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
Friday, February 20, 2015
Last week, Liberty had the incredible pleasure of hosting Christine Caine and the launch of her new ministry, Propel! I can’t tell you how much this week blessed me and those around me. Not only is Christine’s new ministry exciting and her vision inspiring, but it seems she can’t go barely a minute without encouraging everyone around her that their calling is singular: to be a follower of Christ and to spread His Good News. Propel is Christine’s new ministry to help “women internalize a leadership identity & fulfill their purpose, passion & potential.” Christine and the other visitors last week brought a lot of much-needed change, conversation, and ignition to this campus!
The week started with Christine Caine speaking in Convo.
That night, Christine hosted a panel discussion with leaders in many fields, designed to flesh out more specific ways women and men can equip each other to live out the Gospel more fully. That night was so encouraging, and my roommate Claire and I got to enjoy it with a few of our new freshmen on the debate team. After the panel, we got a late night snack and talked over some of the topics the panel had discussed. We got a chance to further unpack the topics Christine had started the conversation about that morning, and I’m so grateful for how rich that start was!
On Tuesday, Christine spoke at a women’s event at Thomas Road Baptist Church. On Wednesday, her friends and Propel Brain Trust members, Terry Crist and LoriAnn Biggers, spoke at Convocation. On Thursday, Christine hosted another panel discussion that was just as encouraging and impactful as the first.
The whole week was wonderful, but Friday was especially fantastic. My Women’s Ministry Director mother and I both LOVE Beth Moore, and we were beyond excited for her to come speak at Convocation. And as if things couldn’t get any better, Kari Jobe was leading worship.
Kari Jobe leading worship on Friday.
So not only did I get to hear Beth Moore bring an incredible message and worship with Kari Jobe, but my lovely mother drove up to Lynchburg to do it all with me!
My Momma and I at Convocation on Friday!
Friday’s convocation was extraordinary – Beth Moore spoke about what it means to truly love Jesus, not just admire or respect him. She also touched on an idea that has been so impactful to me this year – that if we ask Him for a change in our heart, He will work in us. If we really believed that our Father will always give us what is truly good, (not just what we think is good for us) then we would be so much bolder and unswerving in our requests. Her message was encouraging and convicting at the same time – that we have an incredible opportunity to have a real relationship with the God of the universe, but that we often settle for less than a real, passionate Love for Him.
It was a perfect ending to the week – that regardless of the career He calls us to, we are called to one vocation – to love Him and make Him known to a lost and broken world.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
Wednesday, November 5, 2014
This weekend, the Liberty University debate team hosted a tournament here on campus!
I’ve written before about how much this team means to me – we’re a (sometimes dysfunctional) family and I’ve fallen in love with this activity.
This weekend was a great reminder of why I love this team – we may love competing (and winning), but our purpose in debating is so much more than that.
I love that I go to a school and debate for a team that puts our Lord Jesus above all things. I find it so easy to slip into the mindset that success is all that matters and that losing debates can be the end of the world. I love that I have a support system of people around me that are all striving towards the same thing – keeping Jesus the center.
Novice debaters Ana and Amanda having a great time debating at the home tournament!
Varsity debaters Alan and Lindsey preparing for a debate.
New debaters Hannah and Katie are learning so much!
Liberty debaters having fun in between debates!
And to make the weekend even better, it was Halloween and we got to wear our costumes to the tournament!
Meagan and Vida serving pizza to debaters on Halloween!
Amanda and Ana dressed as Frozen characters Ana and Elsa!
Varsity debater Mary as the Cheshire cat!
My debate partner, Nora, and I went as "Froot Loop Dinguses" - a silly phrase our coach uses to describe our usual antics!
I love that I can be a part of this team that is striving to honor God with our successes and our failures and keep Him the focus of our work. I can only hope and pray that I can continue this work in a way that glorifies Him.Posted at 3:06 PM | Comments (0) | Permalink
Thursday, October 16, 2014
I don’t know about the rest of y’all, but I am getting stressed. The papers, test, and projects are piling up and I’m starting to sleep a little less than I would prefer.
When you’re on hour three…or four or five or six of writing your term paper, studying for your midterm, or working on your group project, the lure of the vending machine is strong. But one of the easiest ways to make yourself feel worse and do worse on your assignments is to combine a lack of sleep with overly processed food.
So, in the spirit of making our study habits healthier, my roommate Claire and I decided to try out a few healthy study snacks! And since part of the attraction of pre-packaged snacks is the low cost, we decided to keep our entire project under $10. Here’s what happened!
We started by heading to the store to buy a few supplies. The only thing not included in our under $10 challenge was a jar of peanut butter we already had back at the dorm.
-2 Gala apples
-A pack of tortillas
-A block of cheddar cheese
-A bag of granola
We made it under $10!
With our ingredients in hand, we set out to make three recipes!
1. Peanut Butter Banana Bites
One of my favorite things is peanut butter and bananas, and this recipe takes this combination and makes it easy and portable!
You’ll need: peanut butter, tortillas, a banana
Start by spreading peanut butter on a tortilla.
Then peel and place your banana in the center of the tortilla.
Roll up and banana and tortilla together.
Slice the roll into bite-sized pieces.
And you're done!
The results: This was delicious! Claire said: “It’s a good combination of sweet and a little bit of salty from the peanut butter, and the tortilla kept it from being too messy.”
2. Cucumber Sandwiches
This recipe can be made so many different ways, depending on the ingredients you have on hand, and is just as portable as the first one!
You’ll need: cucumbers and whatever sandwich ingredients you want!
Start by peeling and slicing the cucumber.
Choose your sandwich filler. We went simple and sliced up some cheddar cheese, but you can use different cheeses, spreads, meats, or other veggies.
Now just make the sandwiches!
The results: Good. We both decided having more sandwich filling options would be better, and that mixing different flavors would make them more exiting. Claire said: “Definitely good, but not my favorite of the recipes we made.”
3. Peanut Butter Apples Sandwiches
In the spirit of simple and portable snacks, these sandwiches can be easily packed up and taken to the library for a long study session!
You'll need: apples, peanut butter, your favorite type of granola
First, core and slice your apples.
Then, spread peanut butter on the slices. (We got a little messy, but they were delicious anyway!)
Next, sprinkle some granola on one of the slices.
Finally, top the granola with the second slice and enjoy!
The results: These were amazing. We found that using a more crumbled granola would make the sandwiches easier to eat, but that the one we choose (which had chocolate in it!) was particularly delicious. Claire said: “The mix of peanut butter and granola inside the apple was so good! I knew the peanut butter would go well with the apple, but the granola made it even better.”
Bonus idea: Popcorn!
We always have microwave popcorn around the dorm, and there are some easy and fun ways you can spice up your typical bowl of popcorn.
- Add a pinch of salt and chili powder and mix in about a tablespoon of lime zest for a slightly spicy popcorn.
-Mix trail mix in with your popcorn for a fun mix of sweet and salty
-Add a little finely grated cheese to your bowl
-Before pouring the popcorn out of the bag, add in two tablespoons of melted butter, a few teaspoons of sugar and a little cinnamon
I hope these recipes and ideas inspire you to try out a few of them and incorporate some healthier habits into your study routine!
Posted at 11:40 AM | Comments (1) | Permalink