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.
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.
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.
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.
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!