How to Host a Dinner

Estimated Ready Time: 3 min.

While certainly stemming from contemporary nihilism, “Why bother?” can be a justified question to ask. So, why do we bother hosting events like dinners, barbecues, or activities?

Because, somehow, they are worth it every time! This week, one of the LivingEd students—not me, that’s for sure—organized a “welcome back from the feast” dinner for everyone, and though it faced challenges, it was spectacular in the end. 

Life Is Challenging 

To the uninitiated, hosting a dinner may seem easy. You cook some food, people show up, and, voilà, there’s a dinner party! Somehow, though, it gets complicated. “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong,” according to Murphy’s General Law.

The plan for this particular party was to grill lamb chops—not just because lamb chops are amazing, but also because it should have been easy. The hosting student had brought some back from the Feast, so they were already purchased, waiting—even begging—to be cooked. Easy money! Well, not quite. The number of invitees was beginning to outnumber the lamb chops. So, in the midst of classes, essays, and assignments, the host had to go get more, and lamb chops aren’t exactly available at the Dollar General up the street. 

Propane’s a Pain

Gas grills are fantastic. But highly compressed molecules in the gaseous phase have a tendency to seek a lower energy state by migration to a lower pressure system. Such a physical phenomena sounds fun on paper, but is annoying when it happens to your propane; thus, we found our grill’s gas tank empty after the Feast. Murphy strikes again. Yet our host was not to be deterred and refilled the tank.

Asparagus Evades Us

Asparagus—some people hate them. Some people love them. Some people insist they must be “prepared right” or some cryptic nonsense like that. Regardless, it is apparently hard to find them in stores. Fortunately, the girls’ RA managed to obtain some before the night of the dinner. Thus, we had asparagus. 

So, why bother? When Murphy throws challenges at you, it is tempting just to let it all go and not bother. Yet if you can survive getting the lamb chops, refilling the propane, and finding the asparagus, you may just find yourself having a pretty good time, and a great dinner. 

Work Hard, Eat Hard

Somehow, when the day of the dinner showed up, it felt like the hard part had been done, at least to me—and I didn’t do anything but stress vicariously. The actual host had a lot left to do, but now that he had overcome these other obstacles, like the whole asparagus ordeal, he was not to be stopped by a little cooking and food preparation. It all came together marvelously, and with help from a few of the girls cooking and procuring drinks, everyone had a fantastic dinner. There is an odd lesson to be learned from this: Hosting a dinner is actually quite challenging! Yet the best things in life are often the hardest to get. How do you host a good dinner? You do the hard things, like getting the lamb chops, propane, drinks, and, of course, that essential asparagus.

Kaleb Johnson is a student in the Living Education-Charlotte Program. He graduated with a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville in the spring of 2022. In addition, Kaleb enjoys writing, video-making, trying new activities (anything and everything), playing chess, and debating (it’s not arguing!) with people. He currently works in the Living Education department producing written content & videos and helping with a variety of other projects.

A Day in the Living Education-Charlotte Program

Estimated Reading Time: 5 min.

Are you curious what a day in the Living Education-Charlotte program is really like?

This post is going to explore an “average” day—not a day with an activity or something exceptional going on. Why? Because a lot of thought has gone into creating a routine that encourages students to take care of themselves, learn, work, and even to have fun—and, to do this even on a “boring” and “average” day. Even if the program doesn’t interest you or is not practical for you to attend, this post is still useful as it highlights principles and actions that can be applied in anyone’s lives.

Wake Up and Go!

No day really begins until you wake up, even in the LivingEd program—although word is that Mr. McNair is coming up with some assignments for the students to do while sleeping. The students have to be at the classroom (about a 15 minute drive away) by 8:15, but a lot of preparation needs to happen before they leave, so they have to get up early! The students are encouraged to keep their beds made and their room clean—there are dorm inspections once a week to ensure the houses are in tip-top shape—and they have to be well-groomed and in dressy casual clothes for classes and work. On top of this, preparing breakfast and lunch is encouraged to save money and improve the quality of meals. Students get up at the latest of 7 am (unless they forget to set their alarms), and many are up earlier than this. While this time of the day is not exactly anyone’s favorite, making a routine that promotes good habits is critical for being productive. 

Classes Every Day 

Every day, our classes begin at 8:30 and go all the way to 12:30. Each class period is 55 minutes, allowing for four class periods every morning. With classes on all five days of the week, the 9-month program gets as much quality class time in as possible without being overwhelming. Three days a week—Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays—the program features fundamental classes on doctrine, surveying the Bible, and Christian living. On Tuesday, there is a music class (from a Christian perspective) and a writing workshop to help students develop writing and musical ability. On Thursday, the students have a class on personal finance, speech, and applying the fruit of the spirit in life. On both Tuesday and Thursday, the curriculum has one class period devoted to presentations from ministers at Charlotte and in the field. With this structure, we learn the fundamentals of biblical truth, develop musical and public speaking skills, and even get practical life advice from true followers of God’s way of life. 

Work-Study Program 

The students have the chance to work for the Church from 1:30 to 5:30. We get to work in a positive and Christian environment, allowing us to get to know the people behind the work a little bit better and to help out ourselves. The students can also get some unique job experiences. For instance, the Living Education department has students write forum summaries and Student Life posts (like this one) in addition to other intricate tasks. The Editorial department even lets some transcribe sermons. And there are more positions with more possibilities than just these available, but I am too lazy to talk to people about the details (and it’s not part of my average day anyway). 


The “average day” so far has included four hours of class and four hours of work. But our day is not over yet. Once the students head home, we are encouraged to cook ourselves dinner to save money and to be healthy—some of us (me) don’t always do that, though. But it is not all work and grinding. After class on some days, we get together in the evening and watch a movie, play games, and do homework together. Other days, we simply collapse into a blob of animate matter and sleep. But even being exhausted is good because it means we had a productive and long day, and the average evening is quite eventful with some studying or fun going on for whomever wants to join in. 


The LivingEd program gives four hours of instruction, four hours building experience working and applying God’s word in a workspace, and free-time to build quality habits and have fun. And this is just an average day! This everyday flow is meant to reinforce a foundation of godly knowledge and habits that will serve the graduates for the rest of their lives. And, it’s also just pretty fun to be in.

Kaleb Johnson is a student in the Living Education-Charlotte Program. He graduated with a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville in the spring of 2022. In addition, Kaleb enjoys writing, video-making, trying new activities (anything and everything), playing chess, and debating (it’s not arguing!) with people. He currently works in the Living Education department producing written content & videos and helping with a variety of other projects.

Student Life: This post might be corny…

Author: Kaleb Johnson | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2022-23

Estimated Reading Time: 3 min.

On a brisk and gray November day, families from Charlotte came with their kids to “Aw Shucks Farm” to enjoy a bonfire, relish some homemade food, and perambulate the corn maze.

This year, the Living Education program opted to host this autumn-themed event to provide a fun activity for local families with children, and the students were there to serve in whatever ways necessary. 

Morning preparations

It’d been a long time since I’d been to a corn maze, so when Mr. McNair mentioned the activity, I was all ears (yes, there will be a lot of corn puns). I’ll freely admit that I woke up that Sunday morning more excited for this childrens’ event than a grown man really should be. The activities didn’t start until 2:30 pm, but I arose to find the Living Ed dorms already bustling. Ellie (the women’s RA) was getting all the food together for the event. Rachel Price and Rachel White (whom we affectionately call “the Rachels” when they work together) were preparing snacks and drinks apropos of autumn.

At about 1 pm, we loaded all the food and supplies into my car; there was so much that my minivan was completely full except for the front seats. Nathan (the men’s RA) loaded his car up with students, the leftover students went with Rachel White, and we all set off for the corn maze-containing farm (there was also a point in this morning when I crawled through the crawl space examining the gas lines for corrosion, which I found. But that is irrelevant). 

A-maize-ing Activities

The farm had so much more than just a corn maze, and the corn maze itself, as Mr. McNair so eloquently stated, “had more exits than actual corn.” Yet the animal barns, the wagon rides, the fishing pond, and just the Church members there made the whole event so much fun, and the families found plenty to keep them busy for three or more hours. 

To prevent anyone from getting lost in the vast Corn Maze, the Living Ed students divided the attendees into groups and ventured in as well. This, perhaps, was overkill, as the maze resembled more of a crop circle in many places, but it was a fantastic experience by all accounts.

At 3:30, we started serving the food. The barbecue boasted many options: chili, hotdogs, hotdogs with chili, chili with bits of hotdog, and whatever combination thereof you can imagine. The Rachels also supplied apple slices with caramel, chocolate, and peanut butter toppings (I’ll let you calculate the permutations of those items). All 80 people were fed, found a nice warm seat, and fellowshipped by the bonfire pit. 

The gray November sky finally betrayed us around 5:30 and began to drizzle. This was almost precisely when the event was to end, but no one wanted to leave yet. I suppose that even great events have to end at some point. 

But It Wasn’t Over Quite Yet

The drizzle had begun and all the students meandered to the parking lot. Then, there was a stark announcement: We had a half-hour until the farm closed, and we could stay until then if we wanted. The Rachels had been serving food the whole time and had not been able to go through the corn maze. I had not been able to go see the goats in the animal barn. Many of the students had not had the chance to mercilessly barrage one another with the chicken slingshots. So, when we heard this, we literally ran back into the farm, and we relished those last thirty minutes to the maximum of our physical ability.

Kaleb Johnson is a student in the Living Education-Charlotte Program. He graduated with a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville in the spring of 2022. In addition, Kaleb enjoys writing, video-making, trying new activities (anything and everything), playing chess, and debating (it’s not arguing!) with people. He currently works in the Living Education department producing written content & videos and helping with a variety of other projects.

Student Life: A Day at the Beach

Author: Kaleb Johnson | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2022-23

Estimated Reading Time: 2 min.

On a beautiful, sunny Sunday, the LivingEd-Charlotte students took a trip to Sunset Beach and enjoyed big waves, good rays, and ocean spray; a good day away from the fray. 

Our morning began bright and early. We got on the road by 7:30 and arrived at the beach by 11:30, and we wasted no time getting the fun started. The beach was picturesquely white and wide, and the water was warm and welcoming. We soon found ourselves lost in wild waves in a blissful blurr. We crashed in, out, under, and over the rolling ripples. When we had our fill, we took back to land and ate the packed lunch. We threw a football around; we lounged in the sun and read books. Some of us even played chess on a sandy board beneath the shifting shade of the canopy. 

We paralleled the serene sea on a wandering walk as we all began to feel the fatigue that comes from swimming all afternoon. We watched the obdurate ocean continue to churn. It was a fine chance to get away from the distractions and expectations of day to day life. It invigorated and inspired us, and we left recharged and ready for the next week. 

All the LivingEd students evacuated Sunset Beach with fond memories, illumined hearts, and exhausted muscles. Before we piled into the mobile vehicles again, we stopped to finish all the food and snacks that had been brought. A few of the students even threw a frisbee around, seeking to enjoy every last drop of fun. 

Student Life: A purr-fect activity

Author: Kaleb Johnson | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2022-23

Estimated Reading Time: 2 min.

The students in the Living Education program had a lot going on over Labor day weekend.

There was a drive-in movie night on Saturday night and a black and white movie night on Sunday night. By the time Monday came around, one might think that we had run out of activities to do. Yet We most certainly had not. One of the students had the grand idea to go visit a Cat Cafe.

A Day in a Cat Cafe

Cat cafes are little coffee shops that have a lounge area for cats. People can come in and look at cats while enjoying beverages. Most often, these are used to help adopt-out kittens and young cats that are sociable and well-trained. And they raise awareness for a particular shelter that is associated with the cafe. They have become fairly popular in cities these days, and the LivingEd students wanted to see what they were like. We had reserved an hour for just our group at a cat cafe downtown, so we piled into our cars and drove into Charlotte. 

We arrived in the Arts and Entertainment District in Charlotte, NoDa, where the cat cafe is located. It was a short walk from a parking lot to the story-two building that houses the cafe. We entered the building and walked up the stairs to the second floor. The door to the Mac Tabby cat cafe was a modern design with glass and etchings, yet it congealed well with the older building. After we all plodded through the door into the cafe, we glanced over at the cat lounge, which was separated by a glass wall, and we saw about 8 cats either strolling or strewn about the room. After we made our way through a glass door into the domain of the cats, I made my way to an oddly shaped chair that resembled an egg with a collapsed top portion, a rather contemporary design. The room was kept at a brisk 45 degrees (or so it felt to me) for reasons I can only speculate on now. Perhaps it is better for the cats at that temperature with all their fur and whatnot. Maybe it makes the cats more sociable. Maybe they turned the air conditioning way down just to see what visitors would do. 

Cats! (not the musical)

The cats never swarmed us nor overpowered us with affection. Rather they reflected our own energy level, mildly exhausted and desiring sufficient time to warm-up to an environment rather than just jump in. Gradually, the cats condescended to become acquainted with us. One decided to take up camp on my lap, which was rather convenient as we were not allowed to pick them up, and I was cold. I sat and sipped my drink, quietly taking in the environment. 

The cats were given quite adorable names like: Kevin, Babe (as it was the youngest), and Ulf Ekberg, my personal favorite. Then, there was the cat named Jem.  This black cat just sat in his bed, located on top of a cat tower, and slept the entire time we were there. He poked his head up a few times and seemed to enjoy being pet, or at least did not actively hate it. Yet, he never moved from his cozy bed and slept the vast majority of the hour we were there. On the other end of the energy spectrum, there was the rambunctious adolescent cat, Babe, who played vigorously with all the toys that were spread out around the lounge. The staff at the cafe gave us a laser pointer. Then we took turns seeing if we could get Babe to jump on people by pointing the laser at them. It worked quite successfully on multiple occasions. 

Never a Dull Day

When our hour was up, we all said goodbye to our newfound feline friends and made our way out. Overall, it was a great trip, one that illustrates one aspect of the living Education experience: you are always up to something. This was not an activity planned by the Living Education program, but something the students in Living Education decided to do on our own initiative. Truly, there is never a dull moment at Living Education – Charlotte.

Student Life: Le Cinema Noire

Author: Kaleb Johnson | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2022-23

Estimated Reading Time: 4 min.

The Plain Facts of the Case

The Living Education students finished their classes on Friday, September 5th. The classes ended at a normal time, but this was no normal day. They had begun to pack up their belongings when they were startled by an announcement. Two student leaders, Ellie and Kezia, burst into the classroom. The students paused and gave them their attention. Kezia spoke first. There was going to be a movie night the following Sunday. The students were shocked. Some laughed, some cried, but most were silent. 

To understand how this event came to be, we need to rewind a few hours. Kezia and Ellie were conspiring together to torment the new students. They wanted the students to engage with the local singles scene (a terrifying prospect), and they had plan. 

After they informed us of the activity, Ellie and Kezia began to delve into the details. 

We were instructed to invite a date to attend with us, and they gave us special invitations to persuade prospective. However, there would only be that night and the following Sabbath to find someone. It was going to be a tall order. After the fact, Kezia explained to me their reasoning. They were using this event as a catalyst to “normalize” dating widely and to bring in more young people from the Charlotte congregation. In the moment, it was madness, pure pandemonium. The students became delirious. The girls stressed and said: “how do you even ask someone out?” The guys asked, “what if they all say no?” Kezia and Ellie eventually managed to restore order and explained the additional detail. The movie was to be a 1930s film—a mystery thriller: “The Thin Man.” To maximize the fun , the students, and their dates, would have to dress in black and white to match the movie. 

The Event in Question 

The Living Education students set about finding dates. They scoured the singles Bible study that night and at church the next day. Many were obliged to talk with unfamiliar brethren, and through diligent effort, most found suitable companions.

Sunday evening rolled around. The movie night was happening at the girl’s dorm, and they were a whirlwind of activity while setting up. Some of the guys showed up early to help too. By time the guests arrived, the venue was lavishly decorated, and the students offered the guests different falvors of popcorn, black and white moon cookies, and some fruit drinks (tastefully named “Murder Mystery Mocktails”). 

Once all the guests got their snick-snacks, we took our seats, and settled in for the movie. The students and guests were charmed by the film and laughed all through the evening, and the element of mystery and thrill added to the mood. The fun did not just end with the movie, but we kept conversing with our dates long afterwards. By the end of the evening, there was only one mystery remaining: when will we be doing this again?

Student Life: Visiting the JAARS Facility

Author: Caanin Fausone | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2021-22

Estimated Reading Time: 3 min.

On February 9th, the Living Education students took a trip to the JAARS facility located in Waxhaw, North Carolina.

JAARS is the acronym for “Jungle Aviation and Radio Service.” The land for the facility was originally donated in the 1960’s by businessman Henderson Belk, CEO of Belk department stores to JAARS founder Cameron Townsend to build a runway and hangar. Uncle Cam (as he is lovingly referred to by the employees today) took this plot of land and built the original building that would serve as headquarters for the work that JAARS does.

When we arrived at the facility, it looked nothing like the original humble building that “Uncle Cam” had built but was rather a bustling operation with an airfield, housing, and multiple media ventures underway. The facility now encompasses over 572 acres, 43 buildings and 4 airstrips, accommodating more than 500 employees. 

As the tour began, our guide explained the mission statement of JAARS, which is to make Bible translation and language development possible, especially in the most remote and difficult places on earth. by enabling locally appropriate and sustainable solutions in transportation, technology, media, and training. We were shown multiple Bibles in different languages. “With each”, our guide explained, “there is a specific cultural challenge to translation.” For example, in the Middle East holy books are especially ornate and are easily distinguishable from secular books. As a result, bibles written in Aramaic (a common language in that area) are also quite ornate and printed with fancy flared text on high-quality paper. 

Next, the guide brought us to the technological hub of the operation, where JAARS employees lend assistance to translators all over the world through the power of the internet. They include consideration of cultural context and the ability to review some of the more difficult translations in real-time with relevant language experts. 

Then we were shown my personal favorite area of the trip, the airfield. It’s here that JAARS keeps the planes that are able to offer much-needed supplies to its Bible translators throughout the world. The students watched the aviation mechanics at work as they repaired the various planes and made sure that the others were flight-ready. In order to make sure that the translators are provided for and well equipped to do their work, it is essential that equipment can be dropped off at almost any location worldwide. 

Lastly, the students were able to visit the Alphabet Museum and see how language developed over millennia. It truly was fascinating to the progression of our modern English alphabet and how each individual character changed over the hundreds of years it has been in use. In addition to educational material, the students also had fun posing with the various statues in a “copycat” fashion. All in all the trip was educational, enjoyable, and engaging for everyone.

Student Life: Fun in the…Snow! – Part 2

Author: Caanin Fausone | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2021-22

Estimated Reading Time: 2 min.

(This is part two of the Feb 18 post “Student Life: Fun in the…snow”)

Some friendly competition

Later that evening, the class started a new tradition with the induction of the first inaugural “dictionary game”,  a word game that challenged the students to come up with convincing-sounding definitions for obscure and bizarre English words. This year, student Ryan Price was the victor, claiming a hard-fought victory that awarded him bragging rights and a complimentary water bottle. Once again, the students were up into the wee hours of the night engaged in fruitful and lively conversation in anticipation of the following day’s activities.

Hitting the slopes

That morning, breakfast consisted of yogurt, oatmeal, and a variety of other breakfast items that fueled the students in a spirited clean-up effort. With the house cleaned and all their belongings packed, the final leg of the journey was upon them, a mountainous yet scenic drive to the nearby Beech Mountain. With an elevation of just over 5,500 feet, this mountain is the highest in the state of North Carolina and quite the tourist attraction for skiing and snowboarders alike. Thanks to the recent storm, the conditions were perfect for some recreational fun in the snow, and the activity of the day was snow tubing. The facilities set up at the resort were very beginner-friendly but still was thrilling for those who are more accustomed to speed on the slopes, especially if a “double” snow tube was selected as one’s vehicle for the day’s entertainment. At activities start, the air was a crisp, refreshing, and exhilarating 38 degrees Fahrenheit but for those who are more fair-weather fans the day delivered, warming up to a comfortable 48-degree beauty.

A picture-perfect trip

Following snow tubing, the class gathered together at the top of the adjacent hill and took a traditional panoramic photo showing the sweeping landscape. After that, lunch was served, consisting of a turkey lettuce wrap with tomatoes and topped with zesty ranch ending a great day with a tasty snack. The students piled into the car and headed back down the mountain to Charlotte and the warmth of the dorms. I know I speak for everyone when I say that the outing was well worthwhile and enjoyable for all the students.

Student Life: Fun in the…Snow!

Author: Caanin Fausone | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2021-22

Estimated Reading Time: 2 min.

On January 28th, 2022 this year’s Living Education students embarked on a journey west to the scenic mountains of North Carolina.

The journey up to the mountains was somewhat precarious with forecasted snow hitting earlier than predicted and the windy roads being mountainous. That said, the risk was well worth it as each foot gained in elevation correlated directly to beautiful scenery and cleaner air. The destination on the first day of travel was a large classically rustic home nestled in the forest of the Appalachian mountain range.  The accommodations were spacious and the atmosphere cheery as the LE students settled in and claimed which bed was who’s. With this task accomplished they moved on to the true question of the night, what was for dinner? 

Dinner, headed by this year’s lady students, was a delicious and nutritious taco salad (which I myself had plenty of) with all the fixings and toppings. The conversation was lively and good-spirited and continued into the wee hours of the night. Breakfast the following day consisted of bagels, oatmeal, and other assorted items, and the Sabbath was spent relaxing, with plenty of reading and nature walks. 

That afternoon, Mr. Jonathan McNair (the Living Education program director) gave an informative and inspiring sermonette about our brethren in Southeast Asia and the struggles they are going through in wake of the political and social unrest ravaging the area. This was followed by an inspiring sermon regarding our walk with God in the face of adversity in which he challenged us to consider how we would act if we were all alone in our walk with God. “It all starts with one person,” Mr. McNair emphasized, highlighting Noah as one of many great biblical examples of individuals who walked in the way that God directed.

Student Life: A day at the “Ren Fair”

Author: Caanin Fausone | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2021-22

Estimated Reading Time: 1 min. 30 sec.

One recent weekend, the students of Living Education-Charlotte spent a beautiful autumn evening enjoying the classic revelries of the North Carolina Renaissance Festival in the quaint town of Huntersville.

This event was especially significant because it added a framework for one of the different eras they are learning about in several different LE classes this year. Many of the students dressed up as knights, ladies, and squires from this long forgotten age, blending right into the joyous atmosphere as they feasted on turkey legs, a popular delicacy of the time. 

The events offered at the festival this year were quite expansive as well. Some of the more popular activities included; knife throwing, dungeon exploration, throwing tomatoes at a rather rude court jester, and the main event of the festival, jousting. As if this was not enough, the grounds also had many merchants that boasted every manner of wares. There were beautiful courtly dresses for the ladies and shiny ironclad suits of steel for the men. And for those who were especially interested, the displays of swords, scimitars, and daggers were tantalizing artifacts to be purchased at just-so-outrageous-a-price. 

Thanks must go out to Ryan Price (a student at LE this year) who faithfully coordinated this event and whose idea it was to attend the festival in the first place. I think I speak for all those who attended in stating that it was a worthwhile experience and that despite some trepidation at the idea of trying something a little outside of their comfort zone, it was more than a little rewarding. Maybe just maybe, the next time the festival comes into town you might catch LivingEd students walking amongst their midst.