The Bachelor

It seems like only a few weeks ago when I first met 25 beautiful young women all dolled up (most likely more for each other than anyone else) and desperate to stand out in a memorable way.

A few days before, I had met with others like myself who had been on this journey before, you know, to get advice, learn the ins and outs of how to best lead this wild ride, but it’s not my first rodeo. I was in these girls’ shoes not that long ago. I still remember what it’s like to try to stand out, make myself known, leave an impression in a room full of my peers.

One by one the girls told me their names and something interesting about them.

Lacie.

Lauren.

Sadie.

Lauren.

Maddie.

Lauren.

Wait… how many of you are Lauren?!

Sophie.

Lauren.

Ellie and Ella.

Wait… identical twins?? That’s just not fair.

(Mental note: make framed pictures of each girl to study so I can remember their names.)

That first night, I remember thinking it was almost as if the girls had been cast…

There was the sweet, quiet one.
There was the one who simply could not stop talking.
There was the one I immediately knew would be nothing but drama.
There was the one with the brutally sad backstory.
There were the fifteen others who thought they had brutally sad backstories.
There was the one with her arms crossed who won’t stop rolling her eyes. Why won’t she stop rolling her eyes?

“Hey, Lacie, could I pull you aside for a minute to talk? I’d love to get to know you a little better.”

“My name is Lauren.” (Eye roll beneath half a dozen layers of mascara)

Crap. When in doubt, go with Lauren.

After having some time with Lacie Lauren, and rejoining the rest of the girls, I sensed decidedly more tension in the room than when I’d left.

“Can I steal you for a second?” one of the “ie”s asked me.

“Absolutely.”

As soon as we sat down on a bench just out of earshot from the other girls, the “ie” burst into tears. “I really don’t want to throw anyone under the bus. It’s not who I am. But I think it’s only fair that you know… some of the girls aren’t here for the right reasons. Just now while you were out of the room, one of them, I won’t mention her name but I think you could guess…” ummm…Lauren? “…was talking about her boyfriend and it just didn’t seem like she should be here.”

I nod, trying to take it all in. “Okay. Thanks for telling me all this, (mumble)—ie. I’ll see if I can talk to… her… about all that later.”

After that first night, I went back to my house and stared at the girls’ pictures.

Who should I take on the first one-on-one?
What should we do on our first group date?
Should I try to take Lauren and that “ie” on a two-on-one to talk through some things?
No way. Two-on-ones lead to nothing but more drama.
How can I make sure each of these girls feels a special connection with me?

Weeks passed. I got to know the girls a little better.

Lacie has two little brothers she is practically raising.
Lauren B. was really affected by her parents’ divorce a couple years ago.
Sadie loves knitting (or is it pottery? …I don’t know… something boring).
Ellie and Ella hate each other.
Sophie had mono last year… and is still bringing it up for some reason.

Before I know it, we are all packing our bags and heading off for a week together on white sandy beaches. There will be free time to uncover more drama, songs that move us to tears, and so so many cheesy metaphors (that somehow resonate with these girls).

Still, I know it will be amazing.

This week will be the hardest week yet but it will be good for us to get to know each other a little better. I am hoping to get some quality time with the girls because I am in this for the long run after all.

But the first night, my high hopes for the week are dashed when Lauren B. gets beyond drunk and I have to send her home the next morning.

I didn’t think it would be this hard, I think to myself for the hundredth time as I watch the back of her car as she drives away. But then I remember…

I’m not here to make friends.
I’m here to Lead Small.

Lauren Terrell February 1st, 2016 1 comment

Be There Before

There I was minding my own business on Facebook, posting divisive political opinions, sharing results from BuzzFeed surveys, and liking every picture and video of my friends’ kids (not really, none of that), when all of a sudden a message popped up. It was a mom of a student I had years ago in small group. I didn’t respond to her message right away. I

Guest Writer January 20th, 2016 0 comments

From the Other Side

About 7 years ago, my son started his first year in the middle school ministry. I remember receiving emails from his small group leader with quick updates on their group events.   This communication was awesome! I was then pleasantly surprised at getting emails with the current message discussion, how the boys were responding to it, and how we as parents could engage in conversation at

Guest Writer January 20th, 2016 0 comments

Pizza Bribes

In my last post Gossip, iPhones, and Other Distractions, I shared about the mental wanderings of middle school girls. At the end of the post, I mentioned that bribery can be an effective way to steer dialogue in the direction you desire.

 

I negotiated with my small group in exchange for their attention on several occasions. I would promise that if they would stay on

Steph Whitacre December 21st, 2015 0 comments

Leading By Example

We have all heard the saying “lead by example”. Most of the time as children we would hear this when our parents wanted us to take the lead in situations and not make the same mistakes as those around us. If you have younger siblings you may have heard something similar such as “you are older and should know better”. How many events in our

Guest Writer December 14th, 2015 0 comments

139 Weeks

I recently downloaded the “Legacy Marble Countdown” app, which helps parents countdown the weeks they have left until their kiddos become adults. How old are my kids, you ask? Oh, I actually don’t have any.

I do, however, lead a small group of 10th-grade girls. Years ago, when I first sat down with my then sixth-grade girls, I wondered what I had gotten myself into.

Guest Writer November 30th, 2015 0 comments

Be the Change

In case you didn’t notice: FALL IS HERE! This is my favorite time of year because change creates a symphony for the senses. The temperature is cooler on our faces, the visuals are a stunning masterpiece painted by our great Creator, and the smell of crackling fires perfume the fall air.

I often stop to gaze at a tree, wondering how God has programmed it

Guest Writer November 11th, 2015 0 comments

10 Perks of Being a Small Group Leader

If you’ve been a small group leader for more than five seconds, you know that, sometimes, leading a small group of kids or teenagers can be… well, a challenge. You signed up to be a small group leader, but some days it feels like your title should actually be something like…

Wrangler
Chaos Manager
Professional “Shhhh”-er
Snack Dispenser
Crisis Counselor
Full-Time Group Text Responder

Yeah.

Elle Campbell November 10th, 2015 1 comment

Blah Blah Blah

I've been thinking about the power words have in our relationships with children and students.

It is truly amazing what a few carefully-worded and well-timed statements can do to a life.

I know that is true in my life.

I know that it is true in the lives of the students I've taught and led over the years.

I recently got a Facebook message out

Tom Shefchunas October 21st, 2015 0 comments

Gossip, iPhones, and Other Distractions

I have little recollection of what my small group girls looked like in 7th grade. However, I can describe their phone cases in detail, since that is what I predominantly saw when looking at their faces that year.

It seems like 7th grade girls have a need for distraction, and one of their best tactics to accomplish this is gossip. This completely shocked me because

Steph Whitacre August 6th, 2015 4 Comments