Friday, December 2, 2016

Danielle's December Update

Happy Holidays everyone! The radio stations have begun playing Christmas tunes non-stop and our students are definitely ready for their break to begin. Tonight is our last large group fellowship meeting of the semester and on Sunday afternoon we'll have our Christmas Party. This time of year gives our students a chance to reflect on their growth this past semester and the things that God has taught them. I have enjoyed having more one on one time with each of my students as the semester winds down.
Candy cane coffee with Hannah, one of the girls I mentor :)
The biggest thing happening for our ministry this month is the annual Keep FOCUS Growing fund. We believe that God has called us to make and mature disciples on college campuses in the DFW Metroplex, and we need your help to make it happen! Watch this video, featuring our FOCUS Director Brandon Worsham, to see what our plans are for the Next 20 years of FOCUS!



Here is a recap of the things we were able to do with the donations from last year's Keep FOCUS Growing Fund:

Your gift matters!
Click here to invest!
Please take some time to pray and consider giving to this fund this Christmas season! 

I hope that you have a wonderful Christmas with family and friends as you remember our precious Savior. Thank you so much for your generosity and partnership with FOCUS as we work with God to change students' lives! Much love to you and your families!

Merry Christmas!


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Danielle's November Update

Almost every weekend in October was pretty full for our ministry, but the biggest event we had was Fall Camp. Since I had been doing ministry at Collin College these past two years, I haven't been to a Fall Camp in quite a long time. It definitely exceeded my expectations, and I'm continuing to get great feedback from our students about the event! Our main goal for Fall Camp is for new students to integrate into the community and for everyone to build new and deeper friendships. Since our theme for the year is "Be Brave" we decided to focus our camp specifically on bravery in friendships. We had some students share their experiences of a time when they needed to be brave in a friendship. We also had a previous FOCUS staff member, Melissa Collini, speak to to the students about vulnerability and the importance of bravery in relationships. This has sparked many conversations about vulnerability in our cores and among our student leaders. 

Original artwork created for our weekend at camp
Some TWU students at camp
Games are a camp favorite
God's Spirit was present during our praise and worship!
Our second largest event in October was the FOCUS 20 Year Celebration, where I got to see many of you! It was so amazing and special to see all the people that have been impacted by the vision that God gave Ronnie Worsham, our church pastor, so long ago: to plant college ministries in the DFW area. I loved getting to see people's faces during the worship and experience the joy of seeing the fruit of the hard labor over the years to create what we have now. God is so good! I am so blessed to be a part of what God is doing in this city. I hope to continue to play a role in this vision for the next 20 years!

The 20 Year Celebration was packed out!
Finally, I would like to leave you with a testimony from one of my very own TWU leaders that I mentor named Sierrah.

"Last Fall was when I started to seek out a deeper relationship with Christ and I never thought that by doing that amazing things would happenIn the Spring, I was a transfer student and very new to the Denton community, but as soon as I got in touch with FOCUS, I felt at home. At the very beginning, I was easily amazed by the warmth of the community and hearing sermons about God’s work. It was easy to show up to core and Friday Night Fellowship at UNT and just sit and listen, but the more I listened, the more I realized that God had a bigger plan and FOCUS showed me that. When doing my FOJ study and participating in outreach, I learned that I was created to be a disciple as a testimony to God’s love for me. He pulled me out the darkness and into the light so that I could be an example of Him and every day I am thankful for that.  I have learned and experienced for the first time what community is like and how important it is through FOCUS. I have made friends who have invested in me from the moment I met them and my friendships are continuously growing.  Through FOCUS, I have been able to set goals for myself that reflect God’s will and from that I find peace because I am saved."         Sierrah Martinez, Texas Woman's University, Nursing
Much love <3
Danielle

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Danielle's October Update

I had to look at my calendar just now to remember all the things that happened in September, and it was actually quite a lot. It's sometimes easy to forget what God has been doing in such a short amount of time when it seems like things are moving at such a quick pace. Just three weeks ago we had our very first TWU FOCUS meeting of the semester. As I'm sure you remember, I have been tasked primarily with leading the TWU ministry this year, along with my fellow co-worker Cody. TWU has been steadily growing since its start in 2013, and at our first meeting this semester we had about 50 students attend! With TWU being mainly a commuter campus, it has been somewhat challenging to get students to stick around for an evening meeting in the middle of the week. However, our student leaders are up to the challenge and have brought so many new students here. Our next TWU FOCUS meeting is this coming Tuesday, October 4th. If you could, please be in prayer for the students at TWU, men and women, that God is trying to reach out to this year.

TWU FOCUS students
One other bit of good news I'd like to share is that one of my student leaders, Hannah Diaz, decided to get baptized last weekend! This is what she wrote to God and read aloud to the community at her baptism:
"You were with me all along.
You knew of every struggle and every strife. 
You waited patiently as I turned away from you constantly, 
And you held my hand as I wandered through the darkness. 

I had no idea you were there. 
My senses were numbed by my sin, 
But you shocked me with your relentless love, 
And blood flowed through my body once again. 

My heart was once cold and rigid 
But now beats with a lively spirit; 
It changes everyday as I grow closer to you. 

How can it be that I am worthy of your grace?
There can never be a truth so good, so lovely. 

I owe you my whole life, Lord.
Today, I am honoring you and all you have done for me.
Today, I will bathe in your Holy Water and dedicate my life to you. 

May all that I do be in Your will. 
Thank you so very much, Lord. 
Amen."

Praise God for how good He is! I'm so excited for the ways that God will work through Hannah, and for her to develop a deeper relationship with Him. 

Students at Hannah's baptism

Ann Haven baptizing Hannah
Finally, this weekend (October 8th) is our long awaited 20 Year Celebration! For those of you who are still on the fence about this event, or if you haven't yet RSVP'd, please do as soon as you can! I am really excited to see all of my old friends, current and past supporters, and all of their families. God has blessed me by allowing me to be part of this ministry and my life is now very different because of it. The celebration will be THIS Saturday at Richardson East Church of Christ in Richardson. The reception will begin at 4 and the celebration ceremony will begin at 5. I hope that you can make it! 


Much love to you!
<3 Danielle

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Danielle's September Update

The first week of classes is coming to an end and things are in full swing for our FOCUS students. We have been very active on our Denton campuses these past couple of weeks (which include UNT, TWU, and NCTC). Our first event was a two-day prep for our student leaders called "corefas" (short for core facilitators). We take some time to allow them to bond as a team and prepare for the first week of school, also known as "Welcome Week." This first week of school is a critical time to meet new students and get them involved when they are most open to making new friends and joining student organizations.

Corefa Prep Day

After a long week of attending many campus events and meeting new students, we had our first Friday Night Fellowship (FNF). Our student leaders and returning members worked so hard to meet new people that we had a full house on Friday! I have been working primarily with the TWU student leaders and we had a great number of new TWU students join us on Friday as well.

TWU students that attended FNF
The whole group at FNF
Thank you for your thoughts and prayers for this ministry! I think we have an exciting year ahead, full of new faces and hopefully many lives changed. I am so thankful for your partnership with us and your support. You are having a direct impact on the lives of many new college students every single day. 

I would love to invite each one of you to FOCUS' first 20 Year Celebration in October! Here are the details:


This is open to anyone who has been or is currently involved or connected to FOCUS. We would love for you to come celebrate the work that God has done through our ministry these last 20 years! You can RSVP at anyfocus.org/celebrate20.

Thank you so much for reading and for your prayers. Please let me know if you have any specific prayer requests!

Much love
<3 Danielle




Friday, August 5, 2016

Danielle's August Update

The FOCUS staff has been diligently preparing for our new school year all summer and it's finally approaching! We just returned from our staff retreat where we spent three days bonding as a team, reading and reflecting on a spiritual book, and making plans for the year.  Our Denton team also recently spent a weekend making plans for our specific campuses and getting to know each other better. This year we have a new apprentice (intern) joining our team! Her name is Brittany Tydlacka and we are so thrilled to have her! We have officially changed the name of our internship program to apprenticeship because we believe it more accurately reflects their role as ministers in training.

L to R: Aaron, Miriam, me, Matt (my husband!), Brittany, and Cody

All the apprentices for the coming year
I would like to share a student testimony with you so that you can see the impact of your support for our ministry. Here is one from a student in our Richland ministry:

"I recently went through a period of situational depression. There wasn’t an entire day that went by where I was happy with my place in life. Some days, I seemed jovial and was up for a good laugh. Other days, however, were full of sadness and discontent. I remember I broke down and cried three times back in 2014. I even almost committed suicide. I had been born and raised in a Christian family,  but my faith often felt lacking quite a bit. Something I’ve often heard from my mother was that you’ve got to do your part in order for God to do His. I think God was telling me to do my part by joining FOCUS. FOCUS has given me a sense of community that I don’t think I could find anywhere else. I think it has helped me enhance my faith in God and see that with Him, all things are possible. It’s helped me to expand my circle of friends and, more importantly, renewed and restored my faith. I think there’s still some work for me to do to get closer to God, but being a part of FOCUS has helped me to gain some traction on that front. As I move forward with life, I pray that my faith becomes more solid than it was in the past."
-Miles Morris, Richland College, Mass Communications

These are the kinds of students that we are reaching out to, and that will begin to flood our campuses in the next two weeks. This is exciting work! Please be in prayer for the new students that God is sending to Denton. Pray that our student leaders are welcoming and show the love of Jesus to every person they meet. Pray that God gives our staff wisdom and direction on where he wants our ministry to go this year. 

Thank you so much for deciding to partner with us in this work! We can't wait to see the things God does this year. Thanks for reading!

Much love,
Danielle 

Friday, July 1, 2016

Danielle's July Update

The countdown has begun! Countdown to my wedding, to the end of summer and the start of school. It's also a reminder that our staff team has one month left to raise all of our funds for the coming school year.  Please stop and say a prayer that God would provide for the financial needs of our staff this year. Pray that God would send donors who can commit long-term support so that we can continue to do this ministry He has called us to. Thank you to those of you who have supported or are about to join our team. I'm so grateful for you!

The other major project our staff is working on this summer, in addition to continuing Summer FOCUS, is building our leader teams for the coming school year. The Denton team is incredibly blessed to have over 50 students that are interested in leadership...now we just have to meet with them all! We are praying that God gives us wisdom and discernment in choosing students that He wants to lead on our campuses next year.

I'll leave you with a neat testimony from one of our students involved in FOCUS at UT Arlington, named Brooklyn:


"I grew up with a single mom and was privileged to grow up in a Christian household. Leaving for school was a big step for me, and I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Coming into college I felt I had two options: I could go off, explore the party scene, and be rebellious in ways that I never really have, or I could pursue my faith. During welcome week I met some of the student leaders in FOCUS; they really seemed to be interested in my life and pursued my friendship in a way that I wasn’t used to. I took that as my sign. Since then, my corefas and the other leaders in FOCUS have taught me, and displayed what living life with Jesus as a disciple looks like. Prior to college I was a Christian, but I wouldn’t say I was a disciple. Studying [the Bible] challenged me in that aspect. I have come to know how freeing it is to give my life completely over to God and let him set my priorities. Most of my favorite memories from my freshman year have centered around, or at least involved, the friends I have made in FOCUS. I have made deep, meaningful, Christ‐centered relationships that I wouldn’t have found, or known how to find without community. FOCUS has loved me in a way that I haven’t experienced outside of my family, and as an orientation leader, I want all of my freshman orientees to have that as well."

I hope her story is encouraging to you and gives you a glimpse into the change that we get to see all the time!

Thanks for reading and much love!
Danielle <3

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Danielle's June Update

This summer is going to be full of changes for me, so I'm currently trying to build a giant to-do list! In just a couple of weeks I'll be moving to Denton where Matt and I will live and continue to do ministry together. I'll be working primarily with students at Texas Woman's University and The University of North Texas, which I'm super excited about. Next week is my last week of work at the speech therapy clinic I've been working at for a few hours a week, in addition to ministry. Thankfully, I just had a job interview today for a new speech therapy position in Denton, and it's right next to the TWU campus! God always exceeds my hopes and expectations in the way that he provides. To address the question that everyone's been asking these days: yes, wedding planning is going well :)

Now that school is out our ministry is working on strategic planning for the upcoming years, as well as building our student leader teams for the 2016-2017 school year. This is a challenging process, but God has provided us with so many potential leaders that we probably won't even be able to take all of them! This is definitely a good "problem" to have. In order for us to give each student leader (corefa) a good year of ministry, we want to be sure that we have enough staff members to adequately meet with all of them personally. We wish we could have them all. Please be praying for wisdom and discernment from God about which students he would like to be in leadership positions this coming year. 

Speaking of leaders, remember our SICM trip? We had a blast, and many of our potential student leaders returned with a vision for campus ministry and increased enthusiasm to lead their peers. Thanks for all your prayers!
Beautiful view of our last day at SICM
SICM student selfie
Collin students at SICM--the people I worked with all year
New Denton staff team (minus our intern Brittany)
(left to right): Miriam, Cody, Aaron, Matt, me
One more major thing I'll be working on this summer is fundraising. For those of you transitioning off my support team, I would like to thank you for all you've done this year to serve our ministry. We couldn't have done it without you! For those of you who are continuing on my support team, I want to thank you for your ongoing faithfulness to the mission! I'll be following up with you all in the next couple of months and I look forward to catching up! For everyone: if there is anyone you know that's excited about campus missions and would be interested in joining my team, please let me know!

Thanks for reading! Next month I'll update you on how summer FOCUS has been going (we just started last week!). I hope I'll still have my head on my shoulders by then! ;)

Much love,
Danielle

Monday, May 9, 2016

Danielle's May Update

Last night we celebrated our end of the year FOCUS Banquet for the Collin students. This transition from Collin College up to Denton will be sad for a few reasons, but mostly because I'm leaving this amazing group of students that I love so deeply. It has been an honor and a blessing to serve God beside them these past two years. I'm so thankful for the time I've had with them! We also took some time to reflect on the past year and how God has worked. I got to hear some awesome testimonies of how lives were changed this year, to God's glory!

Collin FOCUS Leader Team 2015-2016
Me with my Peer Team: the girls I mentored this semester
In just a few days I'll be leaving for Washington with a large crew of staff and students for Student Institute of Campus Ministry (SICM)! This is such an exciting time for me because one of my favorite aspects of campus ministry is building up and mentoring leaders. At SICM our students will have the opportunity to catch the vision of Jesus' style of ministry, which is what we try to emulate here on campus. One student in particular named Caleb shared this in response to how God has worked this year: "God is sending a guy like me, who only a year ago hated being around people, up to Washington to learn how to love people like Jesus." Amen to that! God is great! Please be in prayer for us as we travel.

Lastly, I wanted to thank all of you that have been on my financial and spiritual support team this past year. Thank you for choosing to invest in something so important and literally life-changing for so many people. I always think of you and thank God for you. I'm excited to make a transition to the Denton FOCUS Staff this summer, and I hope and pray that you will consider staying on my support team. I would love to update you on the awesome things God is doing in Denton too!

Here is a picture of the 2015-2016 Collin FOCUS Staff that I had the privilege of working with this year. Our four interns have all decided to go on to different things, including graduate studies and job opportunities. Garrett and I had a blast working with them and helping them grow as disciples!

Garrett, Katelyn, me, Matt, Albert and JD
Much love!

Danielle


Friday, April 1, 2016

Danielle's April Update

Before I tell you about what our ministry has been up to this past month, I first want to remind you of our fundraiser Spring Showcase! This entertaining event is happening tomorrow! You won't want to miss it this year! Here are the details again:

Tomorrow, April 2nd, 2016
Art sale begins at 6:30
Concert begins at 7:30
North Dallas Community Bible Fellowship
Purchase tickets online here or at the door
Tickets are $20 for adults

This event is to help raise funds for our students who can't afford SICM. There will be art sale with pieces that have been donated by some of our SICM students and other members of our community. You have to get there at 6:30 if you want to get your favorites! Last year I waited too long to purchase a picture of a squirrel that I loved, and now it's hanging on my friend's wall instead. Moral of the story: get there early! The concert will include vocal and instrumental performances by some of our most talented students. Please consider attending (or even donating to) this special event!

Okay, so now that you're going to Showcase, let me tell you about March in FOCUS. For all the Collin FOCUS parents that may be reading, I want to thank you for coming to our Parent Night this past month! We love meeting the families of the students that we work with, and especially getting to see who looks like which parent :)

Garrett speaking at Parent Night
Every year after Spring Break, we host a group of students from Western Washington University who have chosen to spend their break reaching out to students on our campuses. They call this SSI (Spring Student Impact). This is also a great time for our students to continue engaging the campus in spiritual conversation, as we do every week. We had display boards with questions like: "When you die, you rot! But does the real you disappear?" and "Everyone talks about love. What does it really look like?" The goal is simply to create an environment where people can talk openly about spiritual things, as well as get the chance to learn more about God if they choose.




Having the Washington students reach out on our campuses is really encouraging. One of them (his name is Austin) told us a story about a guy he met at UNT three years ago when he came to Texas for the first time with SSI. Austin remembered that the guy was blind and was sitting on a bench in the middle of campus. He felt the Spirit drawing him to this student so he stopped and asked if he could pray for him. The student declined but they ended up having a long conversation about life and spiritual things. Well, Austin had the opportunity to run into the same guy at UNT, who happened to remember him too! The student still wasn't interested in talking about Jesus, but this served as an encouraging reminder to Austin the lengths that God is willing to go to show how much he loves his people. What a neat story! God is constantly pursuing us, even those that have yet to give their lives to Him. Praise God for his goodness!

One last bit of news I'm excited to share with you: Just a couple of weeks ago I got engaged to my sweetie, Matt Clark. We are getting married in July and we couldn't be more excited! Over the summer I'll be moving to Denton and will start working with the Denton FOCUS team, primarily at Texas Woman's University. I'm sad to be leaving Collin College but am looking forward to an exciting new beginning. For those of you who have been on my support team for a while, you may remember that I completed my internship year in Denton at UNT. I'm so thankful that I'll be going back and get to make relationships with a bunch of new students! Please pray for me during this time of wedding planning, which can often become pretty stressful.

I get to marry this guy!
Much love to you and thanks for reading!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Danielle's March Update

Even though February had an extra day this year, it still didn't seem long enough! I can't complain though, because that means Spring Break is that much closer ;)

One of the biggest things happening in our ministry right now is preparation for SICM (Student Institute of Campus Ministry). Each May we select a large group of students to attend a week-long, intensive ministry conference in Washington state. This has always been incredibly formative for our students, and often those who attend the conference will become leaders in our community. At SICM, our students learn how to be ministers to their peers by facilitating small groups, reaching out to students on campus, and studying Jesus' style of ministry.

group sicm

We plan to take around 100 students and the cost of the trip is often more than the average student can afford (due to the price of plane tickets). We encourage our students to have individual fundraisers of all kinds in order to raise the money. FOCUS also hosts a large fundraiser for all the SICM students called Spring Showcase.  If you live in the Dallas area, I strongly recommend that you come check it out! It's a fun night of entertainment provided by students in our ministries. There will be an art show with original art from students and a concert as well. Tickets are $20 online and you can buy them here. I hope to see you there!


One more thing I wanted to tell you about: this past weekend I was honored to be able to baptize one of the girls on our leader team named Lore. She has been serving in our ministry since August and has such a sweet heart for the Lord and for others. She has been living her life for God for a while now but decided to be obedient to God's command to be baptized. I'm so excited for her and for what God's Spirit is doing in her life!


Praise God! I want to thank you for investing in the change that God is making in the lives of these students. This wouldn't be possible without your support! 

Much love! 

Danielle

Monday, February 1, 2016

Danielle's February Update

Entire group that attended Winter Camp 2016
Hello friends and supporters! Our biggest event of the year, Winter Camp 2016, was amazing, as it always is. Each year it gets better and better. We had around 500 students, alumni, and parents attend our 4 day long camp at Sky Ranch. This year we were blessed to have Rikk Watts (New Testament Scholar and professor at Regent College in Vancouver) as our speaker. Many of our staff and students have listened to his lectures on the New Testament before, including myself. I can honestly say that his teachings have changed the way I view God, Jesus and the Scriptures. If you're interested in hearing his lectures from Winter Camp, you can listen here.
Rikk Watts teaching his series "Who was Jesus?"
In addition to hearing Rikk speak, our students had plenty of time to build deeper friendships, play games, worship God, and grow together. We also use the opportunity of having our entire ministry, all 9 campuses, listen to a talk on Dating for Disciples (quite the hot topic in campus ministry!). We had an open-mic sharing night the week after Winter Camp for our students to share their biggest take-away from the weekend. So many of them raved about Rikk Watts and the wisdom that he shared about Jesus. Another handful of them talked about how many friends they made and how FOCUS has become their family. I met with two girls this past Saturday to start studying the Bible with them, all because they went to camp and were spurred on to know Jesus more.

Collin College students and alumni at camp
Back in my December update, I talked about how Collin College blessed our ministry by providing money for our students to attend camp, which reduced the cost from $150 to $50 per student. This made a huge difference in the number of students that were able to attend, and most of those students have been consistent in attending our large group meetings and cores since going to camp. Praise God for the way he works!

As you may remember, at the end of 2015 we launched the 2nd Annual Keep FOCUS Growing Initiative, our largest fundraiser of the year. The FOCUS staff promised the students that if we reached our goal of raising $45,000 that we would do a Polar Plunge (we would jump into freezing cold water because that's how much we love them). Well, to our surprise, we reached our goal of raising $45,000 to keep FOCUS growing!! If you were someone that donated to this initiative, I want to personally thank you for the investment that you've made. I can promise you that investing in campus ministry is worth it, to see lives changed for the glory of God. This is something that I get to witness every single day, which is all due to those of you who support us financially and through prayer. I am so grateful to you! Here is a video of the Collin FOCUS staff doing the Polar Plunge! Try not to be deafened by my screams ;)


Thanks for reading and supporting what we do! Much love to all of you!

Danielle

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Danielle's January Update

Happy New Year! The start of a new year for a campus minister is exciting but often bittersweet. Students graduate and move on, but new students are constantly shuffling in. It's a time to reflect on the previous year's blessings while making goals for the next one. It's a time of planning and reflection. I would like to briefly reflect with you on some of the things God has done in FOCUS in 2015. 

  • Raised $31,000 from our 1st Annual Keep FOCUS Growing Initiative
  • Planted FOCUS ministries at The University of Texas at Arlington and North Central Texas College
  • Hosted 12 students and 2 ministry interns from Western Washington University for a week to reach out to students on our campuses
  • Raised $8,500 from our SICM showcase concert to send students to the Student Institute of Campus Ministry
  • Held Pizza Theology events to teach students about Heaven, Hell, and Everything in Between, and another one on How to Think Like a Christian
  • Sent 80 students to the Student Institute of Campus Ministry in Washington
  • Added 14 new ministry interns to our staff (and a new Admin Director)
  • Taught our students about the Holy Spirit and his impact on our lives
  • Held the 2nd Annual Keep FOCUS Growing Initiative (money is still coming in!)
  • Studied the Bible with countless new and international students across our campuses
  • Trained students to lead their peers in faith and in life
And that's the list that applies to all of our campuses. I could add even more that God has done through our ministry at Collin College specifically. 2015 was a year of tremendous growth in numbers and in connection to Jesus. GOD IS GREAT!

UTA Ministry

IMG_20150930_171500.jpg
Students from NCTC with staff

FOCUS staff 2015-2016
Students praying at SICM
Hoping and praying that 2016 will be a year full of continued blessing and provision from the Lord as last year was. Coming up this month is our biggest event of the year, Winter Camp! I'm so excited and can't wait to share all about it! Thanks to all of you who have continued to support FOCUS this year, because without you none of these things would have been possible! 
I'll leave you with some photos from our Collin Christmas Party last month:

Me and my "Peer Team" that I mentor

Collin FOCUS Staff 2015-2016


Thanks for reading! Much love <3