Friday, May 1, 2015
In the middle of this stressful end of the year, it’s easy to get a little self-centered. I have a couple papers to
finish start, a big thesis proposal hanging over my head and in the not-so-far future, a couple big finals. It’s all about me and what I have to get done so I can get good grades.
It’s important to remember that there is a world outside of the library and my little corner of it.
This weekend, I was reminded of that – there are problems bigger than a term paper and people more important than a study session.
The Liberty Debate Team came together this weekend to work on some service projects around Lynchburg and get some perspective from this stressful time.
Here’s a glimpse into some of the exciting projects we worked on.
The team worked in a few ways to raise money for HumanKind, a Virginia non-profit that uses multiple programs to strengthen families – including providing counseling, child care resources, and funds for vehicles so that families can get to work.
We baked, frosted, and decorated a BUNCH of cupcakes and cookies to sell in front of the library and held a coin drive collecting spare change from Liberty students.
Ana, Ashley, and Lindsey working hard to decorate all the baked goods.
My personal favorite - strawberry cupcakes with vanilla icing and lots of colorful sprinkles!
We had a lot of cupcakes and cookies to decorate!
Leonora and Vida selling the goods in front of the Library.
Hannah collecting coins at the Library.
We also spent a few hours at Living Word Baptist Church, doing all the things that need to be done to keep a church building running – cleaning rooms, moving chairs, and organizing Easter eggs after their massive Easter egg hunt.
Ana's working hard to clean the walls of some rooms at Living Word.
She's so happy to be cleaning walls!
One of the best things we got to contribute to was helping a family prepare to sell their house. This lovely couple was moving from Lynchburg to plant a church in Charlottesville, and we got to help them by doing yard work, painting shutters, power-washing a deck, and washing windows.
Ana and I helping scrub down the front wall of the house before the powerwasher comes in.
Rocky watching Richard work tirelessly to pull a stump out of the front yard.
Amanda and Rachel taking a break to play with some of the family's dogs!
Last weekend gave a lot of us great perspective for the upcoming stressful weeks – that God’s plan for our lives is bigger than a grade on a test! He has planned work for us to do that might be outside of our comfort zone or the place we think we belong, but being obedient to Him can bring us places we never thought we’d be and teach us lessons we desperately needed to learn!Posted at 1:21 PM | Comments (0) | Permalink
Thursday, April 23, 2015
It’s becoming gloriously beautiful outside. As the weather gets warmer and more beautiful, it gets correspondingly more and more difficult to concentrate on upcoming finals and end of the year responsibilities.
But, even in the midst of a busy season, there’s always a little time to get outside and have some fun! (Plus, it’s good for the soul to take a few lengthy study breaks.)
So in the spirit of the warm weather, here are some good ideas for some outdoor fun at Liberty!
Take A Break
You don’t have to go far to appreciate the outdoors!
Some of my best memories of living on campus have been heading outside once it gets warm to do some homework, hang out with friends, or spend some time alone with Jesus.
There are some really beautiful spots near the dorms.
How gorgeous are these trees?!
The Monogram is a beautiful spot to get outside in the warmer months, and you don’t even have to drive anywhere! Take a bus or walk to Snowflex, and take a trail up to the Monogram. Hike in the surrounding areas, or just enjoy the beautiful view of Lynchburg.
Throwback to visiting the Monogram at the end of my freshman year!
Taking a bunch of new freshmen up to the monogram this year!
Liberty students have the great privilege of having access to a beautiful facility at Camp Hydaway!
The Liberty debate team has gone a couple times to do team building exercises with the awesome rope courses, but you can take advantage of the ATV track, the beach, any of the numerous trails, or even the camp sites students can reserve! Get some more information about all the outdoor fun possibilities here.
There are so many fun things to do at Camp Hydaway! You can check out some more pictures of the ropes course here.
One of my FAVORITE places to go in Lynchburg in the summer is Mister Goodie's! After spending a day outside in the sun, there's nothing better than ending the day with some delicious ice cream!
Whatever you do, you have to try a Birthday Cake dipped cone!
...or the Brownie Sundae!
But whatever you order, make sure you have a good friend with you! Meagan really loves her Mister Goodie's.
Whatever you do, take advantage of enjoying God’s creation while it’s warm, sunny, and beautiful!Posted at 12:40 PM | Comments (0) | Permalink
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
It feels like forever since Spring Break ended! Things have gotten back to their regular craziness, and I wish I could go back to break!
My Spring Break was a little short, because the Debate Team had a tournament at the end of the week at the University of Georgia. But my little sister, my mom, and my best friend Grace made the best of our short time and had a blast!
My lovely sister and mother drove up to Liberty to get me before break, and we used the opportunity to visit one of their favorite places in Lynchburg – Osaka’s!
Our idea of a relaxing break involved lots of shopping, baking, and watching hours of house-hunting and cooking shows.
When you find something you love, you might just have to get it in every color!
One of the highlights of break was getting brunch at this beautiful little coffee shop called Clifton Café. Not only was it an adorable place with seriously delicious crepes, but their special coffee creations were amazing.
I had a White Chocolate Raspberry Latte, and my mom had a Hazelnut Turtle Mocha. They were delicious and beautiful!
My little sister Kendra had a Somoa Latte that was even more beautiful!
Another important part of Spring Break for me was my internship interview!! I had applied for an internship to work for a Student Ministries at a local church that my family absolutely loves, and I had gotten an interview the week of Spring Break. I was honestly really nervous, because it was an internship I really wanted. I was so excited by the thought of spending all summer working at a church, hanging out with high schoolers, and getting a taste for what full-time ministry is like.
Luckily, my dear friend Grace left some cute notes around the house the morning of my interview!
I’m so happy to say that it was a very productive Spring Break, since I got the internship! I’m so excited to be given this opportunity and to see what the Lord has planned for this summer!
Some other fun things I did over break included more baking and even some crafting!
I made these delicious Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Rolls for the first time, and they were delicious!
This was the most fun part - rolling out the chocolate dough and pouring on cinnamon, sugar, and chocolate chips before rolling the whole thing up!
The finished product - complete with chocolate-chip-filled frosting!
You can check out the full recipe here.
Not only did I do some baking, but I tried out something else creative - making some letters for my roommate Claire and I. I found these cardboard letters at a craft store, and later that week I painted them blue and pink to match our room!
In other important news, my roommate and I were unbelievably excited that right before Spring Break, David’s Place reopened the Bistro! When I was a freshman at Liberty, I ate lunch at the Bistro almost every day, and the Debate Team loved eating there before our practices. So we were very happy to find out that it was being reopened so close to where we live!
It’s the little things that can make your day sometimes.
The past few weeks have been pretty stressful, with my debate season finishing up and my classes getting harder. Remembering the fun I had over Spring Break is reminding me now to focus on the little joys. Even in the midst of my stressful week, there are moments I can choose to rejoice in. Even as I’m writing this blog, I’m stressed about the debate work I have to do and the thesis proposal I haven’t written yet. But, I’m drinking a delicious Raspberry White Mocha, Meredith is making the room smell like popcorn (which is great), and I just got a thoughtful email from a friend. The best part of choosing to rejoice is that it forces me to constantly remember that my trust and hope is in the Lord and that all of these little joys come from Him. I can choose to enjoy this moment instead of stressing because I know that He is in control of everything and He has called me to be joyful in spite of my circumstances.Posted at 9:05 AM | Comments (0) | Permalink
Friday, March 13, 2015
I have a terrible memory sometimes. Or maybe just a terribly selective memory.
This weekend, I had a debate tournament. The night before the tournament, I was unbelievably calm, but also entirely unprepared. This tournament was a huge deal – it would determine if the dream I’d had since I started debate as a novice freshman would come true.
And I felt so far from ready.
Right before I fell asleep on the lumpy hotel bed with a knot of nerves and too many thoughts rushing around my brain, I said to Him, “If this happens, it will be all You.”
Incredible peace flooded through me.
I prayed, “God, if this goal of mine is in Your will, I know it will happen, regardless of how unqualified I am. I feel so unprepared that I know if this happens, I will know it was all because of You and not me.”
And then, for a few hours at the end of the weekend, those words couldn’t have been further from my mind.
The goal was met, the debates won, the tournament qualified for. And I was basking in it.
Suddenly I forgot the words I had said in the fear and anxiety I had been engulfed in. When circumstances were brighter, it was easy to think it was all me that changed them.
The next morning, it hit me. I could not have done this. Odds were stacked against me, conditions were not in my favor, and so many little pieces had to fit together for this goal to be realized.
It was all Him.
And the best part? He blessed me when I surrendered it all to Him.
I had spent the last couple years of my debate career so obsessed with being successful that anything less than perfection crushed me. Debate was an idol in my life that was eating away at my soul.
But during this last summer, He miraculously freed me from it.
I started out this tournament weekend just happy that He had taught me so much, worked in my heart so much, and created in me someone who had given Him the hardest thing for me to give up.
Giving up the clenching hold I had on debate success was a miracle He worked in me.
And throughout this year, He lead me surrender this part of me to Him. It was sometimes uncomfortable and often challenging, but He gave me the peace and security I had always thought being good at debate would give me.
And in His perfect timing, when I surrendered the thing I had been most holding on to, He blessed me.
And the best part was that when He did it, there was no room for me to take the credit. My flesh and my sinful heart tried, but my selective memory couldn’t keep me from the truth for long. There was no way I could’ve done this.
I surrendered, He blessed, but He still used His blessing to teach me how much I need Him.
What a good Father I have.Posted at 4:26 PM | Comments (0) | Permalink
Friday, February 20, 2015
One of the most impactful and important parts of my time here at Liberty has been the Liberty University Debate Team. I feel like I’m always writing about my team, and it’s probably just because they are such a big part of my life. Going to a large university, it is so important to find a smaller group of people to be your family. I found mine on the debate team, but there are so many other opportunities on campus to connect with people that share similar interests and passions. Because I’ve gained so much from my experience in my little community at Liberty, I’m going to share some other opportunities on campus to get connected! Each week, I’ll be sharing with y’all a new club or student organization on Liberty’s campus that you can get involved in! To start things off, take a peek at last week’s blog about some of the recent adventures of the Debate Team!
This week, I checked out a meeting of Liberty’s Young Americans for Freedom Chapter! Young Americans for Freedom is a national organization that seeks to organize politically conservative students so that they can advocate for conservative tenets, encourage students to become politically active, and educate campuses about traditional values. Liberty’s chapter advocates for “freedom, a strong national defense, the U.S. Constitution, limited government, and political responsibility.”
I got the opportunity to sit in on one of their meetings and get a taste of what exciting things this organization is planning for this semester! For example, Liberty’s YAF chapter is leading a variety of March Campus Initiatives, including March Liberal Madness and Empowering Conservative Women Week. These weekly events in March, as well as events like their Freedom Friday Mile Runs are ways that Liberty’s YAF chapter are working to get the student body more politically and socially active.
Erica Tomlin, the Communications Director of Liberty’s chapter of YAF, explained that “many people at Liberty have conservative views, but there’s a lot of apathy. We have our own voting precinct, but not enough people are taking advantage of these opportunities! It’s like pulling teeth. We believe it’s our Christian obligation to be politically involved.”
In light of this, YAF has been working to rid Liberty of apathy and indifference by coordinating various events.
Many people remember the recent mock Berlin Wall that the YAF chapter set up in front of the Library, or the visit of politician Allen West that YAF coordinated.
The mock Berlin wall in front of the Library.
Communications Director Erica Tomlin with politician Allen West.
Erica described YAF this way: “We are passionate about what we do. We really love and care for this country and do this because of our Christian values.”
If you’re interested in learning more about Liberty’s chapter of Young Americans for Freedom, check out their Facebook page.
YAF members at a national conference in sunny California.Posted at 4:06 PM | Comments (0) | Permalink
Friday, February 20, 2015
After a long and often stressful week, there’s nothing better to look forward to than a Girls Night! Every once in a while, the girls on the debate team get together on a Friday night and relax. Our SLC (and generally lovely human being), Meagan, hosts at her apartment and often provides the baking supplies and expertise. Sometimes we watch movies or paint our nails, but for our Valentine’s Day Girls Night, we made homemade pizza and decorated cupcakes!
While we waited for the pizza to bake, we played with some dollar store finds that Meagan and I had picked up beforehand. Play Doh is a perfect stress reliever, and we all used our middle school summer camp memories to help us make fun friendship bracelets with some colorful thread!
After eating our delicious pizza, we summed up all the artistic abilities debaters can have, and decorated our chocolate fudge cupcakes!
Sometimes all you need is some Strawberry Marshmallow frosting and red sprinkles!
Or you can get really creative and make a heart out of pink sprinkles!
Some of our newest members - Hannah and Jelessa - enjoying their cupcakes!
And of course, the best part of decorating anything chocolate is going to be the part when you eat it!
Mary and Amanda decorating their cupcakes...and maybe getting a little too excited to start eating them.
It was so great to set aside some time in the middle of the semester to just drop everything and do something fun! Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the stress of classes and extracurricular activities and forget to take time to just have fun. More importantly, everyday stresses and busyness can distract me from the people in my life that matter. Taking a night to just hang out with people that I care about (and bake soul-healing cupcakes) reminds me to prioritize people over tasks and relationships over achievements.
Mary, Rachel, and Amanda with their finished cupcakes! I love these girls!Posted at 4:06 PM | Comments (0) | Permalink
Thursday, January 29, 2015
Debate tournaments can be stressful and exhausting, and the past few weeks have been no exception! Liberty’s Debate Team started out the semester at the beginning of January, with two tournaments in sunny California! After a week full of debating, we came back to Lynchburg to immediately jump into the new Spring semester. After barely making it through our first week of classes, the whole team set off to Maryland for a tournament at the Naval Academy.
Needless to say, the start of this semester was anything but restful. But even in the stress of debating and the chaos of traveling, I am so thankful for my team and the opportunity we have to enjoy this activity together. There are moments when none of it seems worth it, and the stress and fatigue weigh heavily on us all. But then there are the moments when I look around at the people that alternate between making me smile and making me want to tear my hair out, and I realize that even if we’re a dysfunctional family, we’re all learning together, working together, and striving together to glorify Him in our work and reflect Him in our relationships, even when we’re not perfect at it just yet.
My dear friend Meagan and I enjoying our break from the Lynchburg cold in sunny California!
In between our two tournaments in California, we spent a few hours checking out this beautfiul beach.
We're clearly thirlled to be able to relax and defrost from our Christmas Breaks on the East coast!
....And then we were shocked to discover the water was equally freezing cold on the West coast.
But we still loved our time on warm-ish sand beneath a sunny sky!
Once we headed back to Lynchburg, however, the exhaustion hit all of us at once, with some hilarity ensuing. This is Lindsey and I asleep on our flight back to the East coast.
Across the aisle, Alan is taking advantage of Leonora's equally exhausted expression.
Finally, here's an exciting picture from this last weekend at the Naval Academy - Mary coaching Emily and Claire at their first varsity tournament, celebrating their first win in varsity!Posted at 9:55 AM | Comments (0) | Permalink
Tuesday, January 13, 2015
The first day of classes of this Spring 2015 semester is dreary, rainy, and soggy. It doesn’t have the feel of a bright new beginning full of possibilities. And yet, I know He is at work, and His plan is bigger than big dark clouds.
This semester, I have a new theme: celebration. I serve the God who created the universe and He is working for good in my heart. What could be more deserving of celebration?! During this winter break, I had a lot of heavy things to think about. A lot has been changing in my life, and more change is coming. In the midst of lots of hard things, it wasn’t a very restful break. In spite of that, I heard Him telling me over and over again – delight in Me.
Choosing to be joyful when your circumstances aren’t exactly rosy isn’t just about having a cheerful disposition. It’s not the Pollyanna spirit that says everything will be okay when it just isn’t. It’s the Joy of knowing that even the most not-okay circumstances are nothing compared to our Lord.
It’s a choice that sounds easy when I’m inside writing a blog post and my toes are finally starting to feel the warmth from my White Chocolate Mocha. It’s a lot harder when I’m back outside in a couple hours and the rain soaks through my coat and my umbrella gets swept away in the wind.
Thank the Lord, He is bigger than the rain. Choosing celebration this semester is not going to be easy. Classes are going to pile up, relationships are going to be strained, I’m going to get stressed and forget who I am and Who I serve. But thankfully, He is gracious and merciful and is in pursuit of my heart. Last semester, I learned that He isn’t going to give up. This semester, I pray I’ll learn a little more about what my response to that unfailing Love should look like.
So I’m choosing celebration. I’m choosing to delight in the work that He’s doing, even when it hurts. I’m choosing to sing of His mercies in the middle of a sinful world. I’m choosing Joy.Posted at 4:26 PM | Comments (0) | Permalink
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Wow, this semester has been a whirlwind! I still can’t believe I’m over halfway done with my undergrad, and that it’s almost the end of 2014! (It’s going to take me a few months to remember to date things 2015.) So much has happened this semester, and I’m exhausted. But more than the classes, debate tournaments, weekend trips, and midnight runs to Cookout, I’m going to remember this semester as one where God worked pretty miraculously in my life.
Here are a few things my God has been teaching me.
1. He’s been teaching me, over and over again, how sovereign He is. Sometimes, it’s actually easier to find peace and security in knowing that He has control over all things when it comes to the big stuff. I have an easier time not stressing about what career I’ll have, what grad degree I’ll get, or where my life will be in ten years, then I do recognizing the control He has over all the little things. This semester, He was challenging me to take comfort in knowing that He has sovereignty over each test I take, each debate I win or lose, and each and every one of my days.
2. He is in relentless pursuit of my heart. Praise the Lord this one is so true. In the midst of hard days, when I thought that I had messed up beyond repair, He was teaching me that His pursuit of my heart is relentless because He is not content to let me have a half-hearted faith. When I slip into the very human trap of believing I can do it all my own and I stop relying solely on His grace and sovereignty to guide me, He is not content to leave me there. Like the very best parent, my Father sometimes lets me experience pain that is good for me and will bring me closer to Him. He knows when winning a debate is only going to leave me full of pride and leaning on my own success instead of His grace. He knows when I start to think I can do it all on my own and need to crash and burn a little bit so that my faith in Him can grow. I love that my God is not content to have half of my heart, He is in relentless pursuit of the whole thing.
3. He is all I need. This is one that I can know in my head and have a much harder time living like it’s true. After a particularly bruising criticism of one of my debates, a friend (with great intentions) said to me, “Remember when you won that tournament? Remember when that one judge said you were amazing! Remember those things when someone says something mean.” She was coming from a loving place, but she was missing the point. When I let those instances of human praise be what confirms my worth, I only give the insults more power to tear me down. It’s only when I realize how meaningless the praise or the criticism is in the light of all my Savior has done for me that I can be truly free from the pain of a harsh word.
4. He is faithful. Usually when Christians talk about God’s “blessings” or his “faithfulness,” they’re talking about the A on their midterm, the raise they got at work, or things God has given them that make their lives more convenient. When we say God is faithful because of these earthly pleasures, what does that say to the person that failed their midterm or got laid off at work? Like His relentless pursuit of my heart, He is faithful in the truly good things. When I pray for a good grade or to win a debate, He may not give me that gift in order to more greatly bless me. After a day full of earthly losses, I can honestly say, “Thank you, Lord, for the losses and the failures and the disappointments. Thank you that you bless me with these promptings to live my life more reliant on your Grace.”
5. There is nothing more I can do. Everyone wants to do something important. Sometimes I worry that I’ll never do the world-changing stuff that I think I need to do. I dream big dreams and then worry that they’re too big. Not only is He big enough to do all things, but He has already done the greatest world-changing thing to ever happen. There’s peace in knowing that He has won, succeeded, accomplished, and done it all. It is finished. There is freedom in knowing that all that’s left to do is follow His lead and rest in His grace.
I hope this semester was as rich in the Lord’s mercies and teachings for y’all as it was for me. I thank Him often for a school that fosters these lessons and has put people in my life to journey this life with me.
As for me, I’m about to drive home for Christmas and enjoy a short break before the debate season starts back up again in early January.
Have a Merry Christmas and a New Year full of thanksgiving for the blessings He has graciously given in 2014!
Merry Christmas from my little sister Kendra and I!
Posted at 9:00 AM | Comments (0) | Permalink
Monday, November 17, 2014
Last week, the Liberty debate team got the incredible opportunity to host a team of debaters from Rwanda!
It was an incredible opportunity to get to know a group of people with such different backgrounds from us and use an activity we are all passionate about to do it.
The students from Rwanda got a tour of the campus during the day, and then that afternoon, two of them debated two Liberty debaters – myself and my dear friend Meagan.
Meagan, me, and Rwandan debaters Bryan and Kassy.
We debated the resolution “The United States should intervene militarily in situations of genocide and dire human rights abuses.” The debaters from Rwanda affirmed the resolution and Megan and I negated it. The debate centered around what method of intervention was the most effective and moral in response to genocides – military or non-military.
After the debate, we took questions from the audience that ranged from the U.S. legal obligations in such tragedies to the response the victims of genocide were calling for.
Then, the Rwandan team presented our team with a gift – a basket debater Kassy described as representing the work our coaches had put into us and the harvest of that labor in us as debaters.
Liberty University debate team Director of Debate Michael Hall accepting the gift of the Idebate Rwandan team.
At dinner that night, the debaters from Rwanda had so many interesting comments about their time in the states. Kassy commented that she had heard that Americans did not vote in their elections. When we explained that far less people voted in the midterm elections than in the presidential elections, the debaters were shocked that Americans took their right to vote so lightly. In one of the most profound moments of the day, two of the debaters, Kassy and Bryan, mentioned that when we criticized our country in the debate, they had to remind themselves that they didn’t need to fear the police coming in response. Kassy said that when she heard people make fun of our president in a flippant and superficial way, she was shocked that Americans would use our freedom of speech in such a way. Her comment stuck with me – “It seems like you’re taking your freedom for granted.”
What a blessing that we can criticize our government in debate without fear of our opinions being silenced by force. But what a responsibility that blessing is – to use our words wisely and take advantage of the freedoms we have.Posted at 3:56 PM | Comments (0) | Permalink