Monday, September 06, 2010

O to the B to the U!

Ouachita Baptist University will always hold a very special place in my heart. Ouachita (pronounced wash-i-taw) is a small liberal arts college in Arkadelphia, Arkansas and it only took one visit to a summer camp (shout out to Super Summer Arkansas!!!) on that beautiful campus for me to fall in love with OBU. I knew immediately that Ouachita was the college for me. I was so absolutely certain about it that I didn't even apply to any other school!

Things took an interesting turn for me during my first few days on campus. A hunky senior took notice of little 'ole freshman me and went to great lengths to find out my name and phone number. Click here for the longer version of that story! I ended up dating that hunky senior my entire freshman year and marrying him two years later.

After we were married, we moved out of state for John to begin seminary and (gasp!) I did not graduate from OBU. I have to remind myself of that sometimes because it honestly feels like I did. The relationships I have from my years in Arkadelphia still feel so strong. The third floor of Perrin was my first home away from home, and the friendships formed during that freshman year have endured to this day. One of those freshman friends lives just a few miles down the road from me here in Colorado! How amazing is that?

John and I had the privilege of returning to Arkadelphia after college when he was called to pastor a church there, and I got to fall in love with Ouachita all over again. Our church had a huge ministry to students and it was such a joy to get to know them and have them in our home. I love it when the Ouachita Circle arrives in our mailbox because I feel like I know so many students from decades other than the 80s/90s! It was also a joy to get to know the faculty and staff. Our next door neighbor was an OBU basketball coach, our music minister (who doesn't love Randy Garner?!?) was the Director of Admissions, our across-the-street neighbor was one of John's OBU roommates and his wife was our pediatrician! It felt like one big happy family all the time and I loved it!

I think the most profound thing I've walked away from Ouachita with is relationships that seem to continually intersect with my life. I think all OBU alumni (and friends) have similar small-world stories.

We moved to Colorado seven years ago for John to co-pastor a church with one of his OBU friends. God had other plans for us once we arrived, but I'm still amazed by the way that God used that relationship to move us across the country!

Two particular OBU friends journeyed with me through my dad's illness and death last year. We reconnected at a time when each of us were hearing the words "cancer" and "father" in the same sentence. God used those friends to comfort and sustain me in the midst of some really dark days, and I am forever grateful for their friendship. Another OBU friend of ours is a doctor in NWA and he just happened to be on call the day my dad died. His presence and prayers that morning were a gift and blessing to my family.

My sister was a year behind me in school and she also went to Ouachita. Her/our OBU friends were the first to rejoice with me when she gave birth to her baby last week! And there was much rejoicing!

God continues to allow my life to overlap with the lives of Ouachita friends. Sometimes it catches me by surprise the way He orchestrates it all, but I know it's not a surprise to Him. I'm grateful for the deep and lasting bonds that were formed at OBU. My life is richer because of them. And I would love for my children's lives to be enriched in that same way. I'll be lobbying hard for Ouachita in just a few short years. It is truly one of the most special places on earth!

I know there are lots of OBU alumni who blog! If you're one of them and want to link up or just want to read what others have to say about OBU then click HERE!

12 comments:

Carpool Queen said...

I hadn't heard about the OBU doc on call the day your dad died. That made me cry and be grateful all at the same time.

So glad that blogging has brought us all back together.

PS - Randy Garner? He's the Admissions Director who matched my scholarship from my old school and made it possible to attend OBU. I am forever indebted.

And not in debt.

Deena said...

I didn't know about the doctor either. Was is Lance?

I'm thankful to have gotten to know you you the past few years. Glad for that Ouachita connection!

Gayla said...

Meredith, though we really did not know each other well at OBU, I am thankful for that connection that later made our friendship so easy! I, too, so hope that one day our children will have some OBU memories of their own! Reading your blog has made me delightfully contemplative about college and Arkadelphia ministry! I truly love you!

*carrie* said...

Mer,

This was fun to read (and see archive photos!) Your experience sounds similar to the one my husband and I continue to have with my alma mater. Love it!

Dana said...

It is so neat to see the way God causes paths to cross! Great pictures too.

snoodlings.com said...

I recognize a lot of those sweet girls in that picture!

It's so hard to explain the OBU connection to people who haven't experienced it. Now that makes me sound all elitist, but it's just the honest truth.

And the way that OBU connection has brought people back into my life just when I needed them very most? It's nothing short of amazing. And really beautiful.

I am so grateful.

I'm in the Randy Garner fan club. He made me feel so welcome. It must have been that purple sports coat he always wore.

OhioFamOf4 said...

So awesome that you had such a good experience with your college, while you attended and after.

And in that very first picture I think you look like Debra from "Everybody Loves Raymond." :-)

Kecia said...

Reading all these OBU posts is making me so nostalgic! It is truly a special place--and I love the different ways our paths have crossed. :)

Elizabeth said...

It's been fun reading some of these OBU posts today! One of the names on the list is even familiar to me because of mutual connections in LR.

OBU was the first college I ever visited b/c some high school friends were attending. I ended up at John Brown, but the two schools have so much in common. And I love that so many of you have re-connected as "grown-ups." Relationships from college are priceless!

Angie said...

All day long I've been thinking about how John saw you and pursued you. I love that. I remember when you two started dating.

I wore my OBU t-shirt to an event here in Mozambique when we first moved here and a girl came up to me to tell her her husband was an OBU alum.....you meet Ouachitonians all over the world.

I'm so glad that we were able to reconnect in the blogging world.

Amber said...

I love how our connection wasn't through OBU but how now we share so many of those OBU connections.

For being so small...OBU has a way of bringing everyone together!!

:)

Amber said...

I love how our connection wasn't through OBU but how now we share so many of those OBU connections.

For being so small...OBU has a way of bringing everyone together!!

:)