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,