Laughter is worthwhile (A-Z Blogging Challenge)

"The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter."  Mark Twain

I remember laughing a lot in college.  Looking back there aren't many things I specifically remember laughing about, but one particular moment comes to mind.

Dorm checks were on Thursday evenings.  It was relatively informal.  Every (or almost every) Thursday, an RA would check your room and make sure it was clean.  It didn't have to be spotless, but it had to be tidy enough and clean enough to be safe and healthy.  If it was not, we had to pay a nominal fine and have it up to standards by the next evening.  

My roommate the last semester I lived in the dorms was Susan.  One week, Susan and I thought it would be entertaining to fail our dorm check.  Not simply by failing to clean but by totally trashing the room.

So we did. 

Clothes, books, and other things were strewn from one side of our room to the other.  You couldn't step into the room without stepping on something.  The beds were unmade and messy.  We were not neat freaks by any means, but it was the messiest our room had ever been.

We kept our door closed for the afternoon, so that evening, Faith, one of our RAs, knocked on our door with no idea what to expect.  When the door opened, she didn't even say a word.  She stared in disbelief at the mess our room had become.  Other girls' rooms were something this messy, or nearly this messy, but they were always passable by Thursday night, so seeing such a disaster was a shock.

Obviously, we failed room checks and spent that evening and part of the next afternoon, getting our things back in order, but it was worth it.

What was the funniest thing you did or saw in college?

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Keeping doors closed and locked is important.(a.k.a. The Night The Man Came In The Dorm) A-Z Blogging Challenge

This time I just want to tell you the story of the night the man came in our dorm.

First of all, our dorms were strictly separated.  There were three dorms for the girls and three dorms for the guys.  The only times we were allowed in each others' dorms were at the twice a year open houses or during move in or move out times.

On top of that, we had curfew every night.  On Monday through Wednesday, curfew was at 11:00.  Thursdays, curfew was at 10:00.  Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, curfew was at 1:00 a.m.  The doors were locked, and no one was permitted in or out until morning, except for special circumstances.

But policies don't work one hundred percent of the time.

The following comes from what I wrote a few days after the event, while the memories and emotions were still fresh.

About four o'clock on a Sunday morning, one of the girls on my floor, "S," woke up because her overhead light was on.  There was a man in her room!  In her sleepy state, she thought that she had slept through church and there was a maintenance man in her room.  In reality, that was highly unlikely since it was a Sunday, and none of the maintenance guys would come in a room without the permission the girl(s) in the room.  But you don't always think straight when you're mostly asleep. She rolled over toward the wall to go back to sleep, figuring that since she missed church, she might as well go back to sleep.
The man saw that she was awake and walked over toward the door, toward her bed, and shut out the light.  She said that she thought he mumbled "sorry" or something similar as he did.  Then he reached down and touched her right shoulder.  She spun around, putting her back against the wall and shouted, "What are you doing?" 
He responded, "What?" 
She shouted again, "What are you doing?" 
He said, "Nothin'." 
She shouted at him, "Well, then, get out!"   
He asked her name, but of course she ignored the question and she yelled at him again to get out.  He opened the door and left her room, stepping out into the hallway. 
Her roommate, "J" was actually awake most of this time, laying in her bed, facing the wall.  At first she thought the girl was talking in her sleep until she heard the man's voice.  Then she was too scared to turn around.  As soon as the man left the room, the two girls looked at each other, amazed at what just happened.  They rushed to lock the door, then they called our dorm parents to let them know what happened.   
Mom answered the phone and spoke very calmly to the girls, and so Dad didn't realize that there was something seriously wrong.  So he was surprised when Mom disconnected with the girls then looked at him for a moment before screaming, "There is a man in the dorm!"
While Mom and Dad were taking action, S and J were also.  They started calling other girls on the floor.  When they called our room, I answered the phone.  It took me a moment to wake enough to understand what she was saying.  When I did figure it out, I rushed to lock our door, dropping the phone in the process.  Nicole was awake by then, so I began to explain to her what was going on.  Then I realized that S was still on the phone, so I picked it up, letting her know that we were safe.
We hung up and I tried to call the security guard.  I was angry that he didn't answer, but I learned later that he had already been called and was heading our direction. 
After a few minutes of sitting in our room feeling like we were playing the worst game of hide and seek ever, Nicole and I heard voices out in the hall.  We peeked out our door and saw Mom and Dad and the two girls were down the hall, so we figured it was safe to come out.  They were walking down the hallway checking doorknobs. 
 I thought they were checking to make sure all of the doors were locked, but they were looking for the man.  We had no idea where he was.  Mom had her key and was opening each door to check on the girls inside.  When she opened the next door, the man was right there pushing against it trying to keep her out.  That's when Mama Bear came out.   
We knew that "C" had gone home for the night, so "K" was in there by herself.
Mom was screaming and calling out the girl's name and still pushing against that door.

We didn't know that the girl had decided to sleep a few rooms down with another girl.  She woke up when she heard the noise, and she stuck her head out the door and said, "I'm down here; is something wrong?" 
Dad said, "Yes, get back in there and close the door."  She went back in her room, and the girl she was staying over with, "L", was awake.  She thought she was in trouble for not being in her own room. Before long, though, she found out that it was good she had stayed in another room. 
Once they knew that the man was presumably in there alone, Mom and Dad stopped trying to force their way in, figuring that containment was now a good thing.  The security guard showed up just then, and he, Mom, and Dad decided to leave him there until the police arrived. 
When the police arrived and went into the room, he was sitting at one of the girl's computers, playing a game.  He was arrested and we found out later that they had him on burglary charges somewhere else as well. 
After he was gone, K went into her room and saw that he had been looking through her things when he was there.  Also he had left things in there, including a belt [what?!?] and a cigarette butt. 
By this time, most of the girls on the floor were awake, so we went into the lobby to talk and sort out our experiences.  The security guard came back by and spoke with us about the situation as well. 
Later that week, a martial arts instructor came to the dorm lobby and taught self defense to those who were interested. 
We found out later "the rest of the story."  Sometime that early morning, there were two (!) men in a car driving on campus.  And let me tell you, OCC is not like some college campuses where the neighborhood around it blends into the campus.  It is very obvious that you're on a college campus, and there is nothing but a wooded area on the other side of campus, so they weren't just passing through..  So we're not sure what they thought they were doing, but I have a hard time believing it was completely accidental. 
 For some reason, (drunkenness and fog was part of it I'm sure) they went off the road and got their car stuck on a slope.  So the two men split up.   
One went one direction, and one went the other.  One ended up getting inside one of the boys' dorms.  The boys who found him took him out of the dorm and called a taxi for him.  End of story.  And we girls probably wouldn't have known anything about it if it weren't for the other one finding his way into the girls' dorm.

That was probably the scariest thing that happened to me in college.  What was one of the scariest things that happened to you in college?


Jesus is more important than school. (A-Z Blogging Challenge)

For being at a Christian school, it could sometimes be really difficult to live an authentic Christian life.

There were plenty of opportunities to worship.  We had chapel, including a worship time, twice a week, plus church on Sunday mornings.  Many of us were at church on Sunday nights and Wednesday nights as well.  We had worship in small group and at dorm meetings.  On any given night, you could find a group of people in a dorm lobby or porch with guitars and other instruments having a spontaneous worship time.  It was wonderful.

We studied the Bible in church.  We studied the Bible in chapel.  We studied the Bible in class.  We studied the Bible for homework.  We studied the Bible in small group.  We studied the Bible at dorm meetings.  It was wonderful.

But honestly, we were fat.  And when you eat all day every day, it's harder to appreciate a good meal.

I can't go so far to say that that kind of saturation is a bad thing, because it's not, but it is difficult to maintain the balance between intellectual study, cultural practice (because we did have a culture of our own at OCC), and real relationship with Jesus.  He's the reason we were there in the first place, but it was easy to put Him on the back burner.

There were times when I'd realize I'd spent so much time living like a Christian that I had neglected actually being a Christian.  That probably doesn't make sense to you unless you've been there, but if you've been there, please tell me about it.  How did you find yourself in that place?  How did you (hopefully) bring yourself back out of it?

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Invitations to dinner are important. (A-Z Blogging Challenge)

It didn't take me long to learn that in college, invitations to dinner are important.  You can only eat in the cafeteria so many meals in a row before you're ready for a change in scenery.  And if you're a proper college student, you can't exactly afford Olive Garden or McDonald's on a regular basis, so you have to rely on the kindness of others.

But it's really more than that.  Meals are important.  Meals were important in the Bible.  Choosing to eat with someone is significant, even if it's not as significant as it was in the Bible.  You're bringing them deeper into your life.  Working with someone or going to school with someone is one thing, but when you offer or accept an invitation to eat with someone, you're stepping out of previous roles.

If they're cooking, you're stepping into a place of trust.  Hopefully you won't get food poisoning!

But really, you're not going for the sole purpose of eating.  There is conversation--a back and forth of ideas, history, and culture.

Particularly, I think of meals I ate with people not from the United States.  My husband (who is from Barbados, an island in the Caribbean) and I knew several people from Africa, and these people had people over to eat.

This is how I learned the little bit about African food.  Forks and spoons were not allowed unless they had mercy on us.  Everything was eaten with your hands, even if it probably would have been much easier to eat with a spoon

I think the most important thing I learned at these meals is that the world is bigger than what I was used to.  Oh, I knew that, but I'm not sure I really knew that.  Experiencing it in their food, their stories, and their practice opened my eyes to my own life.  Are forks really necessary?  (Yes, I think so.)  Is the way we do church the best or only way to do church?  It also opened my eyes to my presuppositions of how other countries live.  Do Africans see lions chasing dinner outside their front doors?  Maybe some of them did, but others were from large cities bigger than our college town.  So I guess what I learned in the regard is to not make assumptions.  Assumptions make you look ignorant.

What lessons have you learned from eating with other people?

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Helping feels good (A-Z Blogging Challenge)

Spring break:  Beaches, road trips, a week relaxing at home with the family.


Week of Evangelism:  Beaches (yes, a group went to Hawaii), road trips, a week of spending time with friends and school mates to help people that need it.

Week of Evangelism (Week of E) came around every spring, at about the same time other schools were having spring break.  And honestly, it looks the same from one perspective:  the campus is empty, except for some of the staff.  But at Ozark, we were out helping people.

One year, I went to a children's home and helped out as a relief worker, giving house parents a little time to themselves.  I also spent an afternoon cleaning the inside of an oven in the multipurpose building.

Another year, I went to a wilderness retreat center and helped build a new house for the family that lived on site.  I cut dry wall, nailed it to the studs, mudded, and sanded.  I hope the house turned out okay because most of us working that week had never done it before!

The farthest I ever went for Week of E was to Chicago.  It was a great trip with a little sightseeing, but not much.  Mostly we worked.  Half of our group worked with the boot camp that was for elementary and junior high age children.  The goal was to teach them a little discipline and give them some confidence.  The last day of the boot camp, they broke small planks of wood with their hands!

The other half of our group worked with the high school kids.  The school they attended required community service hours, so our job was to help.  We cleaned up an old church sanctuary, we washed dishes at a facility that looked like it hadn't been used in a while, and we did several other things.

I have a lot more pictures from this trip, but most of them either have the kids in them, or make it look like we played and ate the whole time we were there!

 I remember talking to a couple of the high school boys that were doing their community service, and they were amazed that we were willing to pay to come up to Chicago to work during our spring break.  But helping feels good.  That's part of what made Week of E so great.

In May 2003, there was a tornado north of Joplin in a town called Carl Junction.  There was quite a bit of damage.  One of the professors at our college lived not far outside of town and had some damage on his house and in his yard.  The yard was full of tree branches.  Some of them were small enough that they could be picked up and loaded into a trailer for disposal (my job), and some of them were large enough that they needed to be cut into pieces with a chainsaw before they could be moved (not my job).  I remember hearing that several people were headed out to help, so I went along to do what I could.

There are plenty of opportunities to help people, whether it's in your own town or several hours' drive away.  It may be helping to get through the aftermath of a disaster or accomplishing something that's part of every day living.  Sometimes helping is fun; sometimes it's not.  Helping can mean hard work, but in the end it's satisfying.  Knowing that you put yourself out there for someone else feels good.

Whether big or small, what opportunities have you had to help people?


Greek is better with biscuits and gravy. (A-Z Blogging Challenge)

I took two semesters of Greek at seven a.m.

I don't recommend it.

Greek was fine.  Good,  even.   But at seven a.m.?  Eight would probably have been better.   Seven o'clock could have been rocket science or brain surgery to warm us up. (I'm kidding, but only just.)

One thing that made Greek at seven a little easier was Greek in the cafe.  Kenny Boles, our professor, offered to have class in one of the cafeteria meeting rooms on Fridays.  We negotiated, and he moved Greek in the cafe to Thursdays.   Biscuit and gravy day.  Friday was . . . well, I don't remember what was served on Fridays because it wasn't biscuits and gravy.

Getting out of the classroom and having a yummy breakfast took the pressure off and helped us to relax and learn.

What unusual things did your teachers do to help the class learn?


Friends make college (and life!) worth doing (A-Z Blogging Challenge)

My first semester of college was a little lonely.  I had some friends, but I hadn't quite found what I was looking for.

But then I met Ashley.  She and I met because of a mutual friend, and that first day we ended up at the food court telling our stories over Dairy Queen.  We're still telling stories today, by phone and text, since we are six hours apart.

Then Ashley and I discovered spades and made some new friends.  Chris, James, Magan, and Tony were our regular partners or competition.  Occasionally others joined in, but it's so much fun to play with people that you've come to understand.  Leading with a Queen before the Ace has been played is important.  Playing a high spade when a small one would do means something, too.

Then there was Matt.  He and I chatted on instant messenger, keeping each other company while we worked on homework.  We even took a road trip to Cincinnati to see his sister graduate and so I could see CCU.

And of course, there was Kassey.  I actually met her when I was a senior in high school, but we got to know each other best once I was in college.  Line dancing was on Friday night, and we both loved Fazoli's breadsticks.  She was one of my bridesmaids and is a great person to talk through your troubles with.

Becky, Lara, Heather, and I got our first place off campus together.  It was small, better suited for two, but we made it work because we could afford it on our part time jobs.  We watched Smallville gathered around a laptop because we didn't have a TV, and we hosted our own dorm "open house."

Senior year, Lara, Anthony, and I always went to Sonic for "slushy day" on Fridays because our ten o'clock class we shared didn't meet on Fridays.

Finally, there is my husband who I met in college.  Adrian makes the whole five years worth it, even though there are plenty of other reasons I'm glad to have gone to college.

There are many, many other people I could mention (so please don't feel sad if you're not on the list and should be), but you probably don't care to hear all my memories.  Just remember that friends make college (and life) worth while.  You don't have to have a bunch; you just need some good ones.  Even though I don't regularly speak to many of these people anymore, I still think of them all as friends and remember how they made my time in college that much better.

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