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Kaitlyn's Blog

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

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Year in Review

I can’t believe the semester is ending! It’s been a crazy ride, and I thought I’d take a blog to look back on this year.

End of Summer: Coming back to Liberty early for debate meant saying goodbye to my family a little early and celebrating my summer birthday before packing up from Florida and heading to Lynchburg!

My little sister Kendra and I the day before I left.

Start of the Year: The debate team spends a week at a cabin in Tennessee to start our season off, and it fell on my birthday this year. I was so blessed to spend my birthday with some of my closest friends, and to get a surprise funfetti rice crispy treat cake!

My beautiful birthday cake!

First Day of School: We had to take a first day of school picture!

Ana, Hannah, Grace and I on the first day.

Trips: I got to spend multiple weekends with friends that live a lot closer to Liberty than I do in Florida! It was such a blessing to occasionally take a few days off to spend time with friends, eat homemade food and SLEEP.

Visiting Meagan's family.

Halloween: We may have been traveling and debating on the actual date, but our Halloween party made up for it, including costumes such as: an American flag, Obama, Obamacare, hippies, and impersonations of our debate coaches.

Ana, Hannah, and I all dressed as hippies.

Christmas: I spent Christmas break with some of the best friends I’ve made at Liberty, hanging out on the beach, going to church services, and baking ridiculous amounts of cookies!

Gracie and I at the beach!

Dressed up for Christmas church.

Debate: Second semester, the amount of debate tournaments we traveled to got a little hectic, but we had an amazing season and I had a fantastic time getting to travel and do what I love to do.

My partner Ana got a little tired while doing Bio homework after a busy tournament weekend.

Looking back, though, it’s not the events that I remember about this year, it’s the people.

Some of my favorite people on the Debate Team at our end of the year banquet.

One of my bestest friends, Meagan and I. 

My lovely prayer group!

The lovely ladies of the debate team.

And, just for fun, here’s a very different year in review…

Year in Review: Selfies

First day back in Lynchburg = Cookout.

Debate Team retreat means epic gokart racing!!

Birthday also = Cookout, this time in the drive thru at midnight. 

Late night Bible study selfie!

Selfies at Grace's high school's production of "Seussical."

Finally, Easter church selfie! 

Thanks for taking this crazy ride with me this year. I hope everyone had a wonderful year, and has a beautiful summer!

Posted at 4:15 PM | Comments (0) | Permalink

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Easter Break Escapades

I hope everyone had an amazing time celebrating the resurrection of our Lord this weekend!

I spent the weekend with my dear friend Meagan and her family- moving them into a new home, going to church, and unleashing our inner kids in a fierce Easter egg hunt.

A successful Easter egg hunt!

I’m so thankful I have these amazing people in my life! Meagan’s family is truly amazing, and I’m so thankful they were so kind to a bunch of sleep-deprived college students.

Everyone at church on Easter Sunday.

Meagan and I on the way to church!

I also got to see Frozen for the first time, and my verdict is that it's as amazing and addictive as people warned me it would be!

In other news, it’s almost the end of the semester! I can’t believe I’m almost halfway done with my time at Liberty, but I’m so excited for what the rest of my time holds!

Getting a break last weekend gave me some time to reflect on the semester and what God has been doing in my life. I’ve learned so much this year about trusting Him, putting my future in his hands, and learning how to better love people. I can’t wait to spend another semester learning not only from my classes, but from the people God has placed in my life here at Liberty. 

Posted at 4:15 PM | Comments (0) | Permalink

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Beautiful Gift

I love my team.

I probably say it enough on here, but I don’t say it enough in person: I love my team.

Being a part of the Liberty University Debate Team has changed my life. I discovered an activity I had no idea I was going to fall completely in love with. More than that, though, I discovered a team I had no idea I was going to fall completely in love with. As the semester ends, we’ve had our share of drama, but then again, all slightly dysfunctional families do too. We still love each other.

Last week, as I sat in church with some of my best friends who have become my family, and praised our great and loving God, I could not keep from thanking Him for what He has given me.

The day before that service, we had our end of the year banquet, and I felt the same way- that I did not deserve and could not begin to thank my Lord enough for what He has given me. 

Just a few of my teammates that I've had the privilege and joy of working with this year!

One of the best people I've been blessed to know, Meagan! 

Liberty's Director of Debate, Michael Hall. 

Another one of my favorite people I've been blessed to meet on the team, Grace. 

After a week of being reminded how much I love my team and the amazing opportunity Liberty has given me to travel, debate, and work hard at an activity I truly love, I spent a day at James Madison University debating at one of our final events of the year. 

My partner for the day, Claire!

My partner for this special tournament, Claire, and I had an amazing time and I was reminded again of how much I love these people and this activity, and how incredibly thankful I am that I get to be doing this. 

Not only do I get to spend long tournament weekends with these amazing people, but I get to spend time with them doing things close to all our hearts. The same day we had our beautiful banquet, we also spent the morning volunteering at a local church's Easter carnival- playing games with kids, making art projects, and telling the real story of Easter. 

Taking a break after working with kids all morning!

Before I came to Liberty, I had no idea I would love this activity and this team the way I do, and I am so thankful, as the semester and year ends, to have been given this gift. 

Posted at 3:00 PM | Comments (0) | Permalink

Friday, April 11, 2014

Major Problem

I recently had a conversation with a freshman girl on the debate team about using this summer to figure out what she wanted to declare her major. And I realized that when I came to Liberty, I was positive that I wouldn’t change my major. I came in as a Government major, and I had heard the statistics- eighty percent of college-bound seniors haven’t chosen a major, and fifty percent of freshmen that declare a major change it, often many times. But I figured that I knew exactly what I wanted to do, and wasn’t going to change my mind. But I didn’t expect to come to Liberty and have so many things in my life change. I didn’t expect to fall so in love with the Debate team, I didn’t expect to discover a love of teaching, I didn’t expect to experience and learn as much as I have. And I didn’t expect all the wonderful people that have shaped who I am becoming.  So when I was thinking about switching to a History major, I wondered what was happening to me! Why was I proving those statistics right?

I realized that all of these unexpected things were bringing me to a place that God had always expected. I might not have known I’d end up at Liberty, on the Debate Team, with the major I have, the people I love, and the life I have now. But He knew.

And the best part is, these unexpected changes were accompanied by an increased understanding of who He is and an increased trust in His plan. I love that my major might change, but my God doesn’t. If His sovereignty extends across nations and peoples and tongues, it certainly can handle a “major” change.

I’m learning that it’s okay to change your mind. It’s okay to find new dreams. It’s not giving up a dream; it’s realizing the one that you really have. And more than that, it’s about discovering the plan God has for you, not the one you have for yourself. Because He knows what He’s doing.

So as I talked to this dear friend of mine, I told her the truth: Deciding your major can be scary and it can feel like you’re deciding the fate of the rest of your life. But luckily, you go to a school that gives you a lot of choices, and you serve a God that knows exactly what He’s doing. 

I'm continually thankful for the people that have been with me on this journey.

Posted at 2:44 PM | Comments (0) | Permalink

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