Friday, December 2, 2016

I'm Cold!

Here's an awkward photo of some of our Preston Ridge crew to start this lil blog!
It’s December! I’m sort of a grouch when it comes to cold weather. I told my sister recently that I feel like I either have to dress super cute, or look homeless. There’s no in between for me. Despite this, I do love this time of year. I love Christmas, having more time to spend with students and my family since classes are nearing an end, and listening to “Mary Did You Know” by CeeLo Green (I don’t care who you are, that song is good, y’all)!

One of my favorite parts of working with Preston Ridge FOCUS this year is meeting up with this girl, Raven.

We were printing out signs to put out during Tuesday Morning FOCUS. "Join Us" was the only thing we could think to put, but also both agreed it sounded kind of creepy. So that's what she was goin' for in this pic :)

As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, I co-lead a Core (small group) with her and Shayla. Raven is kind-hearted, passionate, bold, affectionate, and silly. I’m learning so much from her simply by observing how she befriends people. One thing we’ve spent time talking about in our one-on-one time is how the only thing we need and can rely on is the Lord. We both struggle with wanting to do things that make us feel worthy enough or qualified enough or whatever enough. In our time together, I think the Spirit has broken a lot of that down. We’ve read scripture together, thought through tough questions, and spent a lot of time in prayer. There’s definitely still a lot of room for the Spirit to work in both of us, but I’m praising Him for the gentle way He has transformed our thoughts thus far. I asked Raven to tell me some ways God has grown her this semester, and this is what she had to share:

God has been growing me in many things this semester, but I think the biggest one is my thoughts. What I mean is that at first I would always keep my thoughts to myself; I think it hindered my relationships and most importantly hindered my relationship with Abba. Once I started to speak what I was I feeling, it helped all my relationships and it allowed me to be an open book, which I feel like God calls us to be.

I’ve gotten to see this in Core. Her openness and vulnerability with the girls she ministers to has set the pace for them to open up and share ways they’re struggling, or tough things they’re thinking. I’m so thankful to get to work with this girl!

Speaking of Core, we had our last one of the semester this past Wednesday. It was such a special time with lots of tears. We had our girls go through different “worship stations”. Basically, there were 5 different areas that we spread all through the house we meet in.  They wrote a Psalm to God, spent time in silence and asked God to speak, they watched a video on really beautiful images of God’s creation and were invited to praise Him for that, they drew a picture in worship to God, and they spent time reflecting on any relationship in their life that might not be pleasing to God, and asked Him to show them what to do with that. We spent about an hour freely moving throughout the house, and then came together to share what we felt God was communicating to us, or what our response to the night would be. This was so encouraging! Our girls were so vocal and honest about what they’d learned, repentant and excited to be more like Christ, and vulnerable about how they’ve doubted His existence and goodness. Upon reflecting on all of that, I think God used that night to show me that He has truly been working in each of them individually, and He’s brought this special group of girls together for a purpose. I love them so much, and they really love eachother. This is only the work of God. Please join me in praising Him for His work! I can't wait to get to spend time with them at Winter Camp (which I’ll talk more about in my next blog) and next semester.

I am so excited to tell you all about our Keep FOCUS Growing (KFG) campaign. This is an annual fundraiser we have to keep our ministry running, and to help prepare ourselves to go wherever it is the Lord may be calling us. As some of you may know, we’ve been prayerfully considering planting a FOCUS ministry on SMU’s campus. KFG will play a huge role in this exciting venture. Our goal this year is to raise $55,000. I want to invite you to take 2 or 3 minutes, and visit to give. You’d be investing in students all across our campuses who have been blessed by this community. Speaking of which, here’s a testimony from a student at Collin, Sammy. There are countless other students like Sammy all across the metroplex, and your gift can help us meet them and show them the love of Jesus!

As always, thank you so much for your support. We had our last Thursday Night FOCUS last night, and I was sitting there in disbelief that I'm close to halfway through with this school year. I could not be doing this work without people like you, and I pray you know that you are a huge part in these students encountering Jesus. What a blessing it is to work with you all!

Please pray

  • As the semester closes, that our students would finish their semester well and not be overloaded with stress!
  • That our students would not fall off during the break. Please pray they'd continue to invest in their relationship with the Lord, and with one another.
  • Our KFG campaign. Please pray that the Lord provides, just like He always does, and that we'd trust Him and praise Him no matter what.
Here are some pictures from this month:

One of our students, Austin, inviting people to answer questions we had during Outreach at Preston Ridge
Shayla, after one of our last classes with Matt
Our students at Pizza Theology: students from all campuses joined to eat pizza and hear from a speaker on hearing God's voice. This was an awesome event!

Love you all,


Monday, October 31, 2016

It's November!

Just as I say every month, it is so ridiculous to me that it’s already November. Partially because October went by in the blink of an eye, and partially because it's still 90 degrees outside. But this month was filled with lots of exciting things, and I’m sitting here thinking about all the ways I’ve seen God work and I’m tearing up! He really is so good, He’s not a distant, uncaring being. He’s a kind, involved, loving Father who desires us each to accept the invitation to come to Him and find rest. Woo! Let me tell you about this month.

20 Year Celebration
FOCUS had its 20th birthday this year! Praise God. We got to celebrate this by inviting any past FOCUS alumni as well as friends, family, supporters, and current students to join together for some reminiscing, celebrating the work God has done, and to be reminded of the vision and mission we feel God has called FOCUS to. It was such a blast, and I was so happy to see some of you there! I’ve been so blessed to be a part of this community since before I even started my Freshman year at Collin College. I feel God used this ministry and the people in it to change the course of my life. The fact that it is the community it is now is a complete act of God’s grace. We’re here not because we’re good, but because God is good! I was so happy to get to experience this event.

Reflecting On What I've Learned
I think I really do a disservice to myself (and more importantly, to God) when I forget to consider the ways in which I see Jesus working to make me new. I’m not very good at recognizing the things He’s doing, so I wanted to take some time to talk about that. I get the huge privilege to meet with Garrett Davis every week. He’s on staff with FOCUS as the campus minister at Collin. One thing we’ve spent time talking about is the idea of having a vibrant prayer life. Part of the way I’m trying to grow in this is by going to God first when anything happens, when I’m stressed, when things are going well, when I have questions about Him. I’ve realized I have the tendency to call Shayla, one of the other Apprentices, or my sister, my friends I’ve known for years, my dad, pretty much anybody before I go to God. I’ve been reminded of this time and time again since Garrett brought this up to me. I can think of multiple times where something has been stressful to me, I’ve felt discouraged, I have a question, I’ve wanted to celebrate, and I pick up the phone to tell somebody. I feel like it’s in those moments where the Spirit has gently said, “Hey! Remember me? Talk to me about this.” Who do you go to first in times like this? Is God someone you tiredly talk to at the end of the day, after you’ve had the chance to debrief with your roommates, spouse, friends, mentors? Do you seek Him? Do you trust that He’s listening, He wants to be the first one you go to, and He really can (and wants to) give you life? These are questions I’ve been asking myself in trying to figure all this out. I’m so thankful to be learning this lesson.

Thank you!
Once again, I am so incredibly grateful for all of you for your continued support. I hope you know that the Apprenticeship has been such an enriching experience for me. I feel like I’ve grown more in love with God, I’ve gained understanding on His character through experiencing Him in new ways, I’ve gotten to build relationships and make new ones that are so special, I get to learn from people and follow their example as they follow Christ. I don’t take for granted the chance to do this. I couldn’t experience ministry in this way without you. Thank you so much for investing in the vision.

Here are some ways you can pray:

  • For Preston Ridge. God has built a cool community there, please pray that we will continue to seek Him to show us what to do and selflessly continue to reach out to the students on that campus. Please pray for this ministry and what it will look like next year.
  • For all of our students who go out on campus to do outreach. They take time out of their day to just make new friends and have spiritual conversations. Please pray that they are bold, loving, and that they seek to join the Spirit where He is moving. Please pray that the people they encounter will have open and willing hearts.
  • For FOCUS staff & our student leaders. This time of year is always a little bit of a challenge. Classes start picking up and getting busy, and as people settle into a routine, it’s easy to get burned out.
  • For all the one-on-one studies that are happening in our ministry. I'm so thrilled and thankful to get to spend consistent time with some awesome girls. I'm so hopeful for what God is doing in them, and I know I'm not alone in thinking this! Please pray for everyone being studied with, and that they encounter Jesus this year.

Enjoy some pictures:

This is one of our boards during Tuesday morning FOCUS at Preston Ridge. It was a great way to meet people in a not-so-intimidating way. We plan on doing more things like this on Tuesdays to meet people and build relationships. 
This is just a portion of our ministry at Preston Ridge during our Tuesday morning FOCUS meetings. I was looking at this and realized only 3 of the people in the picture were involved in FOCUS before this year. Pedro & Ryan, (Apprentices) and Raven (the girl I lead Core with). Everybody else we've met just in the past few months. Wow! God is really cool.
Our Core! We went out to dinner to celebrate some of their birthdays. Aren't they cute? Please pray for these girls!
Again, thank you so much. Please let me know what I can do to bless you. Love you so much.

In Christ,

Saturday, October 1, 2016


It's technically Fall! So even though I'm at risk for getting a heat stroke in the afternoon, I'm still thankful for the morning and evening weather that calls for sweatshirts and hot chocolate. I'm also thankful for all the super great things God has been doing this past month! Here's a couple highlights I wanted to share with you:

Lemonade FOCUS
Wow, check out this artsy aerial shot of these sweet friends!
In all honesty I’m not sure if we’re technically calling it by that name (it used to be called that because we gave out lemonade, but we definitely don’t do that anymore…), but nonetheless on Tuesday mornings at Collin’s Preston Ridge campus in Frisco, we meet out on the lawn in the center of campus to play games, color, talk and laugh together, and generally just try to meet people and offer them friendship and genuine community. It really has become a favorite moment of my week. I’m so encouraged by our student leaders who are willing to play volleyball and lay on the grass in 90+ degree heat for the sake of reaching their peers (although now it’s starting to cool down, and we’re all very thankful!), all without ever complaining. We’ve met many students, and God has been working in this time to build community with our little ministry we have at Preston Ridge. A quick story about one of these Tuesdays: I’ve been praying that God would bring girls to these times. For some reason, we meet a lot of boys, but girls just seem to be a lot less receptive to us. Well, God has definitely answered those prayers and we’ve met more girls over the past few weeks than we have all year! This past week, there were two boys that came to play for the first time. A girl walked by that they knew, and they invited her to come play. She agreed, and not long after that I got the opportunity to ask more about her life. She just moved here, and said she hasn’t met anybody, and “literally does nothing”. I told her about what Core was, and her face lit up! She said, “really?!” I was so happy to be able to invite her! She came the next day, and opened up to the girls, and our girls welcomed her with open arms. Wow!! God reminds me in things like this that He is faithful, and a super involved Father. I’m so excited to meet more people during this time and see the ways God will continue to work!

Fall Camp
At the beginning of the school year, we invite our students to spend 24 hours together in “one giant sleepover with all their best friends” as my fellow Apprentice, Shayla would say. We drove about 100 students to Camp Copass, a camp in Denton, to spend time with one another, play games, listen to messages given by staff and their peers, worship God, and just have a time to get excited for the coming semester of ministry together! It was so encouraging to see the students bond with one another, get out of their comfort zones, and realize that they were there to be with God and learn from him and one another. At one point, we had an open mic sharing time. The students got up to talk about something God put on their heart during our time of worship. Student after student, they opened up and shared what God revealed to them. Some shared personal stories of their families, how they’ve been hurt in the past, how they’ve made mistakes, but how God has remained faithful. I’m so proud of them, and it’s such a huge honor to get to work alongside them. Thank you for praying for this time.

Some of our Core girls at Camp!
I get to lead a Core with Shayla and Raven for the girls at Preston Ridge. Cores are our gender specific smaller groups, aimed at building relationships and growing together towards Jesus. Sometimes we do Bible study, other times we just share about a specific topic such as vulnerability, shame, time management, etc. They’re called Cores because we feel that this is really where the core of our ministry exists. I am truly dumbfounded as to how we have girls that show up. This is how faithful God is, you guys: Shayla and I are not students at Preston Ridge, Raven is not taking classes this semester, so we’re not in classrooms inviting people. We’ve just tried to invite people we meet when we spend time on campus, the guys Cores will refer girls to us all the time, and sometimes just a random girl walks in and we’re not even sure how she heard about Core! What?! That is so cool to me. Obviously, God has been moving, and He does what He wants to do despite the odd circumstances that may be in effect :). Our girls have been so faithful and consistent, they’re learning to be vulnerable with one another and trying hard to build community with each other. Every week, they meet up with one of the girls they haven’t gotten to spend a ton of time with just to grow closer to one another. They initiate hanging out with the others, they celebrate together when good things happen, and they mourn together when crummy things happen. Gosh, I get to be a part of their lives! Why God has allowed me to have that privilege is beyond me. But what I do know is that He is working in these girls, and He is working on Preston Ridge campus through them.

Day by day, I’m reminded of how crazy it is that I have the opportunity to do this Apprenticeship. I have countless people investing in me to make sure I’m learning and growing. I’ve built relationships that are so incredibly priceless, and it’s only been a few months. I’ve been given the chance to learn graduate level theology, and I’m taught by some of the most humble, spiritual, intelligent people I know. I get to sit outside on this beautiful day (Fall!! WOO!!) and articulate ways that God has been working over the past month. AND I have people like YOU who choose to invest in me, and invest in the Kingdom. I’m so thankful for you. I wish I could articulate more how much your support means to me. But in the meantime, I’ll just keep giving you virtual hugs.

Here are some ways you can pray:
- That all the Cores would grow in their love for God, their relationships with one another, and that people in Core would catch a vision of what God is doing to bring His Kingdom here.
- For the outreach at both Spring Creek and Preston Ridge campus. Preston Ridge in particular is very quiet. There’s essentially no student life happening there. Please pray that we’d meet people and foster a dynamic at these campuses that makes people feel welcomed and like they can hang out on campus and make friends.
- All the one-on-one Bible studies that are happening on all our campuses. That people’s hearts would be softened by Jesus and they’d enter into deep relationship with Him!

Also, I'm sure a lot of you have heard about this, but if you haven't, you are totally invited!! It is going to be such an exciting time, and I would love to see you all there. Please contact me if you have any questions about this (or anything)!

Man I love you guys, and I'm thankful for you.


Thursday, September 1, 2016

September Update

I’m having such a hard time understanding the fact that it is September already. Where has the year gone?! This past month has been full of experiences that have stretched me and helped me understand God’s heart a lot more than I have before. So much has gone on, but I have just a few highlights that I want to share with you.

Welcome Week
We were on Preston Ridge campus asking students what they hope to get out of their time at Collin. This spurred some really cool conversations! (ft. a cool pose from Cody, one of our corefas)

Collin began classes in the last full week of August, and all that week there were events on campus that we got to participate in to help make friends and invite people to the different things we had going on for those few days. This is such a significant time in a campus ministry, and we strive to cast our nets really wide. We spend a lot of time in prayer and a lot of time on campus. God definitely met us there. Thank you for praying for this time. I was so thankful to get to watch the student leaders do what they do best: love people! One of our Corefas (small group leaders) told me he took off work that entire week strictly to be at Welcome Week events. This sacrificial and positive mindset seems to be the norm with these students. I watched as they boldly invited people into conversation, went up to total strangers and invited them to play games or hang out, and tirelessly asked people for their phone number so they could hang out soon. It was such a blast getting to do this alongside them!

Our Thursday Night Fellowship
Last week we had our first Thursday Night FOCUS of the school year. As I was sitting in my chair, looking around at some faces I knew but a lot that I didn’t, I could only muster one thought: God is AWESOME! I’m in awe at the sheer amount of young people giving up a night that could have been spent studying, spending time with friends, watching Netflix, or anything else that may have otherwise been enjoyable, to sit in a crowded cafeteria to learn more about Jesus. I’m in awe at the student leaders who work so hard to take huge steps out of their comfort zones to invite people into their lives and show them the treasure they’ve found in a field. I’m in awe that God has brought this ministry so far and blessed so many people through our faulted efforts at being obedient to Him. I’m in awe that God lets someone as clueless and broken as me witness, experience, and participate in His life-giving work.
A lot of these students are just starting off their college career, they’re away from their friends from high school, they have more independence from their families in some ways … Where is God going to lead them? What lessons will He teach them this year? How will He change their lives & draw them closer to Him? The fact that God might allow us to be a small part of Him working in them individually is what gets me so excited to work in ministry! In pondering all that, I kept thinking about all the people that have passed through this ministry, and how I’ve seen God use those people to further His kingdom elsewhere. I wanted to share some of those stories with you.

This is Tabby. She attended Collin as a student for two years prior to transferring to UNT. Currently, she’s involved with Denton North Church, and is pursuing her Masters in Counseling. I also got to live with her for about a month when I was moving out of my house in Denton and she was moving in, which was easily one of the most fun months of my life.
This is Hanna. She was a student at Collin before transferring to UNT and will graduate in December. She wants to be special education teacher. Right now, she’s working with students a UTD in their FOCUS ministry. She was a huge part in me becoming a Christian, and I really can’t even explain how being involved with ministry along side her has impacted my life.
This is Brianna (the one on the right ;)). Like the other two, she attended Collin before transferring to UNT. There, she helped plant a FOCUS ministry. Now she leads Christian Teen Fellowship, the teen ministry, at Wylie Northeast Church. She also was on staff at Collin during my time there as a student, and lovingly befriended my obnoxious 18-year old self. She’s married to Tyler and has a daughter named Reese who I wish was my best friend.
Each of these girls served the FOCUS ministry at Collin. Look at the ways God has worked in them! Look at how He’s grown them into the women they are now. This is most assuredly NOT because FOCUS is good, this is only because GOD is good! I share these stories with you in hopes that you’ll be encouraged by the ways God has shown Himself to be a kind, involved father who does big things in the lives of His people. What will God do with our students this year? Wow! I love that God lets us dream big.

Here are some ways you can join me in prayer this month:
  • For our Cores, which are our small groups, that God would begin friendships here, that the students would be vulnerable with one another, and that people would get to encounter Jesus.
  • Fall Camp. On September 24th & 25th, our students will go to Camp Copass in Denton for 24 hours of Jesus & fun. Please pray that God would move powerfully here, and that people would be really excited to get out of their comfort zones to attend and build relationships once they get there.
  • All the new faces we've met and will continue to meet. Will you pray that God would continue to prepare the hearts of students we meet, and that He'd let us be faithful with who He has brought our way?
Thank you so much for believing in this vision. I'm writing this late at night in my cute little apartment, full of roommates that I love. I get to wake up tomorrow and eat a meal with a student I've met this week. Later, I get to read through the Old Testament and learn about the heart of God. Next week, I'll get to go to class with people I look up to and get to deepen relationships with. I'll go on campus and have conversations with people who God so dearly cares about. I couldn't do any of this without your support. I'm truly honored that you would consider investing in me in this way. God is very, very good. He is full of grace and truth and He is a King who is making everything new. Praise Him for letting us do this work together.

I really love you!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

August Update

August is here! This means my time as an Apprentice with FOCUS has officially begun. It has only been a week, and the Spirit has already begun working in the special ways only He can, and I’m eager for Him to continue to work in these next 10 months I’m blessed to be on staff.

This is a little throwback for ya from 2012 when I was a student at Collin College. God has done so much since then on the Collin campuses and I'm thankful He's brought me back to this school with a different role! I'm the one up front in the red shirt, and fun fact: the pretty girl to my right is Ryan's wife, he's another Apprentice working with Collin this year.
My Apprenticeship began with Staff Retreat. Our entire FOCUS staff loaded up and headed to Austin, Texas for 4 days of work and play. During our time together, we read through a book called In the Name of Jesus by Henri J.M. Nouwen. In it, Nouwen discusses his reflections of Christian leadership. He examines 3 temptations that he has observed Christian leaders to struggle with and give in to: the temptation to be relevant, to be spectacular, and to be powerful. This book seriously rocked my world, and I highly recommend you pick it up.
At the beginning of the week, Brandon (FOCUS Director and campus minister at UTD), shared with us that he felt the Spirit leading us to sing the song Nothing I Hold Onto after each of our sessions. Here’s the basic gist of the lyrics:

I lean not on my own understanding
My life is in the hands of the Maker of heaven
I give it all to You God, trusting that you'll make something beautiful out of me
There's nothing I hold on to
There's nothing I hold on to
I lean not on my own understanding
My life is in the hands of the Maker of heaven
I will climb this mountain with my hands wide open
I will climb this mountain with my hands wide open

Honestly, when I heard we would be singing this song with such frequency, it produced a small amount of anxiety in me because this has been a song that I’ve always found to be so confusing, and have spent time in prayer asking God what it means, I’ve gotten advice from other people about what they think the writer of the song meant when he said, “I will climb this mountain with my hands wide open”, and came back with no concrete thoughts. After having sung that phrase dozens of times in a week, I am so thankful that Brandon was open to the Spirit leading us to do that, because I think God was able to teach me a huge lesson about what all that means. I’m very tempted to try to minister to people using my own strength, relying on my personality or how much I think I understand of God to be able to draw people to Him. This is a dangerous temptation, because it doesn’t show people Jesus, it shows them more of myself (yikes). In leaning not on our own understanding, coming to Jesus with hands wide open, empty of ourselves and ready to take whatever He’s kind enough to hand us, He equips us to minister to others and lead them towards the true life He offers!

Here are some things you can pray about in no particular order:
  • That God would prepare our student leaders for the crazy month of August. They’ll be very busy spending time on campus reaching out to their peers, inviting them to the events we’ll be hosting, planning their small groups, not to mention working hard in their classes!
  • For students coming to Collin College. That God would prepare their hearts, that they’d be open to hearing the message of Jesus and experiencing spiritual friendship.
  • For the Apprentices and the rest of FOCUS staff. August is just a pretty crazy month, planning events, Welcome Week, meeting literally hundreds of students a week, classes, and balancing our time. Please pray that God would give us energy and positive attitudes, and He’d get all the glory for the cool things that will happen.
  • My fundraising! I’m at 92%, all thanks to you! Praise God that He’s made a way for me to do this, and please pray that He’d let me be fully fundraised very soon. Please also pray for all the other staff’s fundraising. 

Some pictures from the week:

I’ll be coleading a Core (small group) at the Preston Ridge Collin College campus with these two beauties, Shayla (left) and Raven (middle). I’m so excited to get to work along side them, they both are so special to me!
This is the Collin staff for this year, Pedro, Garrett, myself, Shayla, and Ryan at church (all Apprentices, other than Garrett, who is the campus minister at Collin).  I’m so thankful to get to work with all of them, whom I look up to and love a lot. 
The beautiful view from our balcony at Staff Retreat.

I want to end this post by expressing my huge gratitude to you all. I simply could not do the work I get to do without the generosity of people like you. If I were not doing the Apprenticeship, I’d likely be working full-time, having a small part in campus ministry. Because of you, I get to dive head first into this awesome work, devoting my time to these students that God cares so deeply about. Thank you for investing in this vision, and for investing in me. Please let me know how I can bless you. I’m available all the time, and I’d love to hear from you!

In Christ,