Goodbye Felicia aka 2020

Monday, January 18, 2021

 Goodbye Felicia aka 2020

I’m sure I’m with everyone when you can lovingly blow 2020 a kiss goodbye. 

While 2020 was an incredibly hard year, so much good has come out of it. We’ve gotten to reflect a lot, grow in our capacity to love, practice grace, and develop an even deeper care for one another. I grew a deeper love for God’s community and being with one another. I pray that you also had a growing introspective year. 

Before we jump into 2021 and the school year starts, I want to catch you up on what’s been going on around Richland! 

  1. Santa clause came to town! We had a Christmas party for our students that my buddy Bridgett and I had the honor of planning! We had so many students show up (well so many in a covid year) we were able to accommodate spacing to have a safe party! We had a special service that we were able to invite some of our students to partake in planning. Sayuri has been wanting to participate in worship so she put a little choir together (it was so fun to see how excited they were!). We asked a few students to share a worship thought about the birth of Jesus and they did an incredible job! They stood in boldness and ministered to one another! I was so proud of them!
  2. We wrapped up Core’s for the semester and the apprentices did their sermons. They did an incredible job sharing the gospel has impacted their lives. These stepmoms are testimonial and it always amazes me how one story can find it’s way into the hearts of all people. That God loved his children so much, he made himself available to us. 
    My roomie got engaged!!

    I turned 26 (crazy) and a few gal pals hung out around a camp fire with me! 

  3. While our students are gone we get a two week break for Christmas to reset before the semester starts again. My break was so incredibly restful, and on brand with 2020, very reflective. I spent time praying and thinking over the semester. I ended the semester feeling a bit overwhelmed at some of these different areas of growth that I have, how some of my girls are struggling still benign vulnerable, that no matter how bad I want something for someone in ministry they have to want it for themselves. This reflection time allowed me to see how God was moving in these things. Kind of reminds me of when you pull out into a birds eye view and are able to see the whole Forrest instead of just a single tree. I got time with old friends and just rested in the slowness. 
    Christmas with my sweet cousins!

I’m so excited for this upcoming semester! Please be praying for our students as school is just around the corner. Richland is closed again this semester so please be praying that God will do his thing in connecting us to more students. We’ve been working on partnering with the student life office to find ways to meet new students. Please pray for our students to continue to find opportunities to minister to one another and to grow in boldness. 

I’m so thankful for you💓

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spooky szn

Monday, November 16, 2020

 Hello! October came and went like a ghost. To be honest that was way funnier in my head. I don't know about you but with COVID, my roommates and I put up Halloween decorations up the last day of September and out Christmas stuff up as soon as Halloween was over. Who needs holiday rules!

These are some of my core girls. We recently went to downtown garland during core because we thought they had state fair food, only to find out that was something they did 2 months ago. In a way, it was kind of sweet for our girls to have the chance to just hang out and be in a different setting. I think sometimes I forget that God can work in mundane things like walking around the Garland square. 

When this school year started, it was so different than what we knew. So much of our normal day to day was so different but God has been so faithful! The other week, randomly, Richland sent out an email telling the students about our organization and we had a bunch of new people reach out to us! 

If you could also be praying for me, I was in a wreck last week. I'm okay, the other car is okay, but unfortunately, my car is totaled. I didn't meet my fundraising goal of $3000 a month by August, so I am already on a pretty tight budget. I am kicking back up on fundraising and trying to raise another $1000 a month, if you know anyone who is passionate about college students knowing God, please let me know. If you feel lead to increase your giving, I would love to talk to you more about that. I would not be able to do this job if it wasn't for your support, I am so thankful for that and I hope you know that! 

Here's a snapshot of this past month! 

My roommates and I dressed up as Wizard of Oz and won the group contest at our churches kid's fundraiser.
My roommates and I dressed up as Wizard of Oz and won the group contest at our church's kid's fundraiser. It was so sweet getting to support our Jam kiddos and help them raise money for camp this summer! 

We had a masked Halloween party after TNT last week and it was so much fun! Our students sang karaoke and ate treats and just laughed together. 

This is my buddy, Katelyn. I've actually known her for years from when I was doing teen ministry. She grew up in the Northeast church and is now in FOCUS. Her mom was one of the people who was involved when FOCUS first started! I Love being her friend. 

This is my buddy Dayo! He is a student at Richland and is also attending UNT. He loves God and has been pushing himself to reach out to people. Dayo can let fear get in his way of reaching out but God has called him to surrender that fear! So proud of him and the way he is pushing himself to be like Christ. 

This past month I had the honor of being in my friend's wedding! This wedding was so special to me because not only is Sarah Beth (the bride) a good friend of mine, but her husband Colton has been like a brother to me. We all met in our youth group and have been close friends for 7-8ish years now. We've done a lot of growing up together and have experienced a lot of difficult things. They both love God and I'm excited to see how God continues to use them. I love them a lot! 

Prayer request 

- School is so different for our students, they are completely on their own, they don't even get video lectures. This is making getting their school work very difficult. Many of our students are international students and have to keep up a certain GPA to maintain their scholarships. They are pretty stressed and most of them are early in their college careers and don't know how to study well. 

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In an online world

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Hello! I feel like at the beginning of every month, I'm shocked at how quickly the previous month ended. In some ways, time flies in campus ministry, and in other ways is slower than molasses. 

I've finished my first month at Richland. It has been so exciting for students to be back in a more official capacity! But I'd be lying if I said August was all peaches and rainbows. While we've had to transition a good chunk of our ministry online at the beginning of COVID, there was a part of me that believed this would all go away by the time school started back up. We all know that hasn't been the case. Richland announced at the end of the summer that they would be completely online and that the campus would be closed. How do we do campus ministry during a pandemic when the school is completely online? I asked myself this question over and over. How do we meet students? How do we get them involved in core? A few of our students don't have transportation, how can they get to core? So much was unknown. 

I started praying, God let your will be done. If just 3 people come to FOCUS, you want those 3 people to know you just as much as the 100 we might have met getting to be on campus. We had an online welcome week where a few new people came to different zoom events we had. We reached out to a few hundred people on Instagram and showed up to any online event the university had. It felt discouraging at times. Our student leaders are awesome and time and time again, the staff found ourselves so encouraged by how faithful these students have been. They are so excited to be leaders, and most of them are first-year leaders. They are willing to do anything and everything to reach out to students on campus. They have caught the vision for what it can be like to share the good news on their campus and they deeply want to facilitate a family environment within the ministry. 
I am seriously so thankful for them. 

I recently read an article in Christianity Today and I found this quote (and the article) to be really helpful, 

"The COVID-19 crisis merely confirms what Christians should already know: Ever since the Fall, life has never been “normal,” and the days have always been unnaturally evil (Eph. 5:16). Satan, this world, and our sinful flesh continually conspire to distract us from God’s call on our lives. Yet his grace still empowers faithful Christians—inside and outside of classrooms—to seek God’s companionship, to know his mind and designs, and to accomplish His purposes in this world."

The article left me thinking, what's something you have you stopped pursuing/ grown in because of COVID? What is God wanting me to learn that I am missing because I'm so focused on myself, my fears, and blaming it all on COVID? I encourage you to sit and ponder this question. 

The 2020-2021 Richland Leader Team!
The 2020-2021 Richland Leader Team! 
from top left: Erika, Bridgett, Sayuri, Dayo
from bottom left: Sandra, Me, and Sirak

we had a social- distance back to school kick off at a park near the campus. We had so many students from last year show up! it was an awesome event! It was really encouraging to see how gear our students were to be back together again. While COVID is making everything different, something I think it has had us do is slow down and practice intimacy with God. I keep being encouraged and reminded that this year might just be teaching that to our students. to slow down and just be with God, be with his community. To commune with him and his word. 

Here are some more sweet pictures from that event! 

We had our first "real" Thursday night fellowship nights, or Thursday Night Thunder, as Richland calls it and it was equally encouraging! When having an open sharing time, many students talked about loving FOCUS's family feel. It was really exciting to hear referring to the ministry as a safe, family style place so early on in the year! Once again, God is breaking down my expectations and replacing them with something even better. 

I continue to hear him say be faithful. 
be faithful. 

- Please be praying for outreach. With Richland being all online, we have to get really creative. Please pray for boldness for our students, they they would rest in the freedom of the spirit when they reach out to their classmates online and not the fear of being awkward. 
- Please be praying for our cores (small groups). These small groups are a big part of our ministry and we are trying to do these as safely as possible. Please pray that our small group leaders will be bold and be faithful with God has given them. It's easy to measure success by numbers. Please pray that they would see success as following God's will and never by trying to be impressive. 
- Please be praying for the safety of our ministry. We are having our students social distance, wear a mask, and follow other CDC recommended guidelines so we can still be together. 
- Please also be praying for the emotional safety of our students. So many of them are alone and don't have much interaction with the school being closed. Most of our students live at home and might not be able to come to any of our in person events. God created us to be communal beings. We were made to be together. Please pray that they will be quick to move their feet and talk to one another. 
- Please pray for the girls that I am meeting with this year. That they would come to know God and be shaped by him
- Please pray fo ray fundraising! I am $400 a month away from my minimum goal of $2500 a month! God was so faithful and I believe he will provided the rest. If you know anyone who would be interested in partnering with me in ministry, please let me know! 

I'm so thankful for your partnership and I am excited to share with you the neat things God is doing at Richland College! 

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Welcome to the home of the Thunderducks!

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Happy July!! I hope you had a great and restful Fourth of July weekend! I spent it with my roommates in the sun and being very very emotional watching Hamilton for the first time.

N E X T  Y E A R
On another note, I have some exciting news for this upcoming school year.
I'M GOING TO RICHLAND COLLEGE!! I will be joining our Dallas ministry staff team as a campus minister at Richland College! I am seriously so excited!
UTD was such a special place for me. I was challenged in so many different ways- from the students and the staff. God really used UTD to push me out of my comfort zone. Looking back at my core, we had a pretty diverse group of girls, ranging from different church experiences, temperaments, ethnicity, and even just interest. At UNT, most of the people I interacted with had almost all the same interests. I had to learn to push past my comforts in so many ways at UTD. I will miss that school and the students so much. I am so proud of them.
I am so excited for the chance to get to work with this team and the students at Richland.  I really discovered God when I was a student at a community college, so I have always had a soft spot for our community colleges. In some ways too I feel like I will get to experience some of teen ministry again. Richland has a high school program so we will not only reach out to college students, but also teens. God has been doing really cool things at Richland over the last few years and I am so honored I get to join in on what He is doing there!
This is from Winter Camp last January. The two sweet humans in the back are my new co-workers/ besets buddies! Sirak, the campus director, will be my supervisor so we will meet weekly throughout the year and Sandra runs the woman's side of the ministry and kills it! I'm so excited to get to work with them in the fall! 
This is Richland at Fall Camp this past year! I'm looking forward to getting to work with these students!

This past month was filled with all the zoom, FaceTime, and social distance dates! We are still live streaming FOCUS every Thursday nights and we have campus specific zooms our students can join for small group discussions. Campuses are slowly trying to figure out what they are going to do in the fall. this is such an interesting season to experience.

 "So You Want to be like Christ" by Charles Swindoll states that to have intimacy with God, we must have discipline. A few girls and I have been reading through this book during our weekly time together. I feel like God is asking me to be faithful with him in this time. The area of discipline feels harder and harder as time goes with being stuck at home. As I have been going through this book with my girls, I recognize some of the beauty of being at home more, getting more opportunities to practice these spiritual disciplines and commune with God. Just getting to spend more time with the girls I meet with in scripture, really mulling though what God is thinking about things. There's a beauty there. One that is so easy to miss. This intimacy with God we are all craving. As I try to rest in the stillness, I invite you into it as well. There is a sweetness of just being with God.

Thank you so much for your support! I am still fundraising and honestly have been struggling. I know God is good and has set out before me. If you know someone who would be interested in partnering with me in ministry, I'd love to share what God is doing at some of our local colleges!

As the schools are deciding what to do in the Fall, please be praying for our students. God created us to be together in community and some of student's are really struggling. Some of them live alone, live with complicated family relationships, or just miss their christian community.

Big hugs!

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surf's up in campus ministry

Thursday, June 18, 2020

I love summer. I love the was the sun feels on my face when I'm outside. I love the feeling of jumping in a pool in the heart of the day. I love the cookouts, late night ice cream runs. People's schedule slow down and you just have time to be with each other. With COVID, some of these things are harder than others, but I am still finding joy in the sweet things in life. 
Last month, our students wrapped up their school work and officially went on summer break. In a weird way, it seems like they have been in summer school for 3 months now with COVID. I don't have many pictures due to the fact that I meet with all my people over the phone or zoom now but I did want to share about two girls I had the chance to meet with this past year! 

This past month both Rebecca and Cathryn finished FOJ! Getting to study the Bible with these girls has been so sweet. They both grew up in church and showed a lot of leadership potential when they first came into the ministry. 
I've seen Rebecca grow out of her fears throughout our time together this past school year. I challenged her to grow in boldness and she really took that challenge and ran with it. She started having harder conversations with her friends, and deeply desired to continually point them to the cross. She has pushed herself to get over her fears of talking in front of people. Watching her push herself to do things that are uncomfortable to her has really ministered to me. She loves God and loves people. I'm so proud of her. 

When I first met Cathryn I was so impressed by the way she carried herself. She was engaging in conversation and excited to ask questions. Throughout the year I have watcher her prayerfully consider different things in her life and how she can bring glory to God. She was someone who was willing to deny herself and pick up her cross to honor God. During one of our times together in quarantine she shared with me how she was praying we would be able to go back to school because she couldn't wait to serve the UTD campus. She was so genuine in her heart to welcome future students and invite them in on this good gift God has given her! She also loves God and loves people and I am so proud of her. 
I wanted to share some about these girls with y'all because their stories are so exciting to me. They want the people around them to love God deeply. They along with some other really neat freshmen will walk back on the UTD campus in August expectant of what God is going to do in their life. That is good news! God is really working in their lives. They have been so faithful during COVID to our ministry and I'm excited for them to get to love up and share the gospel with UTD. 

What does campus ministry look like in the summer you may ask, well I am still meeting with students and we are doing live streaming our service Thursday nights. We recently started a book club to discuss the roles of a pastor. A good chunk of my time is spent fundraising for this upcoming school year. I am currently 68% fundraised for the year! I have been asking people to consider partnering with me like you have and if 10 people at $100 a month I will be able to reach my goal! Please be praying that God will put people in my life who are excited about campus ministry. If you know anyone who would be interested please let me know! I am so thankful for your continued prayers and support.
Because of our support, I was able to be in Cathryn and Rebecca's lives. While there was nothing special about me that changed their lives, I was a just a disciple on the campus that just listened to God and pointed them to the cross. 
 I am excited to continue to get to be apart of what God is doing at UTD!  

- Please be praying for our students. We are still doing online streaming and zoom groups and our numbers have dropped some. 
- Please be praying for the girls I meet with. Some of them are doing well and are really pursuing Jesus and community and some of them are pulling away from us and the rest of the community. 
- Please be praying for UTD and them planning for the upcoming school year. I couldn't even imagine having to make some of these choices. I so want to go back to campus and have everything be "normal" but I know we're not where we were and I want to be a good steward of that. 
- Pray for FOCUS as we are starting to try to get even more creative with ways to engage our students. Please be praying that we will do what is best for our students not just physically during this time of being separated but spiritually. 

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It's gunna be May

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

We had a social distance worship night in a Walmart parking after our last focus (following CDC guidelines). This is pretty much the only picture I have from May since we've been doing everything online. This is my roommates Emily and Meg. They love God fiercely and I was so moved to see Emily knelt at the feet of Jesus, praising God amongst the craziness of life. 

You know how they say, time fly's when you're having fun? what about time fly's when you're having fun, laughing, crying, and seeing God work? The apprenticeship is wrapping up and in some ways I feel like we just started and that it's been 3 years. God has really worked these past ten months. I feel like he continues to show me a life I never knew I could have.

Starting the apprenticeship, I let my negative emotions rule my life, I didn't think about how my negativity could affect the people around me, I let my lack of discipline rule my life.  I didn't know how to talk about it I felt stuck in these cycles and couldn't get out. I remember praying before the apprenticeship, that God would somehow pull these things in to the light and that I wouldn't be able to hide in them anymore. And he did. Throughout the apprenticeship, God was pushing and reshaping me, and I'm not going to lie, it felt painful. It still feels painful. But I've seen this freedom and I want it. I want the fullness of God. I want God to be able to use me and transform me. I want God to use me to share the gospel with his children. I want to be free from the bondage of sin and live in the freedom of God.

I want God to do these same things for the students at UTD. I want the girls I'm ministering to to experience this freedom. I want them to know the power of the gospel. I can see a life for them. I believe that God has given me a vision for them and I want to see God move in their lives.

This is the best job. I never thought i'd stay in full time ministry but God has a way of surprising us. This work is so meaningful to me. I believe in it. I get to watch God transform college students. I get to watch students exchange lies for truth. I get to watch students lean into the gospel and let God wreck the chains Satan has put on them.
You get to do this too.
I will never have the words to describe how thankful I am for your support. This support you give me is such a gift. You have a hand in these students life. You are apart of this vision God has.

Thank you for everything.

Prayer Request:
As I move onto full staff, I am fundraising support for this next year. This is something I have found myself being anxious about. There is something so vulnerable and humbling to come to people and ask them for money. I have to remind myself I'm not doing this for me but for God. I want to be the girl living in his freedom, not the girl who believe lies. Please pray that I would continue to remember who God says he is.
Please pray for the girls I have spent all school year with. Like so many people, being stuck at home has been hard for their emotional health. Please pray Rebecca, Carolina, Bailey, Anna, Elli, Isabelle, Jessica, and Kiree continue to pursue God during this time. Please pray that they will live in the light of his truth and continue to build relationships with each other.
Please pray for FOCUS and that this summer God will give us guidance on how to "re-enter" being on campus well.
Please pray for churches and for people ho are struggling worshiping God being at home and not in community.
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In All Things, he is Still Good.

Monday, April 6, 2020

"I thank my God every time I remember you.  In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now,  being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." - Philippians 1:3-6

I feel so blessed. The month of March was crazy, in such a good way. God has been too good to me. I fell like the end of February to the middle of March, God was pruning me. If you know me, you know that I love plants. With plants you have to water it the right amount, not too little not too much, feed it, and prune it. If you don't do these things well, certain parts of the plant will get infected, which then, leads the whole plant to die. 
I feel like God was doing that in me. Taking those selfish desires of the flesh that separated me from God. Isn't it crazy that the God of the universe, the one who created the cosmos, wants to know us and have a real intimate relationship with us? Praise God! 

Before the craziness of COVID-19, I had the sweetest opportunity the go on a girl's trip with my Peer Team. Peer Team is where two sets of small group leaders (corefa's- CORE FAcillitaors) and a Core staff member. We meet weekly and I have been so blessed with the time I've had with them. They have become such sweet friends! we went to the beach (which is my absolute happy place!) and had such a restful trip. 

Siena (my cofa), Kylie (my roomie), and Emily (my future roomie) and I begged Mandy to take us to my fav coffee shop in Orange Beach. Mandy, my supervisor, is so thoughtful. Time and time again I've watched her go above and beyond to do the things other people like because she knows it's important to them. She is so kind and I'm thankful to have a woman of God like her in my life. 

While we were gone, things started to get worse with COVID, so our church started live streaming and we got to watch church in the grocery store parking lot while Siena and Mandy grabbed a few things. It was so sweet to me to watch my church family worship together and join in from states away.

I could look at this view forever for the rest of my life. God"s creation is so good!

Like everyone else, things happened quickly. With social distancing to shelter in place, doing life as "normal" looks pretty different now. We moved everything online and moved pretty fast. I'm thankful l work with such creative, smart, and diligent people. Isn't it something to see God's people step us and serve people in such a time like this? I pray that this is a season where we get to really slow down and dive into deep intimacy with God. 
Our first leader meeting on Zoom!

Worship from our first ever live stream! peep my plants and decor (my big role for our fellowship nights is to moderate our chat and to decorate our garage stage). 

My time with the girls I'm ministering to has been so sweet! All the things that have been competing with their time have now diapered, they are way more engaging. I'm getting so much time with them.  
I've watched how my girls have pushed themselves to really know God. Rebecca, one of the girls in my small group who I've gotten to meet with this year, has been pushing herself so much this semester. I've been challenging her on being bold. We've had some hard conversations the last few weeks on what it looks like to be fully known by people, to dive into God's grace, and believe that she is overwhelmingly loved by God. I am so proud of her and how she has taken every challenge I've given her and has really asked God to transform her by the renewing of her mind. God is working, don't forget that! 
Please let me know how I can be praying for you at this time. If you need anyone to run errands for you, or anything, please let me know! 
Love y'all! 

  • For the freshmen who have been forced to move home. 
  • For the students who are alone on campus 
  • For our students who are going home to hard situations
  • For our ministry and moving things to an online platform
  • For our foj studies
  • For our local, state, and federal governments: God, help our elected officials as they allocate the needs in necessary resources for combatting this pandemic. Help them to provide more tests
  • For our scientific community, leading the charge to understand the disease and communicate its gravity: God, give them knowledge, wisdom, and a persuasive voice.
  • For Christian missionaries throughout the world, especially in areas with high rates of infection: God, provide them with words of hope, and equip them to love and serve those around them.
  •  For workers in a variety of industries facing layoffs and financial hardship: God, keep them from panic, and inspire your church to generously support them.
  •  For families with young children at home for the foreseeable future: God, help mothers and fathers to partner together creatively for the care and flourishing of their children. For single mothers and fathers, grow their networks of support.
  •  For parents who cannot stay home from work but must find care for their children: God, presents them with creative solutions.
  • For those in need of regular therapies and treatments that must now be postponed: God, help them to stay patient and positive.

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Love is in the air... the love of Jesus

Sunday, March 15, 2020

To be completely honest, this semester has been way harder than last. I heard a lot before I did the apprenticeship that it was going to be one of my hardest years, that I’d be grown and stretched out of my comfort zone, and boy were they right. I’ve been in a bit of strange funk and thankfully being pushed to look more like Jesus everyday. I’m really trying to surrender those self doubting thoughts to God and let him create a new creation in me. “Some trust in horses, others in chariots, but I trust in the name of my God” Psalm 20:7 (that was my memory verse last week so I hope I did it justice). I’ve been really trying to write the word of God in my heart. I want to be a disciple that leans into God and less on my own understanding. While this month has been hard, it has been a huge blessing. I’m thankful that we serve a God who wants us to know him. This week I’ve been praying over that Philippians 3:10 verse, I want to know Christ yes to know the power of his resurrection, the participation of suffering becoming like him and his death. I want to know God in it all. 

We did a joint core for Valentine’s Day and it was so sweet! A few girls in my core don’t get to go to a lot of large group events so it was so exciting for them to get to meet some of the other girls in the ministry. Something that’s been on my heart this semester is facilitating more of the relational aspect among our girls. They have friends and do life together but so much steals their attention and there are so many girls to get to know. I’ve tried to have bi-weekly girl hangs and empower out girls to do facilitate on their own too!

ERIN GOT MARRIED!!! It was the best day with the sweetest people. God has been so good to them and to our friend group. I got to spend the whole weekend with some of my favorite and closest friends. Erin has walked with me in a lot of hard seasons and is one of my favorite people. She’s easy to love and it was an honor to celebrate her.

My gal pal and fellow apprentice Jacy gave her first sermon at Collin and it was a treat to cheer her on!

This’s is one of our student leaders, Abby, who gave our giving talk the other week. Our student leaders are amazing and they serve our body so well. I’m so proud of them and so thankful for all of their hard work. 

for one of our after events, I planned a speed dating friendship style event. Students had 8-12 minutes to ask a question and they had to do it with someone they didn’t know every round.

S P R I N G    S H O W C A S E
Showcase is a big fundraiser night we put on to hello seems our students to a leadership conference up in Washington. It’s such a neat night filled with music, acting, and an awesome art show. I had the honor of donating some digital art this year! Two girls from my core have been invited to this conference (SICM). I get to study the Bible with one of those girls and God is doing really cool things in her life. My challenge for her this semester is to be more bold. She loves God and his people. I’ve been reminding her that God doesn’t give a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and sound mind. She has really taken this challenge and has been bold in her relationships, in our small group, and in our one on one time. She has opened up and has been practicing praying out loud and confession. I’m so proud of both of our girls and I’m so excited to see how God uses them. 
THE one and only concession team. 
 The awesome show!

Garvin is one of my buds from college, it’s always crazy to me that we’re now coming to these events as adults and not students. Josh ( to the right) and I are friends because of Garvin. Garvin kept telling me about this dude Josh and now we’re doing the apprenticeship together and have become good friends.

Thank you so much for all that you do!
Please be praying for our fundraising to send our future student leaders to SICM (the Leadership conference in Washington).
Please pray for the girls side of the ministry and that we would grow deeper in friendship and really give to live life our worth as many girls as possible.
Please pray for their spring break and that our students will be safe.
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All I want for Christmas is YOU!!

Monday, January 13, 2020

The end of the Semester came fast and furious. It's crazy to me that we are halfway done with the school year, I feel like I just got here. The month of December was quick but jammed packed.

The semester ended pretty quickly in December. Most of our students live far away or out of state so after the finished their finals, many of them went home. Before Finals week we had our big Outreach Christmas party. It was seriously so much fun that I forgot to take pictures. FOCUS teamed up with the Newman Catholic Ministry to put on this outreach event. It was so sweet to get to partner with another Christian group on campus and make Jesus known. We got funds for the school and got a good chunk of our food donated! We had such a huge turnout. We had Christmas karaoke, which was a huge hit and if you know me, you know I was in the front row singing along to every song. It was the perfect way to end our semester with our students.

Erin and I met some international girls from Taiwan as we were leaving and invited them to go to In and Out with us and a some other people. They thanked Erin and I profusely and shared that they were about to go back home and it was their dream to make American friends. It's so easy to forget that a simple invite or just stopping and talking to someone could be life-changing. It makes me so sad that they could have gone a whole semester before an American reached out to just say hi to them. I felt very challenged to go into this next semester being more aware of just talking to people while walking around on campus. It's easy to just have ministry moments chalked up to specific tasks and miss some sweet spirit lead moments.

During our student's final exam week, we had the apprentice sermons. Each apprentice gave a 20-minute sermon and received around 30 minutes of feedback time. It was such an incredible experience. Our topic was "This is my Gospel" we got to share how the gospel has changed our view on ourselves, God, and ministry. I talked about how the gospel gives me freedom, God is incredibly loving, and how the gospel charges us to advocate for others. I'm so thankful for the experience of giving my first sermon among a bunch of ministers who only want to see me succeed. I was so incredibly blessed to not only gove a sermon but to listen to my fellow apprentices share how the gospel has radically transformed their lives. And if that isn't good news, what is?

We got some time off for the Christmas break and it was so refreshing. I got o spend my birthday with some of my favorite people, hang out with friends I haven't seen in a while, and celebrate Christmas with my family. I'm ready to be back and to see our students! I miss them so much!

Winter camp is right aorund the corner, this is a winter retreat that we take our studnets to. This retreat is life changing and was actually the first FOCUS event I attended. Someone invited me and my life was forever changed.

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"Samantha??" - Olaf

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

I'll start this blog by confessing that I have seen Frozen 2 three times now. Okay now that we've gotten that out of the way I can share with you what God has been up tp at UTD! I'm seeing a reoccurring theme, the months seem to come and go in a blink of an eye and it's overwhelming to see what God is doing.

At the beginning of the month, we had our pizza theology. Pizza theology is a really neat event we put on for our students. FOCUS noticed a need to help our students exchange the scriptures on a biblical level. They were advancing in their academic career but still held an elementary level when it came to reading the bible. We do 2 hours of theology, an hour of a pizza dinner (classic CiCi's), and then another 2 hours of theology. This pizza theology Mary Poplin, who had the chance to work with Mother Teresa at Calcutta, discussed what it looks like to engage secular culture as a disciple. it was such an honor to get to hear from her. I was pretty challenged to think through what my relationship with money and possessions when it comes to serving the kingdom of God. I think I have this picture that I need to sell everything and live in my car to truly be a radical disciple. Ms. Poppin really encouraged me to just being where I am and what I didn’t have to do that to be a disciple.

Before Thanksgiving, we did a worship night and I snapped a few pictures of a worship activity where students picked a picture and wrote down what salvation delivered them.

This was one of my favorite responses.
God is so powerful! 

This is my sweet friend Siena and my co-leader (co-fa), Siena. Bailey has been coming to our small group since the third week of school. It’s been so neat watching her take her faith into her own hands. She recently got a new bible and has been so proud to carry it around and read out of it. During core, we announced winter camp and she quickly asked if she could sign up immediately. She said that if she did then she would be held accountable to go. I’m crazy excited for her to come and I’m super expectant if what God is going to do at camp through her. Please be praying that she is open to what God is doing and that she would be open to studying the Bible more. I can see her being a great leader when she decides to surrender to Jesus.

Elli, Siena, and Bailey!

This is my co-fa Siena. She is so awesome. I’m incredibly proud of her. She really loves people well and is willing to sacrifice the things the world tells us are important for the kingdom. She is so smart and I am honored that I get to co-lead with her. I hope to be as kind as her when I grow up. 

These are some sweet friends that I met while I was in focus. Now we’re growing up and people are getting married. It’s sweet that even though we’re done with college, we are still friends and getting to do exciting life events together. The first picture was taken in 2016 and all of Erin’s bridesmaids (besides 2) just so happened to be pictured here. We got to go help Erin find a dress. After finding her dress we took some time to pray over her which lead her stylist to tears. She told us she was encouraged by our friendship and wasn’t used to seeing people interact in that way. I so often forget how blessed I am to have friends who really love Jesus and love people well. God used FOCUS to teach us how to do life together and how to live freely in the community. I think that’s one of the things I’m most thankful for this thanksgiving. 

This is my sweet friend Sarah Beth, we’ve been friends since high school. I really love her a lot and her mom is about to be taken off life support tomorrow. Please pray for comfort for her and her family. They love Jesus and trust in God’s plan but it’s hard to lose a loved one.

-Please pray for my core. Pray that we would become true friends. That our group would love fiercely, speak truthfully, and carry each other's burdens. It has been such a blessing getting to love up on these girls and I have loved leading them. 
- Please pray specifically that fear of imperfection and grades will not riddle the girls in my core and at the greater FOCUS student body. I have seen satan had such a hold on the students in playing at their need to succeed and feel valued through their school work.
- Please pray for the apprentice group, that we would honor God with the things that we are learning and that we are faithful to what God has given to us.
- Please pray that the staff as a whole will see the needs of students and that we pursue them the way Jesus pursues them. 


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Spooky Szn

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

October came and went in a blur, a spooky blur. It was crazy and jammed packed!
The girls I'm studying the Bible with are so incredibly sweet. They are eager to learn about God and ask really good questions. I find it incredibly encouraging to know these sweet freshmen girls and knowing their heart for God. One of them, Rebecca, is a girl in my core and she can really set the tone for the group. I am so thankful that God put her in my life and in my core.  I know I can always count on her to engage and to share in core. She never misses and comes to everything she can. I am so proud of her!
This month was filled with so much joy! I've been reflecting a lot on how God has transformed people I know through FOCUS. At the beginning of this month, my best friend Erin got engaged. I met Erin at SICM (a week-long student ministry training intensive). We instantly became friends and spent every day together that summer. If we weren't working, she was at my house. We ended up living together and the rest is history! Erin didn't have much of a faith background and has been dating Jason since she was in high school. Watching them grow to know Jesus in their relationship and in their own life has been one of the sweetest stories I've gotten to witness. God has transformed their lives and I think he is so proud of them. I can't wait to get to walk alongside them on their wedding day and every day after that!
Jason and Erin got a surprise 3rd wheel at the end of this trip!

At the end of the month, I had the honor of being in my friend Kelsey's wedding. I met Kelsey my last year at Collin. She had been through so much and was so hurt. My heart hurt for her. I used to pray that God would help her to see his goodness and that she would come to know love and community. Kelsey surpassed my expectation of her. It's crazy how much God can transform someone when they are on his agenda. Through FOCUS, she was given a community, love, and friends. She met her now-husband in FOCUS. Her story is a complete God deal to me. We are nothing without him. She was such a beautiful bride and I am so proud of her.
2016 Kelsey and Ash
This is a small snippet from Kelsey's wedding! I love these 3 girls a lot! 
Of course, it would be a shame to left this wild story go to waste. Two days before Kelsey's wedding, I had to go to the ER. I had a cartilage piercing gone wrong that ruined my cartilage. Our sweet FOCUS admin and friend Hannah came and waited with me until my sweet mom could get there. I am all well and now it is a funny story!

At the end of the month, we had a Halloween outreach party that was canceled due to the weather. Our student leaders were so disappointed that two of them stepped up and planned a Halloween party at our church. They did such a great job! I was so proud of how they wanted to spend that time together and have a fun/ safe environment for their core's. They are such great students. I loved getting to work with them!
I meet every week with these girls and a core staff member. (from left to right: Emily, Sienna, me, and Kylie).
They have become such sweet friends!

-Please pray for my core. Pray that we would become true friends. That our group would love fiercely, speak truthfully, and carry each other's burdens. It has been such a blessing getting to love up on these girls and I have loved leading them. 
- Please pray specifically that fear of imperfection and grades will not riddle the girls in my core and at the greater FOCUS student body. I have seen satan had such a hold on the students in playing at their need to succeed and feel valued through their school work.
- Please pray for the apprentice group, that we would honor God with the things that we are learning and that we are faithful to what God has given to us.
- Please pray that the staff as a whole will see the needs of students and that we pursue them the way Jesus pursues them. 

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