Friday, March 1, 2013

A Time of Transition

  February went by in a flash and still managed to contain several major events!  Melissa organized our Valentathalon celebration this year and it was a huge success.  If you have never heard of this event all I can say is love and athletic competition meets work out attire and formal wear.  Melissa's blog has some great pictures to help you get the idea!  Our parent night was a huge success. Several parents and students shared about FOCUS and the impact that the community has had on their lives. Just like winter camp I felt that I had the best view in the house that night.  Pregnancy has me always in the back ready for a restroom escape, but at the same time getting to see the full picture of worship team, parents, students, visiting staff, and supporters.  A huge thank you to all of you who made that night so meaningful. It was especially meaningful since it was the last UNT FOCUS event that I will be able to attend this semester.

Parent Night 2013

Next year's interns are already applying and will be interviewed and selected in the coming weeks.  This year 11 students have decided that the best way they can spend this next school year is to dedicate it to studying God's word and loving His people on our college campuses.  I am especially excited to see that several of the applicants are coming from our campus this year.  God has really moved in the hearts of our students thanks to their open hearts and your continued prayers.  Keep 'em coming!

As I mentioned briefly last month I was starting to transition my role at UNT due to the much awaited arrival of my twins.  Sooner than expected this month I had to stop commuting to Denton entirely. I now meet with all of my girls and other leaders by phone.  The past month has been both exciting and very difficult.  I find myself on the outside looking in at some of our ministry events since my inability to commute has kept me at home.  Please pray for Matt and Melissa as they transition into a two person team to finish out this semester.  Melissa will be stepping up as the lone woman on staff at UNT, but I couldn't be more excited for her and the amazing job I know she will do.  She has grown so much through the internship this year and preached an outstanding sermon this past month!  This will be my last blog for the semester, but I encourage you to continue reading about the great things God is doing in the other staff blogs.  Thank you for the support that you have shown me this year.
34 Weeks Pregnant!

My dog Barkley already protecting his little brother and sister :)

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Growing up in Christ

The Kingdom of God is Here! Over 350 students gathered to hear this message over MLK weekend.  As I mentioned last month, guest speaker Geoff Mummley came to share the message of the kingdom with us at camp.  As the resident pregnant lady seated in the back of our meeting space (near restrooms,water, and snacks) I got to soak in the big picture of hundreds of students hanging on every word of scripture read and returning each session eager for more!  You would have loved to see the spirit move so powerfully in the lives of so many young people.  At our last session you would have seen groups of students excitedly planning how they were going to show others the kingdom in their chosen careers.  Teachers, photojournalists, music majors and more, all brainstorming how they will use their gifts to bring the kingdom to others. Matt and Melissa, who are far more tech savvy than myself, have posted a link to the camp talks on their blog pages. I encourage you to check them out...I am sure they will bless you as they have me. Here are a few pictures of the awesome students you are impacting with your prayers and support.

FOCUS Winter Camp 2013 All 4 Campuses!

UNT @ FOCUS Winter Camp 2013!

You would have been challenged to grow up in Christ last Friday night as Matt introduced the first sermon of the semester. He challenged us to remember what God has done for us and that he has called us to a ministry of reconciliation.  We can't fulfill His mission if we are still infants needing milk instead of growing up and eating solid food.  I preached my last sermon of the semester last night continuing on that theme and adding what it looks like to experience our new life daily.  We were challenged to develop spiritual disciplines, participate in the work God is doing in us, and participate in what God is doing in those around us.  How are you working with God in your life?

Our annual Parent Night/Open House is coming up soon!  Our community would love to see you there. We will hear from students and parents about their experience in the ministry. I guarantee you won't want to miss it!
Personally this is a bittersweet time for me. As I eagerly await becoming a parent I must also begin to transition my role at UNT. I have already started making more phone appointments as travel is getting more difficult.  Please continue to pray that the babies will not make their debut until late March!  

Thank you for all that you do!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Happy "Everything New" Year!

Hopefully you have had a blessed Christmas and an exciting New Year! I know I have been blessed beyond what I could have hoped for this last year. Thank you for partnering with me in support and prayer to make that possible.

We just returned from our FOCUS staff retreat on Saturday and I wish you could have been there!  You would have enjoyed a front row seat to the beauty of God's creation.  Garrett, one of our Collin College ministers, was able to allow us the use of his uncle's lake house in Scroggins,Texas this weekend.  It's just hard to deny God's majesty when you are staring out at the nature He created.  What a joy to have three days in beautiful place with 12 radical disciples for Christ sharing their visions for the new year. One of the things you would have enjoyed the most was a short video we watched from Bill Hybels, pastor at Willow Creek, about sowing more seed.  Based on the parable of the sower, and taking into account that of the four types of soil only one produces fruit...he suggests we have a lot more sowing to do to overcome that ratio.  We spent discussion time brainstorming new ideas, evaluating old practices and encouraging one another. New year--new seeds to sow.

 As you know our theme for this school year has been "Everything New" out of Revelation 21:5
     He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new."
You have heard our staff share about the sermons challenging our ministry to think like new creations. You've seen new lives dedicated to Christ in baptism.  What will this next semester hold?

Classes will begin shortly and students have already started trickling back into Denton to get settled back into their apartments and routines. You might be surprised at how many students come back excited to start the new semester. No complaining about new classes or schedules, but instead eager to encounter new opportunities. The fact that FOCUS winter camp is the way they get to finish their first week back probably doesn't hurt either. :) As a student at winter camp you get to fellowship with not only your own campus but all four FOCUS ministries! What better way to see in person the way God is moving across the campuses. It is always a highlight of the year. You can bet this year will be no exception.To give you an idea of how much our students are impacted by camp I wanted to share a quick story. One of our students just recently celebrated a birthday complete with fun, cake, and friends as birthdays should be.  The only thing missing was presents.  Instead of presents this student requested that people donate money towards helping students who can't afford to attend camp. She didn't want any student to miss this amazing opportunity. This year Guest speaker Geoff Mummley is visiting from a ministry in Washington state to share with us the message of the new kingdom--a six part series focusing on Jesus and reminding us the kingdom of God is here! That is just a little taste of what is to come :)

Please check out the other staff blogs this month!  I know you will want to see and  hear about all the exciting baptisms going on throughout the ministry!

Personally I want to thank you for all your prayers for me and the little ones.  So far everyone is healthy and doing fine. Here is a little holiday entertainment for you :)

My dog had to find a new place to sit due to the twins being in his way.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

'Tis the Season!

As our semester draws to a close I wanted you to know how thankful we are for the impact your support has made on our ministry.  We couldn't do any of this without faithful people like you behind us!

In the last month our ministry tackled everyone's favorite topic...DATING!  In all seriousness, dating and relationships is an important issue though not always popular.  This year Brandon and I led a three part series  that gave the students lots of biblical principles to think about when trying to look at the modern world of dating as a disciple along with the idea of arranging your own marriage.  There were several student discussions throughout the series one compared modern dating with the old arranged marriage tradition.  I was impressed with the student responses.  For example, one student shared that dating can give you the opportunity to serve others if you are thinking about what is best for the other person.  Another student shared that she thought a real positive of the arranged marriage situation was that you would go into the relationship looking for the best in the other person and how to make things even better.  It was so refreshing to hear college students discuss dating and relationships in terms of what they could see God wanting for them instead of just what they wanted to do. Here are the links to some articles we shared with the students to get them thinking!

We had our last official Friday night fellowship this week.  We put together a Christmas devotional...yes it was Christmas in November!  Our worship team picked some great songs (Oh Holy Night, Oh Come Emmanuel, Oh Little Town of Bethlehem, Joy to the World, Silent Night) and encouraged us to really think about the message we were singing and make it worship and praise not just a Christmas carol. In between each song we had people sharing thoughts on Christmas.  We heard moving stories of how God has used this special time of year to heal families, spread His word, move people to generosity and bring hope.

 Our ministry has recently experienced a sad loss.  One of our members, freshman Ryan Schutze, passed away in a car accident on his way home from Thanksgiving break.  Matt Clark, our campus pastor, reminded us that although this is a sad time there is also so much hope because of our great God.  Ryan loved the Lord and impacted many organizations on UNT's campus. Please be in prayer for Ryan's family and the many students that have been touched by his life.

On a lighter note the annual FOCUS Christmas party was tonight.  We invaded the student union with Christmas cheer using the theme "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!" Students enjoyed cocoa, cookies, fellowship and laughs!  Students were organized into "family" groups and given several Christmas traditions to act out including a white elephant gift exchange and singing Christmas carols to other families to name a few. The evening concluded with a core group competition.  Groups brought their creativity and performance skills to the table to bring traditional Christmas songs to life!

One tradition had family members singing Christmas songs a la chubby bunny :) 

On a personal note my husband and I found out that we are having a boy and a girl!  Keep those prayers coming!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Lots of news!

Thank you so much for your continued prayers!  We get to see the fruit of those prayers everyday as we work with the ministry. I know that you only get these small windows to catch a glimpse of what God is doing to answer those prayers.  Please know how much we appreciate your faithfulness and what power it has in the kingdom!

     I have the privilege of co-leading a small group of student leaders called a peer team.  In this group the student leaders come together to share news, be encouraged, grow in their spiritual lives and build friendship.  This year we are studying through the book Finding Calcutta by Mary Poplin.  Mary shares about when she went to volunteer with Mother Teresa and the lessons she learned about God and herself while she was there.  This book has really sparked some powerful conversations as we look into our own lives and our relationships with God. I personally have been really challenged by the questions the girls are asking!

   Several students collected donations to throw a costume party this past Sunday.  The party was a blast!  Students brought guests that had not attended a FOCUS event this year, but felt comfortable coming to a party.  It was a fun night of fellowship, but that wasn't what impressed me most.  What impressed me was the incentive that the students had to plan the function on their own and the fact that so many students gave generously to make it a success.
A sampling of the awesome costumes
The most exciting news is the baptism that took place tonight!  Ana, one of our student leaders, has been studying the bible with Marissa, another student at UNT, for a while now.  Recently Ana really challenged her to step up and totally give her life to God.  Marissa's answer was absolutely yes!
A picture before the cold water :)
Praise God!
I will close out this post with an exciting bit of personal news...My husband and I are expecting twins!!!  The little Knoles will be arriving sometime in late March or early April.  More updates to come!

Thanks again for everything you do!


Sunday, September 30, 2012

October Update!

Friday Night Fellowship is in full swing!  Core groups are up and running! Fall Retreat was amazing! The most exciting thing yet...God has been richly blessing our ministry! 

No matter what life has thrown at us the past few weeks, we have been reminded that God is good and that we are strong when we remain in Him. You wouldn't believe the way things have worked out better than we ever could have planned.  Brandon Worsham was set to speak at FNF a few weeks ago, when he came down sick the night before.  Spur of the moment he planned for us to show a video about following Jesus and then have a discussion.  The student feedback after that event was incredible.  That discussion was building on things already going on in the students lives spiritually.  Luckily Brandon was able to speak the following week on speaking like new creations and that too was perfectly timed right before our fall retreat.

Speaking of fall retreat...
UNT Fall Retreat 2012
Thank you for all that you do to make things like this possible for our students!  We had over 100 students attend this year and almost half of them were coming for the very first time. Students shared powerful testimonies of how God has made them new.  We also heard from some FOCUS alumni, who shared advice for making the most of college as a disciple.  A special thanks to our campus pastor Matt Clark who spent a week reworking all of the retreat plans when he found out that many new students would be unable to come on the previously scheduled weekend.  What a blessing to our students and what a blessing to me that I can be a part of such an amazing community.

Keep those prayers coming!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

September Update!

You have made so many remarkable things possible with your prayers and support!

Our student leader team of around 40 students had their student leader retreat on August 18th-19th. The students shared in worship, laughter and vision casting.  Each leader shared his or her personal vision for the ministry this school year.  They reminded me to dream big...God can do awesome things! We also set up a worship night where the students could go around and experience God in different ways.  Some stations focused on meditation, others on prayer, some on seeing God in the things around us.  It was a powerful evening of reflection and praise! When the weekend was over and retreat was packed up our entire group descended on Rosa's Cafe for one final hour of fellowship before parting ways. God really brought our group together during this retreat.

Welcome week got off to a great start with many of our students coming out to help new students move in on campus.  Our students had the opportunity to serve and connect with hundreds of students this week!  We sponsored 2 capture the flag/game nights this week as well as attending numerous on campus events such as the Mean Green Fling.  I had the pleasure of being introduced to so many new students courtesy of our student leaders who had been working hard to not only meet people, but build real friendships.

Our official Friday Night Fellowship Kick-off was last night.  As I stood at the front of room 311 in Mathews Hall I was awed by all the visitors.  Even though they were new they came in confidently because every one of them had a friend there to greet them.  Students that looked like they had known each other for years I discovered had met only days before. At the rate God is working we are going to need a bigger room!  Former campus pastor Brad Davis was there to introduce Matt, Melissa and I as this year's new staff.   Matt and I took a few minutes to share our stories and why we have a passion for campus ministry to help the community get to know us. Perhaps one of the most moving parts of the night was having  the students leaders pray for us and commission us to lead them. 

God is so good! Thank you for letting Him work through you to do great things!