8 Things More Fun than Writing a Paper


Hello, World!

How are you all today?

I’m currently sitting with a blank page in front of me, about 15 hours of research behind me, and 2,240 words left to write. Daunting but doable.

Maybe I’m in denial…


It is always at this moment, that I am suddenly struck by how exciting the world is, and by how many other auspicious things I could be doing instead of sitting in communal kitchen frantically footnoting sources.

Am I alone in this experience?

I think not, and so I have taken it upon myself to write down the  8 things that currently seem more exciting than writing a paper.

You may think I am procrastinating, but I am not! I am only posting a very important list of things. Very important.



1. Taking serial cartoon selfies on Photobooth, expressing your deepest feelings about scholarship, exhaustion, and chocolate.

Oh dear! Whatever shall I write about?

Oh dear! Whatever shall I write about?

I can't... I don't... thoughts are hard....

I can’t… I don’t… thoughts are hard….

WAIT! I haz idea.

WAIT! I haz idea.

Let me get my notebook to write it down!

Let me get my notebook to write it down!

Got notebook. Wait... what was the idea?

Got notebook. Wait… what was the idea?

;alkns.gv,mz .å≥ßklntn;lkn1


2. Watching full length videos of outrageously talented people’s concerts on Youtube. 

It’s amazing how many artists have full versions of their concerts online… and some with really high quality! How can one be expected to write papers when there’s richness of music to be mined in the depths of youtube?

3. Eating: 

Having just laboriously birthed a clear intellectual idea, I am suddenly taken by the realization that I am really hungry. Though process goes like this:

To eat first or to write? That is the question.

And then, what to eat? Chocolate or toast? 

That is the other question. 

Hmm… I think I’ll get toast. That’s more healthy, or… something.

*10 minutes later, toast in tow**

Wait, what was that great intellectual idea again? Something about history and cultural myth and poems… and… darnit! 2

4. Writing a blog.

It’s amazing how many deep ideas I’m having right now about everything EXCEPT World War One poetry.

5. Google searching “fluffy baby animals.”  

Exhibit A:

Cute scared puppy


3rd cup. But, no really. Tea is necessary for deep thoughts. I’m sure there’s some study out about that… right?

7. Facebook.

…Otherwise known as the blackhole where productivity goes to die.

8. Building a fort.

This was not my idea, and was suggested to me by someone sitting with me. I thought it was a particularly good idea, so I added it.


I suppose it really is time to get back to writing. In all seriousness, I am delighted and honored to have the opportunity to study and stretch my abilities here. The spirit is willing, but the intellect is distractible.

So, onward to Owen!

And to all my fellow-frantic-paper-writing-friends, I wish you intricate outlines, swift-typing-fingers, nuanced analysis, and quickly rising word counts.

Peace, Love,



A Liturgy, a Legacy


Picking a church is a funny thing. In the last two years I have lived in the diverse cultures of the Mid West, the West Coast, and England, and with each move comes the confusing process of beginning to attend a church. It’s a brave venture, especially in a different country than your own. In what other circumstance do we dress up nicely, go to a place we’ve never been, with people we’ve never met, and try to  see if it will be the proper place to attend to the most personal and profound part of our lives? I’ve heard it, the process of finding a new church, called “church shopping,” which feels strange and savors slightly of the sacrilegious. But then, I will not forsake the gathering, the longing and call for church is still there. Also, I live in a building that houses a training school for pastors, so how could I?

On Sunday I found myself eating scrambled eggs and contemplating where to go to church. As I stared at the opposite wall in that otherworldly sort of trance that comes from lack of sleep, one of the younger ordinands bounded in the swinging door, looking dangerously springy for my sombre morning mood.

“Good morning, Joy,” said Matt the ordinand with particular emphasis on my name as he gingerly snatched a bowl from the counter. Matt and I talk occasionally, and our conversations are always full of periodic translations due to our differing accents, and his general incredulity towards Americans. They are also usually fast paced and at dinner time. This whole morning business was new.

“How are you this morning? Where are you going to church this morning?”

His questions were coming like fastballs and I was hitting slow.

I stammered something out about how I was visiting a church this week with a friend, but I hadn’t settled on one yet.

“I don’t understand you students,” said Matt with an exquisitely patronizing face, “you come from America and bounce around at churches you have no connection to.”

I took a large sip of bracing tea over enthusiastically, and remarked that I really did intend to stick with a church, I just hadn’t decided which one yet. Truthfully, I had been feeling tension within myself over church shopping: surely the church that the gates of hell will not overcome is more than a Golden Corral buffet where you can choose which worship songs you like best, and how much liturgy you would like with your main course.

“You know that only several centuries ago, people were dying in this very city to worship God? It’s not about our consumerist mindset, it’s about bringing glory to Jesus.”

Matt finished his speech with finesse and a look of incredulity (one he routinely wears), and the made his way out of the room, leaving the door to swing closed.

Something about his last words stung of condescension, but I couldn’t help also feeling a pull of conviction.

I pushed away my plate and thought again about where to go to church.

Incidentally, I didn’t go to church, because I was accidentally late, and missed the group of people walking together. Perhaps it was my accident, but I don’t think it was God’s.

After playing my favorite hymns on the piano, I decided to go for a walk in the university park. The park was humming with the small but meaningful activities of life. An owner throwing a ball for his dog. An old couple walking along arm and arm talking about their grandchildren. A young girl, much like myself, sitting on a bench writing in a large book. What a keeper of stories that park must be.

I think there must be a great story with this bench...

I think there must be a great story with this bench…

Eventually, my wonderings lead me to an open chapel in Keble college. The door was open and the next service was later that night, so with a breathless push, the great doors swung into the echoey chapel.

I was not the only one there. High above me, almost in the rafters, there was an organ player practicing riffs and rings of new music. The new music slipped into the old corners of the chapel, and met in a lively timelessness. I tip toed as quietly as I could, but every noise seemed ring up to the highest gargoyle in the ceiling. I felt very small, and yet very loud.

I knelt in one of the pews, and prayed as the Organ music filled the still air of the almost empty chapel.

photo 1-3

A particularly beautiful alter piece, using the imagery of Christ in Revelation.

God bless my family, give them direction, strength and peace.

God please help those in need, those experiencing hunger and fear.

Lord, have mercy on me and let me know you better.

As I prayed, I wondered how many people had knelt like me and prayed in this very chapel. Unlike many chapels, this one was not actually all that old. Built in the 19th century, it was a product of the Oxford movement. This movement wanted to bring Oxford back to what they saw as the true tenants of the faith, tenants which were evident through the elaborate stained glass windows showing the story of Christ and the Old Testament. They wanted to look to their ancestors and heritage in the past, and keep Christ at the center of their lives in a new and changing time.

I want to do that too, I thought.

On my walk home, I thought back to what Matt had said to me “You know that only several centuries ago, people were dying in this very city to worship God? It’s not about our consumerist mindset, it’s about bringing glory to Jesus.”

I find that there is often a feeling of up, or perhaps un-rootedness in young American Christians. We want to know who Jesus is to us today. We want to know how to make the church relevant. We want to know the application for my life. 

Being in Oxford surrounded by history, seeing the places men and women died for what they believed, and being in a place where Christianity has played itself out over many years, has brought me to a deeper sense to the meaning of church. Church is more than just a service, it is a history. A history of passions and sins, of mistakes and politics, of repentance and victories, and a history that has gone to show that Christ will surely not abandon those who love Him.

In history we find, as one of my favorite artists titled his album, a Liturgy, a way of practicing our faith, and a legacy, a long inspiring history of people who have gone before us.

By losing our sense of the history and tradition, we create an oddly self centered church where its all about our experience of God now. Our understanding of theology as put forth by the last cool pastor. This mindset is really quite arrogant as we reject the beauty and wisdom of two thousand years of thoughtful Jesus lovers. And, sometimes I find myself in that place.

When, instead we look to History, we see Christ working.

We see how faithful Jesus has been history, and how faithful He will still be.

We see how the ancient and cherished belief of Christ died, risen, and coming again remains true and powerful for all generations, which, in my opinion, is far better than being relevant.

We see that Christ is not an application for my life, but the deepest, truest, only truth worth living and dying for.

It really is all about bringing glory to Jesus.

And, so full circle, tomorrow is Sunday, and I will choose again where to go to church. As I ponder, it does not necessarily make me want to change denominations or drastically alter my church going habits. Rather, it gives me a sense of humility, meaning, and awe… I am not the first to walk this path of dying to myself. It makes me want to peer into history, to be inspired by their faithfulness, and most of all to see the same glorious God working today as he has always worked, redeeming and making beautiful his beloved church.

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”

A lovely butterfly I found outside the church. What a gift from God.

A lovely butterfly I found outside the church. What a gift from God.

A Fanciful (and Pigeon-full) Day in Bath

Feed the Birds!!!

Feed the Birds!!!

Hello, Dear Readers!

As you may or may not have noticed, I have regrettably already managed to miss my Monday update. My apologies. It will not ( I hope) happen again.

My time has been taken up with writing two of my first papers, one of which is on Jane Austen. Being an Austenite, it is more of a labour of love than anything to write this paper. I have been excusing all kinds of Regency obsession indulgence as “research,” including reading Sense and Sensibility, listening to all the musical soundtracks, and watching multiple movie adaptations of the books.

I suffer for academia. I really do.


Conveniently, this week our program took us on a trip to Bath, a city which Jane Austen wrote about frequently in her novels. It is a gaudy Georgian city, built for the affluent gentry in the classical style. It is home to some magnificent Roman Baths dating to the first century.

It really was one of my favorite trips so far. In lieu of a longer post, here’s some pictures of the lovely adventure!

The patchwork fields on the way to Bath.

The patchwork fields on the way to Bath.

Between sleeping, reading, and looking out the window upon this magnificent view, the trip slipped by fairly quickly.The BathsThese are the naturally hot Roman Baths. They have been here for 2,000 years! Bath, as it is rather creatively named, became famous as a place for people to come and get well. Unfortunately, the water does not seem to be very nourishing in this particular pool… I think one too many pennies has been tossed in.

photo 3

Pictured here is the long row of Georgian houses. Bath was a popular vacation town for all sorts of people– even the wealthy middle class! As long as you could pay, you could stay. One of the most appealing thing about Bath was the long row of houses built by the idealistic architect John Wood. They are tall, roman, and a perfect setting for the frivolous holiday of any gossip mongering Jane Austen character.

Javert's Bridge!

Javert’s Bridge!

Are you a Les Miserables fan? This is the bridge where Javert sings his iconic song, and ends his tragic life. It seems rather astounding to me how sad the scene seems, in such a lovely place! It only goes to show how much you can do with lighting, music, and Russel Crowe.

Feed the birds!“Do you want to feed the birds?” Asked a man with a rather impressive feather hat.

“Yeah!” I said, as he poured a bit of bird feed in my hand. Before I knew it, there were pigeons on every conceivable sitt-able on-able place on my body. And they followed me too!

Rather fun.

Feather face.

It was not all fun and games.

I think I inhaled some feathers.

Of course, I was singing “feed the birds” the rest of the day.

Bath Abbey!

Bath Abbey!

To make the whole pigeon situation more perfect, It was right outside the magnificent Bath Abbey. Founded in the 15th century, this cathedral style building has a lot of history in its walls.

photo 2There is so much to learn from a stained glass window. I think I could have sat for days in front of this one window, and  more beauty and meaning would still be found there to soak up in my bones.

Well, folks! That’s all for now. I must go write my paper.

Be blessed, and find some pigeons to feed! I can guarantee it will make your day better.

Love, Peace,