Tuesday, November 11, 2014
There are so many things that I could write about this month. There are just that many things happening right now. There are stories about studies that are happening, events that we are doing, interns to tell you about, our big fundraiser, and of coarse my trip to Europe. So many exciting things! I will start with my trip to Europe since I am on the plane headed back and it is so fresh in my mind.
Andrew and I went with Brandon and Casey to Paris, Venice, the Cinque Terre, Rome and a quick night through London. It was so great and I got to see so much. I wish I had time to tell you about everything that I got to see and experience. I got to see several of the world's most famous churches. St. Mark's, St. Peter's, Notre Dame are all great buildings. So beautiful on the inside and out. Each has unique architecture, art, statues, and history. So much for me to take in. I am so thankful for the experience to see these great places. Upon reflecting, on the churches specifically, it has made me so thankful for people like you who consistently give to this ministry. This ministry isn't great because of the impressive buildings, art, and statues. I am so thankful for people like you who share in the vision of investing money into people.
I was prepping a sermon a few minutes ago out of John 15 for next Friday night. We are doing a series on dicsipleship. I was struck in verse 17 when Jesus simply says "This is my command: Love each other." Of all of the things he could have told us to do, he commands us to love each other. Your generosity has made it possible for us to show these campuses what it really means to love and be loved. I think that is what will outlast the fancy buildings which take so much money to upkeep. Your generosity is changing lives everyday.
This leads me to a very specific prayer request. As you know, our vision is to be on the campuses in the DFW metroplex and we are considering when to go to UT Arlington. We are thinking that God is leading us there in the fall to start a ministry. This means that we have to figure out who to send and that God will lead some students to go there as well. Please be praying that God will open doors and make it clear who should be there. We will also be doing a fundraiser, in the next couple of weeks. I will post specifically about that in the next couple weeks but one of the things we really want to do with the money that we earn from this fundraiser is start the ministry at UT Arlington. Please be praying about this!
UTD is going well. I have really enjoyed the series we are doing on discipleship. The sermons have been so challenging and the students have been responsive. I can't wait to get back and hit the ground running. I have a busy weekend with Friday night Focus and Pizza Theology all this weekend! Good thing I had a vacation. My girls asked that I post on Facebook so you will see a bunch of pictures there from our trip.
Please email, call or text me anytime and I would love to tell you more! Thank you so much for your support and partnership.
Saturday, October 4, 2014
This year our theme comes out of Isaiah 55. One of the students that goes to Texas Women’s University that I get to meet with each week wrote this wonderful story that I think goes so well with that passage. Ann Haven has really begun to let God’s word transform her and Jesus, The Word of Life, has begun to bring her new life. Her story is the same as our story when we accept the invitation of God and drink from His truth. I hope that this story is encouraging to you…..
I'm so tired. My body is bruised, beaten, and bloodied. I'm so disoriented that I can't tell if the blood is mine or someone else's. I thought the battle would never end and in many ways it hasn't. The smoke has cleared, the shots have stopped, but I can still hear the shrieks of the people around me crying for their mother's, brothers, and friends they have lost. But the real war lives on inside me. Images are burned into my mind of people dying slowly. I can feel a sticky darkness - like tar - coating my mind and the inside of my heart. I'm unclean, impure, and internally broken beyond repair.
Eventually, I muster up enough strength to stand. Aimlessly, I walk from the carnage toward what looks like a forest.
I've been walking for what seems like years, and with every step I feel the despair and fear growing inside me. This journey I'm on has not only been taking a toll on my body, but my mind as well. I'm suffering from exhaustion yet all I can think about is how thirsty I am. My lips are cracked and bleeding, my throat so dry that not even the slightest cry could be heard.
The sun has been down for some time now so I hear it first. Water. A bubbling stream nearby! I try to pick up my pace but I loose my footing and collapse to the ground. I lay there stunned, dizzy from the fall. I realize my hand has fallen into the stream! I cup my hand and sip the water. I feel it run over my deadened lips, against my swollen tongue, and down my larches throat. "There's something special about this water" flickers through my mind, but only briefly because my eyes slam shut and I'm asleep.
Sometime later, I feel something pulling on my feet, a tingling in my toes. Startled, I blearily glance down at my feet. My toes have started to take root in the earth! Frightened, I try to pull away but I can feel the nutrients from the water being pulled up through my roots - swimming through my body. At first I'm scared and slightly panicked but the relief is so palpable I let myself sink back down to the ground. As the throbbing in my head dissipates and the aching fades I allow myself to drift off to sleep again.
Again, something wakes me. I feel soft caresses against my skin. I peal back the kids of my eyes and examine myself. Like a ballerina dressed in gold and white I see the suns rays dancing gracefully over my skin. Where the sun touches my bruises, porcelain buds burst from my skin and bloom into delicate crystal flowers. With every new bloom some of the tar is evicted, expelling toxins from my body.
I'm fully awake now. I desperately want to be closer to the light and the healing it's bringing. I realize somehow I've managed to stand. Like a child reaching longingly for a parent, I extend my hands up towards the light. All I can make out is the sillowet of my hands and arms. Quickly my arms begin to change into what looks like sturdy branches of a tree and I watch in amazement as my hands explode into leaves and more crystal flowers. My branches are twisting and bending up towards the sun and the life he brings.
Warmth spreads through my body and an inexpressibly joy is spilling from my eyes. Water, sweet and pure spills out from my eyes and joins the stream below.
Once again, I look down at myself. I'm not crystal, wood, glass, iron, or porcelain. I'm a completely new substance so unrecognizable that my elements couldn't even be found on the periodic table. I resemble a tree, but I'm not quite a tree. In fact, I'm not sure what I am. All I know is that I'm new and I'm beautiful, I'm stronger than I ever once was, and I stand among other creatures similar to me, yet completely unique. Created and joined together by same healing water.
Soon after the sun begins to sink low over the horizon leaving splashes of pink, orange, red, purple and blue across the sky. In the distance, I see another lost soul making it's way toward me. Running from the same war I was fighting in. I try to call out to the but what escapes my lips is a song that tells my story. The notes are clean and pure - Beckoning the weary soul towards the water.
I watch as the soldier makes his way toward me and frantically gulps the water, then collapses to the ground. Dead. Worried, I try to speak but again, I sing. Black tar starts to run from his eyes and his toes slowly stretch towards the water. I keep singing my song over the man and gaze at the moon as it reflects the suns light - reminding me that soon it will rise again and make this solider, this soul, completely new.
I get to work on a team of some of the best people I know. This year, I get to work with Ana, Rachel, and Autumn at UTD. They have been such an encouragement to me and have really invested in the women at UTD this year. I really need to take a picture of all of the women leaders and post it here so you can see their beautiful faces. For now, here is a picture of Ana and me and then Rachel, Autumn and me. Please be praying for them. Rachel is co-leading a core with a student, Ashley. They have such a large core with around 20 women they are investing in. Autumn and Ana are currently each meeting with 11 women small group leaders each week. They help the student leaders plan their group each week and help them in their own walk with God. Please pray that they can be a blessing to our student leaders!
In other news, we just got back from Fall camp last weekend. It has been so encouraging hearing the stories of people who were impacted by it. One girl, who is seeking God, came back from camp already ready to start making some life changes. She and her boyfriend are sharing an apartment on campus and she is considering finding new living arrangements because she feels like their relationship won’t allow her to really figure out what she believes about God. She knows that this moment will define the rest of her life. One of our student leaders and Ana are about to study the Bible with her. Please be praying that she will come to know Jesus.
Looking around our ministry this year, I can already see that God is calling people. He is moving and working all around us. Please be praying for these young people. So much is being thrown at them to distract them and tempt them. Many of them have believed lies for so long that it is hard to know that they are lies. He is changing these lives one by one. Thank you for your prayers and believing in this ministry!
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Well, it has been well over a year since I wrote my last blog. So much has happened and I have so much I would love to tell you about but I will keep it short. This past year, I have been absolutely blown away by how many amazing women God has brought to our ministry. One of them is our student testimony on the Staff page of our website. I could post story after story like that. God is doing such amazing things in the lives of the women in our ministry. My spring and summer were spent getting to know the women I didn’t know as well and putting together our women’s leader team for the 2014-2015 school year. It blows me away but we have 26 women core facilitators this year at UTD. I wish I could personally introduce you to each of them. I will take pictures and post them soon.:)
These women have done such a great job of meeting other students and inviting them to different events on campus and to events we (FOCUS) have had. Last week we had our first large group meeting of the year and there were so many new faces. Sloan, a corefa from last year who is leading again this year, really was touched by the service when she saw girls from her core last year reaching out and befriending new people. Sloan told me she teared up when she saw a girl she met in the café a couple years ago who was not a Christian at the time reaching out and inviting people to her own core. Katy, a past intern was sitting during the service reflecting back on when she lead core the first time. She remembers sitting in the very room we were meeting in writing a vision for what UTD FOCUS could look like. She said she was so touched when she got to see the vision being realized Friday night.
This past weekend we had a FOCUS leader retreat with leaders from all of the campuses we are at. We have almost 150 LEADERS in FOCUS this year. That blows my mind and is so encouraging to me. My heart breaks when I think of our city and see how many people don’t know God. All of the sacrifices that have been made for us to have the Bible, in our own language, so accessible to us and there are so many people who don’t know the good news. 150 leaders excites me because of what they can do to change that. They start on a college campus but will change the world. God is so good and loves us so much! The kingdom of God is near!
Peer Team Girls this weekend at the retreat
Our First Large Group Meeting at UTD
Leader Retreat this weekend
The Chefs this weekend at the retreat
(Yes, we were crazy and made 3 meals for 150 people!)