Hello everyone! I can’t believe it’s already the start of my SENIOR YEAR at Liberty! The past three years have absolutely flown by — every semester seems to pass a little faster and every year I find myself saying, “How am I this old?!?” But before I get all excited about the new year and all the excitement and growth it holds, let’s look back on this summer! I had an awesome summer. I had an incredible Youth Ministry internship with a church my family has spent many years loving. I got to plan a crazy relay race, work at summer camp for a week, write a bunch of devotionals, teach on a Sunday morning, run a Vacation Bible School on a missions trip, and generally learn about ministry the best way possible: by doing it. I had such an incredible summer that it’s hard to put it all into one blog post. So, I’m going to let my Instagram do the talking. Here’s the story of my summer … in Instagram pictures.
To start off the summer, I got to do something really exciting — help my family move! Ugh. My dad’s in the military, so my family was sticking to tradition and moving during the summer. I got to spend a couple weeks at home with my lovely family, and then they headed out to beautiful Colorado, their next home. Since my family was abandoning me, I got to live with a lovely family from the church for the summer — and with the other summer interns! This church is incredible - we move around a lot, but we always come back to Burke Community Church when we're in Virginia. Recently, a visitor leaving the church commented, "There is love in this place." He couldn't be more right. Not only did I work there all summer, I lived with an elder and his wife, learning from them and their years of life and ministry experience; AND with two other interns that were soaking up every second of this summer of ministry with me.
Alas, spending the summer halfway across the country from my family didn’t stop them from making sure I helped them move in too. So I flew out to Colorado for a week after starting my internship to help them unpack. And, of course, to try out all the new Frappuccino flavors with my favorite (and only) sister, Kendra.
While I was “home” (where even is that anymore?) for the week, I also got a little creative and tried out some Pinterest recipes for my (very grateful) family. Here we have Greek yogurt cupcakes with blackberry frosting and lemon poppy seed pancakes. They were both wildly successful. Go me!
This is Sara. She’s creative, kind, and talkative. She was my kindred spirit this summer — we lived together and worked together all summer, but it only took the first week of carpooling and Starbucks trips to make us great friends. This lovely lady happens to have a strip of wrapping paper around her head in this picture, and that’s why I love it — she loved her job as much as I loved mine, she isn’t afraid to do something silly, and she’s gorgeous, of course. One of the biggest blessings of this summer was her friendship.
I learned so much this summer, some of which I haven’t even fully processed yet. One passage that kept becoming relevant in my life, however, was Jeremiah 29. Before this crazy hectic school year, He was telling me, "Seek the peace and prosperity of the place you are in. Work for it." In a way, I think He was saying, "Get ready, I have big plans for this year, and I need you on board."
Did I mention that this incredible, God-glorifying church is located near Washington, DC? As the only one of the three interns at church that had (kinda) grown up in the area, I got to test my metro and tour guide skills and take some trips to our nation’s capital.
Remember that relay I was telling you about? Let’s just say it involved catching BBQ-covered marshmallows in mouths, finding the right letters to spell" camp" in a can of alphabet soup, and using peanut butter to stick Cheetos to faces. Typical day at camp with these crazy kiddos.
It was my second year as a leader at camp, and it was just as life-changing as the first time. The first year, God moved in big ways — He freed me from idols and I grew so much closer to Him. This year, He showed me what it was like to truly have your heart broken for these kids. I learned to be careful what you ask Him for — when I asked for a broken heart, He broke it and filled it back up with a passion for His children so strong I didn’t know it was possible.
My small group from camp – a group of freshmen girls that stretched me, taught me, and that I love with all my heart.
Two of my favorite Sara(h)s on the 4th of July. God has blessed me with two incredible friendships at this church — one began just this summer, the other started with a shared birthday in the fourth grade. Two incredible women of God I’m grateful to know.
It wouldn’t be a perfect summer without some swimming! (Cute pastor’s kid is a bonus!)
This is the picture that perfectly captures VBS week. To get through a week of weird hours, zillions of kids, water fights, and buckets of slime, we all needed a little caffeine.
Highlight of VBS week: getting slimed. The reason why is pretty irrelevant. The important thing is that it was awesome.
This is Katie. She’s a ray of sunshine — bubbly, compassionate, and imaginative. I met her when I was a grumpy senior in the youth group, annoyed at the world for making me move my senior year. She was a little weirdo of a freshman. Fast-forward three years and she’s turned into this gorgeous, amazing person that I’m so glad I got to actually get to know this summer. She was a leader in the youth group like no other — bold, passionate, and down-to-earth.
Moments like this one were some of my favorite of the summer: having conversations late at night about life, ministry, and Jesus with my dear friend.
This is Brianna eating (amazing) ice cream during our missions trip to West Virginia. This godly woman inspires me. She is fiercely kind, loves with her whole heart, and will totally sacrifice playing a late night game of soccer if you really need to talk. The missions trip stretched me; planning a whole VBS by myself was challenging, and my heart was so burdened by the kids in the youth group I was leaving after the trip was over. This amazing girl kept me sane and praised Him all day.
I love this picture — it’s me, at the top of a fire tower in West Virginia, no makeup, containing the crazy hair in a bun, looking out into the world with the new perspective He gave me that week.
Leaving the camp grounds at the end of our week-long missions trip. Going on this trip made me love my church even more: our team worked so hard all week — fixing houses, teaching kids, and loving on each other.
These two goofballs were a huge part of my summer. Here we’re enjoying our last “Thursday Intern Lunch” the best way we know how — french fries and getting lost on our way to the restaurant.
I had an incredible summer. I made lifelong friendships, learned more about ministry than I ever imagined, and got to work with these amazing people. They welcomed us interns into their world, took every opportunity to teach us, and loved on us everyday. Thank you, Burke Community Church, for being His hands and feet and making Him known to the world.
I hope y’all had a great summer as well, and that everyone is ready to jump back into another semester!
In the middle of this stressful end of the year, it’s easy to get a little self-centered. I have a couple papers to
finish start, a big thesis proposal hanging over my head and in the not-so-far future, a couple big finals. It’s all about me and what I have to get done so I can get good grades.
It’s important to remember that there is a world outside of the library and my little corner of it.
This weekend, I was reminded of that – there are problems bigger than a term paper and people more important than a study session.
The Liberty Debate Team came together this weekend to work on some service projects around Lynchburg and get some perspective from this stressful time.
Here’s a glimpse into some of the exciting projects we worked on.
The team worked in a few ways to raise money for HumanKind, a Virginia non-profit that uses multiple programs to strengthen families – including providing counseling, child care resources, and funds for vehicles so that families can get to work.
We baked, frosted, and decorated a BUNCH of cupcakes and cookies to sell in front of the library and held a coin drive collecting spare change from Liberty students.
Ana, Ashley, and Lindsey working hard to decorate all the baked goods.
My personal favorite - strawberry cupcakes with vanilla icing and lots of colorful sprinkles!
We had a lot of cupcakes and cookies to decorate!
Leonora and Vida selling the goods in front of the Library.
Hannah collecting coins at the Library.
We also spent a few hours at Living Word Baptist Church, doing all the things that need to be done to keep a church building running – cleaning rooms, moving chairs, and organizing Easter eggs after their massive Easter egg hunt.
Ana's working hard to clean the walls of some rooms at Living Word.
She's so happy to be cleaning walls!
One of the best things we got to contribute to was helping a family prepare to sell their house. This lovely couple was moving from Lynchburg to plant a church in Charlottesville, and we got to help them by doing yard work, painting shutters, power-washing a deck, and washing windows.
Ana and I helping scrub down the front wall of the house before the powerwasher comes in.
Rocky watching Richard work tirelessly to pull a stump out of the front yard.
Amanda and Rachel taking a break to play with some of the family's dogs!
Last weekend gave a lot of us great perspective for the upcoming stressful weeks – that God’s plan for our lives is bigger than a grade on a test! He has planned work for us to do that might be outside of our comfort zone or the place we think we belong, but being obedient to Him can bring us places we never thought we’d be and teach us lessons we desperately needed to learn!
It’s becoming gloriously beautiful outside. As the weather gets warmer and more beautiful, it gets correspondingly more and more difficult to concentrate on upcoming finals and end of the year responsibilities.
But, even in the midst of a busy season, there’s always a little time to get outside and have some fun! (Plus, it’s good for the soul to take a few lengthy study breaks.)
So in the spirit of the warm weather, here are some good ideas for some outdoor fun at Liberty!
Take A Break
You don’t have to go far to appreciate the outdoors!
Some of my best memories of living on campus have been heading outside once it gets warm to do some homework, hang out with friends, or spend some time alone with Jesus.
There are some really beautiful spots near the dorms.
How gorgeous are these trees?!
The Monogram is a beautiful spot to get outside in the warmer months, and you don’t even have to drive anywhere! Take a bus or walk to Snowflex, and take a trail up to the Monogram. Hike in the surrounding areas, or just enjoy the beautiful view of Lynchburg.
Throwback to visiting the Monogram at the end of my freshman year!
Taking a bunch of new freshmen up to the monogram this year!
Liberty students have the great privilege of having access to a beautiful facility at Camp Hydaway!
The Liberty debate team has gone a couple times to do team building exercises with the awesome rope courses, but you can take advantage of the ATV track, the beach, any of the numerous trails, or even the camp sites students can reserve! Get some more information about all the outdoor fun possibilities here.
There are so many fun things to do at Camp Hydaway! You can check out some more pictures of the ropes course here.
One of my FAVORITE places to go in Lynchburg in the summer is Mister Goodie's! After spending a day outside in the sun, there's nothing better than ending the day with some delicious ice cream!
Whatever you do, you have to try a Birthday Cake dipped cone!
...or the Brownie Sundae!
But whatever you order, make sure you have a good friend with you! Meagan really loves her Mister Goodie's.
Whatever you do, take advantage of enjoying God’s creation while it’s warm, sunny, and beautiful!
It feels like forever since Spring Break ended! Things have gotten back to their regular craziness, and I wish I could go back to break!
My Spring Break was a little short, because the Debate Team had a tournament at the end of the week at the University of Georgia. But my little sister, my mom, and my best friend Grace made the best of our short time and had a blast!
My lovely sister and mother drove up to Liberty to get me before break, and we used the opportunity to visit one of their favorite places in Lynchburg – Osaka’s!
Our idea of a relaxing break involved lots of shopping, baking, and watching hours of house-hunting and cooking shows.
When you find something you love, you might just have to get it in every color!
One of the highlights of break was getting brunch at this beautiful little coffee shop called Clifton Café. Not only was it an adorable place with seriously delicious crepes, but their special coffee creations were amazing.
I had a White Chocolate Raspberry Latte, and my mom had a Hazelnut Turtle Mocha. They were delicious and beautiful!
My little sister Kendra had a Somoa Latte that was even more beautiful!
Another important part of Spring Break for me was my internship interview!! I had applied for an internship to work for a Student Ministries at a local church that my family absolutely loves, and I had gotten an interview the week of Spring Break. I was honestly really nervous, because it was an internship I really wanted. I was so excited by the thought of spending all summer working at a church, hanging out with high schoolers, and getting a taste for what full-time ministry is like.
Luckily, my dear friend Grace left some cute notes around the house the morning of my interview!
I’m so happy to say that it was a very productive Spring Break, since I got the internship! I’m so excited to be given this opportunity and to see what the Lord has planned for this summer!
Some other fun things I did over break included more baking and even some crafting!
I made these delicious Chocolate Chip Cinnamon Rolls for the first time, and they were delicious!
This was the most fun part - rolling out the chocolate dough and pouring on cinnamon, sugar, and chocolate chips before rolling the whole thing up!
The finished product - complete with chocolate-chip-filled frosting!
You can check out the full recipe here.
Not only did I do some baking, but I tried out something else creative - making some letters for my roommate Claire and I. I found these cardboard letters at a craft store, and later that week I painted them blue and pink to match our room!
In other important news, my roommate and I were unbelievably excited that right before Spring Break, David’s Place reopened the Bistro! When I was a freshman at Liberty, I ate lunch at the Bistro almost every day, and the Debate Team loved eating there before our practices. So we were very happy to find out that it was being reopened so close to where we live!
It’s the little things that can make your day sometimes.
The past few weeks have been pretty stressful, with my debate season finishing up and my classes getting harder. Remembering the fun I had over Spring Break is reminding me now to focus on the little joys. Even in the midst of my stressful week, there are moments I can choose to rejoice in. Even as I’m writing this blog, I’m stressed about the debate work I have to do and the thesis proposal I haven’t written yet. But, I’m drinking a delicious Raspberry White Mocha, Meredith is making the room smell like popcorn (which is great), and I just got a thoughtful email from a friend. The best part of choosing to rejoice is that it forces me to constantly remember that my trust and hope is in the Lord and that all of these little joys come from Him. I can choose to enjoy this moment instead of stressing because I know that He is in control of everything and He has called me to be joyful in spite of my circumstances.
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.