Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Growing Pains

We brought around 600 students to camp this year!

Happy February (one day early)! I’m honestly feeling a little overwhelmed at the thought of writing my blog this month. There’s so much to talk about! January has been filled with a lot of neat things and I’ve gotten to see God work in big ways. Yay! Let me tell you all about it.

Winter Camp
Samantha and I at camp.
Around the middle of January we invite the FOCUS ministries from every campus (UNT, TWU, TWU Dallas, UTD, Richland, Collin College both Spring Creek and Preston Ridge, NCTC, and UTA, that is :) ) to come together for 4 days for our annual Winter Camp. Camp is truly one of my favorite things in the world. This year, our speakers spoke on the Church (if you’re interested, check out their sermons here). I was so encouraged by what they had to say. One of the most memorable things coming out of camp was when Garrett, campus minister at Collin College, said that God uses broken people to heal broken people. That’s what the Church is! We’re all just beggars just telling other beggars where to find food. God’s redemptive work in His beloved Church is awesome and big and it’s happening right now! Gosh. On top of hearing speakers, our students participated in worship, got to bond over card games, play indoor volleyball, jump on a giant pillow, play outside, eat, laugh, dance, and learn from one another for the 4 days we were there.
I asked a girl in my Core, Samantha, to share about her experience at camp and this is what she had to say:

"Going to camp, I was excited. Returning from camp, I was free. Truly, I felt encompassed by the Holy Spirit throughout the entire weekend. I felt love toward everyone and equally felt that love back. I learned amazing insight by those with both great and tough life experiences. My camp experience encouraged me to break from the fear that has held me back and empowered me to be a fool for God. "

Tuesday morning at Preston Ridge
This semester at Preston Ridge has been so awesome! One of my big prayers going into this semester was that God would bring us more girls. We have a solid group of girls who have grown so much this semester and I am so beyond thankful for them in my life. But I’ve also been really encouraged to dream big and trust that God is capable of really big things, we simply have to ask Him! And let me tell you, IT’S BEEN GREAT. This semester already, we’ve been meeting so many girls, have had new girls come to be apart of our Core, new FOJ studies starting up, and generally more friendships being made. It’s been so cool to watch our girls reach out to their peers and invest in one another. I’m so proud of them and so thankful for the Spirit who is at work within them!

This month has been challenging for me for a number of reasons. If I had to describe my feelings about the Apprenticeship for the past month in only one word it would be refining. A lot of my friends who have done the FOCUS Apprenticeship told me that they felt this way. They experienced so much growth and shed many many tears in the process. I definitely believed them, but I was kind of in a place of “I’m doing fine. I know I’m going to grow but like… probably not that much.” Maybe that was coming from a place of pridefulness, maybe it was not believing God would have any interest in growing me, or maybe a mix of both. But MAN was I wrong!! All throughout the Apprenticeship, but this month especially, I’ve been face to face with my own issues, sin, and ways of thinking that are not honoring to God. I’ve come to the conclusion that I am hopelessly flailing about in life without Jesus, and I am totally desperate to simply be faithful to Him. I think I’ve experienced the many tears shed part, but I’m really hoping that God uses the remainder of my time as an Apprentice to refine me and grow me into the woman He wants me to be. But listen to this totally awesome fact: I’m not doing this alone! I have people surrounding me who care about me so much and who want the best for me. I am way too blessed by the amount of time, money, and emotional energy people have given me. Again, God uses broken people to heal broken people. Man, that is good news.

As always, thank you so much for joining me in this work. All of what I wrote is possible in big part because of how you’ve chosen to invest in this me personally and ministry in general. Please let me know how I can bless you.

I wanted to leave you with a song that has been a comfort to me through the Apprenticeship. Sometimes I doubt God’s goodness, I question why He’d want to work through me and draw me closer to Him. But I cling to this truth: “I may be weak, Your spirit’s strong in me. My flesh may fail, My God you never will”. I’m praying this song ministers to you in the ways it has ministered to me.

Much love,

On Sunday nights, a group of students goes running (It's called Running Club and it's really cool). Look at these sweet athletes!
Preston Ridge crew getting off the bus from camp
Two girls I've gotten to spend time with this semester made the decision to get baptized! This is Leenu...
And this is Ma'Jestic (in very poor quality mode). Join me in praising God for the work He's done to draw them close to Him!

Saturday, January 7, 2017


Happy new year! Here are some observations...
1. I'm currently sitting about two feet away from this space heater from the '80s that periodically makes the electricity in my apartment shut off. It's so worth it because it's negative degrees outside if you're calculating it in Celsius!
2. The holidays are most definitely over but I'm still listening to Christmas music.
3. I am officially more than halfway done with my Apprenticeship. What?! Time has flown by and it's  super bitter sweet!

I'm eager to begin another semester and hopeful for what God will do. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and got to spend some restful and purposeful time with family and friends. I had such a great end to the year, and I’m excited to tell you about it!

Our Apprentice Christmas party! We did secret Santa :)
I’ll start off with the most recent thing, staff retreat! All of us on FOCUS staff caravanned to Burnet, TX to spend some time preparing for the coming semester. We spent time worshipping God together, playing, enjoying yummy meals, and growing closer to one another before the busyness of another semester. We also spent time discussing a book together. During our break, we read The Signature of Jesus by Brennan Manning. This ministered to me so much and I highly recommend you pick it up! Every day a different staff person lead us in a discussion of a specific idea that Manning talks about. These conversations were truly life-giving to me and made me so excited to continue to invest in my relationship with our kind God, and made me even more eager to go out and do His work on campus!

One of my favorite parts from that book was when Manning was reflecting on how much he wants to be able to present himself as worthy before God. He says “I still struggle to let go of the preposterous pretense that my paltry prayers, knowledge of Scripture, spiritual insights, tithing to the poor, and blustering successes in ministry endear me to God’s eyes. I resist the saving truth that I am loveable simply and solely because He loves me.” I loved this and I feel like this is something that God has been re-teaching me throughout my entire Apprenticeship. At the end of the semester, the Apprentices get to give a sermon to the rest of FOCUS staff with the subject “My Gospel”. An idea I talked about was the fact that God has told me specific things about Himself and how He views me, why would He have told me those things if they were not the truth? And it is true that He loves us, He’s the one who enables us to come before Him, and He died for us and loved us at our very worst. That’s so cool! I’m thankful that God has put this truth on my mind and is teaching me more about Himself!

Lastly, I wanted to talk about this month’s student testimony. Chiazo is one of my dearest friends, and her story is so encouraging to me. Her friendship has had such an impact on my life, and I know God will continue to use her obedient and loving heart to do His work. Thank you so much for investing in students like Chiazo through your investment in this community. I’m reminded more and more every day at what a special opportunity I have to work as a minister this year. I couldn’t do it without you all!
Click here to enlarge this photo if you're having a hard time reading it :)

One last thing, we've got our annual Winter Camp coming up on the 13-16th of this month. I'll talk about it more in depth in my next blog, but just know it's the BEST. It's such a fun time for our students and staff! Please pray that the students that come would encounter Jesus as they never have before. Please also pray that God would receive all the glory for all the good that will come from this camp. I'm so excited for our students to experience it!

Love you so much,

Here are some pictures for you to enjoy!

Core Cookie decorating... This picture is awkward but sweet, kinda like our Core
I got to dress up as a snowman for a Christmas party in New Orleans! It's a long story...
Preston Ridge students at our "Awkward Family Photos" Christmas Party

Exam week outreach at Preston Ridge!