Celebrating New Life on Good Friday

Peaking out from under the recent snowfall, I noticed when we returned from our trip to New York City, that the bulbs we planted in our empty front flower bed in the fall had begun popping through the soil.  Every day, as I see these beautiful, vibrant blooms opening up one by one, I am reminded of the new life that I have in Christ.  How perfect that God planned for spring, the season that we celebrate Easter and the death and resurrection of Christ, to be the season that we are surrounded by new life in His creation as well.  I adore this time of year when the snow melts, the grass is greener, flowers begin blooming after the cold winter, and signs of life are all around us, replacing the death and cold of winter with warmth and life.  It is a sweet reminder of the life that I have been freely given in Christ. John 11:25-26

Why is this Friday so good?  When Jesus said “It is finished,” He was saying, I’ve “Paid in Full” the penalty for us all.  Because Christ loved us, He who was perfect and without sin, paid for our sins so that we could have new life in Him.  Are you celebrating new life this Easter weekend?

“Oh praise the one who paid my debt and raised this life up from the grave!”

Amazing Grace
How sweet the sound
Amazing Love
Now flowing down
From hands and feet
That were nailed to the tree
As Grace flows down and covers me

(Grace Flows Down, Christy Nockels)

I am reminded of these lyrics today that we sang during our wedding ceremony.  You can listen here.

I also wanted to share the wonderful ideas I found on Faithful Provisions for celebrating the true meaning of Easter with children in creative ways.  If you don’t yet have plans to talk about the death and resurrection of our Savior with your little ones this Easter weekend, you still have time to check out these two activities that are a perfect way to share in this holiday as a family.  They are planned out for you, including recipes, scripture to read together, and conversation prompters.  Get in the kitchen tomorrow and make Empty Tomb Cookies or Resurrection Rolls together!  Because we desire to have meaningful family traditions some day with our own children, I have these activities bookmarked for the day when we have a family of our own.

I would love for you leave comments or link to posts where you have shared about special traditions that you have in your family to teach your children about the death and resurrection of Christ.  How do you mark Easter weekend with your children?

Spring Break in the Big Apple

After a crazy start to our week in NYC, with heavy downpours and 55 mph winds, the last of our students arrived safely late yesterday after braving weather delays, canceled flights and nights spent in the airport. We have 20 students from the Denver area joining our Denver staff team and the NYC Campus Crusade for Christ ministry for spring break in the City!

Throughout the week, we will be spending time on campus crossing cultures, sharing our faith, and helping the NYC team launch ethnic student movements on college campuses across the city that don’t yet have established ministries. We will also be spending a day with the International Arts Movement, learning about how God is at work through artists in the city, and volunteering with an after school program who provides a safe haven for young students at the end of their school day. And you can’t visit the Big Apple without enjoying some of the unique experiences and fun the City has to offer, so we’ll also be seeing a Broadway show and visiting the top of the Rockefeller Center for amazing views of the city.

Will you be praying with us for life change as a result of this week spent in the City by faith?

  • Pray with us that decisions for Christ will be made as students take steps of faith and share the Gospel on campus.
  • Pray that we will meet students on campuses across the city who desire to be leaders of ethnic student movements on their college campuses.
  • Pray that God will use this week in big ways in the hearts and lives of our Denver students, opening their eyes to the varied and even surprising ways He is at work in the lives of people who share both similarities and great differences from their own life experiences, giving them a greater vision for how He is calling them to be a part of changed lives as a result of the Gospel, and an understanding of God’s heart for both His people and His cities.
  • And pray for safety for our Denver staff and students throughout our week in NYC!

Thank you for joining with us in prayer. We are excited to share stories of how lives were changed this week and how you were a part of God’s work in the Big Apple, after we return to Denver!

The End of the Year!

This past week was our last week of ministry for the school year, which meant a full schedule of meetings, evaluation and planning for the fall, our last staff social of the semester, meeting with students, and an end-of-the-year party to recognize the seniors in our ministry and send our students off for the summer!

I kicked off the week by hosting a celebration dinner for my small group girls.  We had a time for each girl to share how God has been at work in their life this year and we also had a time of prayer over each person.  It was a sweet way to end our year together!

UT Small Group End Year Dinner

For our staff team, part of the week was spent at a planning retreat at a lakehouse 2 hours outside of Austin.  One of our ministry partners was able to arrange the location for us and it was a blessing for our team!

Lakehouse View

Some of our staff team taking an afternoon break from meetings to play bocce ball.

bocce ball
Staff Team End Lakehouse
On Thursday night, there was an end of the year party for our UT Epic ministry to send off the students for the summer and recognize the seniors who are graduating from our movement.  Truman shared a few words of encouragement with the seniors and issued a challenge for them as they begin a new chapter in their lives.

RedCarpet

The Seniors walking the “Red Carpet”

Seniors

Two of the girls in my bible study asked if I would bake the cake for our End of the Year Party. I decorated it to reflect the Hollywood theme of the Senior Recognition night.

09 Epic Grad Cake

I will be sad not to meet with these sweet girls to study the Word together every week! Three of them are graduating and off to their next adventures! Three of them are heading off on summer mission trips to East Asia. I am so excited to hear their stories of how God is at work in and through them this summer!

UT Small Group End Year

Please pray for our students this summer!  Pray that they would honor God and continue to grow in their faith wherever they are this summer.

We are SO thankful for our team of ministry partners!  This year of ministry would not have been possible without your faithful prayers and financial support!  We have been incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to share in what God has done this year in the lives of college students.

Epic Anthology Conference

We have arrived in Dallas for our Epic Anthology Conference!  Tonight, over 100 students will fill these seats.  We will spend the weekend seeking God together and exploring how our individual stories fit within God’s big story.

emptyroom

Our Austin ESM team has spent months planning this weekend.  This is the first ever central Epic Conference for the Asian American students in our region.  We are praying that God will use this time to greatly impact the lives of students!  Will you pray with us?

stage1

The Bible is an anthology- a collection of stories that lead to one overarching story – God’s Story. It is an anthology that records how God’s plan is played out from the perfect beginning of time to the now brokenness of humanity… from the rescuing of humanity to the complete restoration of His Kingdom.

The Epic conference is designed for us to explore these stories and find out how ours fit within…

We are part of the anthology.

anthology

We know of many students who are attending with a friend and don’t already have a personal relationship with Christ.  We also believe that many of our students who are involved with Epic are going to meet with the Lord and be challenged, make significant decisions about their lives, consider where they are going to invest their summers, and be faced with the reality of how God desires to use their lives as a part of His story.  Please pray with us that God will radically change the lives of students this weekend!

FUN News! We’re going to…

(drumroll…)

be on TV!!!

homemadesimplescreen

Can you even believe it?!?  Truman and I have been selected for an episode of the TLC show, Home Made Simple! If you haven’t seen it, it airs on Saturdays at noon on TLC. Set your DVR to check it out!  Tomorrow, Monday, Home Made Simple is invading our home with their crew for 3 full days to tackle some projects around our house. We can’t wait!

Here’s a bit of the story….
Back in late October or early November, Truman’s sister, Carita, nominated us for the show online. She received an error message from the website after she hit submit, so she wasn’t even sure her nomination form had gone through. But, she soon received an e-mail from a production coordinator at TLC. They were interested in our story and requested photos of Truman & me and our home. Carita shared with us that she had nominated us, and asked if we were interested in the opportunity. Of course we said yes!

A week after Carita submitted the photos, I received a call from an associate producer that they were going to be in Austin that week and wanted to schedule a time to come by, meet Truman & me, and see our home. Later that week, two of the producers came over to visit us and tape a casting video.

hmstruambpic
We received the call just before Christmas that we had been selected!

If you aren’t familiar with the show, the hosts, the Mavens, teach simple do-it-yourself solutions for your every day life. From decorating to organization, they tackle projects with the help of family and friends that simplify your home and simplify your life. They will even spend some time in the kitchen with us, giving cooking lessons on some dishes & skills we’d love to learn. We can’t wait to find out which projects we are going to work on together this week!

You can click here to check out the website and see some of their great ideas for everything from entertaining to meals, as well as highlights from some of the past episodes & families.

hms-screen-laptop
We are so excited and feel incredibly blessed to have this unique opportunity! Quite honestly, it’s still a bit surreal that in just a few days, we’ll be on “set” in our home, shooting our hour long episode. It feels even more surreal that people across the country are going to be watching us on TV later this year. I’m trying not to think too much about that part of the show until after we finish taping!  It’s just a tiny bit intimidating! I have watched TLC for years and love their shows. It is still so crazy to me that we get to be a part of it.

Well, the crew arrives early tomorrow, so I need to get some sleep!  I just wanted to take a few minutes and share our fun news with you! I have a feeling I’m going to be exhausted each night after a 12 hour day of taping, but I’ll try my best to post updates as we shoot this week!

Please be praying for us as you think of us Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week!  They often do an intro segment on the show to share the story of the family they are working with, so we are hoping to be able to share quite a bit about our ministry! You can be praying for my health & that I’ll have energy on the days we are taping…they are long days. You can also pray that we can really be a light for Christ, both with the crew that will be working with us for those three days and with the audience that will later view our episode.

We truly believe that God has blessed us with this opportunity and we can’t wait to see what He has in store for us! What a fun way to kick off 2009!

rachelfinalsbasket

This week was finals week for the students we work with at the University of Texas. I have many memories of my finals weeks in college….too little sleep, hours and hours and hours of studying & writing lengthy papers, countless cups of coffee, dreaded scan trons and blue books, not washing my hair for days, but managing to squeeze in fun and laughter with friends in between marathon study sessions.

finalsbasket

As a way to love on & encourage the girls I disciple, I surprised them on dead day during their marathon study sessions with a “Finals Survival Kit.” A basket of goodies filled with their favorite snacks, hot chocolate for when they are totally coffeed out, notecards and magnetic bookmarks to mark their spot in their textbooks, and a gel mask for mornings of puffy eyes after nights of little sleep.

(Side note: Everyone should have a gel mask! Keep it in the refrigerator and pull it out on mornings when you’ve not gotten enough sleep or when you have puffy eyes from crying. I’ve had one for years and it’s gotten quite a lot of use!)

joyfinalsbasket

I love these girls and their hearts to serve Jesus and others & enjoyed doing a little something to brighten their day during their exam week! Do you have a student in your life? Let them know that you care by surprising them with a little love in the midst of their exams or a heavy project week. We all need a little extra love sometimes! Who can you encourage this week?

Fall Retreat: The Summer Camp Edition

This past weekend, we headed off to Giddings, Texas for our Fall Retreat!

I have to admit that when I was packing last Thursday night, everything in me wanted to pull out some sweaters and my fleece. When I think back to my fond memories of attending fall retreat as a student, I think of…

But, in Texas fashion, we are still hitting temperatures in the high 80’s, so this fall retreat experience felt a lot more like a weekend at summer camp! No bonfires for us. No hot chocolate. No colorful leaves. Instead, it was a weekend full of shorts & flip flops, sunscreen & swimsuits.

23 of our students from the University of Texas and UTSA Epic joined over 150 students from several other Texas colleges. Our students had chances to connect with each other & God, hear challenging truths from the Word about the call to live with perseverance, worship together and laugh…a lot.

I have to share a few of our laughs from a game we played during our campus time. Teams of 5 sat in lines. A category was announced and the first team, starting with the first person in their line, had to list off qualifying answers. If the next person in line paused or answered incorrectly, the next team would begin. It’s a fast paced, rapid fire game, where you definitely have to think quick….or some funny answers might slip out!

Some of the funny responses we heard over the weekend…. (the students who blurted these responses out shall remain nameless to protect their identity.)

Books of the Bible starting with the letter J: Genesis?

Countries in South America: Nigeria?

Prime Numbers: giggles…

Female Names Starting with the Letter P: Peebee? (do you mean, Phoebe?)

US States with Two Names: Mary-land

Last night, Tru & I were walking back to our room and we heard some rustling in the grass. Tru looked over and said, what is that? After a closer look, we realized it was an armadillo! This was definitely my first armadillo sighting.

My prayer for each of our students is that when they think back to this weekend, they will not only remember the laughter, games & Fall Olympics, but they will remember how God met them during their 3 days in Giddings. I pray that their hearts were changed, that they were challenged to run the race with perseverance, that friendships were made, and that their passion for making God known on their campuses was ignited.


Posted by Amber