Saturday, December 1, 2012

November at UTD

November was such a great month for me personally and for our ministry at UTD.  At the beginning of the month, Kelly, who was a FOCUS intern up at UNT last year and alum of UTD, baptized one of the international students in the core she participates in.  Enjoy the video!  

Bringing people to know Jesus is what it is all about!  There are so many studies still going so I can’t wait to see what God is going to continue to do.  Please continue to pray for all of these studies.  I know with all my heart that God answers our prayers that we lift up on behalf of people.  Jesus is changing lives.

Each week on Friday night at FOCUS we have had students share their testimony of how God has made them new.  This month I think that I literally wanted to cry (happy tears) after each one of them.  All of the students who have shared so far are student leaders this year.  What blows me away is how God continues to work in so many people lives, changing them to be more like Him, year after year.  Some learn to overcome the fear of shyness and selfishness and others get a heart for evangelism, but in all of them the Spirit is working. 

A couple weeks ago we got students from all 4 of our campuses together to do a lecture on sex and marriage. We called it Pizza Theology because we served pizza for dinner.  Ronnie and Brandon delivered that and did such an awesome job.  The week before and after that Casey and I did sermons on dating.  I think that over the years, FOCUS has done some really challenging sermons on dating.  The fruit of the challenging sermons and dating culture has been some really awesome marriages.  I pray that with pizza theology and these dating sermons, our current students will catch a vision of dating in such a way to have an amazing marriage.  Please lift up our students as they date, our current culture makes dating so difficult.

Thanksgiving was such a great break for me.  I feel well rested and able to tackle the busy month of December.  

With December here and the Christmas break ahead of us, I would ask that you especially pray for students as they go home.  For many of them, going home is great.  I have already heard of a handful of students though who are really worried about going home for a month.  Home is not a good place for them and they don’t have the Christian community there that they do here.  Please pray that these students will continue to seek God and can grow closer to Him over the break.

I have so many other things that I could tell you about but this is getting long.  God is so good!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

October Update (Because I am telling you about October.)

As each month goes by, there are so many things that I could share with you.  When I sit down and reflect on the month I can see all of the things that God is doing around me.  If I shared all of them, this would be a very, very long blog!

At the beginning of the month, Brandon and the campus pastor from Baptist Student Ministries at UTD, Beth, planned a meeting to get all of the campus ministers at UTD together.  That meeting was so encouraging to me because there isn’t a spirit of competitiveness for anyone’s ministry but a spirit of unity.  On a secular campus, unity is so important if we are going to reach this campus and show them Jesus.  There are so many students who haven’t been reached yet at UTD so I know God is going to do great things here.

In the middle of October, we got all the women leaders together for a meeting at La Madeline.  There are almost 30 of us when you get us all together!  We had desserts and then we went around and shared good news of what was going on in our personal life and ministry.  Every one of the women shared good news and that would be too long to write here.  But God is working in so many ways big and small.  We have international students who are asking to study the Bible during their first meeting with a corefa, non-Christian students getting to experience Christian community and friendship, women in cores opening up and sharing their lives with each other, new people wanting to be involved in studying the Bible with others in their core, and one of my favorites, 2 sophomores who are planning a mission trip for our ministry this summer because they had it on their heart to do so.  I really could go on and on!!

Please, Please keep praying for FOCUS.  When you think of the almost 20,000 students at UTD we are only scratching the surface of what is possible.  God has answered our prayers this year but I know he wants to do even greater things.  As the year goes on students get distracted, busy, and stressed.  Please pray for protection of those who are seeking God and wisdom and protection for the corefas.  Your prayers are so critical to the work we do!  God is so good and answers our prayers!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

September News from UTD

I cannot even begin to explain how excited I am about FOCUS at UTD this year!  On Friday nights in our large group we have had such a diverse group of people still coming.  The week before last, I looked around the room and over 30% of the people there were international students.  Many of them have no experiences of Christianity until recently.  We have had American students from various places on their spiritual journey.  Some are atheist or agnostic exploring Christianity and some with a strong faith just looking to be part of a Christian community.

This diversity is also flowing into our cores.  One core had 4 Americans and 15 women from China who all want to study the Bible! Another one of our women’s cores has only a couple of Christians and about 8 who are not yet Christian.  I could go on with so many stories from cores.  I could not be any more proud of this group of leaders and really ask you to continue to pray for them.  The needs they are filling are great and I know they feel such a burden because they love the women in their cores.

We had 153 people sign up to come to Fall Camp which we just got back from today.  I CAN NOT wait to hear the stories from the corefas about how people were impacted there.  I will share those with you when I write again.  It was a great weekend though!

I want to leave you with a scripture and some thoughts on it that we read in time of worship, prayer, and communion last night at camp. Revelation 4:9-5:14.  Renee Doty read part of this aloud to us last night and it brought such powerful thoughts to my mind and heart.  I wish I could share them all with you but I will keep it really short.  John weeps because no one is worthy to open the scroll when the elder tells him not to weep because the Lion of Judah has triumphed.  How powerful to think of Jesus as the Lion of Judah.  He is so great, powerful, strong, and fierce.  All sorts of thoughts like that come to my mind when I think of the Lion. BUT, when John turns to look at him he sees a Lamb looking as if it had been slain. This has to be one of the most powerful images to me in the Bible.  The elders sing a new song to him because he is worthy and with his blood he purchased for God all people.  Our God, the Lion of Judah, is a slain Lamb.  We serve a God like no other.  We serve a crucified God and we lay our crown before him.  “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power for ever and ever!”

Monday, September 10, 2012

I am literally so humbled by how great, awesome, marvelous and merciful that God is.  There are no words that can be used to describe Him.  The fact that He chooses to use me, sinful, imperfect, me to do great things, literally blows my mind.  I am so unworthy of the Love and Salvation he gives to me.  Ronnie was discussing Ephesians 3:20-21 yesterday and this really resonated with me.  The passage says:

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within in us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen   Ephesians 3:20-21

The thing that is so unbelievable and so immeasurable and that God can Love and Save us and still use us.  That is truly unbelievable that he is so good.

I say all of that to say that He is doing so many good things through the prayers and financial support of so many of you.  I really do not know where to start, so many good things have happened this month.
A couple of weeks ago, Melissa, a senior in our ministry was baptized by one of her good friends and an alum of our ministry, Brittney.  Through the friendship of Brittney and others, it has been so neat to see God completely change Melissa’s life.  I literally cannot imagine our ministry without her.  She brings joy where ever she goes!

We have gotten through welcome week and all the events that go with it.  Our corefas have met so many people!  Their hard work really showed when we had around 150 people show up our first Friday night.  It was such a diverse group.  God is so Good!  Our small group leaders have been so busy calling people and inviting them to core.  I cannot wait to see the fruit of that.

These past few weeks have been busy but now the exciting part starts.  We get to start investing in the people we meet.  Please pray for us as we do that.  And pray that God will give me what I need to be great leader because I am so unworthy to do this.

Friday, August 10, 2012

August...Almost time for school to start!!!

A brand new school year starts in a couple of weeks which is so exciting.  We have really spent the summer planning for it.  We just had a staff retreat this past weekend with our brand new staff for the year!  It was so great.  We were able to spend time singing, getting to know each other, and thinking about our ministry.  My favorite thought from the weekend was our new theme from Revelation, Everything New.  God has a bigger plan for redemption than I can even comprehend.  It is really encouraging and got me really excited.  We were also asked to journal the question “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” which also got me thinking.  We have nothing to fear and fear often paralyzes us.  We can’t do God’s work like that. 
God has blessed us with such great people who really do want to pour into students to see more people reached.  Our new staff at UTD will be Casey, Sirak, Courtney, and me.  All four of us are alumni from UTD, know the campus and have a heart for it.  I am so excited about this year because we have 16 women who will be Core facilitators (group leaders).   Most of them are brand new Corefas who will be back again next year.  The thing I am most excited about are our 6 women Peer Team leaders who will mentor the Corefas!  Our small group leaders are going to be supported very well!

Right now I feel like I have so many things to ask you to pray about.  Please pray for Sirak and Courtney as they start their new internship at UTD.  They are going to be spending time learning God’s word more deeply, learning to preach, will lead peer team and all the little nuances of campus ministry.  Pray for Casey as he starts working at UTD again after being at Collin for several years.  Pray for our new student leaders as they begin to meet new people.  Pray for all of the new people on campus that they can know the Lord God through His Son Jesus!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

It's summer time....

I came into summer expecting to slow down a little bit and relax some before August comes.  I did get to relax at the beginning of June on vacation with my family.  That was so fun and rejuvenating for me.  When I got back I had to hit the ground running.

I have spent the remainder of the month trying to figure out our small group leaders (Corefa’s) for this coming school year.  I have been having conversations with the women who went to SICM and the leaders from last year to try to determine who our leaders will be.  Please be in prayer for these people already.  These are the people who in so many ways are the ones who will be doing campus ministry.  They meet people, invite them to CORE and FOCUS, and then they are the ones who will sit down and study the Bible with people in their group.  Please pray that God does great things in them and through them this year!

This summer is also a time of transition.  July will be the last month of this year’s interns.  I cannot tell you how much I am going to miss Jamiann and Andrew.  Please pray that they have a great last month with FOCUS and pray God continues to do great things through them!  Also, we have started to fundraise for next year.  Please pray for the staff and new interns as we work on that.  

Monday, June 4, 2012

The spring semester is now over at UTD and summer has officially begun! I feel like I have so much to say! May was a very busy month for us. We had a great end of year banquet where we were able to celebrate the year as a community. We were able to thank all of our students who lead in so many different ways this year and those who are graduating which is bitter sweet for me.

The most exciting thing this month for me was we got to take over 50 students to SICM up in Bellingham, Washington. We left on a Thursday afternoon and let them spend a couple days seeing the sites and then on Saturday SICM started. These students got to spend a week learning how to do campus ministry. It is such an intense week of learning about many different aspects of ministry. They begin every morning with Praise and Worship and then spend the day in classes. They learn about leading small groups, asking good questions, evangelism, Bible study and so much more. I cannot wait to see how God uses what they have learned to really bless the campuses they are part of.

We officially started summer FOCUS when we got back from SICM. We are doing one large FOCUS meeting for the students who are staying in the Richardson are. Richardson East has been gracious enough to let us use their church building for FREE this summer. Our theme for the summer is “Fired up.” The idea behind it being to “never be lacking in zeal.” So our sermons are going to be Fired up about…worship, serving, the mission and so on. We are so excited about the momentum that this will bring into the Fall.

We also have officially started our summer School of Ministry which we do every year. It is offered so that students can think more academically about their faith by reading a book and discussing it. This year we are doing something a little different. Regent College in Vancouver Canada has audio recordings of different classes that you can purchase online. So our students can choose between Old Testament Foundations and New Testament Foundations to listen to and discuss in groups. Both of these classes are so good!! I have learned so much through them!

Please pray for us as we start fundraising this summer. Our ministry has grown so much this year and we are trying to add staff to be able to give students the support they need.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Spring is Here!

March was such a great month.  Spring is here!  There is something so revitalizing and new about spring.  God takes the dead looking grass and trees and brings new life to them.  The flowers are blooming everywhere, the grass is green and the weather is warm.  I thank God for all of his amazing work in nature but I especially am thankful for the work he is doing in people’s lives.  I think that his work in us, bringing the dead to life, is even greater.  There is just so much for me to share.

This past Sunday, Stephanie Greene decided to be baptized.  She and I have been studying the Bible together for several weeks now and through her study she decided to be baptized.  She is one of the sweetest women I know and just has such a heart for Jesus and for his people.  While we have been studying the Bible together, she has also been studying the Bible with two international students sharing about Jesus.  I cannot wait to see what God is going to do in her life!  Her baptism was so special to me because we had it at my house and invited about 40 people to come and have lunch with us before it.  It was fitting since she was “getting married to Jesus.”

This past week we did a huge event on campus that focused on human trafficking.  It was our “not for sale” campaign.  We had booth’s on campus on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday that had information about this modern day injustice.  The booths had stories of different people who have been sex slaves here in the United States.  The students all wore “not for sale” shirts and engaged people in conversations about the stories they were reading.  Students were given information on what they could do and that God cares deeply about these issues.  On Wednesday night we met on the Union steps outside in the middle of campus and showed a video about all kinds of trafficking.  It covered modern slavery in other countries to sex trafficking here in the United States.  It literally broke my heart.  Then on Thursday night we had a speaker in the same place who talked about this issue.  The whole week was a huge success!

Several weeks ago one of the women from Collin, Cierra, told me that she wanted to put together something for all of the women from all of our campuses to talk about insecurity in women.  She felt like this was something the women from FOCUS really struggle with just like the women of the world.  So this past Saturday we had three different women from Northeast come and share with us about how sinful insecurity is, how to fight insecurity, and who God says we are.  It was such a great event with about 50 women from FOCUS.  We had lunch, heard the speakers, and shared in small groups.  Cierra did such a great job!  I cannot tell you how proud of her I am.  She saw a need and took initiative to do something about it!

So all of that was this past week!!

Spring Break was earlier this month which I think was much needed for the students and for me!  I think the time of rest really gave them a renewed energy to finish this year off strong.  Our women’s cores are still going well and there are still so many studies happening.  The fruit of the year is really starting to show.

It has really been another great month.  Please pray for the studies going on and that people make serious commitments to Jesus.  Pray that the students can end the year strong!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Lot's Happening at UTD

This has been a really neat month for our ministry.  Jamiann volunteered (or actually was assigned) to head up Valentathalon this year.  This is an event we do every year right around Valentine’s Day.  It is an event for our entire UTD ministry where we do all kinds of zany games.  Jamiann recruited several people from our ministry to plan the event this year and they did an outstanding job pulling it off.  They planned a choreographed dance medley for a warm up which was led by 10 team leaders, several stations with crazy games for the teams to compete in, and finally each team had to pick a song and act out a marriage proposal while singing.  The entire event was so fun and really, really funny.  We put fliers at the campus apartments for the event and had several visitors come. 

This month our staff at UTD was able to meet with the Intervarsity (another Christian ministry at UTD) Director, Lisa, to begin make some plans to do some joint events with all the Christian groups on campus.  We were able to plan a joint worship night which we did last weekend on campus.  It was so exciting to see all of the different Christian groups come together to praise God together.  The thing that I am most excited about though is Lisa has a vision for doing a Not for Sale campaign on campus toward the end of March.  The different Christian groups on campus are going to get together and raise awareness for human trafficking around the world and really focus on the fact that there are things we can do about it.  We can be a voice for those that don’t have a voice.  We have the opportunity to show our campus that God does care and that Jesus is the solution to injustice in the world.  Please be praying as we prepare for this campaign on campus and we will tell you all about it next month.

Finally, one of the things I am most excited about is we have started inviting students to SICM (Student Institute of Campus Ministry) for an intense week of ministry training in Bellingham, WA.  We send students who we think will be leaders in campus ministry to spend a week learning how to lead small groups, study the Bible, reach out to other students, and so much more.  It is an expensive trip but these students will learn things that will allow them to truly be missionaries at UTD for as long as they are there and they will learn ministry skills that will help them the rest of their lives. 

The small groups are still going well.  One of the girl cores has had 8 international students start coming to it this semester.  There have also been several girls step up to study the Bible with these students and they are really excited to do it.  Please be praying for all of the studies that are happening in FOCUS and that we will continually be making disciples. 

I got to see yesterday what an impact we are having.  I am studying Focus on Jesus with Jessica right now and we were and Starbucks yesterday doing our study.  When we were leaving, a guy who worked there asked us if we were studying Focus on Jesus.  We told him yes and asked him if he was part of FOCUS.  He said he was a student at Collin College a few years ago and Focus on Jesus literally saved his life even though he was only at Collin for one semester.  It was just a neat reminder to me of what a small world it is and that Jesus really does change lives.  God is so good and I am so thankful that we all get to partner together to share the Good News! 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Winter Camp!!!

I feel like often God teaches me so much more through my time with people than I actually teach them.  The past couple of weeks have been no different.  I really do get to spend time with some great women who are so serious about their walk with God.  I am studying Focus on Jesus with 2 different women who ask some really great questions and who really want to do what God wants them to do.  They are so open, consistent and prepared each week.  The women in my peer team are constantly asking for advice and spend so much time really loving the women that God has given them this semester.  It just really inspires me to continually be a student of God’s word, to be open with the people in my life, and to constantly be a person who asks advice.  It is so encouraging to see the heart that they really have for the people they are reaching out to. 
We just got back from Winter Camp a couple weeks ago. We had over 250 students from our 4 campuses there.   Eddie Howard came from Colorado to spend the weekend with us.  He preached 5 sermons out of Joshua and did such a great job.  I have heard nothing but positive feedback from students.  It is so neat to see what just having a few short days around God focused people can do.  It was just such an encouraging weekend for the students who came. 
For me, the week going in to camp was really difficult.  My grandmother died the week before camp.  I literally walked in the door from staff retreat and my dad came to the door and told me she had died so we got in the car and headed to Tyler to be with my mom.  Then, a couple days later we went to Vernon for her funeral.  It was a couple days after that I ordered all the snacks and headed to camp.  So going into camp I was really worn out and emotionally exhausted.  God is so good though, he takes away special people but then he turns around and blesses us in special ways.  I got to be around so many people who loved on me, encouraged me, and praised God with me.  I really, really love Him.
Camp was also a really neat time to catch up and have conversations with people that I don’t get to on a weekly basis.  It was really encouraging to hear what is happening in their cores and in their lives.  God has really blessed me with some really neat friendships through doing campus ministry.  I am so challenged by them.  God is changing lives on our campuses and it is great to be a part of that.
So, in short, God is so Good!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Happy New Year!!

December was another great month for our ministry at UTD.  We had our Christmas party in December at the Northeast Church.  Our theme this year was Christmas morning.  We were expecting around 100 students and we had over 130 students come!  We served breakfast and had some great entertainment.  Each of the cores could participate in a competition to perform a Christmas carol.  It was absolutely hysterical…We have some creative students!!

The Friday night after our party we had a FOCUS Christmas service focused much more on the true meaning of Christmas.  We sang Christmas carols, read parts of the Christmas story, and shared thoughts.  It was such a neat time for our ministry.  Then it was off on break.

The break was a much needed time of rest but now I am ready to hit the ground running.  We just had a staff retreat this past weekend which I think got us all excited to go back and do ministry.  My favorite part of the weekend was on Friday night.  We used that session to simply pray for one another.  It was some much needed strength for me. 

This weekend is our annual winter camp.  We are taking all the students from all 4 campuses out to Bridgeport until Monday.  This is such a spring board for so many of our students.  Please pray that the students who really need to be there come and that that the weekend will really impact them.  I just cannot wait to see what God is going to do!!!

The students all will start back to school the Tuesday after Winter Camp.  Please pray that we have another great semester and just pray for all of our student leaders.