Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Merry Christmas!--Danielle's December Update

Our students are taking their finals and the year is quickly coming to a close. This has been one of the fastest semesters that I can remember. I have been reflecting on what God has taught me these past 6 months, and while there has been a lot, the most important thing has been GRACE.

I mess up a lot, I can be harsh, critical and unloving. I can be quick to judge. The Lord has taught me that 'mercy triumphs over judgment' (James 2:13), and that 'out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given' (Jn 1:16). Many people in my life have shown such grace to me this past year, and the Lord is definitely wanting me to take notice! Even though I still struggle with this, in his kindness God is showing me how. Our Father is so very good and I am undeserving!

Our students wrapped up the year with a Christmas party on Saturday, where the main event was a fort-building contest. The students went all out and brought supplies to build forts in our church so we could watch Home Alone and eat popcorn. Here are some fun photos from the night:

Guys fort

Two cores combined to make one giant fort

These lovely ladies were the champions! Their fort is in the back, modeled after a Christmas tree. These ladies meet at my house every Tuesday so this fancy trophy will be stationed at my home. 

Singing Christmas songs 

Me and my peer team--the girls I meet with weekly and mentor

Our Collin Staff team (L to R): Pedro, Garrett, Cody, me, Alex, Sam and Sloan
Thanks to all of you who donated to the Keep FOCUS Growing fundraiser! We raised over $75K!! Isn't our God incredible? He is surely preparing us to reach even more students across the metroplex with this gift. Thank you again for your generosity and how you have helped make this happen!

Here is our student testimony for the month: 

"I grew up in a church where community was surface level and nobody really cared to know who I was. I was also a very timid child and didn't have anyone to show me what it meant to be vulnerable with people and do life with them. That changed in the summer of 2014 before my junior year of high school, where people who had been in FOCUS began investing in me through the teen ministry at Northeast Church in Garland. A wonderful woman named Jamiann spent one-on-one time with me, and during this time God taught me the value of reading scripture with other people, how to apply what I was learning, and to have a vision for what life with Christ looks like. Jamiann went on to baptize me in March of 2015.

Having been invested in this way, I knew I wanted to go to a college that had a FOCUS ministry on its campus, so I decided to go to UNT. Transitioning from high school to college was difficult. I continued to struggle with fully being myself; but my Corefa during my freshman year, Sam, spent one-on-one time with me and I slowly began to open myself up in ways I never knew I could. God used her to show me that I was valuable by having fun or serious conversations with me, giving me rides, and always letting me know she was just a phone call away. Through my friendships in FOCUS, God set me free from worrying about my self-worth, from feeling like I was defined by worldly standards, and from feeling alone. Now I’m a Corefa, and I am able to further invest in girls in my Core and disciple them in the ways I was discipled."

Crystal Machuca
Junior, UNT
English, Spanish major