What I would tell my first week self (Sohphore edition)

Or, 29 things I learned during my third semester of college.

1. You actually can’t spell without spellcheck/autocorrect.

2. You thought last semester was tough… just wait…

3. You will experience failure. When your roommate said, “You’re going to have to fail sometime!” it was bound to happen. Failure is part of life. But it does not define who you are.

4. You will make mistakes. Get prepared to come face to face with your humanness and your sin in ways you haven’t before. You are going to feel guilt and shame. The quicker you forgive yourself, the quicker you will be able to move on. There are no regrets; there are only lessons learned.

5. You will question a lot. This is college, this is sophomore year, and this is okay. Cling to Jesus because ultimately He is the only thing that does not change.

6. Speaking of Jesus, even if it means getting up earlier, don’t stop taking time to process life and spend with Jesus. Without doing those two things, you end up feeling like you are getting sucked into a black hole.

7. (And by the way, black holes don’t actually suck in. Also, Astronomy will become the bane of your existence. And you will survive it.)

8. Late nights in the library can be beautiful, but especially when you leave.

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Taken on a foggy night, at midnight, after many hours of paper writing.

9. Priorities will change throughout the year. You will struggle with what matters, who matters, and how to spend your time. Just know—you still stand on solid ground. You just got mixed up for a while.

IMG_1353.jpg10. That mental breakdown during fall break? Best thing that happened
to you this semester.

11. Stop and let your soul catch up. You are an introvert who loves people. You need to take time to recharge. It is completely all right to take mental breaks and just sit in quiet. You will be able to love people better as a result.

12. Coloring books are still very relevant.

13. Sophomore year is the year of “dis-equilibrium” when life and beliefs and academics and relationships feel uprooted. Go ahead and accept that now, so that you don’t have to freak out later.

14. Your roommate is about to have her toughest semester so far (and maybe of her college career). She is strong, but be there to support her.

15. Expect the unexpected. Life throws you a lot of curve balls this semester. Ephesians 3:20 holds true.

[God] is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”

15. Let go of all the crap that caused you to stress and worry about moving off campus. Finances work out, utilities work out, and housemates work out. Plus it will be a decision that you won’t regret at all!

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16. Walks in the woods are never platonic. Listen to your roommate. She knows what’s up.

17. Some people who you relied on will let you down, and others will far exceed your expectations. But ultimately, no one is perfect. Grace is a good thing to learn to extend.

18. You will doubt your decision to study Arabic for the first solid month of the class. But it turns out to be the best decision of your semester. So trust and hang in there. (Also, the haters are going to hate. But you’re just gonna shake it off.)

19. Make pre-decisions—decide what you are going to do in awkward situations before they happen. You will avoid uncomfortable moments later on, and you will be better prepared to face temptation.

20. The transitions between home and school get easier, but the goodbyes never do.

21. Find a way to stay in touch with your family better. You feel more comfortable out on your own and you don’t feel the need to call home as often, but they are still the most important people in your life. Also, if you start to worry that the distance is becoming more than just physical, let me tell you that when you get back together, you remember why you loved these beautiful humans so much in the first place.

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22. A stressful situation coming up? Something you are worrying about? Imagine Jesus in the picture. See? The anxiety disappears and peace replaces the space.

23. It may feel like you are drowning academically and that you just can’t get it right. You will be humbled (a good thing!). But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The semester eventually ends, and when you see those grades roll in…let’s just say, they aren’t as bad as you anticipated. Yet remember: your GPA does NOT define you.

24. Your day may be busy, but your soul doesn’t have to be. This means taking time for the spontaneous conversations, the unplanned dinners, and random encounters. At the end of the day, you will remember the people so much more than the classes.

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25. Missing people is really hard. Yet this is a new season of your life, where friends aren’t always in the picture. People come in and out of your life, and friends become spread out across the globe. It is a risk to  get close to someone you know will leave, and it may hurt when they do—but the risk is worth taking and friendships are worth making (and so are spontaneous rhymes).

26. Be aware of what you are rehearsing and repeating. At the end of the day, the things you replay over and over in your head are going to become the tune of your heart—the way you feel about yourself and the way you love others. Taking the time to be thankful and shift your perspective makes all the difference in how you enter and close your day. On a practical note, taking time to write down three things you are thankful for each day really does improve your attitude.

27. You will not regret any of the time you spent with people instead of with homework. Always worth it.

28. You will want to transfer, go to an easier school, move to an organic farm, or drop out to start your own business. But just wait! Once again, come the last few weeks of school, you will be immeasurably glad you are a part of the Tribe.

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29. Even numbers aren’t a bad thing, but odd numbers are still your favorite.

Breathe Deeply. It’s Finals Season.

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Breathe. Take a deep breath. That is what they tell you. But you can’t. You are choking. You are gasping for air. It feels like you are drowning but the liquid filling your lungs is the dark murkiness of fear. Anxiety bubbles up inside you. You can’t raise your head above the dread.

Think. Think positively. Think broadly and conceptually and creatively. But it doesn’t feel possible. You are numb. Thoughts are routine and mechanical, not your own but ruled by notes upon endless notes of regimented classes gone by. Your thoughts are clouded, foggy, restless. Exhaustion and worry seem to block the creativity from flowing out…or in…

Stuck. Numb. Anxious. Unmotivated.

Yet it feels good, because it means that you have it hard. And hard means that you are taking challenging classes. And challenging classes means that you are smart. And being smart leads to good grades. And good grades are followed by success.

So we allow ourselves to become consumed. We stay up late. We watch the clock. We complain about our schedule. We talk about how many hours we spent in the library and how many shots of espresso were in that afternoon coffee. Finals become a competition – who will stretch themselves to the breaking points yet not snap? Who will lose the most sleep and sanity, but gain the highest grade? We push and pull and strive. And slowly the competition consumes us.

Maybe. Hm. Maybe the battle is not against sleep and classes and exams and papers and the clock and our fellow students. Maybe our weapons are not caffeine and color-coded notes and a deep focus playlist. Maybe the battle is not against finals at all. Maybe the battle is against our human tendencies. Maybe our weapons are peace and joy and perspective and a good friend. Maybe the battle is to not be consumed.

Breathe. Breathe deeply. Suck in life. Let peace and purpose fill your lungs. Feel joy bubble up within you. Take advantage of these moments. They won’t last forever. Appreciate your friends. Take time to enjoy the coffee and the cookies and the dogs.

Think. Think positively. Process the fact that you get to learn. You are among the rare ones in this world who get to graduate with a degree. You get to walk around a campus filled with interesting and passionate students. You get to hide out in the library surrounded by your best friends.You get to study this fascinating and beautiful world around you.

Breathe deeply. Because this is life. And you are given the precious gift to live it.

*a short article, because it is finals.

 

 

 

Meet Me in the Fog

It is a Friday afternoon. I’ve got a long list of things that are awaiting my attention. Pants to return. Checks to mail. Two chapters to read. A paper topic to choose. And a desk to organize, before I can do any of the other. But I can’t seem to organize my desk, because facing the strewn papers, ignored notifications, empty boxes, and endless sticky notes means facing my own inadequacies and weaknesses—the disorganization of my desk that represents the disorganization of my soul.

So I’m curled up in a blanket on the couch and I just finished reading a chapter of a book I chose to read for fun… for me. Because it was a tough morning. One of those mornings that leaves you wanting to cry in the car and sleep on a couch. So I did.

And that’s counter culture (especially counter “Christian culture”). We seem to think that we have to go – go – go and give – give – give to be the ultimate student, friend, or Christian. Yet that just leaves me exhausted and worn out and tired of people. I’m realizing the importance of “me time.” It seems selfish, and once again, it means facing my own weaknesses… or what I identify as weakness.


I like blue, sunny skies. With just a few soft, cotton-like clouds. And clear, crisp air.

Yet lately it’s been a fog. A fog that hits me when I walk outside and breathe in the thick humidity. Or a fog that clouds the horizon as rain tumbles down from above, as it has been the past seven days. I like rain, but only when clear skies follow.

I suppose the weather represents my life quite well right now. Just like I am not a fan of dark days outside, darkness and confusion in my own life terrifies me. And I’m beginning to think that like the rain that is beginning to seem endless, the mental and spiritual fog is less of a season and more of a lifestyle. Perhaps it is just life.

Maybe the answer isn’t in trying so hard to find the light but in being willing to face the fog and remember Christ stands here too. To remember… that he is sufficient in the light and in the darkness, in the pain and in the joy, in the morning as well as the night.” ~ Simply Tuesday*


I’ve been angry a lot lately. Angry at professors. Angry at the school administration. Angry with people who have hurt the people I love. I’ve been angry at the injustice in the world around me. Angry at the violence I see on the news. Angry at the spiritual darkness in the world. Angry at leaders’ lack of response or action. I’ve been angry with myself. Angry at the disconnect I feel. Angry at my lack of energy. Angry at my inability to overachieve anymore.

And as a result, I end up angry with God, pounding my fist at the sky, wondering why I don’t see or feel Him like I used to. That’s when the fog sets in.

Maybe the answer is to agree… that Jesus looks nothing like I think he should look, speaks nothing like I thought he would speak, allows things I don’t think he should allow.” 

A lot of times Jesus doesn’t feel like enough.

He doesn’t feel like enough when the exam scores aren’t high enough.

When the to-do list is too long and my energy level is too low to accomplish enough.

When my abilities don’t feel like they measure up enough.

When my friendships don’t seem deep enough.

When I don’t have time or resources to give enough.

I need to confess my fear in confessing that and face my longing for more. I need to remember Jesus is enough even when he doesn’t feel like enough. I need to tell him so, to question him, and to be willing to receive his answers of love, of hope, and with-ness that sometimes don’t feel like answers at all.” ~ Simply Tuesday

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You may very well be asking the same question I’m asking myself right now. I’ve got a mumble-jumble of thoughts but no real clear direction. So where am I headed with all this?

Well, I don’t have answers. (That seems to be a common theme lately…)

But I do have a Jesus.

Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.” (Hebrews 4:15-16)

Here’s what I do know. He meets me right where I am. In the fog.

He says… I’ve been there.

I’ve been exhausted and worn to the point where I feel like I can’t give anymore.

I’ve been angry at the hate and injustice and confusion I see in the world.

I’ve been brought to the point of tears.

But I am here for you. 

Embrace your weaknesses. I am sufficient.

Take time for yourself. I’ll make up the difference. (Oh, and I created you to enjoy this life. Don’t let it slip through your fingers.)

Your anger is not without reason. But you can trust me. 

Come, meet me in the fog.

So I am choosing to turn right where I am, face the fog, and meet Jesus in that place. Will you join me?

— Phebe

*quotes from Simply Tuesday by: Emily P. Freeman

Bravery, On the Regular

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I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what it means to be “brave.” In many of the worship songs I’ve been hearing and singing recently, there are three common themes: bravery and trust and the ocean.

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders

Let me walk upon the waters

Wherever You would call me

Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander

And my faith will be made stronger

In the presence of my Savior”

*Oceans, Hillsong

You make me brave

You make me brave

You call me out upon the shore into the waves

You make me brave

You make me brave

No fear can hinder now the promises you’ve made”

*You Make Me Brave, Bethel Music

You split the sea so I could walk right through it

You drowned my fears in perfect love

You rescued me so I could stand and sing

I am a child of God”

*No Longer Slaves, Bethel Music

Some of you may remember that I wrote a lot about “Oceans” right before I went to Liberia. That became my theme song for missions. I’ve always thought about bravery and trust and going deep and being overwhelmed as things for the mission field. The highest Christian calling is long-term foreign missions, right?

Yet I resonate so much with these songs. I love singing about bravery. Trust is something I’m asking for more of. Going deep is what I crave. Being overwhelmed is a daily feeling.

But I am in college. My biggest worry right now is getting through finals. My toughest health struggle is sleep deprivation. I am relatively comfortable. I have friends. There are plenty of moments of laughter. And I know that in just a week, I will be home. Then why does life still seem hard? And why do I still relate so much to the themes of bravery and trust?

A few nights ago, as I was lying in bed (where most of my deep thinking happens), I realized something. Living life takes courage.

My roommate is one of the bravest people I know. She’s going to school in a different country, away from her family, her boyfriend, and her close friends. She’s taking on Calculus II and all sorts of complex science classes (that I am terrified of) because she has dreams of being a neuroscientist. She keeps trusting even though her family is moving farther away and her friends will be spread out across the world.

The parents I know who are watching their young son battle cancer are brave. They’re pursuing treatment without any proof of results. They’re trusting God for the funds, and opening up their lives to hundreds of churchgoers and distant friends. They’re trying to provide a normal life for their children in the midst of chaos.

A young couple in my Chi Alpha Bible study is brave. Not knowing where the money will come from next year, she continues to sign up for classes and focus on her pre-med degree. He works a job that he’s not passionate about in order to support his wife and make ends meet.

I’m realizing that maybe bravery isn’t just reserved for the mission field.

Maybe bravery and trust is a common theme because that’s exactly what we need.

Maybe being courageous is another every day choice.


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Courage is leaving a wonderful home and loving family to start a new life on my own.

Courage is going to a school where I’m not the smartest and am challenged every day.

Courage is asking God for the big miracles that seem impossible in the lives of my friends.

Courage is approaching God’s throne for the little things and the every day routine.

Hebrews 4:16 — “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Courage is pressing forward in the wake of suicide.

Courage is choosing to see people as more than statistics.

Courage is loving people even when I know they are going to leave my life soon.

Courage is trusting God to multiply the time I spent opening up my room to friends, instead of doing my history reading.

Courage is sharing my pain with friends when all I want to do is roll into a ball.

Courage is seeking out support when my family isn’t there to hold me.

Psalms 27:14 — “Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.”

Courage is being an open Christian on a secular campus.

Courage is studying hard for finals.

Courage is also choosing not to stress and allowing my mind and body to rest.

(And maybe courage is taking a break from studying to write a blog post that God laid on my heart.)

Psalm 62:5 — “Yes, my soul, find rest in God: my hope comes from him.”

Don’t belittle your life and the calling you are living out. Don’t belittle the daily struggles and the small victories. There’s a reason why our worship leaders are singing about bravery, trust, going deeper, and being overwhelmed — Living life takes a good dose of bravery, on the regular.

Tripping Through Life*

I’ve recently been receiving comments on social media… “W&M cover girls!!” “You guys are the cutest.” “You’re cool.” “Ahhh why are you so perfect?” “You are perfection my dear!”

And from looking on my Instagram or my Facebook, those comments are pretty convincing. My life looks great. I am surrounded by friends. I’m going on cool adventures. My fashion is on point. For example…

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That’s not me. Yeah, that’s me on my good days. I live a pretty great life. I’m having some incredible moments and doing some super cool things. I have wonderful friends, and I am living in a beautiful place. But that’s only part of the picture. I’m here to set the record straight.

You don’t see me when I am hunched over my laptop, furiously writing a paper I procrastinated too long on.

You don’t see me when I am sprint-walking across campus to reach a class just barely on time, because I was finishing a last-minute assignment or slept too late.

Or when I miss an event to help with a local elementary school’s field day.

Or when I am running into the cafeteria 15 minutes before a class.

Or when I am so exhausted that I can’t think straight.

Or when I am so overwhelmed that I want to cry.

Or when I hate the world so much that I want to curl up into a ball and never talk to anyone ever again.

Or when I am so homesick that I think my heart might just shatter.

Or when I am in the middle of a panic attack, taking deep breaths.

Or when I am so stressed that I withdraw into a grey study room for hours.

Or when I am ranting on the phone to my mom.

Or when I’m such a mess that I can’t think straight or talk English.

Or when I trip up the steps… oh wait, there were no steps. I tripped over my own feet.

Yep, that’s me. Now don’t get me wrong, that is not my always. But it is my regular. I’m struggling my way through this life. Relying on Jesus every step (or trip) of the way. Still think I’m cool or perfect?

But my hope is that I would bring glory to God with each stumble. My hope is that I would find joy through the trials. Because, oh, the trials never end, dear friend. Not in this life. I only hope to set an example through my perseverance (not my fashion, hair, food choices, or adventures).

Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him. (James 1:2-5)

When endurance does its complete work, we will lack nothing. And when we lack nothing, we will no longer need to ask God for anything. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I’m ever going to get to that point. Not until heaven, at least. So here’s the truth: the trials just keep coming. The messy moments keep happening. Our completion is not in this world.

But we are not alone. When we are so exhausted and stressed that we can’t function, we can approach the throne of God with full assurance that He will answer. He is FOR you.

We process joy in emotions–peace, contentment, satisfaction… But joy is a daily choice to trust. My prayer for you and for myself is that we would learn to embrace the trials and find joy in them, knowing that one day we will reach completion. The struggle is not in vain!

— This has been honest talk with Phebe. Tune in next time to hear me talk more about my messed up life and God’s saving grace!

*I’m talking about actual tripping, not drugs. Get your mind out of the gutter.

Where is God in the Homesickness?

Homesickness.

Longing for a place of comfort with people who know you.

During my first month at college, I was immediately swept in a wave of action. I was easily adjusting to new class schedules, interesting classmates, engaging professors, and independent life. But then one morning, I had the random thought that I would never wake up to spontaneously go shopping at sporting goods stores with my dad and my brother. And just like that, a longing for the familiar overwhelmed me and I spent the next hour crying and journaling. But other than that one instance, I didn’t feel homesick during my first semester. I was loving the newness and excitement of college.

Then I went home for Christmas break. I ignored the fact that I had to return and waited until the very last moment to pack. After a glorious month at home, I walked upstairs to my dorm room, opened the door, and was awash in loneliness. My hall mates were all so excited to be back, and all I could think about was how much I wanted to go home. I sat outside to read and journal, yet every time a family passed me I was in tears again. When my roommate finally came back, we both ended up sitting on the floor, crying and sharing memories from break. The next mornings as I woke up, loneliness overwhelmed me. I questioned a lot. How was last semester so amazing? Why was everyone else so happy? How could I ever be an independent adult like this?

As the weeks continued, I began getting connected again. I remembered why I love my college. My schedule filled with classes, homework, lunch dates, and activities. Yet despite all the happy moments, when my roommate and I look at each other, we know—there’s a longing for the familiar place where we felt loved and accepted.

So how do we handle the homesickness? How do we learn to be content when we are lonely? Where is God in the homesickness? As I’ve processed and learned to cope, here are a few of the things that God has revealed to me.

Give yourself time to mourn. For so long I tried to ignore the feelings until I simply could not anymore. It is okay to cry. Tell yourself that. Crying is not a sign of weakness. Grief is not a sign of weakness. They are signs of humanity. Perhaps not as drastic, but you are walking in the shoes of the Israelites. Change is hard. Acknowledge that. You will grow and overcome as you accept that you miss home.

 By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion… How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?” (Psalm 137:1, 4).

Dwell in God’s presence. As I’ve processed my feelings of homesickness, I’ve realized that the only reason I feel lonely now is because I know what it feels like to be unconditionally loved and fully accepted at home. I have talked to many a friend whose break was filled with tension, quiet, and being alone. I have so many reasons to be grateful. And even when I feel lonely, I am never alone. God knows me deeply and loves me unconditionally.

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged,” (Deuteronomy 31:8).

Focus on your relationship with God—pray, worship, read. In my season of loneliness, these things fill me up when I am empty.

Find ways to stay connected at home. Even though I am away at school, I want to stay invested in my family. We have weekly Skype sessions that are an intentional time to share life together. It’s almost like having a family supper! Something new that I have just started is memorizing Scriptures with my family. Dwelling on the same Scripture is a way to stay on the same page even when we are apart. Find a way to connect regularly with home and then be purposeful.

Make the most of your time, right where you are. I have the temptation to wish the time away until I see my family again. But God has placed you and I where we are for a reason. One way my roommate and I have stayed engaged at college is by making a list of goals/activities to give us something to look forward to in the upcoming months. We wrote out goals for the semester, such as people we wanted to talk to and habits we wanted to form. We also made a list of fun activities for the upcoming month, filled with restaurants to try and places to go. Having a “game plan,” renews hope for the future.

Switch up your perspective. As a culture, when we think of missions we often think of going overseas and leaving the comfortable. But God calls us to be a witness right where we are. For me, college is a sacrifice as I’m leaving my family and the familiar. I’ve started viewing college as my mission field. College is the prime time to share Jesus’ love with people. As I think about how college is an opportunity to share Christ, it gives me a sense of purpose in leaving home because suddenly it’s about God and not about me. Wherever you may be, focusing your eyes on Jesus will switch your attitude about the situation.

But you are my witnesses…You’re my handpicked servant. So that you’ll come to know and trust me, understand both that I am and who I am.” (Isaiah 43:10)

And God is the faithful and the consistent. When you’re feeling homesick, hold onto this promise: “I the Lord do not change,” (Malachi 3:6). Lean into Him. He will hold you.

What I Would Tell My First Week Self

Or, 31 things I learned during my first semester at William & Mary

Dear “First week” Phebe,

  1. Despite everything that you would like to believe, leggings and sweatpants will become your fashion staple, and you won’t want to ever take them off. (Plus, you will think you look so cute in them.)IMG_2477
  2. You will look and feel fabulous the first two weeks. And then… you won’t.
  3. Give yourself time. Friendships will not come easily and neither will adjusting to the pace of college. But you’ll get there.
  4. The unexpected friends are the best.
  5. It’s so contrary to how you were raised, but school in college is about learning how to do the minimum well. (Don’t worry; I still can’t do that.)
  6. Give yourself time to be homesick. The busyness immediately sweeps you up and carries you away on a grand adventure, so that you don’t even miss home. But then a month later, you remember the shore and everything you had there, and then you lose it. The littlest things will remind you of your family—embrace it. You don’t have to be strong. You can cry. It’s okay.
  7. Get used to feeling “new.” You’ll feel that way the entire semester.
  8. Spend more time praying and less time making lists.IMG_2667 - Version 2
  9. Invest in your hall. They will be your greatest friends. They will keep you motivated (and distract you) when you have lots of homework to submit. They will go to the dining hall with you, so you don’t have to sit alone. They will tell you that you’re beautiful when you feel bleh. They will be your biggest fans and your constant entertainment.
  10. God is better than you ever could’ve imagined. You thought you were in awe of His faithfulness in high school? Just wait. It gets better.
  11. People are the priority. The time you spend with people will be returned to you. In the long run, relationships are going to last and bring the most joy.
  12. Fraternity parties really are not all they’re hyped up to be. Really.IMG_3218
  13. Let go of convention! It’s okay to eat breakfast food all day, any time of day.
  14. Give yourself time. You’re not going to feel settled at a church right away. In fact, you’re going to spend your whole first semester looking (and who knows how much longer). But through the process, you will learn more things about yourself and the kingdom of God.
  15. Just because you go to bed before 11pm the first few weeks, doesn’t mean you’re going to get enough sleep in college. LIES. You will find school gets tougher and bedtime gets later.
  16. Even though you decided not date your freshman year doesn’t mean that there won’t be cute guys. Okay? They don’t just disappear.
  17. Even so, you will discover that most of them are dumb. Focus on your female friends. But wait! Just when you thought there was no hope for the male race, one opens the door for you. #such is life
  18. Hashtags will define your life.9e47384e51a4cb6b1ea773a7b1f870f2
  19. Deciding to start praying for finals during the first month was a GOOD idea.
  20. Spend more time with the kids from your freshman seminar—they’re pretty cool.
  21. Pretty much everyone here is talented. You will feel average most of the time. Play the comparison game less and love others more.
  22. Being an adult is not easy. You have to deal with mice, dishes, and printers. And some days you just want to scream, “Someone tell me what to do!! I don’t know!!”IMG_2624
  23. God will get you through those rough spots. Prayer is your best power tool.
  24. Don’t check your mail everyday. You’ll just be disappointed.
  25. Finals week will leave you an emotional wreck. It will also be one of the best weeks of college. And by the way, you will not only make it, but you will be victorious.
  26. You and your roommate will become wonderful friends, and you will do pretty much everything together (you’ll even write and perform a rap). Don’t worry.Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset
  27. Speaking of rap… don’t question the unexpected. Just embrace it.
  28. You don’t have to start completely over. The growth you experienced in high school will remain. Freshman year of college is nothing like freshman year of high school. Yes, there will be awkward moments, but you’ll also feel more comfortable and confident in your own skin.
  29. You’re going to learn to not take yourself too seriously and to laugh at yourself.
  30. Dance more.
  31. You will have doubts, and that’s ok. But just know that come the last week of your first semester, all those doubts will be gone, and you will know that you belong.IMG_3171 - Version 2

Main points: Don’t worry. Give yourself time. And pray.

Your first semester is going to be wonderful!! You’ll look back in December and think, “where did the time go?” Cherish the moments.

Love, “Last week” Phebe

His Goodness Will Follow You

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Yesterday marked exactly one year after being accepted into the College of William & Mary. I can still remember sitting in my chair, reading the email, looking up at my dad, and sobbing. I can still feel the emotion of that night – mentally and physically exhausted from my trip to Liberia (this was just 4 days after I returned), I think I was feeling a bit more emotional than usual. I was overwhelmed by God’s love and faithfulness.

Looking back now, a year later and a semester in, I can see God’s faithfulness even more clearly. In the months after my admissions letter and even in the first weeks of school, I had moments where I doubted my decision. I saw friends at other schools and missed the community. I wondered “what if?” a lot. But I’ve felt God confirming my decision. And most days I still walk around campus in awe of the place I get to study and live.

I see God’s purpose in leading me here. I’m in love with my school. I think it’s wonderful. And I want to share the love! I get so excited seeing the tour groups on campus, and I love showing people around my “home.” But I’m not about to say that it’s the only choice—for me, or for anyone else. I can honestly say that I would have been happy at other schools.

That’s the wonderful thing about God’s will: there’s not only ONE right answer. There are a lot of good answers. God gives us options. He wants us to make decisions, and He wants to see us happy. The right answer isn’t always the hard or unpleasant one either. Oh heck no. I think as Christians we get the misconception that we are traveling down a thin and rocky pathway with cliffs on both sides, having to carefully navigate so we don’t fall off the plain of “God’s will.” I believe that image is a lie Satan has planted to distract us. We get so focused on walking along the “straight and narrow path” that we lose sight of people. We lose sight of joy. We lose sight of LIFE. And somehow we lose ourselves in the process.

“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” – John 10:10, ESV

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I went to a new church this morning (Emily and I are still searching for a church home here in Williamsburg), and during the worship service the pastor said, “God’s will is that His goodness follows you all of your days.”

His words immediately made me think back to when I was deciding on a college. With any decision there comes a great fear: Will I make the wrong decision? Through my own search and the wisdom of others, I came to believe that there isn’t necessarily a wrong decision, unless it is one that is from or leads to sin. As long as we are following God, He will bless us.

This doesn’t mean that life is going to be simple or easy or happy (this is something I’ve had to grapple with). We will go through struggles and trials. People will let us down. Difficult and painful things will happen. God is preparing us for something greater. We often can’t see exactly what His plan is in the midst of the trial, but He is preparing us.

Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. – James 1:2-4, HSCB

This (above) is the preparation. Yet sometimes we get so consumed with the preparation that we believe that is all God has for us. Preparation is important, but God’s preparation is not His promise. God’s promise is that we will have life abundantly. We are called to walk a set apart life, but we are not called to walk in discouragement and pain. God has LIFE on the road for us, not just work.  We will be prosperous, but we have to go through the preparation stages first.

Now back to God’s will. (I needed to diverge to emphasize that life in God’s will is not perfect.) So, an abundant life, huh? What about all the rules? Yes, God gives us clear commands. The Bible is full of instructions that are part of God’s will. But God has shown us a way to live because living His way leads to an abundant life. He wants to give us the desires of our heart. He delights in seeing His children enjoying the life that He created.

Delight yourself in the Lord, 
 and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; 
 trust in him, and he will act. — Psalm 37:4-5, ESV

As we follow God, our desires will align with His, and then… we are living in God’s will! What a beautiful promise! We don’t have to worry about walking a thin line between the “right decision” and the “wrong decision.” All we have to worry about is committing our life to God and living a life that honors Him. We can make decisions that are going to make us happy (such as choosing a college or a major), and He’s going to take care of the rest.

So to my Early Decision seniors (who just got their decisions on Friday), congrats!! And to those seniors who are still applying and deciding, don’t worry. There’s so much pressure to pick the perfect school. Let me tell you straight up, there is no perfect school. But as long as you hold tight to God’s promises and live according to His Word, He will bless you richly and you will prosper.

Remember, God’s will is that His goodness follows you each and every day. Now go, and live abundantly!

My Prayer for William & Mary

“And I pray this: that your love will keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment, so that you can determine what really matters and can be pure and blameless in the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”

Philippians 1:9-11


In the past three weeks, I have fallen in love with the College of William & Mary. The people here are motivated, talented, and creative. The professors are knowledgeable, helpful, and inspiring. I love the sense of tradition. I love walking to my classes, surrounded by beautiful history. I love late night group collaborations in an empty theater. I love walking past tour groups and feeling like I am part of the campus. In just the past few days, I have started to feel as if I am truly home.

And as I have fallen in love with the campus, a fire has ignited in my heart for the souls of the students and professors. In the midst of the motivation, there is apathy. In the midst of the talent, there is loneliness. In the midst of the creativity, there is hopelessness. This week I was challenged by my small group to write a prayer for the people in my circle of influence.

Here is my Prayer for the College of William & Mary.

My prayer is that you would know peace that only comes through Jesus. That you would let go of the fear of failure and the need to be perfect. That you would not feel the need to be the best, but simply strive to do your best. In the rush of new opportunities, school assignments, and club responsibilities, may you trust that God is in control and experience His peace in the chaos.

I pray that you would find your worth in Jesus. In a culture that is constantly trying to mold you, may you stand firm in your identity. May you never question who you were created to be, knowing that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. May you never feel the need to compare yourselves with others. Know that you do not need to prove yourself, because Jesus was worthy enough for you.

I pray that you would direct your time and energy into things that matter. In a culture that is trying to push you in a million directions, may you have wisdom to discern priorities. Instead of filling your cravings with worldly and temporary satisfaction, I pray that you would be fully satisfied by the God who can fill all your needs. May you know His truth and then live a life that is set apart. In the darkness, may you be a light. In the loneliness, may you be a friend. In the hopelessness, may you hold on expectantly.

My prayer is that William & Mary would be a place that stands out in the world. That we would not only stand out for our commitment to excellence, but that we would also stand out for commitment to truth and grace. I pray revival over this campus. May we become a dynamic, engaging community that loves God and loves people.

A Light in the Darkness

It’s been almost a week since move-in day. Actually, a week ago tonight I was sitting in the hotel room with my family and they were sharing their favorite memories of me. I was excited, uncertain, afraid, anxious, eager.

God has put to rest those fears and anxieties. A week into this journey, I can honestly say that I love college so far. I love the community of learning and fellowship. I love my peers and my professors. I love the sense of tradition and celebration.

I declare again, GOD IS FAITHFUL.

But there’s a lot of pain and hurt at college too. We’ve had to discuss a lot of sensitive issues, because they are real issues. And we’ve also had to deal with the suicide of a senior student on Monday morning. Yet in the midst of that pain, 1521 freshman walked through the halls of the Wren Building yesterday evening to officially become part of the William & Mary Tribe.

I’ve become more aware of the world’s brokenness in the past week. At the same time, I have become even more aware of God’s presence. HE IS HERE.

Last week, my friend Ellie sent me an excited text: “I wanted to let you know that God is at college, he’s waiting for you there, and you are going to be surprised by the grace there. :D”

How true. My roommate and I have been encouraged by the Christian community on campus. Simply by playing Christian music, doing Bible study outside, and being open about our faith, we have discovered other Christians who are eager to share in this adventure. We have been amazed at the presence of the Christian ministries on campus and their outpouring of support.

I came across this video today and it describes my thoughts perfectly. God is present on the campus of William & Mary. He is present in your workplace, your school, and your neighborhood. He is present in Iraq, Syria, and West Africa. HE IS HERE.

No matter what struggles you face, remember that darkness will never win. The light of Jesus has already defeated the world.

“The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” (John 1:5)

Keep shining!

– – Phebe