Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sunday Funday

Today was a definite Sunday Funday...

We had a beautiful bike ride

to this ole gem

Blenheim Palace (birthplace of Winston Churchill)

 And went to the Orvis fly-fishing festival

Picniced with these great friends

 Ate delish "vanilla and pod" ice cream by this pond

And talked a lot about how we wished all yall were here with us

So please come visit! We promise to do something fun

Monday, April 4, 2011

Lessons from the 3 hour layover at Birmingham International Airport

Maybe it is the new thing called 'sunshine' being re-introduced into my life, or the fact that the hub-cap and I have been doing some very necessary 'spring cleaning' but my soul feels revived and I am lovin it.

Jordan and I have asked ourselves countless times- "Why has God been so good to us?" "Why have we been so richly blessed?"  And as many times as we might ask Him, I think we both know better than to think we will be given a simple one-word answer. Oxford is bursting with brilliant people.  Everyone we have relationships with, interact with, or meet, is passionate, and it is infectious.  For the first time in my life, I am reading the New York Times on a daily basis just so I can keep up in conversations.  One of Jordan's first purchases when we moved here was the fabled Oxford English Dictionary to broaden his vocabulary.  We realized within seconds of arriving that we were little fish in a big pond of intellect. As many of you know, Jordan is the brains of this duo.  I often pass along all confusing, tough, hard, questions over to him because, you would too.  But God has really put it on my heart lately that I am selling myself and my capacity for knowledge short if I surrender to the fact that I am not in school currently and should therefore cease all learning.  How much more wrong could I be?

In light of dusting off my personal syllabus, God has given me some things to think about, and I couldn't help but share them.  The book Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity by Mark Batterson was lent to me by a sweet friend here in Oxford, Lindsay, and it has rocked me.  It's been one of those books that I can't go 5 pages without being so excited by whatever I just read that I have to tell/text/call Jordan ASAP or write it down so I don't forget and can share with him later.  Love those kind of books!

There is this incredible part in Primal (you should zariously read it) where Mark references Leonardo da Vinci.  Batterson's favorite description of da Vinci has nothing to do with his art or his many accomplishments, but simply as, "The man who wouldn't take yes for an answer." Meaning, da Vinci didn't like one word, simple answers.  He wanted to know why, how, where, etc. I couldn't help but stop and ponder that.  If I approach every twist, every bump, every challenge with that kind of curiosity it automatically undercuts any self made successes or failures, any self proclaimed good or bad things.... and instead becomes what did I learn from this?  I was challenged to focus less on getting out of situations and stay more focused on what I can gain from situations. Less means to an end perspective and more means to a means perspective.  Or becoming more focused on what I am learning rather than what I am experiencing (Of course not to make little of experiences, but to try and not lose sight of the lessons embedded in them)  One things for sure, God and Jordan would have to deal a lot less with 'frustrated, messy, self-obsessed Katie'.  Mark Batterson speaks on this mindset stating, "Everyone and everything becomes part of my education.  God redeems them and uses them to shape me into the person He wants me to become.  And the learning process never ends."

Moving over here has been more kinds of wonderful than I can express.  But all of you who know us well, know that is has also been very trying.  Being plucked out of our cozy comfort zones, missing our families, being too far from our friends, not having good pizza has- to put it bluntly- been like cold wet socks on a January Tuesday.

Yet, God has been so faithful to grant us new friendships here with people who have challenged us immensely.  We have been blessed to travel to new places and see things we never dreamed.  And not to answer our own question, but maybe God has blessed us with all of this so we may see the world He created in a new light.  Being in a new geographical location cannot help but change you spiritually.  I know so many of our friends who have recently made the transition out of their beloved college towns and into a new cities where they are starting a new phase of life. This is a hard time and it has been for us as well.  I wanted to share these thoughts with you because I hoped maybe it would encourage you as much as it encouraged me.  Throughout all the strange twist and turns we will face in life, we will experience a wide array of emotions.  Some probably won't go as planned, or turn out like you have hoped.  Maybe we should stop taking yes for an answer.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

End of Term

So, we are really not very good at consistent blogging during term, its a realization that has come through practice, kind of the same way someone figures out they're not good at doing english accent impersonations because they end up sounding like a country jamaican leprechaun.

Nonetheless, we would like to blame our inconsistency on our work load, we have been exceptionally busy over the past 8 weeks and if this blog is intended to inform all our friends and loved ones back home about life over here. It can be summed by one word BUSY. But not bad busy... the good kind of busy that keeps you stimulated and encouraged to work hard.

I finished my last tutorial essay this past week on the anorexic body, a topic I had never really researched very much. I am now on a 6 week spring break from classes where I start reviewing material and studying for my exams at the end of June, while concurrently organizing my ideas and plans for my research this summer back in the deep south.

Katie is continuing to work hard at her job in Rhodes House and remain the self-less breadwinner of the family, and I love her so much for that. We are starting to get more acculturated to life over here and our different schedules, we've made unbelievable friends, and life over here is beginning to feel normal. Probably the biggest component of that change is that spring is finally around the corner, just this week we saw the sun 4 times haha, and the birds are starting to sing in the trees. My expectations for the English spring are unbelievably high for 2 reasons:

1.  We've endured so much rain on this cold wet island that when the sunshine finally does come out I am convinced that it has to be incredible

2. The bar for a beautiful spring is already set pretty high considering spring in Auburn and everything that entails from azalea blossoms to 280 boogie to impromptu music jams and dance sessions on the front porch followed by trips to the 221 pool

Beyond the expectation of spring we are also very much looking forward to a vacation trip to Greece at the end of April and getting a chance to unwind a bit.

I do feel like I have a lot to talk about but I'm sure it would get boring so I'll highlight one thing. This past weekend, a couple guys decided to rent a car and drive to Belgium for a Belgian beer festival and I was very fortunate to be among them. Katie isn't a big fan of beer so she stayed behind and went to London with a friend and saw Jersey Boys and then went to the London Sunday Markets, which I'm sure she will talk about sometime on here. However, shifting back to the main continent, we got to our bed and breakfast/brewery in a little town called Watou and they provided us with crates of their home-brewed beer to sample. Pretty Great. The next day we went to one of six remaining Trappist monasteries that continue to brew beer, said to be the rarest beer in the world because its only sold at the monastery. Equally Pretty Great. Then we headed to Sint. Niklaas, home of the Zythos Beer Festival, and we tried all different kinds of beer from 60 different breweries in Belgium. Its getting hard to be better at this point. But, on the last day, we put our beer drinking aside and toured the city of Antwerp, and it certainly topped it all for my book. Coincidentally, at the Antwerp cathedral, there was an art exhibition of renaissance Flemish and Belgian painters including Reubens, Metsijs, Frans Francken, and Frans Floris. The artwork was really powerful and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Anyway, after copious amounts of waffles, frites, chocolate, and bier, we piled into the tiny volkswagon and headed back across the chunnel (which is kind of strange, you basically drive the car on to a train and the train takes you across) all quite post-apocalypitic as my friend Zohar put it.

Well thats it Hope everyone is having a great March and thanking God for the Spring being around the corner.


Jordan and Katie

Friday, February 25, 2011

Eventful Friday

Apologies for not posting in a while, no real excuses just laziness

But today was quite the eventful day so it deserves at least a post.

The day begins actually the night before when a friend calls me (Jordan) to see if I want to go for a run in the morning at 7:30. I said yes, thinking that usually when I go on runs with him they are 3 to 4 miles at a nice pace. Upon arrival at 7:30 I realize there are others joining the morning run, one of which ran division 1 cross country and she can seriously run. Needless to say, my lack of running in the past 5 weeks was not so advantageous in this brisk 8 mile run through the muddy meadow.

I finally get back home, completely exhausted with jell-O legs, to find Katie waiting to see me before she heads off to work. We say bye to each other and she walks out the door as I start stretching inside. Thirty seconds later I hear a frantic knock at the door. Katie has some how sliced through her jeans and has a 1 inch gash in her leg just above her right knee caused by somehow trying to get on her bike. With blood rolling down Katie's leg I grab the first aid and start cleaning up the wound and calling emergency to see if we need stitches. We get it bandaged up and finally head off to work/class.

Pretty eventful day as is...

I then attend some really interesting lectures on genome wide analysis of genetic obesity factors and developmental programming for obesity and Katie has a full day of event planning.

And then we grab some dinner and head to the highlight of the day Ray Lamontagne and the Pariah Dogs with The Secret Sisters

Absolutely incredible show. The new CD, God Willin' &the Creek Don't Rise, transitioned from some of his soul/folk to more country/rock and roll, but all in his own way. He covered Merle Haggard's "Mama Tried" which was awesome but, the highlights of the show were the songs off the new album "Rock and Roll and the Radio" and "Repo Man" - Every song they played was infused with pedal steel giving it a deep country feel and causing us to miss home.


But the opening for Ray was incredible... I am openly advertising, proclaiming, whatever you want to call using your blog to promote something you like. But for anyone who really likes the sounds of Patty Griffin or Allison Krause or Gillian Welch . Look no further than Muscle Shoals own Secret Sisters. Their opening for Ray was stunning. Katie and I were blown away by how beautiful they performed. After the show the sisters were meeting people by the merch table, so we went up and talked to them a little bit and they were so sweet and gracious. Anyway, check out some of there stuff T Bone Burnett exec. produced their album (T Bone also produced O' Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack, Ryan Bingham, Crazy Heart soundtrack etc.) We bought it and its great. Here's a video of them doing an original

Something about them made Katie and I miss home more than we had in a long time

Again sorry for the posting absence but we will have a  more in depth update on the last few weeks in the near future.

Jordan and Katie

Sunday, January 30, 2011


Some of you may know that I have been suffering from the craft bug this past month. Due to the sad fact that we aren't able to have everyone over for dinner to humor us about how great our crafts look(PS- yall have to come visit!) I thought I would show you a little bit of what I have spent too much time doing these past few weekends..

For the first time since we have been alive, our AU Tigers took it all the way.
How could we not show everyone on Iffley Road how proud we are?
We finally got rid of our brown-ish tweed door curtain (I cringe just thinking about it)
and made a new orange one out of fabric we found on clearance
War Eagle baby

Along with my sweet friends Leah and Claire wreath making came on the radar as Christmas craft but has since turned into a multi-seasonal joy...
We finally got around to taking down the Christmas wreath last weekend
and skipped right ahead to a Valentine's Day wreath.
With a little twine and felt, anything is possible

Growing up I had a chalk board wall in our kitchen &
Jordan and I thought it would be fun to make one here too.
We took a trip to B & Q (aka home depot) and picked up a piece of wood and chalk board spray paint
Please note Jordan is practicing his 'Super S' again.. haha

We have been meaning for months to get another bedside table for Jordan
But Jordan took things into his own hands
I knew I loved Jordan for so many reasons, but dang I had no idea 
I was going to love him for his carpentry skills too. Talk about a bonus!
Check out what he made

Last but not least..
I had been wanting to do something above our bed
With the help of my sweet mom, who sent us hankies from home,
We painted this canvas and mounted the hankies on it
It kind of makes up for the headboard, right?

Well those are all the crafts we have for you now.  But the best news yet is about to drop.... 
One of the porters at the Rhodes House, who is a great friend, heard that I enjoyed sewing.  Being the nicest person in the world that he is, he offered me his mom's old sewing machine on Friday! Seriously, I could have cried.  I told him I couldn't take it and his response was "Well, if you want it to keep sitting there for another 8 years you can walk away" haha.  So thanks to Bob we are about to enter a whole new era of crafting, I am so excited!

PS- last year, this weekend, Jordan asked me to be his wife.  Isn't it insane how much can happen in a year? God is so good.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ooops... Valentines Day Came Early

So I'll give a little background first...

For Christmas, my sweet Aunt Pappy gave Jordan and I an i-tunes giftcard that we have really been looking forward to cashing in.  Being back at home at Christmas I was reintroduced to how awesome American music is, specifically Taylor Swift.  Being our first Christmas together and still being newlyweds, I knew in the back of my mind that I should take the higher road and get a CD we both wanted.  But selfishly, knowing Taylor Swift had a new CD out, and knowing we had 15 glorious dollars to spend at the i-tunes store, I have been dropping hints for months that we should use it on the new T-Swift CD.

I don't know what came over me after dinner... maybe it was missing 36 (my roommates) and all the times we belted Taylor Swift together in our kitchen, or thinking about Will and MF and the time MaryFran and I had a 13 hour drive to Roanoke accompaied by Taylor herself,  but something hit me and I HAD to buy her new CD tonight. I HAD to. (Sound like all the stubborn little kids you babysit? I'm not proud)  I asked Jordan, "Hey why don't we just split that i-tunes gift card that Aunt Pappy gave us?" and he replied "Ah, I don't know where it is..." with a very suspicious look on his face.  But for some reason I was determined and pushed and pushed him, "Are you sure you don't know where it is?"  "Uh yeah I'm pretty sure"  At this point, I battling wanting the new CD so bad and trying not to be frustrated he didn't know where it was.  Sensing this, he got up and pretended to go look for the gift card in his desk.  I heard some rustling and even logged on to the i-tunes store and started sampling some of her awesome new songs.  Jordan came back into the room and with a sheepish smile said "Happy Valentines Day, I knew how much you wanted it" and handed me the new Taylor Swift CD.

Ahhhhhhhh.  I am a dummy, my stubbornness totally spoiled his sweet surprise.

But dang, I will not complain about jammin to my new hott tracks next to the best husband in the world! How did I get so lucky?