Kaitlyn's Blog

Block Party, Prayer, and Pulling Weeds

September 3, 2015

For the first weekend of the semester, this weekend was LONG. (And super fun!) Saturday was jam-packed FULL of activity. For starters, my roommate Claire and I woke up at 5:00 in the morning to pull some comfy clothes on, throw our hair up in messy buns, and gulp down some coffee before picking up some other friends and heading to Snowflex. Snowflex is usually used for snowboarding or tubing, but that early Saturday morning it was full of students praying and worshipping together. ARISE was an event in place of the annual Night of Prayer, where students take shifts praying for our school, community, and world together. From 5:30 to 7:30, the surprisingly large group of early-risers prayed for the city of Lynchburg, for the student and leaders of our school, and for each other. It was an incredibly peaceful and appropriate start to a day that, for Liberty debaters, would be a full day of service to our school and community!

Students gathered in groups to pray for each other.

Snowflex provided a beautiful setting for the morning of worship and prayer.

 

The Liberty Debate team spent Saturday involved in an event we hold once every semester called Liberty Debate Serves. We start the day with a devotional about the purpose of service and the heart attitudes we should spend the day cultivating, and then we split up into teams. The teams are given a box with some supplies and a stack of folded paper instructions that must be opened one at a time, as each task is completed. Each team jumps into their leader’s car and heads out to each cryptically written destination to start their projects. This year, our teams went to a nursing home and played bingo, went on walks with residents, and attended a music recital with them. The teams also helped two different churches with cleaning, weeding, moving tables and chairs, and preparing for one church’s annual anniversary celebration. In between these bigger projects, the teams each went on a prayer walk around the school, picked up trash, wrote encouraging notes to students, and made thank you cards for faculty and staff.

Claire and Linh washing windows at Living Word Baptist Church.

Rakeem and Michael mulching different areas around Living Word.

Claire, Abby, Brianna, and Zoe hanging out at the Runk & Pratt Senior Living Community after playing some lively games of Bingo.

Abby admiring the gorgeous facilities at Runk & Pratt – including an adorable bakery called Cupcakes and Tiaras.

Brianna pulling weeds outside Living Word.

Debaters making cards for our coaches, professors, and the staff that cleans our debate facilities in DeMoss Hall.

Making cards for our dedicated coaches!

After a long day of service, a group of debaters headed out to enjoy the annual Block Party! Every year, Student Activities puts on a great event to kick off the new school year, with carnival rides and games, tons of food, and an awesome concert.

Checking out the food trucks and local vendors.

Abby is very excited to eat her tacos from the Liberty Cravings food truck!

…and you can’t blame her!

The concert is always my favorite part of the Block Party – from Relient K to NEEDTOBREATHE, I’ve always been thrilled with the selections. This year, I wasn’t super familiar with either of the bands playing, so I spent half my summer listening to them to get ready, and by the time of the Block Party, I had fallen in LOVE with both of them. First up was Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors.

They did an AMAZING job. Even the friends I was with that had never heard them loved their set.

Listening to Johnnyswim was one of the best decisions of my summer, so I was pumped for their set. They did not disappoint – they played some of my favorites, took selfies, and convinced all my skeptical friends of how fantastic they are.

Definitely a crazy day, but an awesome day of service and fun as well.

I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend!

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Pancakes and a Perfect View

August 31, 2015

Fall classes are in full swing, and summer is starting to seem like a million miles away. People are already complaining that it seems like we’ve been back on campus for forever, but a lot of students on campus have actually been on campus for weeks! The Debate Team joined Student Leadership, sports teams, and band members in coming back to campus weeks before new students in preparation for our respective seasons. The Debate Team came back for a week in late July, and then headed out for our annual retreat at a cabin in Tennessee! We spent a week doing pre-season debate research, go-carting, eating pancakes, and playing a series of ridiculous games for our annual Debate Olympics.

One of the most fun things we did this year was white water rafting! I had such a blast.

Every year, my birthday lands on the week we spend in Tennessee. This year, we took our annual trip to the AMAZING Pancake Pantry on my birthday!

My sweet friend and quad-mate, Rachael, was very happy to be experiencing her first year at the legendary pancake restaurant.

Ever since my first year on the retreat, I’ve gotten the same pancakes — they’re life-changing. Behold the Sugar and Spice Pancakes — spice pancakes with apple sauce, a caramely syrup, and whipped cream. Delicious.

My birthday was filled with other great moments – deep-fried Oreos with my dear friend Meagan, the lovely ice cream cone cupcakes she made me, getting matching Henna tattoos with the girls on the team, and buying cheesy matching shirts just because.

Some of the best times at the cabin are the random moments we just get to hang out. These two ladies are two of my favorite – warm, godly, and kind, with infectious giggles.

And other times, the beauty of the retreat is in the moments we get to step away from the debate work, have a long talk with a friend, and soak up the glorious creation around us.

Another great tradition of the retreat is going to the Apple Barn. Southern food, a pretty barn, giant chicken, and some great photo ops.

The last (and greatest) retreat tradition is to take a trip to a go-cart track! We debaters can be a little competitive, so we thoroughly enjoy getting to drive go-carts into each other in an attempt to win the race.

My roommate, Claire, and I enjoying the long lines on our way to our go-carts!

My debate partner Nora, who is clearly as excited about go-carting as I am!

Coming back to school early isn’t always the most fun thing, but when it includes white water rafting and deep-friend Oreos, I guess we can endure it. 

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A Summer in Snapshots

August 26, 2015

Hello everyone! I can’t believe it’s already the start of my SENIOR YEAR at Liberty! The past three years have absolutely flown by — every semester seems to pass a little faster and every year I find myself saying, “How am I this old?!?” But before I get all excited about the new year and all the excitement and growth it holds, let’s look back on this summer! I had an awesome summer. I had an incredible Youth Ministry internship with a church my family has spent many years loving. I got to plan a crazy relay race, work at summer camp for a week, write a bunch of devotionals, teach on a Sunday morning, run a Vacation Bible School on a missions trip, and generally learn about ministry the best way possible: by doing it. I had such an incredible summer that it’s hard to put it all into one blog post. So, I’m going to let my Instagram do the talking. Here’s the story of my summer … in Instagram pictures.

To start off the summer, I got to do something really exciting — help my family move! Ugh. My dad’s in the military, so my family was sticking to tradition and moving during the summer. I got to spend a couple weeks at home with my lovely family, and then they headed out to beautiful Colorado, their next home. Since my family was abandoning me, I got to live with a lovely family from the church for the summer — and with the other summer interns! This church is incredible - we move around a lot, but we always come back to Burke Community Church when we're in Virginia. Recently, a visitor leaving the church commented, "There is love in this place." He couldn't be more right. Not only did I work there all summer, I lived with an elder and his wife, learning from them and their years of life and ministry experience; AND with two other interns that were soaking up every second of this summer of ministry with me. 

Alas, spending the summer halfway across the country from my family didn’t stop them from making sure I helped them move in too. So I flew out to Colorado for a week after starting my internship to help them unpack. And, of course, to try out all the new Frappuccino flavors with my favorite (and only) sister, Kendra.

While I was “home” (where even is that anymore?) for the week, I also got a little creative and tried out some Pinterest recipes for my (very grateful) family. Here we have Greek yogurt cupcakes with blackberry frosting and lemon poppy seed pancakes. They were both wildly successful. Go me!

This is Sara. She’s creative, kind, and talkative. She was my kindred spirit this summer — we lived together and worked together all summer, but it only took the first week of carpooling and Starbucks trips to make us great friends. This lovely lady happens to have a strip of wrapping paper around her head in this picture, and that’s why I love it — she loved her job as much as I loved mine, she isn’t afraid to do something silly, and she’s gorgeous, of course. One of the biggest blessings of this summer was her friendship.

I learned so much this summer, some of which I haven’t even fully processed yet. One passage that kept becoming relevant in my life, however, was Jeremiah 29. Before this crazy hectic school year, He was telling me, "Seek the peace and prosperity of the place you are in. Work for it." In a way, I think He was saying, "Get ready, I have big plans for this year, and I need you on board."  

Did I mention that this incredible, God-glorifying church is located near Washington, DC? As the only one of the three interns at church that had (kinda) grown up in the area, I got to test my metro and tour guide skills and take some trips to our nation’s capital.

Remember that relay I was telling you about? Let’s just say it involved catching BBQ-covered marshmallows in mouths, finding the right letters to spell" camp" in a can of alphabet soup, and using peanut butter to stick Cheetos to faces. Typical day at camp with these crazy kiddos.

It was my second year as a leader at camp, and it was just as life-changing as the first time. The first year, God moved in big ways — He freed me from idols and I grew so much closer to Him. This year, He showed me what it was like to truly have your heart broken for these kids. I learned to be careful what you ask Him for — when I asked for a broken heart, He broke it and filled it back up with a passion for His children so strong I didn’t know it was possible.

My small group from camp – a group of freshmen girls that stretched me, taught me, and that I love with all my heart.

Two of my favorite Sara(h)s on the 4th of July. God has blessed me with two incredible friendships at this church — one began just this summer, the other started with a shared birthday in the fourth grade. Two incredible women of God I’m grateful to know.

It wouldn’t be a perfect summer without some swimming! (Cute pastor’s kid is a bonus!)

This is the picture that perfectly captures VBS week. To get through a week of weird hours, zillions of kids, water fights, and buckets of slime, we all needed a little caffeine.

Highlight of VBS week: getting slimed. The reason why is pretty irrelevant. The important thing is that it was awesome.

This is Katie. She’s a ray of sunshine — bubbly, compassionate, and imaginative. I met her when I was a grumpy senior in the youth group, annoyed at the world for making me move my senior year. She was a little weirdo of a freshman. Fast-forward three years and she’s turned into this gorgeous, amazing person that I’m so glad I got to actually get to know this summer. She was a leader in the youth group like no other — bold, passionate, and down-to-earth.

Moments like this one were some of my favorite of the summer: having conversations late at night about life, ministry, and Jesus with my dear friend.

This is Brianna eating (amazing) ice cream during our missions trip to West Virginia. This godly woman inspires me. She is fiercely kind, loves with her whole heart, and will totally sacrifice playing a late night game of soccer if you really need to talk. The missions trip stretched me; planning a whole VBS by myself was challenging, and my heart was so burdened by the kids in the youth group I was leaving after the trip was over. This amazing girl kept me sane and praised Him all day.

I love this picture — it’s me, at the top of a fire tower in West Virginia, no makeup, containing the crazy hair in a bun, looking out into the world with the new perspective He gave me that week.

Leaving the camp grounds at the end of our week-long missions trip. Going on this trip made me love my church even more: our team worked so hard all week — fixing houses, teaching kids, and loving on each other.

These two goofballs were a huge part of my summer. Here we’re enjoying our last “Thursday Intern Lunch” the best way we know how — french fries and getting lost on our way to the restaurant.

I had an incredible summer. I made lifelong friendships, learned more about ministry than I ever imagined, and got to work with these amazing people. They welcomed us interns into their world, took every opportunity to teach us, and loved on us everyday. Thank you, Burke Community Church, for being His hands and feet and making Him known to the world.

 

I hope y’all had a great summer as well, and that everyone is ready to jump back into another semester!

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Studying and Serving

May 1, 2015

In the middle of this stressful end of the year, it’s easy to get a little self-centered. I have a couple papers to finish start, a big thesis proposal hanging over my head and in the not-so-far future, a couple big finals. It’s all about me and what I  have to get done so I can get good grades.

It’s important to remember that there is a world outside of the library and my little corner of it.

This weekend, I was reminded of that – there are problems bigger than a term paper and people more important than a study session.

The Liberty Debate Team came together this weekend to work on some service projects around Lynchburg and get some perspective from this stressful time.

Here’s a glimpse into some of the exciting projects we worked on.

The team worked in a few ways to raise money for HumanKind, a Virginia non-profit that uses multiple programs to strengthen families – including providing counseling, child care resources, and funds for vehicles so that families can get to work.

We baked, frosted, and decorated a BUNCH of cupcakes and cookies to sell in front of the library and held a coin drive collecting spare change from Liberty students.

Ana, Ashley, and Lindsey working hard to decorate all the baked goods.

My personal favorite - strawberry cupcakes with vanilla icing and lots of colorful sprinkles!

We had a lot of cupcakes and cookies to decorate!

Leonora and Vida selling the goods in front of the Library.

Hannah collecting coins at the Library.

We also spent a few hours at Living Word Baptist Church, doing all the things that need to be done to keep a church building running – cleaning rooms, moving chairs, and organizing Easter eggs after their massive Easter egg hunt.

Ana's working hard to clean the walls of some rooms at Living Word.

She's so happy to be cleaning walls! 

One of the best things we got to contribute to was helping a family prepare to sell their house. This lovely couple was moving from Lynchburg to plant a church in Charlottesville, and we got to help them by doing yard work, painting shutters, power-washing a deck, and washing windows.

Ana and I helping scrub down the front wall of the house before the powerwasher comes in.

Rocky watching Richard work tirelessly to pull a stump out of the front yard.

Amanda and Rachel taking a break to play with some of the family's dogs! 

Last weekend gave a lot of us great perspective for the upcoming stressful weeks – that God’s plan for our lives is bigger than a grade on a test! He has planned work for us to do that might be outside of our comfort zone or the place we think we belong, but being obedient to Him can bring us places we never thought we’d be and teach us lessons we desperately needed to learn!

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Fun in the Sun in Lynchburg

April 23, 2015

It’s becoming gloriously beautiful outside. As the weather gets warmer and more beautiful, it gets correspondingly more and more difficult to concentrate on upcoming finals and end of the year responsibilities.

But, even in the midst of a busy season, there’s always a little time to get outside and have some fun! (Plus, it’s good for the soul to take a few lengthy study breaks.)

So in the spirit of the warm weather, here are some good ideas for some outdoor fun at Liberty!

Take A Break

You don’t have to go far to appreciate the outdoors!

Some of my best memories of living on campus have been heading outside once it gets warm to do some homework, hang out with friends, or spend some time alone with Jesus.

There are some really beautiful spots near the dorms.

How gorgeous are these trees?!

Monogram

The Monogram is a beautiful spot to get outside in the warmer months, and you don’t even have to drive anywhere! Take a bus or walk to Snowflex, and take a trail up to the Monogram. Hike in the surrounding areas, or just enjoy the beautiful view of Lynchburg.

Throwback to visiting the Monogram at the end of my freshman year!

Taking a bunch of new freshmen up to the monogram this year!

Camp Hydaway

Liberty students have the great privilege of having access to a beautiful facility at Camp Hydaway!

The Liberty debate team has gone a couple times to do team building exercises with the awesome rope courses, but you can take advantage of the ATV track, the beach, any of the numerous trails, or even the camp sites students can reserve! Get some more information about all the outdoor fun possibilities here.  

There are so many fun things to do at Camp Hydaway! You can check out some more pictures of the ropes course here

Mister Goodie's

One of my FAVORITE places to go in Lynchburg in the summer is Mister Goodie's! After spending a day outside in the sun, there's nothing better than ending the day with some delicious ice cream!

 

Whatever you do, you have to try a Birthday Cake dipped cone!

...or the Brownie Sundae!

But whatever you order, make sure you have a good friend with you! Meagan really loves her Mister Goodie's. 

Whatever you do, take advantage of enjoying God’s creation while it’s warm, sunny, and beautiful! 

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