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!
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!
We’re nearing the middle of the semester, and things are starting to get a little overwhelming. Between school, work, debate, friends, SLC-ing, applying to grad schools, and sleeping occasionally, it’s easy to feel totally swamped. So, I’ve taken up the practice of appreciating all the little things that make me happy in the middle of a stressful day. Here are a few of those things.
1. Decorating my planner
Sometimes I need to take a five minute homework break and just doodle for a little. Lately, I’ve been filling up the empty spaces in my planner with little drawings that remind me of what’s really important. It’s nice to have an inspirational note ready to look at when my To-Do list is too long.
2. M&Ms and a sweet friend’s note
My sweet teammate and quad-mate Amanda left me this sweet note at the end of a particularly stressful day. Not only did her sweet words and adorable pictures make my day, but when you combine that with chocolate – there’s really no way you can go wrong.
3. Raspberry White Mochas and pretty Starbucks Cups
A hot mocha, a pretty cup, a nice quiet place to study. There’s nothing better.
4. A Letter
Everybody likes getting mail! I especially love getting letters from my sweet friend Sara, who lives in Ohio. We only met this summer, but we became fast friends and we were pretty much inseparable for three months. Now, we have to rely on Skype and letter-writing, but that can be just as fun!
The only thing better than donuts is sharing donuts with your Bible study. Probably the best hour out of my week is taking the time to study Romans, pray over each other, and eat donuts.
6. New shoes and falling leaves
New red shoes just go so well with newly falling leaves. So excited for fall!
I hope your day is filled with little moments like these! Soak them in, thank the Provider of all things for them, and keep persevering through this semester!
One of the greatest blessings of this year for me has been the incredible opportunity to be a part of the spiritual lives of the students on the Debate Team. On the debate team we have a few SLCs (Spiritual Life Coaches, similar to the SLCs that lead students on the dorms. You can check out Meredith’s blog about that here.) For me, that means leading the Girls Bible Study, running a mentorship program among the girls on the Debate Team, and helping the other SLCs plan the service projects the team does throughout the year. It’s been one of my greatest joys already!
I love these women! We meet weekly during the evening to study, eat chocolate, pray together, and learn how to better love each other.
Our group has a lot of freshmen – which is awesome! We get to learn together and from each other. Another great thing about Bible study is that it gives the older girls and the girls they mentor a time to learn together and start discussions they can continue one-on-one.
I’m also having a lot of fun getting a little crafty! I loved working on these journals for the Romans study.
The best part of all of this is that it builds strong relationships on the team. We’re in the process of learning what it means to be a part of the body of Christ – loving each other fiercely, serving others together, and sharpening each other to become more like Him.
I’m like most college students in one important way – my phone plays a huge role in my life. It connects me to people on campus and across the country, lets me check up on homework assignments, listen to music, and check my email. While I’ve had this kind of close relationship with my phone for a while now, there are a few ways I’ve learned to use it that are especially helpful in college. So here’s a list of the most helpful apps for college life and the ways you can use them to get organized, have fun, and stay connected.
You need something to get you through that 5 or 6 hour study session in the library. Even better – listen to one of Liberty’s awesome playlists.
Call your mom! No, seriously – call your mom right now. She probably misses you.
You’re going to want to keep up with your family, your friends back home, and your best friend that graduates before you.
Get a Bible app! It’s not only helpful if you forget your Bible in your Old Testament class or Campus Community, it’s just a good thing to have with you all the time. If you’re going to have your music and friends with you everywhere you go, keeping the living Word of God with you should be even more important. There are a few options for Bible apps, but I like YouVersion, because it lets you highlight or take notes on the text, and even links you up with churches or conferences that are also using the app.
Maybe I’m only including this one because I am personally a Starbucks addict, but the really cool thing about the Starbucks app is that you get special offers and deals that get you more free coffee! (Always a good thing in college.)
5. First Five
(This one’s really only for the ladies, sorry guys.)
The First Five app is an awesome outreach of Proverbs 31 Ministry. These women write books, Bible studies, and speak around the country about Jesus. They started an app only a few weeks ago that lets you set your daily alarm and automatically opens to a daily 5 minute devotional when you wake up. Then, at 3:00 in the afternoon, the app sends you a reminder to read a longer version of the devotion for that day. It’s an awesome way to make sure that you spend time with our Lord every day!
6. Google Stuff
There are a bunch of Google apps that you can use on your phone and computer that can help you stay organized during the crazy busyness of your college years.
Keep your assignments and important dates in order with Google Calendar. You can have multiple calendars and share particular ones with groups of people so everyone knows what’s happening when. Make a calendar to share with your group for a group project, one for your friends to know when you’re taking that weekend trip or seeing a movie, and one for yourself to keep all your assignments in order.
Google Drive keeps your documents safe and accessible. Not only can you save documents on it and access them from your phone or any computer, but you can share documents between people and edit them together. This is another great group project tool to make sure everyone knows what’s happening and what each person needs to do.
Wunderlist lets you make lists for anything – shopping, watching movies, or work you need to get done. You don’t want to be making a Walmart run every night; so keeping a list of what you need that you can cross off as you go is super helpful.
Evernote is kind of like Google Docs – it lets you make notes that you can access from your computer or phone, share with people, search through them, or categorize in certain ways. Evernote also lets you make lists and set reminders, though, so if you’re looking for one place to do everything, this is it.
9. Sound Apps
I LOVE music, but if I’m writing a paper or reading a textbook, listening to my favorite music can be distracting. I’m an auditory learner, and I end up focusing more on the music I’m listening to than the work I’m doing. But at the same time, I HATE working in silence – I need some background noise that won’t distract me. That’s usually a tall order, but now there are a few apps that can do just that!
Infinite Storm makes rain noises to provide background noise! It also lets you choose between different types of rain, levels of rain, and even lets you mix different types into a custom sound. It might sound a little weird, but try it – listening to rain is so oddly comforting.
Rain’s not your thing? Coffitivity lets you listen to coffee shop background noises. It really sounds like you’re sitting in a coffee shop – you hear people talking and coffee being made, but nothing is loud enough or isolated enough that you hear specific things that are distracting. Again, might sound a little weird, but some people need just a little chaos to work (this girl).
Weird name, awesome app. It’s an app that asks you to put all your assignments for the day into a list. Then, when you start working on one, the app starts a 25 minute timer. After 25 minutes, the app alerts you to take a 5 minute break. Then you do another 25, and another 25, and another 25, until you’re done! After every 4 “pomodoros” you get a 15 minute break. It’s based off of a time management technique called Pomodoro, and it’s supposed to help you stay focused for short blocks at a time, instead of constantly being half-working and half-distracted. Having a million things on your To-Do list can be a little overwhelming, but when you can break them down into smaller pieces, they’re so much easier to manage.
Using flashcards to study is a great way to remember information and prepare for a test. But, keeping track of a stack of note cards can be difficult. Quizlet is a website and app that lets you make virtual flashcards that you can access from either your computer or phone. You can also search for sets of flashcards made by other people (maybe people in your classes or that are studying the same material) and use them too.
12. Liberty Apps
And last, but certainly not least, make sure you get some apps specifically for your time at Liberty! Here are two important ones.
This app has so many features - it gives you Liberty announcements, athletic information, a campus map, access to Liberty's social media, and Live Streaming of events on campus. Plus, if you're a student, you can log onto Blackboard to check your assignments, look through courses for next semester, or check on your Degree Completion Plan.
Use this app to watch previous Campus Community services, find small group discussion questions, or access a Bible app.
I hope some of these ideas help you out! I don’t use ALL of these all of the time, but they’re all worth checking out!