Thursday, November 19, 2015
Sometimes people think debate sounds like a boring, nerdy activity. But it’s not! Well, it is pretty nerdy. But boring it is not! To prove that point, last week my debate partner and I took a trip to Oxford University in Oxford, England to compete in an international competition! We debated schools from around the world, went sight-seeing in London, and got in our fair share of shopping. It was an incredible experience. Here are some of my favorite pictures from this incredible week!
Packing for the trip. Here are my essentials for an eight-hour flight: my Bible, headphones, my journal, and my passport!
Picking up the rental car at the airport provided our first challenge: remembering to drive on the left side of the road!
Let's just say this picture encapsulates most of our journey — yelling at the GPS and repeating over and over: "Drive on the left. Drive on the left. Drive on the left."
Our first real stop upon arrival in Oxford was to eat dinner at this little pub: The Eagle and Child.
This place is a treasure: it was the hangout of "The Inklings," a group of writers that included J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis!
It also had incredible food!
The next day we drove from Oxford into London and spent the day sightseeing and shopping! This is the London Tower Bridge.
This picture of the London Tower Bridge was taken from inside the London Tower. It was a beautiful day — none of the usual rain and beautiful fall leaves!
The London Tower has a lot of historical significance, and the grounds are filled with artifacts and recreations. These metal soldiers dotted the Tower to show how well guarded it once was.
And of course we had to go to the heart of the city and check out the classics — Big Ben, the ferris wheel, and Westminster Abbey.
The next day we took a tour of Oxford before starting our debates that afternoon. The university has incredible buildings housing their different schools; and each of them has a long and interesting history. We got to explore a little bit and then did some shopping!
This is another university building. We also got to ride some double decker busses around the city while we were there.
And of course we had to get a cheesy tourist picture with a red phone booth! This is me and my debate partner, Leonora, during the tour of Oxford. We lost the group for just a minute to get this picture!
We had an incredible trip. We got to experience so much: the history of London and Oxford, a new style of debating with people from across the world, and the history of Oxford University and political debate in England.Posted at 2:27 PM | Comments (0) | Permalink
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Sometimes, He just shows up out of nowhere. Sometimes, you’re lost in a dark cloud of your own insecurity and doubt; and He intervenes in the middle of your path and reminds you who He is (and consequently, who you are).
That happened to me the other day.
I was walking back to my dorm, totally absorbed in my own hectic day and consumed with my long to-do list. As I turned a corner, this little rain-soaked index card was laying right in the middle of my path.
I stopped in my tracks.
I was so caught up in my worries and stresses that I was forgetting to give them all to Him. I was forgetting to surrender.
Surrender isn’t just a Christian-y buzzword we emblazon on everything from T-shirts to coffee mugs. It’s a way of living your life. I can choose to hold on to everything from my successes to my failures. I can clutch tightly to my control over my life and pretend that I can create my own circumstances and engineer my own perfect life. Or I can admit that I am totally incapable and insufficient, and I can surrender everything I have and everything I am to Him.
There are days when making that choice is harder than others.
Lately, it’s been a daily struggle.
A struggle to remind myself that He is in control.
A struggle to give up my best for His best.
A struggle to surrender.
But I’m learning a little more every day, and sometimes it takes Him intervening in my path (literally) to remind me to surrender.
Thankfully, I serve a God gracious enough to remind me what I have forgotten and persistent enough to continue teaching me what I’ve been too stubborn to learn.Posted at 2:11 PM | Comments (0) | Permalink
Thursday, November 5, 2015
As I near the end of my last year at Liberty, it seems that my academic career has come full circle: I’m applying to schools again!
Like many students, I’m applying to grad schools, and it’s kind of weird going through this whole process all over again! Since I’m on my second round of forms, recommendation letters, and anxiously awaiting a response, I thought I’d share some tips and tricks for surviving the application process.
1. Start early!
Start the process as early as you can. Most schools have limits on how early you can apply, but there are so many other things you have to do before you actually submit an application!
2. Do some research!
Before you start filling out application forms, do your research! Make a list of what you’re looking for in a school, and prioritize those things by how necessary or important they are to you. When I was applying to colleges in high school, my family and I made a chart for each school that listed a set of characteristics important to me. We then scored each school for each of the categories. We scored based on the information we got from the school’s websites, the information they sent us in the mail, and the questions we asked the admissions offices. Most schools have a ton of information available on their websites, but entering your contact information on the website and getting information mailed to you can also be helpful. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! The admissions office at most schools is there to help you make an informed decision, and they can answer any questions you can’t easily find the answer to.
Once I had narrowed down my list to a handful of schools, we visited them and used those charts to re-score the schools and figure out which one was the right one for me. While some of the schools basically kept their same scores, others had big differences. There was one school I was sure I was going to end up choosing that fit most of my criteria and was a really excellent school, but once I got on campus, I knew it wasn’t for me. There was a general atmosphere that just didn’t fit me, and I never would have known that if I hadn’t visited. On the other hand, I was not sold on Liberty before I came to visit. My parents pushed me to give it a chance, and once I came on campus, I knew it was where I was supposed to go to school.
4. Make a calendar!
There’s a lot of information to keep track of! Between application deadlines, financial aid cutoffs, and registration, there’s a lot to remember – especially if you’re applying to a lot of schools! Keep a calendar that is just for your applications, and use different colors to differentiate between categories. I used a different color for each school, but you could use a different color for different types of deadlines or information.
4. Get good recommendation letters!
This is more of an art than a science. Asking people to write recommendation letters for you requires evaluating a range of factors – how well you know the person, what type of relationship you have, and how much you trust them to write a letter that reflects you well and actually gets sent. One of my recent applications asked for a professional or professorial recommendation. I could have asked any of my history professors, but none of them knew me very well or were very much related to the type of schools I’m applying to. So instead, I had my debate coach write a letter for that requirement – she knows me well, knows my work ethic, and has seen my spiritual growth over my time at Liberty. Think about who you want an admissions committee to hear from and what they might say about you!
5. Don’t stress!
This is a difficult process. You have to keep up with all your normal responsibilities while balancing a whole set of new ones. Not to mention, you have to deal with the stress of waiting to hear what feels like a judgment on your whole life! Relax. Not only is all of this so much easier than you’ve probably been told, but God has got it. You’re going to end up at the school He wants you at, and nothing can change that. If you get rejected, it’s already a part of His plan. His plans are always better.Posted at 10:02 AM | Comments (0) | Permalink
Thursday, October 29, 2015
If there’s anything college students love (and love talking about how much they love it), its coffee.
Luckily enough for Liberty students, there are plenty of spots on campus to get your daily dose of caffeine. But for those interested in finding another option – for studying, quick refills, or a relaxing atmosphere – I’m doing a thorough investigation into the best coffee shops in Lynchburg. I’m going to check out a new coffee shop each week and grade it for a series of important characteristics – atmosphere, location, and deliciousness. (These are all entirely subjective, but between my roommate and I, we’re pretty good judges of coffee shop character!)
This week, I’m starting it off with a Liberty favorite: The White Hart.
The White Hart is located at 1208 Main Street, about 10 minutes from campus. (Drive over there NOW and the ride will be half the fun – downtown Lynchburg is beautiful all the time, but right now, the leaves are making it even more gorgeous!) You can check out their hours and other information on their website .
Here’s how The White Hart scored in the (totally subjective) categories, out of 10 possible points:
This place is lovely. The music is excellently chosen and plays at just the right volume to allow conversation and work, while still cultivating a pleasant ambiance. The White Hart hosts poetry readings and live music, but it’s also a great place to study, catch up with a friend, or read a book. Personally, I think it’s a great spot for people-watching and writing.
The White Hart’s not too far from campus, and is situated in a great spot in Lynchburg. It’s across the street from the Lynchburg Community Market, and surrounded by other local shops and businesses.
I got the White Hart Snow (because it was recommended by the barista and because it’s named after the café itself) and a chocolate chip pumpkin muffin. My roommate Claire got a White Chocolate latte and a snickerdoodle. I loved my drink so much I took another friend back to the White Hart a few days later to get it again. It was sweet, and had layered flavors that complemented each other. The bakery goods all looked great, and there’s a variety of coffee and other drinks that fit any taste.
Extra Awesomeness Points: 5
The White Hart is a local business that supports other local businesses and non-profits. It fosters little communities, while impacting the larger one.
Total Score: 34/30
Wow. We’re starting out strong with this score. Overall, we knew we loved the White Hart, but when you put numbers to it, you can really tell how great it is!
Check back for reviews of other coffee spots in Lynchburg!Posted at 2:42 PM | Comments (0) | Permalink
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
This week, I started my Halloween celebration early!
I have a debate tournament this weekend, so the team held our annual Halloween party early this year. Every year, there’s one tradition that stands.
The costume contest!
Every year, we hold a contest for the best costume, and the winner receives one of three topic-themed prizes. Basically, we pick silly representations of whatever the debate topic is for the year. This year, the topic is foreign military presence in the Persian Gulf, Northeast Asia, and the Greater Horn of Africa. So third place received Japanese candy, second place got some little plastic African animals, and first place got a set of army men and helicopters.
Here were some of our contestants:
Abby as an adorable gumball machine!
Rachael and Amanda as the dysfunctional siblings they already are!
Brianna showing solidarity as Katniss!
Odessa as a cute Waldo!
Caleb as...a patriotic redneck.
Here we have Katniss, a ninja, a minion, and Rosie the Riveter.
And the judges of the contest: Taylor Swift circa 2009 and Taylor Swift circa 2015. (Also known as my debate partner Nora and I.)
This year, we also did some CSER at the party. During the party, we held a canned food drive. Afterwards, we wrote encouraging notes and handed them out with some candy at the library.
Ryan handing out candy and notes at the library.
We got to celebrate Halloween while encouraging a bunch of busy, stressed out students!
I hope everyone has a safe and fun Halloween!
Posted at 3:23 PM | Comments (0) | Permalink
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
It’s homecoming weekend!
There are so many exciting activities taking place across campus this weekend. Today, the weekend began with the Student Homecoming Kickoff. There was free Dunkin' Donuts coffee and donuts, free pennants, games, and food! I stopped by after Convocation to check out the event and learn about the other events happening this weekend.
There’s nothing a college student likes more than to hear that there’s free coffee and donuts!
Students were prepared to show their school spirit this weekend with these pennants!
Here’s a breakdown of what’s happening:
Thursday, October 22nd
- The weekend is starting out with the REDvolution Tour, featuring Red, Tedashii, Capital Kings, and Wolves at the Gate. The concert begins at 8 p.m. and is taking place in the LaHaye Event Space.
- Thursday is also the last College Night at Scaremare! Students can get terrified by chainsaw-wielding clowns for a discounted rate of $3!
Friday, October 23rd
- Jefferson Bethke is speaking during Convocation! He’s a worldwide speaker, spoken word poet, and author.
- From 6-9 p.m., there will be a carnival and food trucks for registered Homecoming attendees behind the Hancock Welcome Center!
- Liberty Flames Hockey will play their home opener against Davenport University at 7 p.m. in the new LaHaye Ice Center.
- At 8 p.m., Gillville begins! As always, come out to stay the night before the big game with s’mores, games, and giveaways!
Saturday, October 24th
- Get up early and head over to the Deep Hollow Marathon and 5k at Camp Hydaway! Check out more information about the race here.
- The Basketball Fan Fest begins at 12 p.m. in the Vines Center. The Men’s team will be having an open practice and a scrimmage, while the Women’s team will sign autographs.
- At 4 p.m., stay near University Blvd. for the Homecoming Parade!
- And by 7 p.m., head over to the Williams Football Stadium for the Liberty Flames Football game against Kennesaw State.
Check out more information about all the Homecoming activities here!
Have some fun this weekend and take advantage of all the festivities!Posted at 3:35 PM | Comments (0) | Permalink
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
There are days when the stress is overwhelming. It’s a daily fight to remember the truth that my God is in control and that He is working for His glory and my good. But there are days when it feels like my fears, insecurities, and doubts are winning. There are days when my feelings play tricks on me. They tell me I’ve ruined everything, that nothing will ever be good again, and that I’m a worthless failure. But those are the days when I have to tell myself the truth. I often know the truth in my head but can’t believe it in my heart.
It’s not easy to tell yourself the truth. Sometimes it feels weirdly satisfying to wallow in your own insecurities and believe your own lies. So sometimes, when it’s hardest to remember the truth, I turn to some of my favorite music. Today, I was so frustrated and stressed and overwhelmed. I needed to tell myself the truth – the mountains aren’t immovable and my God is bigger than my mistakes and failures. Here are some of my favorite songs that helped me tell myself the truth today.
1. “No Longer Slaves,” Bethel Music (Jonathan David, Melissa Helser)
From: We Will Not Be Shaken, Bethel Music
You unravel me, with a melody
You surround me with a song
Of deliverance, from my enemies
Till all my fears are gone
I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God
2. “City of Hope,” Amanda Cook
From: Brave New World, Amanda Cook
Adoption is our heritage
Chosen from the orphanage
The Father's great inheritance
Bestowed upon us all
You are mending the broken-hearted
You are making all things new
You're rebuilding out of the ruins
A city of hope with the ones You love
3. “Captain,” Hillsong United
From: Empires, Hillsong United
Lost in the shallows amidst fear and fog
Your truth is the compass that points me back north
My soul's trusted Lord
All my allegiance is rightfully Yours
4. “Clear the Stage,” Jimmy Needham
From: Clear the Stage, Jimmy Needham
Then seek the Lord and wait for what he has in store
And know that great is your reward so just be hopeful
'Cause you can sing all you want to
Yes, you can sing all you want to
You can sing all you want to
And still get it wrong; worship is more than a song
5. “You Will Never Run,” Rend Collective
From: As Family We Go, Rend Collective
Love wide as galaxies
Love deeper than the sea
Countless as all infinity
Love like a shooting star
Tearing apart the dark
Shining for all eternity
6. “Called Me Higher,” All Sons and Daughters
From: The Longing EP, All Sons and Daughters
I could hold on
I could hold on to who I am and never let You
Change me from the inside
And I could be safe
I could be safe here in Your arms and never leave home
Never let these walls down
But You have called me higher
You have called me deeper
And I'll go where You will lead me Lord
7. “From the Day,” I Am They
From: I Am They, I Am They
From the day You saved my soul
'Til the very moment that I come home
I'll sing, I'll dance
My heart will overflow
From the day You saved my soul
8. “Multiplied,” Needtobreathe
From: Rivers in the Wasteland, Needtobreathe
God of mercy sweet love of mine
I have surrendered to Your design
May this offering stretch across the skies
And these Hallelujahs be multiplied
9. “Ever Be,” Kalley Heiligenthal, Bethel Music
From: We Will Not Be Shaken, Bethel Music
You father the orphan
Your kindness makes us whole
You shoulder our weakness
And Your strength becomes our own
You’re making me like you
Clothing me in white
Bringing beauty from ashes
For You will have Your bride
Free of all her guilt and rid of all her shame
And known by her true name and it’s why I sing
10. “Pieces,” Amanda Cook
From: Brave New World, Amanda Cook
Your love is a fire
Burning bright for me
It's not just a spark
It's not just a flame
Your love is a light
That all the world will see
I hope some of these songs can bring you some peace and comfort in times of stress!Posted at 8:16 AM | Comments (0) | Permalink
Friday, October 16, 2015
Every student's day looks a little different (and mine look different every day!), but today I thought I'd give you a glimpse into what today looked like for me!
Time to wake up!
It’s never an easy thing for me, but I also am the most productive in the morning, so I’ve learned to get to bed earlier at night and set my alarm far enough away that I have to get out of bed to turn it off.
Leave for work!
The nicest part of the morning is my quiet walk to the Marketing office. Usually, the route is totally empty, there’s a cool breeze, and it’s quiet and peaceful. I like to listen to music and start catching up on social media.
I’ll work on a blog, check up on Liberty’s Facebook and Twitter, or work on specific projects. Probably the best part is hearing fellow Social Media worker Meredith’s ridiculous stories.
This is what work looks like for me — a coffee and a bunch of social media sites open at once!
Meredith working hard!
Leave work and head to class!
I give myself a lot of time between work and class so that I don’t have to rush back to DeMoss, and I can get ready for class: getting my books, printing out assignments, or (if necessary) grabbing a coffee.
My only Tuesday/Thursday class starts!
It’s ENGL 417, Writing as Cultural Engagement, taught by Dr. Karen Swallow Prior. It’s easily my favorite class. I wanted to spend this year building up my writing work and submitting pieces to magazines and blogs, but with debate and work, I knew that was going to be difficult, so this class is a gift from God! Not only do we get to learn from an accomplished author, but our assignments are all the things I wanted to spend this year working on! Today we workshopped our latest assignment, a short blog post we had earlier pitched to an established blog as a guest writer. My group ended up discussing the biblical allusions in video games, the importance of forgiveness, political debates, and Hamlet – quite the variety!
Meet with a younger debater to discuss debate theory.
As exhausting and time-consuming as debate can be, one of my favorite things about making it all the way to my senior year is the opportunities I have to teach younger debaters! Today, I worked with a first-year debater on some debate theory she hadn’t been taught in high school.
The debate team meets every Tuesday and Thursday to prepare for upcoming tournaments, have practice debates, and pray for each other. This meeting, we prepared for an upcoming tournament at West Point and discussed our strategies for that weekend.
Dinner with roommate!
My roommate Claire and I grabbed a quick dinner at the dining hall in between debate and studying!
I have a big test tomorrow, so I’m spending all evening studying in the library with my roommate!
Starbucks and pretty pens make it a little easier. (You might have noticed a coffee pattern....it's a problem.)
Go to sleep.
Even though I haven’t finished studying, I’m waiting until the morning to keep working – I need my sleep if I’m going to ace this test!Posted at 2:37 PM | Comments (0) | Permalink
Tuesday, October 6, 2015
College can be the most exciting, stressful, and above all, busy time of your life. You often get very little sleep (or sleep at weird hours), you probably work a job, take a bunch of classes, and do as many resume-boosting extracurriculars as possible. Add to that the fact that you’re so rarely alone, and you get a mix that causes many a college student to slowly give up on doing personal devotions. It’s hard to find time, let alone quiet for a “quiet time.” We all know it’s important – spending time studying the Word (not for class), praying, and just spending time alone with Jesus are integral parts of a life devoted to following Him. But prioritizing this habit can get harder and harder in college – even if you’re going to the largest Christian university in the world! Here are some ideas for fighting the trend towards giving up on daily devotions.
1. Prioritize it.
It’s simple, but it’s not easy. What is easy is to buy into the lie that homework, your job, or your social life takes priority in this moment. Sure, it doesn’t take ultimate priority, but today is too busy to make time for a devotion. It’s a lie – it’s when you’re busiest that you need to take the time to spend with your Savior. He will give you the peace and wisdom to get through your busiest seasons.
2. Find a space where you can be alone.
This might be the hardest part about living in a dorm – finding time to be by yourself! Pick a time your dorm is usually empty, or find a place that is usually unoccupied. Either way, finding time to be by yourself is important. Too often, students think that going to Convocation three times a week checks off the box of spending time with God, without realizing how important it is to spend time alone with Him. Being in community with other believers is essential, but so is spending time alone cultivating your personal relationship with our Savior.
There are so many devotional apps, online churches, and sermon podcasts out there that it can be tempting to just snuggle up and mindlessly listen to someone else talk about God instead of talking to Him. Don’t get me wrong – those things can be great tools, but they shouldn’t replace an unplugged time with Him. Use a physical Bible that you can write in the margins and flip through the pages; write in a real journal that you can hang on to for the rest of your life; and at least every once in a while, read and pray in total silence – no headphones or speakers necessary.
Hopefully some of these ideas will inspire you!Posted at 2:30 PM | Comments (0) | Permalink
Monday, September 28, 2015
It’s a scene that repeats itself over and over again in freshmen dorms across the country: an excited freshman bursts into their new dorm room, filled with exuberance and expectation, only to be halted at the door by the sight of white and empty walls. Living in a dorm is a great experience: you get to live with all your friends, meet new people, and have a constant support system around you. But making a dorm a cute and comfy place isn’t always easy. You have one or two roommates to coordinate with and you don’t want to break the bank on pricey décor. As someone on her fourth year of living in a dorm (the joys of scholarships!), I have a lot of tips and tricks to making your dorm room a home.
1. Talk to your roommates!
If you can get in contact with them before the school year starts or you knew them before becoming roommates, talk about what you want your room to look like and what everyone is bringing with them back to school. (You don’t want three microwaves!) My freshman year, one of my roommates wanted tons of different colors in our room and the other one wanted all neutrals. We had to compromise. Everything doesn’t have to match, but you should talk about what will work best together.
2 Get crafty!
You don’t have to buy expensive decorations to dress up your room. Get some inexpensive canvases at a craft store, check out Pinterest for inspiration, and get crafty!
These are my roommate Claire's homemade decorations: her initials pained on little signs hanging on the wall.
A canvas I painted with Needtobreathe lyrics from the song "Multiplied."
Another canvas that displays Psalm 31:24.
And you don’t even have to use canvases! I spent a night doodling Pinterest-inspired lettering on little pieces of paper that made great decorations around my desk or above my bed.
3. Use space creatively!
You don’t have a lot of space in a dorm room, especially when you’re sharing it with two people. So use the space as wisely as possible.
Use wall space to hang items for storage or organization.
I used a cork board and push pins to hang up necklaces on a wall in my closet!
Loft or bunk your beds for extra space!
This year, I lofted my bed and put a comfy chair and my desk underneath.
Tip for bunk/loft bed sleepers: If AT ALL possible, put your alarm under your bed. Getting out of bed in the morning is hard enough without having to climb down from bed. The only way you’re actually going to get out of bed is to make your alarm so far out of reach that you have to climb down or risk infuriating your roommate.
4. Designate different spaces for different purposes.
My space under my bed is split into two areas: (1) a comfy chair that’s for hanging out, scrolling through Instagram, or reading a book and (2) a desk and nice desk chair for studying. Keeping these two areas separate helps me get in the “studying” mindset when I need to get work done and turn it off and relax when I’m done.
This is my study space - a lamp for working late at night, pens and pencils at easy reach, and a clean desktop to do work on.
This is my relaxing spot - I've got a little light to read by, comfy pillows, a warm blanket, and lots of pictures and quotes surrounding me.
5. Use things you love to decorate a space you’ll love.
Pictures, cards, ticket stubs, anything that reminds you of people you love and fun times you had.
This is my picture wall - I've got a couple canvases decorating the top, and then I filled in the bottom with a bunch of pictures I printed out of family, friends, and fun times.
Under my bed, I've got a lot more eclectic pieces filling up the walls - a sign my quad-mates made me, a painting from Haiti a good friend brought me, birthday and Valentine's day cards, and notes from the camp I worked at this summer. All these things remind me of great experiences I've had and people I love.
Whatever you do with your space, make sure it’s something you can use and that you love!Posted at 11:15 AM | Comments (0) | Permalink