Line Camp

Independence, Texas doesn’t appear on most maps. It’s a small town in central Texas in the middle of nowhere with a little creek running through it.  But in a summer where I  had some amazing experiences, my trip to Independence might have been the most moving.

Baylor Line Camp (aka orientation) had started the previous day and no one was excited about the two and a half hour drive to see the place where Baylor University was founded. I tried to sleep on the bus but we played bus speed dating. I tried not to get irritated when every single Texan looked at me bug-eyed when I said I was from Iowa and asked in a loud Texan voice “How’d you end up down here?” Sleep would prove to be hard to come by the entire trip, foreshadowing for college I suppose.

Anyways, we get to Independence and do this boring seminar stuff and walk around this boring town and listen to some boring speeches and watch a not-so-boring sunset and walked up to the top of this hill where the remnants of the old Baylor stand. 

We then got into lines in front of the pillars and sang songs of praise to the author and creator of it all. Worshipping my God with my new classmates, most of whom I didn’t even know, was incredible. After the last song ended, we were asked to stand there and reflect on what got us here, on how blessed we were by so many people to be where we were that night. I’m not a crier, but tears started coming down. Parents, siblings, grandparents, cousins, friends, and teachers, I went through them all in my head and thanked God for them. My life has been so blessed by these people, and it has nothing to do with me. There’s no way I can take credit for any of it. It’s all Him, working in my own life and the lives of these people, that has blessed me immensely. I must’ve stood there looking ridiculous for ten minutes, I didn’t care.

Donald Miller’s most recent book was about story. He’s got a chapter about how most of the scenes in our story just disappear. We forget them. 99.9% of our experiences just happen and are gone. I think that is what is so powerful about what happened in Independence. I won’t forget it. I won’t forget the mix of joy, sadness, excitement, and confusion that I was feeling. It hit me all at once.

I was moving 13 hours away from all these people in a couple of weeks. I was leaving a whole lot behind. And my prayer is that four years from now, graduating from Baylor University, I leave Waco, Texas and can say the same thing, “I am leaving a whole lot behind.”

Here was the song we sang up on that hill.

You are holy, You are mighty

The moon and the stars declare who You are

I’m so unworthy, but still You love me

Forever my heart will sing of how great You are

In Waco, in Ames, in Uganda, I will sing of how great He is.

Thanks Ames High

As graduation came and went, I’ve found out that there’s a whole lot of people who hate high school. But I’m actually enjoyed my time there quite a bit. So here’s my thank you note to Ames High.

Dear Ames High School,

Thanks for being pretty cool. You’re not perfect, you’ve got your issues, but I don’t think there’s a school I would have rather spent my four years at. Some people look at you with disgust. They reference your overbearing rules, ugly turquoise tile, and shushing librarians as reasons.

About 50% of your haters think that you are hopelessly unruly. The other 50% think that you are way too uptight. I think you’re just about right.

Sure, there’s some things I’d like to change about you, but your job was to prepare me for the real world and I think you did alright. I was able to avoid the cynicism that says that nothing will ever change and the naivete that says I can change anything. I learned that there’s always going to be someone better than me, because I wasn’t the brightest student or the best athlete.

You’re just a building, but you are the workplace of people who have influenced who I am and taught me quite a bit. So here’s for shout-outs, This list is not exhaustive, there’s plenty more. It’s also not in any order.

Coach Rial, or as I call him T$, was a constant during all four years. He made lifting fun, helped me transition to defensive end my senior year, and storytime with Rial will always be a highlight of varsity football for the entire D-line family. T$, you confirmed something that I believe is an absolute in coaching. Players work harder and have more success if they are having fun. If only some of the other Ames High coaches figured this out…

No teacher has invested more into my life than Mrs. Seibert. Ever since sophomore english I’ve had two moms. Any time I needed anything, ever, she was there with advice, support, or just a hug. She taught me plenty, but one thing that always stood out was the way she treated her students. I’m sure she has her favorites, but you’d never know it by watching her. She’s also works ridiculously hard and has really cute kids. Love you Seibz.

Mr. Mooney is just the man, plain and simple. He taught the class of life under the guise of american history. From moondawg, I learned that teaching isn’t about helping kids memorize facts, it’s about helping them learn how to think and ask questions about the world they live in.

Mr. Webb is one of those people who you could listen to all day. He’s the best storyteller I know, and his class was a lot of fun. But what I learned from Webb, besides all the helpful advice, was that I was responsible for using my God-given gifts. His class forced me to quit going through the motions and start writing at a higher level. He challenged me as a student and as a person.

Mr. Hill taught me the impossible, that statistics class could be enjoyable.

Mrs. Sullivan somehow got me to pay attention as she taught about European art and politics, which rivals Mr. Hill for most impressive teaching feat.

Mr. Brekke brought it every day. From the moment I stepped in his class, I realized that we were gonna write and we were going to write hard and it was going to be engaging and challenging and worthwhile. I loved that class.

Mrs. Telleen really encouraged me to write this blog and has helped so much with the writing process.

Spence Evans gets stuff done. ‘Nuff said. I was so blessed to have a principal who valued my input and gave other students and me the ability to put on aquapalooza and water bottle sales and everything. This kind of support simply doesn’t exist at other schools. Spence is the man.

Over the last couple months, I’ve tentatively made plans to someday be a teacher. I’ve felt the difference a good teacher makes in the lives of his students, and don’t believe there is a career out there where more of an impact can be made. Thanks to all the teachers who have made an impact in my life at Ames high school.

Ames high aims high.

I thought graduating would be a really emotional and sad experience. It wasn’t. Maybe it hasn’t sunk in, but I think I’m just too excited about what lies ahead to be sad. But regardless, it’s good to thank the people who have made you into who you are.

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.  Proverbs 27:17