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.