Last week was a special week at Liberty – Global Focus Week!
Liberty hosted a variety of speakers at Convocation that challenged us to expand our focus and respond to God’s command to make disciples of all the nations.
My favorite part of this year’s Global Focus Week was definitely Nik Ripken.
Nik’s message was powerful in its honesty and directness – he spoke about how tragedies he’s witnessed and injustices he’s seen have made him want to take an “Old Testament” approach of retaliation and revenge. He was honest in his struggle with people that have hurt him and the people he cares about. But more importantly, he shared how God challenged him to gain a new perspective for these people – that they are lost and without a Savior. Nik’s message was so inspiring to me; not only did his message speak to the calling we each have to reach the lost, but it reminds us of an essential truth – we are sinners. We don’t deserve Jesus’ saving death and resurrection any more than people that are still lost. Nik may have been talking about militant groups in Somalia, but it’s still applicable to those of in school stateside. What makes God’s grace so incredible isn’t that we are good people that deserve it – it’s the opposite! Never let yourself be tricked into thinking you’re not in desperate need of a Savior. It’s only when I’m reminded of that critical reality that we begin to experience the fullness of God’s amazing grace in our lives.
I’m working on that this week – living in His amazing grace, and giving Him praise for it.
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.
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
(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!
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!
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.
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