Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A Part of The Vision



HAPPY DECEMBER! IT'S ALMOST CHRISTMASTIME! I CAN'T WAIT!!!

 

Ok, so Christmas is still a ways off, but Happy Holidays, everyone! This is my absolute favorite time of year. I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I am extremely thankful for each and every one of you. Without y'all, I would not be able to be full time on campus, doing ministry with students, and getting to use this time of my life for the Lord in this way! You are a huge part of the Vision for campus ministry. Thank you.


https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/c6/03/b6/c603b69b7f5369294941c06772b5ecff.jpg
I'm thankful for you everyday!

November Happenings


November was a crazy month! In the student world, November is when classes really start kicking in - the students realize how close the end of the semester is and the final tests and projects loom closer. 
For me, November was WEDDING MONTH! It was a blur of activity, preparations, and flexibility as our outdoor wedding got moved indoors at the last minute because of freezing cold weather! All in all, though, the wedding was amazing and I wouldn't have traded it. 

Leaving as Mr & Mrs! (Waiting for real pictures to come in!)

What IS the Vision?

At our UNT staff meeting the next week, Sarah, the lead campus pastor at TWU, asked where we had seen Jesus working and fulfilling the Vision of bringing His Kingdom to earth. The wedding immediately popped into my head! There were SO MANY people there! Most people had to drive at least an hour and some had to drive more to get there, in freezing cold weather. I saw so much love that day, both from people we had poured into and who had poured into us. It was a lot more than human affection there that day. The place was full of the love of Christ!

A lot of that love went into making both of us strong disciples of Christ, from our families to Sunday school teachers, to youth workers, to campus pastors and peers who took the time to disciple us one on one. For me, YOU are a lot of those people who impacted my life for Jesus. YOU helped mold two sold-out Christians, who then joined together for life to dedicate the rest of their lives to being an example of Jesus.

This is Sarah. She agrees! ;)
Campus ministry is just a section of all the work that goes into the Vision of God's Kingdom on earth!
 FOCUS's Vision is to pour into students who might one day be married, have children and raise the next generation of Christ-followers! It's preparing them to be healthy and strong in Christ first and foremost, which prepares them for any number of things in later life. I love that we get to be a part of that.

THIS IS WORTH IT!

I want to share something with you that is super exciting! This is a link to the first ever "Keep FOCUS Growing Initiative" video! FOCUS is planning on starting a new campus on both NCTC and UTA in the fall of 2015. Just think of all the new students to be impacted there! WOW! 


 


The Initiative runs now through December 16th. I hope that you will pray about giving during this time to help FOCUS keep growing and bringing the Vision to the DFW area! You can also join in the Initiative by sharing the video with others who would be encouraged by seeing how FOCUS is growing & the Kingdom work being done! Let's do this!! 




Saturday, November 1, 2014

October

Remember when October was just a thing of the past? How did that even happen?!
This was such an eventful month and I can’t wait to tell you all about just the highlights! Prepare yourself and stick with it, all the way to the end! =)

First things first.

You guys are just the best! I am so thankful for each of you and how you’re partnering with me in ministry this year. Philippians 4:4-7 has been my theme this last month. It says:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.   

The word “gentleness” can be translated “lack of franticness.” In this crazy busy time of life, that is what I need more of in my life and what gentleness I DO have, I know comes straight from God. I know each of you is living a busy, fast-paced life, too. This is what I have been praying for you guys, as well, presenting each of you with thankfulness. Thank you for being my ministry partners!


Second things next.


Wedding News! 

 

One of you, -cough-Sam-cough - requested that I tell a few more personal things, as he’s involved in the campus ministry and wanted to know how to pray for me specifically, not just events. So here’s what’s going on with me!

By the next blog I post, I will be a married lady! Wooooo! There are two weeks to the day right now and I couldn’t be more excited! It’s been a challenge this semester not to get overwhelmed with working full-time with FOCUS and all the things that come with planning a wedding. Hence my theme verse this month!

Austin and I have started putting together our apartment. All of the big things are in place for the wedding and special family members, like my sister & her family from Germany have started to trickle in. Now it’s just a waiting game!

My prayer request in this time is that I stay focused and fully present in life outside The Wedding. I want to continue to give my best to my peer team girls, to my studies, and to all the activities we’re doing to impact the campus, and that’s gotten a little harder lately.  I’m really excited to have wedding planning time back to do other things instead!

Fall Camp! 

 

Playing team building games!
The Peer Team of Awesomeness
Praise and Worship
We took just under 200 students to a Mount Lebanon Camp back at the beginning of the month. The purpose of Fall Camp is to build deeper relationships between the students and each other, especially within their cores. I absolutely loved it this year! It was a little different, as you would expect in helping put on an event versus participating in it, but it was so encouraging to me. Seeing the growth in our campus since 2010 is just astounding! Hearing the things God did in students’ heart over the weekend is so sweet!
One thing that really blessed me was that we took several special needs students. I loved seeing them interact with everyone and the way that our students went out of their way to make sure that they were included (even if this meant carrying a wheel-chair up and down stairs!). I think it says a lot about a community that really strives to include everyone, whether it’s a special need, a social awkwardness, or just being very different from anyone else.

Leadership Conference 2014!

 

We had a church wide leadership conference that involved three church plants and our six campus ministries for anyone who is a leader, with or without a leadership title. This was such a fun Saturday! From 8:30am to 5:30pm, we listened to several different speakers as they cast the vision for our church body.

I think one of my favorite parts was hearing from different people in the community of their vision for the church and what that looks like in their lives. There were businessmen, moms, pastors, campus ministers, and students - all living for Jesus and having one united vision of making Jesus known, but that happening in a variety of ways. It was encouraging to see how God is working in different people and the ways that He uses their lives to get His work done!

Core Visits!

 

At least twice a semester, I visit my peer team girls’ cores. I absolutely love getting to visit them! It’s a lot of fun just to see how my girls that I meet with weekly lead together and the dynamics of their core, but then it’s so amazing to see how God is working in each one. Some of the topics I’ve sat in on now include Judgement & Forgiveness, Doubts, Time Management, Spiritual Friendships, Vision, and Different Ways to Worship. God is working in these groups and through these student leaders to build true Jesus disciples out of their peers. How cool is that?

Last things...last.

Highlights, guys. Just highlights. I wish I had time and space to tell you about every single outreach event we do bi-weekly, about all the things I’m learning in my internship classes, and about how God is just stretching me through so many different things! He’s doing a lot and it’s so good! I’m very blessed to be part of His work in this capacity and I'm glad y’all are right there with me. Keep me posted on how to be praying for each of you specifically. I love you guys!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Thirty days hath September...

...and it's never enough!
September was a really packed month. This is kind of the mellow-out and find-your-groove month. I think I'm allllmost there, but haven't found my groove quite yet. It'll get there eventually!

I've been spending a lot of my time with Jesus in the book of Philippians and these verses always remind me of you guys, my faithful partners in ministry! I'm so very blessed to have each of you in my life!

 "I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ."
Philippians 1:3-6

None of what I'm doing this year would be possible without you guys! 

One cool thing that happened this month was I got to give my first sermon for one of my classes. It was just a tiny five minute talk from the book of Matthew, but I want to share it with you guys! It encompasses some of what's going on in my life right now on campus, as well as in my internship classes. So here are some things about it you should know first! 
                                                                                                      Outreach
Questions on Display Board at TWU
 We started doing weekly campus outreach at both UNT and TWU. The two most common types we'll be using this semester are Campus Conversations and Questions on Display. 
Campus Conversations is where students are paired up and then sent out on campus to talk to someone. We equip them with a main question and some follow-ups, like "Who would you say God is?" and "How did you come to that conclusion?"   
 It's pretty intimidating sometimes, but I've been so very proud of how our students have been boldly approaching other students (as well as faculty, on-campus workers, etc) to engage them in meaningful conversations. 
Questions on Display are thought provoking questions where students are encouraged to engage in exploring their opinions more, talking about it with another person, or writing down their answer on a whiteboard.

Now that you know what kind of outreach we're doing, parts of my sermon will make way more sense! =) 


Matthew 9:35-38
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

    So in this little passage, Jesus has been going around teaching the people and healing them. The people are massing around him, wanting whatever he can give them - food, healing, hope, a new kingdom.
    In just being around them, he is able to discern their real need - how lost they are, without a shepherd guiding them.  They’re harassed by their enemies, their government, their every day life troubles.
    He’s moved to compassion for them and tells his disciples “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Basically, “They’re ready. Who’s going to do the work to bring them in?”

    I chose this passage because we’re all on either the first or second week of outreach on our campuses. I know that I for sure needed to be reminded of what we were doing out there and why, and God showed that to me this last week in a pretty direct way.

    A couple of weeks ago, in preparation for leading the students in outreach, Sarah and Matt had each of us go out and do some campus conversations at UNT or TWU. While I’ve really enjoyed doing outreach in the past, it’s been a while since I’ve done it and I was in the mindset of “Oh great. Just another thing to add to our schedules of things to plan and attend.” Ashley and I went out together around lunchtime, prayed for God to give us boldness, and then went out to find someone to talk to.
   
Obviously not us, but this is what it was like! Minus the cool forest-y setting.
“We” chose this girl who was sitting by herself and looked like she had a full plate, so she’d be there for a little bit. She was super open to us sitting with her and was extremely open to talking! We sat there for almost an hour talking about so many things! She opened up about her past as a Wiccan witch, what her biggest take away from that experience was, what she thinks about God now, just so much! At the end, she asked for OUR numbers and then later that week initiated with me to get dinner and continue the conversation.

    I don’t think that’s the typical “norm” in a campus conversation experience, but I think God was really gracious in reminding me of what the purpose is in our outreach time.
    For this girl, her life IS harassed. She doesn’t have anything steady in her life guiding her and that is genuinely good. She’s turning to boys and alcohol to numb her pain and to find an easy venue of social interaction. She is helpless in a sense because right now she’s so entangled in the grossness of the world that she doesn’t even recognize that there’s a different way to live! If hearing someone’s story of searching in ALL the wrong places and all the heartache that comes with that doesn’t stir your heart to compassion and reignite desire for our campuses, I’m not sure what will.
    It also just blew my mind how simple this interaction was: a lunchtime conversation, where really, I think the Holy Spirit was just all over it, because it flowed SO beautifully, got deeper than most conversations and seemed to be way more engaging to her than I think just me on my own ever is! We didn’t have hardly anything in common, but to her, it was “the best day she’d had on campus since being back!” Guys, that’s, what five weeks where her BEST DAY was sitting and talking with a stranger. The Spirit directed that interaction and I believe set it up way before I moved in obedience to go talk to her. 

    I want to encourage you guys in what we’re stepping out to do over the course of this semester and the next. God commands us to go tell the harassed and helpless the good news. What a cool multi-purpose we are accomplishing in outreach - we get to be obedient to God, He can use us in ways that are outside of our comfort-zone or even perceived ability, and we get to point the helpless and hopeless back towards Christ.
   
The harvest is so plentiful, especially for our campuses. I think it’s so interesting that Jesus didn’t tell them to pray that more people would be made ready to receive the good news, but to pray for more people to tell it. The harvest is ready!! We can be the answer to that prayer and be wholly confident that God is ALREADY moving and preparing the way ahead of us. 

Thanks for reading all the way to the end! I hope that you are encouraged in sharing Jesus in your interactions with others! 
Some things to pray for!
Please keep me, my team, our students, and the campuses in your prayers as we continue to engage in meaningful conversations that point people towards Christ!  
Pray for our up-coming Fall Camp (This is one of my FAVORITE events! I'll tell you more about it next month!) - for students to make time to come, for them to deepen their budding, spiritual friendships, and to be refreshed in their relationship with God.  

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

All the things in August!

I just can't even believe how fast August flew by! Thank you so much for your prayers and support through this crazy month. I know if it was not for your prayers, this month would not have gone as well as it did! There are so many things I want to tell you about, but let me pick just a few to highlight.

Internship classes! 
My textbooks for the year
We kicked off preparing for our classes, particularly "Old Testament in Christian Ministry" this year by reading the Old Testament in nine study days. Yes. The WHOLE thing...in NINE days.
I have read the Old Testament through before, but never in such a compact time frame. It was challenging to me in a number of ways and I realized there's just so much about God that I really don't know or understand. It was amazing to see the continuous theme of His covenant love for His people, regardless of their unfaithfulness. I'm excited to break down each book and explore it on a graduate level in the coming months. Never before have I been so challenged to think through and reason why I believe what I do.



Corefa Prep & Leader Retreat! 
My Peer Team - each pair leads a core
I loved both of these weekend long events. This is where we get together with our student leaders as individual campuses (Core Facilitator Prep) and as an entirety (Leader Retreat) to equip them for leading their peers through this school year.
One of my favorite things about this year, was just seeing how the ministry has grown in leadership! My first year at UNT in 2010, there were three girl cores and two guy cores. This year, we have twelve of each! How amazing is that!?
I also love seeing WHO is a leader. There were some students this year that I met their very first year in a core and the amount of growth and change towards looking more like Christ is just mind-blowing. I am so encouraged by these students who are sacrificing personal time and other things to really minister to their peers. They have caught the vision for God's Kingdom and are working it out!

Welcome Week!
Worship at the first Friday Focus. SO MANY PEOPLE!!
What a crazy week, plus a little, this is! It started out this year on a Sunday, as we helped Freshmen move into their dorms. God is good and answers prayers - we had prayed for it to not be as hot as it had been in years past. He also DEFINITELY has a sense of humor - it rained all day! We were some extremely soggy movers.
From that day, we had events each night - Movie and game nights, Capture the Flag, Mean Green Fling, Recstravaganza, and so many more! I was so proud of our student leaders, who really cast wide nets and met just an incredible amount of students! I've loved watching friendships grow out of "random" encounters and am excited to see how God moves in these kids' lives.
Our first Friday Night Focus was a great venue to see the fruit of that week! Already, we had so many new students who came because of invites from our student leaders. Lives are about to be changed, guys!  

Sometimes I get overwhelmed with the thought that this is JUST the beginning and already so many things have happened. Please be in prayer with me as Cores start meeting this week - this is where students will be challenged and make deep, spiritual friendships that lead to deeper relationships with Christ!

Love you, guys!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Happy New Year!

Happy New School Year, that is! 

After several months of preparation and prayer and countdown emails, we're finally here, guys! This is the start of a brand new year that's just waiting for students to arrive, get plugged in, and get rocked by God. I'm incredibly excited to have another ten months to be able to concentrate wholly on ministry to college students. To be part of God's work here at UNT is such an honor and wouldn't really be possible without each of you who support me in this work! Thank you!

I have been at Staff Retreat in Sulphur, Oklahoma since Sunday afternoon. Don't let the name and the fact that it's Oklahoma fool you...it was beautiful! We had a full day and two halves on either side of getting down to business and also of getting to know our campus teams and admin staff better.

Let me just tell you, guys...I love my team. There are seven of us on the UNT/TWU team (five interns and two staff) and a total of twenty-eight members reaching UTD, two Collin College Campuses, and Richland Hills. One thing that was just amazing to me this weekend was how different we all were from each other. It's kind of a no-brainer to understand that each person is going to be different from the next, but to see how God brings people together with a common goal of building His Kingdom is incredible. He's the best coordinator and I'm confident that each of us is here - on the team we were assigned, on whichever campus, with whatever given task - to accomplish things that He has set up from the beginning. How cool is that?!

 I've been trying to nail down my biggest take-away from this retreat and it's a tough call. There were so many nuggets of wisdom and encouragement given for this next year. There were several sweet conversations of getting to know my teammates better. There were tons of silly moments during free time that changed my perspective of teammates. I think I can just boil it all down to huge feelings of excitement and anticipation for the next ten months. I'm pumped up and ready to dig in!

These are some things you can be praying for:
Corefa Retreat
Cores are the "core" of our ministry. This is where all the deeper relationships are built, one-on-one studies happen, and where students can really live life together. These students are the ones who have the most impact on individuals and the campus as a whole. This weekend is a time for the Core Facilitators to get prepped and filled up for the year.
Welcome Week
The university puts on events for students to get to know the campus, organizations, and the city. This is a go-go-go week! Pray for strength, good attitudes, and that we "cast our nets wide." This week is pivotal for engaging new students.
International Ministry
It really is my heart to see more diversity in FOCUS at UNT and for the ministry to reach out to the international students on campus. Be praying for what that looks like in action. I plan on meeting with some people this next week to brainstorm and see what the biggest need is that we could help fill to minister to these students. 

Love you guys and I'm praying for each of you.

Focus Staff 2014!
 Kaitlyn and I are going to lead a peer team together!