5 year review

28 08 2013

Along comes May, bringing with it exams, Rockbridge, and goodbyes to IV seniors.

It also means that I’ve completed my FIFTH year as InterVarsity staff!  This spring my supervisor and his team did a 5 year review which highlighted my strengths and weaknesses over the years, how I’ve grown and developed skills in ministry.  It was a gift to be able to look back and see what God has done through me in this time.  Here are just a few snapshots of the things that excite me most!


To see the letter, click the link below! Sorry I can’t imbed it.

5 year letterpdf


year in review: 2011-12

20 06 2012

The year started out with an upheaval- literally, as I sat having a “let’s get ready” lunch with the Vision Team, a small earthquake shook the ground beneath us! After that, a hurricane pushed back the start of school, freshmen move-in and our leadership retreat.

Fall semester, 2011:

New Student Outreach: Watermelon bash, 4 square, tailgating, IHOP… we spent the first 4 weeks welcoming new students to campus & into our community.  Overall we contacted over 250 new students. “NSO” culminated with a retreat where 50 students attended, we gave $560 in scholarships.. and 1 came to faith!

Through the semester the average attendance at Crash was 95, we had 12 guest speakers, 2 noise complaints and had to move around to 3 different locations for the final 4 weeks…

Small groups studied the gospel of John, chapters 1-17 and we had 70 students involved in one of our 8 small groups.

Weekly prayer on Fridays “TGIF” did a prayer walk around campus, prayed for specific dorms and people we know there, walked to the future location of an International Ministry house, prayed for specific professors and majors, then did a 6 week series praying for different countries around the world.

Eastern Virginia Area Conference (EVA): November 18-20 total attendance of 275 with 41 ODU students coming and $440 given in scholarships

We ended 2011 with 2 new family members as Nick and Emily both started following Jesus!

Spring Semester, 2012

Small groups studied the letter to the Galatians, and we had 90 students involved in one of our 7 small groups.  Crash attendance went up to 95 on average, guest speakers were invited back or came for the first time, and 2 more students came to faith during one of these nights.

the Winter Retreat brought 46 students to Triple R Ranch, where we gave away $220 in scholarships and got to introduce Jenny Benson to the chapter as a new staff to the ODU team.

during Spring Break, 9 students chose to serve with CHAT and spent a week there learning about that community’s ministry in the inner city of Richmond.

Rockbridge, our big end of year finale, was attended by 49 ODU students, many of whom were being trained to lead on campus this coming year.  Praise God for the 18 small group leaders, 5 Vision Team members and Crash team of 6 who are equipped to lead boldly in this ministry!  Pray for them to retain this momentum over the summer of 2012.

During the 6 amazing days at Rockbridge, 4 ODU students in the Identity Transformed track decided to declare their commitment to following Jesus, and many others had significant moments of clarity and turning points in their spiritual growth.

Outside of our event-based invitations to follow Jesus, we also had an additional 3 students accept gift of salvation, in small groups and conversations with friends who are student leaders.  This makes a total of 10 new family members this school year.

Finally, Colleen Kramar came to visit and we announced her as the final member of our ODU Staff Team of 3!  Jenny, Collen and I are thrilled to be working together next year, taking these numbers and events and plans to the Lord and asking HIM to work.

I raised 100% of my $54,800 budget and was able to work 40-50 hours per week, mentoring these students, training them to lead, speaking at Crash, participating in University events and training and wearing oh about 5 hats at any given time!

Thank you for being an essential part of this ministry- this is what your financial support does at Old Dominion University!

students spending a summer in ministry

20 06 2012

I’m praying in particular for the InterVarsity Global Projects


Mary– in Port Victoria with Flora, a Kenyan college student, at an orphans school with Mama Rosemary

Candice– staffing this trip for the second time, is in Kwale at a Christian school, in a Muslim area, and preaching

Bri– at Tenwek hospital with 2 other American students, staying with Elisha & Joyce and their family.


Kevin & Patrick as they staff this trip with 9 students from Virginia, North Carolina & South Carolina.  Jonathan as he helps host them and is a liason together with his Haitian coworkers.  I’m guessing they will be with some of my Haitian friends from my visit last summer: Abbelard, Benaja, Zo, Job… and several other pastors and school teachers who work with Haiti Partners.

Other ODU students:

Katie with World Changers


Join me!  You can follow updates from the Haiti Global Project on Twitter #haitigp, hear from Bri on Facebook, and ask me about Mary or Candice and I will forward you their email updates.  Or… just pray 🙂

the scholarship fund

22 01 2012

I’d like to write a little about our wonderful little bank account we call the scholarship fund.  Mostly, I want to put it all in one place, for the public, how we get money in the account, and how it goes out of the account.

Money In: this part gives me some joy, some trepidation and generally costs a lot of time and energy, except for the last couple options which you should really check out.

1.  Asking for donations: I’ve only done this twice and have had a couple of good friends and family members respond generously, but haven’t tried asking my bigger network.  Ideally, ODU IV alumni would be quick to give to this, even consistently.  Someday I will formulate an “ask” to them to send checks made out to ODU InterVarsity to my home address so I can deposit them in the BB&T account.

2.  Work Days:  my friend Kelly taught me about this W&M custom one day on a bike ride through Larchmont, and since then we’ve been able to help out a couple of widows, some church families, and others with their yard work, moving and other needs.  The best is when they respond super generously and just give a couple hundred dollars instead of trying to be fair about it with labor wages and such.  But no matter how much they give, it’s a great opportunity for students to feel a sense of ownership and investment.  Most of them don’t like asking for “free” money and scholarship help, so this gives them a chance to help earn it.

3.  GoodSearch: this is an amazing website, the charitable side of Yahoo, that created a search engine that would give away a small portion of the advertising proceeds they make with each search.  The idea was then expanded to include GoodShop where donations are given from many online purchases, and my recent discovery of GoodDining which gives a percentage of some dining out purchases.  May I invite you to participate?  The best thing about these are that they do not require any extra work or effort, after the initial launch.  With GoodSearch you simply choose which charity you search for (ODU InterVarsity of course!) and the computer remembers that each time you return to the site.  You can also customize your little search bar in the top right corner of your Firefox or Explorer browser (http://www.goodsearch.com/toolbar/mode/firefox-plugin).  Easy.

4.  GoodShop is almost as easy, whenever you are considering buying anything online.  If you go to the site from a link on the GoodShop homepage, it recognizes the charity you chose (ODU InterVarsity of course!) and directs a percentage of what you spent, directly to us!  The easiest way to do this is to download the toolbar, which then will throw up a little yellow flag whenever you are on a site that gives money to the charity.  It will also tell you about coupons and discounts at that site for your online purchase!  Amazon, Ebay, Apple/iTunes, buy.com, Expedia, Target and a hundred or so other retailers!  EASY money for a good cause.

5.  and finally, GoodDining.  I just discovered this today… I’ve been ignoring the chocolate cake photo they’ve been luring me to click for a couple weeks now, then just now decided I wanted to figure out how it works.  It seemed like it might be a stretch… but you know what?  It’s EASY.  You have to trust the website and be comfortable with the whole idea of customer relationship management.  In other words, the system that Amazon uses to give you suggestions for purchases based on what you’ve viewed or bought, or the grocery store VIP card, which sends your data to the store managers to help them decide what to put or keep on sale, highlight on endcaps, print personally relevant coupons, etc.  I personally am fine with this, I think I need the help finding products some times, and knowing that they tailor their marketing to me challenges me to stay strong.  All that to say:  register your debit or credit card with GoodDining and they will be able to track your dining purchases at select restaurants.  Those restaurants will exchange the information of how often I came and how much I spent, for a donation to the charity of my choice (say it with me now, ODU InterVarsity of course!).  For Norfolkians, the restaurants I recognized as popular that participate are D’Egg (both locations), University Pizza, La Bella Ghent, Pasha/ Pasha Mezze, Ynot Pizza, Tortilla West, Bier Garden, Broken Egg Bistro, Macaroni Grill

There is also a tax-deductible option for donations to the scholarship fund.  This fund is specific to area and regional InterVarsity conferences only, but that is actually quite a nice thing since those conferences are usually more expensive anyway.  Simply put, you donate to IV and specify the designation.  You can give to fund a staff worker’s cost for ministry (in my case, 40 hrs a week= salary, benefits, training, office costs, etc).  You can also give to a school-specific scholarship fund!  Like Old Dominion University!

I might have saved the best link for last.  I really like that link… you should check it out and give me some feedback- how does it look and sound?  Does it make you want to give?


Coming soon: Part II  of “the scholarship fund” postings… Money Out.  Where does it go?   What’s the difference between the BB&T account and the InterVarsity donation? And what does “scholarship” really refer to?

tell your story

11 12 2011

I think this is the second post I’ve written in response to/ after reading one from a thoughtful brother and co-worker, Patrick.  His tagline is “extroverts need to blog sometimes” and that simple phrase reminds me that in my search for health and wholeness, I need to blog sometimes.  I don’t need to get carried away with who my audience is and how my story sounds, I just need to tell some stories. 

This morning Kenny Bryant talked to us about how evangelism is about knowing and teaching the gospel message, having a goal in mind (or in other words, you have to care that someone would be persuaded, and pray for the Spirit’s persuasion), and telling your story.  His self-proclaimed “un-clever phrase” was A Message to Teach, a Goal to Reach, a Story to Preach. 

The idea that stirred me up most today was that when Jesus said “You will be My witnesses..” he was really telling us that evangelism is about telling your story.  A witness tells what they saw and heard and experienced.  We have a story to preach- and it’s not “the gospel story,” it’s actually my story and your story.  As witnesses, we tell what we have seen, heard and experienced about God. 

Of course we tell the “gospel story,” and my challenge from that point was that I need to “get into the Word” (read: Christianese for reading the Bible/ time in prayer, usually in the morning), so that “the Word can get into me” (read: Jesus becomes the motivating force, the definer and impetus for my thoughts, words and actions).  We have to know the message we’re supposed to teach.  Know it well. 

Alright, now it looks like I’m just outlining the sermon, so I might as well finish with the other point- a Goal to Reach.  I liked this point, because if you don’t actually care what someone does with an idea, thought, challenge or personal statement that you make… you don’t actually care about them.  To unselfishly care about someone else would be to desire that they be persuaded by the Holy Spirit to change.  If we don’t have that goal in mind, with patience, then our evangelism is half-hearted, nay, pointless.  I’m sure I will have many more thoughts about that after a week with IV staff at Rockbridge talking about conversion. 

how the flowers can teach us

3 08 2011

My heart aches in certain moments.  In a video I saw yesterday, Phileena Heuertz describes what her heart breaks for, and her description of the moments when we feel and sense, taste for a moment that “we’re all sustained by the life and energy of God, the love of God”

For her, and for me, those moments are often when in the midst of the created world– not inside, in the air conditioned room with the leather chair and window– but outside, under the sun, air full of pollen or dust or what have you.  I really love this video, it reminded me of some of my “moments,” and then it went on to talk what Sara Groves calls “the fine art of being who you are.”  In so many ways, I think I’m just now figuring out who I am made to be.


“there’s so much beauty & life & energy cooperation going on in the created world and I’m inspired by that and I see that those creatures bring so much glory to God, how much does God delight in the created world.  The flowers out there being all that they can be as a flower…”

Reminds me of how Jesus taught us through flowers and sparrows.

mind dump

29 07 2011

Cannot sleep!  I have been using so many words today that my insomnia is taking its form in trying to produce clever phrases– status updates and tweets.  I could possibly entertain my friends and followers in 2 min intervals for the next couple of hours.  Somehow I laid here and convinced myself that the world needs to know, needs to understand, perhaps empathize and definitely be entertained by these thoughts of mine!

-Eyes are closed but… Mind racing, foot tapping… evidence of my 2pm Mocha.  I just can’t handle caffene.

-it’s the mocha!

-I’ve been thinking about Europe some today, and now I’m craving Nutella toast

I’m brainstorming my new diet regimen, wondering if I should put in my retainer, or go downstairs for a snack.

By the way, my “new diet regimen” just means that I’m going to start taking probiotics for digestion.  Hopefully that’ll cure the tummy rumbles. The above statement makes it sound like I’d like to eat less… nope.  I like eating at the amount I do. Just wish it would go through less grumpily.


I’m dreaming of chai lattes (this coming Monday I’ll introduce a friend to how to make your own at home), which made me think of my cousin’s awesome concoction that we discovered when staying with her in Oregon the summer we got engaged.  She freezes espresso and sugar mix into ice cubes, then uses those in her iced coffee in the morning.  I need to write and get more specific instructions, because that would be smart to do for Tyler.  Once his shop opens up I’m afraid he’ll be tempted to partake in some of the more yummy and caloric treats (iced and blended coffee drinks).  Then I thought about a pep talk to him, saying that something there is a weekly treat… or a monthly treat… and wondering how often should he let himself eat a donut?  Donuts are a sometimes food.  Like Cookie Monster says.  Question: does Cookie Monster truly eat vegetables now, on air?!?

Tonight I saw a post that if you have insomnia you should think through your day, from the moment you wake up, and try to remember each detail.  I tried this.  I like it!  It reminds me of how I used to journal at the end of every day, running through what happened and asking God where He was in it.

Another thought I had today, spinning off from thinking about a friends’ blog.  I think I worry too much about the people who might read this liking it or not.  I mean, that’s not even a real sentence, is it?  Anyways, a blog should have a purpose, and I get that.  But I don’t think it needs to be tailored to an audience.  The audience will choose itself– that’s sort of the point.  So instead of running through and wondering how whatever will sound to whoever, or who I should tell about my blog… I should just write.

This is sort of inspired by my friend Brian Sun whose blog not only looks nice (simple and bright), but has its purpose clearly and unabashedly stated at the top: “Hi, I’m Brian Sun. This is my personal blog for the .00000001% of the world that cares about what’s happening my daily life. Everyone else can just go away.”

Just now I tried to find that blog (different computer than when I saw it yesterday) and man, that guy has a lot of online presence!  Anyway.  I may adopt that as my blog motto.

Someone told me that listentokristen is sort of bossy/ pretentious sounding.  So maybe I’ll brainstorm… or maybe someone who reads this will comment… a new alias for me!