Friday, September 1, 2017

September Update

"For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God." - Psalm 86:10

We made it through Welcome Week! What a face-paced, hectic, fun, stressful, fruitful time! Welcome Week is a time of year when I really see how great God is in connecting people and getting his work done through us. 

We started the week off with not one, but TWO full days of helping people move in. UNT changed how they run it and it was awesome. Much more organized and less stressful each day, just a little more tiring to have it spread out over two days. Our students were champs though! I never heard a complaint, always saw smiles and high fives (if their hands were free!) as they passed each other and new students in the halls. 

Part of the move in crew! What super stars!
I met one girl while moving in that I'm really excited to get to know more! So far, she's been one of the few who has consistently responded to my texts and has wanted to hang out this last week. As we ate lunch together and told the Cliff Notes versions of our lives, we realized we had SO many significant life events in common, I'm just about 10 years ahead of her. (PS, this was the first year that I've felt a little old on campus, being 10 years older than the incoming freshmen. Crazy!) She's interested in exploring Jesus for herself, even though she was raised in a Christian home. I can't wait to get to know her more! 

Games in the Union! Look at that tower!! 
I met another girl at lunch in a cafeteria on campus. We spent a couple of hours together talking and going to events the university was hosting. We got to walk back to the Union just the two of us and I was able to ask her some more personal questions about her life and tell her more about myself. We got to talking about religion and she told me she was from a Catholic family, but they never went to Mass or anything, unless there was an important ceremony, like confirmation. I asked her if she was interested in exploring Jesus for herself during this time in college and she said yes! She hasn't been able to come to anything yet, but I'm glad the Lord put us together at lunch and for the world of possibilities he opened up there! 

"Football Bowling" at MGF
The rest of the week was filled with events on campus, all day every day! One of the most populated events is the Mean Green Fling. All of the student organizations, Greek life, and local businesses set up booths so students can sign up for information and free stuff! My favorite story from this year's Fling was about Aaron, one of my teammates. 
He was walking by a frat booth and one of the guys asked him if he had a minute. Aaron is not someone who would be interested in joining a fraternity, even if he was still a student, so he hesitated and quickly tried to think of a reason why he couldn't stop to talk! The guy followed up with asking Aaron if he was part of FOCUS, the shirt that Aaron was wearing. Thrown off guard, Aaron told him he was. The guy said "Oh GOOD! I've been looking for a Christian ministry! I just became a Christian a couple of weeks ago and I need to find a place to plug in!" 
WHAAAAAAAT?! How cool is that?? They exchanged numbers and are planning on getting some time together soon. I'm hoping he comes to a Friday Night Fellowship soon so I can meet him. What a bold new Christian! 

It's always hard to gauge just how good of a job we're doing throughout the week of meeting people and inviting them to things until Friday Night Fellowship rolls around. And then we get to see a bit of the results of the week! Granted, there are a lot of people who come just once to see what it's about, but that's one more opportunity to make a significant connection with them that could eventually lead to a changed life for Jesus.
This Friday was one of our smoothest first FNF's ever! The Spirit was so present and I left being encouraged and so excited about this new year. Look at this picture of all the new faces who were there that night! 
God is so good!

What to Pray

We're now moving into the more regular part of the year. Students are settling into their classes, cores are starting next week, and one on one Bible studies are starting to take off! Here are some things you can be praying with me as this new year settles down into a routine:
  • Peer Team: I have a new team of 6 girls I'll be mentoring this next year! Pray for vulnerability and depth of relationship to be something we all strive for and for each of us to be grown in our walks with God through meeting with each other. Pray for wisdom for me as I lead them. 
  • Students being outreaching: Pray for all of our students to continue to reach out to their classmates and professors this year. Pray that they really catch a vision for their classes to be their mission fields this year! 
  • Kristen, Rhett and the other new apprentices: Pray for our new apprentices to adjust to this new face-paced schedule and to get the most out of this year. Pray for wisdom for them as they lead in more of a staff role. 
    L to R: Kristen, Aaron, Rhett. The sillies!
Finally, one more story to leave you with...this one from the UTD campus! How cool that God is moving on campuses all across the DFW Metroplex?! 

Thank you for your prayers and financial support! I'm so thankful for you and could not do any of this without your love and support! 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

August Update

Hello! I'm sorry this update is a smidge late. We got back Thursday from our summer staff retreat, which I'll tell you about here in a bit!

This is technically the first post of the new school year! I am so ready to start this new semester. The summer has been great and productive, but I miss the structure of the school year and meeting consistently with my peer team!

Since I have some new ministry partners going into this year, I wanted to take a bit of time to define some common terms you'll see a lot this next year throughout my blogs!

Ministry Partners
This is YOU! You are part of an incredible team of people who pray and support me financially. Hopefully you and I know each other at least a little bit already! If not, I'm really looking forward to getting to know you better through this year. Each of you is an essential part of my ministry and I want to know you guys! I love hearing back from you when I send out this blog, and I love getting to pray for you. I know I wouldn't be able to be on campus full time without a stellar team composed of people who love God deeply and who are obedient to doing what they can to bring His Kingdom here. 

This is the "core" of our ministry (cheesy, but true!). These gender-specific, smaller communities meet weekly to study the Bible, worship, serve, and share life with each other. 

This stands for Core Facilitator. These are student leaders who are paired up and lead Core on a weekly basis. We call them facilitators because their role is one more of guidance through the discussion than being a Leader that may get put on a religious pedestal. It goes back to our philosophy of leadership being based on Mark 10:42-45, which says "Jesus called them together and said, "You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over the, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but the serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." 

Leader Team 
This is the entire body of student leaders, which includes corefas, the sound/tech team, and worship team. These students are volunteers who give about 15 hours a week to their peers in the different ways they serve. 

Peer Team
This is my favorite part! Peer team is a group of 6-10 student leaders who are assigned to a staff person for the whole year. Every other week, we meet as this group to discuss important topics, to invest in relationships with each other, to support one another as we each do ministry, and to be filled up to go out again. 

One on Two Meeting (1:2's)
The weekly meet up of a staff person and a set of corefas or other student leaders. 

Focus on Jesus (aka One on One Study)
A 10-week study our students can use to lead their peers through the basic concepts of Christianity. These include a study on the Word, community, sin, grace, baptism, the character of Christ, and others. 

Welcome Week
This is the week before school starts at the universities. At UNT, there are orientations, a thing called "Eagle Camp" for freshmen, and a myriad of activities and events every day. We try to be at as many of these as possible to meet new students! This first week is vital because everyone is open to new experiences and is looking for friends - someone who may not have any interest in a Christian organization otherwise may accept an invitation to visit and hang out this week.

Friday Night Fellowship (FNF) 
This is our weekly large group meeting, where all three Denton campuses come together to worship, listen to someone bring a message, and fellowship afterwards together. 

Each year, FOCUS takes on young graduates who are wanting to explore whether full time ministry is the direction God is calling them. It's a 10-month apprenticeship full of hands-on ministry, classes, and mentorship. 
2017-2018 Apprentices

I think that covers the basics! If there's ever anything you have questions about, please let me know!

What happened to July??

July is overrrrr! The last few weeks were pretty packed! I got to spend a week in Kansas with my mom, which was just so sweet. As Mom's cancer has progressed, I've been learning to soak in quiet moments with family. I'm grateful to be able to recognize the importance now, so that I don't regret not spending enough time with anyone later. 

Tea & Jesus time! 
The rest of July, I worked on finishing my support raising. Praise God, I'm at 100%! I'm so thankful for each of you who gave generously and got me to that goal. 

I have also gotten to meet up with different students throughout this summer. One girl, Eryka, has been my consistent study buddy this summer. I've loved getting to know her this summer, and I've been praying for the Lord to open her heart more and more to a relationship with Him. She's so hungry for truth, but battles a lot of fear and anxiety in giving Him her whole heart. Keep her in your prayers through this next semester. 

Staff Retreat

I think this was one of my favorite staff retreats so far! We spent a few of the sessions talking about what might seem like silly things, like what we liked to do as kids or who our best friend was in high school. But Brandon, our staff director, pointed out that stories like that build affection and closeness in a team. He was right! I loved getting to hear more about who my teammates are and what they were like growing up. 

2017-2018 Staff from all ten campuses
We also talked about more intentional things, like what our biggest ministry disappointment or failure has been or what our calling into ministry looked like. Those things gave me a deeper respect and appreciation for my teammates. Each of us has been called to this work in different ways, with different talents. Something I sometimes struggle with is the insecurity that I'm not as equipped for this work or that I don't do as good of a job as some of my teammates. This last week, I left the retreat so affirmed and encouraged. God has called each of us here and to compare or worry about those kinds of things is such a waste of brain space. 

This was the theme song of the week, which I hope you take a moment to listen to right now. The first night we were at the retreat, I had some heavy family things hanging over my head and could not make it through this song. It's a funny place to be...when things seem so incredibly hard and Not Good, but to be able to recognize the goodness of the Lord. I'm so thankful for the Lord's hand in my family's life and the way that He has been going before us. I hope this song encourages you the way that it encouraged me. 

Student Testimony

Each month, I'm going to share a story here that will be from one of our ten campuses around DFW. This month is a girl I know from TWU! She's going to be a corefa this next year!

  “I grew up in the Methodist church surrounded by various spiritual mentors. Though I had a good church upbringing, I don’t think I really knew how to truly seek God. My spiritual growth was consequently very slow, with many stops and dead ends. I knew God was there, but for too many years I believed that I could find Him by myself.

It was not until I began dealing with crippling anxiety and depression that I began truly seeking God. The support from my church during my time in a psychiatric hospital gave me a new thirst for God and community.

I found FOCUS late into my first semester of college in 2015. Sine joining, the ministry continuously shows me the importance of community in growing our relationship with God. FOCUS has challenged my beliefs, encouraged me to get out of my comfort zone, and even helped me to be more confident in my own skin. This year I have been asked to be a student leader. Despite my fears of inadequacy, I know I have been equipped with a community that will continue to guide and shape me into a better disciple, so I may go and make new disciples for God's Kingdom."

Morgan Chappell (Senior, Texas Woman's University, Communication Sciences and Disorders)

Prayer Requests

  • Welcome Week Prep: This is an evening of training open to our community of students to learn how to make the most out of Welcome Week. Pray that students come ready to learn and then take initiative to put what they learn into action on campus. 
  • New student leaders: Pray for boldness as they go into this new year. Pray for self discipline as they figure out a new, hectic schedule and face the first few weeks of school. 
  • New students: Pray for openness to Jesus and a hunger for true community.
  • My Mom's health: Her latest CT scan came back pretty positive! Keep her in your prayers as she battles this cancer.  

Saturday, July 1, 2017

July Update

Whoaaaa We're Halfway There! 

These lyrics, while silly, accurately describe where I'm at right now this summer. It's so crazy that we're already halfway through the summer and that much closer to the start of another school year at UNT, TWU and NCTC. The rest of the lyrics are appropriate for this season as well...Whoaaaaa! Livin' on a Prayer! I've been reminded more than ever the last few weeks how vital prayer is to the things we're doing and I just wanted to thank you for how you partner with me in that. There are really four main ways that I would like you to pray for me and this ministry right now! 

Leadership Conversations

We are currently in the middle of having our conversations about leadership with students that we took to SICM in May, students who were leaders last year, and others who are interested in learning more about that commitment. I love getting to have these conversations! We have a list of questions that we ask each person we're considering for leadership and it's just such an intentional conversation. I love getting to hear more of the student's perspectives of what God is doing in their lives, how they're pursuing deeper relationship with Him, and even the practicals of what this next year will be like for them. 
SICM 2016 Reunion Hangout
Through those conversations, we're able to think, pray and discern what would be best for everyone this next year. I've already had some good conversations with students who will be on our leader team next year! I've also had some conversations with students who WANT to be on the leader team, but won't be able to because their schedules aren't conducive to the time commitment. A couple of those have been really disappointing to me, but I know the Lord has some other good in mind for that student this year. So even those discouraging conversations are good as I get to help that student catch a vision for how she can still serve and lead without the title! 

Please be praying with us as we continue to have these conversations and try to nail down our leadership team this next year! Pray for the Spirit to be clear in what roles each student should have and the encouragements/challenges we need to give each student as we have these conversations. It's our goal to have everything figured out by July 15th!  

In case you don't remember what SICM (Student Institute of Campus Ministry) is, here's a video made by one of the students who went this year! What a sweet testimony! 


Today is the 75% deadline goal for our fundraising (for both staff and upcoming apprentices)! I know there are a couple who are SO close, but who aren't at this amount yet. Please be diligent in lifting our team up in prayer for our funding. It is such an incredible blessing to be able to be on campus and to give our undivided attention to the students, but that's only possible if we're fully funded and don't have to work a side job. 

Quality time with my dad in Midland!
I was really blessed this last weekend when I was out in Midland. I had had a really hard week that left me mentally and emotionally drained and the idea of driving out to Midland, being away from Austin and the comfort of home for a week was verrrrrrrry unattractive to me. I had a really bad attitude and seriously considered canceling the plans I had made so that I could just stay home. 

But I am incredibly glad that I didn't! The Lord and I had some serious conversation for a couple of the hours on my way to Midland and we got my negative attitude under control. And then He just wowed me. Each of the people I got to meet with ministered to me in a way that made me so much more excited to come home and start the semester. It was encouraging to hear how the Lord is using discipleship and practical evangelism in my home church to bring renewal! I left Midland feeling refreshed and having a new sense of Hope for the work that God is doing there.  
Sweet ministry partners! 

And the Lord (through you guys!) brought my funding percentage up a whole 20% over a single weekend! I'm now at 83% and fully expect to be finished here in the next few weeks! That is incredible!  Every year, He provides in really neat ways and I'm so grateful for how you are part of that provision in my life. Thank you! 

Summer Time Slump

Summer can be such a fun time of year! It can also be a really hard time of year. I know I struggle more with maintaining a healthy schedule...extremes are really easy for me to fall into - overwork or being lazy. This year I think I've achieved a healthier balance than ever before, but it's still difficult in creating a good balance and finding true rest, not laziness. 

A whole core drove to Austin to visit one of their members!
It's also hard for our students. So many of them go away to work camps, live at home, or go adventuring for the summer and they lose contact with their community. They lose accountability and can fall into some crazy sins. They can become isolated and lonely. They can lose sight of the change God had worked in their lives over the last year and revert back into whatever He had called them out of. It's also incredibly easy to fall into extreme laziness and selfishness. 

Please join me in praying for them! Pray for renewed desire to pursue their relationship with God and with each other. Pray for them to seek out continued community, accountability and mentorship. Pray for the courage to turn away from temptations and to continue living in the light. Pray that they are a light and encouragement to their families or whomever they are around the most this summer. Pray that they come back ready to be a minister to their campus and their peers!

Summer Orientations

NCTC Outreach (lawn games)
We have juuuust over one month before the Fall Semester starts back up and that means we're doing a ton of orientations! UNT and TWU has either a transfer or freshman orientation almost every week! NCTC does not have summer activities, so we've been trying to maintain a presence on campus during summer school hours. Orientations and weekly outreach events are so key to us reaching the incoming students this next year! Please be praying with me for these new students! 

Pray for the Spirit to start working in their hearts now and that they would be ready to go deeper in their relationship with God, if they already know Him. If they don't, pray that He would prepare their hearts to find Him this semester. Pray that the students get connected with the ministry that will be able to encourage and grow them the most, whether that's FOCUS or another ministry on campus. Pray that we're sensitive to the Spirit's leading and don't overlook the Invisibles. 
UNT Orientation
TWU Orientation

Thank you for joining with me in these prayer requests! What a good God we serve, who hears our prayers and answers them! 

O Lord, You are my God; I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name; For You have worked wonders, plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness.
Isaiah 25:1

Sunday, June 4, 2017

June Update

So many things happened this month! We've successfully wrapped up another year. Three of the girls in my peer team graduated and I couldn't be more proud of them. I want to share a little bit about each of them, because these are the kinds of people you're investing in through this ministry! I also asked them to share their biggest takeaway from this year and how they think having been a corefa will affect this next chapter of their lives.


Krystin just graduated with a degree in Speech Pathology. She's pursuing her Masters degree in Speech Pathology at UNT, so we get to keep her for another year! She's transitioning out of FOCUS and will be investing more in the Denton North Church adult ministry. 

I've just been so wowed by Krystin this year. She's someone who cares deeply about her schooling and becoming a leader was truly a sacrifice in her preference of how much time she wanted to spend on getting the grades she wanted. I remember having a conversation with her last summer about how if she decided to become a corefa, it would need to be a whole-hearted commitment and would require a lot of her. She decided this was the direction God was leading her, even though she was hesitant about it. 

She rocked it. It was so cool to watch her consciously shift her priorities from school being number one, to loving God and people being number one. She grew so much in her vulnerability, really allowing the women on our peer team to see her heart and to know her struggles so they could walk with her. Each week our peer team met, I really looked forward to hearing what her thoughts were on whatever we were talking about. This is a woman of depth and wisdom, who is growing in confidence and boldness.  I'm so excited to see her continue to grow in the likeness of Christ and how she will share that experience with the others in this next phase of life. 

My biggest takeaway is realizing the importance of having a community that I can be open and vulnerable with in general and also during difficult times. Being a leader allowed me to realize the importance of being vulnerable with my friends and community and I can carry this with me into the adult small group at DNC, my current friendships, the new friendships I will make with my classmates in grad school, and other relationships in the future.


Darby's just graduated with a degree in Interior Design and will begin her Big Girl Job on June 5th! She's also staying involved at Denton North Church, which I'm so thankful for! 

I've gotten to mentor Darby for two years in a row now and what a ridiculous blessing that has been. I've gotten to watch her develop from a new leader who was unsure of how to plan a study or have a hard conversation, to someone is sensitive to how the Spirit is leading her to plan for her studies and who is bold, yet loving in difficult situations! I'm just amazed at her ability to take a full load of super work intensive classes, yet to manage her time in a way that makes space for others consistently. 

She's been such a good friend to me and the other girls she's gotten to minister to this year. I'm excited for her to move into the work world, because good, godly friends like Darby are priceless and there's a severe lack of true friendship in the the competitive design world. 

One of my biggest takeaways from this year was simply that God uses people. I would not have made it through this year with interning at a design firm in Dallas 3 days a week, working on my senior project (as well as other classes), and corefa-ing without the people who surrounded me, challenged me, supported me, encouraged me and reflected Christ. God uses people to build His Kingdom and minister to His people and that's just super neat and humbling.

Being a leader this past year has definitely prepared me for the next chapter of my life. I had to balance a lot this year but I realized I can handle difficult things and still find peace in the chaos that life brings sometimes. It also taught me to seek God in the little things everyday and not just the emotion-filled, neon sign moments. He's working everywhere and in everything. Realizing that has encouraged me that even as I step into the design field as a full-time designer, God is still working in me and around me, and I am still a part of building His Kingdom.
- Darby


Hayli is graduating from UNT with a degree in Integrative Studies. She's also pursuing her Masters at UNT in Counseling, but will be getting married in July and moving to Arlington first. She will be commuting to UNT for classes and will be investing in the UTArlington ministry. I'm going to miss her dreadfully! 

Gosh, Hayli was pretty intimidating to me when we first starting meeting. She's just one of those Super Cool people - so talented in multiple ways, so charming, deep thinker, the whole package! But as we continued to meet up each week and began to deepen the tiny existing friendship we had, I was so struck by how loving she was. Even though vulnerability and trust were things she was hesitant to readily offer, she was determined to grow in both of those aspects this year. She was intentional in relating with both me and her cofa, Elena, and made both of us feel like a loved part of her life. She didn't keep us on the edges, but welcomed us into her life in such a sweet way. 

Hayli and Elena are SO different, but they balanced and challenged each other in a way that deepened their friendship with each other and their relationships with the Lord. I've really admired the amount of patience she has shown in doing ministry in difficult situations. She's been so fierce in pursuing personal growth so that she can be a whole, healthy woman of God. She and Austin have set such a good example of what it looks like to date in a way that honors and pleases the Lord. Austin is on staff with FOCUS at UTA and I'm confident that they will be such a blessing to that team and ministry as a married couple. 

Honestly, my biggest take away from the year is that the inner life of a believer is the most important thing, regardless of whether or not you're a leader, because everything we do means nothing if we're spiritually running on empty. People don't need me. They need the gospel, and Jesus, and to be radically loved, which I am pretty bad at doing if I'm not in the word and spending time with the Lord.

 Being a leader this year equipped me with so many skills on how to make disciples. But, if I had to pick one that will really positively effect my life during this next season of transitioning to a new community, getting married, moving, etc., I would say that learning how to practically initiate friendships is the most helpful and will be the most useful. I'm so thankful that I was given tools to use to make people feel comfortable, get to know people, be initiating, etc. I know when I move I will be using so many skills I learned as a corefa to plant roots somewhere new.

These are just three of the ten women that were on my peer team this last year. Each one of them has grown in their walk with the Lord and in not only being well equipped, but seeing it as their responsibility as a disciple, to go out to make and mature other disciples in whatever their frame of life. Meeting with them and being part of that journey each week is such a highlight in my job! 

Student Institute of Campus Ministry

This was the other big part of May! We took around 100 college students to Bellingham, Washington for an intensive, week long class on how to be a minister to their campuses. I got to sit in on the majority of the classes with the students this year! It was so good to have a refresher of why/how we do what we do. I loved getting to see light bulbs come on as the students listened and recognized the tactics their Corefas had put into practice this last year, like crafting good questions, doing outreach on campus and building intentional relationships like Jesus did. 

Some of the women staff!

It's been really cool being back and getting to talk with the students who went this year. I love asking them what their biggest takeaway was from the week and how they plan on applying what they learned this next year. Here are some of their answers:

I learned how to build and develop spiritual friendships, how to facilitate and encourage spiritual conversations. I also enjoyed the relationships I developed with my roommates and getting to spend time with the staff members who went. - Isreal 

My biggest takeaway from SICM is to be purposeful in everything that God is leading me into, whether it is academics, career, campus ministry or just even friendships that area created along the way. - Divine

Layover in San Francisco
The biggest takeaway from SICM for me is that discipling others is not only important, it is our mission as Christians. This really allowed me to see God's bigger picture, and take the focus off myself. Remembering this allows me to be bolder and more vocal about my faith, and gives me a new passion for the Bible in order to soak in every part of God's Word so I can share it with those around me. - Morgan

I got to experience that God calls me to be faithful before He calls me to anything else. So in the moments where I may not see/understand/feel/think that He is there, I am still to be faithful, because He always has been faithful. - Tony

God broke down barriers I've been selfishly keeping up out of fear and pride. He taught me that I am truly worthy of His grace and the strength He gives me. The love I was shown this week helped me realize that I don't have to be perfect in order to be a leader, I just have to keep my eyes focused on God. -Emma

Lunch on the "Stairs to Nowhere"

It's so encouraging to hear their answers and to know that this is our next generation of leaders in Denton! One of the statistics we heard at SICM was that three out of four college students who were raised in church leave the church during their college years. This broke my heart and is a statistic that we are trying so hard to fight. Seeing the amount of students in that room who were willing to give up their first week and a half of summer and pay around $750 to sit in lecture classes from 9am-5pm gave me such hope! God is still raising up people to bring His Kingdom to the college campuses! That's such good news. 
Worship on the last day
Lunch at the Market
A different view of Bellingham

Ways to Pray

Thank you for your consistency in lifting me and this ministry up in prayer. It's such a blessing and a comfort to me. Here are some ways this month to be praying!
  • Health: There are several people in my life that I dearly love that area dealing with very difficult health problems, particularly the recurrence of cancer in my mom and Austin's aunt. Pray against depression as they continue to face these battles, direction as they figure out treatment and for complete healing!
  • Fundraising: This season is chugging along and I'm really proud of the work our apprentices have been doing! God has been answering prayers left and right for them! Please pray for continued motivation in seeking our ministry partners and generous responses to our requests. Pray for courage and against lies that can begin to creep in to discourage us. For me personally, I've had some changes on my team and am working to reach out to some new partners this summer. Please pray for all of us to be at 100% by August 1st! 
  • Summer Orientations: These started today at UNT! Please be praying for our students as they run our organization booth to be bold in making those initial contacts with freshman and transfer students. Pray for new students to be open to joining a Christian community and learning more about God! 

Monday, May 1, 2017

May Update

Happy May!

We literally have two weeks left in the semester and less than that before we head out to Washington for the Student Institute of Campus Ministry (SICM)! Thank you for the ways you've supported me through this year. Your prayers and financial support have been huge in me getting to spend one more school year in Denton doing the Lord's work! I'm incredibly grateful!

Spring Time Generosity

 April began and finished out with a couple of our biggest events of the year! Spring Showcase and Springjita support college students going to SICM and teens going to NEXT camp in the summer, respectively. Every year, I'm amazed not only at the local talent that comes together for these events, but even more at the whole-hearted generosity of our community. Adults and students generously invest in both of these events, because really, they're investing in the spiritual lives of young people and equipping them to reach out to others for Jesus! 

A snazzy quartet at Spring Showcase! (That's my Austin in there!)
Look out for Ana! Super talent!!
If any of you got to come out and support either of these events and our students, I just want to say "Thank you!" You made a huge difference, just by coming to these events! 

Meaningful Ministry

This month has been quite the roller coaster of emotions for ministry! This was such a peaceful year, it almost felt like everyone realized we only had about a month of school left and had to get all their crazy/drama in before the just wouldn't be college ministry without it, right!? A few of those weeks were very discouraging to me to watch students I love choose things and actions away from the Lord. I would ask for your prayers for them...pray that they recognize the goodness of the Lord and that their hearts would be softened to be responsive and obedient to Him. 


Worship and brotherhood
Other parts of ministry have been so sweet and encouraging this last month. I get to hear about how Core is going each week from the women leaders I'm mentoring this year. I seriously love getting to meet with them and to hear how the Lord is working through them. One story that stuck out to me this month was from a core talking about living in the light and confession. 

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 
- 1 John 1:5

As they were discussing 1 John 1:5, a girl in their core started to cry. After talking a bit more, the girl said "I never though I could live out of this darkness." The Lord had sweetly touched her heart and showed her the freedom that was possible in Him. What a good, good Father. 


Tonight is our last meeting with this year's student leaders. They've been so great to work with and we would not be able to reach out and disciple a fraction of the campus without them! Every other week, we meet in our peer teams (gender specific groups that meet one on one weekly with a peer team leader) and the last two have been some of my favorites! 

Resurrection rolls = empty tomb!
The week before Easter, we took communion together. As we ate our resurrection rolls and drank our juice pouches, we talked about the things we love about Jesus and His presence in our lives. Then we washed each other's feet, like Jesus did for His disciples. It was a sweet night as we prayed for each other and served each other in such an intimate and rare way. 

Last week, each girl came with written words of encouragement and we spent two hours thanking, edifying, challenging and encouraging each other! These women have worked side by side for 10 months, each doing her best to live as a disciple and to teach others to know and obey the Words of Jesus. Each one has faced challenges and successes as their peers Get Jesus! The Holy Spirit really moved that night to speak to each girl and affirm her through her friends. 

I'm so blessed to get to work with these women and to help them grow in their relationships with God. 

Me & Tabby
Elena & Hayli
Jacy & Erin
Sarah & Tate
Tabby, Krystin & Loré

Jacy baptizing Alexcea! Praise God!

Ways to Pray

  • Finishing Well: Finals and Graduation are next week! Be praying for all of our students as they take their finals. Pray for our seniors as they close this chapter of their lives and figure out what the Lord has in store for them next! 
  • SICM: We leave for Bellingham, Washington on the 11th! Please be praying for safe travels and health for each of us going. Pray for each student to really catch a vision for being a minister to his or her campus, to grow in their love of our Lord, and to build deep, spiritual friendships with the other students attending SICM. 
  • Summer time: Pray for our summer large group meeting and our School of Ministry classes to deepen our students' relationships with God.
  • Fundraising: Pray for each staff member and incoming apprentice to reach 100% of their goals by August 1st! 

Monday, April 3, 2017

April Update

Wow. We are literally in the last full month for this semester! How did that even happen? Every year, the spring semester seems to fly, way faster than the fall semester. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with this time of year...I love summer and the different kind of work we get to do then, so I'm excited to see its speedy approach! But that also means that students are graduating and transitioning out of FOCUS. This is a really good thing, but it's also a little sad when they move away for jobs. 

Anyways, March was such a fun month! I can't wait to catch you up on it! 

New Apprentices 

The first weekend in March was filled with graduating seniors interviewing for the apprenticeship in the fall. I am super excited for this new group of apprentices! Denton will get to have three this year! I'm looking forward to the individual dynamic each one will bring to our staff and the increase of things we'll be able to do on each campus because of the added man-power.

These apprentices (seven total) have already begun their fundraising season and will continue through the summer. Please be praying with me that each one will be fully funded by August 1st (or sooner). I'm a fundraising coach again this year and I'm really looking forward to seeing God move. Neither of the two girls I'm coaching has a childhood church home or many Christian family members, so they are already feeling daunted by this process. Please pray for boldness and peace, as well as for God to completely provide for them!

Spring Break

What a fun and much needed break! Austin and I got to go on a little trip to St. Louis, Missouri, stopping in Oklahoma to see my sister and her family on the way up. I love getting to be with family! My nephews have taken to calling Austin "Uncle Awesome," which he just loves. St. Louis was a blast!

It was so sweet to get away and spend some solid adventuring time together.

Uncle Awesome by my nephew
The Arch!
St. Louis Zoo

I'm so thankful for that little vacation! God really refreshed us and got us into a good mindset to come back and finish the semester out well.

What You've All REALLY Been Waiting For...

Our Denton SSI Team at the Square!
Spring Student Impact (SSI) was AWESOME! Having been recharged during Spring Break, we jumped right into SSI at the end of that week! Denton had a team of 12 (2 leaders and 10 students) that flew in from Washington on Saturday. We spent the entire week with them, doing outreach on the three campuses. Here are some of my highs and lows of the week:

-It's really hard to get students to stop and have deep conversations with you at TWU. So many of them responded "No thanks, I'm a Christian. I'm good." and were unwilling to even talk about what that meant to them. 

-There are a lot of students who are confused about what it means to be a Catholic/Christian. When asked "Are you a Christian?" many would respond "No, I'm Catholic." What does that even mean?! 

Enjoying the pool on a hot day!
-There were only a few antagonistic people that came by, but the students handled their harsh accusations and criticisms with a grace that can only come from the Holy Spirit.  

Outreach at TWU
-I got to talk with one girl, who gave me such an interesting thought to chew on. We had been talking about the general campus response to our presence that week. "Thank you for being here and for doing something so bold and self reflective. As someone who was raised Christian and has chosen to walk away from it, I really appreciate your approach here," she said. 

I thanked her for her response and kind words. She was surprised that we had actually just earlier that day had a more critical and antagonistic response from someone. "You know, if they're like me, which being in the Bible belt, they probably are...they're probably going through the stages of grief over the loss of their religion. It might have been a personal decision, but it's still a loss. And you know, grief isn't linear. That anger stage can resurface whenever!" 

I have never thought about walking away from your faith as cause for grief, but that makes a lot of sense to me. I've thought about that a lot since then. Maybe it's a cop-out to feel like this (I should have compassion on everyone, regardless of grief or not), but it's a little easier to have grace and compassion when someone lashes out because of grief. 

It's absolutely a good reminder that I don't know everyone's story. It's a good encouragement to not assume someone is just a jerk, but is maybe in pain. 
I hope I have the chance to follow up with this girl and to get coffee sometime! She gave me her number, so there's a good chance!!  

Students praying at NCTC

"How can we best represent Jesus to our world?"
"What would you like to see Christians do differently?
-Tuesday night at TWU's Fellowship, Danielle, challenged the students to think through the gospel and to try to share it without using any "Christianese" or churchy language that might be confusing or off-putting. It was super hard! The next morning, the SSI students had a devotional where they spent the majority of the time paraphrasing a few key Bible verses without Christianese. Overkill, you might think...or God's hand preparing them for outreach that day! 

It was absolutely the latter! While we were at TWU, I heard one of the SSI leaders having a conversation with a guy about what it meant to be a Christian. "I think you just have to be a good person," he was saying. When she asked him what the difference was between Christians and good people, he didn't know. 
She then got to share the whole gospel, without Christianese, to this guy. 

He seemed more surprised than anything else! He didn't get reborn right then or really have any kind of significant response...but that's one guy that absolutely knows what the gospel is now and hopefully the Lord continues to pursue and plant seeds with him! 

Students praying at TWU
-It was encouraging to see how many people we talked through over the course of the week who came to check out our Friday Night Fellowship! I'm so hopeful that they get connected even deeper with community, but more importantly, with Jesus. 

-There was a lot of prayer that happened throughout this week. At almost any given time, I could look around and see some student in prayer with another one before they continued on their way. 

-It was encouraging to our students to see how bold the SSI students were in starting and carrying on their conversations! I hope that our students continue to mimic them in their interactions with their peers on campus!   

Outreach at UNT

Thank you SO MUCH for your prayers for this week. I think a little bit more of the Kingdom was brought to the DFW area this week. Please continue to pray for the conversations we had, for the new students coming to FNF and Cores, and for all of our students (Texans and Washingtonians) to continue to be bold for Jesus on their campuses. 

Prayer Requests

  • New Apprentices: for their fundraising to be at 100% by or before August 1st. For boldness and peace. For their hearts to be prepared for what the Lord would have them learn this year. 
  • SSI: Praise God that it went so well and that so many got to hear the Good News! For the Lord to continue to work in the hearts of all of the students who participated in any way.
  • Austin's work: His department has downsized from 8 people to 2 (him and his boss now). He's currently being interviewed for a new position with a sister company. Please be praying for wisdom and peace. 
  • Fundraising Season: many of our staff, including myself, are beginning to work on raising their funds for this next year. Pray that the Lord provides abundantly so we can all be full-time on campus without worrying about finances. 
Just FYI, these student testimonies are posted on the page. You can find more testimonies and other staff blog updates there, too!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Springtime Reflections

I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.

1 Corinthians 3:6-7

Last night friend asked me what God has been teaching me lately as we walked home from the grocery store. This verse came to mind this morning as I was reflecting on that conversation and what I wanted to share with you this month in my blog. Don't worry, these two thoughts are absolutely connected! 

Every month I have such a hard time deciding what to put in this blog. I can tell you all about the events we have each month, but that's only part of what I do each month. So much of my work is tiny, seemingly insignificant. I don't have new students coming to know the Lord for the first time and cool stories of conversion each month. I don't usually have spectacular stories from my one on one Bible studies with girls. The stories I have are more like these (which are real examples, by the way!):

- how the Lord is softening one girl's heart towards her roommate who has been so difficult to live with and how she's been looking for ways to love and serve her the way Jesus would have. 

-how seven out of the ten student leaders in my peer team are in dating relationships and are striving to obey the Lord in their physical and emotional boundaries. They are such great examples to the community of what healthy dating looks like! 

-how a lot of the girls I meet with struggle with deep insecurities and with vulnerability, but how they're trying to overcome those struggles in the name of Jesus. 

-how one girl I'm studying the Bible with is recognizing that she's not yet counted the cost of following Jesus and has some serious thinking to do. 

-how some of the girls I meet with deal with high anxiety and bouts of depression, but are looking for peace in Jesus and strength in community. 

-how hard peer to peer ministry is for our student leaders, but how proud I am of them! They put aside so much time to really love and know their peers that they're reaching out to for the sake of the Kingdom. 

Gosh, as I think about each of those girls, I am so honored to be part of this work at UNT. It's pretty easy for me to get caught up in thinking I need to be impressive and have a lot to show for my work "prove" that this is worthwhile or important work. But when I look for the impressive, I get discouraged. When I look for the spirit-led and the things that the Lord is doing through me to make and mature disciples to the glory of his name, I'm amazed! These aren't impressive things, but they have significant life impact and I love getting to be part of this work. 

So how does this connect to the verse I shared with you at the beginning? The thing the Lord is teaching me is how all of these things don't depend on me and that I can't control people. For some of the girls I meet with, I want sooo badly to just tell them how to fix their life and to dictate what they need to do. I want to step in and fix things, but that is not my job! That's the job of the Holy Spirit. I can be used in his work, but I am not the main worker! 

There's absolutely a certain amount of frustration in that realization, but there's also a lot of peace. These women that I meet with and care so much about are in the Lord's hands. I am planting seeds and watering seeds planted by someone else, but I am not the Master Gardener. Praise God! What a hefty job that would be! I'm so thankful for this reminder of what my job and purpose actually is and that I get to share these reflections with you. 

Not to Leave Out the Cool Events! 

Here are some of the other awesome things that happened over the month of February! 



These two girls got baptized together this month! Erin (on the right) is a corefa (student leader) at UNT this year. Sierra (left) is in her core. I loved getting to see these girls make this step forward in making their faith their own and in following Jesus' commands. 

                       Family Night

This year's Family Night was my favorite one EVER. The testimonies from different parents who shared about how their child has been impacted by God through FOCUS since moving off to college was incredibly encouraging. 

What was even more special was how the Lord is working in the families at home through these college students. It's incredible to see the ripple effect Jesus has on these students' lives! 

  Art Show Outreach! 

Aaron Hollingsworth, one of my teammates here on the Denton FOCUS team, has gotten us connected with a super special opportunity! We currently have an art show in the UNT Art Gallery in the Union! The show artistically explores the ways in which interconnectedness and community shapes who we are. The artists at students within our ministry in Denton!

There's a reception today and March 10th open to the public. We're hoping to have some deeper conversations sparked by the art! 

Pizza Theology - Let's Talk about Race!

This is a picture from Pizza Theology - our semesterly lecture day where we explore a given topic more in depth and then eat pizza together!

This topic is so relevant and impactful. One of my favorite things this year was "Voices from Our Community" where different students, alumni and staff had thought through and written out their experience with race from a very personal perspective. It was heart-wrenching to hear what some of my friends have gone through because of their race. It was convicting to hear the ways that I identified with impactful moments of thoughtless racism. I've been thinking a lot about my own experience with race and my interactions with people of other races. It's sparked some really good conversations that I look forward to continuing with friends and students. 

If you'd want to listen to the lecture and "Voices of Our Community" for yourself, it will be posted here soon!

Fun Things

My friend and coworker, Sarah, got married!! WOOO! What a day to be part of!

The weather has been awesome! We've been loving spending time outside, hammocking and hanging out with the pups!

Ways to Pray

  • SICM Students: We've prayerfully invited 30 students from Denton to attend the Student Institute of Campus Ministry in Washington this year! Of those, 27 will be able to go this May. Please be praying for the Lord to be preparing their hearts and minds for what He has in store for them. Also be praying for successful fundraising for the ones who will need help paying for the trip.
  • SSI: Student Spring Impact week is coming up! This is where students from Western Washington University spend their Spring Break doing outreach on our campuses! It's such a fun mission opportunity for them and a really neat way to engage with out campuses here. Please be praying for safe travel for them and for the Lord to lead us in every way that week.