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.
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!
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.
Sunday evening at Ethos church in Nashville, TN, Kinzie Icayan made the decision of a lifetime. She sat amongst friends and teammates in a joy-filled room and water-filled horse trough professing her faith in Christ as she was baptized.
Kinzie shared: “I have wanted to get baptized for a while but I never felt like I fit the criteria. At Lipscomb especially I felt really incompetent compared to so many other students coming from a strong religious background. I prayed about it for a long time and I got a lot of support from the girls on the team. In the end I found that God didn’t want my competency. I was good enough for Him always even with my imperfections. Looking back now, I know all He has ever wanted was for me to believe that too.”
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
I came here to Lipscomb four and a half years ago with big hopes and dreams of a successful career running cross country at the division one level. to run cross country and track. After a successful freshman cross country season, I wanted more. I wanted more success, more recognition, and more glory for myself. Now, four and a half years later, my eligibility is finished. I was injured for 75% of my career and received no more personal accolades after that first freshman season. My team went on to win 4 Atlantic Sun championships without me. All glory to Him. And although my running career was not at all what I wanted or expected it to be, the Lord revealed to me that it was exactly what I needed. It is my belief in the truth of God’s sovereignty that I can honestly say, the Lord gave me more. He gave me more of Himself, more of His provision, more of His purpose, and NONE of my own glory – praise Him for knowing me better than I know myself.
During my time here, He has given me so much more. I am not my own. He has provided me with a community that resembles the community described in Acts 2. He has realigned the desires of my heart with His. The people He has provided have reminded me that I have a Hope that will never fade. He has allowed me to still be a part of a team that is completely focused on Him and I’ve gotten to see Him work in some pretty awesome ways in my teammates’ lives. His provisions are unfailing and uninterested in my own selfish desires.
In the past few years, we have been together and we have had everything in common. And by everything, I mean nothing that you would think. Yes, we are all athletes. Yes, we are all at Lipscomb. However, we are from all over the country: Tennessee, Washington, Texas, Hawaii, California, and many other states and even countries. We have completely different home lives. We have different interests, different personalities, different backgrounds, different opinions, and completely different perspectives about the world. But we have Christ. And that is everything. We are all together and we have everything in common.
Coaches have opened up their homes with the intentions of pouring into us as people and as Christians. We have broken bread with glad and sincere hearts. We have praised God from the bottom of our hearts in a freezing cold cave at the FCA retreat and in a dimly lit Allen Arena and around bonfires in the middle of campus.
Let me tell you, it’s not always beautiful, perfect, or even fun. We are carrying each other into the presence of Jesus. We are dragging each other back into God’s good and perfect will for us and away from Satan’s schemes. We are limping along in faith through struggles. And most importantly, we are walking each other HOME.
“I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country; which I shall not find til after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that country and to help others to do the same.” -C.S. Lewis
Alex Newby, G.A. Lipscomb Athletics Spiritual Formations
“My world was rocked…” Gemikal had failed out of school his freshman year and had no where to compete, until… Watch this video of Gemikal sharing his testimony with you:
Click the video to watch Niamh share her story.
“Friday was a day of sadness and confusion. Saturday is about being patient in great affliction. Sunday is about this new hope and life through Jesus for everybody.”