As the semester nears the halfway-point, I’m starting to realize how much has already happened this semester and how much I’ve learned. Already this semester I’ve: had fun and successful debate tournaments with my new partner, started upper-level classes in my major (History), and grown so much in my relationship with the Lord. Here are some of the best things I’ve learned already this semester:
1. God is sovereign.
This is a big one. It’s one of those things that you can intellectually agree with, and yet struggle to live as if you truly believe it. I’ve been faced with so many situations this semester that seem frustrating or difficult or hopeless until I remember that He is sovereign. He gives us good things. And sometimes what I think is good for me is actually going to be destructive. Praise the Lord that He knows what is good for me even when I do not!
2. You can’t do it all.
I always think I can handle making everyone happy at the same time, tackling every project in one night, and managing to keep everything together 100% of the time. Newsflash: I can’t. I fail miserably at making everyone happy all the time, studying for two midterms after 10:00 pm is a bad idea, and sometimes I just have to admit I’m struggling. There is something incredibly freeing about admitting that you cannot do it on your own. Praise the Lord that He has succeeded and won and conquered the world so that I don’t have to have that weight on my shoulders.
3. Prioritize people.
I have a tendency to be extremely goal-oriented, sometimes at the expense of the people in my life. I can be incredibly focused on a single task and get frustrated at anyone that distracts me. The hardest thing sometimes is giving up an hour of cramming for an exam to get a coffee with a friend or give advice to a team member. But God has blessed me this semester with so many beautiful examples of times that sacrificing my time was exactly what He was asking me to do so that He could use me in wonderful ways. Praise the Lord that He blesses me with people in my life that draw me closer to Him.
4. Time with Him matters.
It’s amazing how true this is. Sometimes I’ll be about to go to bed at night and wonder to myself why my whole day seemed off. Then it hits me – I’ve barely talked to God today. There are days I have to take an unexpected detour to a quiet spot on campus and spend more time with Him to get me through the day. Being in constant communication with the God that made the universe doesn’t just blow my mind, it is the lifeline I need to keep moving forward. Praise the Lord that He has blessed us with this unbelievable connection to Him.
I hope y’all will also take a little time this week to think about the blessings the Lord has given you and the lessons He has taught you.
As the semester reaches the halfway point (eek!) and classes are piling on the workload, those study habits you promised yourself you’d follow at the beginning of the semester are probably beginning to fade.
For me at least, it’s right around this time of the semester that I am tempted to abandon all order and scheduling in favor of stressful cramming.
In the spirit of a crazy busy semester, here are some of my best study tips!
1. Figure out what works for you. There are so many great ways to study, but none of them will work if they’re not right for you. Some people love flashcards, some people use highlighters, and everyone works better in different environments. The important thing is that you find out what works for you. So try some different techniques, pay attention to how well they’re working, and stick with what you like and what works the best.
2. Sleep is KEY. Pulling an all-nighter always seems like a good idea, but it never works out that way. Not only is it unhealthy, but chances are your Philosophy professor won’t be able to make sense of a paper you wrote at three in the morning. Set a cut-off time for yourself and stick to it, regardless of what you’ve finished.
3. Make a motivating playlist. Listening to music while you study is very subjective – it’s helpful for some people and distracting for others. But once you’ve figured out if it’s helpful for you, choose your music wisely! I prefer instrumental tracks, because lyrics can be distracting, but some people find inspirational or worship music more motivating. Take a couple minutes before your study session to make a playlist that works for you, but don’t get too distracted crafting the perfect selection.
4. Take Breaks. No one can work non-stop. Some people take better breaks when they schedule them in between tasks, and some people prefer timing out intervals of studying and breaks. Either way, giving your brain a rest for a couple minutes is important. [NOTE: This is not the same as keeping a Facebook tab open while reading a chapter of your History text book. Taking “breaks” in between each paragraph isn’t helpful, it’s distracting.]
5. Fuel. The temptation is strong, especially during midterms or finals, to “get through” a long night of homework with endless energy drinks and junk food. Carbonated caffeine and processed chocolate might sound like a good idea at midnight, but you’ll regret it during your 10 a.m. exam. Instead, drink lots of water, eat healthy snacks at well-spaced intervals, and resist the call of the vending machine.
6. Find a place. While some people can study in groups or with other people, for most of us, getting away from distractions is a must! I’ve learned that my room is generally too busy and noisy, but the library is a great place to find a quiet corner to zone the outside world out.
7. Tell yourself the truth. During a stressful week of exams, papers, and projects, it can start to feel like the world revolved around your GPA. Tell yourself the truth that God is in control. Stress and worry are reflective of a larger problem: a lack of trust that God’s sovereignty means He’s got it all under control. If we truly believed that He is bigger than any of our problems, we’d gain a much different perspective, even in those last-minute cramming sessions.
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!