I have this picture in my mind of Allie and I sitting in her silver Honda. It’s 95 degrees outside, but the air isn’t on because Allie doesn’t notice the beads of sweat beginning to gather on my forehead. I don’t either, for that matter, because I am so busy dramatically giving an account of a story, which, at the time, is either the funniest, most annoying, most infuriating, or most unbelievable thing that has ever happened to me. I reach up to brush a piece of hair out of my eyes, and catch a whiff of the salty, spicy, greasy goodness lingering on my skin from our recent trip to Taco Bueno. “I should be writing a paper,” I think, then quickly push the thought aside to make room for the juicy story Allie is about to spill. 20 minutes pass, then 30, and before we know it, we have been sitting in front of my little one story college house for close to an hour. The engine is running, but we don’t care….saving gas and being responsible take a back seat to our conversation. Allie can always tell when I need sympathy. She understands me like no other person I know, so I revel in her presence and soak up the encouragement she offers to me freely. I’m always right in Allie’s car. Always justified. Always sympathized with. Some people might say that saving gas is important. That doing homework in a timely fashion should be a priority. That honesty is the best policy, so telling your friend that she is overreacting is the sign of a true friendship. Not Allie. She listens. She supports. She prioritizes. She laughs with me. She understands that there is more to life that doing things the “right” way. She is deeply committed to the things she loves, and her loyalty gives me a great sense of security. She will never abandon me, just as she will never abandon one of her stories (no matter how long it is), or never abandon her love of Taco Bueno (no matter what she finds in her burrito). She is loyal to the end. Loyal to her friends, to her family, and to her God. I love riding shotgun in Allie’s car….especially when we’re not riding anywhere at all!
It’s the end of a beautiful Wednesday in Abilene. There is a slight breeze and a whisper of a cloud or two in the blue March sky. Ashley and I are sitting on our blue jean couch in the living room of our house on Morrow. I will always love that house. Soft light is pouring in through our partially covered windows, and the small pond flickers at us, still and silent, through the backdoor. We keep saying the same thing in different ways. “I should go to church tonight,” I offer half-heartedly, hoping that her response will deter me from “the right” decision. “Yeah, she replies. We should probably go.” This goes on for a few minutes, until we sheepishly smile at each and she laughingly says, “I don’t really want to go!” Relieved, I laugh, “Me neither!” Instead of engaging in worship, we opt for some therapeutic fellowship, and rush outside to pull weeds from the front flower bed. The ground is soft, but not soft enough, so we drag the hose over and flood the dark soil. With excitement fit for a 3 year old helping her grandpa in the garden, we eagerly reach our pristine white hands into the muddy soil and begin pull. We talk about life. About past hurts. About future wishes. We laugh and comment way too many times about how “therapeutic” pulling weeds is. There is a sense of accomplishment we feel, and I can’t help but think that with every weed we tug from the ground, we are also pulling tiny weeds out of our own lives.
Ashley is rational, yet sympathetic of my emotions (which is not always an easy undertaking). She is honest, yet understanding and I know that I can always count on her for the truth. She is great at pulling the weeds out of me that I can’t quite bring myself to get. What an amazing blessing it was to live with a Godly friend who not only loved me for who I was, but who also loved me enough to help me weed out my problems. Ashley, thank you for using your tools of rational insight to help me garden my life. Thanks to you, some of the most beautiful flowers in my life bloomed our senior year. (And by the way, Ash, I know that you are laughing at the corniness of this whole extended metaphor…and the fact that I just used the words “extended metaphor.”) Love you.
I nuzzle my head into the foreign pillow beneath me, rubbing the sleep from my eyes. “Good morning,” Brittnie sings from the counterpart to my cozy twin bead. She is, of course, not nearly as fatigued as I am, which stirs in me both encouragement and envy. Britt is, by nature, a morning person. And when I say morning, I mean like middle-of-the-night morning. I, on the other hand, prefer to go to bed in the middle of the night.
Clothes in hand, we make the journey from the tiny Brazilian loft upstairs to a humid peach-tiled bathroom, only to find that Brittnie’s toothbrush has been moved from the sink to the shower. Mystified, we talk in hushed tones as we stifle our giggles. “What the hec?” she laughs with a smile on her face, knowing that she has no choice but to use the now communal toothbrush.
After our dental adventure, we move to the comforts of the downstairs kitchen, ready for the day. Indecision greets us, as we marvel at the spread: bananas, bread, cheese, figs, coffee, juice. What to eat? Throwing caution to the wind, we decide to try it all. After all, what happens in Brazil stays in Brazil. When else will we be able to eat like this?!? Our precious host mother tries in vain to explain where everything is. We don’t speak a word of Portuguese, and our host family not a word of English (save the raps of M&M frequently recited in the car by their oldest son). However, Brittnie’s sweet smile reassures everyone, reminding us that it is the language of Christ’s love that matters most, and we joyfully share in the meal together.
I love it when Britt smiles. Her smile is not only reassuring. It is genuine, comforting, and joyful. Her smile is what got me through that trip. When feelings were hurt while decorating the church, I glanced at her, and she smiled. When we made fools of ourselves while playing soccer with the neighborhood kids, I motioned to her from across the court, and she smiled. When we missed our flight home and had to spend the night in the Sao Palo airport, I turned to her through teary eyes, and she smiled. Even sharing her toothbrush with an unknown foreigner brought a smile to her face! I love that a smile is her first response in life. What an incredible example you are to all of us, Britt. You are quick to listen, slow to anger and even quicker to smile. Thank you for approaching life with the joy of Christ and for being someone I can always count on to uplift me in times of trouble. I smile just thinking about you!
My stomach was in knots as I paced the floor of my dorm room. Things hadn’t exactly worked out the way I had planned. Junior year was supposed to be the year of “firsts.” First year to live off campus, first year to live in a house, first year to have multiple roomies. Yet somehow my plans had fallen through. Little did I know that God had bigger plans for me….plans that did not involve the words “off campus,” “house,” or “roomies.” When I finally mustered up the courage to journey to second floor Sikes, I timidly approached Jamie’s room, silently praying that she would say yes. I can’t exactly remember how the conversation went, but what I do remember is that “James,” as I have come to affectionately call her, was not only accepting of the idea, but excited. And thus began the saga of James and Kathi, University Park Apartments residents.
Although the space was small, it had big personality, and we made the most of our less than perfect circumstances. Yes, my clothes were permanently piled on the end of my bed; and, yes, the giant floral arrangements from Brian filled up our entire dining room table/kitchen counter. However, I would not trade that year for anything in the world. I would not trade the plant that would not die. I would not trade the “raiding” wars with our favorite Family Guy-obsessed neighbors. I would not trade taking giant horse pills and sniffling together on the couch. I would not trade the grub costumes, handmade birthday gifts, and various other crafts that so often filled our entire living room floor. I would not trade the ridiculously embarrassing “5 minute video,” or the prank calls. I wouldn’t trade these moments because they were spent with Jamie. My silly, yet serious, supportive, yet straightforward, saint of a roomie. I would not trade her for a thousand years in a house off campus with a thousand girly roomies. She was the answer to a prayer that I didn’t know I was praying, and I will always be thankful that God placed me in that little apartment with a girl whose laugh and love for life could fill the entire complex.
Never make a decision based on a boy, unless you are married to him. To all you girls out there reading this (because I’m sure there are SO many), heed my advice. My senior year, I got into two schools. A&M and Abilene Christian. A difficult decision, you might think. But for me, the choice had already been made before I ever even opened the envelope from A&M. I would go to ACU, of course. Why? Because my boyfriend at the time was already there. Now, I did not make my decision based solely on him, but he did make up about 50% of the reasons for going.
So, with high hopes I arrived at ACU, only to find that if you spend all your time with your boyfriend, you can’t make friends. Funny how that works. The girls on my hall were great, but I craved the deep relationships I had left behind in Austin. And no amount of late night movies, or acting silly with a video camera could replace my need for depth.
Then, as if she knew what I was thinking, Jenny walked into my room one night. She lived down the hall, and I had decided that she was one of the funniest, if not THE funniest girl I had ever met. I prepared myself to be goofy, but she suddenly surprised me; with sheer sincerity, Jenny asked for my prayers and advice, leading me to partake in one of the most memorable conversations of my life. I can’t explain the joy that filled my heart after our encounter that night; I needed that honest moment so badly, and I will never forget the precious vulnerability that Jenny modeled to me.
Over the next couple of years, Jenny and I lost touch, but God was gracious enough to bring us back together again at the end of our Junior year. Not only that, but God truly blessed me when he allowed me to live with Jenny the following year. I can honestly say that I am a better person for having lived with Jenny “Fullerton.” Her humble and honest approach to life allowed her to be my confidant, and I will always treasure our late-night conversations about life. Yes, we tended to be a little dramatic at times, but it was so fulfilling to have a friend who truly understood where I was coming from; she really believed in me. Jenny makes everyone she encounters feel like they matter, and I was no exception. Thank you, Jenny, for providing me with constant support and encouragement, even to this day.
The summer between my Freshman and Sophomore in college was a summer of….well….serious stomach issues. It was one of the most difficult times in my life, but also one in which I grew a great deal. Freshman year had just short of sucked, and I wasn’t crazy about the idea of going back and kissing up to a bunch of upperclassmen who could potentially let me into their sorority. However, the idea of having friends was extremely appealing, even if it meant I had to “buy them.” Thank goodness for my obsessive nature, because despite how detrimental it tended be to my health (and the health of those around me), it certainly got me to pray a lot. I prayed and prayed and prayed. I prayed for school, for club, for roommate issues, but mostly I prayed for friends. There was one other time in my life that I had desperately cried out to the Lord for companionship: 6th grade. It had worked then, and I was desperately hoping it would now.
The summer ended, and I returned to school in nervous anticipation. Walking up the scuffed rubber steps of Sikes Hall, I rounded the corner on the second floor and headed up to my “new” 3rd floor room. Little did I know that the room I casually passed on the second floor would really end up being my “home.” I don’t know exactly how it happened, but like God always does, he answered my plea by placing an unexpected, yet familiar friend in my path. Thus, Wendi and I began our friendship.
I loved bounding down the stairs, hanging a left and quickly knocking on her large grey door before entering. There she would sit on her pastel montage of a bedspread, pants tucked into her socks, twirling away at her hair. You see, God did not only provide a friend when he brought Wendi into my life; He also provided an accountability partner. We spent hours that year sitting on her bed, talking, crying and praying together. Sharing my heart with her came so easily, but I soon found out that Wendi tended to bring that out in people. She is a true example of Christ: understanding, truthful, loving, and trustworthy. To this day, one of the first people I call to ask for prayers from, to share joys with or to simply laugh with is Wendi. She is a more amazing answer to prayer than I could have ever imagined, and I thank my God for placing her in my life.