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Kaitlyn's Blog

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Healthy Snacks for Students on a Budget

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.

We got:

-2 Gala apples

-2 bananas

-1 cucumber

-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 (0) | Permalink

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Reflections on the Halfway Point

As the semester nears the halfway-point, I’m starting to realize how much has already happened this semester and how much I’ve learned.  Already this semester I’ve: had fun and successful debate tournaments with my new partner, started upper-level classes in my major (History), and grown so much in my relationship with the Lord. Here are some of the best things I’ve learned already this semester:

1. God is sovereign.

This is a big one. It’s one of those things that you can intellectually agree with, and yet struggle to live as if you truly believe it. I’ve been faced with so many situations this semester that seem frustrating or difficult or hopeless until I remember that He is sovereign. He gives us good things. And sometimes what I think is good for me is actually going to be destructive. Praise the Lord that He knows what is good for me even when I do not!

2. You can’t do it all.

I always think I can handle making everyone happy at the same time, tackling every project in one night, and managing to keep everything together 100% of the time. Newsflash: I can’t. I fail miserably at making everyone happy all the time, studying for two midterms after 10:00 pm is a bad idea, and sometimes I just have to admit I’m struggling. There is something incredibly freeing about admitting that you cannot do it on your own. Praise the Lord that He has succeeded and won and conquered the world so that I don’t have to have that weight on my shoulders.

3. Prioritize people.

I have a tendency to be extremely goal-oriented, sometimes at the expense of the people in my life. I can be incredibly focused on a single task and get frustrated at anyone that distracts me. The hardest thing sometimes is giving up an hour of cramming for an exam to get a coffee with a friend or give advice to a team member. But God has blessed me this semester with so many beautiful examples of times that sacrificing my time was exactly what He was asking me to do so that He could use me in wonderful ways. Praise the Lord that He blesses me with people in my life that draw me closer to Him.

4. Time with Him matters.

It’s amazing how true this is. Sometimes I’ll be about to go to bed at night and wonder to myself why my whole day seemed off. Then it hits me – I’ve barely talked to God today. There are days I have to take an unexpected detour to a quiet spot on campus and spend more time with Him to get me through the day. Being in constant communication with the God that made the universe doesn’t just blow my mind, it is the lifeline I need to keep moving forward. Praise the Lord that He has blessed us with this unbelievable connection to Him.

I hope y’all will also take a little time this week to think about the blessings the Lord has given you and the lessons He has taught you.  

Posted at 2:27 PM | Comments (0) | Permalink

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

7 Study Tips for the Stressed-Out Student

As the semester reaches the halfway point (eek!) and classes are piling on the workload, those study habits you promised yourself you’d follow at the beginning of the semester are probably beginning to fade.

For me at least, it’s right around this time of the semester that I am tempted to abandon all order and scheduling in favor of stressful cramming.

In the spirit of a crazy busy semester, here are some of my best study tips!

1. Figure out what works for you. There are so many great ways to study, but none of them will work if they’re not right for you. Some people love flashcards, some people use highlighters, and everyone works better in different environments. The important thing is that you find out what works for you. So try some different techniques, pay attention to how well they’re working, and stick with what you like and what works the best.

2. Sleep is KEY. Pulling an all-nighter always seems like a good idea, but it never works out that way. Not only is it unhealthy, but chances are your Philosophy professor won’t be able to make sense of a paper you wrote at three in the morning. Set a cut-off time for yourself and stick to it, regardless of what you’ve finished.

3. Make a motivating playlist. Listening to music while you study is very subjective – it’s helpful for some people and distracting for others. But once you’ve figured out if it’s helpful for you, choose your music wisely! I prefer instrumental tracks, because lyrics can be distracting, but some people find inspirational or worship music more motivating. Take a couple minutes before your study session to make a playlist that works for you, but don’t get too distracted crafting the perfect selection.

4. Take Breaks. No one can work non-stop. Some people take better breaks when they schedule them in between tasks, and some people prefer timing out intervals of studying and breaks. Either way, giving your brain a rest for a couple minutes is important. [NOTE: This is not the same as keeping a Facebook tab open while reading a chapter of your History text book. Taking “breaks” in between each paragraph isn’t helpful, it’s distracting.]

5. Fuel. The temptation is strong, especially during midterms or finals, to “get through” a long night of homework with endless energy drinks and junk food. Carbonated caffeine and processed chocolate might sound like a good idea at midnight, but you’ll regret it during your 10 a.m. exam. Instead, drink lots of water, eat healthy snacks at well-spaced intervals, and resist the call of the vending machine.

6. Find a place. While some people can study in groups or with other people, for most of us, getting away from distractions is a must! I’ve learned that my room is generally too busy and noisy, but the library is a great place to find a quiet corner to zone the outside world out.

7. Tell yourself the truth. During a stressful week of exams, papers, and projects, it can start to feel like the world revolved around your GPA. Tell yourself the truth that God is in control. Stress and worry are reflective of a larger problem: a lack of trust that God’s sovereignty means He’s got it all under control. If we truly believed that He is bigger than any of our problems, we’d gain a much different perspective, even in those last-minute cramming sessions. 

Posted at 11:55 AM | Comments (0) | Permalink

Friday, September 26, 2014

Amazing Grace: Global Focus Week

Last week was a special week at Liberty – Global Focus Week!

Liberty hosted a variety of speakers at Convocation that challenged us to expand our focus and respond to God’s command to make disciples of all the nations.

 My favorite part of this year’s Global Focus Week was definitely Nik Ripken.

Nik Ripken speaking at Convocation on September 15, 2014. 

Nik’s message was powerful in its honesty and directness – he spoke about how tragedies he’s witnessed and injustices he’s seen have made him want to take an “Old Testament” approach of retaliation and revenge. He was honest in his struggle with people that have hurt him and the people he cares about. But more importantly, he shared how God challenged him to gain a new perspective for these people – that they are lost and without a Savior. Nik’s message was so inspiring to me; not only did his message speak to the calling we each have to reach the lost, but it reminds us of an essential truth – we are sinners. We don’t deserve Jesus’ saving death and resurrection any more than people that are still lost. Nik may have been talking about militant groups in Somalia, but it’s still applicable to those of in school stateside. What makes God’s grace so incredible isn’t that we are good people that deserve it – it’s the opposite! Never let yourself be tricked into thinking you’re not in desperate need of a Savior. It’s only when I’m reminded of that critical reality that we begin to experience the fullness of God’s amazing grace in our lives.

I’m working on that this week – living in His amazing grace, and giving Him praise for it.  

Posted at 2:27 PM | Comments (0) | Permalink

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Shout it From the Mountains: Monogram Hike

I don’t know many college students that want to voluntarily wake up at 5:00 on a Sunday morning.

But that’s what some members of Liberty’s Debate Team did this weekend!

We woke up ridiculously early to hike up to the Monogram and watch the sunrise.

The view from the top of the monogram as Lynchburg wakes up!

It was a foggy morning, so we didn’t really get a spectacular view, but it was still warm and beautiful.

Our group of early morning hikers!

We hiked up to the Monogram and spent some time in reflection, the Word, and prayer.

Reading and gathering in prayer.

It was a beautiful way to spend time together as a team – enjoying the Lord’s creation on the beautiful campus we’ve been blessed with.

Selfies at the monogram!

One debater, Mary, also decided we needed to try a special prayer she had learned – you can take a look at our (somewhat silly) attempt at letting everyone in Lynchburg know Jesus loves them at 6:00 in the morning!


We had a lovely time taking advantage of everything Liberty’s campus has to offer and reorienting our day towards the only One who deserves our undivided focus.

Enjoying the beautiful view from the top!

Hopefully, as school work continues to pile up, and we begin our competitive debate season, we will keep this mindset and this practice of beginning every day dedicating it to our Lord that graciously gives it to us. 

Posted at 3:28 PM | Comments (0) | Permalink

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Cooking with Kaitlyn: Mug Cakes!

After a long day of classes, exams, and homework, sometimes you really need a little chocolate!

Although I live on East Campus (and have a kitchen) now, my first two years at Liberty I lived on a regular residence hall without that convenience. So when my roommates and I were in desperate need of chocolate stress relief, we would dream of conquering the DIY staple: the mug cake.  

This weekend my roommates and I decided to give it a try, and bake some mug cakes, as well as some mini cheesecakes for our dear friend’s birthday.

Our finished mini cheesecakes!

This was quite the baking endeavor – we were making four different recipes at once: Oreo cheesecakes, strawberry cheesecakes, and two types of mug cake – yellow cake and chocolate hazelnut!

Amanda checking out the baking cheesecakes!

Claire stirring up the cheesecake batter!

After successful completion of the cheesecakes, we began our work on the mug cakes.

Kaitlyn’s Guide to Mug Cakes

Chocolate Hazelnut

(You can find the recipe we used here.)

This cake took about ten minutes to prepare, and takes less than two minutes in the microwave.

Ana mixing in the most important ingredient: chocolate!

Stirring up the mug cake batter!

Cooking the chocolate cake!

The finished product! 

Ana testing out the first mug cake!

Our bakers’ thoughts:

Claire: “A little dry.”

Ana: “It’s not bad, it just doesn’t taste like anything.”

Amanda: “Can I just have more chocolate?”

Verdict: The best part is the chocolate drop on top. We should have cooked it a little less and used a larger mug to make it cook more evenly. Overall, it’s not the greatest cake, but is a good option for desperate bakers without ovens!

Yellow Cake

Here’s the recipe we used:

(Makes two mug cakes)


2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 large egg

2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup granulated sugar

6 tablespoons (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) self-rising flour


Place the butter in a large mug and microwave it for 20 to 30 seconds until melted. Add the egg and whisk it in with a fork. Stir in the milk, vanilla, and sugar. Add the flour and salt. Beat the batter until smooth. Divide the batter between two mugs. Microwave separately for 1.5 to 2.5 minutes each until risen and firm.

Our bakers’ thoughts:

Claire: “This one is really good!”

Ana: “I like this one a lot better – it actually tastes like cake!”

Amanda: “I like this one!”

Verdict: This one was delicious – it cooked well and could be used with a variety of fun toppings.

Overall, we had a fantastic day baking all of our creations. We learned a lot about the logistics of mug cakes and how to make them even more delicious the next time we have a cake craving!

Amanda, Meagan and Ana having a great time baking!

Posted at 11:54 AM | Comments (0) | Permalink

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Love One Another

One of the most important things I’ve learned in my first two years at Liberty is this: prioritize people. I’m not always the best at this, but I’ve learned that one of the first things to go when life gets busy is investing in the people in your life. This year, I wanted to make it a point to spend time with important people in my life and cultivate better relationships with them. So last week, some of my friends from my church back home and I got together to get dinner after our classes.

My dear friends and I - Lauren, me, Angela, and Kaya. 

These girls are so special to me – not only for how much I love each of them individually, but for how their presence at Liberty feels like an extension of my wonderful church family back home.

I love these girls. 

Sometimes it’s easy at school to get caught up in your own little world – whether that’s your major, your sport, your hall, or for me, debate. But I’m learning that it’s so important to open your eyes to the people God has put in your path and be a good steward of those gifts of relationship. My mentor recently told me that a friend of hers keeps lists of her weekly goals, and that she always includes a list for relationships. I love the spirit behind that – prioritizing and being intentional about the relationships in your life.

As the semester gets going and homework and other responsibilities pile up, I hope and pray that everyone will keep their relationships a priority!

John 13:35 (NIV)

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

Posted at 11:42 AM | Comments (0) | Permalink

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Freedom in Service: Liberty Debate Serves!

When people ask me why I chose Liberty, there are a lot of potential answers I could give.

God had a plan for me to go to Liberty.

I love the atmosphere.

The first time a professor prayed before class, I was amazed.

The campus is gorgeous.

But the answer I usually give when I don’t have time to explain the long journey God brought me on is this: I wanted to go to a Christian school and I wanted to debate – Liberty is the one and only place I got both!

But sometimes in the business of research, traveling, competing and generally being caught up in the craziness of a full-time debate schedule, I forget why I love that unique combination.

I love my team. I love how we support each other, pray for each other, serve each other, love on each other, and are all striving to debate and serve Jesus and do life together.

This weekend, I was reminded of how wonderful this combination is. Our lovely team SLC (Spiritual Life Coach, check out Liberty’s awesome student leadership system here), Meagan, put together a whole day of service to start our year and debate season!

A few of the teams working at All Nations Community Church.

Every student at Liberty has to complete CSER (Center for Christian/Community Service) volunteer hours every semester, and students on the debate team do our CSER hours as a team!  This year, for part of our CSER hours, we had a day of service we called Liberty Debate Serves. Meagan organized all the debaters into different teams, and gave us different tasks to do throughout the day. My group started out the day picking up trash from a local elementary school, before taking some time to get breakfast and pray over our day of service.

One of our new first year debaters, Amanda, and I, picking up trash!

Me and first-year debaters Katie, Ashleigh, and Amanda!

We then moved onto working at Living Word Baptist Church, cleaning baseboards for the student ministry and killing weeds in the playground. After finish up at Living Word, we drove to a children’s education store and purchased some supplies for All Nations Community Church’s after-school tutoring program in downtown Lynchburg.

Our group dropping off the supplies at All Nations Community Church!

After working off campus for a while, we spent some time doing some fun activities on campus – leaving pennies head-side-up around DeMoss, writing encouraging notes to our coaches and alumni of the team, and making a giant Thank You card for Liberty’s IT department, who work on our debate laptops quite frequently!

Amanda working on a thank you card for the IT department.

Debaters working on crafting butterflies for children with cancer.

After spending the day on our service projects, all of the different teams went to Meagan’s house to debrief and eat some good food! Other teams had worked in a food pantry, made crafts for children with cancer, and cleaned people’s windshields!

Debaters debriefing outside Meagan's apartment. 

It wouldn't be a good debriefing without s'mores! 

Playing volleyball after our great service day!

Our team had a wonderful day serving our community, but the best part of the day was when we all got together and shared what we had experienced. I love that I am on a team that can spend a weekend pouring everything we have into researching our topic, strategizing, not sleeping, and debating our hearts out. I love that I am on a team that can spend a weekend pouring everything we have into serving our school, our community, and each other. But more than either of those things, I love that I am on a team that can do both of those things, and then spend an evening talking about how to serve while we’re debating, how to have a heart of gratitude when we lose, how to treat our competitors the way we treat our community at home, and how to live out our mission on this earth at a food pantry, a church, or a debate tournament.

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” ~Galatians 5:13-14, NIV

Posted at 11:09 AM | Comments (0) | Permalink

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Scaling and Soaring: Camp Hydaway

This week, the debate team took a small break from weeks of research and preparing for the upcoming season, and spent some wonderful time at Camp Hydaway.

There is so much at Camp Hydaway – the lake, beach, campsites, an ATV track, and over 50 miles of hiking trials.

Our team took on some of the challenge course; doing team-building activities, scaling a wall, and flying through the air in a harness.

Our team starting out with a team-building exercise. 

Our experience was great – the staff at Camp Hydaway not only taught us a lot about the way we interact with each other and how to work better together; they were passionate about strengthening our individual relationships with Jesus.

Working together to get each member over the wall.

The best part, by far, was when we got a chance to be thrown through the air on a harness. I did it last, and there was just a little light breaking through the trees lining the clearing we were in. It was breathtaking and beautiful, to be soaring through the air as the sun slowly slipped behind the trees.

Camp Hydaway is amazingly beautiful.


My sweet friend Erin getting ready to soar!

Our team had an incredible experience at Camp Hydaway, and if you haven’t checked it out for yourself, you should do some exploring! There is so much Camp Hydaway has to offer Liberty students, especially while the weather is still beautiful and warm!

We didn't give this ladder a try - there is still so much for us to explore at Camp Hydaway!


Posted at 2:28 PM | Comments (0) | Permalink

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Summer Days

Hello again! It’s so exciting to be back at Liberty and ready to start the next school year! I said it last year and I’ll say it again – I can’t believe I’m halfway done with my undergraduate career at Liberty! It’s been an incredible ride and I can’t wait to see what new blessings this year has in store!

I had a wonderfully busy summer that involved lots of kids, work, friends, and God working in my heart. Here’s a quick run-down:

1. My beautiful and talented little sister, Kendra, graduated from high school!

Kendra and I right before the big ceremony.

2. My family moved from Florida to Northern Virginia, and my lovely friend Meagan agreed to take on the 13 hour drive with us.

Meagan was gracious enough to fly down to Florida to drive with us the day after her 21st birthday. 

3. I spent two weeks at Liberty working with high school debaters at the Liberty Debate Institute!

All of our wonderful campers!

4. I was infinitely blessed to spend a week in the mountains of West Virginia with my home church at youth camp. I led a small group of middle school girls, fought in an epic shaving cream war, valiantly protected our dorms from bug invasions, and had my life forever changed by our Lord’s emancipating grace.

My lovely little group of middle school girls on our last day of camp.

5. A few weeks before school began; the Liberty Debate Team began our preseason research and practice for the upcoming debate season. After a week of work on campus, we spent a week in a gorgeous cabin in Gatlinburg, TN.

Taking a break from research to go go-carting! 

Abby, who I had the incredible blessing of rooming with for our preseason camp, ready to beat all the boys at go-carts!


I had an incredible summer, but I’m exceedingly eager to begin this semester and find out what God has planned for this year!

Posted at 8:47 AM | Comments (0) | Permalink

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