“you were b o r n for this.” // or, freshman year ~ Liberty ~ part two.

{In which I share some of the many lessons that the Lord has taught me throughout the year.

I’ve already shared a few of these, but wanted to bring them all together in one place.

It’s been quite a year, and I am thankful for the growth and change it has brought (and continues to bring even during a summer spent at home).}


“There’s a time to hold your tongue, time to keep your head down
There’s a time but it’s not now

Sometimes you gotta go, uninvited
Sometimes you gotta speak when you don’t have the floor
Sometimes you gotta move, when everybody else says you should stay
No way, no, not today
You gotta ask, if you want an answer
Sometimes you gotta stand apart from the crowd
Long before your heart could run the risk
You were born for this

// Born For This (Esther), by Mandisa //


“And even though you’re scared

You’re stronger than you know…
If you’re lost out where the lights are blinding
Caught in all, the stars are hiding
That’s when something wild calls you home, home
If you face the fear that keeps you frozen
Chase the sky into the ocean
That’s when something wild calls you home, home”

// Something Wild, from Pete’s Dragon //


-Everyone tells you that it gets easier, the goodbyes. Well, that’s frankly not true. The goodbyes themselves don’t get any easier– to your home-family as you leave, or to your school-family as you return home. The goodbyes are still hard, and they still make your heart ache, but they become routine. What gets easier is your ability to live two lives in two different worlds but still remain authentically yourself in both. What gets easier is looking forward to new adventures with the people you’re with instead of focusing too much on those who are absent. What gets easier is focusing on the sunshine ahead of you instead of the clouds in the past. What gets easier is telling yourself not to look back, but to look forward to when you will be reunited with your people again.

-Doing homework directly after you get back from school/classes is not necessarily a given anymore. When opportunities arise– take them. Be more willing to go on spontaneous adventures. Don’t be so caught up in your schedule that you miss out on something that is far more important than your work. Jesus, cultivating deep friendships and mentor-relationships, being involved on campus, growing in the Lord, bravely going forth to try new things– they’re all worth more than a paper or an exam.

-On that note: school does not define you. (Can I get an amen?) Your identity is not in your GPA or in an exam grade. Your worth is not in how well or how poorly you perform. That grade is not the most important thing in your life. It is not the true reason why God has led you to the school where He wants you. He’s got so much more planned than that score you’re looking at right now. I struggled a lot with that this semester, while taking a biology course in which my grade was solely comprised of five 200-point exams; I was so terrified of what my grade would be. I often left those biology exams thoroughly overwhelmed and in tears. I made the equivalent of a 73 on the second exam, and was convinced that I was going to do terribly in the class. I just knew that I had lost my A, my 4.0 GPA. Through much encouragement from my parents and friends, and from the Lord’s own conviction, I slowly but surely came to the point where I would be okay with a B in the class. For a recovering academic perfectionist, this is kind of a huge deal. Surrendering your academics to the Lord is easy to say when things are going well, but living it out when there is uncertainty and disappointment is much harder– and honestly, quite freeing. More of my thoughts on the subject are in this Odyssey article I wrote in March: A Letter From A Recovering Perfectionist.

-Be brave. (I know, this is a lesson that I’ve been learning for several years now and still don’t have fully grasped, but I have learned much about bravery this year.) This semester in particular has challenged me to live out the truth that following Christ, sharing His love with a broken and lost world, bravely speaking up about the hope that I have in Him– all of these things matter so much more than my fears. No more using my personality as an excuse to not share Jesus. No more being afraid to approach people, afraid to talk about the only things that truly matter. No more talking about my faith without taking action. No more sitting comfortably in my comfort zone when my Jesus is calling me to walk in faith towards Him. Some of you may remember my blog post from spring break on the subject, when I was first convicted through my evangelism class– you can find it here.

“Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.” {Psalm 27:14, NIV}

Because sometimes, the bravest thing you can do is to keep waiting for the Lord’s timing. Some battles are harder than others to fight and to wait for a victory in; sometimes, the battle seems endless and pointless. But… it is at that point when you realize that you cannot win this on your own that you begin to truly depend on the Lord. When the acne doesn’t go away and the lies in your head are screaming at you that you’re not beautiful– when you’re the only one without a roommate and are discouraged and worried about the year to come– when things aren’t happening the way you’d hoped they would– take heart. God will grow you in your brokenness– where you are weak on your own, He will give you strength. God is glorified in brokenness; He is good in the midst of brokenness, not in spite of it. He is enough, always, even if the affliction never goes away and the circumstances don’t get any better. I learned this deeply back in November, with my acne struggles of last semester, and again in January with part two of the acne journey, and it’s not a lesson I’ll soon forget.

-Let go. Because things are going to happen that are simply not within your control. Because friends will sometimes not be as sensitive to your feelings as you would like (and anyway, the heart is deceitful, so you’ve gotta be careful with putting too much stock into feelings). Because living in the same space with another human can be tricky at times (as much as you love them). Because, as was mentioned, your identity is not in your circumstances or performance. Because life is too short and too beautiful to be constantly focusing on negative things. Because not letting go is not conducting yourself in a manner that is worthy of the Gospel to which you have been called. (Admittedly, I am a work in progress on this one. In all of these lessons, really.)

-Enjoy every bit of free time and relaxation you can. Take hold of the moments of sunshine and tuck them close to your heart. A cup of tea. The very, very rare times in which you get to read something that’s not for a class. Walks around campus. The beauty of changing seasons. Meals with friends. Hall gatherings and events. Times of prayer. Movie nights. Netflix study breaks while eating dinner in the dorm. Going to the gym. The times in which you get to venture off-campus. The aforementioned spontaneous adventures. Free time is a precious and valuable gift, one that should not be taken lightly.  This summer, I intend to make the most of it, filling it with all the writing and books I neglected during the year.

-I’ve had many anthems throughout the year. “Born For This” (see above) and “I See Fire” from the Hobbit are the Liberty theme songs of my friend group. “Something Wild” (also above), “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)”, and “Pocketful of Poetry” (see below) are the ones that reminded me that I am still very much a dreamer. “Enough” by BarlowGirl was the one that was on replay in my mind throughout my acne struggles. The La La Land soundtrack, the Downton Abbey soundtracks, the Star Wars soundtracks, and my piano playlist all got me through hours upon hours of reading and studying for classes. There are so many more, of course, but these songs will forever bring me back to my freshman year at Liberty.


“I don’t do well if I’m kept behind
An office desk inside
It makes me loose my mind
Which wanders endlessly
Where all the birds fly freely
With their silhouettes
In perfect symmetry

I’ve got a pocketful of poetry
I’ve got a head full of songs
A heart with wings
You couldn’t tie me down to anything
And that’s enough for me

I draw doodles of eccentric faces
In the margin spaces
Of important papers
Then I hand them in
With a comedic grin
They ask if I need help
Oh, where do I begin?

I’ve got a pocketful of poetry
I’ve got a head full of songs
A heart with wings
You couldn’t tie me down to anything
And that’s enough for me

People are good, loving, they tell me
Do as you should, all will be well, they say
Life is a test, please give the best answer
A or B or C, pick one instantly
What if there’s so much more to me?

I’ve got a pocketful of poetry
I’ve got a head full of songs
A heart with wings
You couldn’t tie me down to anything
And that’s enough for me”

// Pocketful of Poetry, by Mindy Gledhill //


{And thus, the first chapter ends, the interlude begins, and chapter two is waiting for me on the distant horizon.}

love always, Em

“look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now!” // or, freshman year ~ Liberty ~ part one.

Where do I even begin when it comes to sharing all that’s happened and all the ways I have grown this year?

Most of my adventures and musings have been documented very briefly via pictures and social media; I only blog on breaks, and whenever journaling does happen, it’s at a time when my heart is crying out to the Lord and I’d rather not share.

That being said, there are some things that need to be shared here. Both the loveliness and the lessons learned. Both the days of sunshine and the rain. Both the ways in which I’ve grown and the ways in which I am not yet the person I am meant to become.

But… that is not for this post. 😉 (That will come in part two.) This is a mere compilation of snapshots of life at Liberty, from the day I left home to my last weekend there with my dear friends. It’s been so fun to go through these, and to relive the memories and the adventures. So thankful for the new experiences I’ve had, for the friends whom I’ve only known since September or later who have become like family, and for the beauty both large-scale and minuscule that God so carefully crafted within each day.

This year was a good one for sure, and I can’t wait for what is to come.

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(…Congrats for making it this far. xD *gives you cookies + tea as a reward*)