Tuesday, May 6, 2014
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!
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!
First Day of School: We had to take a first day of school picture!
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.
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.
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!
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.
Looking back, though, it’s not the events that I remember about this year, it’s the people.
And, just for fun, here’s a very different year in review…
Year in Review: Selfies
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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 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.
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
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.
Posted at 2:44 PM | Comments (0) | Permalink
Thursday, April 10, 2014
Last weekend was my first real “free” weekend since the semester started- no big tests or projects, no debate tournaments, nothing scheduled. It was great! I decided to take advantage of my free weekend, and have some fun going to a classic Liberty event- Coffeehouse! If you’ve never been, Coffeehouse is a type of variety talent show that takes place every semester. In the Fall semester, it’s Christmas-themed, and every Spring semester there’s a new theme. This semester, the theme was British Invasion!
I had a great night watching my fantastically talented classmates perform covers of British hits, video clips made by talented students, and hanging out with some friends that will be graduating soon and were watching their last coffeehouse!
As the end of the semester approaches, and classes get crazier, it’s always fun to take a night off to just have some fun.
Some highlights included: the amazing a cappella group the Elmer Tones, parodies of James Bond and Doctor Who, and covers of hits by Ellie Goulding and Ed Sheeran.
Posted at 11:49 AM | Comments (0) | Permalink
Thursday, April 3, 2014
With the semester nearing its end, and classes starting to get crazier and more intense, I need some motivation this weekend to get my work done!
Over the past four semesters at Liberty, I’ve slowly learned some of the ways that work best for me to get things done. So in the spirit of upcoming final exams, projects, and presentations, here are some of my best study tips!
1. Figure out what works for you. Everyone learns differently, and some tips will work better for some people. I personally need to make a study playlist that is all instrumental - I’m an auditory learner that will totally get distracted by the lyrics to any song instead of writing my paper or studying for a test. Some people can listen to their favorite music, but some people need absolute silence. Some people study best with others, but some people need to be alone to focus. Figure out what works for you and use it to get the most out of your studying.
2. Pace Yourself. If you have two tests, a project, and three papers to do in two days, don’t plan on doing them all in one sitting. You’ll get so frustrated and bored you’ll inevitably end up on Facebook or Pinterest instead of getting work done. Give yourself hourly breaks that let you stretch your legs, get some food, or do something mindless for a couple minutes. Breaking up your study schedule will help you be more productive during the times you’re actually studying and keep you from going crazy.
3. Use Study Tools. Make flashcards, take practice tests, use a million different colors of gel pens. Do what you can to make studying fun and you’ll learn more while you’re at it. I love making flashcards with fun colors and my own study guides with major points from the text.
4. Stay Healthy. During exam time, it’s easy to justify endless energy drinks, junk food, and 2 A.M. cram sessions. But taking care of your body by getting plenty of sleep and eating normally will help you stay on a healthy schedule that will better prepare you for your exams.
5. Go to Class. It seems intuitive, but a lot of people start thinking that the best way to do well on exams is to sleep or study instead of going to class. However, in-class instruction can be the most valuable learning time you have! Instead of teaching yourself, learning from a knowledgeable professor with fellow classmates helps you process information and learn things that might not be in the textbook.
6. Have Fun! For me, it’s easy to get stressed out and forget that my Lord and Savior is in control of everything, including my exams. So in the midst of your studying, don’t forget to relax, spend some time with the Lord, and take a break to have some fun.Posted at 8:49 AM | Comments (0) | Permalink
Thursday, March 20, 2014
This past weekend, the Liberty debate team had its last tournament (with the entire team) for the season. Not only was is this last full-squad tournament memorable because of it was the last tournament the whole team would be competing together, but this year, the last tournament was held on Liberty’s campus! It was a great weekend for our team, but it was also a good opportunity to look back at our season and think about how far we’ve all come and how we’ve grown as a team. But amid the successes, the losses, and the nostalgic musings, I kept thinking of how quickly my time at Liberty was passing by. In only a few weeks, I will be halfway done! And for some reason, a few lines from a really old Nichole Nordeman song I loved in middle school kept coming to mind.
I don't have to look too far or too long awhile
To make a lengthy list of all that I enjoy
It's an accumulating trinket and a treasure pile
Where moth and rust, thieves and such will soon enough destroy
Not well traveled, not well read, not well-to-do or well bred
Just want to hear instead, "Well Done" good and faithful one...
I love debate with all my heart, and I am so incredibly thankful and blessed that Liberty has given me the incredible opportunity to travel, compete, and grow and improve at something I love this much. But sometimes I need a continuous, firm reminder that even those things that God blesses me with are temporary and meaningless when compared to the love and security He gives me and the passion and purpose of HIS that I am to pursue.
After this stressful weekend, I spent some time listening to this old favorite song, just to hear it’s fantastic reminder:
I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love? Did I point to You enough to make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering,
A child of mercy and grace who
blessed your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy.
The world applauds my driven nature, my single-minded focus, my motivation and ambition. The Lord wants more for me.
He doesn’t give me the things that are not good for me. And He always knows best.
When I leave Liberty, I don’t want my “legacy” to be winning debates, doing lots of work, or even being a “good person.” I want to point people to my Creator. I want to choose to love. I want to leave an offering to the Lord at the place that He has blessed me in this way. I want to bless His Name unapologetically.
Posted at 10:14 AM | Comments (0) | Permalink
Friday, March 7, 2014
Sometimes, in the midst of a crazy semester, you need to take a weekend off! So instead of getting as much homework done as I should have, I spent last weekend with my lovely friend Grace and her family at her home in North Carolina. We took off after class on Friday to her parent’s house and spent the night relaxing and watching movies- the perfect solution to a week full of work and classes! The next day we got to see her former high school’s musical production before heading back to campus on Sunday morning to finish up homework and get ready for another hectic week.
Gracie was on Liberty’s debate team with me last year, but this year she got a job and focused on school and graduating early. Luckily, I got to live with her this year, and she has been such a joy in my life! Balancing everything can be stressful, but finding people that motivate you to work hard when you need to and rest when you need it are a continual blessing.
Recently, I got to celebrate two of the people Liberty has brought into my life by spending some time at my parent’s home in sunny Florida - Grace and Meagan.
These two women have been hugely influential in my time at Liberty and each is going such big places under the direction of their Lord!
I hope and pray that all of you at Liberty and considering attending invest in people that will invest in you, growing together towards a greater understanding of our Lord Jesus Christ!Posted at 10:42 AM | Comments (0) | Permalink
Thursday, February 27, 2014
As anyone will likely tell you, each semester at Liberty has seemed to pass faster than the last. I can’t believe we’re nearing halfway through the spring semester, and I definitely can’t believe I am nearing halfway through my time at Liberty. Just to give you a quick glimpse - here’s what the last few weeks have been like:
The beginning of this semester was incredibly hectic - I had a string of debate tournaments, classes to catch up on, work to do, and I was struggling to keep it all in balance. Over Christmas break, I had some serious conversations with God about reorganizing my priorities and keeping Him at the center of my life. But when I got back to school, keeping Him at the center became harder and harder as other things vied for my undivided attention. What frustrated me the most, though, was that I felt like such a failure - like every time I made right with God, I messed up again. It felt like I was still so far away from God and was constantly having to repent and start the process over again.
But in the process of this turmoil, I watched Kyle Idleman speak at Convocation on Wednesday. (Watch it here, it's incredible.) His message hit me hard- I had been so focused on how God could use me in debate, at school, and in the world at large, that I was not focusing on what still needed to be done in me. But one small line of the passage Kyle read from hit me even harder- “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20)
I was floored.
In our world of sound byte sermons and 30-second testimonies, one thing I struggle with the most is that I keep messing up. My testimony is not an open and shut case. I’ve hit the floor, crying and confessing and convicted, a million times. It’s not that I don’t learn or that it’s not genuine. It’s that I’m not perfect, and I keep messing up. I’m still a long way off. And that’s why that rather insignificant part of the verse hit me so hard - while he was still a long way off, his Father ran to him. He didn’t wait until he had gotten himself together. He didn’t wait until he had fixed all his mistakes once and for all. He didn’t even wait for him to finish his walk of shame back to his parent’s house. He was so filled with compassion at the sight of his son’s choice to come back to him that he ran to him.
My perfectionist self is slowly coming to grips with the reality that I’m not going to have it all together so long as I live on this earth. Like Kyle preached, there are times I need to be faced with the sin I’m ignoring and be convicted to the point of tears in order to shake my complacent and selfish attitude and wake up to the reality of my depravity and the depth of His unfailing Grace. And that needs to happen a lot more than once. But I can rest in the assurance that my Father loves me enough to come running while I'm still a long way off.
I hope and pray that everyone is surviving the semester, and keeping His promises at the center of their hectic schedules!Posted at 9:14 AM | Comments (0) | Permalink
Tuesday, February 4, 2014
It’s only a week into the new semester, and I already feel like I’m behind! I got back to school last week, and within a few days, I had to pack up again and head to the Naval Academy for a debate tournament. The tournament was amazing, and our team won two divisions- and my partner and I won one of them!
Now that I’m getting back into the swing of classes, work, and debate, I’m also looking back at the amazing winter break I had!
Over break, my family and I traveled to Colombo, Sri Lanka! For those of you that don’t know, Sri Lanka is a small island off the southern coast of India. My aunt and uncle are serving the Lord in Sri Lanka, and we had the incredible opportunity to visit them.
While we were in Sri Lanka, we hiked through tea plantations, shopped, and had high tea at a beautiful British hotel. It was an amazing trip, where my family and I got to witness God’s beautiful creation and His love for people on the other side of the world.
It also gave me a lot of time to talk to Jesus, and sort out my priorities in the middle of what has been an incredibly busy and challenging school year. Sometimes life can get so overwhelming, and I personally get lost in the business of balancing all of the responsibilities I have. It’s a wonderful gift from God to spend some time away from your worries and distractions and get to spend time refocusing your hear and your mind.
I hope everyone had an amazing break and a great start to this new semester!Posted at 4:15 PM | Comments (0) | Permalink