Reflection From Freshman Year

We are Mary Shaw and Isabella Poole.  The first semester of college was full of change, excitement, and craziness for both of us.  We have had completely different yet amazing experiences the past four months. Here is a little about what we learned and endured as we moved to college.


Going into my first semester of college at the College of Charleston was exciting and new.  I had no idea the plans that God had in store for me for the next four months. Going to a school in another state, where I knew absolutely no one, was nerve wracking to say the least. My roommate and suite-mates are all believers.  They have encouraged me to make the right decisions, be head strong in my faith, and show the love of the Lord to everyone I meet. Through my classes, clubs, and everywhere in between I have had a firm group of believers to stand behind, beside, and before me.  One of the first leaps of faith I took this semester was joining YoungLife. YoungLife is a ministry that trains college students to lead and partner with local high students to be mentors and friends that encourage 6th-12thgraders in their walk of faith. I never pictured myself as training to be a YoungLife leader, but with a push from my suite-mates I began the process. Through this ministry I have met countless like-minded people that have made my college experience much more enjoyable than I ever could have imagined.  While YoungLife has introduced me to many like-minded people, I have met all sorts of different people through my classes, at the dining hall, and in my dorm. High school wasn’t the most social scene for me, so coming to college I faced a lot of challenges regarding balancing my social life and academics.  Being away from home has done wonders for me in regard to my spiritual, emotional, and physical health. I have been able to explore my faith and what it means to me in a completely different sense. I have learned more in and out of the classroom these past four months than I learned all of high school. Overall, first semester was a reality check, and a really great one at that.



These past four months at Meredith College have shown me more change than I had expected. It was filled with many opportunities and new chances to learn things about myself and others. Going into Meredith college, I was really nervous about the transition. It has always been easy for me to fall back onto what I already know instead of going out of my comfort zone, so I knew that had to change when I got to college. It took about a month, but I soon found my people. They happened to be my roommates and the volleyball team. My roommates are on the volleyball team so I quickly became an ‘honorary member’ and fit right in. Balancing academic life and social life was definitely a hard adjustment and something I was not use to, but creating my own schedule was the push towards independence that I needed. I had grown a lot in my faith this summer and I was really worried of how college would affect that. I tried Younglife and Cru, but I felt most connected with God when I was surrounded by my friends at Trinity. I had the opportunity to become a D-Team leader with the 7th grade girls and I have loved seeing them every week. It has given me a push to become someone that they look up to and someone they can trust. I think this was the structure I needed for college. I have become very involved in Trinity over this past year, and it has changed my life, and I am glad I was able to incorporate that in college. My relationship with God continues to grow everyday, and I know that it has become much stronger this past semester. I prayed for a Christian community to surround myself with, I prayed to find my people, and I prayed that college was everything I have hoped for it to be. My first semester of college was much different than I expected, and it had its ups and downs, but I have relied on God through it all, and I would not change it for anything.


Advent Devotion: Preparing to Love

Christmas has always been my favorite time of the year. I love the decorations, I love seeing extended family from far away, and I love how people seem generally happier and friendlier in December than any other month. Growing up I also loved getting presents. The excitement on Christmas morning of unwrapping boxes to see what was inside was unmatched. As we prepared to travel on Christmas day to see family, my parents let us each pick one of our toys to bring along to keep us entertained on the way and once we got to my grandparent’s house.

Over the years that toy changed from a stuffed animal to a beanie baby, or a magnetic building block set, a new book, a Gameboy, and eventually to a cell phone. The point of these toys was to make my sisters and I happy. The older I got, however, the less I wanted a new toy at Christmas. My new favorite part of the season was getting to see my aunts and uncles for a few days out of the year, catching up with my cousins to see how they were doing, and listening to my grandfather’s stories about his interesting life.

As my grandparents got older I realized that the toys and cell phones and social media will always be there, but they won’t. The presents don’t mean as much to me anymore as the people I am surrounded by at Christmastime. So now, as an adult, I still love Christmas. It is a great time to get together with friends, old and new, and check in on each other. It is the perfect chance to spend quality time with family that we normally pass right by in the chaos of day to day living. It is a wonderful reminder of all of the people and blessings that God has placed in our lives, throughout all seasons of the year, and to be grateful for all that we have.

By Summer Swango

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~Romans 8:38-39

The depth of God’s love for us is revealed so beautifully in the birth of Jesus. He was sent to dwell among us and to show us what it looks like to truly love others. The Advent Season provides us with both an opportunity to be among those who love us and to outwardly show the love of Christ to others.

Which loved ones do you get to spend time with this Advent Season? How can you make that time together most meaningful?

Spend some time reflecting upon how you can show the love of Christ to friends, neighbors, and strangers. In these last few days of Advent, how can you be preparing to share Christ’s love?

Advent Devotion: The Joy of Preparation

Our Christmas season starts each year on Thanksgiving night Brothers, fathers, sons, and nephews—it’s really quite a site. The men do the dishes and to the lady’s earbuds peril
Sing each and every verse of every Christmas carol.

From that point on the only songs playing or on anybody’s voice
Is Christmas music, ‘cause that’s the music that’s everybody’s choice. The nativity scene is ready to go except for the wise men three
Each day they move a bit closer across the room on their epic journey.

Three pairs of baby shoes you will easily see
They’re the parental favorite ornaments on our Christmas tree. Those gingerbread creations came from our yearly competition Each intrepid team selects a theme and builds a limited edition.

We love our Christmas brunch it brings us Christmas cheer
It’s our favorite foods with our favorite people—it’s our favorite meal of the year. In fact if we had to pick our favorite tradition of all
It’s the cooking and baking we all do together as we laugh and have a ball.

Advent is the season of preparing for our Lord
The savior of us all, the One who is most adored.
Of all the advent candles celebrating the baby boy
For us, our family traditions match best with the candle joy.

By Dean & Holly Hering

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. ~Luke 2:8-10

The shepherds were simply doing what they always did. They were doing their job, maintaining their flocks, and protecting their livelihood. When the angels came it shocked them and clearly overwhelmed them. For some of us, this is an all too familiar feeling: Shocked Christmas is less than 2 weeks away, terrified we won’t get everything done in time, and overwhelmed with the responsibility we feel is on our shoulders.

The angels calmed the shepherds with these words, “ Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all of the people.” While it might be easy for us to see that we are preparing for joy, at times we can forget that we should be preparing with joy.

What moments during the Advent Season bring you the most joy? How can you prepare physically and spiritually, not just for but with the joy that Christ brings?

Advent Devotion: Peacefully Preparing Him Room

I love Christmastime! The sights, sounds, and smells of the season spark so many memories for me. Advent in itself is full of tradition and offers us a time for reliving memories and creating new ones. But I do admit, the hustle and bustle can overwhelm me. If you’re like me, particularly during the Christmas season, your to-do list seems endless. There are places to be, gifts to buy, decorating to be done, parties to attend, meals to plan and prepare. But in all of these preparations, where on our list does preparing space for Him fall in our minds, hearts, and actions?

Traditions are important to me and to the legacy that my husband and I leave our children. They reinforce our beliefs and values or what is important to us. They allow us to connect with others, be in relationship with others. Traditions give us space, time, and room to pause and reflect and realize what matters most. For me and my family, I must make a conscious effort to keep my attitude and heart in the right place during the Christmas season, to make traditions intentional and meaningful, and to be reminded that I celebrate because the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

As I take a moment to reflect on the traditions that have become my own and those that my husband and I have adopted, adapted, and developed for our family, I first think back to my own childhood. As a young girl I have fond memories at Christmas when we would pause, be still (or as still as children could be) and read scripture and a devotion from the book, Christmas at Home by Elizabeth Swadley. We would sing carols as a family, pray individually and collectively, and light the advent candles set upon a wooden advent wreath that was carved with images of the manger scene. As a child I was included in the tradition. My voice was recognized and welcomed. Now, as an adult and mother of two children, I have adopted this same practice with my own family using the same book and advent wreath gifted to us from my parents. It still serves as a reminder to me to prepare Him room, to slow down, to listen to one another, to pay attention to what the Holy Spirit is saying, and in the process, to build our bond with one another and with Christ.

Another intentional step we take to prepare for the advent season as a family of four is to choose and cut our own Christmas tree. For the last seven years we have celebrated Thanksgiving in the NC Mountains and as part of this tradition we bundle up and go out to a Christmas tree farm to find our family tree. While it can sometimes be seen as a box to check off that holiday to-do list, we try to make it more – for ourselves and for our children. First, we give thanks for time as a family. We are grateful to be outside, enjoying God’s creation. Some years, like this one, we find our tree right away, but instead of rushing to get back to our car, we pause, we take in the sights of other families looking for their trees. We talk with others – hearing more about their new or longtime tradition of finding a Christmas tree. It reminds us that memories are being made in these face-to-face moments with the members of our family and with those we meet. We look forward with anticipation, rather than expectation of what’s to come for the season ahead – whose path we might cross, the distractions we may face, and we are reminded – on that quiet mountain – to see even the smallest of things that God has in store for us.

I must make an intentional decision each day, and especially at Advent, not to let my list rob me of these special moments and the surprises that God has for me and my family along the way. I pray that the Lord will help me find stillness and contentment in the quiet. I pray for peace, His peace. For Jesus didn’t come to earth to bring world peace in the way that we imagine it, rather He came to bring peace to those who would call on His name.

By Dana F. Sumner

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. ~Colossians 3:15

How can you allow the peace of Christ to “rule in your hearts” during this Advent Season?

How can you prepare your home to be a place of peace amidst the chaos of the world outside?

2018 Advent Devotional: Hopefully Preparing

During the Advent season we pick up the family devotions around church. We setup our advent wreath and do devotions every Sunday evening. We go to church and watch them light the advent wreath.

Our family has a lot of nativity scenes. We have a little wooden one that our friend made, a magnetic one to go on our stove, a toy nativity scene that I use to play with, along with my brothers, and a realistic one that is complete with every single detail. We probably have even more than that. My mom lets us set them up how we want them and then you can see them at various places in our house. At church, the seniors (12th Graders) do the nativity and we always go and see it.

On Christmas Eve we go to my grandparents church. They have another nativity that all the kids can participate in. I’ve been in it since I can remember. Even now I bring my little cousins up to the front of the church, and we get to watch as other kids come up; then Mary and Joseph, and then a kid walks in with a big star. All of the nativity scenes are a good reminder of what the real purpose of Christmas is about.

By Emily Thomas (7th Grade)


But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” ~Luke 1:30-33

There is something special about seeing the nativity scene set up. Whether wooden, magnetic, toy, or live, just visualizing Mary, Joseph, and the angels gives us a sense of the hope that was in the air during these moments. As Luke describes, they were not just hoping for the birth of a child but the birth of a kingdom that will never end. A hope that prophetic words would be fulfilled through the birth of the Christ Child.

As we enter into this Advent Season, may we do so with that same sense of hope. As you set up your nativity or look at others, allow yourself to be in that moment in time, when they prepared for the birth of Jesus. Spend some time prayerfully reflecting upon the hope you have in Christ.

Leadership Retreat

WOW! A Rainy, soggy, foggy weekend. Sleeping in tents. And, snow and ice on upper Roan Mountain, NC on the last day!!  How did we manage?  Well, the first Servant Leadership retreat for the 10th and 11th graders at TBC started with a safe arrival through much rain Friday night, then really began with a wonderful mid-morning full course breakfast by Chef Christian on Saturday morning, followed by a work/discussion session on defining and identifiying traits of a servant leader.  During this session we began to understand what true listening means as a servant of God.  We then made a short excursion to Linville Caverns for a guided tour, then returned to the “Davis Resort” for lunch and another session on servant leadership. This session was unique in that the boys and girls were separated to discuss what gender specific leaders during the life of Jesus did as servants in the Bible.  This was a great opportunity for the gender student groups to be more intentional identifying individuals in the Bible that they could look to as a models of servant leadership and how the leaders during the days of Jesus can help us understand this servant leadership concept better.  The roles and perspectives of these leaders, whether subtly or intentionally directed, are Biblical references for the students to learn from. The afternoon was so soggy that we just did an outing to a local general store in Roan Mountain to support the economy and get out for a bit.  After a great dinner, championed by Chef Christian and his assistant Chef Ashley, of grilled hamburgers, fire pit hotdogs, and baked broccoli and carrots and corn on the cob, we had another session on identifying the communities that students participate in and their roles as leaders in these communities. It is amazing how many different ways our students serve outside of church and the leadership roles they have assumed in these communities!  It is just so rewarding to have conversations with our students and have their perspective on different aspects of leadership.  They get it….Then Sunday morning, after another super breakfast planned and prepared by Chef Christian (and various adult assistants) the last session was on servant leadership in our own student ministry. WOW! Our students are so observant and have some great ideas of what is good and what needs improvement and how they can serve so that individuals in our student ministry can have a closer walk with God!!  They were intentional and very specific in identifying behaviors that they can assume to be better servant leaders, having a sense of accountability  and respect for what student ministry at TBC needs to be. The relational growth that developed with those in attendance at this retreat was just heartwarming and I cannot wait to see these servant leaders in action these next 2 years!!


As we left Sunday morning, we went on a journey up the mountain to see the mountain beauty at the peak.  What happened next, we were not expecting. We were stopped dead in our tracks in our vehicles due to ice on the road.  For safety, we stopped and turned around, but the majestic and beauty of that moment is one no one will ever forget. The fall colors down the mountainside, with the winter ice on the sunlit trees up the mountain, was a gift from God that was, simply glorious and breathtaking!

In retrospect, maybe this was another perspective on servant leadership; a road in life that gives us many options, choices and opportunities; we just have to recognize that as individuals, we have to do what is best for others, not what we may have set out to accomplish ourselves.  That, is servant leadership.


Laury Holley
October 2018


This summer, we spent a week at Mission Serve in Charlotte NC. While we were there we roofed, painted houses, and worshipped the Lord with people from different churches. The week we spent there proved to be a life changing experience for many reasons. For example, we spent every night worshipping the Lord in song. These services were something we have never experienced or will never forget. The services were so powerful and moving because you could feel the presence of God in the room with you as you sang. Everyone was so passionate about the songs. Every song we sang related to someone’s walk with Christ and helped us to express our faith through the music.

As a form of worship, music allows us to convey our love for Christ by lifting our voices to Him, listening to the message in the lyrics, and using music as an outlet to grow closer to God. Music can bring us out of the darkness and it reminds us of God’s mercy and grace. It can allow us to connect with God in different ways and it lets us hear what he has to say. For us personally, music is a way to use our gifts. In 1 Peter 4:10 it says, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” By leading the praise band or being involved in church choir, we are using our gift of music to praise God and lead others to praise God. Music grants us the ability to spread God’s word and share his everlasting love. In our times of need, Christian music is uplifting and a great reminder that God will never leave us. Needless to say, music is an incredible way to express our faith and strengthen our walk with God.

Blog Post by Abbi Mays and Gabbie Wray