Youth Ministry Game: Quidditch

That’s right, folks. For our latest middle school event, we taught the kiddos how to play Quidditch. A big shout-out to my sweet husband, who created this youth-group-friendly version of the game.

Not familiar with Quidditch? Stop here, and read the whole Harry Potter series. I’ll wait. It’s that important.

Just kidding. Kind of.

Here is the advertisement I used for this event:

quidditch ad

(I didn’t actually tell the kids what we would be doing during CrossTrainers until that evening, but using the Harry Potter font turned out to be highly effective. The students made guesses all week, from being sorted into the four Hogwarts Houses to defeating Voldemort.)

We had 24 students at this event, which worked out perfectly. The kids were divided into two teams, and each team needed to designate:

  • 6 Chasers
    • Job: to score points by throwing the Quaffle through the other team’s hoops
  • 1 Keeper
    • Job: to keep the other team’s Chasers from scoring
  • 3 Beaters
    • Job: to throw Bludgers at the other team’s Chasers in order to prevent them from scoring
  • 1 Seeker
    • Job: to capture the other team’s Snitch
  • 1 Snitch*
    • Job: to hide from the other team’s Seeker and avoid being found/caught

*Yes, there were 2 Snitches total, and each team needed to capture the opposite team’s Snitch. If we had an odd number of students, we were planning on picking a volunteer to be the Snitch before each round. Make sense?

Supplies:

  • Hockey sticks (or broom sticks) for each player EXCEPT the Snitches
  • 4 hula hoops
  • 2 handkerchiefs or touch football flags
  • 2 Bludgers (dodgeballs)
  • 1 Quaffle (small foam dodgeball)

Set-up:

We hung one hula hoop from the basketball hoops and used a stand to prop one up on an overturned trashcan.  That’s seriously it. Simple enough, right?

Rules:

First, all players (except the Snitches) must carry a hockey stick like a broomstick throughout the game. You can’t fly without a broomstick, duh.

Broken rules result in time spent in the penalty box, which I nicknamed Azkaban. Seriously, read the books.

Next, there are specific rules for specific positions.

Snitches and Seekers

(This section is written by me, because I supervised these kiddos during the game.)

Snitches are given 3 minutes to hide across the campus. Several rooms are left strategically open, and others are off-limits. The rule, as in Human vs. Zombies, is that no one may open a door. (After the first round, we needed to clarify that this rule applied to cabinet/closet/locker doors as well… Sigh. Should’ve seen that one coming.)

quidditch map

The main hallway was available to Seekers and Snitches, as well as several rooms. However, the kids did not receive this map, like in Life-Size Clue

After 3 minutes, the Seekers are released. They then have 3 minutes to search for the Snitches. (I followed the Seekers and used my phone to cast “Lumos!” in dark places on campus.) After those 3 minutes are up, the Snitches magically disappear, and Seekers must return to the gym. Snitches are given 3 minutes to move around, hide in different places, etc., and the cycle continues.

Each Snitch is given a brightly-colored handkerchief. In order to capture the Snitch, the Seekers must grab the handkerchief and run to the gym. The game ends when a Seeker returns to the gym with the Snitch’s handkerchief, and catching the Snitch earns 50 points.

Chasers, Keepers, and Beaters

(This section is written by Jon, as he and several other adult leaders supervised the kiddos in the gym.)

Chasers cannot enter the basketball lane; only the Keepers can stand in the lane. (This proved to be tough for a few of our Chasers.)

Chasers work together to move the Quaffle across the gym.  When a Chaser scores, that team receives 10 points.

If a Chaser is hit with a Bludger while holding the Quaffle, the Chaser must drop the Quaffle.  (This, too, proved to be tough for our Chasers because some of the “drops” looked suspiciously like a pass to a teammate.)

Beaters may only touch the Bludgers; Chasers may only touch the Quaffle.  For our group, we had Beaters wear pinnies to help determine who could be holding what magical item. Speaking of making it easy on the referee, we also used two colors of broomsticks to designate teams.


That’s all, folks! Questions? Comment below with questions or for more details. 

Sit anywhere you’d like

On my dad’s side of the family, we have a tradition. Before each meal begins, we raise our glasses and toast, “To the empty chair!” With these four short words, we remember generations that have come before us. We remember those dearly loved and dearly missed. We remember the good and faithful servants who have been called to their heavenly home by a merciful Father.

Before, when I envisioned the great high feast of heaven, I pictured newcomers pulling up chairs at an already packed table, with brothers and sisters in Christ squeezing closer together to allow more room.

Now, I see a room full of empty chairs. While many chairs are occupied, there are obvious gaps and spaces. When a newcomer arrives, he finds his own empty chair at the table and joins his fellow saints.  Before the feast begins, all rise as their Host walks in, takes His cup, and toasts to those yet to come.

“To the empty chairs!”

As we grieve, Christ rejoices to welcome His long-awaited guests to the dinner party.

john and joyce

In memory of John Allen Buffo, with much love from your “practice grandchild”

 

Leave your shoes at the door

It seems ironic to me that after writing about the filthiness of the floor in our home, I am suddenly inspired by the idea of sacred ground.

There have been three times that I have experienced “sacred ground” within the walls of our little house. Now, our house is nothing special. It could be described as rustic, which – let’s be real – is just a kind word for “a little bit shabby”. However, I love our little nest, because it is often full of people that I dearly love, and these three moments have happened with three different groups of dearly loved people.

Once was in the bedroom on a Saturday morning.

Once was in the dining room on a Monday afternoon.

Once was in the “dorm room” on a Sunday evening.

There are two instances of sacred ground referenced in the Bible. The first is the most well-known, found in Exodus:

And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”  And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

(Exodus 3:2-6)

The second is found in Joshua:

And the commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.

(Joshua 5:15)

The idea is this: the ground itself is not sacred. There aren’t random patches of dirt scattered across the globe that are holier than the rest. You won’t suddenly hear the Hallelujah Chorus or feel a halo appear above your head when you find one of these elusive places. No, the presence of God in that place makes the ground holy.

We as Christians know that God dwells among us always. He reminds us often throughout Scripture that He is with us wherever we go and will never leave us. However, I think that we all experience moments when His presence becomes manifest, maybe even tangible.

On Sunday, Jon captured on camera the moment that I felt the ground in our “dorm room” become holy:

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The girls and I began studying Song of Songs in January. This is my third in-depth study on this particular book – once while Jon and I were dating, once right before we were married, and now, not quite two years into our married life. The sections that excited and intrigued me then have faded slightly, and the pieces that catch my eye now are further along in the book: how to handle conflict, how to cultivate a healthy marriage, etc. The girls pick up on things that I have never noticed, and our discussions over coffee and Thin Mints bring me great joy. These girls make my heart full.

Ladies (both the two pictured above and all the others I have the privilege of studying alongside), the presence of God is evident in you. And not just when you read Scripture or pray or do other Jesus-y things. He is evident in your attitudes, in your interactions, in your habits, in your everyday lives.

Thank you for reminding me that even my unmopped floor can be sacred ground.

 

 

Make Known

I have a confession.

Before December 23, I had not mopped our floor in at least two months.

Your reaction can go one of two ways:

  1. “Meh. I’ve gone longer.”
  2. “Emily Lynette, that is just disgusting.”

HINT: The first is potentially any of my fellow 20-somethings, who are currently struggling to adult. The second is my mother, who really did try to teach me basic household skills.

In my defense, Jon and I have skated across the floor with Clorox wet wipes under our feet on several occasions during those two-ish months.

Anyway.

On December 23, when I finally admitted that our floor needed mopping, I began in our most lived-in room. We lovingly refer to this room as the Dorm Room, because it contains a hodge podge of mismatched furniture and super hero paraphernalia and frequently smells like burnt popcorn. I scrubbed the floor with my nifty mop (props to my mom-in-law for the wonderful Norwex products) and took the mop pad to the bathtub to rinse.

You seriously would not believe the amount of dirt and dust and gunk. Three wring-outs later, our clean bathtub was stained brown.

I turned to Jon.

“I had no idea the floor was that dirty!”

troy community

Anyone else a fan of Community?

Y’all. That is the very realest representation of my sinful existence. All too often, I ignore the sin building up around my heart, blocking my view of God. Until I take the time to openly confess and face the mess, I am blind to the severity of my sin-stained life.

This fall, I read the book of Hosea with a small group of high school girls. We followed the SheReadsTruth study plan, and while there were many beautiful reminders of redemption, one stood out:

hosea shereadstruth

For years, my parents cleaned our house. Sure, I tidied up my bedroom and bathroom, but Mom was the one who truly cleaned. It wasn’t until December 23, 2015 that I really understood the difference between mopped and un-mopped floors. Later that evening, Jon stopped in the doorway of the Dorm Room.

“I can feel the floor, you know?”

I do know. To paraphrase the words of Jessi Connelly above, having clean floors isn’t as beautiful if you don’t admit the floors were once filthy.

Okay.

Two blog posts have inspired me to dedicate a word to this new year, 2016; read those posts here and here. The idea is that, instead of making a resolution, you choose a word to focus on throughout the new year.

The word(s) that I have chosen as my 2016 mantra are “make known“, and with these words come three actions.


Step 1

One evening during the Hosea study, we read Amanda Bible Williams’ personal testimony of praying that God would show her her sin. She goes on to write:

“… that simple prayer taught me a priceless truth of the Gospel: The larger my view of my sin, the larger my view of the cross.

He cannot be near sin, Amanda Bible Williams

The girls and I spoke briefly about this simple but powerful prayer, that God would show us our sin in order for us to more fully grasp the greatness of Christ’s sacrifice.

Ladies, I will straight up admit that I have never once prayed this heavy prayer. That hypocrisy changes now, and I am expecting you to hold me accountable. Over the next 366 days, the following Scripture will be my prayer:

How many are my iniquities and my sins?
    Make known to me my transgression and my sin.

(Job 13:23)

He shows me my sin.


Step 2

No one likes that first step. No one wants to face their deepest regrets, their most shameful moments, their worst decisions.

However, after revealing the full impact of our sin, God sends us salvation in an unlikely form. Because we are smack dab in the middle of the Christmas season, it is appropriate that the next Scripture passage comes from the 2nd chapter of Luke:

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.

(Luke 2:15-16)

He shows me my Savior.


Step 3

What I like most about the words “make known” is the active voice. God makes known my sin – an action from Him to me. He then makes known my Savior – again, an action from Him to me.

How should I respond? Passive or active?

And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds had told them… And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

(Luke 2:17-18, 20)

I show my Savior to all the world.


I don’t know what the new year will hold, but I do know this:

The floor is clean.

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… and Penny makes three. Happy New Year from the Fraker family!

 

 

Filling My Bucket

In my office, there is a pink bucket.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Our school’s principal established the “Bucket Fillers” program at the beginning of his first school year here on the hilltop. Each faculty and staff member received a small plastic bucket, and we were instructed to be on the lookout for random acts of kindness. If we witness a Christ-like action that deserves recognition, we fill out a form that will then be shared either publicly (over the intercom during the morning announcements) or privately (via the principal directly to that person).

The idea is to fill one another’s buckets, because ministry often leaves you parched.

I treat bucket fillers a little differently.

Over the past six months, my bucket has become a treasure chest. Inside my bucket you will find (in no particular order):

  • A small silver cross from Haiti
  • A short note written on a piece of wrapping paper
  • A chalkboard-lettered coffee mug
  • A postcard from Big Bend
  • A handwritten verse on a piece of canvas
  • A flowery thank-you note
  • A stack of polaroid pictures
  • A scribbled-in Bible study guide

There are other bucket fillers that can be found around my office: post-it notes, flagged emails, photographs, screenshots of text conversations… The list goes on.

However, my best bucket fillers cannot fit in my small pink bucket. My best bucket fillers are people.

Thank you to all of my bucket fillers: students, parents, coworkers, congregation members, and friends. Even the smallest affirmation fuels my ministry fiercely.

And to those who may recognize an item or two from my above list, know that because of you, my encouragers and my advocates, my bucket continually overflows.

 

Have Yourself a Blurry Little Christmas

I was five, maybe six years old when I first noticed.

In the parsonage where my family lived, our dining room had two open entrances, no doors, with a clear view inside from either the kitchen or the hallway toward our bedrooms. Our Christmas tree stood in this room, up against a large window overlooking the church. One evening, as I walked down the hall, I happened upon a quiet, sacred moment.

My dad sat on the arm of our white sofa, arms crossed, staring transfixed at the tree.

Glasses in hand.

There is something about seeing a familiar face without familiar qualities that shakes my whole world. My dad has two very distinctive facial features: his mustache (which grew steadily gray-er as his daughter grew steadily stubborn-er) and his glasses. I have only ever seen my dad glasses-less while napping or swimming.

Until this particular Christmas.

Unable to interrupt the stillness of this moment, I stopped midstride and watched.

Fast forward.

During fourth grade, I began to ask my teachers if I could sit in the front row of desks, closest to the board. It was recommended that I have my eyes examined; the prognosis, nearsightedness. I wore glasses for several years and then transitioned into contacts. I remember walking outside, new glasses adorning my face, and gasping at the details now clearly visible.

That first bespectacled Christmas, I again found my dad perched on the arm of the couch, gazing at our Christmas tree, glasses folded on the end table.

This time, he noticed me.

Dad motioned toward the couch. He explained that because of the change to my vision, I would experience Christmas in a new way this year.

“Take off your glasses.”

Our Christmas tree transformed into pure magic. No wires, no ornament hooks, no tree stand – just a blur of light and color.

This became a tradition in the Pohland household. There is little that I anticipate more than the moment our tree becomes enchanted. I have shared this story with several friends recently, and I always marvel that those with perfect vision will never experience this transformation.

I tend to become “vision-impaired” during the Christmas season. My view of the Christ Child is often blocked by shopping and Santa and stress. While I know the real “reason for the season”, I become overwhelmed and distracted by the secular sights.

May your Christmases be blurry, friends. May the small details fade into insignificance as you behold the magic of this season. May you draw ever closer to the Savior whose birth changed everything.

blurred trees

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art;
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

… Heart of my own heart, whate’er befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

“Be Thou My Vision”, verses 1 and 4

 

Becoming Becky

I am the Grinch sometimes.

Never regarding Christmas. No, I am sometimes the Grinch of ministry.

When I become Grinch-y, there is one surefire way to change my attitude: writing out the “good stuff”. I absolutely love sharing stories of students and parents and teammates who impact my ministry. There are numerous examples of this here on the blog.

When I become particularly Grinch-y and am too stubborn to document the good stuff, I text one of my mentors.

IMG_0789

This is what a typical text session with Grant looks like. He is my perpetual encourager. After our most recent conversation, I forced myself to stop and actually consider why so many of the people I call mentors have continued working in ministry, year after year after year.

The summer before my junior year of high school, I attended my first servant trip through our church’s youth ministry. Along with our DCE, Becky Krentz, a group of high school students and adult leaders traveled to a camp in North Carolina, and during the week that followed, we worked with Habitat for Humanity, volunteered with mentally handicapped adults, and provided a daycare program for children in a local orphanage.

Rewind for a minute. During my sophomore year of high school, I was diagnosed with POTS – postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome. That is a story for another time, so here is the Reader’s Digest version: I began fainting seemingly randomly and would experience hours of dizziness, nausea, and anxiety. At the time of the servant trip, I had started taking a new medication that would steadily improve my health. However, I still experienced these “episodes” from time to time, usually as a result of changes in diet, sleep habits, and stress.

One such “episode” happened on our third night in North Carolina.

Many details of the night have faded, but I remember jolting awake around midnight, heart racing, stomach churning, head spinning. I shared a cabin with five or so other girls, none from my own youth group. Not wanting to wake my roommates and fearful of being judged, I peeked out the door of the cabin. An adult leader, patrolling for troublemakers, spotted me instantly. Teary-eyed and panicked, I asked for Becky.

The adult leader on patrol walked with me down to Becky’s cabin and motioned for me to wait outside. Within seconds, Becky appeared on the porch, concern evident on her face. I broke down, disappointed in myself and my faulty body. Compassion and reassurance covered me like a favorite blanket as Becky gently asked what I needed in order to feel better. I needed to move, to rid myself of the anxious energy.

So we walked.

Becky and I walked across the camp, up and down sidewalks, along dirt paths and driveways, all night long. She spoke quietly as we walked, about life and Jesus and the mess sin has created. I remember eventually sitting beside her on the porch swing at her cabin in the early morning hours. She met with the adult leader on patrol, and together we moved my luggage into Becky’s cabin, careful not to wake the other girls. Finally calm, I fell asleep with words that Becky had recited on my heart:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me… For when I am weak, then I am strong.

(2 Corinthians 12:9, 10b)

Grant, you were totally right. We do this job because Jesus. Becky was (and is) Jesus’ hands and feet and heart. Her hands held mine as she consoled me, defeated and broken. Her feet moved tirelessly across the camp that night, and her feet continued steadily during our next day of volunteering, despite the sleep deprivation. Her heart modeled Christ’s as she shared words of comfort, “for out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45b)

I have written about Becky breaking my heart of stone, but now I see that there is much more to the story. Like the Grinch’s small heart, my heart for ministry is growing.

I have Grinch-y days, weeks even, now and then. Ministry is the absolute worst and the absolute best. God has entrusted to me a flock of His beloved children, and although I will fail, He will not.

If Becky reads this, she will make that classic Becky face, the mixture of humility and embarrassment. She will say something about her humanity and imperfections, and she will point everyone listening to God’s mighty power. But here’s the thing, Becky: I want to be you regardless. I have the opportunity to be a Becky Krentz to young people in my life, and being Becky means being Jesus.

That is why I do this job. Because Grant. Because Becky. Because Jesus.

becky & me

A perfectly timed picture