Monday, December 1, 2014

Holiday Cheer

I wish I could share with you everything that has happened in November because I just feel like it has been such a challenging and encouraging month.  I definitely can't, so I'm going to pick and choose just a few things to talk about.  First, I want to ask: how has ministry impacted you?

I would like you to think about this question for a second.  I'm assuming it has, otherwise you wouldn't be interested in reading this.

Without ministry I would be in a much different place.  I'm not really sure if I would have graduated college or would even be alive right now.  I was making some pretty stupid, dangerous decisions in high school.  What was worse, no one really knew about them except for me.  To the world I seemed fine.  I ran cross country.  I was on science bowl.  I finished high school with a full year of college credit.  But I can tell you underneath all of that there was a chaos and destructiveness even I didn't fully understand.  God really did change all that, and he used campus ministry to do it. I've seen so many lives changed just like mine, and it just amazes me over and over again what God can and is willing to do.  Now each of those people is out there impacting others for God in the same way they were impacted.  That is just so cool to me, and I think that is what college ministry is all about.  We get to impact so many different types of people: jocks, loners, fraternity and sorority people, atheists, muslims, international students, and the list could go on and on.  The possibilities are endless.  Once students are impacted, the gospel never stays with them.  They become compelled to share it with as many people as they can.  It isn't just the school that becomes impacted, but families as well.  The families the student has and will have.  FOCUS is doing its first annual fundraising initiative.  In order for us to keep growing and impacting students, we need money.  We need you to send out the video anyway that you can: Facebook, twitter, instagram, and especially email.  Email it to everyone you know who would be interested in keeping college ministry possible.  Thank you for all that you do, as well.  Without your belief and investment in college ministry, the people on these campuses would have a lot less people working to bring them closer to God which is such a sad alternative reality.  You have already made such a difference to these students.

On a lighter note, I hope your holidays went well.  I got to spend Thanksgiving with my brother which was a lot of fun, then I flew home to Amarillo to spend time with my dad, stepmom, and sister.   It was a very busy break, but I think it was exactly what I needed to keep me going until Christmas break.  Ugh, I can't even believe Christmas break is so close!  We just had our last Friday night FOCUS before we left for the Thanksgiving break, and we're having our Christmas party on Friday, December 5th!  This semester has literally flown by.

So I want to share a really cool story with you about our outreach.  The last week we were doing our questions on display boards at TWU it was so incredibly cold.  It was just going to be Kaitlyn and I standing in the cold, so we weren't really sure if we wanted to switch to campus conversations.  We thought not a whole lot of people would have stopped since it was so cold outside.  Well people did stop, and we also had the most student help with working the boards at TWU since we started in August.  While we were all trying to engage people, this girl stopped and hung around for a little bit, trying to read what all the boards said.  I asked her which board she was going to pick as most challenging to her, and we started talking about her faith.  I ended up getting her number and inviting her to our TWU FOCUS that night.  One of our other students, Adriana, did a similar thing, and we had two girls from outreach come to our FOCUS that night.  They both attended FNF, too.  It was just so incredibly cool to see what happens just by showing up and being faithful with what you're given.

Another thing I'd like to share is what we are doing in Ronnie's class.  We just finished reading all of the gospels, and we are working on sermon's that explain the gospels in our own words.  We are basically answering the question I asked you previously, and I can tell you it is not an easy question to formulate an answer for.  Having this assignment has been so good, yet so challenging because I've had to sit down and think through why I do and believe what I do.  Some scary questions can occur when you look deeper into Christianity.  There are a lot of inconsistencies or unknown subjects that seem so important, and this year Ronnie has really helped us ask those scary questions while navigating us to the important answer: Jesus is Lord.  Writing this sermon has just helped consolidate all the thoughts, fears, emotions, and convictions I've come away with since becoming a Christian.  I'd highly recommend for you to think through what your own gospel is if you haven't already.

Lastly I want to share an encouragement I received.  So at the beginning of the month I was just under $300 short a month.  I had so many stressful things going on that fundraising had changed from this gift from God to something else I had to worry about.  I asked God to help me out and show me who he wanted to join his team.  His response was someone showing up at my house and asking me if I still needed supporters.  I literally had to do no work!  I'm still $200 short, but God helped me change my thinking pretty darn quick.  I know money is probably about to get really short for you with the holidays coming up, so I hope this reminder I received helps you as well.  God will provide, so go ahead and be generous:)

Well that is all I have for you.  Thank you for reading.  I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and safe travel!  See you again next month:)

Saturday, November 1, 2014

What a busy month!

October was such a busy month! We had fall retreat, we made the new boards for questions on display, we had all church leadership conference, and we finished off the month with a Halloween Bring Your Own Friend outreach event.

Our retreat went great.  I had two core girls go, and they loved it.  Ann Haven and Karla's core also had two girls go, so in total we had 8 girls from TWU at camp!!!!!  My core girls went back and told the rest of the core how great of a time they had, and the girls are now excited for Winter Camp.  We've been announcing that camp since we finished Fall Camp, and I think we are going to have double the girls go to that one.

We built new Question on Display boards, and I think they are turning out perfect.  We picked 6 themes, and we found one challenging verse Jesus said about that theme.  Then we asked people which was the most challenging.  We had people rate which one was the most challenging by placing a button in a jar next to the verse they picked.  The boards caused people to have to stop and look at all the verses which kept them around longer.  It made it so much easier to talk to them.

The leadership conference was so encouraging.  Having all the churches and focus groups together made me see how much God was working.  This community started off small with a big vision, and we have expanded so much.  It just really made me realize God can do anything with anyone.  We just have to be willing to follow.  We watched two awesome videos about getting people to catch the vision.  One of them was about repetition and how we need to not only repeat it verbally, but also with our actions.  He made a great point that if something fails it is because our strategy failed, not our vision that failed.  If we really believe our vision is from God, then it can only be refined.  The second video talked about how we need to go out and do stuff.  He made this analogy between sports and christians.  Sports players start out in a huddle, discussing their tactics and plays, but they do this with the sole purpose of playing the game.  It would be totally bizarre if the team just stayed in the huddle the whole time, and they never went out to play the game.  He made a point that christians often only ever stay in the huddle.  We are meant to be players on Gods team, but we never really join the game.  As leaders we need to be pushing people out of the huddle.

Lastly to share is our Halloween BYOF outreach event.  It was so challenging learning how to think through all the small details.  The interns were in charge of getting that planned and executed.  None of us had ever thought through all the steps it takes to throw a party, make an event budget, or work an event that large.  It was so great to be able to get that experience.  I think it really made me gain respect for all the people who help with making our camps and events a success.  My core girls and I dressed up as beanie babies.  The girls at TWU are really starting to form a community, and it so great to see.  I think the event was a success; it really allowed the students to come together and mingle.  I saw the TWU girls not only interacting in there own small community, but finally start branching out into the larger UNT community.  The event was split between four houses.  Each house had its own theme: dancing, creepy tv, s'mores, and games.  I was in charge of the dancing house, so I didn't see much of what was going on in the other houses.  We had so many people coming into the dancing house, so I can only imagine how many more people were in the other houses.  I'm so thankful people in our community were willing to let us borrow their houses for a night, so we could make that outreach event happen

I wanted to end by just thanking you for making all this happen.  None of this ministry would be possible without people who had caught God's vision and believed this community was fulfilling a small part of it.  Because people were willing to invest with their time, finances, and prayer into this community, God has been able to work wonders.  I'm just so glad I get to see a small amount of the cool things God is doing.:)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

October Already??

I feel as if this year has flown by.  I can't believe that it is already October.  I've done two full months of the internship with only eight months left.  I've been blown away by what I'm learning already, and I think we've only scratched the surface.  I can't even describe how blessed I feel to be getting to learn these things in classes with these amazing staff members, and then get to go out and do campus ministry as my job.  I can't even thank you enough for help making this year a possibility for me and investing in me either with time, money, or prayers.  It is only our third month, yet I know this experience will be life altering.

I'm so excited about the things that are going on at TWU.  We have two girls cores with about 10 girls in each.  Our men's core has about 10 guys as well.  THIS IS SO COOL! This is only the second semester that we've been an official student organization there. I can't  wait to see how God continues impacting this campus.  Next week we are having all the cores come together to worship and commune.  I ask that you keep this event in your prayers.  We are really trying to build a community at TWU and emphasizing the importance of being in a body of christ.  This joint core is an awesome opportunity for us to share this vision with the students.  We also have fall camp coming up which is another opportunity for the students on this campus to invest in these ideals.

On another note, our outreach efforts on the Denton campuses have been going really well. Our theme these past two weeks is "God is...," and I think the students have enjoyed engaging in deeper conversations with their campuses.  The picture below is of a few responses from UNT students.  We actually had two boards, and we had to erase the boards several times because so many students were willing to write a response!

Lastly I want to talk about my intern classes.  These have been my favorite part of the internship so far.  I think they have really challenged my way of thinking.  I've learned so much about myself and my way of thinking, and I can't even imagine what more can change in the coming months.  In Ronnie's class we actually got to do our first five minute sermon over Matthew.  This is what I wrote:
So today I wanted to talk a little about expectations.  Amy actually spoke about this over the summer, and I haven’t really gotten the idea out of my head yet.  I feel like this theme of expectations vs. reality is very prominent throughout Matthew, so it was really hard for me to choose just one of the passages to talk about.  I finally landed on Matthew 26: 31-35.  It says:

Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you in Galilee.”  Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will” “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you” And all the other disciples said the same.

My first reaction to this verse is Peter and those disciples are such idiots!  They said this, but a few passages down they all end up denying their Messiah!  Lately I’ve felt as if there was something more to this, though.  Which led me to my first question:
What was Peter thinking?
I think this verse really shows that Peter: cares about Jesus, believes in Him, and really thought that he was willing to die along Jesus if it came down to it.
So how could He say that, and then deny Jesus?
Well I think Peter was scared.  He had spent all his time with this man for several months if not years, seen him do miracles and drive out demons.  He believed in his authority.  But now he was seeing him being beaten, mocked, and cursed.  His messiah was now about to hang on the cross.  This wasn’t the way he has expected things to end.  The questions I imagine Peter asking himself are “was that all even real? Was I wrong for trusting him? What does that mean for all of us now?”  I think the experience God work book would say this has led Peter to a “crisis of belief”.

My second question then was how do our expectations influence our faith?

As you all know fundraising is challenging, but extremely rewarding.  This was my first experience really letting God take control.  I had this assumption that if I was really doing what God wanted of me, He was going to do something miraculous.  I had only been a Christian for three years; I knew my family wasn’t going to be able to support me, and I didn’t have a whole lot of other people to turn to and ask for support.  In my mind I knew fundraising was going to be hard, but I had this subconscious expectation that I was going to struggle a little bit then God was going to do something big. Well I struggled a lot.  This summer was one of the most difficult summers I may have ever had.  I worked all the time.  I was tired, and I became discouraged quickly.  I really began to question whether God was real or not.  I wasn’t sure if I trusted him to follow through.  This was a big request; one that only he was going to be able to fill.  Towards July I really had to re-evaluate this underlying assumption and get a clearer image of how God operated.  I had to trust that he is lord, that he had things under control and was working, even if it didn’t seem that way to me- just like Peter.  In my case and in Peters, it was in difficult situations where our expectations of how God worked challenged our belief.

Lastly I wanted to end with another question: how are you letting your expectations influence you and your faith?
I don’t think this is a question you can answer right now and maybe not even one you can answer within the following months, but it is a good one to continually have running through your brain.  At some point you are going to be influenced by your expectations in a negative way, and you will be faced with a choice, just like Peter.  You can deny God or trust that He is in control no matter what. 

Again I want to thank you for all your support, and I want to ask for one final prayer request.  I'm still fundraising, and I'm about $300 short a month.  I just ask that you really pray that God provide people who are willing and able to meet that need.  I also ask that you pray that I am able to trust that he has that under control, along with everything else.  Thanks:)

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

All The Cool Things

Hi friends,

I just wanted to fill you in on all the awesome things that have been happening lately.  The past two weeks we had welcome week for Texas Woman's University, and this was our first fall with student leaders on the TWU campus! We became an official student organization last spring, so this fall we hit the ground running. The fall semester is a crucial time to reach out to students,  so this was particularly exciting.  We were all pretty unsure on how many students would want to be in a core there.  We had so many girls respond that we had to make another core time, though!  I really just can't wait to see what God has in store for that campus.

The first picture is of myself and two TWU women leaders, Ann Haven and Andrea Navarro.  The second picture is of all the interns this year.  Kaitlyn Wests parents invited us over for a cookout, and we had an awesome time just getting to know each other better.  The new interns spent the first two weeks of the month spending our days up at the church reading the Old Testament from 9 am until 5:30 am.  It was great getting to spend time with each other, but we didn't get a whole lot of opportunities to talk or get to know each other.  It was really nice just being able to spend time with the people I feel like I'm going to grow most with this year.  

Another really awesome thing I want to share is corefa retreat.  We had all our leaders get together, so we could encourage one another and talk about the year.  Focus started off as this really small thing on one campus, and this weekend we had over 100 corefas from 6 different campus' there! Gosh, God can do some awesome things. I got to have a pretty cool conversation with one of the leaders about how God got us to where we are now.  He said that a few years ago he would have never imagined being a leader in this student ministry, but God gave him the right challenges necessary to lead him down this path.  That conversation really made me look back at my life and consider how God lead me to him.  I would really encourage you to think back on your life and see God's handiwork on how he's gotten you from point A to point B.

The picture below was taken by one of the student leaders, Charles Guo, of the leader retreat.

I hope you were encouraged by some of the things shared.  God is doing some really awesome work, and I feel so blessed to be a small instrument in it.  Thank you for your support and for allowing me the privilege to have this job,


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Year Has Begun-August is here

Hi all,

I just wanted to start by saying I'm so glad you are reading this.  That means that you have chosen to support me in some way during this year, and I don't take that blessing lightly.  You are making this internship possible through your generous contributions of money, time, and prayer, and I am incredibly grateful for you.  Thank you!

Well I think I want to start off with telling you about staff retreat.  All of our staff went up to Sulphur, Oklahoma on Sunday and stayed in a cabin there until Tuesday.  It was an amazing experience.  I think it helped kick off the year in such a positive way.  I was a little nervous going on the retreat because there was a lot of staff I didn't know.  I felt so welcome, though, and I felt like I really got to grow more comfortable and connect with more of the people I would be working with this upcoming year.  It was also great just being able to come together as a staff and pray over all the campus', and discuss our vision for them this year; even though we are on different schools, it is still amazing to me that we can be so unified with this central cause of ministry.  During the retreat I found out I'll be working on the TWU campus as a core facilitator. I'm very excited to now be working on the TWU campus.  I think it is going to be very different from being at UTD, but I think that is also a good thing in some ways.

I also wanted to let you know that I've officially moved the Denton.  The move went really well, and I've really enjoyed my new roommates thus far.  I'd like to ask that you pray for this transition, though.  Being in a new city still seems very daunting, and I have new roommates who I don't know super well.  Pray that I can handle that transition gracefully and be a good roommate.  

Again, I just want to thank you for your support, and I hope this blog can be an encouragement to you.