Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Happy New Year!!

 Hello, everyone!

Happy New Year! I can't believe it's already here. I am super excited to see what God is going to do on our campus this semester!

But before we jump ahead, let's look back on how the semester finished!

End of Semester!

The end of the semester came so quickly! UTD did all of their Final exams online so that people who went home for Thanksgiving break a week prior could just stay home. So we wrapped up a lot of our meetings with our leadership team the first week of December. That meant that they had almost a month of a break before school started again! Thankfully a lot of them were still willing to Zoom call or live in the area, so I still tried to meet up with who I could before they went home/spent time with family for Christmas. Our staff got some time off for the Holidays, in which I read a lot, spent some time with friends and family, and hung out with my dog, Moose :) 

Looking Ahead!

We are starting back up some campus outreach in January, sending out students to meet people who have moved this semester or have classes in person. A majority of the classes are still online, but that is NOT stopping us from being on campus! 

We are also resuming our, "Deep Dive" Friday night service. We will be doing a series on Idolatry and picking different things that society/young people idolize, and then looking at Scripture regarding those topics from the Prophets. I am super excited about it!

Please Pray For:

- The students returning to school this week, that they would have a heart to minister to the students in their classes.

-Our staff, as we navigate how to do ministry safely but effectively amidst the Pandemic. Also that we would be able to empower our students to do ministry to the best of their ability! 

Here are a few recreational pictures from the month of December! 

My dog, Moose, enjoying Christmas decor!

My sister got ENGAGED! Here is most of the siblings, minus Jaron.

My sweet friend Emily said YES to her dress!

This is my sweet boyfriend, Johnny. I think he's pretty great :)


Thank you for your continued prayers and support. I hope to have more ministry pictures and introduce you to some of the girls I meet with every week, and give updates on cool things for the month in my blogs to come!

Much love! 




Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Happy Holidays (in the Park)!

Hey, friends! 

Since it's post-Thanksgiving and December 2nd, am I allowed to say "Merry Christmas"? I am SO looking forward to the Holiday season. I feel like we could all use some joy to finish out the year!

Holidays in the Park
In a typical school year, our staff puts together many events in a semester, including a Halloween party and a big end-of-semester Christmas party. Because of COVID, we have not been able to do any events, which has been a huge bummer! But, we decided that we would end the semester with a bang and put all the holidays into one party. This idea became, "Holidays in the Park"! We were outside the whole time, wore masks, and socially distanced at dinner. 
There were crafts like Halloween bingo and masquerade mask painting to get us into the spooky spirit (even though we did this event in November, lol.) 






We were at a beautiful park and planned a few different spiritual activities for people to choose from... taking a walk and talking to God, finding a quiet place and listening to a worship song, etc. 
After that, we had some organized games such as ultimate frisbee and spikeball. 





The last thing we did at the park was a "walk and talk" with someone from their Core (small group). 





From there we headed to the Northeast church, where we had some Thanksgiving dinner and participated in a thankfulness activity with those around us. 



After dinner, we had a Christmas worship devotional! We sang some silly songs like "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "Santa Claus is Coming to Town", and then sang some more serious ones like "Silent Night", "O Come O Come, Emmanuel", etc. We took communion, and ended the night with sparklers for New Years! 








Overall, it was such a fun event for our students to go to. It was nice to be able to meet new people, play games, have a meal, and worship together in our larger community. It was safe, COVID friendly fun that left everyone feeling more full... physically and spiritually! 

KFG
I had written in my last blog about our annual "Keep FOCUS Growing" initiative. We received $46,000 in matching funds and had the actual giving day yesterday. WOW! We were blown away by everyone's generosity! We raised over $35,000 so far, which brings us to over $90,000 with the matching funds and our student giving total. If you have given, THANK YOU! If you haven't given and would like to, let me know and I can help you out!

That's all for this month. Please pray that our students will finish their semester well with take-home finals and that we as a staff will finish the semester strong with them!
Praying that you all have a safe holiday with your families! 

Love,









Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Finishing Well!

Hello, everyone! Hope you all are doing well amidst the pandemic. October was a great month! Keep reading to hear more about why! 

Deep Dive 

Deep Dive is our Friday night service that we do every week. Rhett has been taking us through the gospel of Mark, and it has been SO GOOD! I am including a couple clips from his teaching times below. If it's something you're interested in watching in it's entirety, check out twitch.tv/utdfocus! 





Worship Night Round 2! 

We did another worship night this month for our students, and it was awesome. There is something about worshiping in the community of believers that is so refreshing, especially since we haven't been including it in our services. We spaced out chairs on a lawn and required masks. We had some reflection activities and worship led by student volunteers. Overall, it was a great night worshiping God together! 

Finishing Well 

The university is ending classes the week of Thanksgiving so that students traveling home for the holidays do not have to come back to campus. Finals will be totally online. Crazy! The last day of classes is November 25th. That means that we will be following suit and wrap up a couple weeks earlier than we normally would. In our community, we use "axioms", which are basically short statements that are easy to remember that have deeper meanings. One of these axioms is titled, "Finishing Well." The meaning behind it is that if we start something, we want to leave it better than we found it. This means we don't just give up because we are tired, discouraged, or quite frankly, lazy. We should seek to do our best when finishing things because how we finish is likely how we will be remembered. I've been thinking about this in terms of this semester. It is wild that we are now in the same month that our students' breaks will start! There is more work to be done this month, more people to get to know, more people on this campus to be reached out to. I think it is a good reminder for our students and our staff to finish this semester well! Please be praying for this next month, and that we would be a ministry that seeks to finish well before the Christmas break starts. 

Keep Focus Growing!

While our missionaries raise their own support, that doesn’t provide money for evangelistic events and materials, administrative costs, or money to seize new opportunities that come up during the year. The extra investments from our annual fundraiser make sure we are poised and ready for what God is doing on campuses around the DFW area.
God has already done so many incredible things, but we know we’ve hardly scratched the surface of the real need! Only a small fraction of the students on our campuses are involved in a Christian ministry, and many schools in DFW are void of Christian community altogether. Even among the students who have experienced real transformation in Christ, we know He isn’t finished with them. Your investment makes a difference. 
So that you know the money you give here is managed and spent well, we have been accredited by the ECFA (Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability). ECFA accreditation is based on standards of financial accountability, transparency, sound board governance, and ethical fundraising.

Can’t give today but want to take part? Make a pledge by emailing casey@anyfocus.org.

Thanks for tuning in this month. I appreciate all of the love, support, and prayers! 




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,