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Do-Overs for College Students

Sometimes the freshman year of college doesn’t turn out so great. Occasionally it happens that two or three of the other years aren’t the best either. College students and their parents are finding the Gospel reaching them in new ways during these tough experiences, and Christian counseling can be especially effective with this population because these unhappy college students are so ready for change and growth.

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:


1) As hard as you try, it’s nearly impossible to fathom today’s college atmosphere. If your college-aged son or daughter doesn’t seem to be thriving, encourage counseling, but keep in mind that campus-based counselors may have an agenda that differs from your values. There are other great options in this day and age. After working with a number of college students who were in Atlanta this summer, I’ve found that for those who leave for college, FaceTime works great!

2) It’s not a bad thing that your college-aged young adult is going through a hard season and/or needing counseling. The best thing you can do is wait as patiently as possible. And in some cases, that may include waiting as quietly as possible, too. The maturity this journey will produce will be worth any sacrifices you make during this time.


If someone you care about is in college and sinking fast, let them know there are advocates who want to see them succeed. Even if they blew it for a year or two, they can have a fresh start. Those I’m working with are: learning new ways to cope with anxiety, exploring healthier friendships, securing a strong identity, setting productive goals, pursuing emotional maturity, defining better lifestyles, and discovering what the Lord is teaching them through their hardships.

Beloved Current College Students (you know who you are!) –

It’s such a privilege and delight to work with you! I’m praying for this school year and can’t wait to hear about all the ways the Lord is going to move in your life this semester and beyond. I want to come visit each and every one of you and continue to encourage you! Remember – you are released from what held you captive in the past and you are learning to walk in the new way of the Spirit! (Rom. 7:6)

Prospective College Students

I would love to work with you! And we can start in person. I can meet one-on-one with you in my office, or come to your campus. Or you may think it would be helpful if I come speak to your small group or your campus Bible study. We can customize a plan that works according to your circumstances. Whatever you think is best!  You do not have to walk as the rest of (college students) walk…being alienated from the life of God…because of the blindness of their heart…who have given themselves over to lewdness…but you can walk worthy of the calling to which you were called. (Eph. 4:17, 18, 1)


Should Everyone Go to College after High School?

The decade you’re in your 20’s has more available to you than media and college admissions departments would have you believe. In fact, “success” doesn’t have to be defined so narrowly at all. For example,

The Foto Sisters – Addie, Katie, and Gaylyn are classically trained musicians using their talents in strings, piano, and vocals to instruct young pupils, perform for various audiences, and bring God glory in all they do. They didn’t have to commit to four years of living at a university in order to work with various professors, and they already have their own teaching studios. The three of them share a Facebook page in order to remain balanced with social media, while also staying connected online. But their favorite and best communication shines forth when they are fellowshipping face-to-face with their brothers and sisters in Christ. They submit to the wise counsel of their parents as they continue to grow and develop into adulthood, and are open to any changes in direction the Lord may ask them to make. The Foto sisters are so mature, educated, accomplished, and full of character, that you’d never meet them and think they would be better off being college students.

Grace Mally – The youngest child of the Mally family, Grace grew up embedded in her family’s ministry. At a very young age, she co-authored a book with her brother and sister about forging close sibling relationships, and she spent much of her youth playing an active role hosting purity conferences under the leadership of her older sister. But Grace clearly owns her faith. She’s been blogging for 9 years already, recently published her own book, and spends her days interacting with strangers for the grand purpose of connecting them deeply to Christ. Grace Mally is so poised, well-spoken, confident, and assured of her purpose, that you’d never meet her and think she is missing a degree.

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

*You may already have such a strong sense of life-calling and be so mature, that college may not be required for you to reach your dreams (even if higher education is necessary for most 18-year old’s to accomplish their goals).

*Some fields simply don’t have the need for a college degree. Therefore, if you went to college, you’d be spending money on information not needed for your job.

*Some high schools today are as academically rigorous and demanding as college was in the previous generation. Some of you need a break and to experience the working world for a while. There are other situations where some students find the idea of going off to college to be overwhelming and need a little more time at home to grow and prepare for that next stage.

*Many colleges and universities have an overinflated price tag making them not a good return on investment. The decision for college should be made according to whether the money spent is going to pay off with the job you obtain upon graduation. Further, more and more schools are pushing an agenda that some students simply don’t want to pay money to hear. In both cases, a second look may be warranted.

*You can always go back to school later in life when you may know better what field of study you want to put your money towards. Or you may just take some classes now and look at a 4-year degree later. Also, there are some things you can do at this age that you will not be able to do when you’re older; and you may want to take advantage of them now while you have the chance, and delay full-time college until after this opportunity has passed.

*Just because college is right for the majority, doesn’t mean it’s best for everyone. If the Holy Spirit leads you, and your parents agree, you can follow a lesser traveled road like the young ladies mentioned above.

*And even if you decide to attend university right after 12th grade, it doesn’t mean you have to follow the world’s definition of a typical college student’s lifestyle. The Foto Sisters and Grace Mally are beautiful examples of young women who are experiencing life to the fullest, making impact, using their God-given gifts, and are satisfied by Christ as very young adults. There’s no reason being enrolled in college has to make you any different. Don’t let technology and culture force you into a small mold when the Lord gives you an entire universe.

“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” (1 Tim. 4:12)

College Exploration: GEORGIA COLLEGE

A rare gem in the middle of the state, Georgia College is a public liberal arts university. This means it has a private school atmosphere for the public school cost. This school of 6,000+ students is not for everyone, but it offers some unique qualities that are just right for some.


Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

Let these distinctive qualities help you decide if you’d like to schedule a visit:

  • The admissions department uses a holistic review process. From teacher recommendations to essays to demonstrated interest, this school considers a variety of reasons to admit students rather than minimum test scores.
  • By providing a liberal arts education, students are able to take courses from multiple disciplines while also pursuing their major of choice.
  • The school has liberally invested in dorms, providing popular living spaces, such as apartment style floor plans. In addition to modern spaces and amenities, rooms have been equipped to place panic calls directly to public safety officials.
  • There is an eclectic assortment of renovations and historical preservation in the town and throughout the campus.
  • It should be noted that there is no football team, but other sports programs are available, along with programs in the arts.
  • Answers to FAQs include: 60/40 female to male ratio…9 sororities & 8 fraternities…10+study abroad programs…190 student organizations & emphasis on volunteerism…new fitness center…Chick Fil A and Starbucks available on campus
  • From Atlanta, the distance is not far (2 hours or less depending on traffic), but students would want to consider rush hour when planning trips home and back.
  • Rather than waiting until the hot summer before fall semester of freshmen year for registration, admitted freshman can choose their schedule, select housing, and may already know their roommate in the spring before they even graduate from high school.

As you begin to prepare for the transition to college, you may want to pray…

  • Psalm 71:5-6
  • Jeremiah 29:11-13
  • Daniel 1:8
  • Matthew 4:19
  • Mark 4:20
  • 1 Corinthians 1:7
  • Galatians 5:25
  • Philippians 4:19
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:24
  • 2 Timothy 2:1
  • 2 Timothy 2:21
  • 2 Timothy 3:14-15
  • James 4:10

4 Reasons Abstaining from Pre-marital Sex is So Romantic

You know there’s benefits to waiting for marriage to have sex, but you sort of forgot what they are. People ask you to defend your position, but you stumble over what to say. The noisy, promiscuous messages all around you have drowned out His quiet, still voice beckoning you to focus on His very special and glorious creation of sexual intimacy within marriage.

Biblical (Romantic) Starting Point:  

  1. The whole idea is very poetic. You were made to be a separate individual for a time, and then with marriage you’re brought together as one. The two shall become one flesh…So they are no longer two, but one flesh.” (Mk.10:8)
  2. You are not doomed to a lonesome existence. Unless you are called to and equipped for celibacy, you have always belonged to one member of the opposite sex. “My beloved is mine, and I am his.” (Song of Solomon 2:16)
  3. Husbands and wives earn rights to share each other’s anatomy. Every time you keep your body covered from anyone who is not your spouse, you are protecting it to be cherished by your life-long lover. “The wife does not have exclusive authority over her own body, but the husband shares with her; and likewise the husband does not have exclusive authority over his body, but the wife shares with him.” (1 Cor. 7:4)
  4. It’s not overrated and it does feel amazing. The bedroom of a married couple can be a happening and holy place. “Let marriage be held in honor and keep the marriage bed pure.” (Heb. 13:4)

Keeping Room Tips:

  • Focus on your individual role as half of the “two.” If you attempt to become “one” with another before you are fully developed as an individual (something that is best determined by godly counsel), you will take on too much of the other person. Co-dependency, a true romance killer, can happen either before or during marriage if the timing of becoming “one” isn’t carefully considered.
  • Remember that just because you haven’t met, doesn’t mean you don’t already have a spouse. Giving your heart and body to someone to whom you aren’t married causes you to forget you are already spoken for by someone who is meant to love you until death separates you. If he or she is deserving to be your mate for life, isn’t she or he worth waiting for now? Isn’t this worth dreaming about until the right time?
  • Have fun with modesty and training your body now for future affection. Your body’s co-owner will thank you for it when you’re first married, and later, will take care of your shared body into old age, too. This is true passion.
  • Choose to believe that married sex is where it’s at. The entertainment world can’t mimic it, and no matter how close you feel to someone you are dating, there is nothing cozier than such marital coming together that it even reflects Christ and His Bride. (Eph. 6:32)

The Summer Before Leaving for College (A Resource for Families Wanting to be Prepared)

If you or your student is even close to approaching college age, this article is for you. You might think the hard part is over once you’ve been accepted to college, but be aware that the summer before leaving home can have some significant stressors. It’s also a time when you can feel a sense of having very little control. College information comes in waves, so there’s a lot of waiting and your family may feel a need to put it all into some kind of order. Even though you may feel at times that you’ll never get it all done or that your hands are tied, there are some steps you can take to feel organized and productive.

Keeping Room Tips:

Let this experience make you open for God to teach you how to wait. Waiting to find out your dorm assignment, roommate, and class schedule is wonderful practice for learning how to wait for marriage to have sex, to wait for the age of 21 to try a glass of wine, to wait until your money is saved up before you buy that first car, etc. The Lord has gone before you and made everything ready in His perfect timing.

If you are a single parent or have multiples, start extra early and consider asking a close friend, family member, godparent, etc. if they would like to play a hands-on role in your family’s life at this time. Then get together and start brainstorming.

Make a timeline of this busy summer by listing out the weekends or weeks when you have time to work on specific tasks, such as signing up for your parking spot or shopping for sheets. Creating this document is particularly stress-reducing if you and your student are working this summer and you start learning of numerous dates, deadlines, etc. from your college. As the information comes pouring in, plug various to-do’s into your timeline, and then you don’t have to think about those tasks again until that date. Some students coordinate shopping trips with friends or roommates, and this can add even more activities to your summer that you’ll want to schedule into the timeline. Also, parents may want to mark special dates on the timeline to dialogue with their students about what to expect at college and to inquire how they plan to handle various challenges. (If you want some ideas for conversation starters, click here.)

Assign roles. For example, maybe one parent is in charge of figuring out dorm dimensions, another pays the bills, and the student maintains the timeline.

Designate storage spots in your home to store graduation gifts as well as university mailings and important documents until it’s time to begin packing. This type of corralling will help you feel more on top of things and allows you to periodically take a break from college preparations to focus on making fun summer memories together as a family.

Use Freshman Orientation as a Rite-of-Passage. For many families, orientation can be overwhelming, but you can still make it a special time by viewing it from a spiritual and relational perspective. Travel time, discussions over meals, and even staying an extra night or two away from home in a hotel can provide you with a rich opportunity to make a formal shift from parenting a teen to parenting a young adult. Parents can use this event to reinforce the Christian values they’ve instilled in their child, and students can cherish this time as an excuse to get focused attention (and lots of paraphernalia from the college bookstore while they are still on mom or dad’s payroll!)

Set this summer apart as a time for everyone in the family to take another step in their spiritual growth. Pay special attention to what the student(s) in your family are feeling in terms of being overwhelmed, stressed, scared, excited, etc. and validate what a significant transition this summer truly is. Always point rising college freshmen back to their Lord and how He longs to be included in everything they feel, think, say, and do. Remind them of His promises to meet all their needs and to be their Everything. Parents, also, can take advantage of this time to learn to trust God more and release your freshmen into God’s hands, while also processing your own emotions. Throughout the summer and close to move-in-day, schedule important conversations and prayer times with one another in order to provide and receive the most support.

Apply God’s Word purposefully to this stage of life by spending extra time in the books of 2 Timothy or James. In these books, there are many great verses college freshmen can pray, or have prayed for them, such as:

  • “My son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim. 2:1)
  • “Endure hardship like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” (2 Tim. 2:3)
  • “Be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” (2 Tim. 2:21)
  • “Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace…” (2 Tim. 2:22)
  • “Continue in what you have learned…because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise…(2 Tim. 3:14-15)
  • “Consider it pure joy, whenever you face trials…because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance…(Js. 1:2-3)
  • “Do not merely listen to the Word…do what it says. (Js. 1:22)
  • “Faith without deeds is dead.” (Js. 2:26)
  • “The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and sincere. (Js. 3:17)
  • “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up. (Js. 4:10)
  • “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. (Js. 5:16)


Her First Love (Why He’s the One)

The single 19-year old girl sat on the front row in church between her parents and her married siblings. The 23-year old guy leading worship on stage caught her attention.

She felt the temptation to stare at him to see if his eyes would find hers.

But she knew she wasn’t at church to be noticed by guys or to find a boyfriend. So, she made a significant, risky decision:

She closed her eyes – the entire time he was on stage!

She took measures to put the young man out of her mind, and she meditated on the lyrics and Jesus.

How could a young girl, with normal desires and needs, surrounded by married young people, have such Confidence and Security? She knows her First Love.

Keeping Room Tips:

Prioritize Him: He instructs you to make Him your first love because He knows it’s best for you if you do. (Rev. 2:4,7)

Trust Him: Having a desire to love and to be loved are desires that God wired into your heart and intends to fulfill in your life, if you don’t get in His way. (Ps. 37:4, Ps. 138:8; Jn. 17:23)

Grasp Him: It is very easy to get distracted by everything going on in this world, take matters of your love life into your own hands, and end up in a mess – unless you hold on tight to Him. (2 Tim. 3:1-4, 9; Phil. 3:12, 4:19)

Those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. (Ps. 34:10b)