Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A Learning Month

I woke up this morning and came to the realization that it's NOVEMBER! Somehow it slipped my mind yesterday that we were in to a new month...which also means my monthly freebie from Chick-fil-a never got used for the month of October.  :'(

But other than that sad fact, October was a terrific month! There are two really great events that I look forward to each year that happen in October (Fall Camp & the Leader Conference at church), as well as some other fun things (Halloween Party & Dating Talks!). I feel like God has really been reminding me of some important things and has used different ways all month to really drive His point home with me. I'll for sure share some of that with you, but I think the easiest way to do that will be chronologically! So let's go back to the beginning of the month and start with...

Fall Camp!

Denton FOCUS Fall Camp, 2015      

Look at all of those beautiful people! I loved Fall Camp so much this year! Granted, it got off to a rocky start...who knew there was another Mount Lebanon Baptist Camp also an hour away from Denton, but 30 minutes away from the location I was ACTUALLY trying to get to? Once I finally arrived at camp, it was smooth sailing from there on out! 

Peer Team 2015
The theme for the weekend was "Defining Moments" and we had a special guest speaker, Amy Knoles. Side note - she's my mentor this year...she's pretty great! The students really connected with the idea of being aware of defining moments in their lives and striving to be the person they would want to be when those moments happened. 

We had several students share about their personal defining moments since being in college and those were the most impactful of all. After hearing how one student chose to give up being part of ROTC in order to have more time for friendships and to deepen his walk with the Lord, one of the girls I meet up with made the tough decision to step down from a position of leadership with an extra curricular club. She had been feeling like the Lord was asking her to do so for a long time, but hearing about another person's sacrifice and submission to the Lord gave her the peace and confidence to move forward. 

One of our main goals for Fall Camp each year is just for the students to have fun with each other, get to know their cores and other members of the ministry better, and to have a weekend away from typical distractions to be refreshed by God. I really do think all of these goals were met this time and I love getting to be part of that! 

The next big event of October was...

Leadership Conference 

This is one of the most fun days because the leaders from each of our three sister churches and all of the FOCUS campuses get together for one full day of learning together. This year's theme was "Friendship," which may sound like an odd topic for a leadership conference, but let me tell you! It was so great and very much needed. 

"Yay, you're my friend! Catch meeee!"
Friendship is something that I've always really valued, but until this weekend, never really gave it a position of Actual Importance. Sure, it's super nice to have friends, but it's also super easy to allow friendship to slip to a back-burner in the midst of all the other "Important" things that have to be done on a daily basis. My biggest take away from this conference that deep, meaningful friendship is a Spiritual Discipline. I had never thought about it in that way before! To be told that "you can't be like Jesus if you don't invest in friendships" was such a kick in the butt! 

It makes sense though...Jesus was all about friendship and really building relationships with people. Without deep, meaningful friendships, who's going to know what's going on in your life and how to speak loving truth into it? Who is going to encourage and uplift you when things get hard? Who are you going to love and invest into? We just can't do ministry well and be lone wolves. That's not how it works. 

I'm so glad for this new insight! It almost gave a sort of legitimacy to my pursuit of deep friendships. Like taking time for this person is not selfish, but it's good and much needed. This is definitely one of those areas I'm learning how to balance in life and I'm excited to go forward from here. I don't think I'm alone in needing to learn how to continue investing in friendships past college. It gets much harder to be intentional with people when you don't live 5-10 minutes away from each other and aren't involved in a lot of the same things anymore. I'm curious to see how this particular conference impacts our community in the upcoming months. 

Our last big event of October was the...

Halloween Party!

This is such a fun, silly event and I love it. We present the Halloween Party each year not as just another fun thing for our students to participate in, but as a "Bring Your Own Friend" event. This is something that they can invite their friends who wouldn't normally come to a "religious" event to have some fun, get to know some other Christians and experience a party not focused on your "typical" college idea of fun. 

Jessie & Mrs Potatoehead
We're so blessed to have four different houses in one neighborhood that people from FOCUS or Denton North Church live in who are willing to host for us! This year, we had a snack house, a board game house, a dance party house and a pumpkin carving house! The weather was soggy and could have been a real downer on the party, but everyone had the best attitudes. We put down towels at entryways and borrowed umbrellas to get from place to place with each other! 

Mermaid Man & Barnacle Boy
Hiccup from How to Train Your Dragon
Just a bunch of Grandmas!
Kronk from The Emperor's New Groove
Lots of strange looking folk at Friday Night Fellowship before the party

My friend from Pakistan came for just a little bit and was so intrigued by the party. As an anthropology major, I think she may have been slightly disappointed that it wasn't a "real college party" for her to observe, but I loved that she came!

You know, it's not Halloween without something scary, so what better time of year to have...

The Sex/Dating Talk 

(dun dun dunnnnnn)

It happens every year, at least twice if we can make it work! Today's (and yesterday's and tomorrow's) college student is bombarded with secular ideas of what normal sexuality and dating relationships look like. So while it's not the most fun topic to hit on, and always results in a LOT of follow up conversations with people who may or may not agree, I actually really like getting to talk with our students about healthy sexuality and dating! I think it's so important that we build a community that is open to talking about what is biblical, good and healthy regarding these things because it's a huge area of many students' lives that they keep hidden.

Last week, we had all of our cores (small groups) read through this dating article. From there, they had some discussions about dating and will continue to have deeper conversations hopefully in some one on one situations. These are such important things to talk about because it impacts our future. I love talking about healthy dating because hopefully that eventually will lead to healthy marriages.
I would love for you to be praying for the students as they think through these important topics and try to make smart life decisions. Pray for open hearts to do dating in a way that pleases God, not themselves. Pray for obedience to do what God is asking of them in current relationships. Pray for conviction of sin if they are still not aware of how sex and ungodly relationships can affect their lives. 

And lastly, one very important UPCOMING event...

The Second Annual Keep FOCUS Growing Initiative

I mentioned this event last month, too and it's finally here! This initiative is to raise money so that we can continue bringing the Kingdom of God to different campuses in the DFW Metroplex. Last year, a lot of the funds raised went to planting a new campus ministry at NCTC (North Texas Central College) and UT Arlington. We're going to be posting testimonial videos on this Facebook link, so if you would like to be updated or participate in this event, go here and "like" the page: 

As always, thank you for reading, praying, and supporting me in this time of ministry in Denton! I really appreciate each of you and it's such a comfort to know that I and my students are covered in prayer. Love you all!

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