Wednesday, September 15, 2021

August: It's the CRAZIEST time of the year!

 Hello!

It's been a while since I've last written. We had our weeks of welcome, our first couple of Friday Night Fellowships, meetings with peer team girls... it's been a blur. But so, so sweet. I realize some of this terminology may be confusing, so here's a guide to some of our FOCUS "lingo":

Friday Night Fellowship! 

Friday Night Fellowship (or FNF) is our weekly meeting with everyone involved in FOCUS! All of our staff and students come together for a service with worship, an announcement time, and a sermon. We also hang out after and it's super fun :) Here are some photos from our FNF Kickoff! It was so great to be all together again after a long year and a half with COVID. Getting to do FNF on campus is amazing! 




Core

Cores are our weekly small groups where people build deep friendships and learn about the Bible/Jesus together. They are split into guys and girls and stay the same throughout the school year! 

Corefa(s)

A corefa is one of our student leaders who volunteers to help facilitate a core. There are two corefas in each core who work together to create lesson plans and facilitate hangouts between their members! It's about 10 hours a week that they commit to when they volunteer for this position in our ministry. We could not do what we do on campus without them! 

Peer Team

Peer Team is where a group of our corefas get to be poured into by one of our campus pastors. I have 8 amazing girls in my peer team this year! (4 pairs of corefas). I also get to take 2 girls for this semester because their peer team leader, and my fellow staff member, had a baby!! So I will have 10 girls in my peer team this semester, and I am pumped. We will meet every other week all together, and then I meet with each pair of girls weekly to pour into them and support them in their ministry this year. I'll try and get some photos of them so y'all can (virtually) meet them :)

We made it through all the terminology! Hopefully that will be helpful in later blogs, as I will mention these words a lot.

Welcome Week Overview

Thank you to all of you who prayed for our weeks of welcome! We met SO many students who were interested in friendship and community. We did events every day for about 13 days straight. It was tiring but really paid off. It was hard to remember to get pictures, but here is one from one of the game nights we did in the residence halls! 


Prayer Requests:

-We have our Fall Retreat this weekend! We invite all of our students to come and spend their Saturday/Sunday morning at a camp about 45 minutes from UTD. We eat together, fellowship, worship, and hear testimonies from 8 of our students! Please pray that whoever is able to make it will come, that God will prepare all of our hearts for what He wants to do in us this weekend, and that we will come away stronger as a ministry! 

 - COVID is still very much apart of our daily lives, as we are all experiencing. Please pray that we will continue to get to be on campus, and do ministry this year. It has been so sweet and special and we hope to have a full school year of this! Also for the safety of our students and staff, and anyone affected by this terrible virus. 

Thank you for your continued prayers and encouragement. I get to do what I do because of you all, and I am so grateful! See you next month! 


Friday, August 6, 2021

First Ministry Blog of the School Year! Woo!

Hello!

Here's what went on since I last wrote to you guys! 

Staff Retreat

If you're new to my ministry blog, FOCUS has ministries at 11 campuses in the DFW area! We have 31 full-time campus ministers and 19 full-time apprentices at these different campuses. It is rare for us all to get to be together since we have such a large staff spread out across DFW. So at the beginning of August, we take a retreat with all of our staff to build our relationships with one another and reset spiritually! We did that this past week and it was so refreshing. I am so blessed to work on a team of people who truly love God and love the students that God uses us to minister to/do life with. 

Our staff director Brandon had a couple of verses on his heart for our staff this year. The first is Galatians 2:20, which says, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." This theme of "dying to self" is what we reflected on a lot in our sessions together at the retreat. It sounds so easy to "deny yourself", but is so hard to deny our sinful nature day to day and reflect our Lord's character. The second verse is 2 Corinthians 5:15, which says, "And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again." It follows the theme of dying to self, and that we live for Christ and the things of His Kingdom! I want to leave you with a few questions to reflect on and go to God with:

 What are things, people, or situations that you need to bring to the cross? What area(s) is/are hardest for you to deny yourself, and how might God be calling you to give those things to Him? 

A picture of all of our staff in one of our sessions! 


SICM / Weeks of Welcome Prayer Requests! 

This weekend, we leave for a leadership conference with 200 of our students across our campuses. It's called, "Student Institute of Campus Ministry" or SICM for short. This is where we prepare student leaders in our ministries for the first couple weeks of school! There are so many students, especially with this being the first semi-normal school year since COVID, that are desperate for the hope Jesus can give them, along with a solid community they can be a part of after a year and a half of isolation. 

After SICM, we immediately start our "Weeks of Welcome" at UTD. We have events planned for almost every night of those first two weeks to hopefully meet as many students as we can. 

Here are a couple prayer requests that I would appreciate you guys praying for this month! 

-Please pray for these students leaders to be able to soak up as much information at SICM as they can, and that they will feel equipped to go out and preach the gospel/invite people into a Jesus-loving community! 

-Pray for God to prepare the hearts of the incoming students that he wants us to reach. We are so excited to be in person with students again and want to make the most of this opportunity. 

I am so thankful for all of your support, and can't wait to send my next blog with TONS of good news and ways that God worked! 

Love,







Friday, July 9, 2021

Summer Update!

 Hello, all! Sweet summertime is here! 

Summer looks different than it did between college semesters, especially working full-time for a college that has such a long break! Let me lay out how Summer months play out as a full-time campus pastor! 

School lets out in May, which means a lot of the students in our ministry go home to be with their families for Summer break. Some of the students live in this area, but a lot of them live in other areas of Texas or out of state. With a lot of my work hours being dedicated to being on campus and meeting up with students, our Summer hours are allocated towards different aspects of full-time ministry. The biggest responsibility for the Summer is fundraising for the following school year! 

As most of you know, our full-time ministers raise the cost of our salaries in order to have the availability to devote all of our hours towards being on campus with students. During the summer, we have more time to connect with our ministry partners and invite new people to join our teams to partner with us in this piece of God's kingdom. It's a really exciting time! 

We also spend time doing some staff development! All of the women on staff across our campuses meet up once a week for lunch and games to continue to strengthen our relationships. Our women's staff for UTD specifically has been meeting up once a week for that development as well. As a whole, our UTD team has met to start brainstorming about the beginning of the school year and events/things we want to do to engage the campus, especially with things going back to normal post-Covid! We are very excited to be back on campus this year!

The rest of our time is dedicated to students that are in town, checking in on them or doing Focus on Jesus bible studies/book clubs. We also do a large-group meeting every Thursday, with all of our campuses combined! It's a smaller group since a lot of students are home with their families, but it's fun for all of us to get to be together. 

So although I am still working full-time hours, the workload feels more restful and my schedule is more flexible. I really enjoy these months post-May and leading up to August, because I am free to take it a little easier after a busy year before we start ANOTHER busy year. 

August will be here before we know it, and that's when we really kick things into high gear! We host events every night on campus for incoming students, we begin our large group meetings (Friday Night Fellowship), and meet with lots of incoming freshmen to try and give them community early on in their college experience! I love August, but it really is crazy :) 

Please start praying for the hearts of the students coming on campus in August, that they would be open to our community, and that we would be ready to welcome them in and show them Jesus. I can't wait to write my blog a couple months from now with all the good news and awesome things that God does! 

Thanks for your continued support. I couldn't do it without you!!

Here are some pictures from my Summer up to now. :) 

Lots of weddings this summer! This is my handsome boyfriend, Johnny. <3

Me, Mandy, and Sarah enjoying a beautiful castle view in Colorado! 

Got to see my grandparents from out of town! 

Moose enjoying the sunshine, pt 1 :)

My sweet sister got MARRIED! Still celebrating this day! 

Most of my UTD women's team! Me, Lindsey, Mandy, Andrea, and Sarah

My mom, my sister, and I enjoying dinner together! 

My dog, Moose, enjoying the sunshine! Pt. 2 :) 

Love you all! 



Wednesday, May 12, 2021

I AM is with me!

 Hello, people!

Man, what a school year! I'd like to start with a reflection.

I preached for our Friday night "Deep Dive" about a month ago. The prompt was about making and keeping promises/commitments. One of the things that came up in my preparation for the sermon that I've been reflecting on is that God’s very identity is a promise to us. Exodus 3:13-14 says, “Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” 

If you’re like me reading that you might ask “What the heck is he saying, 'I am who I am'?” So I read a commentary that helped me understand a bit more what God is saying here. "What should I tell them, who is sending me?" The first word of that phrase is 'eyeh', and it's a state of being verb followed by what it is. So 'eyeh' followed by an action can be, “I am.. feeding the sheep.” or “I am.. building a house.” It’s a state of being. But alone by itself, it means that God is, period. "I AM" is the ultimate statement of self-sufficiency, self-existence, and immediate presence, not contingent on any outside factors. He is, regardless of the situation, time, place, or environment. He is with us always, and that is a promise. He made a promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:2-3, “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” He didn’t explicitly say that it was a promise, but he says “I will…” He is making a declaration. His yes means yes. In Genesis 17 he tells Abraham that Sarah will have a child in her old age.  He tells the Israelites in Exodus 6:5-6, “Furthermore, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered My covenant. Therefore tell the Israelites: ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians and deliver you from their bondage. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as My own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians.” And throughout the narrative of Scripture despite their sin and even disbelief in Him at times, He continues to make promises to his people. It is in His identity, His character, to make and keep promises. 

This year has been a year of uncertainty with the COVID pandemic in many ways, including ministry. At the beginning of last summer, we had no idea what the campus would allow us to do. Then at the beginning of the school year, we were told we couldn't even be on campus or have our students be at any off-campus events for our organization. It was hard to see how God would work and move on campus without us getting to be there physically. But God is I AM. He has always been with us, walking alongside through every speed bump, twist, and turn. In moments of uncertainty, I never doubted that God was there because He is a promise-making and promise-keeping God. And he's never given me a reason not to trust Him! 

I wanted to start with that because it has really ministered to me and given me comfort in situations that I am not in control of. It has become my prayer that I will reflect God's character in this way to those around me. I hope it ministers to you in some way!

Without further ado, this is how the end of the school year went!

End-of-Year Party!

We hosted an end-of-year party for our students and it was so fun! We had games, karaoke, tie-dying, and hosted a majority of it outside or in a building that was vented. We had a great turnout, and it was awesome to celebrate with them. This school year, I led a peer team of 8 girls (4 pairs of Core leaders). 2 of my amazing girls led a core online all year for girls who were spread out all over Texas, and were not in the DFW area themselves. But, they came in town for the party so we got to be all together for the first time all year! It was super sweet, and I am so blessed that God allowed me to do life and ministry with them this year :) (One of my girls, Anna, got a job and moved home this semester. We included her by taking a picture with a picture of her, shown below)

My babies! Elaine, Jessica, Carolina, Hannah, Michaela, Megha, me, Jolene
Posing with our picture of Anna! 

Last Core!

I mentioned above that one of my girls moved home this semester. I ended up taking her spot and leading core with Megha, who is in my peer team. We had so much fun together! Megha was in my core last year, so it has been really special to see God work in her this year. We did our last core at my favorite boba tea place, "Sweet Hut". These girls hold a special place in my heart! 

Left to Right: me, Morgan, Perri, Megha, and Meliz! 


UTD Staff 2020-2021

Can't talk about the end of the school year without talking about my wonderful coworkers. Here is a photo of my team! All of these people have worked so hard to give our students a meaningful, positive experience this year. Brandon, Mandy, and Peter are our fearless leaders, who I respect and admire greatly. Rhett, Sarah, and Victoria are so fun to work with, but also so wise. It's been very encouraging to work with them and get to know them. Cort did the apprenticeship with me last year, and it's been so fun to get to do this crazy year with him. Lindsey, Jacob, and Andrea are our apprentices for the year! They did this whole thing in a COVID year and did SUCH a great job. I'm proud to call all of these people my friends!

Left to Right: Brandon, Lindsey, Peter, Victoria, Sarah, Jacob, Mandy, Andrea, Cort, me, Rhett


Prayer Requests:

- Pray for our students to have a restful, safe summer as they travel back to wherever they are from.

- Pray for next school year, that we would be able to do more to serve our campus and that god would prepare the hearts of the students He wants us to meet!

- Pray for our 2021-2022 Student Leader team, that we would prepare them well for this coming school year after having such a weird year this past year. 

- Pray for my support raising this summer, that God would prepare the hearts of people who He brings to mind for me to ask to join my team. 

I love you all! And thank you so much for supporting me. I could not do what I do without you! 

Love,





















Wednesday, March 3, 2021

I survived a Snowpocalypse, and the rest of February!

Geeze, another month has come and gone! Hope all of you are doing well. Here are some things that happened in February!

Leading Core! 

I've explained this in prior posts but just as a refresher: here are some definitions from the FOCUS "dictionary":

Core(s)- Gender-specific small groups that meet throughout the week and talk about Jesus/do life together. 

Corefa(s)- Our core facilitators. There are two corefas per core that plan the lesson and lead the discussion every week.

Peer Team- Smaller teams of corefas that meet up with a staff person for mentorship and friendship. So I am leading a peer team, and have 4 pairs of corefas (8 girls) that make up my peer team for the school year. These are the girls I pour into and do ministry with the most! 

FOJ- Our bible study called, "Focus on Jesus". FOJ is a 10-week study that students can do with each other that takes them through the general story of the Bible, from beginning to end. There are pre-made questions and passages that correlate to the topic for that week, and we also use the Bible Project Ministry videos as an extra resource.

Now that we are refreshed on these terms, it will make following this story a little easier! One of the girls that was in my peer team ended up moving to Kansas City over the Christmas break. She got an incredible job offer that was too good to pass up. I am SO proud of her, even though I will miss her so much! Because she moved home, we needed someone to take her spot to help her co-facilitator lead their core. It ended up being that I had the time in my schedule to step in and take her place, so I am now leading core as well as peer team! I led core as a student for three years, and for my apprenticeship last year as well. It feels like I'm going back to my roots, and it's neat to get to do more ministry on campus with the girls who are in my core. 

One encouraging story from core: One of the girls had her car broken into a couple of weeks ago. Her laptop with all of her artwork was stolen :( She posted on her social media account to let her followers know that she wouldn't be taking inquiries for new art because she couldn't afford a new computer right off the bat. Immediately, strangers were telling her to set up a GoFundMe type page that is specifically for the art community. She did, and within a few days had earned enough money for a new laptop! She was blown away by the generosity of a community of strangers. Coincidentally the next week, we were talking about generosity in core. Because that experience had happened, she had a new perspective of what being generous could look like, and I think God used that to reshape her view of it and encourage us. So anyways, God works in funny and sometimes unconventional ways, but regardless is still working. :) 

I am also starting an FOJ study with a girl in my core who is really seeking God and trying to figure out what she believes. Please be praying that the study is fruitful and that God would use me as we have conversations about faith! 

Preaching! 

I gave my first sermon of the year in early February. It was a really challenging experience. I was given the topic of the idolatry of beauty, and combatting what society says with what God says. All throughout writing it, God really convicted me of ways that I have been thinking of beauty, and the standards that I let the world tell me are true. I feel that the Spirit really spoke through me and taught me a lot. The sermon is actually recorded on twitch.tv/utdfocus if you're interested in watching any of it! (You can skip the first little part to get to where it starts!)

Those are some of the primary things that happened in regards to ministry this month. Here are some more neat things that I was able to get some pictures of! 


Meet Hannah and Elaine! They are in my peer team and lead core together. We all have doggies so we took a pic during our meeting with our dogs together! 


Lindsey, Andrea, and I at Deep Dive. Love that I get to work with these sweet friends! 

Snowpocalypse 2021. View from my street! Thankfully we didn't lose power and were able to host some local students that did.

This was the first day of snow when you could still see grass poking through. Moose loved it! Although, he wasn't too sure of it once he couldn't see grass. :)

My friend Jacob got to preach at our FOCUS ministry at SMU. He is pursuing a master's there and is a student leader in their ministry. Super proud! 

Showcase 2021

Every year we do a fundraiser called Showcase to raise money for the leadership training we take potential corefas to! This year it is online, so it will be very accessible to all of you! I am performing, and there will be tons of cool talent. Information below!



Thank you for your continued prayers and support. I really appreciate it and love you all!