Thursday, November 21, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving---Danielle's November Update

I apologize for my late update this month! Thanks for taking the time to read and see what we've been up to at Collin :)

October is often a rather long month in campus ministry. It's the time for mid-terms and what some of us like to call the "October Blues." Half of our students tend to get a bit discouraged around this time of year with all the responsibilities of school, work, and ministry. One of the themes our staff and students have been relying on during this time comes from Philippians 4. 

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 
Do not be anxious about anything,
but in every situation, by prayer and petition,
with thanksgiving,
present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. 

I have used this refrain for many students in our weekly times together and have seen God refresh and encourage, bring peace and thanksgiving. Now we are only a few weeks away from the end of the semester and God has continued to be faithful in our community. Praise God! 

Here are some photos from the past month in ministry:

Dr. Mary Poplin, author of Finding Calcutta, spoke to our students about her latest book Is Reality Secular?
Our 4 Collin apprentices dressed up for Halloween TNF. Two 80's ladies and Gandalf and Frodo!

We had an outreach event on Halloween and encouraged our students to come in costume! Here is a gypsy with Guy Fieri ;)

We served free hot dogs to the students for our Halloween outreach event. We served around 300 hot dogs that day! Even thought it was cold the students came out to eat and fellowship. 

Another fun bit of news for those that haven't heard: my husband, Matt, and I are expecting a baby girl in April 2020! We are thrilled and so thankful to God for blessing us with this sweet gift. We have prayed a long time for this and can't believe how good God has been. Thanks for keeping us in your prayers! 

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

With love, 
Danielle <3

Monday, September 30, 2019

God Is Faithful---Danielle's September Update

The first two months of school have flown by and have reminded me of how faithful our God is. We welcomed Collin students to the campus during the first week of classes with games, bad tattoos, food, and fun. We were on the campus every day meeting new students and offering them an opportunity to be involved in a loving, God-centered community. Here are some photos:

One of my favorite events (and our most popular)!

My dancing banana tattoo was requested by several students ;)

Games on the lawn

We did tie-dye t-shirts too!

Our first Thursday Night Fellowship meeting of the year
We met so many new students who were looking for friends and community. Many of them have stuck around and attended our Fall Camp, which happened just a couple weekends ago. Our theme for camp this year was "Community," and we looked for ways to cast a vision for what Godly community looks like. Here are some photos from that weekend:

Organized indoor games--the best part of camp

A "Survivor" style game that involved completing a puzzle while blindfolded

Packed house for praise and worship!
We are planning some big things for the remainder of the semester, including "outreach" challenges and a BIG party for the entire campus! Thanks so much for all your love, prayers, and support. God is bringing people in, changing hearts, and healing lots of brokenness. It is amazing to see and it never gets old. We couldn't do this stuff without you!

Thanks for reading!


Monday, August 5, 2019

The School Year Has Begun---Danielle's Ministry Update

Our Collin staff team just returned from a 3 day retreat to bond as a new team and prepare for the coming year. We read a book by Henri Nouwen called "In the Name of Jesus," a short but powerful look at the temptations that Christian leaders face while doing ministry. We have four new apprentices joining our team this year and we are so excited for the new personalities and fresh perspective they will bring! Our Collin team is now the largest it has ever been.  

Our 2019-2020 Collin Staff Team

Me with Jacy, an apprentice I'm supervising this year

We also spent time praying and planning for our student leaders this year and what groups they will be leading. We have 23 student leaders who have volunteered to help lead their peers through small group discussion and one-on-one Bible study. Please be in prayer for them as they prepare to get out of their comfort zones to reach as many as possible on the campus! School starts August 26th, so we will be meeting with our leaders to prepare them for what's ahead. Many of them are leading for the first time! 

As a side note, I wanted to share with you another neat experience I had in July. I attended our church's Teen Camp for the first time and I was absolutely blown away by the experience. God is working miracles and radically changing the lives of these teens! At first, I was very skeptical of the process and felt that maybe these teens were faking it or experiencing a "camp high." When we returned home though, so many of them were making huge changes and following through with the goals they set for themselves. One of the most amazing stories I saw at camp involved a girl who had been severely bullied. This big football player at her school had even told her to go kill herself. Well this boy ended up at camp (miraculously), and one evening the teens had the opportunity to confront people they had wronged. This young girl walked up to the boy that had bullied her and said, "I forgive you." At that moment, this big football player began to sob, embraced her, and apologized profusely for how he had treated her. That boy's life was changed right then and there. Praise our God for he is good!! 

Teen Camp 2019, photo cred: Jordyn Von Runnen

Thank you so much for investing in the lives of young people! They are the church of today and need people to believe in them. I'm so thankful to have a team like you behind them! 

With love, 


Friday, July 5, 2019

Summer and June SICM---Danielle's Ministry Updates

June was a month full of students growing in their capacity to lead and share their faith! Every year we send a group of students who have shown interest and growth to SICM (Student Institute of Campus Ministry). SICM is a week-long ministry training in Bellingham, Washington. This year we sent over 30 students to our June SICM from Collin College, SMU, and Richland College! It was a blast to get to see the students connect with each other and grow in the Lord.

I hope that the pictures below are encouraging and a faithful reminder as to how much your support means to me and what it is going toward!

Praying and commissioning the students after the conference

Students in class

The whole group of students and staff at SICM

The girls I stayed with for the week, including some staff

L to R: Kristin, Sandra, and I. Kristin is a staff member at CCF that runs SICM. She used to be part of FOCUS at UNT and is a dear friend. 

Garrett and I both celebrated our birthdays while at SICM. This is our staff birthday dinner. Garrett is the one hiding his face behind his hoodie like a crazy person. 

We caught a rainbow! 
Thanks for reading and for your generous prayers and support. We are training up a new group of leaders because of what you have invested in this ministry. Thank you so much!

<3 Danielle

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

End of the Year---Danielle's Ministry Updates

This week is bittersweet as I say "goodbye for now" to students that are transferring, but also as I receive a much needed break from the hectic schedule as we head into summer. This past weekend we had our End of Year Banquet to celebrate what God has done at Collin this year. We had a great time eating, dancing, and honoring different people. Here are some photos from the night:

Our 2018-2019 Collin Staff Team. We said goodbye to Alex (far left), Sloan & Sam (last two on far right).

Thank you so much for being part of my support team this school year. God has moved in the lives of these students, and I wouldn't have been able to devote time to their development without your financial support. I would love to tell you a story about a student leader of mine, named Bailey, who has made significant strides in her walk with God this year. Here's her story:

When I started the year I had a lot of aggression and I wasn’t sure where it was coming from. I had felt as though no one cared about me, especially God. I can remember having a conversation with Danielle where I told her that I felt she was being my biggest critic, not my biggest fan. I just look back on my first semester being so upset, feeling sad, annoyed, and aggressive and aggravated all the time. The only thing that really seemed to give me joy was my job. I was barely even surviving. It was not even close to living. On the flip side of this, and why it became so hard, is that my whole life I have struggled with vulnerability. I never wanted to be honest about what is really going on in my life. Instead I wanted to push people away. God continued to reveal over and over that this year was never going to be about what I wanted, but about what I needed.

With Danielle and Garrett, this year I finally realized that. With their encouragement, I finally talked about every issue I had been facing. I basically broke down in the middle of this Chick Fil A in Allen. The equivalent of my worst nightmare, but also the beginning of God starting to show me how broken I was and still am. Spurred on from my weekly conversations with Danielle, my roommates and I began to discuss how I struggle with not feeling loved unless I do things for people. I struggle with people-pleasing so hard that I can’t be honest with my opinions. I just don’t understand how God or anyone wants to friends with me. Through my roommates and through Scripture, God has shown me that he wants to be my friend. If I am not honest or don’t show my true self in community then I am missing out on the real aspects of community. I have learned that honesty and vulnerability doesn’t mean people will be judgmental or think differently of me, but that they will embrace the real me and push me towards a God who loves me. The Scripture this year that has been pushing me toward all of this is Matthew 3:16-17 “So Jesus was baptized. As soon as he came up out of the water, the sky opened, and he saw God’s Spirit coming down on him like a dove. A voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, the one I love. I am very pleased with him.’”

Thanks for reading! Until next month

<3 Danielle

Friday, April 12, 2019

Showcase and SSI---Danielle's April Update

Thanks to all of you that came and/or donated to our Spring Showcase this year! The event was a total success. We are still working on the final amount that we raised, but it is definitely more than we made last year. Many of our students will receive funds towards their trip which will lower the cost significantly! Here are a few photos from the show that were highlights for me:

Two of the girls I mentor, Jordyn and Clarissa, performed a song together

This group of four grew up in our church family and are now in college doing Kingdom work. They are very musically talented too!

A sample of original art for sale at the show
Thanks again for your support of our ministry and investing in future leaders!

A week before Showcase we had a group of students from Western Washington University spend their Spring Break with us. Every year they send a group to one of our campuses to reach out to students that are lost or hurting. Here are some photos from the week:

This is the group that came from Washington. We took them to the Dallas Arboretum on their last day.

We asked students to share encouragements for their peers on campus and hang them up in the main atrium.

Many students stopped to share how God has blessed them.

This was as popular display: "Which issues do you wish to pray for or bring more awareness to?"

So many of our students were able to engage in conversation about spiritual things with their peers. 

Of course, we had to break out the T-rex costume for exposure. 
I was able to have some interesting conversations with many Christians and non-Christians on campus. One common theme we have seen is the number of students that believe truth is relative. This has been a difficult thing to combat as we seek to show students that Jesus is THE truth. Please be in prayer for our campus, that God would reveal himself as the one and only God that is love and truth. 

Thank you for reading and for your continued support! God has blown us away with his generosity this month and he has used you tremendously. 

Much love and until next time!

Monday, March 18, 2019

Spring is Here--Danielle's Ministry Updates

A few weeks ago we had an Open House for parents, family, and friends of FOCUS students at Collin. This is always a favorite of mine because I love getting to meet the families that have shaped the students I work with and love. We had a big turnout this year, and I got to meet so many families that were excited about how God has changed their students' lives through our ministry. Here are some photos and a testimony that one of my student leaders, Clarissa, shared that night: 

We added Spanish lyrics to the worship set to be more inclusive of families that don't speak English

Parents and families praising God together

It was a packed house!

One of the girls I mentor, Clarissa (pictured above singing), shared this story:
"I’m a sophomore here at Collin and this is my second year involved in this ministry. I really have a hard time with speaking about God and not making it all about me. I love to steal the show and I was really worried about doing that tonight so instead I’m going to tell you about a time where I really stunk it up and God was super faithful. Now before getting involved with FOCUS, I was every parent’s nightmare teenager. I knew about FOCUS from the time I started at Collin, and had met a good number of people who tried to befriend and include me. But I was not open. From my perspective, there was nothing wrong with the things I was doing and the way I was living. I was drinking, partying, doing drugs when a lot of y’all met me and I was just, in general, making a mess in my life. But God wasn’t done with me and didn’t want me to stay where I was. Over time, when that became clear to me, it was a long and painful process of confronting the choices I had been making. Through that, God kept putting these lovable nerds in my life and showed me the kind of work He had for me. The friends I’ve made while in this ministry are the best I’ve ever known and they are just as broken as I am, and God has and is still changing their hearts and lives 180°. One of the friends that comes to mind when I think of the work God has been doing in the lives of other people is a close friend I met about a year ago. The first time we hung out, she told me about her life and just the rough spot she was in. She’s experienced a lot of hurt and abuse, and was telling me how trapped she felt in her current relationship with someone who treated her terribly. She told me she wanted to take the leap and pursue a life with Christ but she was scared, and was worried about the repercussions of leaving her old life behind. But God is so good, and never stopped coming through. Her life since then has not been easy, but the reason I speak about her tonight is because she teaches me a lot about what it means to be a disciple. She is someone who loves people so well, and through what can only be the Holy Spirit, makes a real difference in other people’s lives. Definitely mine included. Through her and many others, God shows me that the life of a disciple is hard sometimes, there are unique struggles that come with thinking and acting differently than the world, and the temptation to make those old decisions creeps back up again at times, but it’s so rewarding to know God includes me in His plans for the world. So while I still have a long way to go, God has brought me so far from where I used to be."
God is changing lives and hearts here at Collin and this is just a small sample! Thank you so much for being part of this change and supporting what God is up to on campus. This wouldn't happen without you!

Much love,


Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Winter Camp 2019--Danielle's January Update

We just got back from Winter Camp yesterday and it was so much fun! We had about 600 students from all of our FOCUS campuses in attendance. Dr. John Stackhouse, our camp speaker, is a current Theology professor at Crandall University and former professor at Regent College in Vancouver. His theme was "Confronting the Zeitgeist: How Christians Should Respond to Culture Change."

Dr. Stackhouse's Facebook post about our Winter Camp!

I have listened to some of Dr. Stackhouse's lectures prior to camp and they have been very intellectually challenging. He spoke to our students about many different topics: Why did God create humans and what are the implications? What does it look like to have faith and deeds? Why didn't God make you more beautiful than you are? Dr. Stackhouse is such a gifted speaker and was able to explain complex theological ideas in simple terms for us to understand. It was such a blessing to hear him.

Some Collin gals at Camp

Praise and Worship at camp was really special

These are some ladies that meet at my house on Tuesday nights

Winter Camp 2019

Winter Camp 2009...See the difference? God is good!
Thanks so much for your prayers and support of our students! Many of them were brought closer to God this past weekend. Here is our latest student testimony: