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Jewell Dobson from Lipscomb University Volleyball team shares about her ACL injury and how her identity in being a student-athlete was challenged and later transformed.
Watch and listen to Dawson Armstrong from Lipscomb University’s Men’s Golf team share about his calling in life.
Many athletes have experienced it: the heartbreak that comes with injury. The inability to train, bond with the team, or feel the hard-earned satisfaction that comes with competing often times leaves athletes feeling dejected and frustrated. Many times, injured athletes even feel a sense of loss in their lives.
This, however, is not the end of the story.
Today we are featuring junior track and cross country redshirt sophomore, Kendra Weitz. Kendra is a distance runner from Spokane, Washington. In high school, she was a prestigious Footlocker National Finalist and held many other accomplishments in the sport. Since coming to college, however, she has been plagued by a string of injuries that have kept her from training or competing consistently. Kendra is an active leader in FCA and is known for her relentlessly positive attitude and faith in the Lord.
This is her story…
God has always been an important part of my life…So has running. I started running when I was in third grade but it wasn’t until my junior year of high school that I realized running had begun to consume me more than the God I claimed to serve.
From the beginning I knew I had talent as a runner. The more confidence I gained, the more driven I became to actualize my potential. My sophomore year of high school was a big year for me. In the fall my brother and I made it to a national cross country meet and during track my 3200 time was one of the top in the nation. But I knew there was still more in me. Nothing was going to stop me. Some days I would wake up at 5:30 to swim laps before school for extra training. Then I’d run the regular workouts with the team after school. I made assumptions about what the future would hold for me, like going to a Division 1 university with a national caliber team. I told myself I would break ten minutes in the 3200 by my senior year. What was stopping me? Nothing…nothing as far as I could tell.
My junior year of high school was another story altogether. From then until now, as a junior in college, my story has taken many twists and turns I could have never predicted (and never would have wanted to). If I told you all of the health issues and injuries I have had to overcome in the last four and a half years you may not believe me, or you may think I am a hopeless cause (I must admit I have thought that at times). And for the purpose of not writing a book, I will leave those things out for now. But the more important thing that has happened to me during this journey has nothing to do with my physical abilities or limitations but has everything to do with who I have become spiritually.
For some reason, as humans, adversity is the thing that helps us grow. In the face of hardship it is easy to shake our fists at God wondering what we ever did to deserve it. I did that for a little while. I knew he ‘had a plan’ for me and all (Jeremiah 29:11, and Isaiah 55:8-9), but why was all of this necessary? Hadn’t I learned enough the first round of hardship? Did I really need ten more obstacles to grow closer to him? Being grounded in the truth of scripture my whole life, it was easy for me to know the truth but it took me a while to completely grasp the truth about God and his goodness.
A couple years into my journey I finally began to understand God’s desire for me (and for everyone else) did not include suffering. He only wished for me to have the fullness of life he provides.
John 10:10 says that the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but God has come so that we may have life and life to the full.
There is a thief among us. His name is Satan. Unfortunately, he does have power in this world. Satan’s goal is to get as many people as possible to stop believing in God. He attempts to do this by robbing us of the good things God has given us through destruction, pain, and death. And while the devil may be plotting against us and God’s plan, God remains purely good.
God is the one who set the world in motion. He made this earth and the universe just right so that we can live in it. That’s how important we are to him. He put the breath in our lungs. He gave us family, friends, and food. He made us with abilities and passions. He has an incredible plan for our lives completely separate from anything bad. But because there is evil, he has to adapt his plan. God is so powerful that when the enemy tries to thwart his plan for us, God can turn evil on its head and weave it back into his beautiful plan…Now that’s pretty remarkable.
We have the ability to choose what we believe from day to day. In my hardships I could have stopped believing in God’s goodness and his plan. I could have accepted the devil’s whisperings that I am a failure, that God is doing this to me, and that I will never reach the end. That would have led to hopelessness. And I have to admit, I have almost been there at times.
But instead, in the darkness I tried to hold onto that little light I knew; that if I persevered through that time God had something greater than I could imagine in store for me. That’s not to say that the darkness doesn’t suck, but it is easier when you know where to fix your eyes. Isaiah 55:8-9 has been my anthem verse,
“For your thoughts are not my thoughts, declares the Lord. Neither are your ways my ways. For as high as the heavens are above the earth so are my thoughts greater than your thoughts and my ways than your ways.”
God proved this verse to be true when he brought me to Lipscomb. For years I had envisioned going to public, Division 1 university with a national caliber women’s cross country team. Due to health issues my senior year of high school, my vision for the future was completely in the air. Not only was my college running career in question but even going to college, something that had always been definite in my mind, started to become a question mark. With the help of medicine, my health improved, I even turned around to the point that I was able to run again. At that time one of the only coaches talking to me was my now coach, Coach Taylor. After speaking with him and visiting Lipscomb I realized it was where I needed to be. Coach Taylor gave me the chance to run for a Division 1 university; something I once saw as a given, and now see as an incredible blessing. God’s plan to bring me to Lipscomb was not mine. But it has been better than the plan I had imagined.
I wish I could say that my physical battles ended after high school, but that unfortunately is not the case. I have continued to have my fair share of adversity in college. I can’t say I have contributed much athletically to my team by any means, but I am grateful my identity is not contingent upon who I am as a runner. Rather, my identity is found in the One who gave me the ability to run. Running is not my own, I never earned it. And now when I run I wish to gratefully offer it as my gift back to God. This is how it should be with anything God has blessed us with.
While I wish so much to be competitive again and it looks as if I am headed that direction, God has showed me that his place in my story is not on the sidelines cheering me on and helping me be who I want to be. He is a part of my story as the Author; the one who is actively involved in my life; the one who has planned out my story, creating me to be the person He wants. Pain is necessary in this story or growth does not happen. While God is not the pain, he is present in the pain. My story has been about seeking God’s goodness despite suffering. He is fully good and I know his plans are still to prosper.
Written By: Kendra Weitz, Lipscomb WXCT
This post is written by Kelsey Fenix, a Lipscomb Athletics Associate Head Coach for Women’s Soccer. El Salvador 2016 recap – Radical Community:
I often think to myself “I have the best ‘job’ in the world.”
Our trip to El Salvador further confirmed my feelings about what I get to do here at Lipscomb, as a soccer coach.
Our staff has a passion to mentor our team, to challenge them, to encourage them, and create an environment for growth & thriving. As we seek to do this, I am finding that this team is actually doing that for me.
Our final evening in El Salvador was a time of worship and sharing about “what only God can do / has done.” I shared about a story in Mark 2: 1-11. This is a story of four men with great faith that drag their friend (a paralytic), to the feet of Jesus because they know he is the only one who heals and saves to the depth that we are in need of healing and saving. They have to push their way through a huge crowd and climb a roof and then lower this man into the house where Jesus is preaching. After Jesus heals the man, the crowd says, “We never saw anything like this!”
The crowd was in awe of the power of Jesus, and as I read this passage the other night, I couldn’t help but wonder if the crowd was in awe of these four men, too; their tenacity; their perseverance; their LOVE… all for the sake of a brother.
What I saw in my team last week in El Salvador is the same thing I see in these four men: A community of people that are changing and impacting everyone they come into contact with.
This isn’t limited to our time in El Salvador. I see this type of community here in Nashville with this team, on and off the soccer field. This team is different, and last week I was honored to see an even closer look into what God is doing in and through these young women.
A few of them had the courage to share their stories with us. After each story, there were tears of pain, hurt, abandonment, and abuse. Yet there was something else in the tears. Something even more powerful. There was hope and light and redemption.
The pictures below show four of our players who decided to be baptized on our last day in El Salvador. Pictured left to right, Coach OB, Justis, Anna, Lindsay, Dom, and Coach Kelsey. An incredibly joyful moment!
These stories are a glimpse into the Bigger Story that God is writing. These stories – and there are more – changed me. These stories are changing this team. These stories are changing everyone they come into contact with. These stories are opening doors to more freedom. These stories are creating a team culture of love, authenticity, vulnerability, hope, and joy. As I stand in the crowd watching (and, thankfully, I get a front row seat!) I see hearts being changed and I hear whispers of “we’ve never seen anything like this!”
Written By: Kelsey Fenix, Lipscomb Women’s Soccer Associate Head Coach
This is the fourth year in a row that Lipscomb Women’s soccer has returned to El Salvador on a mission trip. To read more about Lipscomb’s women’s soccer mission trip to El Salvador this year, visit this link and click on the daily recaps 1-6 to read about each day’s happenings written by different players: http://www.lipscombsports.com/wsoccer/news/
Last semester in early November, four of the Nashville Area Division 1 Athletic programs with thriving FCA groups decided to come together for one night of fellowship and worship, and it was an incredible testimony to Jesus and how He unites people regardless of any divisions that our culture may try and set. For the evening, the “Battle of the Boulevard” turned into the “Unity of the Boulevard.” Lipscomb and Belmont’s student athlete leadership teams from FCA reached out to Vanderbilt’s leadership team, and together decided it would be so cool to come together as “One City, lifting up One God.”
Shaun Dean, the Regional Director for Fellowship of Christian Athletes said,
“It was God’s vision coming alive! Seeing student athletes crush cultural barriers to worship King Jesus together, unified visibly by His Spirit, enjoying life as a family of faith proves to me that the one, true God is bringing a reawakening to Greater Nashville. Let it be Lord, Let it be!”
Following that November evening last semester, it was unanimous amongst all the colleges that we must continue to gather and meet as one, at least one time each semester, if not more during this spring semester. Additionally we felt it was imperative to invite TSU and make sure they were apart of the evening gatherings as well. So the planning began, and it was decided before the semester break that we would rotate campuses amongst the colleges as we gathered each time, beginning with meeting at Belmont next.
McCarly Thomas, a Lipscomb Softball player and FCA leader who helped lead this gathering shared that,
“God has completely blown past our expectations for this! There was something so powerful about standing next to our brothers and sisters in Christ who live such similar lives to that of our own, sharing our experiences, and so openly worshiping the same God together.”
Two weeks ago on February 16, it happened again. The Nashville area of Fellowship of Christian Athletes from Lipscomb, Belmont, Tennessee State, and Vanderbilt University gathered as one body to praise Jesus at Belmont’s Curb Event Center. It was a night of light snacks, fellowship, and worship celebrating what God is doing in each our lives, on all of our college campuses, and uniting to support and encourage one another in our shared faith, in our shared athletics.
Dylan Green from our Lipscomb Men’s Basketball team, and Abby Newby from our Lipscomb Women’s Track & Field team shared this about their evening experience at Belmont,
“I was in awe of how many people from different universities went out of their way to attend the event. I was sure it would only be a handful of people. I was completely wrong. The room was completely filled. The Spirit was present, and I’m excited for the next opportunity for us to gather together in community as the body of Christ.” – Dylan Green
“I was really pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to fellowship with athletes all over Nashville. Sometimes I find it hard to have meaningful conversation with students even from my own school, but when we all came together with a common goal, to glorify the Lord in all things, it was like we already knew so much about each other. And the Lord was definitely present.” -Abby Newby
‘For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.’ (Matt. 18:20)
Incredible. These students are seeing that it’s bigger than them. That it is bigger than their team. That it is bigger than their school. That it is bigger than sports in general. It’s all about Him.
The city-wide FCA is something that all schools hope to continue and grow. No matter the differences in uniforms worn in competition, the ultimate common bond is a love for Jesus.
“Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre. Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy. Psalm 33:1-3
To learn more about FCA visit: https://www.fca.org/
Written By Lipscomb Athletics Spiritual Formation
Facebook: Lipscomb Athletics Spiritual Formation
Sports are an incredible platform to meet new people and bridge the gap of culture differences. This past May, our Lipscomb women’s soccer team returned to El Salvador for a third year to use soccer as a platform, and allow their lives to be a vessel for the Lord to love on the people of El Salvador. Their time there, is captured on this video, take the trip with them… watch this.
The Power of Prayer
This year we have been very intentional as a department regarding PRAYER. We know God is constantly at work in our lives, and to join in the movement through prayer has been an amazing journey. At the start of the year, we asked coaches, faculty, staff, community members and anyone willing to pray for our student-athletes to participate in a prayer campaign known as “555” . Prayer cards were distributed each containing 5 student-athletes names in which recipients of the cards were asked to pray for the 5 student athletes, 5 minutes a day, 5 days a week. The stories and testimony of God’s faithfulness have been overwhelming. Below is a short glimpse capture by our very own Steve Drabyn.
Steve writes, “I have been blessed to be on staff as an Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach at Lipscomb University for almost two years. I have had the privilege to work with great people of faith here at Lipscomb, including Director of Spiritual Formation and Assistant Women’s Soccer Coach Chris Klotz. Chris developed prayer cards for our student athletes this past fall. As I’ve grown in my faith, prayer is something I have made an effort to improve upon as I have not always been proactive in my prayer life. I was excited to jump in and pick up a card to pray for 5 of our student-athletes for 5 days out of the week.
One of the student-athletes I pray for is Woman’s Softball player Taylor Neuhart. Once I received my card, I looked up each athlete to find out more information about them. I also started following them on twitter, a social media outlet that I am most active on. I have enjoyed keeping up with these athletes and getting to know them. I was hoping that I would run into them on campus at some point.
The week before finals, I was walking out of the student center and spotted Taylor I thought. I immediately asked her what her name was. As she told me her name, she was very confused as to why I was asking. I told her of the prayer cards and that I had been praying for her during the school year. As I was explaining this to Taylor, I noticed a look of gratitude come across her face. She was so genuinely thankful that a total stranger had been praying for her. We made an instant connection and I am looking forward to growing the relationship with her and the other four student-athletes. I am very thankful to God for building relationships through the power of prayer”
Thank you to the many people who pray for our athletes, coaches, competitions, and department daily. It is clear that God hears the prayers of His people and continues to work faithfully in each of our lives. Intentional Prayer will be a significant part of our athletic department moving forward, and if you would like to be involved in 555, please email Christopher Klotz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Burgers. Junk food. Video games. Time spent with brothers in Christ. Man Time.
On Tuesday, February 10, the male counterpart of Galentine’s Day, “Man Time” took place in the Hall of Fame room in Allen Arena. This night, catered to the interests of all college guys, included more than 4 projector screens set up with different video games and enough hamburgers and hot dogs to feed a small army. The purpose of the night, however, was about something much more meaningful than video games and burgers. Like everything done through Spiritual Formations, the sole purpose of every activity is to glorify our Father, to make Him known, and to form a community that believes in learning and encouraging each other to become the men (and women) that we are designed to be. We asked Alexander McMeen to recap the night from his perspective and this is what he said:
“Although I’m sure the chapel credit was nice for some, I believe God does something special each time he brings men together with the sole purpose of walking alongside one another towards Him. The older I get, and I’ve been here since David Lipscomb started growing his man-beard, the more and more valuable I see time together as brothers in Christ. That macho mask we put on for the ladies is removed. We can be vulnerable. We can be broken. We can be who we were created to be.
Ever since I read a book called Manhood Restored by Eric Mason, the subject of biblical manhood has been on my heart. Actually, it was on my heart long before I read that book, but it helped to fuel the fire immensely. Mostly because my image of what it means to be a man is far from who God calls me to be as a man. Whether you are 10 or 110, every male wants to be a man. But, society’s definition of a man is far different from our calling to be men, and trust me, I’ve put the former ahead of the latter many times. It’s frustrating. It’s exhausting. It’s unattainable.
For our man time, Klotzy brought in one of his good buddies, Cyrus Eaton, to come and speak on what it means to be a man. He asked the guys in the room what society deems as manly, and the answers were spot on: big muscles, not showing emotion, getting all the girls, etc. Turn on the TV or listen to the latest hit song and all of those points will be reiterated.
Cyrus is the definition of a MAN. He wakes up at the crack of dawn everyday to drive hundreds of miles around Nashville to pick up…recycling. The world views his job as less than appealing, but to Cyrus, it allows him to do things he wouldn’t normally do. He spends hours in a truck with guys he probably wouldn’t hang out with otherwise. He loves on them. He listens to them. He cares for them. Just like recycling takes things once tossed aside and makes them usable again, Jesus uses Cyrus to take men once tossed aside by society and makes them alive in Christ again.
His main point was this; real men are humble. Humbling yourself is remembering that your position does not entitle you to anything. Humility means meeting someone where they are at that moment in time. They need a hand up. Humility is taking everything you have, leveraging it, and elevating those who cannot. It is something that is impossible without Jesus.
I love talking about manhood because, as Cyrus said, all men can meet on the subject of manhood. There are broken walls everywhere, and our charge as men is to be wall builders. Our charge is to repair the broken walls of manhood that have been crumbling our entire lives. It can only happen with Jesus. Jesus gives life, establishes our identity, and defines our purpose.
While we have a long way to go to becoming men, it was a beautiful sight to see 60 men gathered in a room, yearning to be the man God created them to be. I boldly ask for you to pray for not only these men, but also all men, myself included. I know the difficulties society puts on manhood. I often believe the lies we are fed daily to become someone we were not intended to be. Fortunately for us, one man has the answer, and He longs for an intimate relationship with us. To that I say thank you, Jesus.”
If you are looking for somewhere to connect with a Christian male mentor, feel free to reach out to:
Christopher Klotz- email@example.com
Aaron Spragg- firstname.lastname@example.org
Kevin O’Brien- email@example.com