I have a terrible memory sometimes. Or maybe just a terribly selective memory.
This weekend, I had a debate tournament. The night before the tournament, I was unbelievably calm, but also entirely unprepared. This tournament was a huge deal – it would determine if the dream I’d had since I started debate as a novice freshman would come true.
And I felt so far from ready.
Right before I fell asleep on the lumpy hotel bed with a knot of nerves and too many thoughts rushing around my brain, I said to Him, “If this happens, it will be all You.”
Incredible peace flooded through me.
I prayed, “God, if this goal of mine is in Your will, I know it will happen, regardless of how unqualified I am. I feel so unprepared that I know if this happens, I will know it was all because of You and not me.”
And then, for a few hours at the end of the weekend, those words couldn’t have been further from my mind.
The goal was met, the debates won, the tournament qualified for. And I was basking in it.
Suddenly I forgot the words I had said in the fear and anxiety I had been engulfed in. When circumstances were brighter, it was easy to think it was all me that changed them.
The next morning, it hit me. I could not have done this. Odds were stacked against me, conditions were not in my favor, and so many little pieces had to fit together for this goal to be realized.
It was all Him.
And the best part? He blessed me when I surrendered it all to Him.
I had spent the last couple years of my debate career so obsessed with being successful that anything less than perfection crushed me. Debate was an idol in my life that was eating away at my soul.
But during this last summer, He miraculously freed me from it.
I started out this tournament weekend just happy that He had taught me so much, worked in my heart so much, and created in me someone who had given Him the hardest thing for me to give up.
Giving up the clenching hold I had on debate success was a miracle He worked in me.
And throughout this year, He lead me surrender this part of me to Him. It was sometimes uncomfortable and often challenging, but He gave me the peace and security I had always thought being good at debate would give me.
And in His perfect timing, when I surrendered the thing I had been most holding on to, He blessed me.
And the best part was that when He did it, there was no room for me to take the credit. My flesh and my sinful heart tried, but my selective memory couldn’t keep me from the truth for long. There was no way I could’ve done this.
I surrendered, He blessed, but He still used His blessing to teach me how much I need Him.
What a good Father I have.
One of the most impactful and important parts of my time here at Liberty has been the Liberty University Debate Team. I feel like I’m always writing about my team, and it’s probably just because they are such a big part of my life. Going to a large university, it is so important to find a smaller group of people to be your family. I found mine on the debate team, but there are so many other opportunities on campus to connect with people that share similar interests and passions. Because I’ve gained so much from my experience in my little community at Liberty, I’m going to share some other opportunities on campus to get connected! Each week, I’ll be sharing with y’all a new club or student organization on Liberty’s campus that you can get involved in! To start things off, take a peek at last week’s blog about some of the recent adventures of the Debate Team!
This week, I checked out a meeting of Liberty’s Young Americans for Freedom Chapter! Young Americans for Freedom is a national organization that seeks to organize politically conservative students so that they can advocate for conservative tenets, encourage students to become politically active, and educate campuses about traditional values. Liberty’s chapter advocates for “freedom, a strong national defense, the U.S. Constitution, limited government, and political responsibility.”
I got the opportunity to sit in on one of their meetings and get a taste of what exciting things this organization is planning for this semester! For example, Liberty’s YAF chapter is leading a variety of March Campus Initiatives, including March Liberal Madness and Empowering Conservative Women Week. These weekly events in March, as well as events like their Freedom Friday Mile Runs are ways that Liberty’s YAF chapter are working to get the student body more politically and socially active.
Erica Tomlin, the Communications Director of Liberty’s chapter of YAF, explained that “many people at Liberty have conservative views, but there’s a lot of apathy. We have our own voting precinct, but not enough people are taking advantage of these opportunities! It’s like pulling teeth. We believe it’s our Christian obligation to be politically involved.”
In light of this, YAF has been working to rid Liberty of apathy and indifference by coordinating various events.
Many people remember the recent mock Berlin Wall that the YAF chapter set up in front of the Library, or the visit of politician Allen West that YAF coordinated.
The mock Berlin wall in front of the Library.
Communications Director Erica Tomlin with politician Allen West.
Erica described YAF this way: “We are passionate about what we do. We really love and care for this country and do this because of our Christian values.”
If you’re interested in learning more about Liberty’s chapter of Young Americans for Freedom, check out their Facebook page.
YAF members at a national conference in sunny California.
After a long and often stressful week, there’s nothing better to look forward to than a Girls Night! Every once in a while, the girls on the debate team get together on a Friday night and relax. Our SLC (and generally lovely human being), Meagan, hosts at her apartment and often provides the baking supplies and expertise. Sometimes we watch movies or paint our nails, but for our Valentine’s Day Girls Night, we made homemade pizza and decorated cupcakes!
While we waited for the pizza to bake, we played with some dollar store finds that Meagan and I had picked up beforehand. Play Doh is a perfect stress reliever, and we all used our middle school summer camp memories to help us make fun friendship bracelets with some colorful thread!
After eating our delicious pizza, we summed up all the artistic abilities debaters can have, and decorated our chocolate fudge cupcakes!
Sometimes all you need is some Strawberry Marshmallow frosting and red sprinkles!
Or you can get really creative and make a heart out of pink sprinkles!
Some of our newest members - Hannah and Jelessa - enjoying their cupcakes!
And of course, the best part of decorating anything chocolate is going to be the part when you eat it!
Mary and Amanda decorating their cupcakes...and maybe getting a little too excited to start eating them.
It was so great to set aside some time in the middle of the semester to just drop everything and do something fun! Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the stress of classes and extracurricular activities and forget to take time to just have fun. More importantly, everyday stresses and busyness can distract me from the people in my life that matter. Taking a night to just hang out with people that I care about (and bake soul-healing cupcakes) reminds me to prioritize people over tasks and relationships over achievements.
Mary, Rachel, and Amanda with their finished cupcakes! I love these girls!
Debate tournaments can be stressful and exhausting, and the past few weeks have been no exception! Liberty’s Debate Team started out the semester at the beginning of January, with two tournaments in sunny California! After a week full of debating, we came back to Lynchburg to immediately jump into the new Spring semester. After barely making it through our first week of classes, the whole team set off to Maryland for a tournament at the Naval Academy.
Needless to say, the start of this semester was anything but restful. But even in the stress of debating and the chaos of traveling, I am so thankful for my team and the opportunity we have to enjoy this activity together. There are moments when none of it seems worth it, and the stress and fatigue weigh heavily on us all. But then there are the moments when I look around at the people that alternate between making me smile and making me want to tear my hair out, and I realize that even if we’re a dysfunctional family, we’re all learning together, working together, and striving together to glorify Him in our work and reflect Him in our relationships, even when we’re not perfect at it just yet.
My dear friend Meagan and I enjoying our break from the Lynchburg cold in sunny California!
In between our two tournaments in California, we spent a few hours checking out this beautfiul beach.
We're clearly thirlled to be able to relax and defrost from our Christmas Breaks on the East coast!
....And then we were shocked to discover the water was equally freezing cold on the West coast.
But we still loved our time on warm-ish sand beneath a sunny sky!
Once we headed back to Lynchburg, however, the exhaustion hit all of us at once, with some hilarity ensuing. This is Lindsey and I asleep on our flight back to the East coast.
Across the aisle, Alan is taking advantage of Leonora's equally exhausted expression.
Finally, here's an exciting picture from this last weekend at the Naval Academy - Mary coaching Emily and Claire at their first varsity tournament, celebrating their first win in varsity!
The first day of classes of this Spring 2015 semester is dreary, rainy, and soggy. It doesn’t have the feel of a bright new beginning full of possibilities. And yet, I know He is at work, and His plan is bigger than big dark clouds.
This semester, I have a new theme: celebration. I serve the God who created the universe and He is working for good in my heart. What could be more deserving of celebration?! During this winter break, I had a lot of heavy things to think about. A lot has been changing in my life, and more change is coming. In the midst of lots of hard things, it wasn’t a very restful break. In spite of that, I heard Him telling me over and over again – delight in Me.
Choosing to be joyful when your circumstances aren’t exactly rosy isn’t just about having a cheerful disposition. It’s not the Pollyanna spirit that says everything will be okay when it just isn’t. It’s the Joy of knowing that even the most not-okay circumstances are nothing compared to our Lord.
It’s a choice that sounds easy when I’m inside writing a blog post and my toes are finally starting to feel the warmth from my White Chocolate Mocha. It’s a lot harder when I’m back outside in a couple hours and the rain soaks through my coat and my umbrella gets swept away in the wind.
Thank the Lord, He is bigger than the rain. Choosing celebration this semester is not going to be easy. Classes are going to pile up, relationships are going to be strained, I’m going to get stressed and forget who I am and Who I serve. But thankfully, He is gracious and merciful and is in pursuit of my heart. Last semester, I learned that He isn’t going to give up. This semester, I pray I’ll learn a little more about what my response to that unfailing Love should look like.
So I’m choosing celebration. I’m choosing to delight in the work that He’s doing, even when it hurts. I’m choosing to sing of His mercies in the middle of a sinful world. I’m choosing Joy.