soaked and smiling

We made it back from the fall retreat in one piece. I did dive in as the last post suggested and got very wet. As in, it rained half the weekend. But I also had a great time with these students and so enjoyed their company. It took me a few hours to transition from mommy to youth leader. I think by midnight of the first night, the transition was complete. And because I cannot process life without photos, here are a few for your viewing pleasure.
These are the girls in my cabin. Y’all. Could they be any cuter? Seriously, I wasn’t that cute in high school. Were you? I think people are getting cuter over the years. Survival of the Cutest.
We did a lot of walking this weekend. Lots of hills. And mud. I don’t think the students even noticed the walking. And then there was me who was calculating how many days I could skip on the treadmill because of all the exercise I was getting.
There was also lots of silliness which is kind of my favorite. I think this is one reason I like students so much.
In between the silliness, there was serious as well. Each student received a block of wood in which they wrote down a negative word they believed was true about themselves. By the end of the weekend, these blocks were burned in a bonfire. An appropriate thing to do with lies, don’t you think?What fall retreat would be complete without a square dance? Not only were there cowboy hats, overalls, pigtails and freckles, we also had a genuine square dance caller guy. You know, the one who tells you exactly what to do: Go-to-the-middle-and-BOW. Now-face-your partner-do-si-do. Now bow to your CORner, not YOUR girl she’s the OTHER one. It was so awesome. And look who I got to dance with.
In my haste to capture this moment, I cut off his cowboy booted feet. Isn’t he lovely? Don’t you want to place the lives of your children in the capable hands of a youth pastor wearing a camouflage Waffle House shirt? Good times.


  1. onlymehere says

    I absolutely love the block and bonfire idea! I’m going to stash that away to use later for a home evening idea! It looks like you had tons of fun!

  2. melissa says

    It looks like so much fun! What a great fall retreat. I know it’s so neat to see your hubby’s ideas and skills in action. But, I know the Lord has just as many in you that are coming out in such awesome ways, too. I love seeing you both in your element. glad you’re back, as I’m sure your little ones are!

  3. Imperfect says

    *sigh* I so miss the fall retreat days. It looks like your man and fellow planners did an excellent job! Love the bonfire. I remember doing something similar at an InterVarsity retreat. I’m so glad you had a fun time. I know the students LOVED you! How could they not?

  4. Karin @ 6ByHisDesign says

    Oh Emily – A tale between photos. What a lovely time — I so miss the days of retreats…Glad you’re back, so we can enjoy it, too!

    Thank you for sharing…

  5. Kerri says

    I’ve been stalking your blog for a while now and I think now is a good time to comment!
    I am also a leader over the youth in my church. I really like what you did with the blocks. I think I’ll use that idea at our girls camp next summer. It really is so much fun to be around youth and get to take a time out from our children. I always come back from girls camp feeling uplifted and with renewed strength.
    I agree with you, teens are much cuter these days than I was, but it might’ve been because of the styles in the 90’s!

  6. nikkicrumpet says

    There is nothing more satisfying in my mind than working with the youth. You learn so much and they become part of your heart. I saw the block that said “unwanted” and it made me want to cry….I would just love to take that kid into my home and show her that every child is wanted somewhere! I’m so glad they have you to pick up their spirits and make them know they’re special!

  7. mommaof4wife2r says

    i am so pleased to see that the retreat was amazing, as i knew it would be! so much fun! love hs kiddos…and retreats r where we tend to leave the world behind and expose our flaws and tell of our desires…love the pics. so glad that God’s love was ever present even in ur pics!

  8. kristi_temple says

    Love the shirt! My husband has a shirt that he wears that says “Silent but Deadly”. People still drop their junior highers off with us. Of course the students think he’s hillarious.

  9. Caren says

    Looks like fun! I love square dancing but the only place I know to do it here in PA is in Philly where they have gay square dancing every Tuesday night. Not that there’s anything wrong with that but I just haven’t had a chance to go. I have a couple girlfriends who LOVE it, of course they have each other to dance with. Somehow The Husband isn’t that into gay square dancing…go figure. Just so you know, it’s the square dancing he’s uncomfortable with, not the gay thing. ha ha!

    Anyway, your weekend looked great and brought back fond memories of my church retreats as a kid.

  10. stefanie says

    Great pictures… the ‘unwanted’ girl made me cry. So glad she got to see it burned.

    As a mom to teenage girls, thanks so much for giving your whole self to them. Girls need more positive experiences and role models. I am so thankful for the women who are pouring themselves into my daughters’ lives, so on behalf of the moms of the daughters you spend time with, “THANKS!”

  11. Denise K. says

    Beautiful! What a rewarding weekend, and your pictures captured so many elements, we could truly see how blessed everyone was with the experience! What an exciting ministry you and your husband are involved in! :-)

  12. Jen - Balancing beauty and bedlam says

    Wouldn’t I want to leave them in the hands of a waffle shirt guy? I would, and I did…and am so grateful.
    My “too cool for square dancing” guy (not really, but I would have thought)….said that was one of his highlights. That must have been some caller. :)

  13. HeathahLee says

    That looks like so much fun. When I was in college my society (we didn’t do sororities) had a square dance after Rush Night was over with and all our pledges had changed from their formals into square dance attire. They were always TOO much fun. Did y’all do the “Cotton Eye Joe” and the “Virginia Reel”?

    And about the burning the wood blocks, that is such a great idea. Very powerful.

  14. Debbie @ says

    I have to laugh, what a trooper you are. You will never forget this. I love all those pictures…its great. Good for you doing all this, you will be a little tired(ok alot!) but it will be wonderful to think about afterwards!

  15. Shelley says

    I love the camo waffle house shirt. And I love the wood in the bonfire idea. I think I may tell it to our youth pastor at church. Looks like y’all had a good time and the foilage was beautiful. Thanks for thinking about us and taking pictures.

  16. Haley says

    My hubby is also a youth minister…. isn’t it such a blessing to be apart of these young peoples lives? Glad you guys had fun…. we will have a fall retreat toward the end of the month.

  17. Amber says

    I hope you had hot chocolate. Hot chocolate is a necessity at a rainy fall retreat.

    So fun! The square dance looked like a blast!

    I love the idea of burning the wood in a bonfire at the end of the week. I’ll have to file that one away in my ministry memory!

    We head off to our fall retreat on Friday. No fall leaves for us though! We’ll be lucky if it isn’t 90. But, sunshine should be readily available. :)

  18. mollyandmarshal says

    Sounds like so much fun. I love the idea of the burning blocks of wood, that’s such a great idea, especially with all the pressure put on kids these days. Glad you had a good time!

  19. Bonita says

    Looks like a lot of fun! Love the pulled together camouflage look of Mr. Youth Pastor. Perhaps he could give fashion advice as a side job.

  20. THE Stephanie says

    Ahhh… I miss youth camp! Looks like you had a great time and I’m sure you helped to create to some fabulous memories.

  21. Karin @ 6ByHisDesign says

    oh emily, you’ve gone all incognito on me, and I didn’t keep an old email to have your address on hand…I always treasure your thoughtful emails. *sigh* Kind comments will have to suffice, I suppose!

    I wanted to just send you a line to say yes, I now have my comments emailed to me…and THANK you for your kind words in that old post! I’m glad you found it :)

  22. ~SaltySister~ says

    That looks like so much fun! We did youth for 5 years and I miss it so much! Thanks for a sweet reminder! Happy Day!

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