pastor made a sort of joke about death but I forget how he set it us and I forget the punchline. So I'll tell you the premise and the point but it won't be a funny joke anymore- sorry!

Here's what his joke said (except it was somehow funny)...
All the time we look forward to sleep. It's calming, not difficult, painless, and we were created for it. We go about our day, knowing we will eventually get to sleep at night, and we definitely don't worry about it in any way. And that's how we should feel about death.

SO the only thing that's "worthy" of our fear is actual death.
BUT we can reclaim death as a victory.
SO really there's nothing to fear ever ever ever ever ever ever ever.

The Bible tells us the reason we shouldn't be afraid is because we've been redeemed and we belong to God. We belong to God. We belong to God. Why the heck should we be afraid of anything, least of all death?

The Responsible Thing to Do

Last week's goals went okayish. 
1. Take advantage of down time at work. (B+) Every day I felt like I got a lot done, but I still am less than halfway to recruiting all fifty Subday School teachers I need for next year. 
2. Drink two water bottles at work daily. (C) I drank more water than usual but I never once managed to actually finish off the second water bottle before dinner. 
3. Plan a super fun Friday! (A+) Friday was completely fun- we went to TopGolf and we cooked enchiladas and had a game night. 

I've got GOALS for this week that I actually really do want to complete. I will feel so responsible with my time and money if I can accomplish all this:

1. Spend under $30 on groceries, and no other money at all. I spent an annoying amount of money last weekend because Sara was visiting and we wanted to do fun things. Gotta make up for it somewhere. We usually spend $70 a week on groceries, but we have a couple freezer meals stocked up so hopefully we will survive by just buying basics (coffee, apples, goldfish, can't-live-without kinda stuff). 
2. Edit a bunch of footage I shot last weekend. I used to shoot videos all the time and I was notorious for procrastinating the heck out of editing. It's pretty fun but it's also easy for someone to get sucked into a black hole of perfectionism. 
3. Start registration for my summer camp. By far the biggest duty in my job description is the missions themed summer day camp I put on for preteens. I've gotten our projects sorted out and I need to start signup and recruit chaperones.  

He is Risen? What?!

Happy Easter! 
Today is the most wonderful reason to celebrate: our Lord Jesus conquered death after he suffered in our place! Forgiveness like that is insane to wrap your mind around. 

We went to church this morning and helped put in the three-year-olds' class, which reminded me of a couple sweet stories about kids learning Easter. 

Last year on Easter Sunday, I was teaching the four-year-olds' class. We had already colored a picture of an empty tomb, read the Bible storybook about Easter, and we were watching a cute video about Easter too. A sweet little guy sat in my lap during the video and he was attentive to the screen. The storyteller arrived at the climax of the story, saying something like, "The tomb was empty! Jesus had come back to life!" The little boy turned around to me, flabbergasted, and yelled, "What?!?!?!?!? How did he do that?!?!?!" 

Just last week I was reviewing Easter  with a small group of kids. A second grader and fourth grader were taking turns saying a little bit of the story at a time. The second grader said like, "Unfortunately Jesus was very badly hurt by people and eventually he died with nails in his hands, and they put him in a tomb." The fourth grader had obviously heard the story a million times before and robotically added, "Yeah, and a couple days later, he shows up, and it turns out he had tricked us all, and he was only sleeping!" When we gently corrected him, clarifying that Jesus really died and returned to life, he was totally floored. His jaw literally dropped open and he quietly gasped, "How?"

May we all be as enchanted as those two kiddos were by Jesus each time we remember his triumph over death. 

Last Name in Limbo

The top image is from Post Secret, sent in by someone anonymous.
The second image is by me, inspired by the first.

Trading Faces

I have fallen into the Face Swap craze. Oops. This is Brian and me, switched around. 

My face on his head looks like the teenage boy from We're The Millers:

His face on my head looks a dopey villain in a action/comedy movie. 

Here me and Sara swapped:
  We actually look like we could be real people so that's scary. 

Three Things I Would Tell My 15-Year-Old Self

This post is inspired by Kelli's "Three Things Thursday" post last week. I loved it and I'm going to try my hardest not to copy her exact same three things.

1. Stop spending money on dumb things. Choose outings that will be memorable with your friends, clothing that will last at least three years, gas in your car, and save the rest. Stop spending on $7 chicken fingers and fries at school. Stop spending $50 on a shirt from American Eagle that you won't wont dare wear next season. Save some stinking cash. 

2. Don't worry about college. Concentrate on getting A's and B's right now, and you'll get into several colleges, and you will literally love any one that you attend. College decisions don't matter. Any accredited college will give you a good education, and you'll find your own friend group, and God will get you in the right career path. 

3. Let your hair be natural every once in a while. Straightening your shoulder-length or chin-length hair every morning practices disliking your own body. It wastes an extra thirty minutes of sleep, you're damaging the ends, and sometimes you accidentally look like Coconut Head.

Procrastination Station

*This post is inspired by the fact that its 9pm, I'm exhausted, and I wish I had written a blog post today in advance.*

As a student, if you procrastinate, if you skip your homework, if you flake out and only put in half effort, you are the only person who suffers. This is absolutely nothing like the real world.

In college I usually tried hard, but if I got super busy it was not out of the ordinary for me to skip a few questions on my homework assignment. (I never skipped class though! That counts for something, right?) If I had a high grade in a class, I would slack off and not proofread my next paper, and gladly coast on a B-. It was a pretty nice life, never giving myself too hard of a time about grades, just letting myself be content with a slightly-above-average GPA. So basically, I learned nothing about time management and disciplining myself to churn out my top-quality work until graduate school when I was a full-time intern teacher. Being thrown into the real world wasn't too hard to start managing money and paying bills... what was tough was realizing that my effort actually affects other people.

At my real job, in my real relationships with family and friends, and in taking care of my home and my self, there is no room for procrastination. If I leave my lesson plans to the last minute and email my children's ministry volunteers at the last minute, I'm left with last-minute cancellation, and I'm left out to dry- the kids at church would suffer the consequences. If I push off texting back my friend, I actually won't casually bump into them in the dining hall tomorrow to catch up- our relationship would suffer real consequences. If I leave grocery shopping to the last minute, my husband and I end up eating goldfish and peanut butter for lunch- our bodies would suffer real consequences. Cause and effect is more than just a GPA now. Instead of my actions changing that somewhat meaningless number on my transcript, they're changing my whole community.

When-I-was-a-dummy, I made any choice I wanted because I knew I could pay the consequence and it would all be "even." I procrastinated because I was willing to accept an inferior product as my own. Now, I have to make choices based on a bigger picture. I am learning not to procrastinate because it doesn't affect just me.

You Are You

Happy Pep Talk Tuesday! Here we go, get ready to be pumped up for an awesome day tomorrow. 

Think of a time you accomplished something great. Think of a time you felt really confident. Think of a time you really liked your outfit and your face. Think of a time you were really proud of a joke you made. Think of a time someone complimented you. Think of a time you learned something complicated. 

You are still that same person. Not only are you the same, but also you're collecting more and more of those awesome moments. You are you, and that's incredible today, more incredible tomorrow, and even MORE incredible the next day. You are you. 

Happy Holy Week

Last week's goals:
1. Healthy lunches. (B) I did pretty good except for one day. I usually ate carrots with hummus and one other thing (soup or salad or leftovers)... but there was one day we had a lunch meeting at work and I got an enormous club sandwich on giant pieces of white bread. It should have been two meals but I ate it in twenty minutes.
2. Walking. (B) I walked probably five days out of seven. Not too bad, but also that means I was just a bump on a log twice this past week.
3. Limit TV to one hour a day. (B+) I think I adhered to this goal every day except yesterday, when Ratatouille was on TV. I cannot resist children's movies.

It's Holy Week! And my goals have barely anything to do with Holy Week... maybe #1 kinda relates. Oh well. I was looking for some stock photos of angels, hoping to find the perfect cheesy picture,  and these are my favorite hilariously creepy images:

Enough creepy pictures of angels for you? Okay- This week's goals:
1. Take advantage of down time at work. This Sunday and next Sunday we don't have Sunday School. Usually 75% of my job is just preparing for Sunday School each week (writing six lesson plans, gathering supplies, securing teachers, finding last-minute substitute teachers, etc.), but that means I'll have two weeks in a row with no prep work for Sunday School! Instead of letting my brain turn to much at work, I am determined to take advantage of this time and get a lot done in preparation for the summer activities I have to plan. 
2. Drink two water bottles at work daily. Today I had the worst headache and came home crying. Brian was so sweet and brought me meds and water and was a quiet mouse. I then realized I hadn't peed all day, so I had to have been terribly dehydrated. 
3. Plan a super fun Friday! Sara is coming to visit this Friday and I'm super excited beyond all get-out. Trying to plan the perfect Friday for us-- a good mixture of goofy adventures and chill time to catch up. 

Sweet Little Sweetheart

Today at church there was a little kindergartener Nate attending. Normally he's really unruly and hates following directions and runs around the room. But he's so freaking cute that I just can't be stern with him. He's shorter than his peers, he has a precious little birthmark on his face, and he has a tiny baby-man raspy voice.

Today at church, I have no idea why, but he was SO clingy and cuddly and sweet. During playtime, we played Chutes and Ladders, and he actually followed the directions and took the chutes when he landed on them. That was my first hint that something very strange but awesome was going on with him today.

When playtime was over, we then have worship time. We play a song video on the screen and all the kids sing along and dance around. He started wandering around the room, and I caught him and said, "Hey Nate, wanna go dance with the kindergarteners with me?" On a normal Sunday he would probably ignore me and go over to the Lego table. But today, he took my hand and walked over to the Kindergarten section, and he let me move his arms around like a dancing puppet.

Then after worship time, we have our Bible lesson. Today the kids were learning about Good Friday and Easter (even though today was actually Palm Sunday, they learned about that last week) and we showed this video during our Bible lesson:
God's Story: Easter from Crossroads Kids' Club on Vimeo.

It's actually sorta scary for the little kids, kinda intense at some parts, and so all the Kindergarteners were snuggling up against me with their eyes glued to the screen. It was the best ever actually. After the video was over, Nate looked at me and said, "I HATED the part when Jesus died." And I responded how I have to: "We don't use the word 'hate.' You can find other words to describe your feelings." But sweet little Nate said, "No, that's the right word." And I really can't argue with him. I hate it too.

Hair Everywhere

The first image is from postsecret, sent in by someone anonymous.
The second image is my own, inspired by the first.

Sweet Early Summer

A few days ago we had a gorgeous "summer" afternoon in early March! 

It was 85 degrees in the afternoon. After work, we went walking around a few neighborhoods. I wore shorts and sandals. Then we made guacamole and ate it on the back patio. I was in heaven.

Three Reasons I Don't Wear Makeup

I don't care about makeup. There are reasons I think it's great (like if you view it as an art or skill you're improving at) and reasons I think it's terrible (like if you're embarrassed of your natural face) but these are the three main reasons I've never gotten into it.

1. It's expensive. It costs time and money. Sure, if you start with a strong arsenal of makeup, and only have to replace one or two things at a time, and slowly grow your collection... maybe it only costs you $10 to $20 a month. But thats up to twenty stinkin' dollars each month! I'd rather spend that on guacamole. And the initial cost of getting all the basics is big. And I know myself well enough that if I started liking makeup, I'd want to spend more than just the basic quality stuff.
2. My face doesn't bother me. There are basically three main reasons why people choose to wear makeup, and none of them apply to me. Some people wear makeup because they view it like an art/hobby/skill they like to improve at. Cool for you, but it's not my cup of tea. Some people wear makeup because they think they have to, since it's the norm. That's a stupid reason, and my workplace lets me get around it. Some people wear makeup because they want to cover up their face, altar it, shade it, or hide it. I don't want to go down that path of trying to make myself look "better."
3. I don't feel like myself. I dress casually for my job every day. Jeans, sneakers, and a semi-nice shirt. I've only ever worn makeup for job interviews, my own wedding, and a black-tie event a few weeks ago. I felt weirdly self conscious the whole time, like nobody was seeing my real face. I felt like a character playing myself.

No Explainations

When I was a dummy, I used to think I had to explain my life choices. And defend them. And convince other people I'm right.

In college, very few of my peers were Christians and some people didn't realize that my faith doesn't make me an intolerant close-minded bigot.
In grad school I had hundreds of people ask me why I'd chosen to work with kids and why I wanted to work with inner-city families.
Even a couple weeks ago, Brian and I were reading a book about marriage (when we bought the book we didn't know how extremely conservative the author is...) and the book questioned the ethical use of birth control.

Other people's opinions don't matter, and people who form judgmental opinions wouldn't ever listen to my explanations anyway. All I have to do is make my life choices, live them out, and let that be it's own explanation.

The joy I find in my faith, the happiness I see when I work with families, and the security I have by taking advantage of birth control are MY decisions and don't need defending.

Yes You Caila

In all my past Pep Talk Tuesday posts, the pep talks have been addressed to "you," and realistically they've been kinda addressed to you the reader but mostly addressed to myself. 
Today is different, my pep talk is to Caila Quinn, the girl who was almost The Bachelorette. The was the second runner up on Ben Higgins season, and apparently they started shooting promo film for her own Bachelorette season, but ABC switched and went with a different lead, Jojo. 

Okay maybe both of those bullets were disguised in a way that you thought they were amazing blessings and opportunities, and maybe you got your heart broken twice within a few weeks, but naw girl, they were NOT gonna be good for you.
1. Ben seems great and you seem great but you were not great together. That's really totally fine. If you and Ben had met under any other circumstances I bet you would have gone on a few more dates and realized there's no spark there. That's fine. You're fine. You're goth great. Unfortunately the show makes that seem like the end of the world. If Ben had picked you in the end, the world would have tried so hard to tear you apart. Who knows if you would have gone through with the marriage. If you had, I'd've wished you the best, but who cares.
2. The Bachelorette would have been terrible for your personality. You like to trust. You like to narrate how open you feel like you're being. You would probably get too attached to your top 16 guys, and you'd take it very personally when you find out that half of them are total jerks. 

You will not have any trouble dating in real life. You will be better at dating in a normal way. You will feel better dating a regular non-famous man who picks you out of a crowd instead of a fame-hungry man who was picked for you and made to like you. Your life is better this way, hands down.

Measuring Self-Improvement

Last week's goals:
1. Find four or five viable apartment options, and visit a couple of them. (A) We found about twelve apartment complexes that looked promising, visited all of them, and narrowed it down to six that look like actual real possibilities. it's a relief to have several good options in our price range and our ideal location. We just have to wait to see availability for May. 
2. Start recruiting Sunday School teachers. (C) I got a couple new Sunday school teachers lined p for next year, but they're the ones who approached me. I need to be aggressive recruiting volunteers starting pronto!
3. Read earlier in the day. (B) A few times a read earlier, and a few times I waited til bed, but I never was absolutely so tired that I skipped reading. 

This week's goals:
1. Healthy lunches. I had a really hard time cutting out sweets and chips a few weeks ago. Actually, even though it was a goal, I didn't cut anything out at all. Hopefully I can just make sure my lunches are healthy, and that'll cut down on some unnecessary calories. I just want to get down two little pounds so that my pants fit better!
2. Walking. I have a desk job. When I get home from work, I usually sit on my couch. Last week the weather was so nice I walked almost every day, and I want to keep up the habit. 
3. Limit TV to one hour a day. I hate how much of my life is wasted in front of the TV. We usually watch thirty minutes of news and one hour of shows. After an hour, I usually get a headache (especially when we watch political debates) but the headache isn't enough to coax me to shut it off. Maybe I'm addicted, and I hate that. 

A Series of Homes

Yesterday Brian and I went looking at a apartments to move into in a few weeks. We found several good options in our price range so we don't feel stressed at all. Dreading packing and moving and unpacking, my wheels got turning and I realized I haven't stayed in a home for more than a year since high school. 

5th grade through 12th grade I lived with my parents in Roswell, GA. Seven whole years of the same old home, same room, same bed, same everything. 

Each year of college I lived in a different dorm room. Each year they got progressively better and my roommate and I were naïvely like, "This is the best room in the world!!!!"

For one semester in college I actually lived with a random insane family in East Nashville while I completed an internship. The family was welcoming, safe, and  nice but SO weird. Like they didn't own a microwave or any TV's, and they only took baths not showers, and they made their own dish soap. The walls and ceilings were all painted deep purple and bright green, and the hallways were cover in childhood art by their now-adult children. But they were so nice and they only charged me like $350 a month. 

After college I spent a year in a very janky apartment with my friend Sara while I went to grad school. It was the cheapest safe-ish apartment within ten miles of work and school so we went for it. I should write more about our weird experiences in that complex. Here's a good little story: our downstairs neighbor had a five year old boy who liked to take baths in a large bucket outdoors. 

After grad school I got my first job in Atlanta and I lived in a cute little condo in Midtown. I quit that job after a few months and moved back to my parents house. 

I spent about five months at my parents' house, then they sold their house and we all moved into a rental house in the next town over. 

Then my parents moved out (October 2015) and moved into their own new house. Then Brian moved in with me (November 2015) and it feels like a whole different home. 

I've never kept my stuff in one place for over a year since high school. You'd think it'd force me to be a little less of a pack rat and let go of stuff I don't need. But actually I haven't been learning that lesson until now, as I'm preparing to move from a house to an apartment. I've always been able to keep plenty of "keepsake boxes" full of memories stuffed in the basement at my parents' house. Yearbooks, awards, trinkets... I never needed to go through it and purge. Til now! I'm only going to take ONE box of yearbooks, ONE small box of random keepsakes, and ONE small box of craft supplies. I'm simultaneously looking forward to it and dreading it.

My Non-Existant Diary

The first image is by someone anonymous, sent to PostSecret.
The second image is my own, inspired by the first.

The Kids' Banner

This past Sunday, the kiddos at church worked together to make a "praise banner." We didn't give them much direction, just gave them paper and markers, and the results were awesome. 

Here are some close-ups of their cute terrible spelling and their sweet sentiments.
"God + Gesis = PERFECT!!!!!"
"I love your ranebose"
"God is are save-yer."
"The Lord hos cinchrol."

Three Things I Love About "The Bachelor"

I used to think that watching The Bachelor was my "guilty pleasure." But now I don't actually feel guilty at all. It's just fascinating and entertaining for legitimate reasons. I have seen every episode of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette for the bast several seasons, so I guess you could call me an expert. I have a great time every week laughing at the show's self-aware cheesiness and ridiculousness. Here's why it's so great.

1. Overanalyzing the politics of it all. I love being judgmental of which girls are real, which girls were hired actresses to be insane, and which ones are just there for gaining Instagram followers and a chance at their own next season as the lead.
2. Admiring the producers' manipulation of us. It makes me so excited and frustrated when we notice voiceovers and sound clips that are taken out of context to completely twist the story in the teaser trailers.
3. Time with my pals. Watching a social experiment has become a social event. I usually watch with my friends Anna and Lauren, so it's good to actually see friends every week. If we can't meet up, then it's just a fun thing to watch at home with Brian.


When my brother and sister and I were younger we would argue over stupid little things. Adults would say, "When you're older and don't live together, you'll be great friends." All three of us were like "Heck no that'll never happen."

This was probably the peak age when we "hated" each other- one high schooler, one middle schooler, one elementary schooler. And yes, I was way too old to be dressing like my doll, but I loved it, so whatever. 

Now, we actually usually get along. And we only see each other at holidays, which is sad, but it makes holidays feel even more magical. My siblings are pretty cool. 

When I was a dummy, I thought they'd drive me bonkers forever. Now, I can't wait til May when I get to go visit my brother. 

The Good In You

There is so much good in you.
Good skills. Good insight. Good intentions. Good conscience. Good light.

I'm gonna step back today and let Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors give you a nice little pep talk. This song has helped me think better of myself when I make mistakes. "We're all stumbling through the darkness." but "hey there's a good light shining through."

Home, Work, and Homework

I did a pretty good job this past week... not terrible, for the craziest week of my job ever. 
1. Sleep a minimum of seven hours each night. (A+) This one was incredibly easy, since I'd come home exhausted and go straight to bed around 9:30pm. I usually got 8 or 9 hours actually. 
2. Shower at least every-other day. (A-)  I showered three times over seven days, but didn't exactly follow the every-other-day pattern, yeah I skipped a couple days in a row, whatever. 
3. Skip no meals. (Peanut butter does not count as a meal). (A-) One time I skipped breakfast, because I had a meeting at work that had breakfast provided... and then it was just egg sandwiches, and I can't eat eggs. But I had coffee... that counts as breakfast for lots of people. 

Goals for 3/7/16 to 3/13/16
maybe we can rent from this nice looking apartment complex
1. Find four or five viable apartment options, and visit a couple of them. Brian and I need to move in two months since our lease is ending here. We want to move about ten miles south in order for Brian to have not such a terrible morning commute. Better to start looking at new homes now instead of stressing towards the end.
2. Start recruiting Sunday School teachers. Last year, I waited until May and June to try to get in contact with church parents and ask them to be Sunday School teachers. Live and learn. It's incredibly difficult to get ahold of families during summer vacation, especially in our area where lots of people have a summer house by the lake. Now if only I can get one of those families to let me borrow their lake house for a week...
3. Read earlier in the day. Brian and I have been reading a couple books together during Lent, and I consistently make the mistake of saving reading for right before bed. I cant stop yawning, and my eyes won't focus. Gotta read first, then binge watch Downton Abbey (we're still only on season five- no spoilers!).

I Taught Sex-Ed

This weekend I taught a three day sex education course at church for 5th and 6th graders. It was mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausting. I still can't decide if teaching that course is my favorite thing about my job or my least favorite thing about my job. Either way, I'm relieved that the course is over until next year. 

Our church uses a curriculum called Created By God, and I liked most of it. The lesson plans needed a little tweaking but I recommend it as a good purchase for other preteen ministries, despite the tacky outdated cover art. It can be very easily adapted to fit a specific church's beliefs, since it's very discussion-based. 

We taught the kids everything. Like... Everything. We went over diagrams of genitals, the steps of puberty, the process of childbirth, STD's, homosexuality, abuse, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. 

We had forty kids and ten adults participating. The kids brought sleeping bags and pillows and we learned together, sprawled out on the floor. There was one boy sitting in a bean bag chair, right in the middle of the crowd, and his face never changed from this expression the entire weekend: 😳

I thought the weekend would be complicated and I thought I'm the opposite of an expert on sexuality. Turns out the vast majority of the kids have NO understanding of the human body, and their questions were incredibly easy to answer. ("Do girls poop?" "Where do people do sex?" "What is an egg donation?" "People come from eggs?!?!?" "What age do I need deodorant?" "Is pubic hair the same color as regular hair?") Other questions were much tougher (gay sex, infertility treatments, abortion) but we made it through the weekend and I think every participant, children and adults alike, learned something. 

Some of my favorite moments I can't not laugh at:

A mom, on the second day: My son didn't want to come back today. He insists he already knows it all. I asked him how babies are born and he said through the mom's belly button. So, here we are, back for day 2.

Adults: If anyone EVER touches you inappropriately or asks you for inappropriate photos or makes you undress for them or pressures you to do anything sexual, immediately tell a parent or teacher. 
Student: (distraught) But like at dance competitions we HAVE to all change clothes in the same room. Is my dance teacher going to jail?!?!?

Student: Is cancer an STD?
Adults: no
Another student: So which types of cancer are STDs?
Adults: no
Yet another student: Is an STD the same thing as cancer? 

Student: Why do boys have nipples?

(After some student asked a LOT of very detailed questions about the science behind breastfeeding, and I didn't have any good answers.)
Student: So you're saying there's no proof that breastfeeding is better for a baby than formula?
Me: I don't know. There are wonderful brilliant adults in the world who were raised either way.
Student: Well let's just find out how Donald Trump was fed... And that'll prove which one is worse. 

(A recurring theme of the weekend was "Sex is a gift from God.")
Student: Now I know how to answer that get-to-know-you question, "What's the worst gift you've ever received?"

Delusionally Sully. Realistically Mike.

The top image is from an anonymous person, posted on PostSecret.
The second image is my own image, inspired by the first.

Fancy for Focus

Happy Foto Friday! This picture is from last Saturday. I loved it so much I immediately posted it on Instagram as well, so maybe it's old news to you. Oh well, it's worth double posting!
Brian works for a non-profit organization called FOCUS, which helps families who have kids with special needs. They have an annual fancy-schmancy fundraiser with dinner, dancing, and auction items. We were just there to swipe people's credit cards and collect donations... But we felt fancy doing it! 

Three Things I'm Thankful For

I got this idea from Emily, who posts her thankfulness on Thursdays.

This week is straight up cray. In the midst of the cray, I'm thankful for a LOT, but here are just three little things:

1. The plethora of flowers on my desk. Sure they're past their prime but they still smell good. They're leftover from Valentine's Day and from Brian's work's fundraiser.
2. My co-teacher for church sex education. I've basically been dreading teaching this course ever since I found out it's part of my job description... thankfully my co-teacher is a male so he will explain all the diagrams of male anatomy and I only have to do the female stuff. Both of us feel like the other person is taking 60% of the workload, which is an ideal co-teacher partnership.
3. My patient and forgiving husband. He understands that I'm having a crazy week and will not be much use around the house. Two days ago, I told him I wanted to start making his morning coffee for him. And then on the second day I forgot already. And he ain't mad.

Stop Busying

I used to think that I was most impressive when I was busy. Actually I'm just most intolerable when I'm busy.

College was the #1 reason I believed that busyness was important and valuable. I attended a small women's college that constantly pursues its students to train them to become leaders. I was recruited to be in about a thousand different clubs (just like everyone else), on the executive board of two or three of them (just like everyone else), juggling a part time job (just like everyone else), and combatting a full time load of classes (just like everyone else). The culture, which I loved at the time, worshipped busyness. 

I was part of a summer camp staff culture that repeated, "You can sleep when you're dead." Busyness was our business. 

I went through a grad school program that hurled us into full-time classes and simultaneous full-time public school teaching. We hated it, yeah okay sure. But what exceeded our hatred of our lack of spare time was our love for complaining of busyness. We would docompare who got the least sleep. We would compare who spent the least amount of time on their midterm paper. We hated being busy but loved our storyline of busyness. 

I'm smarter now, a little. I don't do stuff just for the story. Just to say I did. Just to be proud, to brag, or to complain. I do what I want, whatever is important to me, and sometimes that means spending an extra hour at work or sitting in traffic for a friend's birthday dinner. But often that includes taking a step back from work, deciding to "cook" a frozen meal, and cancelling some plans with friends. 

A Lesson From Toes

Last night I was looking at my toes. I painted my nails three days ago and almost all the nails still look really good. Except two of the nails have no trace of nail polish at all. Clean gone. It literally looks like I gave myself a fresh pedicure but forgot two toes.

Maybe it's the way I walk. Maybe it's my socks or shoes rubbing some unlucky way to remove the polish perfectly. I don't know. It makes no sense. 

But maybe those toes are really smart. They know they look good without polish. They know they don't need polish covering them up, weighing them down, disguising when they need to be cut. 

You don't need polish. You dont need to cover up or tone down your thoughts, opinions, dreams, and needs. Your real natural self is better understood, better appreciated, and better cared for.