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!
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!
The end of the semester is always a stressful time, which is why I was so glad to get a week off for Thanksgiving right before finals started! I was blessed enough to go home for break, even though my parent’s home in Florida is pretty far away from Lynchburg. Besides all of the sleep and break from school work, I also got to spend some great time with my family and have some fun in Florida!
On Thanksgiving Day, before we had our own celebration, we went and served Thanksgiving dinner to airmen and veterans on Patrick Air Force Base, where my dad works as a Colonel in the Air Force.
Later that day, we had Thanksgiving dinner with some neighbors, and since the weather is still sunny and beautiful in Florida, spent some time outside!
For someone like me, who loves Christmas with a passion, one of the best parts of Thanksgiving is just that it marks the official start of Christmas celebrations! Once Thanksgiving happens, no one can whine and roll their eyes about the Christmas music, wreaths, twinkly lights and jingle bells! We started the season off setting up our fresh Christmas tree and decorating around the house.
Even though the break was relaxing, I'm already getting excited for Christmas Break! I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and is getting in the Christmas spirit!
At Liberty, you’re guaranteed to meet a lot of different people and make some really fantastic friends. Sometimes those friends are with you for a season, and sometimes they’re with you for the whole time you’re here at Liberty! This last week, I got a chance to catch up with a good friend of mine who I lived with my freshman year at Liberty- Angela!
We had been in a small group together in high school, and decided to live together when we came to Liberty together last year. Angela’s now a prayer leader on the other side of campus from where I live, so it was such a joy to get to catch up with her. We got talking about how different this year feels from last year- I’m only a sophomore and it feels like my time at Liberty is already moving too fast! Our conversation got me thinking about how good it is to look back on the time I’ve had at Liberty in only the short year and half I’ve been here.
So much has happened! I couldn’t have known when I was applying for college and making decisions about what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go, that I would end up loving my time here as much as I have.
As the most sentimental time of the year approaches, I loved catching up with a good friend and thinking about all the good times we’ve already had in our short time so far at Liberty.
As Thanksgiving Break is fast approaching (yay!), it got me thinking about all of the things I’m thankful for during this stressful time of the semester.
1. Getting lots of sleep- it’s rare at this time of the semester, but getting in a full eight hours still feels wonderful!
2. Fall leaves
3. Classes that challenge and professors that inspire!
4. My debate family - I can’t imagine a semester without the thrill of stressful tournaments and the joy of being together!
5. Learning lessons- I mess up every day, but my God is faithful and forgiving!
6. Fuzzy socks and tall boots when it’s cold and rainy
7. Pumpkin EVERYTHING- I know I’ll get sick of it eventually, but right now, everything smells wonderful!
8. Technology that connects me to the ones I love at home!
9. A warm cup of coffee to go with a long night of studying!
10. My home away from home- campus is gorgeous this time of year, and I wouldn’t rather be anywhere else!
As the semester winds down, I hope you all have some wonderful joys like these to be thankful for, especially the greatest Joy of all - our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.