Life Update July 2015 (Sorry I’ve been missing for three months)

Hello y’all! I wanted to let you know I am not dead. I know I haven’t been on to update in a horribly long time, but I am still alive. I haven’t poste anything since March. Sorry. I’ve been a bit busy.
For starters, I had the end of my freshman year to finish up. I was still dealing with a lot of my concussion symptoms while I took finals, which is, by the way, not fun. But even with the concussion, I still did pretty well. I got all As except for one class, and I’m still not over that one. A lifelong A streak ruined by an art class… Well, graphic design, but you get the idea. Let’s just say the professor wasn’t the best… or good at teaching at all. Whichever.
After classes were over, I had about two weeks at home before I had to fly up to Massachusetts for my summer job. During that time I went to the doctor, because my brain still wasn’t, and isn’t, working quite right. I had to get an MRI, which turned out fine, by the way. I guess I can cross “stick head in giant magnet” off my bucket list. I still have about a year of memories prior to my concussion that I just can’t remember, so I’m probably going to have to go see another doctor when I get back home. Ugh.
Anyway, summer job. I’m currently at a KOA (Kampgrounds of America) in Middleboro, Massachusetts. I am working with a ministry called Summer Shine. Basically, they send out Christian college students to random KOAs across the country to run activities for the kids and share the love of Jesus.
I’m having a blast here in the state of my birth (yes, this southerner was born in Massachusetts… in a blizzard). One thing I can say is that I didn’t expect so much of a culture shock, but things really are very different in the North versus in the South. Basically, I never want to live in any state above Virginia, ever. Give me South Carolina any day.
Not everything is roses and fun here, though. We’ve all had a lot of trials. The people are very different here, and some of them can be hard to love, but that’s one thing we’re all getting a lesson in this summer.
I finally got a chance to get into the city of Boston yesterday. We’re only about 45 minutes to an hour away. One of the girls on my team and I walked the entire Freedom Trail. It’s about 5 miles to walk the whole thing and then walk back, but it’s totally worth it if you’re a big history buff like me. Most of the sites along the route were free, with the exception of Paul Revere’s house, the Old South Meeting Hall, and the Old State House. I did pay the three bucks to go in Paul Revere’s house, but I wasn’t willing to pay 10 bucks or more for the other two. I was kinda bummed out on that account, because I wanted to see those in particular, but it was okay. My favorite part was probably either the printing shop or the Bunker Hill Monument.
That’s about it up till now. If you’re the praying type, I ask that you pray for mine and all of the Summer Shine ministries across the country. I know we’re not the only ones having a hard time sometimes.
Hopefully I remember to post again before 3 months go by again. No promises, though. 

Liberty University Loved Ted Cruz (I would know; I go there)

Ted Cruz at Liberty

So maybe you didn’t notice, but something kind of momentous happened yesterday. We officially have our first 2016 presidential candidate. Ted Cruz, Republican senator from Texas, has become the first person to formally announce his candidacy for the next presidential election. And you know what’s cool? He did it at my school!!!

This is my first convocation at Liberty since I slipped on the ice and landed on my face a few weeks ago, so you can imagine my glee when I found out that Ted Cruz would be coming to Liberty on Monday. Well, quite honestly, I would have preferred a lot of people over the guy that was supposed to be there, the governor of my state, Terry McAwful… I mean McAuliffe. But no! It was Ted Cruz, one of my conservative heroes.

Naturally, after the events of a few weeks ago when Sean Hannity came to speak, I started praying that we’d be good. I knew full well that if anyone was rude or heckled Cruz during the speech, then that was all the media was going to report on. My friends were with me on this one, so we committed to praying over convocation together. Overall, everything went really well.

Ted Cruz’s speech was amazing, by the way, if you like that sort of thing (if you don’t, it probably would have terrified you), which I do. I’ve liked him for a while because he’s one of the few people in Congress who tells you what they believe and then stands up for it, even when it’s really, really unpopular. If you’re interested in listening (and I would highly suggest it, if you have the time), then here’s the video:

Great, right? When was the last time you heard a politician talk about faith so candidly like that?

So, you have this great speech about values that a lot of Americans hold. Obviously, that’s gonna set the uber-liberals whining. But did they criticize the speech? Well… no. You see, if you’ve read anything about this speech from most of the mainstream media, you’ve probably heard a lot of people complaining about how Liberty students were “forced” to attend the speech, or else we’d be fined. You know what? They’re absolutely right. But, and this is a big BUT, that’s not the whole story.

When you enroll at Liberty University, you understand that there’s this thing called convocation. You also understand that if you live on campus, you are required to attend Every. Single. One. Yes, it’s annoying. Yes, there are a lot of days I don’t feel like going and I’d rather go back to my room for a nap. But I agreed to this. We all agreed to this. If you go to Liberty, you go to convocation. That’s just the way it works, and if you don’t want to follow the rules, you get punished, just like in real life. Nobody forced us to go to this particular college, and therefore, nobody forced us to go to convocation. Other than the fact that this speaker was doing something most of our speakers don’t do and there were a crap-ton of news people everywhere, this really was just a normal convocation. Nothing out of the ordinary here, and nothing that is in any way newsworthy.

In addition, harping on the fact that we had to be there sort of misses the point. The real question is, what did we think of Cruz? The truth is that we loved him! If you watch the video, you’ll see that there were many times that tons of people clapped, whistled, yelled, stood up, and otherwise cheered for Ted Cruz. He was saying exactly what we were hoping that he was going to say. He resonated very strongly with the majority of the audience, so we applauded. While attendance at convocation may have been mandatory, cheering most definitely was not. Liberty students cheer when Liberty students feel like cheering. In fact, we gave him several standing ovations, and y’all, that’s not easy. We don’t actually give out standing ovations very often, so that tells you something about what we thought of Cruz.

Now, of course there were a few students who did not support Cruz. The most visible of those were the “Stand with Rand” crowd who were giving out free t-shirts at the beginning of convocation. They decided that they wanted to make it exceedingly clear to everyone present that Ted Cruz is not their first choice for president and that they’d prefer Rand Paul. The media’s been covering this tiny minority heavily as well.

Rand paul shirts

I want to make something clear here. I know these guys. Some of them are my friends. While it may have come off as rude, they meant well, and they weren’t really doing anything wrong. They were allowed to wear whatever t-shirts they want, and honestly, it didn’t really make a difference. I can also tell you that they don’t hate Ted Cruz. For most of them, he’s their second choice. And despite complaining about how they had to go to convocation that day (a couple of them were commuters, so they didn’t really), they probably would have been there anyway because, hey, who wants to miss seeing someone announce a presidential bid?

But what’s the story here anyway? That a couple of students want to support another conservative candidate? Really? That doesn’t seem like a big deal to me.

Bottom line is this: the media will do anything to make a story out of something that’s no big deal to the people involved. Also, they don’t seem to be able to defend against what Ted Cruz actually said. I mean, who can argue with abolishing the IRS? Not me. That’s for sure.

Why You Should Have a Prayer List

praying-hands-A few weeks ago, I added another piece of paper to my already very busy cork board in my room. It was a simple piece of notebook paper with the words “Prayer List” written at the top (well actually, mine says Prayer Lisf, because my fingers did something stupid, and I’m too lazy to fix it). The reason I added this list is that a friend was going through a tough time, and I told her that I was praying for her.

But I wasn’t.

I prayed for her once and then forgot about it. The next time I ran into her, I suddenly remembered about my pledge to pray for her and I felt guilty. But what was I supposed to do? I have a life, too. It’s not like it’s easy to remember all of the things that go wrong in my own life, much less other people’s. Then I shook my head. I was making up excuses. I realized that if I wanted to be a better, and more honest, friend, I needed to come up with a way to remember prayer requests. So I made a list.

My prayer list is very simple. I have two columns, one labeled “Name” and the other labeled “Need.” This way, I can keep track of who I’m praying for and why I’m praying for them. Then, I put it on the board that I look at every day, multiple times a day (yeah, I’m a little obsessive about school). Now, I can’t help but remember who I need to pray for. I would suggest this for anyone who feels like they need to work on their praying.

In addition to helping me remember to pray, I found that the prayer list helped out in two other ways. First, it made me more conscious of the people I’m praying for. When you know someone is going through something, but they are all cheery and normal when you talk to them, it’s easy to forget that anything is wrong. But now that I am always seeing my list and praying for them, I make sure to check up on them; to get updates for my list. Now, it’s easier to keep up with my friends and make sure they’re alright, and to be there for them if they aren’t.

The second area the list assisted me in is just remembering to pray. I’ll be honest; I don’t pray nearly as often as I probably should. However, I can’t help but see the list on my cork board, so it’s not hard to remember to pray. Although I originally made the list just to keep tabs on my friends’ prayer requests, it has actually reminded me to talk to God about things that are important to me too.

What about you? Do you ever forget to pray for someone when they asked? How do you keep tabs on your friends’ requests?

My Hopes and Dreams

Cake clip artIt’s my birthday today. I’m 19 years of age now. Yay, I suppose. I’m still recovering from a concussion, so that takes some of the fun out of it. However, in honor of the day of my birth, I’ll share with you guys some of my hopes and dreams. Here’s my top ten list:

1. First and foremost, I want to become a successful author. I would love it if thousands of people would read and love what I write. I’d like to shoot for New York Times Bestseller, because that seems to be what every successful author sticks on the front of their books to prove that they are in fact successful. But mainly, I just want writing to be how I support myself. It’s my favorite thing to do, so I may as well make it my job.

2. Next, I would really like to never, ever get another concussion. Like I said in my last post, they’re no fun. I’m a clumsy person, so I’m not sure about this one…

3. Related to writing again, I would like to simply get better at writing. I’m never going to become successful if my writing sucks. Not that I’m saying it does, but I’m certainly no Steven King. I’ll probably need to improve a lot. I say “probably,” because we do hear of amazingly bad writers who attain massive popularity by some miracle. *Cough50shadesofgraycoughcough*

4. This is probably fairly stereotypical for this kind of list, but I’d like to be rich someday. It’s not even to be able to afford some kind of mansion or other fancy things. Mainly, I just don’t want money to have to be an issue. I want to give my future kids a comfortable life, at least until I kick them out so that they learn to fend for themselves.

5. Speaking of kids, I want a few. Maybe three. I don’t really know. I’m also planning on homeschooling them, but that would depend on if I can, financially. I would really rather avoid sticking my kids in public school.

6. I suppose if I’m speaking of kids, I should probably also be speaking of husbands. I’d like one of those, too, I suppose. It’s funny actually, because I’ve never had a boyfriend before, but now I’m looking for someone to spend the rest of my life with. I guess now is just the age to do that.

7. I’d love to get better at socializing with people. I’m such an introverted hermit right now. I want to be the kind of person that is at least kind of decent at hanging out. I really don’t understand the concept (but that’s another blog post). If I ever do become a famous author, I’m going to need to be able to talk to new people without feeling terribly awkward. Or maybe not. The internet is a thing after all.

8. I’m in school right now, so I figure I should mention that I want to have a college degree at some point (preferably in around 3 or so years). I don’t think I told you guys, but I recently changed my major to Digital Media with a concentration in Transmedia Writing. That’s just a really fancy way of saying “writing for TV and movies.”

9. I want to spend time out of the country. I’ve never been outside of the U.S. before (unless the trip my parents took to Niagara Falls while my mom was pregnant with me counts). I speak German, so I would like to visit Germany at some point. I’d also like to go on an out of country mission trip.

10. This one is a little odd and ultimately more than likely unattainable, but here we go anyway: I want to own Disney. Yeah, you heard right. I wish to own the Mouse itself. I used to like Disney channel when I was a kid, and I still like Disney movie’s sometimes, but I think most people can agree that the quality has really gone downhill recently. I want to make Disney a thing that is family-friendly and teaches wholesome lessons again. That, and Disney owns Marvel, so there’s that.

Oi. I didn’t realize how much soul searching I was going to have to do to complete this list. I was really starting to run out of ideas around the 7th entry. But I hope you enjoyed it.

Tell me, are there any hopes or dreams you feel like sharing? Let me know in the comments.

Concussed Again

Do yourself a favor: never get a concussion. Seriously, they stink.

This is my second concussion. Of course this one had to come on midterm week. Well, there goes my spring break. I’m sure you’re wondering what happened. Yeah… It’s a funny story.

Let’s start with, my mom bought me these ice cleat things a few weeks ago. They’re bright green and they wrap around your shoes to help you walk on ice. I find that they actually work the few times I’ve tried them. But of course, the two times that I really needed them, I wasn’t wearing them. My fault entirely, of course.

The first time was a week or so ago when I went to see my first hockey game. It was awesome, by the way. We won. Go Flames, and all that. Anyway, I knew it was going to be a difficult trek back up the mountain to my room when my friend from North Dakoda walked out the door and slipped on the ice (Now, he claims that it was because he stepped on a sign that slipped on the ice, and that’s why he slipped. *Nods politely* Sure, sure, whatever you say). It had been freezing rain for the last two hours, so literally everything outside was covered in ice.

Side note: Have you ever experienced freezing rain? It’s like rain, but frozen. And hard.

Anyway. It had snowed earlier, and the grounds people had shoveled my sidewalks. They did not, on the other hand, salt them. For those of you who are from the South, snowy sidewalks + freezing rain = black ice. Yeah…

I had to walk back through a foot of snow because all of the sidewalks on my way back to my room were completely covered in ice. On the bright side, I called my mom along the way (because I thought, “Well, if I fall and hit my head on the sidewalk, I’d like someone to know about it), and my running commentary on the nature of ice and my deep-seated hatred of such kept her and my little sister in fits of giggled until I got back. Good for them.

I’m a Southerner, okay? We like snow, because it’s a novelty. Ice… we’re not so fond of.

That was the first time I really could have used those ice cleats. The second time was this past Friday morning. I was all ready for class that day. I didn’t make it ten feet before I found the black ice in front of my dorm. With my face. Well, technically, I found the black ice, with my feet. I found the wet concrete with my face.

And that’s how I got another concussion.

I apologize if this post has been a bit rambling. That tends to happen when you damage your brain. On the upside, since I can’t really focus on anything for longer than ten minutes, I’m going home early, and I’ll have to make up all my tests when I come back. I think that’s an upside, anyway. Can’t really tell. Brain injury, you know.

Be safe out there, everyone. And watch out for ice!

Of Hannity and Hecklers

I like to think that my university is pretty awesome. In fact, I like to think that Liberty is better than most colleges. But on Wednesday of this past week, I went through a whole range of emotions about my school, from disappointment to anger to surprised pride.

You see, this WSean Hannityednesday, we had Sean Hannity visit Liberty for Convocation. That in and of itself is no different from normal. We have all types of people come for Convo. We’ve had pastors, evangelists, celebrities, politicians, etc. come to talk to us. Some are better than others, and I don’t always (or often) agree with everything they talk about. But anyway, back to Sean Hannity. If you don’t know who Sean Hannity is, you’ve probably been living under a rock and/or you don’t own a television, a computer, or a radio. But, just in case you fit that description (and are somehow reading this post), Hannity is a conservative radio and television host who has a very successful show on Fox News. He’s come to Liberty before and someone thought it would be a good idea to bring him back.

The Convo started normally. Stand up. Music. Sit down. Prayer. Stand up. Music. Sit down. Speaker. It took me, and presumably most of the university, a while to be interested in what Hannity was saying, partly because we’d just had John Luke Robertson (of Duck Dynasty fame) share the funny story about the building he got for free and partly because Hannity was just doing the usual politician spiel about how the other side stinks, or whatever. Not that I disagree with him, but if I wanted to hear that, I would have listened to his show. He did give John Luke 50 grand as a surprise gift to help him with his project to end sex trafficking in Louisiana, which was pretty cool.

The interesting part about this Convo happened at nearly the end. Hannity was finishing up his talk. He talked a bit about how the President refused to acknowledge that we are in a war against Muslim terrorism (which is a big problem, y’all). Suddenly, some girl in the back piped up yelling about Chapel Hill. If you don’t know about Chapel Hill, a quick overview is that a man murdered three Muslim students over a parking spot. It’s deplorable, of course, but it wasn’t terrorism, and that’s basically what Hannity said. Anyway, he kept going and then he mentioned 9/11. And that’s when another person decided to start shouting. He shouted, very loudly, “9/11 was an inside job.”

*Sigh* Seriously, of all the things he could have shouted about…

I believe that there is a time and a place to publicly disagree with someone. However, shouting from the back of a ginormous room filled with 10,000+ people is not the place or time to do it. That’s pretty much what the whole school thought too. Hannity, who is rather used to being heckled at colleges, just looked at the guy and said, “Okay, Michael Moore,” which made us all laugh.

But at the same time, I was mortified for my college. “We’re better than this,” I thought. And, usually, we are. I don’t remember a time since I’ve been here when someone had the nerve to heckle one of our speakers in the middle of Convocation. I couldn’t believe how rude those two people were being. But again, I thought it was over.

Yeah… no.

Hannity started talking again, and less than a minute later, the 9/11 truther guy started shouting again. This is where the surprised pride I was talking about earlier comes in. I have no idea what he said, because the moment he started shouting, I kid you not, the entire student body shouted back “Shut up!” It was seriously the best thing ever. The Convo ended without incident after that.

As embarrassing it was to have people heckling our speaker, it was great to see all of us standing up against the one guy who didn’t want to show respect. I hope Sean Hannity realizes that we aren’t normally like this. We are usually much better about showing respect to the speakers that come to talk to us. Above all, I hope we learned something from this experience. If nothing else, I hope the collective “Shut up” will discourage any future hecklers for a couple of years.

P.S. By the way, if you’re interested in John Luke Robertson’s project to end human trafficking in Louisiana, you can click here to donate. I know the site looks a little sketchy, but it is legit. I would love to help out myself, but right now, I am the epitome of a broke college student.

What’s My Gift?

We’ve been talking a lot about using our gifts in my evangelism class at Liberty, and it made me think, “How are you supposed to know what your gift is?” Now, I know what mine is. Or at the very least, I know what my primary one is. I write… Clearly. But there was a time when I didn’t know what it was, so I want to share my theory of gifts with you.

Let me start off by giving you a little scenario. It’s 3 am. You fell asleep four hours ago, and you have to get up in four more hours. Now you’re awake. You’re groggy and tired, but your mind won’t let you fall back to sleep. You’re thinking about something. You want to do something, just to get that thing out of your head.

What is it?

For me, it’s writing. I could literally write all day, every day. I can’t get the stuff in my head on paper fast enough. I just have to do it. That’s my gift. That’s my calling. What’s yours? What could you do any time of the day? I’m not just talking about things that would be appropriate for the time of the day. I’m talking about a compulsion to go out and get something done even if it’s midnight.

Is it singing? I have a friend that could sing the spots off of a Dalmatian. She’s doing it All. The. Time. It’s what I believe she was meant to do. Or maybe it’s art. My little sister makes the most amazing paintings and drawings. Case in point:

Source: Christina Martin Art & Design Facebook page

Source: Christina Martin Art & Design Facebook page

Maybe you’re a writer like me. Maybe the ideas come so hard and fast you don’t have time to catch your breath, much less write it all down.

It doesn’t have to be a talent, either. It could be an idea or a concept. Maybe it’s the needy that keep you up at night. Maybe your heart bleeds for starving children in Africa. You could have a message that the world desperately needs to hear. Heck, it could even be politics. I don’t know your heart.

The point is that whatever that thing is, the thing that won’t let you sleep, the thing that fills you with joy just to think about doing it, do it! And do it for the glory of God. Gifts are no good if you don’t use them.

P.S. If you liked that painting, go check out more of my little sister’s stuff by clicking here.