Wednesday, January 10, 2018

January Update

Thank you! 

So last time, I left you with an invitation to give to the annual Keep FOCUS Growing fundraiser. That end of the year fundraiser is so important - there are a lot of administrative costs to keep an organization as large as FOCUS running smoothly, not to mention having the financial capabilities to move when the Lord says "Go to a new campus"! This fundraiser gives us the freedom to do just that. 

This year's fundraiser was met with all kinds of incredible blessings! 
1. Facebook waived all processing fees for any gift given to a non-profit organization. Those little fees can really add up and take a chunk out of a total! 
2. Facebook, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and a generous anonymous donor matched over $10,000 in gifts given! 
3. We raised not only our goal of $50,000, but went OVER our goal!
4. We were able to end the fundraiser sooner than we had originally planned, which meant all of our staff members could completely enjoy their holiday break without continued work in this area!

I want to say a particular thank you to each of you who gave this year. God has deeply blessed this ministry through you. Just think about the hundreds of students who will be impacted for His Glory this next semester, and the ripple effect from there! How awesome to get to be part of that. Thank you for being obedient and generous!! 

A Leave of Absence

My December was an interesting one. Coming back after Thanksgiving, I was dealing with a lot of anxiety, fear and depression regarding my mom's health. She was actually doing relatively ok, but the potential for treatment was looming and I was terrified of those implications. 

I talked with my supervisors and they determined that since we were in the last week of school and our students were moving into a month long break, I could take an extended leave of absence to go be with her. That was such an incredible blessing to me. I have not had that long of a period of time at home with my mom since I was in high school! 

It was a sweet time together and I had a lot of time for quiet reflection on the last year. God really worked in my heart throughout those two weeks to show me how anxious I've been lately. I don't tend to slow down enough to acknowledge how I'm really doing and to let Him soothe my heart. But my body knows and has been trying to tell me! I've had to stop drinking coffee because it makes my heart fluttery and my hair has been thinning all this last year. 

We read Romans 8 this morning in our staff meeting and verse six really spoke to me: The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 

It makes me think of John 10:10, where Jesus talks about how "The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. But I have come that they may have life, life to the fullest!" That's something I've reflected on often with the girls I'm ministering to but had not yet taken the time to digest it and apply it to myself. The anxiety I've been experiencing is not "life to the fullest." It reeks of death. One of my teammates commented on the Romans verse "How good of God that he wants us to experience peace and life every day, through every situation. Not just some times or in certain situations." 

My mom's situation hasn't changed. She's still fighting a disease that doesn't offer much hope. But God does offer both hope and peace. I'm thankful for God reminding me of that during my leave of absence. I'm hoping to really put these reflections and insights into practice this next year, whatever it may bring.

Also, what a kind, compassionate team I have the privilege of working with to allow me that time! I am very blessed. 

Denton Team - Ready for the Christmas Party!

January Student Testimony

Graham Spencer
Collin College
"FOCUS showed me what a real relationship with God is. Coming from a Christian private school, I thought I understood God pretty well, but I didn't have a relationship with Him at all. Through the example of my Corefas, staff members, and just so many other students, I saw what it means to earnestly seek God. One of my favorite moments from freshman year was a talk with my friend, Pedro. We were good friends at this point in the year, and I had become pretty vulnerable with him. We got into a serious conversation about our current walks with God, what that looks like, and why/ After poorly answering how my relationship with God was "pretty good," Pedro really pushed my ideas of why I was a Christian. I ended up realizing most of my faith was blindly following the laws God had given us, and not really seeking Him out. Pedro then opened up to me that he had struggled with the same problem early on in his faith. I'm beyond thankful for Pedro and so many other friends like him who have spurred me on in love. Before FOCUS, this community, I was living half the life I am now. Now, I am living life with God, not just for Him."   

Prayer Requests

  • Winter Camp is this weekend! Please be praying that our students would radically encounter Jesus this weekend! Please pray that deep friendships would be solidified and that our staff would have the stamina to minister to students this weekend.
  • Please pray that our students would be outreaching int their classes and purposeful in their friendships this semester!

Friday, December 1, 2017

December Update

Keep FOCUS Growing

I'm sure you know the big deal this month is the Keep FOCUS Growing fundraiser that's currently happening! Each year, we host a fundraiser to provide funds for new campuses, student needs, advertising on campus, Focus on Jesus study books, and so much more! If you aren't already following FOCUS on Facebook, you can do so here. This last Tuesday was "Giving Tuesday," where Facebook waived all processing fees and the Bill And Melinda Gates Foundation matched $2 million towards non-profits!

My friend, Tony, from Zambia!
You guys were ON IT! Over the course of that day, we went from $2,999 to $34,000 of our $50,000 goal! That is incredible. Thank you so much, if you have already given! If you haven't yet, please seriously pray about it and give through the Facebook page, since they have permanently waived fees for non-profit organizations now! 

It's only because of generous givers like you guys that we are able to do as much as we have been and would like to do on these college campuses in the DFW Metroplex! Thank you!!

Check out the Wishlist and see what gets YOU excited!

A Sweet Story

I want to share a story about the provision of the Lord for our student leaders that's been unfolding over the course of the last month! It started at one of our leader meetings near the end of October. You could feel it when you walked in, and as we started talking through the agenda that night. Our students were beat. The energy that they normally exude was just dead. Danielle felt prompted by the Spirit to change up our plan for the night and ask everyone "how are they really doing" and "what was going on"?

Some of our students hanging out!

One after another they started sharing about how stressed they felt, the high levels of anxiety a lot of them were experiencing, the feelings of overload and burn was rough! We spent some time that night praying for each other.

The next day, I got a text from the mom of one of our students. That always makes me nervous! What did your kid do? What did I do?? Hesitantly, I called her back and it was one of the most encouraging conversations. She had been at a women's retreat recently and felt the Lord leading her to start pouring out what she has been learning and benefitting from these retreats for the last several years onto the next generation. As she told me about the refreshment she experienced each year in intentionally coming away to be with Jesus, she asked if I thought that was something our students needed right now? I just started laughing. And crying a little. Boy, was it! That was exactly what our students need.

So we've started planning and figuring out the logistics. December and January are such funky months with the break, but we have tentative date set for February! Now where to host it? The next week from that encounter, I was at a mini seminar for my Bible Study Fellowship class and was paired "randomly" with a sweet lady for part of an activity. As we talked, I got to share some of what I do on campus, and at the end of our time together, she said "Well, you better get my information so I can support you!"

Just finished a Bible study with this awesome lady!
Whaaaat? If only all support raising was that simple! We exchanged information and we've spent the last several weeks trying to figure out a time to meet. We finally got to meet this last week and I was so encouraged by her. One of the first things she told me was "I want to support you, but I really feel like the Lord is leading me to open my home to you and your ministry. Is there anything you can think of that you need a place to host?"

Literally the day before I had been researching good locations for this little retreat! Now, it still might not work out there...we have around 30 women student leaders, which is a lot for one home! But the fact that the Lord is going ahead of us and opening doors is really awesome. Who knows what else we might get to do in that space next year!

This might seem like a lot of little coincidences, but each time I have gotten to meet or talk with these two women, God has provided in such sweet ways. This retreat for our women leaders is coming together and I am SO excited about it! And they have blessed and encouraged me at times when I have felt so down this month. It has been a reminder that God provides and is taking care of me and our students. The generosity of these two women (in their time, money, and home) is so reflective of His heart.  I hope that encourages you, too! I'll keep you posted about the retreat!

A picture from Pizza Theology over The Sermon on the Mount! You can listen here, if you're interested!

Student Testimony

This month's testimony is from an alum who is near and dear to my heart. Danyelle lived with my sister, Moriah, for a couple years and we did international student ministry at UNT together. This year, I've seen her go through some of the hardest things. But her heart for the Lord and his people is unwavering. Please keep Danyelle and Franco in your prayers! 


Monday, November 6, 2017

November Update

For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. 

As I was thinking about how I wanted to start this blog, this verse came into my mind. It's so applicable right now. There have been some cool things that have happened this month, but there have also been some difficult, on-going situations that I've been thinking about a lot. Apparently there's this thing called "the October Blues" in ministry and I've definitely been feeling that. We've gotten down into the nitty-gritty of ministry. This month (whole semester, really) has been leaning on the more on the difficult side - many of the girls I'm meeting with have hard situations in their lives that cause extra stress...many students are dealing with depression and anxiety...people are so clearly broken, but refuse to choose Jesus...many loved ones are dealing with health problems...that list could just go on! And yet, God is good. His love is enduring and his faithfulness continues. I'm so thankful for that. Please keep me, my teammates and our student leaders in your prayers as we battle onward.


This month, I've seen God's hand in leading a couple of our students to be baptized! It's always encouraging to see someone choose to be obedient in this way! Here is Tabitha's testimony. She is one of the girls I have had the honor of studying the Bible with this last year. I've really loved getting to watch her grow. 

Sweet Tabitha!

Growing up, I didn’t really know what God or Christianity was. I knew people went to church on Sundays and they read this thing called the Bible, but outside of that I didn’t know what it was. As I started getting a little older, I began to realize how much I did want to know more about it. Everyone around me was in a small group or had this unwavering belief in something great, and the fact that I didn’t left me feeling very much like an outsider. It left me feeling like I didn’t deserve to know about God and all of this grace and love he had to offer the world. It instilled in me this fear that I would never be good enough to know.

Once high school came along, God began to use my sister as a tool to try to bring me closer to Him. She would insist on having me go to church with her, she would ask me my thoughts on it after every service, whether I wanted to talk about it or not. Even after she moved away, I had this conviction to keep going and so I would go to the service by myself. I couldn’t quite see the transformation that was happening, but it was there: I began to sing the songs during worship, I was taking notes on the sermons, I was intent on trying to learn more about this God of ours. His plan to bring me to him was a few years in the making, but it was working.

Once I got to college, I had this conviction to join a ministry and that’s how I find myself here today. With all of these people that were my age and were trying to figure out the same thing that I was, I truly craved that community and that understanding. I went to that first FNF alone, but came out of it with such a massive group of people that cared about me and wanted to help me learn about God and the Bible. The fact that these people were so intentional with me and cared so deeply about me was baffling. My small group leaders once described us all with a verse and mine was 1 John 4:19 “We love because he first loved us.” I didn’t understand at first, but they were showing me what loving like God was like. And even though these people did love and care for me I knew that this was only a small fraction of the magnitude of love that God has for all of us.

I recently decided to let the Lord have my heart and to lead me where he believes I should be. For so long, I believed I wasn’t worth it, I didn’t know the Bible and there were others who certainly had to be better Christians than me. Even after I started going to church I never thought that I was good enough, for God’s grace, His love, certainly not of being saved. No one is perfect, but God sees us as worthy enough to be saved.  And that is why he sent his only son to die for us, so that we can be saved.  After trying to control my path and falsely believing that I know what is best for me for so long, handing over the reign is the only thing I can do. God is intentional  with his timing and sometimes I wish he would have gotten to me sooner. Back before high school before I had that negative view of Christianity, but everything happens for a reason and even if we don’t understand his timing it is done by his will and is good. I’m ready for God, and he’s been waiting for me for so long. I’m ready to swing that door open.

Kassi getting baptized!
Opal (middle) got baptized!

All Church Retreat

The DFW Metro Family of Churches had it's 20th anniversary this year, which we celebrated by bringing back a tradition of All Church Retreat! This was such a fun weekend. All three of the churches that support FOCUS (located in Garland, Wylie and Denton) came together for three sessions focused on the past, the present and the future. It was a sweet encouragement to see how God has been working through these people to build up truly a family of churches that serve the surrounding areas, children, teens, college students, adults and seniors. I loved getting to see different friends and to catch up with them. I'm thankful to get to be part of this family of believers and I'm so excited to see what God does with the next twenty years!

Some Pics from Halloween

Each year, our students really enjoy dressing up for Halloween! It's a fun, less pressured night for them to invite their friends who might not come to a normal Friday Night Fellowship!  Here are some of my favorite costumes this year. 
Bob Ross and Painting

A Six Pack of Coca-Cola

The Wall from "Stranger Things"

Phineas & Ferb

Thank you guys for the ways you pray and minister to me! I'm so thankful for you!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

October Update

 Happy Autumn!

This is seriously my favorite time of year. I love the cooler weather (sandwiched between the typical Texas heat), the occasional drippy gray days, the colors, all of it! 

September is such a transition month for both the staff and the new student leaders. We're all getting used to each other and building relationships. The students have huge opportunities in their classes to meet and engage with their classmates, which is always a potential, but is MUCH easier in those first few weeks. New cores are forming, finding rhythm with each other and developing vulnerability and friendship. It's a pretty sweet time! 

These are the corefas I'm mentoring this year and they are the cat's pajamas! 

Hannah & Reagann (front seat) & the UniCOREns (backseat)

Reagann is a senior studying Chemistry. This is her second year as a corefa. It's been pretty cool watching her "grow up" these last few years, as her freshman year was my intern year with FOCUS. I've gotten to see her learn how to push out of her comfort zone of being an introvert to really love people well. She's someone who makes others feel cared for and valuable to her. I'm excited to get to know her better this year. 

Hannah is a junior studying Media Arts and Advertising. I'm amazed at this girl's creativity in SO many areas! This is her first year as a corefa, so she's learning how to juggle a lot of things on her plate. She's already grown so much in time management and I think this next year will really help her grow that much more in learning healthy balance. Something I've really enjoyed about meeting with Hannah so far is that she's very thoughtful in her interactions with people and wants to learn how to best show Christ, no matter who she's with. 

Sarah (far left) and Elena (middle) with their core. 

This is my second year getting to mentor Sarah and Elena as corefas, which is such a treat! 

Sarah is an Environmental Science major in her senior year. She's a passionate, straight forward, obsessed with nature kind of person! I've really loved getting to meet with Sarah again this year and to continue growing our relationship. I'm thankful for her honesty and willingness to be open about hard things, her persistence and passion for people, and her desire to keep growing as a disciple. 

Elena is a senior studying Integrative Studies with concentrations in Biology, Psychology and Human Development And Family Science. (What a mouthful!) She's such a light hearted, loving person who is really grappling with her natural tendencies to become more like Christ. Something I appreciate about Elena is that although she strongly dislikes conflict, she's still willing to have hard conversations, ask tough questions and be honest about things in her life. 

Sierra (green shirt) & Katie (grey hoodie) with their core.

Katie is a senior studying Creative Writing and Media Arts. She was a corefa the year before last, but knew she was going to have a hectic junior year, so she didn't lead last year. I love having Katie on my team again this year! She's someone who is so thoughtful in her interactions with others and is really striving to grow in her relationship with God and how she relates to others because of that. 

Sierra is a junior studying Human Development and Family Science. This is her first year as a corefa and is the "youngest" Christian in my peer team this year, having been committed to Jesus for a little over a year now. That freshness has been so exciting to work with - she has great questions and perspectives! I'm really enjoying getting to know her and to see how the Lord is growing her. She's been a go-getter already in pursuing people for Jesus! 

So those are the women I'm spending the most of my time with this school year. I love how diverse this group is (ethnicity, backgrounds, interests, major, etc!). Keep us in your prayers as we continue getting to know each other - for the Spirit to really grow us as friends and for each of us to be molded to look more like Jesus through our time together. 

Fall Camp 2017

 Denton Fall Camp 2017 (UNT, TWU & NCTC)

Fall Camp came early this year, with the hope that new students would develop deeper friendships and catch a vision for community earlier in the year. It was a special 24 hours of worshipping, playing and praying together. It was fun to see people come out of their shells and start friendships outside of the people they knew from core! 
Worship team perspective
One thing I really loved about this weekend was hearing from Jamiann Worsham and Brianna Marble on Sunday. They were two students who transferred to UNT from Collin College and the FOCUS ministry there. Their first year at UNT was so hard, but through it, God gave them a vision for building a FOCUS community there, which He sure did! 

It was so encouraging to hear how God used two juniors to recognize a need and then to get the ball rolling to start things at UNT. From there, the TWU and NCTC ministries were planted - opening possibilities of meeting and ministering to over 60,000 students in Denton alone. WOW! 

Campin' in Cabins!
I also got to have a really neat conversation with a girl at Fall Camp. She's revisiting the idea of following God after several years of highschool rebellion. She wanted to talk and pray about trying to understand God better, which opened such a sweet conversation. There was so much about her story that made it apparent that the Spirit was calling her back into relationship - she keeps coming to FOCUS events & says she feels something different in the people...she came to Fall Camp even though her cousin (who has been inviting her to things) couldn't come...she sought me out to talk and pray. She's so hungry for truth! Please be praying for her as she explores. Pray against distractions and fear about giving God another try. 

Things to Pray About

  • A PRAISE! Do you remember the student, Selvent, who collapsed at a Summer FOCUS event and then spent several months in the hospital two summers ago? I have an update about him! He's actually doing really well. His mom brought him home and has been doing intensive therapy with him. He's walking and talking again, he remembers things and can carry on a decent conversation, which is just incredible. Praise God for his recovery!! Thank you for your consistent prayers for him.
  • Outreach on Campus: We've been heating up outreach on each campus, starting with monthly personal challenges (like asking a classmate to coffee) and our first official event since Welcome Week is in two weeks! Pray for our students to develop a lifestyle of outreach, not just a mindset of weekly events being "outreach." 
  • What's Next: This year is my last one on this contract with FOCUS. When I made the three year commitment, three years seemed like a good long while and would end at a place where Austin and I would be considering starting our family soon. So I'm in the process of praying through what the Lord would lead me to do next - to continue in campus ministry or something else - and I would love your prayers! 
This is a testimony from one of the students at UTA. I think it's so neat to hear how the Lord is moving on the other campuses that FOCUS is on! 

Thank you for your continued prayers, support and friendship in my life. I'm so grateful for you! 

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