Wednesday, October 7, 2020

September Reflections!

Another month has gone!! Lots of good stuff happened in September. 

Ministry has been going so, so well. God has constantly been reminding me of His faithfulness in this season. At the beginning of the school year, I had a lot of worries and concerns about how things would go. Would people come to events if they are primarily online? Would the student leaders on my team have people interested in their small groups? I had so many questions. But over the month, I've been reminded so many times of the One who walks ahead of me. He's showed up again and again, and I can't wait to tell you guys about what He's been doing! 

Deep Dive

With COVID, we decided to restructure our typical Friday night service to be more of a teaching time. It's called, "Deep Dive", as we are "diving deeper" into scripture. Right now, we are going through the book of Mark! It has been so neat to teach our students how to engage Scripture at a deeper level than they have before. I have also been learning so much from the material that Rhett prepares. Our students have been hosting in-person watch parties on the Northeast Church lawn. They put up a projector with speakers, wear masks, and watch together! I think that has been such a benefit for them to still have some sense of community even though we all can't gather in person. Our Deep Dive service is Friday nights at 7pm CST, at twitch.tv/utdfocus. All of the talks are recorded on there as well, so if you ever want to check it out, follow that link! 



Worship Night

A regular large-group service for us would include worship. However, we haven't been doing worship in those services since we stream online and restructured things. So, we decided to host worship nights once a month out on the lawn of Northeast Church. We require masks, and distance chairs to comply with the CDC regulations. We had our first one this month, and WOW! I did not realize how much I missed worshiping corporately with my brothers and sisters. We sang worship songs, did some prayer and reflection activities, and took communion together. It was much needed, and a great reminder that we are united as one body!


Pizza Theology

Twice a year, we bring all 11 of our ministries from different campuses together for a night of fellowship, discussing theological topics, and pizza! (Hence the name!) This semester, because of COVID, we can't come all together the way we normally do. So we streamed Pizza Theology this year, with the topic of "How to Think Like a  Christian in Society." With all of the things that have happened this year and the election coming up, we had staff from a couple different campuses share about topics such as the Black Lives Matter movement, voting, abortion, etc. It went great! It was so insightful to hear all of the material that they prepared, and left me with a lot of convicting thoughts and questions to reflect on. Those recorded streams are available at "twitch.tv/utdfocus" for any of you who would be interested in watching! 

Here's some more personal photos from the month :)

My little brother Kole started his football season. I love being his biggest fan!

This is my new pup, Moose!
Sweetest, sleepy boy :)

Max, Lindsey, and I experienced our first Trader Joe's Kringle. Pumpkin flavor... almost as sweet as these friends :)


Lastly, I'd like to pray for you! If you have anything going on that you'd like some prayer for, please comment on this post!

I appreciate all of you reading about my ministry, and for supporting me so I can help God with the kingdom work He has to do here.

Love y'all!





Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Christmas in August!

If you don't like Christmas, then we probably can't be friends.

I mean really, how can you not like Christmas?! It's joyful and full of excitement. Christmas songs loop on repeat and become the soundtrack playing in our heads for two months. Houses are strewn with beautiful lights that add a sense of awe as they illuminate the streets at night.  One of my favorite parts of Christmas is that it is a season of giving and getting to practice being a cheerful giver. I can give someone something I know that they've been wanting, and the look on their face as they open the gift oftentimes is an even greater gift to me. 

The month of August for me felt like Christmas because of the new beginnings that it brought. The school year ending so abruptly in March was pretty discouraging for me, as there were a lot of things that just felt different virtually. A lot of the girls that I had been building a relationship with over the school year had to pick up and move home, which left them feeling unresolved and isolated. I myself finished the apprenticeship with FOCUS using the same schedule I had before, just all online. That's a HUGE adjustment! So all of that to say, I think COVID has left every person affected in some way, most of which are not positive. Then, we get to August. And it feels like Christmas. 

It's joyful and full of excitement. People are able to move back to the Dallas area and continue to pursue community. Even though socializing and interacting look different, I have the option to see people in person again. Reuniting with people that I've seen through a screen for months makes my time with them now that much sweeter. The song of defeat, anxiety, loneliness, and isolation is replaced with a song that is lighter, and full of hope. It becomes the soundtrack playing in people's heads and is a beautiful song to have on repeat for the months to come. New students arrive on campus and feel isolated and fearful of what this season will bring, but our ministry can practice being cheerful givers and extend them an invitation into community and friendship. We can give them something they've been craving for months, and seeing their faces brighten after being invited to get coffee or go to the park to spend time together is an even greater gift to me. We can shine a light on what has been a dark time for these students, and stand in awe as we see person after person alight with hope that they can go and extend to other people. So this month has felt like Christmas, and I am not complaining :)

Here is what we've been up to! 

Weeks of Welcome

We started off the school year with the UTD Weeks of Welcome. The first week, our staff and student leaders were outside on campus every night with board games, spikeball, cornhole, chalk, and more to welcome the new freshmen to campus. And yes, we were all wearing masks! As the week progressed, more and more students were showing up, eager to meet new people and make friends. There were so many freshmen who had not had any social interaction since moving in days before, so it was neat to be some of the first people who talked to them! By the second week, University policy changed to not allow organizations to hold in-person events. We facilitated a lot of online events (games, seminars, etc.) and continued to meet new people. So those couple of weeks were super exciting! 


Students at one of our events the first week playing with chalk on campus! (You can't really see, but all are wearing masks)

Me and Rhett, who is one of the campus pastors at UTD and also a total goofball.

Lindsey, Andrea, Sarah, and Rhett (fellow campus pastors for UTD FOCUS) doing what looks like the dab, but is actually the campus sign for "Whoosh" at one of our events the first week!

My sweet friend Zoe and I at one of our events the first week, masks and all! 


Leader Meeting/Peer Team!

Our ministry has 57 student leaders who committed to invest in the people on our campus this year! One of the ways they do that is by leading small groups. We call our gender-specific small groups "Cores" and our leaders "Corefas" (which stands for core facilitators). Every core has two corefas, who meet with one of our staff members weekly for mentorship. Every Monday night, that staff person has their Corefa pairs come together for leader development, which is called "Peer Team." Lots of definitions, I know! Typically we will also have Leader Meetings where all of our male and female leaders come together for that development, but because of COVID, we decided to spend more time in peer teams this year. If we do come all together it's over Zoom, which you can imagine is overwhelming with over 60 people! 

This year I get to lead a peer team of 8 girls (4 corefa pairs), which I am SO excited about! They are all so sweet and ready to do ministry on campus. I am already so proud of them and am looking forward to introducing them to you all in future blogs :)

That's it for this month. As always, I appreciate your love and support, and willingness to hear about what is going on in my ministry. It is because of your prayers and financial support that I am able to do this. So THANK YOU! 

Love, 









Sunday, August 16, 2020

I Won't Miss Summer... July Reflections

...am I really saying that?

I have been anxiously awaiting August since March. Normally there are so many fun things that happen in between those months, including a lighter summer load and much-needed rest. Don't get me wrong, I did get those things between May and the end of July. However, I gained a lot of perspective in quarantine. There were so many students that I loved getting time with that in the span of a few days were no longer coming back to campus. All of my meetings, bible studies, and classes for the apprenticeship moved to online. I'm sure a lot of you had similar experiences, not being able to see friends and family and hoping that it would all be over soon. I was definitely someone who thought that by now, we would be back to normal. Boy, I was so wrong!! 

But I think God has taught me a lot through this time. One thing I was convicted of was that I was putting God in a box. I was putting limitations on Him in my mind, limiting the work He could do in the state of things. "How would ministry look on a college campus when it's shut down and 90% of learning is virtual? How are students supposed to meet people? What are we going to do about small groups if the apartments on campus don't let more than 5 people in them?" Limitation after limitation built up a wall of distrust between me and God concerning this school year. Then I quickly remembered the good that came from quarantine. I became so thankful for technology, and how God allowed me to stay connected to people that I would have not talked to at all for months otherwise. Thank God for masks and social distancing, for public places like parks, for food to go! Thank God for streaming church services, for Zoom staff meetings, for people's generosity to support me in my ministry over the next few years no matter the circumstance. And scenario after scenario, that wall was torn down. God was working outside of the box I had put him in, and I was able to see that good fruit has, and will, come out of this Pandemic.

July was a good month, and normally I would be so sad about it ending because that means that my restful Summer is over. But I am hurrying Summer out the door because the SCHOOL YEAR IS STARTING!! I am so excited to write about August and what God does in our weeks of welcome at UTD. Please be praying that we will be able to effectively minister to the new freshman on campus, and all students for that matter. I look forward to being able to tell you all God has done! 

I don't have any pictures from July, but DON'T WORRY! I'll be sure to take some for August as we begin our back-to-school events!! 

Love,







Tuesday, July 14, 2020

June Reflections!

Hello, friends!

Another month come and gone. The time passes by so slowly but so quickly in this "quarantine" season.

Here's a recap of June!

Book Club- This summer, our FOCUS staff at large is reading through a book called, "Pastor". We get split up into small groups and read a couple chapters a week, then meet up or Zoom to talk about it. I am in a group with Brandon (UTD), Sarah G (UTD), Austin G (UTA), Ryan (UNT), and Shayla (UNT). It has been so cool getting to know some of our staff from different campuses and hear their thoughts on what we are reading! I'll try to take a picture next time so you can see their beautiful faces :)

TNF- TNF stands for "Thursday Night Fellowship". For those of you new to my blog (hi!), this is our large-group meeting. During the school year, these fellowship gatherings are campus-specific. But during the Summer, we get all of our campuses together! It is such a sweet time. However, COVID has changed the format of how we do TNF since a group of 200+ people is not recommended. We have a small group of staff who coordinates a live stream so that all of our students can still have a TNF experience! We also offer Zoom groups and have discussion questions throughout the sermon so that we have an interactive component. It definitely isn't the same, but it has been such a blessing!

SOCIAL DISTANCE SUMMER!!!
Summer is normally such a fun time for me to get to connect to people who I typically don't spend time with. There are a lot of students who are in the area who I have gotten to spend some time with, whether it be walking, eating on patios, etc. With COVID, we have to get creative with our time together but it has been sweet to see and spend time with people.

Here are a few photos that I could scrounge together for June... I promise I'll be better about remembering so I can put some faces to names!!

Family walk on Father's Day! 

FaceTiming with my buddy Jack... he got a new dinosaur costume :)

This is one of my BFFs, Emily. She is on our UT Arlington staff, so we don't get to see each other too often. However, she is so dear to me! 

LAST BUT NOT LEAST! My sweet brother, Jaron, graduated high school in an intimate, socially distanced ceremony. He will be attending Collin College in the Fall! So proud of him.


Thank you for your continued prayers and support!! I really appreciate all of you!








Student Testimony

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

My Sermon!! (Well, kind of)

Another month has gone!! This is a month of mixed emotions. May was my tenth and FINAL month as a FOCUS apprentice!! I cannot believe the time flew by so quickly. It feels like a week ago that I was sitting at my orientation on August 1st, with no idea of what God was going to do in my life in this opportunity. I gave a sermon for our FOCUS staff for our final assignment. The prompt was to reflect on our three biggest takeaways from the apprenticeship. It's hard to pick three from a full 10 months of growth, but I felt God laying three aspects on my heart that I thought would be good to summarize for you. (Hence why I said it was KIND OF my  sermon... I'm sparing lots of details!)

1. Importance of knowing God through knowing His Word
This was a big one for me. I grew up in a Christian home with my parents both involved in church leadership, and they really instilled Christian values in my siblings and me. With that came stories from Scripture, and a basic understanding of the gospel. I had all the tools given to me but chose not to invest the time in learning how to use them. I coasted with what was given to me and didn't really pursue getting to know God through His Word on my own. The apprenticeship offered theology classes where we studied the Old/New Testament and other topics that are foundational in understanding God's character and what being a disciple of Jesus really looks like. I feel like I really got to know God for the first time in studying Scripture in such depth, as well as reading commentaries and listening to seminary lectures. I am so thankful that such an emphasis is placed on this in the apprenticeship and for the patience of all of our teachers (Brandon, Mandy, Sarah G, Danielle, Sirak, Laurence, Peter, Brad, Ronnie.. THANK YOU) in teaching us more about their experience with these topics. After seeing how much transformation came from just 10 months of studying Scripture more in-depth, I am more motivated to make this more of a priority in my daily life!

A picture from my first week of the apprenticeship, reading Old Testament... little did I know how much I would come to know God through studying it :) 

2. Learning to love life in the light

Being in the dark is scary, but sometimes it feels scarier to let people into that darkness and sin in our hearts. This is something that the apprenticeship really helped me with. God surrounded me with people who not only invited me to shed light on the darkest parts of me but offered to walk alongside, and help clean out those parts of me. Life in the light, though sometimes painful, shameful, or embarrassing, is actually liberating, warm, and a lot safer than darkness. I thank God for His grace and mercy, and for His people who show me the same. 

3. Making more people, "my people"

We use this phrase a lot. "Oh, that group of friends? They are my people." Sometimes I can be extremely selective in who I include as, "my people." I don't think this is always bad, but the root of it for me is a protection mechanism: the fewer people I let in, the less I can be hurt. This year, God placed so many people in my life that I not only could live in the light with like I talked about above but also who made me feel safe in my own skin. Even though I open myself up to be hurt, I also open myself to a lot of joy and fullness in allowing more people in. 
Here are some photos below of people who have been instrumental in helping me live in the light, and have allowed me to experience the sweetest joy this year! 
Zoe <3
My co-leader for small group (who also happens to be my roomie and one of my best friends!), Emily :)
Erika is a very dear friend. One of the best! 
Apprentices 2019-2020

Our UTD staff this year. One of our first pictures! 

The apprenticeship is over, but don't worry! I've committed to three more years of being a full-time campus pastor at UTD. If you have any interest in hearing more about how YOU can partner with me in my ministry, please email me at kylie@anyfocus.org, or shoot me a message!! I'd love to tell you more about it.

Until next month!