Thursday, December 1, 2016

Miriam's December Update

24 DAYS TIL CHRISTMAS!

Happy December first! I hope your Thanksgiving was restful and full of friends, family, and sooo muuuuch fooooood. As we move through these holidays, it's so much easier for me to be more aware of the many, MANY blessings I have in my life. God has richly blessed me in numerous ways, you and your support being one of them. Today, I'm thankful for you! 

So this is the REALLY BIG DEAL that I want to share with you this month: 

The Keep FOCUS Growing Annual Fundraiser has been kicked off! 



#next20

This is a fundraiser we do each year around this time that goes towards our general fund so that we can...keep growing! Our theme this year flows out of the Twenty Year Celebration back in October and reflecting on the last twenty years of ministry with FOCUS. Now we're looking ahead to the Next 20 years of campus ministry and what God might have in store for us to do then! 

One of our big goals in 2017 is to start a campus ministry at SMU and things are really rolling for that! 
There is an event in the works for next semester to pray for the start up of a new ministry there. We have gotten an amazing amount of positive feedback of students at our current campuses who have friends at SMU. They're excited to share with their friends the community and depth of growth they've experienced through FOCUS.  

Brandon Worsham, the FOCUS Director, shares more about this opportunity and the fundraiser in this video! 


I would love to ask each one of you to pray about giving to this special fundraiser this month. You can go to https://anyfocus.org/donate/next20/ for information and to give a gift! 

We can hit our $55,000 goal if: 
200 people give $10
200 people give $20
100 people give $50
30 people give $100
20 people give $300
25 people give $500
10 people give $750
5 people give $1,000
2 people give $2,500
1 person gives $5,000


A Little Piece of Good News

There's a girl that's been in the ministry for a couple years now that I've been praying for since she started coming around. Her first year, she was curious about God and the relationship the women in her core seemed to have with Him, but wasn't quite ready to explore what that might mean for her personally. She claimed to be an agnostic and turned down the opportunity for a peer to study the Bible with her a couple times. At the end of that year, her core got together and gave her a Bible that each of them had taken the time to underline favorite passages and write notes of encouragement to her in the margins. 

Enjoying some bunt cake with two of my peer team girls!
This year, I've seen her take that Bible to every single FOCUS event she's been to and it's not just being brought along...she uses it consistently! Half way through this last semester, she agreed to study the Bible with one of her core leaders! Half way through November, she said to her corefa "Well, of course Jesus is who He says He is...I believe the Bible true." 

You know when teenage girls get really excited, bouncy and squeaky? That's exactly what happened when her corefas told me about this massive leap forward! The three of us were chattering about how awesome God was to have worked this change in her heart, to let us get to be a little part of that, and thinking about what the future holds for this girl. I think it's so incredible that these are the kinds of things that thrill our student leaders!

This is the beginning of a totally new world for this girl! This is the kind of thing that makes me want to make sure FOCUS is present at other campuses in the next twenty years...not because FOCUS is oh, so cool, but because I really do believe God is working through FOCUS right now and blessing the efforts of everyone involved at each campus. I want to be able to offer more opportunities like this to others across the DFW metroplex. Don't you? 

Students worshipping at FNF



Prayer Requests

I'm so thankful for your prayers and I know that they're a huge way that the Lord works through you to impact these students for His Kingdom. Please be praying with me for these things over this next month:

  • The Keep FOCUS Growing Fundraiser: pray for generous hearts and that we meet our goal. We want to be able to say "yes" to anything God calls us to in 2017--including getting something started at SMU!

  • Winter Camp (January 13-16, 2017): pray for students to decide to come! This is a huge way for them to experience community and the Spirit tends to work in incredible ways over this weekend. 

  • My Mom's Health: We're hoping to spend New Years with my mom and all of my sisters, but in order for that to happen, she needs to stay healthy. Pray for good healthy through this month and then protection from any sickness we or the grandbabies might bring with us.

  • Our Students' Finals: This is a pretty stressful time of year for them. Pray for good time management, ample rest, and memory as they take their finals.


 
Happy 2nd Anniversary to me and Austin!


Thursday, November 3, 2016

Miriam's November Update


This month was a doozy! We had a large event almost every weekend of October.

Twenty Year Celebration 

We kicked the month off with the Twenty Year Celebration! A lot of you in the DFW area got to come and I loved seeing you. Thank you for making it a priority! For those of you who couldn't come, know that it was a time that honored you as well. FOCUS would not be able to be growing and reaching out to all of these campuses if it was not for your support and prayers! 

It was so special to me to get to meet some of the "legends of FOCUS," the people who paved the way for this ministry to be established at each of the different campuses now. I loved getting to worship with friends from across the DFW and to hear what each one has been up to since graduating and moving away from Denton.   
The first core I was part of in 2010! Still friends!
Displaying IMG_3552.PNG

A Mountain of Chips! I transported FIFTEEN GALLONS of salsa and countless bags of chips in my tiny car for this event! 
Praise and Worship at the 20 Year Celebration 

Fall Camp

Our next big event was Fall Camp! I want to say first off, THANK YOU for all of your prayers! It was my first time coordinating such a big event and it went so well. Our main goals for the weekend were that the students would build deeper relationships with each other and encounter Jesus in a meaningful way. Both of those goals were accomplished! 
Displaying IMG_3427.JPG
Crafts at Free Time
One of the most encouraging things from camp for me this year was seeing some of the students who don't yet call Jesus Lord engaging in worship. They're curious about God and are interested in exploring more, but hesitant. I saw several conversations happening during and after worship where these students were being encouraged by other students to give God a shot. Some of these are students that I've been praying for over a year now. I know God wants to have a relationship with them and it's beautiful to see them allow themselves to be drawn closer through these events. Keep praying for them with me!

Fall Camp 2016
Worship on Saturday

Displaying Core!.jpg
Core Girls
Fun and Games at Camp


Annual Leadership Conference 

Each year, we invite our student leaders and potential student leaders to an annual leadership conference hosted by the church. This year's theme was "The Inner Life of A Disciple." I don't have any pictures from this event, but it was something that was helpful and impactful to both our students and me. 

It was very encouraging and convicting to hear about the inner lives (particularly the devotional lives) of the people I look up to as leaders within our church. One thing that was particularly convicting to me was a phrase that someone said on a panel about devotional life. 
"We aren't consistent because we haven't found the value in it." 

I've been mulling that phrase over since then and I think it's true, at least in my life right now. How embarrassing to admit that as a campus minister. But it's really the only reason I've been able to pinpoint...I don't have a baby or a family to tend to...I make time for literally everything else that needs to be done, except maybe laundry...my schedule is full, but not THAT full.
I often fall into the immature mindset that I can do things on my own and that consistent time in God's Word isn't exactly necessary. What a lie. 

So that's an area I'm working on giving to God and asking Him to show me the value in my daily times with Him. I don't think I'm alone in this struggle...I would love your prayers and to pray for you, too, if you relate here! 

Let's end with some celebration pictures! 

Happy Baptism to Sam!
Displaying IMG_3343.JPG
Happy Baptism to Jacy!
Displaying IMG_3476.JPG
I love new marriages centered on Christ! Gives me hope for the future! Shout out to Bryan and Patricia!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

October Updates



"I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers." 

- L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Happy autumn to you all! September is such a fast-paced month! Since the bonus blog (which you can read here) was longer, I want to give you a shorter update with some specifics of who and what to be praying about throughout this month!

Peer Team Girls

Meeting with these girls each week is my favorite part of my job! These are girls who have committed to give their time (usually around 15 hours a week) and efforts (mental, emotional and spiritual) towards being leaders in some capacity in the ministry. They are seriously the best.

We're still in the young stages of our relationships...them with each other as co-facilitators (co-fas) and with me as their peer team leader. I've been seeing more vulnerability and trust being built over these last few weeks especially.

Be praying that I'm super sensitive to the Lord's leading and the prompting of the Holy Spirit as I mentor these women. Be praying for them to be intentional with each other and their cores to build relationships, and that they really seek out the Lord as they lead their peers.

This is 7/10ths of the peer team! Tie dye for the win!

International Ministry

Maaaaan, what a fun and challenging part of ministry this is! So far, we've had the opportunity to serve IELI (Intensive English Learning Institute) by providing volunteers each week for "Coffee and Cultures," a discussion group for practicing English. We've had some really fascinating conversations, which has been great for the upper level students. But more recently, it was discovered that the lower level students (who are some of the ones who need to practice most!) weren't understanding the topics and were intimidated by the size of the group to speak. So back to the drawing board! Last week, we broke into smaller groups by language levels (0-2, 3-4, 5-6) and that seemed to go muuuuuch better. I got to talk to some of the 0-2 language level students afterwards and while they said it was still difficult, they understood more! 

That group is an excellent entry point for building relationships with individual students. I've loved getting to know a couple of them outside of the group venue and to hear more of their stories. Another way we've gotten to know international students is through a conversation partners program. I am seriously loving meeting with my partner. She's a 36 year old woman from South Korea who loves the Lord and wants to talk about what He's teaching us each time we meet. Her passion for Him and for sharing that with others, regardless of the language barrier, is encouraging and convicting.

Please be praying that we continue to have opportunities to build relationships with these students and that we are bold in sharing the love of Jesus with them.


Cores

Cores are the "core of the ministry," you know? These are the places where students make deep peer friendships that are focused on Christ and have an opportunity to grow in community. We're now beginning the fifth week of cores and already I've heard some good stuff! People are being open and vulnerable. Students who were reluctant to come at first have been consistent and are exciting to come together each week. The corefas (core facilitators) are practicing thinking pastorally as they determine what the core will study or discuss each week. I'm starting my first round of core visits next week and I can't wait! It's one of my favorite things to get to know the girls my peer team is ministering to and to see how each of the corefas themselves lead in those groups.  

Please continue to pray for each of these cores, the students in them, and the one on one Bible studies that are being had out of relationships being built there.

Core hang out at the beginning of the semester!
















 Fall Camp

Fall Camp is something that happens each year in October. Over the course of 24 hours at Mount Lebanon Camp in Cedar Hills, Texas, students from all three campuses (UNT, TWU & NCTC) gather together for fun and games, testimonies and worship, outdoor adventuring and lotssss of snacks! This seems to be a real solidifier for students...relationships are deepened (or established), often they decide to actually become a part of the community and not just someone who shows up, and best of all, usually they encounter God in ways that's hard to do in the midst of all the distractions of normal life and busyness. 

This year, I'm coordinating Fall Camp for the Denton team! This is a new, exciting and daunting task! I'm so thankful to have so many others to ask advice from and to make sure I'm not forgetting anything. 

Be praying for this event with me, please! Pray that even more than it going smoothly (which I realllly want to happen!), that the students will encounter God and will deepen in their relationships with Him. Pray that the ones who are supposed to be there this weekend will not let distractions keep them from coming. Pray that we are sensitive to the Lord's leading in how He wants this weekend to go! I can't wait to update y'all next month! 

Thank you for all of your love and prayers! Ministry would not be the same (or even possible!) without each of you and the ways that you support and pray each month. Love y'all! 

 

 

















Friday, September 23, 2016

The Twenty Year Celebration



Surprise! An extra, special blog, just for this upcoming event! 

I know a lot of you won't be able to make it out to this event, since most of you all live just about everywhere except the DFW metroplex! But I wanted to take a little bit of time to share this with you and to celebrate some of my favorite stories and the impactful people in my life from when I was a student in FOCUS. 

The beginnings! Spring 2010
I'm super excited for this event, because I've only been part of FOCUS since 2010...barely a dent in the history! But that's where the story starts for the ministry in Denton. In the spring of 2010, Brad Davis (now the pastor of Denton North Church), and a handful of students began a "soft start" for the ministry. They would meet on campus in the union, asking anyone and everyone if they wanted to come hang out and engage in weekly discussions. 

From that soft start, a few more transferring students from Collin College and the FOCUS ministry there, they started the real deal in the fall of 2010. This is when I transferred up to UNT!

God blessed me with the best roommate when I transferred up to UNT. A good ol' Midland girl, Laura (Pharr) Chalk, who had been a mutual friend to all of my friends throughout highschool, but who I'd never met before. 

First football game and pic together! Sweet Laura!
She had gone straight to UNT out of highschool and had gotten involved in a ministry, but didn't feel like that was where she was supposed to be, so we started exploring student ministries together once I moved up! She met Jamiann Valdez in one of her classes pretty early on, and discovered we lived in the same apartment complex, and was invited to the Bible study the girls held there each week. She got plugged in with FOCUS almost right away and started building these really special friendships right off!

I, on the other hand, decided that I wanted to be part of a ministry that was more solidly established and that I was familiar with, so I chose a different one from FOCUS. I tried on my own for almost three months to get connected and to feel at home in this new ministry, but never quite made it. I would come to things and people didn't remember me from the last event I'd gone to (and I went to a lot!). I was so confused and frustrated...I was nice! I showed up! I was friendly! What was wrong!? 

Things went on like that until Laura invited me to go to Fall Camp with her and her Core (the small group Bible study the girls did in the apartment just down from ours).  I hadn't been to any FOCUS events and was hesitant about going to yet another ministry thing where I was sure I would feel just as uncomfortable and out of place as I had the last three months. But she finally convinced me on the promise that I could stick with her the whole weekend.

Fall Camp 2010, Jam Session!
Boy, were things different than I expected! Starting on the car ride down there, the girls in her core engaged me in their conversations and wanted to make me feel included. Then once we arrived, every where I turned, there was somebody wanting to invite me to play a game with them, sit and join the conversation, or just hang out. I felt like I had just walked into a familiar home filled with dear friends. 

I understood some then what had been going on with that other ministry...I had never asked GOD where HE wanted me to be. I had just decided I knew best and went after it! I'm so thankful He intervened and made me so extremely uncomfortable to where I was ready to follow His lead again. How gracious of Him to course correct me after my deliberate choice to do my own thing! 

Halloween with my first core, 2010.
From that one weekend, I started going to Laura's core with her and started building deep friendships that I still invest in and cherish today! I remember talking about the practical aspects of being a disciple, sharing with each other what was hard about being a Christian in college, learning from each other, and being vulnerable about our struggles in core. Their honesty was incredibly refreshing and at times surprising. 

I started studying the Bible one on one with Jamiann and she led me through this curriculum called "Focus on Jesus," or FOJ. This was one of the most impactful things for me! I'd been in church my whole life, but had somehow missed out on one on one discipleship. The fact that Jamiann took time out of her schedule as a senior at UNT really amazed me and I made the most of that time together! I would come with pages of questions about what we were reading together and she would take the time to try to talk through each one. That time together really helped me make practical changes in my walk with the Lord from one that was very personal, but private, to one that was outward focused and intentional in my relationships with others.  
SICM, 2011

That spring, I was invited to attend SICM (the Student Institute of Campus Ministry) in Washington. There were 16 of us from UNT and it was one of the most fun and life-changing trips I've ever been on. We learned such practical ways of being intentional disciples on our campus. It gave me a confidence and a recognition of ownership at UNT. God had placed me on this campus for a reason more than just getting my degree - I had the opportunity to reach my fellow students for Him! 

In the Fall of 2011, I became a "Core-fa" (Core Facilitator) with a Co-fa (Co-Facilitator). Man, what a learning year that was! I went into it thinking it would be all roses and sunshine, but learned pretty quickly that ministry of any kind was actually pretty difficult! Who knew working with human beings was so hard!?

Core, Fall 2011
There were about five girls that came pretty consistently to my core, but I had no idea why! They didn't seem to want to hang out with us, or each other...they didn't like to talk...it was incredibly challenging at first! But they kept coming and we kept preparing for core and loving on them. The thing God taught me that year was that any kind of change in a person's life had to come at the pace of the Holy Spirit. There was nothing I could do to hurry that process along, except for following His lead and being faithful to the people He had put in my life. It's been incredible to see how those girls have changed over the course of the last several years!

The next year was night-and-day different! I got to lead with three of my good friends and we had a core of between 15 and 20 girls that came consistently. And they liked each other! And us! And we couldn't get them to stop talking! This core is one of my favorite memories from the year, not because of anything I or my co-fas did, but because it was so obvious that the Lord was doing so many things ahead of us. 

Core 2012

   I graduated in December of that year and my involvement with FOCUS changed some, as I began to explore what the Lord wanted to do with my career path after school. I had caught a vision for how much of an opportunity there was to reach out to internationals on our campus the year before and decided to accept an internship with Bridges International. But I still had close friends in FOCUS and kept in contact!

Not to mention I had started dating Austin that year! It was a really special experience to get to be friends with Austin first, before I was interested in him (he was hooked from the beginning!). We used to ride the bus from our apartment complex to campus and he would try to lead the bus in early morning sing-alongs. Those were the mornings, I would duck down and pretend I didn't know him...
Awkward side hug pic. And that beard...wow.

But for all that, both of us being so heavily involved and having others who know us deeply has been a huge blessing! It was great to have others keeping us accountable and giving us wise advice through our dating, and then to have connections to others who continue to encourage and advise through our marriage. Those relationships are priceless.

After my one year internship with Bridges, I began my internship with FOCUS. I knew that I was still supposed to be on campus as a minister for this time of life, and it made more sense to be working with FOCUS at the time. I was back! 

That year was wonderful, hard, challenging, fun, and growing. There were four other interns in Denton that I had the opportunity to learn how to work and communicate well with. I had a ministry supervisor, Mandy, that spent time with me each week, mentoring and encouraging areas of growth in me. I got to lead a peer team of student leaders and learned how to lead, communicate, challenge, and encourage each of them. I faced family struggles. I got married and began such a joyful and growing journey. Suffice it to say, there were a LOT of new experiences and growth opportunities that year. 

Then of course, there was last year as my first on full-time senior staff. I don't feel the need to write too much about these past few years, since I've kept a pretty regular blog and you've been along for the ride!

 I do wish I had space and time to write about everyone who's been impactful to me over these last six years. It's been so fun to write this and think about each of these people, experiences and memories. I'm so jazzed now to go to the Twenty Year Celebration and to swap stories with others who were around way ahead of my time!! 

If you can't make it out to the celebration, I would ask that you just be in prayer for that weekend. Give prayers of thanksgiving with me for how God has used this organization for the last twenty years and the people that have been impacted by it! Pray that He would continue to bless and move ahead of this ministry so that even more students can have personal encounters with Jesus and engage in true community that is going to spur them on in their relationships with Him. 

Thank YOU for how you've been a part of this adventure! It really wouldn't be possible without the ways that each of you gives generously and prays continually for this ministry. I can't even imagine what it might be like without your support. 

Thank you for spending this time to reminisce with me! Love and prayers! -Miriam

More Pics of People I Love! 

  
Giving blood for the first time with Miranda!
Each of these staff women have had significant impact on me! Love them!!
These girls are now pros in their fields, grad students, moms, wives, and missionaries.

Core adventures to the Renaissance Fair!

Winter Camp Core, 2010

Denton Fall Camp, 2015


"And the LORD will be the king over all the earth; in that day the LORD will be the only one, and His name the only one." -Zechariah 14:9

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Welcome Week and Beyond!

"Oh Lord God of Heaven's Armies! Where is there anyone as mighty as you, O Lord? You are entirely faithful." 

Psalm 89:8 


I feel like this verse is so appropriate for this month. August is one that really does show the faithfulness of the Lord, particularly in regards to answered prayers. Thank YOU so much for the ways that you've really covered our staff teams, the student leaders, the students themselves and our campus connections in prayer over this last month! What an awesome, faithful God we serve and what a major blessing you guys are to me and this ministry!


Part of the Move-In Day Crew

First Flight, Welcome Week Prep, and Corefas 

Last weekend we had a couple days of practical preparation for our students to really be equipped to utilize First Flight week well. First Flight is the week before classes start when freshmen move in and the university hosts daily events to help them get comfortable with the campus, make friends, and prepare for their first year of college. This is one of the MOST IMPORTANT weeks in student ministry because everyone is so open to new experiences. 

Our stellar leader team! 
Because it's such a vital week, we take a bit of time each year to try to to equip our students for how best to reach out to the people around them. Our students work so hard to meet new people, swap phone numbers, be invitational to outside events and generally "cast their nets wide" during this week. It's such a tiring week because there are a myriad of events to go to, thousands of students to meet and reach out to, in addition to most of our students also working part time jobs! They really are such amazing, dedicated people.

One event that we host every year is Glow in the Dark Capture the Flag (CTF). The week before First Flight, we found out that the park where we normally host it was under construction! Oh noooo! But we used our problem solving skills and found another area of campus to host, which I think was an even better location. Each night we had 200-275 students come out to play CTF, other lawn games and just to sit around chatting with each other! 
It's events like these that make me so thankful for our Corefas (student leaders) and returning students. There is no way on earth that our team of six staff people would be able to meet, befriend, and disciple even a fraction of the number of people that show up to these events. But the students in this ministry are dedicated and gung-ho for Jesus! It's so fun to get to work alongside these young people to reach the universities.

Made it up 7 flights of stairs for a move-in...twice! 

Some Highlights and Favorites from the Week


The Invisibles
One of my favorite things this year was the variety of new students we met. I noticed that many of the ones I got to have conversations with were people who really were more comfortable staying in their rooms and didn't consider themselves to be very good with social interactions...people who generally try to stay invisible. But I kept seeing them at different events, surrounded by a mixture of our student leaders and others I didn't know, and they seemed to be really enjoying themselves! I'm so hopeful that these relationships they've made so early on will continue, saving many of them from a lonely, isolated college experience and drawing them into a community that will point them to Jesus! 

Just some friends, hanging out!
It's a Starting Point!
Another favorite thing I heard from our student leaders were some of the freshmen's reactions to how they were reached out to over the week..."Wow! I didn't expect to make TWO friends today!" "Yeah, I don't believe in anything, but I still want to be friends." 
While these may be tiny things, they are the potential starting point for the Lord to do some really amazing things as they develop friendships and invite these new people into community focused on Jesus!



International Outreach
Something that I've been praying about a lot this summer was that the Lord would open more doors for opportunities with international students and give more of our students a heart and eyes for them. Wowsers! So we were able to go to several "mingle" lunches with the new Intensive English Learning Institute students (the english school nestled in the middle of the campus) and soo many of our students showed up, too! They were incredibly intentional with trying to make these new students feel really welcomed and loved, even when the language and cultural barriers made it feel extremely difficult. As a result, there were more international students at the kick-off for Friday Night Fellowship and Denton North Church than ever before! 
I'm really hopeful that we'll continue to be able to join in on events that the Institute is hosting and be a blessing to them, while reaching out to the Nations! 
New friends from Taiwan, Plano, Japan, South Korea, and Columbia! 

DNC - we ran out of chairs! 
FNF & DNC
Kick off for Friday Night Fellowship was pretty fantastic! We meet in a room that can hold 300 students and we had probably a good 200+ there! While it's so not about the numbers, it is really encouraging to look out across a room full of students worshipping God and to imagine all of the things He might do over the course of this next year! 

Denton North Church was along those same lines...full to bursting on Sunday! One thing that was so encouraging to me was that even in such large crowds, I didn't really see anyone that seemed to be alone or left out. New friendships are being developed all over the place! 


MORE Hamburgers!
One last thing I'll share...I got to help serve hamburgers to the students at NCTC (North Central Texas College), which is our newest FOCUS plant in Denton. We were prepared to serve 100 students because so far, not a lot of people have shown interest in FOCUS or anything else on the campus. But where there's free food, there's lots of college students! We could have fed twice as many students as we did and still have needed more! 
While that may be like "Yeah, they'll come for food...whatever," there were actually so many new people who expressed interest and who have been coming to different events since then! That's a major answer to prayer!! 


FNF Kickoff! 

Ways to Pray


UNT: Cores are about to start this next week! Pray that the students we met at Welcome Week and First Flight would get connected and start developing closer, more intentional relationships that lead them to Jesus. 

TWU: The men's side of this ministry is pretty small. There are lots of men at Texas Women's University, but not many are interested in being part of a ministry and sticking around to help lead the next year. Be praying that the Lord raises up more men leaders this year to be able to better reach this entire campus. 

NCTC: Be praying that the people who have expressed interest would continue coming! Pray for outreach on this campus to be fruitful and for the student leaders there to really catch a vision for the people there. 

Thank you for all of your love, support and encouragement! I'm looking forward to great things this year! 

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Building Anticipation

It's finally August! I feel a little like a kid waiting for Christmas to arrive...we've been working so hard to be prepared for the beginning of the school year and it's FINALLY ALMOST HERE! I'm so ready.


Our staff: Aaron, me, Danielle, Matt, Brittany, & Cody 

July was a month full of finishing preparations and lots of prayer. There were three main things that I was worried about over the month of July - our student leader team, our apprentices' fundraising, and my own fundraising. I don't know why I worry, because God has always provided and has a good plan...it's hard for me to remember that while finding the balance between proactively doing my job, and obediently waiting and trusting for Him to do His. 

But God is good and once again (like he ever fails!), He has worked things out wonderfully!
  • Our leader team is solidified and ready to go! We've got a team of 55 student leaders this year. I was originally going to be meeting with 14 of our women leaders, which is a little crazy. But we've brought on two women from the church who have done the internship with FOCUS before and who will meet with some of those girls instead! I'm excited about the extra time I'll have from that to do other things on campus. 

  • God provided in awesome ways for our apprentices. Some of them are still lacking full funding, so if that's something the Lord lays on your heart to give to, go here. This group is so exuberant, ready to learn and serve! I can't wait to start work with them. 


  • My own funding was something that was coming along slower than I anticipated this summer and I was getting pretty discouraged about it. But God has amazing timing and showered me with encouragement and support at a time when I needed it most! Thank you to each of you whom He used to bless me at those times.
It's crazy to me how BIG and WORRISOME each of those things seem in the moment...and then being able to take a step back and see God's hand all over it later is so comforting and convicting. How often I forget that He's still working, even when I don't see it.

Ways to Pray


In less than two weeks, we'll begin Welcome Week events at each of our campuses! Please be praying with me as we get closer to it. This week is so vital, because this is when most students get connected and decide what they're going to be part of over the semester. We want to be there to give them a quick connection to solid community and deeper relationship with Jesus.

Pray for our students and staff to have the stamina, health and rest needed to be on campus meeting people that whole week. Pray that we are obedient to the Lord's leading as we reach out.

Pray for incoming freshmen to get connected with community and to be open to developing a relationship with Jesus.

Pray for transferring students to feel welcomed and not be overlooked in the influx of freshmen.

Pray for opportunities to meet international students, to develop friendships with them and to share Jesus with them.

Thank you for the ways that you love and support me and this ministry! Let's go get crackin' on another year of Kingdom building!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Getting It All Done

Wow, one month left before we're back to "normal." It's so funny what thirty days can do...I was reading last month's blog post and how enthusiastic I was in regards to it being summer! Thirty days of less structure, having a harder time meeting up with people and being out of town on fundraising trips every other weekend later, I'm honestly pretty exhausted. I always forget how important structure in my daily life is to me and when that's not present, how much I struggle to try to maintain productiveness on my own.
I know what I can do next year to structure my time and goals for the summer better because of this year, so hopefully next year will be even easier! Every year is such a learning experience!

So currently I'm feeling rather stressed to accomplish all of the things that must be finished before August 1st, like building our leader team and my ministry support team. I would love your prayers as my team and I work hard to get all of our summer tasks finished well in these next thirty days! Other than re-learning structure, June has been a really good, busy month!

T-minus 21 days til The Wedding!

A Trip to Kansas

My sister, Moriah, came into town for a shower and then to drive up to see Mom in Kansas. It was such a sweet time to spend with them and my step-father, Noel. Mom was able to go with us to get Moriah's wedding dress altered.

Mom isn't going to be able to come to the wedding because of her health, so that was an incredibly special time together and I'm so glad we were able to go. There's a lot of sadness revolving around Mom not being able to be there, so if you would continue to lift my family up in your prayers, I know we would all appreciate it.





Family time in Midland
(My dad, Tye's parents, Tye, Moriah & me)

A Trip to Midland

Just last week, I got to go out to my hometown! I was able to catch up with a lot of my ministry partners, which was one of my favorite parts. I love actually spending time with people and having face to face conversations. My ministry partners party was a hit! Thank you to each of you who came out to that. I also got to speak at my home church while I was there. It was such a sweet and humbling experience to reminisce about how FBC invested in me, setting such a great foundation for heading off to college. 

It was incredibly encouraging to me to catch up with each of you, my ministry partners. The way that you invest and pray for me and this ministry means so much to me. Not to mention the impact it has on the University of North Texas and God's Kingdom! 

A Student Testimony

I'm not sure if you get to read these each month (they're normally on the main page for staff updates on our website), but I wanted share this with you! This is one of our students from UT Arlington. I think she casts a clear vision of how important it is to be reaching out and welcoming the incoming students. This is a lot of what we've been doing at orientations this summer and will be doing hardcore once school starts in August!



Please take note of the prayer requests and join with me this month in lifting those up: 

-Fundraising: Our apprentices are pretty far behind on their fundraising, which is nerve-wracking for them. Pray that God brings in all of the funds for them and for our staff so that we can all be full time on campus with students. 
-Student Leader Team: It's our goal to have that solidified this next week, with hopefully around 60 leaders. 
-Incoming Students: Pray that their hearts will be open to the Lord and that they'll get quickly connected with friends who will help them engage with the Lord throughout their college experience. 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Oh, hey, it's June!

Unreal beauty in Washington

Summer is Here! 

I am thrilled that it's the summer! Summer is one of my favorite times of the year because of how different it is from the school year. I get to hang out and build relationships with my students in a more relaxed way. We have Summer FOCUS and other weekly events where all of the campuses in the metroplex are together. And I get to spend way more time catching up with each of my ministry partners. It's such a good break from how the semesters are and by the end of the summer, I'm refreshed and ready to be back to "normal."

A lot of fun things happened in May, but three of my favorites this year were our Spring Formal, my final peer team hang out, and going to SICM! A few pictures from the formal and my peer team hang out will give you a nice little taste of why they were my favorites! 


Final peer team hangout - literally everything went wrong! These gals are the best and we had a blast regardless!

Love these beautiful women!
Everyone dancing the Cupid Shuffle


Sweet Sarah! I'll miss her when she's at UTD this year.
But I do have a student's testimony from her experience at SICM that I want to share with you this month.  Sam Pruitt is a junior in Integrative Studies at UNT. Within this last year, she's gotten really serious about her faith and that was a huge reason of why we invited her to the Student Institute of Campus Ministry.

Sam's Story

Our last day in Washington
So I was pretty conflicted when I was invited to SICM. My first thought was that I wasn't "Christian enough" to attend a conference for campus ministry. I wasn't raised in a Christian home and had only recently started to consider seriously pursuing a relationship with God. I'd been struggling with the idea of not being "Christian enough" for a while - I thought I wasn't Christian enough to buy a FOCUS t-shirt, I thought I wasn't Christian enough to give my all during worship, and the list goes on. 



On the Plane!

The day of SICM registration, I texted two of my friends, Hayli and Tate, and told them I was unsure about signing up. They asked "Why?" and before I could respond, Hayli replied (with something along the lines of)  "If it's because you think you're not good enough, that's not true. And if that's the only thing holding you back, then I think you should go."

SICM Selfie!



So I went and I came back changed. God did a lot of work in me over the trip and I can now say (and know) that I am enough and God wants to use me to help and reach people. I know now that there isn't an imaginary "How Christian Am I?" scale. When I went to SICM, I was teetering on the edge of doubt and committing to beginning a relationship with God -- and to better show you how going to SICM changed me, I want to share something I wrote during a worship night we had:





 
God, how mighty You are --

how great are Your hands which crafted this earth, and which lift us to You --

Your hands which hold us, Your heart which loves us abundantly.


God, I am so thankful that I was wrong about You.  
I am so thankful for how You have always pursued me without giving up. 

Without You, Lord, I would be floating and grasping empty air, only to be handed temporary, unsatisfying substitutes. 


God, I thank you for how You shield us from hurt, 
how You call us away from temptation. 
God, I was so lost, so stagnant, and you found me amidst the dirt and grime of sin. 

 God, how good, how great, how bold You are. 

I rejoice in Your name. I rejoice in Your power, in Your love, in Your forgiveness 
despite my stumbling --

thank you for running and reaching towards me, Lord.

I am glad, joyful to finally meet You and begins to know You, Lord. 
How good. 


You have been waiting for me, Lord, and now --

I am here. 

View of Seattle from Queen Anne's Park

 Wow, right? I love what the Lord showed her while she was there and I can't wait to see how it's lived out with her peers on our campus.

Ways to Pray in June

Student Leaders: We have begun the process of making our leader teams for each of our campuses. This is quite a challenging process, because we have such a unique problem...we have way too many capable and trained students who would make great leaders! If we took every student who could potentially lead this next year, we've have almost 100 student leaders. But our goal is quality, not quantity, and there is no way we could adequately and deeply mentor 100 student leaders between the six of us on staff in Denton. So now we pray and have conversations to see who the Lord is leading to this team. I would love for you guys to be in prayer with us, too! This process will take the majority of the summer to complete! 

Fundraising: This is such a fun, but also stressful time for me. I love getting to see my friends and to update people on what's going on in the ministry and my life! But it can still be quite an uncomfortable experience, if I allow myself to get into a negative place. Please pray that I remember that the Lord has always provided and that I stay in a positive attitude! Also pray for our new interns who are in the process of raising funds for the next year and have to be at 75% by July 1st.  

I love you guys and am so thankful for each and every one of you. Thank you for continuing to support me and cover this ministry in prayers!