31 October 2009


I'm confused and angry.
Hell is a dumb idea.

If the damnation of souls is the price of free will, can it be that perhaps God places too high a value on freedom?

How can this doctrine reconcile with the God I have met who loves overwhelmingly? If he would redeem me out of the disgusting darkness of my heart, why would he not redeem someone who might be seen as "more" wicked? Is it not his desire that none should perish? Why would he not redeem all of us who in our brokenness break others, who in our death kill others, who in our baseness reject him? Why are some irresistably drawn and redeemed and others not, if it is not a result of some power or goodness or decision of our own?

The bible is really mixed-up about it too. I've been going through the New Testament trying to write down every reference to this subject to try to grasp some cohesive whole, but I've only made it through Matthew and already the confusion is overwhelming. It doesn't make any sense, and there are a lot of things that Jesus apparently said that I don't know that I can accept. They are so harsh, so unlike the mercy and love that has shattered me. They don't make any sense.

How can I entrust people I love to God, believing he loves them even more than I do, when he says things like this?

I hate it.

If you want to explain it to me and tell me why I'm wrong, I don't want to hear it right now. If you want to sit with me in the frustration and sullenness and hurt of not knowing, not understanding, please come sit with me and we'll cry together.

"The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Matthew 13:41-42

"He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." Matthew 5:45b

"But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you... But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful." Luke 6:27-28, 35-36

"'He [the master] replied, 'I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away. But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them- bring them here and kill them in front of me.''" Luke 19:26-27

"For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." Luke 19:10

"'As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day." John 12:47-48a

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." Matthew 7:13-14

28 October 2009

the two are one

He loves us. Oh, how he loves us.
How he loves us, oh.

Each person that I interact with, he made. And he loves them. Oh, how he loves them. I cling to this truth. It is the only way I can entrust them to him. I fall on my knees, crying out before him on their behalf, and at the end of the tears, I sink into the knowledge that he loves them even more than I do. If I would do anything in my power to heal them, to save them, how much more can I trust him to take care of them?

"One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard:
that you, O God, are strong,
and that you, O Lord, are loving." Psalm 62:11-12a

25 October 2009

i just want to blog, but...

I have to finish an outline in the next hour & a half so I can go to the evening service at St. Aldate's. Silly work, interfering with my Sunday. Blech.
Anyway, I know a few of you will enjoy knowing that I also went to two services at Ebbes this morning. I'm calling it the Tour de Church: Oxford Edition...
See ya'll later.

"Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Hebrews 10:19-25

22 October 2009

british fashion part one

1. It is okay for women to wear tights without pants, excuse me, trousers. No skirt, no shorts, no dress, no trousers, no long shirt... just tights. Yep.
2. It is stylish for girls to spend more time ratting their hair in the morning than it would take to brush it. I would assume that this was just lazy "how-i-woke-up"ness, if it wasn't for the fact that these girls have impeccable makeup.
3. Male style is at a significantly higher level here. (Well, people in general are much more put-together, but especially men.) Sweaters, cardigans, narrow-legged jeans, scarves, and "satchels" are not only acceptable, but worn with fantastic confidence.
4. Although everyone always looks perfectly put-together at all times of the day, there is still a degree to which anything (besides sloppiness) goes. Especially if it involves multiple seemingly-disparate (though not gaudy) layers. And you can get away with almost anything if you add a scarf.
5. Boots.
6. Floral dresses.

More to come...

"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." Matthew 6:28-29

20 October 2009


Last night I got the best letter in the galaxy from Bug!
It was the most wonderful part of my entire week.
Thanks, one whom I love! You're the best!!

"Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints." Philemon 1:7

19 October 2009

i was not warned

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We share your disappointment and greatly appreciate your understanding.
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"I will put an end to your noisy songs, and the music of your harps will be heard no more." Ezekiel 26:13

18 October 2009

breaking bread

One cold windy dark night, two young Oxford students walked down an empty street through an unknown area of town. As they neared the desolate corner, a dark figure stepped out of the shadows and approached them. The shady character introduced himself only as "Wulf", and invited them to get in his car and go to his house for dinner. As soon as they got in the car, it pulled out of town and disappeared into the night, never to be seen again...
[insert scary theme music here]
Sounds creepy, huh?
At our international student orientation the other day, Melody and I stopped by a table where an organization was signing students up to have a meal in the home of a family from a local church. We enthusiastically jumped on board, as I'm sure you can imagine.
So last night we were supposed to meet our hosts in front of Harris Manchester College. The gentleman from the organization was there as well, and introduced us to our host, whose name really was Wulf, and his wife Jane. They took us to their house, which was really cool. They live with nine other people in a community house owned by CMS (something Mission Society) in south Oxford. They are part of an experiment of sorts with the organization to see what it looks like to live in that kind of community. We ate dinner with six of them, including Wulf and Jane, and they were all really normal and kind and fun. They all have different areas of cleaning or household responsibility that they take care of, as well as a cooking rotation, a garden, and a couple chickens. It was really neat, especially because I could see myself wanting to live in some sort of intentional community someday. So yeah, it started off a little surreal, but was not nearly as creepy as it could have been. They gave us their contact information and invited us to come back sometime, so it was a good experience and fun to meet new people in Oxford who aren't students!

"They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts..." Acts 2:46b

16 October 2009

don't know what you're missing

Yesterday the girls' novice rowing team was supposed to go out for a workout in the park under the supervision of Jonathan Lafferty. No worries, right? Lottie, our women's captain, told us it was just for fun, to get the team working together out of the water. Most of the girls had tutorials or work to do, so it ended up just being Melody and Adrienne and I who went. We met Lafferty (affectionately known by the entire college as Laff or Laffy) at the Uni Parks and set off for a light jog to our area. That was fine, and the first set of sprints was fine, but by the middle of the workout I thought I was going to die. Okay, dying is very much an exaggeration, but collapse was a serious option. It wasn't that long, fifty minutes, but fifty minutes of just alternating sprints, push-ups, and sit-ups is torture my body hasn't done in two years. It was achingly, agonizingly long. But the best part about exercise is when you're done. For the next hour or two you're on a high, you feel absolutely on top of the world. It's ALMOST worth the work part. But not.

But skimming along the surface of the river as the sun rose this morning was DEFINITELY worth it. There is something about hearing the soft splash of oars sliding in and out of the water before the sun has even woken up, that secret time that ninety-five percent of humanity doesn't know exists, the daily miracle of the resurrection of the world, that is incredible. It's one of my favorite feelings in the world.

"Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said:
'Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge?
Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.
Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone-
while the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy?...
Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place,
that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it?
The earth takes shape like clay under a seal;
its features stand out like those of a garment...
What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside?
Can you take them to their places?
Do you know the paths to their dwellings?" Job 38: 1-7, 12-14, 19-20

"Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed." Mark 1:35

14 October 2009

first formal hall

Posh frocks for our first formal hall:

"I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels." Isaiah 61:10

13 October 2009

rockin' awesome weekend

This weekend was magnificent. Friday evening began with chapel, having a theme this term of "the city," which was a really neat mix of the traditional: lots of older people, piano & acoustic guitar & hand drums, everyone dressed to the nines for formal hall, and the unique: joint poetry readings, space to draw reflections of the city on the back wall, contemporary music. After chapel everyone traipsed downstairs for formal hall.

Formal hall = wicked awesome.

Formal hall is so cool at Regent's Park, I can't even imagine what it's like at somewhere really majestic like Christ Church. Every Friday evening we have an incredibly fancy dinner in the candlelit great hall, everyone wearing their academic gowns (not as cool as Hogwarts gowns, they're more like frilly black vests, but still...) and wearing posh clothes underneath. I couldn't bring myself to take photos of it, because that would have just been uncouth, but here's a surreptitious picture Melody took to demonstrate the elaborateness of the situation:

Yep, that's the butter.

So then after formal hall the JCR always has an event, and this week it was a bop, which is just a cheesy but delightful school dance that brought back nostalgia of Jewell dances. The theme was "When I grow up..." and here's Joe and Annie (who came and crashed our bop) and I as a professor, a secret agent, and a rock star:

Saturday I spent three hours exploring the University Parks again, and I didn't even make it all the way to the end of ONE of the bazillion gorgeous trails there. I meandered along...

...found a great tree to climb...

... and then had to track my way back.

Saturday afternoon Eric and I hung out at The Nosebag. I know it's referring to the sack that horses eat out of, but it's still kind of a gross name for a restaurant, don't you think? Melody and I make fun of it every time we walk by, but it's really precious on the inside, and a great place for a mug of coffee and a good talk and some British people-watching.

All of the new and visiting students are supposed to have a "college parent." Kind of like a mentor back at Jewell, just an upperclassman to take care of you and answer your questions. It actually reminds me (with only the slightest bit of revulsion... sorry my sorority friends!) even more of a sorority mom-dot relationship, the way they talk about "your dad" and "your grandmum" and "your aunt." Anyway, everyone was supposed to have dinner with their college parents on Saturday night, but we began to realize as it got near the end of the week that none of the American students had been contacted by their parents. In other words, our parents apparently didn't want us. We were as abandoned orphans, lonely waifs in the world.

Sounds like an excuse for a partay!!!

Melody and I had a grand Orphan Night pizza party at our house and ten of us probably demolished four large pizzas in under ten minutes. It was fantastic. And the best part is that we had 50% off coupons from the Fresher's Fair, so we only had to chip in three quid each. How much better does it get?

I visited Wesley Memorial Methodist for the 10:30 service on Sunday, which was fine, but not exactly inspiring, then went back to Ebbes for the 11:45 service and student lunch, which was PACKED (as in every single seat in the church was taken for the service, standing room only if you were late) and wonderful. I like that church a lot, and even though I'd like to visit a few other places, I'll probably start going there regularly.

Yesterday I worked on finishing my first paper that was due at 8 am this morning, but I also had my first comparative government lecture, my first rowing practice, and my first choir rehearsal (scads of fun). After dinner, I think the entire college crowded into the JCR to watch our very own Regent's Park team compete against Emmanuel College from Cambridge on University Challenge, a tv quizzing show. Seriously, even though Regent's Park has less than 200 students, I think they got more people to come watch a quiz competition than Jewell can get at a football game! There was some intense school spirit in the room, with cheers for our team and boos for Emmanuel and lots of laughter. Our team won, of course ;)

Well, I'm off to my first tutorial in five minutes, so wish me luck!

Oxford Love,
Megan xxx

"I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil- this is the gift of God." Ecclesiastes 3:12-13

12 October 2009


Anna Popplewell sat RIGHT in front of Melody today in her lecture. As in Susan from The Chronicles of Narnia. For real. She goes to Magdalen College here.
I am DEFINITELY going to the lecture with her next week.

09 October 2009


The brokenness and homelessness in this city is tearing me to pieces.
I went to bible study at St. Ebbe's last night, which was stellar, and met a lot of lovely people. One girl in particular, Lucy, who is one of the small group leaders, is just a dear, and took me into her friendship and sat with me for the evening. And afterward, I think I met a prophetess. Her name is Sharon, and she's apparently kind of the director of the women's side of college/young adult ministries. She sat down next to me and is one of the incredibly rare people who are able to skip the small talk of school and studies and hometown and age and all that and dive straight into exactly where my heart was at: the vulnerability of change, the grace of leaving your community behind and being alone with God, when the reality of a new place begins to stab through the vision. She looked at me like she was peering straight into my heart, but through a sheen of a love and mercy from Christ so that she could only see the tiny beautiful parts of it. What a crazy gift. I think that counts as a variety of prophecy: a supernatural insight.
Anyway, on my way to the bible study, I stopped to talk to a couple of the people out on the streets. There are so many people in the city centre area playing instruments, juggling, selling magazines, just sitting and asking for money. I was walking straight past the juggler and he said softly as I was almost past, "Might you spare a penny, miss?" And once again, my heart fell out of my body right onto the sidewalk. I stopped to talk to him while I fished all of my change out of my wallet. He told me about how he used to just beg, but picked up juggling a couple years ago from someone else and can do both the normal pins and balls. He can also juggle with fire, but he says the stuff you use to light them is too expensive. He thanked me and I moved on, a little more slowly, my eyes no longer fixed straight ahead.
I passed a few more homeless men and women, but the next one to stop me was "Big Issue? Please? It's my last one." He appeared to be in his twenties, tired and desperate, with matted red hair. I think it's a neat program, so I stopped to buy one, but all I had was a ten pound note, so I asked him for change. He went to get change from his girl, who was sitting drawing on the sidewalk with a big shoebox of chalk bits. "How much change you want? Fiver alright?" and I nodded. She fished a crumpled bill out of her pocket and handed it to me. I thanked her and stretched out my hand to take the magazine, but he stepped back, clutching it tightly. "Do ya mind if I keep it?" "Well, I'd like to read it," I responded, baffled. "But it's my last one," he whined, "and I'm trying to get enough money for my girl and I to stay somewhere warm tonight." He told me about how they'd been beaten up and robbed earlier in the week and so his girlfriend was now limping. About how he wanted to get off the streets, but right now all he could think about was tonight. About how long he'd been out there. I listened, because that's all I knew how to do for him.
On the way back from Ebbes two and a half hours later I ran into him again, in the middle of Cornmarket. "Big Issue? It's my last one." I half-smiled, "I've already bought one from you tonight." "Not possible, I'd have remembered you for sure. Please, Big Issue?" "No, I really did," I reminded him. He gave in, "Well, can you spare some change then?" I lied and told him I didn't have any more money, the fiver smouldering in my wallet. I began asking him questions, quietly, humbly, nonconfrontationally, trying to engage him like a real person. He told me some about his life, about his struggles, about trying to provide for his girl. And then we parted ways again. I was on Banbury Road when I started crying. How dare I judge his brokenness? How dare I judge him for having a girlfriend when he can't even take care of himself? How dare I judge his tangled hair, shifty eyes? How dare I lie to him? How dare I not give to him everything I have? How dare I assume that the crumpled note she handed me was probably a one, not the fiver I'd asked for? How dare I not use my social resources for him, take them back to St. Ebbes and get them some of the leftover food, ask around if anyone knew of anywhere they could stay? Why hadn't I thought of it? How dare I think that I was loving him well by conversing with him, when I had failed to do more that I could have done?
I stopped in front of my house and pulled out my wallet to examine the note in the moonlight. A fiver nestled in my hand.
I loved better today than yesterday.
I must love better tomorrow.

"Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Luke 6:30-38

08 October 2009

the british language part one

lorry = truck
chemist = pharmacist
post = mail
scone = biscuit
biscuit = cookie
cookie = subtype of "biscuit"
table football = foosball
football = soccer
crisps = chips
chips = fries
jacket potato = baked potato
cardi/cardigan = sweater
quid = pound (monetary)
brilliant = great
hole-in-the-wall = atm
doing = studying/majoring in
at = in
toilet = restroom
queries/enquiries = questions
mobile = cell
trousers = pants
posh = fancy/high-falutin'
corridor = hallway
leaflets = pamphlets
surgery = clinic
study bedroom = dorm room
fresher = freshman
cheers = this one is complicated. There is no American equivalent. I finally asked some of the girls about it last night because I didn't know when the heck it was appropriate to say and when not. They said that it's kind of an informal thank you, and can also serve as a joint thank-you and goodbye. Appropriate situations: when someone holds the door for you, when you are the man at the ice cream counter handing someone their ice cream. Inappropriate situations: when a waiter brings you food, when speaking to the Chancellor of the University. Are we all quite clear?

"In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed." Daniel 7:13-14

07 October 2009

francis of assisi

This man's life was characterized by "merry abandonment and instant obedience to any word he believed to be the command of Jesus Christ."
May I be the same.

"He replied, 'Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.'" Luke 11:28

06 October 2009

adventures in a new land

Adventures abound here. First of all, Oxford is absurdly beautiful, and I can't even go for a walk without stopping to gawk at the wondrous things around me. Second, the people are thoroughly entertaining. That's the only way I know to describe that without just telling you stories.

First, the best adventures concerning geographic location:

1. The University parks- gorgeous vast expanses of park/gardens/sporting fields/paths/river close to our house. Yesterday I thought they might also become the mysterious ghost haunts of the daring explorer Megan Kennedy who disappeared into them one bright October day and was never seen again.

I had to go to the Social Science Library in search of the books on the pre-reading list sent to me by my Comparative Governments tutor. Unfortunately, all I knew about the Social Science Library is that 1. it is somewhere in Oxford, and 2. on the map it looked like it was roughly near the southeast corner of the University parks. So I set off on an adventure. I left Regent's Park, and upon reaching the southwest corner of the parks, I began just walking along the edge of them, figuring I would eventually end up passing the Social Science Library. Forty minutes, three streets of science buildings, a narrow bike alley, a small iron gate, and some large hedges later, I found myself here,

standing on a bridge deep in the middle of nowhere scanning my options. The path I was currently on that I thought was still going in the right direction led into a large pasture backed by trees with absolutely no sign of buildings as far as I could see. There were a few ducks, but they were disinclined to provide any advice and ignored my attempts at communication. I was "litrelly" (the Brits say this all the time) out in the countryside, with no sign of civilization beyond my narrow path. The other option was what looked like a deer trail meandering along the stream. Retracing my steps was a declaration of failure, as by the time I reemerged in Oxford it would be time to head back to the college to meet Melody. So I did what all true adventurers do: I took the road less travelled by. And by "road", I mean a deer trail. I followed the trail until it faded into oblivion, then tramped though a large pasture toward the only building I could see, hoping only at this point to find a fellow human being, perhaps a friendly farmer who would let me borrow a horse to ride back. Or something.
Anyway, I trudged across this pasture and through a tall fence and found myself, of all places, in a back alley behind the dorms of St. Catherine's College! I had no idea where St. Cat's was or how on earth to get back to Regent's, but at least I would not wander for four months in the forests until I either lost my mind and tried to join the community of ducks or keeled over from eating poisonous berries!
So I made my way through the maze of dorms, intently ignoring the fact that I was walking past large window walls looking right into lots of people's rooms and even hearing some of their conversations. I victoriously made it to the entrance to the college and then slumped when I remembered that I had still failed the initial aim of my adventure and would have to go back without accomplishing anything or obtaining my books. But as I trudged down the street, still lugging my backpack, laptop, and all of my junk, in who knows what part of town, I glanced up to the right looking for a street sign and saw a large building labeled SOCIAL SCIENCE LIBRARY. Miracle!! Impossible!! God loves me immensely!!
I marched in in disbelief, registered my card, checked out my books, found out that since it's still technically vacation I get to keep them for a week instead of the normal two days, and found my way back to Regent's. I still don't know where the Social Science Library is, as I just wandered around afterwards through neighborhoods and alleys and colleges until I found myself in an alley next the the Lamb & Flag, across the street from Regent's, but I'm okay with that. Minor detail.

2. The Summertown public library branch- don't worry, this isn't as long of a story. The basic details are that it's delightful. I meandered up there on Saturday. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, cool and crisp and a little cloudy, with fall leaves everywhere, and Summertown had a really pleasant small town feel, like most of the people in the library actually lived there and weren't just students or visitors, which is more the vibe of the rest of Oxford. The British librarian lady was very nice and got me a library card and I just perused their small assortment of books and used the computer and got familiar with the place. So cute.

3. Church- went to St. Ebbe's Sunday morning, which is an old (they're all old here) evangelical Anglican church (didn't even know there was such a thing until I went). I wouldn't have known it was Anglican if someone didn't mention it afterwards, and if it wasn't for the building, which is gorgeous ancient high-traditional style. It was stellar. I loved it. I went to the 9:45 service, which apparently is the more family-attended, intergenerational service, whereas the 11:45 is mostly college students. I am so glad I did, as I feel like I've only spent time with college students for the last week and I'm tired of them. :) Age-divided services are not my thing anyway; I feel like they miss out on so much richness. This week was a children's service, so all the kids were up in the front rows sitting on the floor listening and playing their little musical instruments during worship. One of the children's workers gave the sermon on the parable of the rich fool (the one who stores up his wealth on earth and then God demands his life from him) and it was a stellar mix of really engaging the kids in the story with a puppet and a balloon man and age-appropriate illustrations, and still really bringing the message effectively to the grown-ups as well. It was surprising to me because I never expected such an old, traditional church to love Jesus so much and to be so joyfully focused on the gospel and the cross and the bible. Oxford feels like a very secular town (I'm coming from the Bible Belt, so I'm sure my perspective of the common place of religion in culture and daily life is a little skewed), with religion being so much more diversified and so much more optional than in the Midwest. I actually kind of crave talking about God, so much so that I feel like I'm on constant lookout for people to relate to spiritually. I stayed late at lunch today chatting with a ministerial student because he was telling me about his experiences as a missionary in Tunisia and it was refreshing as all get-out.

4. Blackwells- the most amazing array of books imaginable with the possible exception of the library the Beast gives Belle. Five floors of bookstore and the underground level goes on forever, with over three miles of shelves! It might just be what heaven looks like. :)

5. The JCR- where everything happens related to student life. It's great. I'm thinking of starting a campaign to get rid of the Cage at Jewell and replace it with a JCR. Seriously. Though that might be a bit of a problem on a dry campus...

6. And finally and obviously, Oxford- it is quite simply the most beautiful and awe-inspiring town I've ever been in, with just scads of history and extravagantly beautiful architecture. The oldest tower, right in the middle of the shopping area, dates to the 11th century. As in the 1000s. My mind just can't grasp that.

And now for adventures with people...

1. The Oxford nightlife is worth it just for the people-watching. Disclaimer: I promise (Mom, Dad, Grandma, all of you who look after me in some capacity) that there are many normal sane sober people, police, and street lights around in the wee hours of the morning. Many. Oxford seems to be an impressively safe town, with no bad areas as far as we've explored, and we live in a very nice area of town. All that to say that these crazy people we run across are the exception, not the rule, and should be seen as entertainment, not danger.
So anyway, Saturday night as we were walking home from hanging out and bumming internet at Joe/Maura's house in the frigid early early early morning, we first passed a girl in a sleeveless dress with no shoes or coat running down the street pulling a young man behind her by the hand who is appropriately dressed and they are both exclaiming over and over again, ignoring the pleas of the other:
Girl: "Please come to my bed! Please come to my bed!"
Boy: "You shouldn't be talking to me like that! You shouldn't be talking to me like that!"
We then passed a man huddled in a doorway who very politely but a little pathetically inquired "Might you be interested in The Big Issue?" (a magazine designed to give homeless individuals the opportunity to earn money honestly by buying copies of the magazine and reselling them at a profit on the street). When I apologetically declined, he kindly replied "That's alright love. Thank you anyway and have a good night." Everyone who asks for money here is just so polite and kind about it; it makes your heart fall out all over the sidewalk to tell them no.
Next came two men standing on a corner who boldly (and with excellent diction) called out "Hello ladies! Could you help us with our English? We're from Spain." Astonished, we set before them the fact that it was the middle of the night, but they were shocked that this could make any difference in our sympathy toward the seriousness of their plight, and so we hurriedly continued on down the street, Melody calling over her shoulder "Lo siento!"
Next, as we passed the Eagle and Child, was a group of middle-aged to older men, waltzing jollily (is that a word? it's what they were) down the sidewalk belting out a good old-fashioned drinking song. I could easily imagine them all very staidly and seriously engaged in the business world at three o'clock on a Wednesday, but late on a Saturday night, they had thrown inhibition to the winds. The loudest one reeled to the side, swinging his arm as he passed Melody, and for a moment we thought his fist was going to connect with her face, but he steadied himself and continued along with the next verse.
Finally came a very nice looking, but disheveled and confused, 30 or 40-year-old man stumbling back and forth between the street and the sidewalk with a distressed look on his face. "Excuse me, I need help." We stopped, alarmed. "I need to find the train station. Do you happen to know where the train station is?" he slurred desperately in a British accent. "We're so sorry, we just moved here, we really honestly don't know how to get to the train station. We're so so sorry." He looked at us confusedly and slumped despondently when it finally registered in his mind that we truly couldn't help him. "That's alright." he replied sadly and began to stagger off. We turned to watch him leave, heartbroken that we couldn't help him, worried about his safety. He was nicely dressed, very polite, wearing a wedding band, and we could only imagine what could bring him to this stage of intoxication in this nice area of town in the early hours of the morning. Where was his wife and what was she thinking? Where did he need to go on the train? Melody called out after him, "Hey buddy, be careful! Stay on the sidewalk, okay? I don't want you to get hit by a car." He kind of nodded and continued weaving down the street. We probably should have helped him find a cab, but we didn't think of it in time. We can only pray that he made it safely to his destination and that his life was better in the morning.

2. Crunchy Blonde- that's all I have to say about that. Apparently Melody really attracts the quality British men. :) Check out her blog for the details of the hilarious episode with this creeper.

3. Our neighbor Hannah- she's swell. The end.
No, I'll give you a bit more about her. :) She's just adorable, twenty-something, very very sweet and kind, kindergarten teacher, married to ministerial student Andy, lives in the flat above us, expecting their first child in March, invited Melody and I over the first evening we were here for tea and we just sat and thoroughly enjoyed talking to her for at least an hour and a half. Just met her husband Andy the other night, as he was gone on a trip last week. He knocked and introduced himself and explained the trash and recycling collection to us. Seemed like a really nice, fun guy, younger than I was expecting.

I love people. Even crazy people. Especially crazy people.
And I love all of you people back home who are reading this. Cheers!

"The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31:8

05 October 2009

our town

This is my town:

This is my house:

This is my room (pre-decorating, it shall improve):

This is my lovely flatmate:

This is a mystery:

"Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." Philippians 1:2

03 October 2009

lovely day

Highlights of the first day:

Melody getting proposed to by a British man
Our first invitation to tea
Meeting our adorable neighbor, Hannah
Eating Hob Nobs

It was great.

"If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast." Psalm 139:9-10