Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas in Our House

(Here's a pic at my house, where the only lights on are a little lamp and the tree and mantle, at 12:15 am on Christmas morning)

Hi Friends,

Christmas at our house has always been a special time. Since leaving retail (where I worked for seven years after college and only was able to come home for 3 of the Christmases), I have been able to be home for Christmas every year but one of the last five. One of the years, I traveled to Seattle and celebrated with my aunts like we used to when I lived in Seattle and couldn't take vacation because of store schedules. Anyway, every year my mom would say, "You should be here for Christmas, it could be grama's and grampa's last one!" and every year I would tease her about saying that every year, and say that I wasn't going to bow down to her guilt tactics!

Well, it turns out that last Christmas was our last with grampa, and so in thinking back on those years I got to spend with him here, I am so grateful that my mom reminded me of the fleeting-ness of life and encouraged me to come home each year - even when I didn't have much money to get here.

Christmas was the one time every year that my grandparents felt like they could take an extra day off their job and come to my parents' house in Phoenix, so it was often the only time I was able to see them each year. I was really blessed that this year I was able to see my grandparents in June (after graduation) and again in August (right before grampa passed away). The Lord really does know what we need, and I don't know that I could have managed as well if the last time I had seen grampa was a year ago.

At our house, when we were little and there seemed like there were many presents, we used to open one up on Christmas Eve. The rule was that mom and dad picked out the Christmas Eve present – so it was usually socks or slippers; something that we could wear to bed or the next morning. It was always fun to get new PJ’s for Christmas and be able to wear them Christmas morning. That tradition stopped when we were in High School, I guess, but we still have a few traditions.

On Christmas Eve, my mom makes Chicken Enchiladas for dinner (weird, but true!) and then we go to church together. Afterward, mom, dad, ben, and I, either watch a movie or play a board game. (Grama and grampa usually went to bed right after church). While we play/watch, mom and I put together our breakfast for the morning called: Sunrise Sausage Souffle. It goes in the fridge overnight, so it just has to pop in the oven in the AM and no one has to slave over a stove. My mom and I put together the stockings (we still do stockings, for all the family members, no matter what age!) and the get set out that night as we all go to bed, to open in the AM.

In the morning (now that we are older, we sleep in a little), we put on some Christmas music, open gifts, drink coffee, eat and then most everyone takes a nap… while we start working on Christmas dinner: Ham, green bean casserole, “potatoes Christine”, and fruit salad.

Its fun to have these little traditions, but also to be older and know that we can relax about it and not have to be on a schedule or try to make sure things get done at certain times. I always feel like our celebration of Christmas is a celebration of family. I know that technically, that isn’t the message of Christmas, but when I think of the baby with his parents in a manger, I think – well, at those moments, I’m sure Joseph and Mary were so grateful to God for the delivery of this little boy, and they rejoiced in their family. And so I hope the Lord is pleased that on this day when we celebrate his birth, we also rejoice in gratitude for our family: those who can be with us, those who are passed and who we will see again in heaven (my dad’s parents and my mom’s dad), and those who are far away (my dad’s sisters and their families, my mom’s sister and her family).

I am so grateful to the Lord for the men and women in my family tree. I’m grateful for the opportunity to shower them with little gifts that will bring them joy, and which are only a shadow of the gifts the Lord has for us in heaven. And I’m grateful for knowing Christ, the little baby that was sent to earth to redeem all people unto God. May our Christmas be a reflection of his presence in our midst, and also of his sacrificial love. Blessings to you this Christmas day.

Christmas Break Update!

Hi Friends,

I know its been a week or so since I last posted. After finals ended, I packed up all my cares and woes and had a great weekend in LA with friends, before heading to Phoenix for the Christmas holiday. It is a joy to be home, but this trip - as all of them lately have been - has been really busy with not a lot of "me" time to post and update you on life.

This Christmas has had some really fun adventures. I got home and the next day went with my dad to buy a car for my grama - she recently had eye surgery and is now able to drive again, so we are selling her old car and she has this cute new red one (see photo). Doesn't she look great!

On Wednesday, I traveled to ASU with my dad for his orientation!! Awesome, huh! My dad is returning to college this spring semester to continue work on a Bachelor degree. He will be studying earth and space science education. If I can figure out how to get a picture from my phone to my computer, I'll post a pic of this, too. It was really a blessing to be able to attend with him. I think he was a little nervous (at least I was nervous at my orientation this fall, so I think he must have been, too!) and so it was really nice for us both to be there together. I'm really proud of him for pursuing this - he had wanted to do it for a long time! YOU GO, DAD!!

I had a few days off of "driving errands" and instead worked at home, cleaning house, cooking/baking, and other stuff to help out around here. We had hoped to hear my dad sing in the Messiah concert with the Phoenix Symphony, but he was sick, so he wasn't able to sing the concerts when I was home. However, he recovered in time to sing in a different concert series the next weekend. That weekend we attended the Phoenix Chorale (used to be the Phoenix Bach Choir) sing a fantastic Christmas concert, and then the next day heard the Phoenix Symphony Chorus perform a number of baroque pieces for their Christmas concert. It was a great weekend of really great music!

Following dad's last concert for 2008 on Sunday, Ben took us all out to dinner to celebrate the end of the season and some good news that he had gotten at work. It was really fun for the four of us to be together as a family and laugh, talk, and eat together (especially since I didn't have to do the dishes!).

Tuesday, dad and I drove up to Havasu to pick up grama and bring her to Phoenix for Christmas. We took her new car and surprised her. (She didn't know we'd drive it up that day) The ride back was lovely and today, Christmas Eve, was really a nice day. We did some grocery shopping, grama got a chance to practice driving her car, and we had a really nice service at church. I have only been a little sad about grampa not being here - mostly at church - I really missed him all day today, and then especially for some reason, at church. But it has been such a nice time, that I am having moments of joy, too.

Friday we have to take grama back to Havasu (we'll take her car and leave it there with her, and a second car to get home), and then I head back to LA on Monday for just one day before I head up to Seattle to see my aunts for two days over the New Year's holiday. More to come on that soon. I sure hope the weather allows for my trip!

Another post is coming in just a bit.... stay posted. :)

Christmas Break Update! (photos!)

OOps, posted but forgot to post the photos! Here are a couple:

mom and dad at dinner

Me and mom in our cute red sweaters.

Me and Ben at dinner

On Thursday I stopped by my friend Jill's house to see her new baby boy: Tripp, and see my little friend Jetty. I had made gifts for them before leaving LA. Here's me and Jetty. I think there must have been a delay, because she looked really happy before this pic was taken!

Here's grama in the driver's seat of her new Chevy Cobalt!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Finals Done... Crafting begun!

Jill Atkinson... don't read this post! It involves a little gift I made for Tripp and Jetty - so unless you don't want to be surprised... don't read! :)

Well friends - you know how much I love to sew and craft... but also how hard it is during school to do projects! During the school year, all my 'crafting' time is taken up by reading and writing.

I turned in my last final yesterday at 4:30 and as I was going to bed I was thinking of a friend of mine who recently had a baby. I was thinking of visiting and decided to make my traditional baby gift (thank you to Liz Hehman for the idea) of "designer" burp rags.

So I woke up at 7 this morning (even with out my alarm - sad, huh!) and the idea was still there... so I got started! I already had the fabric and trims, so that was pretty easy. I decided I also wanted to make something for this baby's big sister - who I babysat over the summer.

I knew she would enjoy a little purse and so I searched on line and found a great pattern at this site: .

I modified the pattern a bit, because I had cute coordinating fabrics on hand in fat quarters, which are not 20-24" square. So I made the smaller version, and instead of cutting out 10" squares, I did 9" squares (and made the pocket 4 1/2 "). Fat quarters (FQs) are 18" by about 22", so there was enough to make the purse out of two fat quarters (which are just over $1 each - this purse was a great value!!). In the pattern, the purse has an inside pocket, but I loved the little coordinating fabric so much, I put the pocket on the front, and added some coordinating grosgrain ribbon. I did love the handles from the pattern, but there are no craft stores around where I live, so I used the extra of the main fabric to make little handles*.

*this is easy - just cut two strips, 2-3" wide, 18" long (if you're using the FQ). Fold them right sides together and iron flat (I didn't have an iron, but it would be easier if they were ironed). I sewed a line right down the center, and then attached a safety pin at one end and push it through the center, pulling it through the middle to turn it inside out. Then iron it flat, right sides out. The last thing I did was fold up the ends of each handle just a teeny bit and sewed them, so that there were no raw edges and then sewed them to the inside of the purse itself.

I think it turned out really cute, and it didn't take me long - maybe an hour or so from cutting to completion. Probably faster if I was working at a table and not at a footstool.... :) See pictures below to see how they turned out!!

Here is the little purse - -- isn't it sweet!?
(I was thinking about adding a button at the top and a little loop on the
backside to make a "clasp", too - or a velcro square to hold it shut)

Here it is so that you can see the inside a bit, too - I love this little design!

The burp rags! I thought they turned out pretty great for being made of things I had "on hand",
My little "workstation" - I could have used my fold out table.... but I
was nervous it wouldn't handle the weight of the sewing machine...

Friday, December 5, 2008

Giving Thanks

My Thanksgiving Holiday was full of... family, noise, fun, exhaustion, and the interstate.

(I started this post last night... my browser froze up... and I have to rewrite... ugh, how I hate it when that happens!)

I left early Wednesday to head to Lake Havasu City to pick up my grama (5 hours) and then we drove together to Phoenix (4 hours). I was really glad to have her with me, as the drive was long and the second-half was very dark. We had some nice conversation and got caught up while we drove together.

As a surprise, my aunt Becky and uncle Danny flew in for the holiday. My grama really had no idea, so it was fun to ask things like, "What are Beck and Dan doing for the holiday?" and hear the things they told her to keep the secret. It was the first time we had been with my aunt and uncle since my grampa's death this summer. And it was the first time I was home for Thanksgiving since before I worked at Greenville College - so 6 years at least! So it was a really special celebration for all of us.

I think some of us were worried it was going to be sad, and some of it was certainly bittersweet, but it was also good. It was good for my aunt and uncle to have more time with grama, because I know its been hard to feel like they were supporting her from so far away (they live in wa), and I think it may have helped their grieving process. It was good for my grama to not be alone for a few days and have all the family experiences that she loves - her kids and grandkids around her, wine flowing freely, entertaining conversation, etc. And it was good for my mom, who loves Thanksgiving most of all, to have her family all around her.

The weekend as a whole was fun and successful, if not overwhelmingly loud (at least when they were all there...). It was one of our best t-day dinners ever - the food was outstanding. We managed somehow to get through the cooking of it without too much bickering, though my mom and aunt can bicker at least as well as my and my brother! :) And we got some good family photos.

My two favorite memory snapshots: 1) praying before dinner - my uncle prayed for the meal, and then my grama said she wanted to pray, too, and brought us all to tears with her sweet and simple prayer of thanksgiving. 2) shopping and breakfast the day after thanksgiving with my mom, dad, and brother - the first time all four of us had gone together, and it was fun to be up before dawn and sharing that experience.

Pics posted above from the Thanksgiving weekend. I hope that YOU enjoyed your holiday as well, and were reminded of the goodness of God and all you have to be thankful for!

Monday, December 1, 2008

200...8 things.

Well, just 8 things, actually. My friend Sarah tagged me and so here i go answering categories in groups of eight. The lists below are not necessarily in order, but rather the first eight things I thought of when I read the category name.

8 Things I Am Obsessed About Right Now:
1. Walking and getting back in jogging shape
2. Finals
3. Winter break (2 weeks!!)
4. Australia (the movie)
5. Christmas music (I am renewing my love for Jim Brickman)
6. Making friends and developing community
7. My church - love it!
8. Watching the Office and 30 Rock with friends

8 Words Or Phrases I Use:
1. Oh my gosh!
2. Peace out.
3. What up.
4. Are you sure?
5. That's what she said...
6. Ugh.
7. Mmmm. (when people are talking about smart things)
8. ? (probably you readers have a number of things I say - feel free to put them in the comment section)

8 Shows I Love To Watch:
1. Amazing Race
2. Heroes
3. Survivor
4. CSI (original)
5. The Office
6. 30 Rock
8. The Mentalist
(there are others... holy cow, I watch a lot of TV. add to this: the Starter Wife, the Unit, Private Practice, and when they return in January: Burn Notice, Monk, and Psych..... USA has great shows!)

8 Things I Did Yesterday:
1. Drove 8 hours from Phoenix to LA (technically, that counts as 8, right?)
2. Picked up my reading glasses from Target (which turned out to be actual glasses... not readers...)
3. Ate at In-N-Out
4. Watched the "Amazing Race"
5. Unpacked from my Thanksgiving trip
6. Finished "Blue Dahlia" by Nora Roberts
7. Talked to the Fergasons, Banks, and Naomi on the phone
8. Hugged my parents

8 Favorite Places To Eat:
1. Mandarin Palace in Renton, WA
2. Red Lobster
3. In-n-Out
4. Sonic
5. Rancho Nuevo in Vandalia, IL
6. Mom and Dad's house
7. Cafe Cappucino in Waco, TX
8. Panera

8 Books I love:
1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin
2. The Eight (ironically) by Katherine Neville
3. any book by Nora Roberts
4. Dream Big: The Henrietta Mears Story
5. Amy Carmichael of Donhavur by Frank Houghton
6. Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller
7. Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier
8. any mystery by Dick Francis or Agatha Christie

8 People I tag:
1. Chalea
2. Alexis
3. Mel (now you are double tagged... so you have to do it!)
4. Katie Chan
5 - 8.... I'm not sure who reads my blog, so the rest of y'all do it!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Valleys of Shadow and Rivers of Joy

Today I was so discouraged on the phone with my mom. Some of you know my car has had some issues lately - the A/C went out, the interior, driver's side, door-handle broke, I "tapped" the concrete pole on the way into my parking garage and broke the light casing (a little). These are just the repairs I haven't taken care of.... because together they are over $1,000. No biggie, really, I can live without A/C and I can roll the window down to open the door - and since I don't have an extra $1k laying around, its probably for the best.

But then on Sunday I was working on my computer and needed to back something up to disk. And my disk drive was MISSING! Yes, it was missing - as in not showing up on my computer, not showing up anywhere - I tried putting CD's in it, I tried putting DVD's in it - nothing. It was working, but it was like my computer had CD/DVD drive amnesia. I spent a bunch of time searching the internet for help, and tried a few things, but most of them were too technical for me. I took it to the Student Technology Center today to have them see if they could figure it out - no luck. I would have to check it in for a few days to have them take a look at it. A few days that I just don't have until after finals are over... and they are closed after finals.

So I left, thinking, well, at least I don't really need the drive right now - I don't need it to write papers or get on the internet. And I told my mom about the problem and she did some troubleshooting (like, "Maybe you can get an external hard drive.") - which was really sweet.

But at the end I just said, "It just seems like there have been a lot of things like this, this quarter." I was feeling pretty bummed out. I don't have money to fix my car, I don't have money to fix my computer - UGH!

I was sitting back at home later in the afternoon, and was on my computer. And I'm not sure why I did it, but I thought, "I'll just check it out and maybe the drive will be there!" not really believing that it would be.

And would you believe it.... IT WAS THERE!!!! I was able to make the CD for a friend, which was a huge blessings, and I was so grateful for the Lord's blessing in that moment.

There is no reasonable explanation for why it disappeared. And there is really no reasonable explanation for why it is back. But it is. And I am so grateful to the Lord.

It makes me think of the Jars of Clay song, where it goes "I will sing of your mercy that leads me through valleys of shadow to rivers of joy." Obviously, this was just a little valley of shadow compared to some of the valleys I and others have experienced this year, and my joy is small compared to some of the highs I've had this year. But I think that it matters that I sing even in the valley I was in today, and even in the river tonight.

Final word on this issue:
I am shocked over and over at the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. That he hears the whisper prayers of my heart and provides specifically for me. I am grateful for his precious care of me.

Christmas in a Studio Apt

I love decorating for Christmas. There is something warm and homey about Christmas decorations to me, and when I lived far from my parents and later far from all family, Christmas decorations somehow connected me to them.

Now I live in a 400 sq ft apt, and there isn't really room to put up my Christmas tree, and other decorations. There's barely a flat surface on which to place a candle or a snowglobe. But as I was thinking about spending the next three or so weeks here and wanting to have a little "home feeling"... I decided to make a mini Christmas for myself. I'm not finished yet, but here is a picture of my first decoration... a little Christmas tree.

I bought a couple shelves to put up on the wall (for candles originally), and at Target I found a little tree and some mini ornaments (I actually have mini ornaments in my christmas boxes, (baylor themed) but they are at home in storage, so no go) and it fits perfectly on the shelf (if I only pull out the front branches...) along with some tea lights and a little nativity scene. I have a few other nativity scenes which I think I can make fit here and there, so if I have time this weekend while at home, I may bring them back with me.

Anyyway, here is a pic of my decorations (thus far).

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Hopelful Romantic

Ok, I can admit it... I'm a hopeful romantic. I don't want to say "hopeless" - because I have hope. But if being hopeless romantic means that there is no hope for me recovering from my romanticism... then I suppose that is more accurate.

Its important to note that I am not simply a romantic, sappy soul. From my youth I have loved mystery and adventure stories as much as romance stories. Growing up my favorite books were Agatha Christie and Dick Francis mysteries and James Bond adventures, alongside classics like Little Women, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Gone with the Wind. I was more picky about movies, not liking movies that showcased violence and death (even though those things were present in the books I was reading) - I didn't like graphic violence.

But to bring us back to the present moment.... I still like adventure stories and mysteries, and I love comedies (both books and movies), but I love romance, too. I love movies and books that tell sweet stories of finding love. One of my favorite books is Pride and Prejudice (I think because it has a great romance and comedy), and I love movies like You've Got Mail, Hitch, and Notting Hill, among others. I was watching the end of You've Got Mail tonight, and thinking about why it is I like romantic comedies so much.

I know they sometimes are contrived (some of you would say always), but there is something compelling and enjoyable about watching the dance of people falling in love, of seeing the highs and lows, and hoping that love can really happen, that love exists. I think there are spiritual parallels to the great romance. And I watch them in hope that I will encounter a love like what I see - one that makes me laugh, and sometimes makes me cry, one that is mutual and with respect.

Here are just a few of my favorite romantic movies (comedy or drama)
Pride and Prejudice (A&E version with Colin Firth)
You've Got Mail
When Harry Met Sally
Stranger than Fiction
The Holiday
Charade (with Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant)
Notting Hill
Music and Lyrics
Love Actually
Sound of Music
Dirty Dancing
Return to Me

OK, readers.... what are some of YOUR favorites?

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Lament

(Recently, I incorporated making a hymn to the Lord each morning as part of my quiet time - sometimes I sing existing songs, but I am trying to write my own each day - or at least say it each day, I hardly ever write it out. Today, I had some sad news from a friend of a significant loss, and instead have a lament.)

Lord your ways are good, yet how can we understand this loss?
How can I trust that your purposes will continue when humiliation and embarassment accompanied by unbearable pain are my only companions?
How can I find hope in the midst of a hole so deep that the only light comes from the pain in my heart?
How can I encourage others when this experience is unexplainable?
Where are you Lord?
How long will you overlook my sister and brother?
How long will you ignore the cry of their hearts?
How long, oh Lord, will you forget them forever?
Soothe their tears Lord,
meet them in the place of abandonment and comfort them.
Give them courage and boldness to trust you again and again
though again and again You seem to fail.
Lord, you know that hope deferred makes the heart sick,
so prosper their hope and provide.
Your ways are unsearchable, beyond my understanding.
I know that you are good, and I know that you love.
I know you will not abandon or forsake.
Do not be absent now, Lord; provide deep comfort and peace to their souls.
Remember your servants, remember that we are dust, and help them.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

My life... 11/16

Here is one of my many "study piles" that develop as I'm studying. And one of my latest study partners, Tanya. Tanya lives in my building (she is basically the only person I know in my building, and is a first-year, working on a Master of Arts in HEOC - which is my same program, only I'm on the PhD track.) I met up with Tanya and another friend of ours, Ophelia, at the Kerckhoff coffee shop on campus yesterday to study.

Today, I'll head to church, come home and eat a bite for lunch and then go back to studying until the Amazing Race tonight (which is my official "cease fire" for the day!). The girls say they'll be at Kerckhoff again, so I will likely walk over to campus and enjoy their company while I work.

Study pile: folder holding all the articles I need to read for this week, daytimer, research idea notebook, and my phone... I tell myself I can only look at the internet on my phone once per hour. :)

This is Tanya after I asked her (naively) a question about one of the students in class. Clearly, she thought my question was ridiculous. I love her expression here.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Fallow Ground

This year I decided to take a year off – of leadership. By that I mean I decided not to get involved in ADPi, not to volunteer with any other student organization, not to volunteer in leadership at my church (when I found one) until after my first year of graduate school at UCLA. This decision was not made specifically to honor the Sabbath year, so don’t read it that way. It was a survival method for me – I knew this first year would be challenging and I elected to protect my time and emotions by ensuring I was not overcommitted (at least not until year two, when I would have a better idea of what I was getting myself into).

But this morning, as I was enjoying my quiet time, I was thinking about the biblical and agricultural principles of providing the land with a Sabbath rest. One of the neat things about living in a farming community in Illinois was the opportunity to see Corn and Soybeans planted and also to see plots of land lay fallow in their off year. From how I understand it, Corn is a particularly taxing crop for soil. It takes a lot of nutrients out, and so if you continue to sow those seeds, you will get decreasingly good soil for your crop. Every so many years, then, the farmers will leave the plot unsown, in order for it to rest and be restored. (this farming example is poor, and likely incomplete, but it serves its purpose)

The bible also talks about resting the land every 7th year. I love that there is a biblical principle for people (resting every seventh day) that also applies to nature (every 7th year). There is a great symmetry in it, and a reminder that our God is not only the God of Humans, but truly the God of all Creation. Anyway, the principle of the Sabbath is very important in the Old Testament. (click here for verses) And it is a principle that I think is important to our lives today – especially in instant-everything world we live in.

As I was thinking this morning, I was considering how much I am looking forward to next year. I am excited to get back involved with undergraduate students and to potentially serve as a sorority house manager or advisor. I am in good anticipation of how the Lord will call me to serve in the next year – though it is a long way off.

If I had gone straight from Baylor to UCLA volunteering, I would be worn out. It certainly would have been difficult to go from advising ADPi at Baylor to at UCLA. I would have missed the women so much! It is nice to know that I can be refreshed this year by the Lord and work on the things He wants me to (like regular bible study and prayer, etc), and know that this is my Sabbath year. A year dedicated to getting refreshed and recharged and preparing myself for the next opportunity to minister for Him.

And so tonight, as I stop studying for a night, but take care of other things – groceries. Housekeeping, reading, and watching a movie, I am grateful that the principle of a Sabbath is so important to those of us who are in Christ. And I’m glad that the Lord set an example for me of rest, because without it I would be trying to read right now, and not doing a very good job of it!

** Should we keep a Sabbath? My friend, Derek, argues that this is not a law we must obey based on the New Testament commands and covenants (Jesus apparently does not repeat this command during his ministry). But I disagree, to some extent. I think that Jesus, in his New Testament comments regarding the Sabbath, tries to redeem the idea and meaning of the Sabbath from the Pharisees who had made it into something legalistic. Jesus continually clarifies that the Sabbath is not meant to be a time of legalistic observation: – be wise – if you need to water your flock, or rescue an animal from a ditch, by all means do it; be wise – if someone needs help on the Sabbath, don’t withhold it just because you are not supposed to work – help them. The law of God is bigger than the Sabbath. I think Jesus didn’t reemphasize the keeping of the Sabbath because he expected people to keep it. But I think he doesn’t expect us to keep it in a legalistic rigid way like the Pharisees did.

Biblical principles regarding the Sabbath

Today I was thinking about Sabbath rest. We are studying the Life of Moses in BSF and right now we are on the 10 commandments. There are different forms of the Sabbath in the Old Testament, but they are closely related. The verses below apply to my next post – I wanted my post on “Fallow Ground” to be smaller, so I decided to post verses in a separate location.
A smattering of references to the practice of Sabbath in the OT:

Exodus 16:23 – “Tomorrow is to be a day of rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD.”
Exodus 20:8,10, – “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work…, for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

Exodus 23:10-11 – “For six years you are to sow your fields and harvest the crops, but during the seventh year let the land lie unplowed and unused.”

Leviticus 25:4-5 – “But in the seventh year the land is to have a Sabbath of rest, a Sabbath to the LORD. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards. Do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the grapes of your untended vines. The land is to have a year of rest.”

Leviticus 25 also addresses the “Year of Jubilee” (my favorite!) – where after seven Sabbath years (49yrs), the following (50th) year is an entire year set aside to honor God. In this year, everyone returns home to the family property (which may have been sold away, but now all property is redeemed to its original owner), slaves are freed (redeemed to their families), debts are repaid or forgiven; everyone is placed on equal footing again. It is a year of celebration for the goodness of God!!

Later in the OT, the exile of the Israelites into Babylon is partly in response to their non-observance of the Sabbath. Scripture says that during the 70 years the Israelites were exiled, the land was being redeemed and having its Sabbath rest. (2 Chron 36:21)
Through Isaiah, the Lord blessed those who kept the Sabbath: “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD's holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob." (Is 58:13-14)

For more bible verses on the Sabbath, check out and search on "Sabbath"

part of the problem

Part of the problem I have with posting, I recently realized, is my distracted attention-ness. I want to post, I open my computer to specifically post.... and then I get distracted by something else. I'm like a little puppy.

I want to post about fallow ground and the biblical principle of rest. Will do so - hopefully later today.

Clearly, I must abandon my (brief) resolve to post daily. :) Forgive me?

Love, Tiff

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

History, Herstory, and a brief look at life

Well friends, I am happy that election season is reaching its apex and end.

Here is what I think (and I know that some of you will disagree): both Barack Obama and John McCain are good men. Both of them could have been great presidents.

I'll be honest though... I'm a cynic. Its my Generation-X-ness. I want to believe that President-Elect Obama will enact sweeping change across our Capitol and the US at large - changing government for the better, bringing in health care and education reforms.... but I don't really believe that a President can do all of that. I think our system is arduous and broken.

I think my cynism would be reversed if Mr. Obama offered Mr. McCain a position in his administration.... THAT would be unusual government and I would think it was awesome.

Other comments: I am thrilled that America has elected a person of color to be President! 140 years after America almost fell apart over the issue of slavery, and less than 50 years after America had to fight to give civil rights to all of her citizens. It is pretty amazing, and as I think of it, and as I contemplate the pervasive racism in America that still exists today, I can only be thankful that a wide and substantial portion of the population supported this man and the principle that anyone can be president of the united states!

I also wonder how long it will be before America elects a woman to this office (or even to the party nomination). Women fought for years to be allowed to vote; however, they are still underrepresented in positions of leadership and power in America, and they still earn $.76 to ever $1 a man earns in America.

I am thrilled for my friends who have said that now their kids will have a person who looks like them in the oval office. I wonder how long it will take until our girls have a person who looks like them - of any race or ethnicity, in the oval office.
Last entry for tonight:

I live in Los Angeles county. It is the most populace county in America (I believe) with over 4 million registered voters. There are more registered voters here than in 13 individual states!! (crazy, huh!) This county is as diverse in categories (gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, etc) as anywhere I have ever lived, or can expect to live. Today 82% of voters in LA county turned out to vote - which is the highest turnout since 1986 - and maybe ever, here.

There are a lot of issues on the ballot tonight here in CA that are divisive and which people care really strongly about. Regardless of the results, I hope that all can unite, and try to move forward in a spirit of grace and caring.

And ultimately, I pray that the love of God would shine through those that know him, that we would be caring and graceful, and that through our demonstrations of love everyone would come to know Him...... regardless of the results of this election.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Already failing (10.30)

Well, I'm already failing at my resolve to post a little note each day!

Yesterday, I mailed my "vote by mail" ballot. I am a registered voter in the State of California, in Los Angeles County. LA County has over 4.2 million registered voters... seriously. I heard on the news that we have more registered voters than 13 states. Yes, you read that right. There are 13 states, each with fewer registered voters than my county.

Anyway, in Cali I am a "permanent voter by mail." Now, I love going to the polling place, so this was a tough decision for me - feeling like I'm a part of something larger by waiting in line and voting in a booth is something I love, so I debated back and forth about this decision. But ultimately, I realized that if I voted by mail, I would see two major benefits:
1) I would be more likely to vote in every election: because even in the elections with just a few measures on the ballot, I'll get a ballot in the mail.
2) I would be more likely to vote in an informed way: because I could sit in privacy and quiet, reading the voter's guide while considering my votes - versus forgetting what I had read on the way to the polls, after inevitably leaving my sample ballot at home, or versus being influenced by signs and supporters/detractors on the way to the polls.

So, my votes for and against a number of issues has been cast. Ultimately, I hope that I voted my conscience, not influenced by fear-mongering and name-calling; I hope that I voted in a way that is pleasing to my Lord; and I hope that I voted in a way I can be proud of, regardless of the results on November 4th.

(Next post... why I don't like to brand myself by candidate or issue)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I still think Mark Harmon looks good...

Well, I do, and so I just thought I should say so! He's my older man crush. I was talking to a friend of mine at church today who does makeup professionally, and she was telling me about how handsome she thinks Richard Gere is (she did his makeup for a shoot a few years ago). That made me think of Mark Harmon, who is currently on NCIS - I just think he is adorable! But if the truth be told, everyone on that show is pretty darn good looking.

I haven't updated in a couple week - that's how I know that school has really started. Its hard to reply to emails, blog, and talk on the phone - OH, and read books. But I have a few minutes tonight and wanted to do a quick update.

My friend Alexis inspired me to try and do a small update every day (she is doing it once per day through October). I'm going to try it... we'll see.

This weekend was a whirlwind. Yen Ling, who is part of our first year cohort organized a potluck for us this weekend. It was the first opportunity for us to get together socially and get to know each other better. About half of us were able to make it, and it was really fun. I enjoyed meeting spouses and getting to know more about my classmates. Hopefully next time, more will be able to make it!

Saturday I studied all day with a friend, Amy. She and I met in stats class, the one time our section met before it was cancelled. We hit it off and I think we're going to be good friends. It was good to study with her, and have a chance to visit and get to know each other better, too. Saturday evening I had dinner and coffee with Ophella, who is in the Master's of Student Affairs program. She is closer to my age than a lot of our classmates and it was fun to talk about the transition from working full time to being a student and then what she is thinking about doing when she graduates in the spring.

Today I had a super day at church. I've decided that I'm going to stay Bel Air Presbyterian. I just like the people, and I really enjoy the music, so I decided to stay! It was nice to see a few friends there today. Afterward, I enjoyed my time at home, picking up, cooking, and doing a little homework. All in all, a great weekend, and a great sabbath!

In other news, my friends the Fergasons had a busy weekend with all the older kids performing in a Piano recital on Friday, and Andi performing in Walk/Trot and Costume class (her first time for both) in a Horse Show on Saturday. That was the only reason it was a bummer to live in Cali this weekend, rather than be in Texas!

Well, stay tuned... you might see an update tomorrow!
Rebecca and her husband, Pisey (George Fox grads)

L-R: Dave, Sylvia and Yen Ling

L-R: Chelsea, me, Dave and Sylvia

Friday, October 10, 2008

Mom's B-Day Present

For my mom's birthday, I created a scrapbook for her of our trip to Lake Tahoe. It is similar to the scrapbook I made for my grama, after we returned from Tahoe and my grampa passed away. I forgot to get pics of grama's album before I gave it to her, but I wanted to share it with you all, so instead I took pics of mom's and waited and waited until her birthday before I could finally post them.

It was cathartic for me to make grama's album right after grampa passed away, It had been less than a week and looking through those pictures was good, but hard. I was surprised that the feeling was the same when I was making the ablum for mom. Some of the photos made me chuckle, some made me cry. Even now, as I think about the week in Tahoe, I still just as often get teary as smile.

I sure miss him.

I'm glad mom liked the album, and I hope that it will be a comfort to all of us!

Mom's Birthday!

Happy Birthday Mom!!

Today is my mom's 59th birthday. Sadly, I am not in Phoenix to celebrate with her and the family. I am here in LA, working on homework.

But I wanted to write a quick word about my mom in honor of her birthday!
My mom is one of my best friends. When I call her (almost daily) she always sounds excited to hear my voice. She offers great advice (even when I am not ready for a "fix-it"), and is also willing to let me try my own way. She wanted to find a way to serve God, so she started a Recipe Ministry (where she sends out a weekly email with a recipe, a brief note and a bible verse) that now has almost 100 people on it! She is a caring wife, who cooks meals and offers encouragement - and she loves to be with my dad - she always talks about how funny he is (which is true) and sometimes I'll come into a room where she is cracking up at something my dad said. She is a faithful daughter, who has opened her home to her parents for holidays and doctor visits. She loves to play games and can often be found playing Texas Hold'Em online. She likes Action movies and Sci-Fi, and will indulge me and my dad by watching the occasional Romantic Comedy. And she even sent me a care package full of magazines and gift cards when I called home, desperate for magazines to read and something to do!
My mom is pretty much the greatest mom ever! (OK, you can argue the point... but I love her and think she's tops!!)
As a side note: one thing I love about my parents is that they complement each other so well. They are each other's best friend, and they are both really great. I am grateful for them!!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Handbag Planet.... a designer handbag could be yours... FREE!

Hi Friends,

Sarah Mudd turned me onto the site "Handbag Planet". They are launching this online handbag store on October 15th, but in the meantime, they are going to give away free handbags - one per hour for twenty four hours on the 15th.

All you have to give them is your first name and an email address, and then you can even PICK which of the 24 bags you want to be entered to win! The photo above is the one I entered for - isn't it cute?! Well, there are a lot to choose from - so pick a different one and give me a chance to win this one! :)
Anyway, check out and enter to win!! :)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Final furniture assembly!

On Sunday after church (where I saw John Tesh! - see sidebar), I went back to Home Depot in Hollywood to get the hardware I would need to put up my folding table.

I have a half-wall separating the kitchen and living room, and had purchased a table from Ikea that mounts on the wall and folds down when not in use. Its a great addition to my kitchen... except that Ikea gave me all the hardware to assemble it, but not the hardware to mount it on my wall - ugh! That part sucked!

So I went to HD to get mollies and screws. After a frustrating experience trying to find the tools I needed (between the home depot guy not being very helpful, and some other dude who thought he could help me instead but condescended to me and made me feel like an idiot, it brought me to tears briefly), I did indeed settle what I thought I might need.

I got home, had lunch and got to work. I started with the table a little too high and had to restart the screws about four inches lower. So far its sturdy and I am enjoying having a table tremendously. In fact, it was the frustration of not having a table to sit and eat or write at that moved me to make the trip to HD.

Here are some pics! I even took one pic with plates, to give you an idea of its cute little size! I still have some concerns about its stability, so it won't be holding valuable dishes (not that I have any!) or super heavy bowls of things, but for dinner its perfect.

In its folded down position. It only sticks out about 2 inches from the wall, so its great for a studio apartment! I wanted the darker cherry color, but it was sold out and so I decided that I like this golden color just as much when it comes to kitchens.
Here is the table folded out, with the two chairs that I also have from Ikea. I bought the chairs in the darker wood which matches my other furniture, so that if I have friends over and they want to sit, it fits in OK in the living room. :) But how cute is this?!?

Here is how it looks during the day. I have this rolling cart which houses my pots and pans, and to make space in the kitchen it goes in front of the table and the chairs lean on the cart. Perfect, right?!

My day at Hermosa Beach

A few weeks ago, back before I had anything to do, I decided to explore a local beach. I googled "California Beaches" (seriously) and found the website for (yes, you guessed it...) california's beaches. I had heard of Hermosa Beach before, so I picked it, read about it, googled directions and the next day set off.

It took about 45 minutes to get there (dang traffic), and I drove through Manhattan Beach along the way. I didn't get to see the beach, but I have had friends tell me that Manhattan Beach is their fave, so I'll be checking it out soon.

There was inexpensive public parking, and so I parked and got out and walked out onto the pier. It was a beautiful day, with just the right temperature. There were guys and gals playing beach volleyball on one side of the pier, with kids, boogey boarders, and surfers on both sides. The ocean looked mighty see-weedy from my vantage point, so even though later I relaxed on the sand... I opted NOT to get in. That means that I have been here a month, and still have not dipped my toes in the pacific! I think its time to recruit one of my new acquaintances for a beach trip this Saturday!

While I was walking the pier, I saw this seagull close up, happily sitting and watching the people (it seemed like). I decided I'd walk to the end and then on the way back, if the gull was still there I'd take its picture... but suddenly (as I walked) the same gull flew forward ahead of me about twenty feet and posed again! So of course I had to stop and get his picture right then!

After my walk, I decided to try for some fish and chips. There was a great restaurant right across the bike path from the beach - so I could eat, read, and watch the ocean all at the same time - it was GREAT! Lunch at Scotty's was reasonable and delicious! I'll for sure be back there again.

Following lunch I grabbed my beach blanket and layed out on the sand for a little nap.

Delightful day, all in all! I hope I get to have a few more of those, though I'm sure the books I'll be bringing with me will be school related.

Enjoy the pics of my time!

Friday, September 26, 2008

On my mind: debates, relationships, and movies

Well friends, if I were crazy, then I'd probably blog about the debate tonight... but since I ain't (crazy), I'll just say that I watched it - mostly - and I'm bound to be inundated with talk in the upcoming week about how ridiculous McCain is and how stellar Obama is. I'll add that the first half was the worst - on both sides -and that the second half was better. I was about to write in a candidate on the ballot, during the part where neither candidate was answering the questions, ugh, I hate campaigning in the form of debating. Ultimately, I think I am still an Obama supporter, but if the truth be told, I'm one of those people in the middle who isn't sold yet on either candidate for presidency (vp candidates not withstanding).

Feel free to comment on this post, but I won't reply :). And if you are impolite in your comment, I will unfortunately have to delete it. Thanks for considering.

The real reason that I am posting tonight, is that I'm home (a) and since I had planned to watch the debate, I have no other plans now (except watching "Are you Smarter than a Fifth Grader?" and maybe a movie) (b), and (c) Bethany encouraged me to put some thoughts on "paper" that we discussed on Tuesday night by phone.

On Tuesday night I spoke to a gal pal of mine, Bethany, on the phone - while I drove home from BSF. ( you can check out bethany's blog at: We talked about relationships, our hearts, and how to be triumphantly single - and by that I mean both transparently honest and also content. She suggested that I should blog part of our talk. The downside to blogging good conversation is that in the moment, when the Lord is in your conversation and you are interacting, it sounds great and makes sense....later you can't remember anything specific about what either of you said! (ok, maybe this is just a problem I have?)

So I'll try. Bethany was speaking about how as a single person, sometimes (especially in church community) it can feel shameful to be sad about being single or feeling lonely. As though somehow longing for a love relationship is a bad thing. This stems from a lot of things: 1) the unhealth of the church today - we aren't honest with each other, we don't know how to relate to each other and we don't want to be rejected by community, 2) the historic position of the church at large that women are less valuable than men, 3) Paul's admonition to be content in all circumstances - as though contentment is the same as happiness, which I think is untrue (and I think other biblical examples point to the valor of discontent with the status quo- i.e. Moses in Egypt), and 4) the expectation (sometimes explicit) that we are all more perfect if we are married - this is clearly untrue not only by biblical example but born out in life examples, too.

Anyway, I have been thinking a lot about being single again lately. (I go through seasons of thinking about it) I think it has been on my mind more lately because of moving to a new place and feeling alone (and lonely), having to do a lot of things alone, and not having a person here to share the day with. It was interesting because as B was talking, I heard her saying she wished she had someone with her to "witness her life" (she may not have used those words, but thats the gist), someone to share the day with, to discuss the personal with, someone to love and to give of herself to (and to be given love back).

The first thing I thought of was Much-Afraid (in Hinds Feet), and the second was movies. I recently rewatched Stranger Than Fiction and Shall We Dance? Both of which are excellent movies with very thoughtful parts. In Shall We Dance?, there is a point where Susan Sarandon's character asks a question of a private detective she hired - she asks him why he thinks people get married. Her reasoning is one of the cruxes of the movie, I think. She says she thinks people get married because "they want a witness to their lives," and that in marriage you are saying, "I will care about you; about the little details, I will listen to you." She says that people are saying, "Your life will not go unnoticed, because I will notice you; your life will not go unwitnessed, because I will be your witness."

I love that line. At least from what I know of my own heart, I think its pretty true. Bethany and I talked about the fact that desiring marriage isn't just about having someone to witness your life, but witnessing someone elses life, being a part of something outside yourself.

Well friends, I can't remember the best parts of the conversation, I'm sure, but I will try to make a couple points:
a) We need to be more honest with each other! If a few brave singles talked about what they are feeling, others would speak up, too, and everyone would realize they aren't alone.
b) We need to find community in a variety of places, and allow ourselves to be loved by those communities (and we need to bring love into our communities!)
c) You, my dear single friends, are not less or incomplete or substandard because you are single (no matter what messaging you get from the world).
d) It is OK to bring these issues with you to God - sometimes I have some really good knock down drag outs with God on this topic! Trust me, the God who created the universe can handle your concerns.
e) Also, there is a way to be content in your circumstances, even in the midst of being lonely. By recognizing that there are parts of you lacking, recognizing that there is a void in your life that needs to be filled - and then considering that Jesus loves you fully and completely, you will find some measure of peace. Then, taking those lonelinesses, concerns, and fears to God, you can experience the peace that passes understanding.

For me it often means a contented discontent. I would give up all my hopes for marriage if it means that I could serve God better, or bring Him more glory. At the same time, the desire of my heart is to have a partner who I can share life with in all different ways. For now, I am content to wait (though the Lord knows my heart!), and make myself available for all the opportunities I can to serve God and to meet someone who captures my heart.

Blessings to you, my dear married and single friends!

(footnote: please know that the ideas of marriage expressed above are pretty romantic and idealistic - don't think I don't know it. I've seen a lot of marriages from the inside over the last 10 years, and even the prettiest on the surface can be struggle underneath. But most of my married friends still wouldn't trade it for being single, nonetheless.)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

One Month

While I still lived in Phoenix, I saw my grama a couple times after grampa passed away. She mentioned once or twice about how surprised she was that your heart could actually ache, when it was broken.

On Sunday it was the one month anniversary of my grampa's passing. The four weeks has gone so slowly in some ways, and so quickly in others.

In thinking about it, my heart has rebroken. My chest aches. Its good that I'm rereading "Hinds Feet" (see earlier posts), because it helps me articulate my feelings and emotions better in prayer.

When I was in Phoenix, there was just so much going on. We were doing all these things to take care of the details that surround death: find the paperwork for the car, the bank accounts, the will; get a copy of the death certificate; notify social security; pay the hospital bills. While doing all of that, we were also talking to grama daily, and it seemed like half our time was taken up with these details. The other half of the time, for me, was taken up with preparations for the move. Time went so quickly during those two weeks.

Then we were moving and I was getting settled and trying to get residency and job details sorted out. I was driving to Burbank to Ikea and to Target in Hollywood and looking up churches and DMVs and Libraries on the internet. It has been hard to be alone here for the two weeks, but I have not spent very much time reflecting, I've just been numbing myself to get through the time.

But last night, it all broke through. I realized that I have been so unaware of the day and date (its not really something I need to know, most days) that I had completely missed that the one month anniversary was Sunday. And I thought about how much I miss my grampa. How much I miss calling the park where he and grama lived and hearing him answer the phone. How much I miss grama writing at the end of an email or letter "Grampa joins me in sending all our love." How much I miss the idea of him at Christmas or in Laughlin.

I just miss him.

And I was broken-hearted, too, that I hadn't realized it was one month, so that I could talk to my mom and grama about it, and about what they are experiencing. So I wept. I wept for the loss all of us had experienced, and I felt like the Lord was so close to me during that time. The Daily Light reading that I read that night reminded me that the Lord will wipe away every tear in Heaven, and I was so glad. It actually allowed me to weep more!

I'm grateful for all the condolences from my friends. I'm thankful for the understanding of people I've been around when I was absentminded or got teary in conversation. I glad for my family, who has borne up under this strain admirably. And I'm grateful to my grama, who is trying to make a life without her dearest love, for showing me what it means to persevere and adapt.

But with all of that, I'd still rather have grampa.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

New Apt

Here are a few pics from the new apartment. If you are on facebook, you can check more pics out there.
the living room, looking from the front door.
my desk and bed, also my craft area, to the left of my desk - you can only see the sewing maching and craft box, there is a crafting file cabinet by the stripey board.
my adorable little kitchen. my favorite part right now are the rails I put up above the sink to hang paper towels, hot pads and other stuff.
looking into the bedroom area from the front door. To the immediate left (can't see it in the photo) is my bathroom. It is nice and roomy, too, and I put a dresser in there for linens and one of my great grampa's paintings on the wall - its very homey.
looking into the living area from my desk. I have a "library" on the right, with my two bookshelves full of books. At some point I may have to give some up, but I think that will be the hardest to part with... I can get rid of clothes, movies, etc... but books?!

Church "shopping"...

I'm not sure I blogged about my church experience last week... so if I did, please forgive the repetition... :) Last week I visited Richfield Community Church - where the senior pastor is Todd Chapman! Todd was the pastor of my church in Seattle (United Evangelical Free) and he and his family moved to Southern Cali about the same time I moved to Illinois - five years ago. I had reconnected with two of his kids, Casey and Carson, about a year ago, over facebook. Casey and Carson were in the youth group when I worked with high school and junior highers.

I knew I wanted to get over to RCC as soon as I could, and Casey and I connected and she invited me for my first Sunday in town. I made it there in just over an hour (seriously, things are far here... well, they take a long time to get to) and just in time for church. I enjoyed Todd's sermon tremendously. It was only the second time I had been to church since my grampa passed away, and I find that the Lord is particularly moving my heart in church settings. The sermon was on James 1:1-4 and considering all our circumstances joy. Todd's message is still knocking around in my head, even a week later.

Well, afterward Casey and I were joined by her friend, Steph, and her boyfriend, David, and we all went to Chili's for a great afternoon of entertaining conversation and food. Seriously... we didn't leave until 3pm, so you know we were there a long time! It was a great Sunday. I was so grateful that I had something to do for the day (!) and was so happy to see the Chapmans. I didn't get to see Carson or the other sisters, but I did get to see both Todd and Julie. And I plan to make my way back to Yorba Linda a few times, for sure! (also, Casey and I are pretty excited to go to Disneyland very soon!)

Here are some photos of us after lunch:

Me and Casey - she is so adorable and grown up!
We're all friends now, so we wanted one with Stephanie in it.
Casey and her great bf David.

This Sunday, I visited Bel Air Presbyterian. After spending a few hours searching for churches on the internet (ugh, what draining work), I found six or seven to look into more deeply. Last night I took another couple hours to really look more closely at different churches. I really wanted to check out Hollywood Presbyterian.... because that is where Henrietta Mears worked and she is one of my spiritual mentors. I liked what I saw on the website, so I thought that would be where I went today. But then I looked at the Bel Air Pres website (referred there by Cameron Jorgenson - thanks cam!). I was even more excited when I looked there. Well, BAP is closer, so.... that is where I started the search. :)

I got there about 20 minutes before the contemporary service started. The campus was already full of people walking around, signing up for stuff, drinking coffee. This part was all outdoors. The church is on top of Mulholland Drive and overlooks the valley. Its really a pretty view and campus. I sat for a bit and just enjoyed the nice weather. Once the service started, the music was really great - I have been at UBC so long and loved it, but really missed some of the other worship songs that we didn't sing (we mostly sang Crowder Band stuff - which was great, but this was too!) and this band was really good. I loved that they sang some contemporary hymns and some pop CCM stuff. The people around me were nice, and the congregation was very diverse in age, and somewhat in ethnicity. People were engaged in the service, looked happy to be there. It was good. The sermon was the beginning of a series, but it was sound and I enjoyed it. My favorite thought from the pastor today was "God is not interested in making better caterpillars, he is interested in making butterflies." I appreciated this reminder that God is about transformation, not simply improvement.

I think its possible that I will end up at this church, but after this series (about 4 weeks, I think), I'll check out Hollywood Pres and a few others just to make sure I've done my due diligence. I always tell students that they should take the time to be thorough at the beginning, so that they find a church home for four years rather than 6-9 months. I want to have a church that I can call home for my entire time at UCLA, so I have to remember that taking 8 -10 weeks to find a good church is just a drop in the bucket when I will be here for something like 200 weeks!

Well friends, thanks for coming along this journey with me. I will post more as I have other new experiences. And I'll try to put up pictures of the area as the days go by and as I journey around.


Developing Feet like a Deer

Each new season in my life, it seems like I always end up reading “Hinds Feet on High Places” again. I’ve blogged about this allegory by Hannah Hurnard in the past (on my other blogs), and so I hope you’ll bear with me. Each time I blog about a different part that hits me (I think) so hopefully it is new for all of us.

Briefly, for those who are unfamiliar with the book, it is the story of Much-Afraid and her journey to the high places. Much-Afraid is crippled and can hardly walk; she is unattractive to look at, and as her name infers she is afraid – really afraid. But she makes a commitment to follow the Shepherd, and he agrees to lead her to the high places where she will be made whole. The book is the story of her journey.

When I move to a new place, Much-Afraid’s story really resounds with me. Her experiences speak clearly to my experiences, and she thinks and says things to the Shepherd that I say to Him, too. Today as I was reading, this is the passage that stuck out to me:

“When she remembered this, Much-Afraid thought with a little shiver in her heart, ‘He will never be content until he makes me what he is determined that I ought to be,’ and because she was still Much-Afraid and not yet ready to change her name, she added with a pang of fear, ‘I wonder what he plans to do next, and if it will hurt very much indeed?” (pp. 179-180)

I think the reason that this part brought me pause today was that as I read the first part – about being made into “what he is determined that I ought to be “I thought: hmmm, I wonder what he plans to do next. And I wondered if it would be difficult or rather… how much more difficult. And then I turned the page and read the rest of Much-Afraid’s thought and she thought the same thing.

What is great about this book, however, is that it really clearly demonstrates God’s faithfulness to those who are on the journey to the high places. Much-Afraid only needs to call out and the Shepherd is there with her. She is accompanied on her journey by two companions: Sorrow and Suffering – but these companions are strong, help her to be strong, and assist her through the difficult parts of her journey. And all the time, the Shepherd has her on a path that will ultimately lead her to the High Places… it may not be a direct path, but it’s the path that will make her most ready for the high places themselves.

In each new season of my life I learn more about myself. I revisit areas I thought were dead and gone (fear, insecurity, etc). And I reconnect with the One who has been faithful through all these moves and changes.

May the love of the Shepherd be yours today, and may you know his faithfulness as you walk you journey to the high places.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Engaged TV Watching and other updates.

Well friends, I am mostly settled in my new apt. I haven't put anything up on the walls and I have a little bit of organizing to do... hopefully that accounts for the delay in putting up pics. But I will say this: I'm excited about my little bitty space!

Today I officially became a California resident... just in time! Because I had to take a CA written test to get my new driver's license, I happened to learn that I had 10 days, as of moving and taking up residency, to get my license... and the 10th day is today! I wanted to wait, though, until I got the title for the Olds in the mail, so that I could register my car AND get my DL at the same time.

Well, the I got the title yesterday, and I worked a little bit more on studying the driver's manual, and this morning I got up early to make my way to the DMV. There was a hitch, though. First I had to get some smog check. I decided I'd just stop at the first place I saw and get it done - so I managed to do it, but it put me about 30 minutes behind my original schedule. (I had wanted to get to the DMV RIGHT at 9am, so it would be faster) Kudos to the CA DMV, though, it was fast and efficient and I was helped by some very nice women there! So after about two hours at the DMV, I had my car verified and registered, I had taken and passed the written test (I missed three out of 36, but I could have missed 6 and still passed), and gotten my picture taken. Now I have a fancy paper receipt that doubles as my driver's license until I get mine in the mail.

Side note: I think TX still does this, too - but in AZ they printed my DL right there and I thought that was AWESOME! I loved that I left with my actual license in hand!

Sadly, my AZ license... which did not expire until 2039, and which I had only had for 4 months is now invalid, with a hold punched through it. :(

Well, that was my big accomplishment of the day. :) Oh, that and getting my laundry done.


Onto my other big topic... engaged TV watching. I realized that because I 1) live alone and 2) don't really know anyone around here yet and 3) I'm not in school, so I don't have any studying to do.... I am watching a lot of TV, especially at night. And while I watch TV, I am on my laptop. But for the first time EVER, I have been googling and going to websites as I watch TV - websites, etc, that are being talked about or advertised on the TV I'm watching. Seriously.

And suddenly I understood this idea of engaged TV - or integrated TV, maybe. So if I see an interesting commercial I might go to the website, or I was watching Project Runway and Diane Von Furstenberg was a guest and I wanted to know more about her... so I googled her and read about her on Wikipedia, I also look up actors on IMDB while I'm watching them on TV (did you know Drew Carey is 50 years old?!?).

Anyway - does anyone else out there do this? Tonight I'm going to conciously put away my laptop and work on a scrapbooking project, but tomorrow, I know I'll be back on - playing "Tetris Friends" on Facebook (its really fun - you should add it), looking up stuff, and generally being a plugged-in hermit. To be honest, I'm looking forward to being with friends and stopping this whole computer dependency thing!

OOOH, last thing before I put away the computer! I started BSF last night!!! WOO HOO!! For those who are my friends, but haven't heard of BSF - it stands for "Bible Study Fellowship" ( BSF is an interdenominational bible study that takes place all over the world. I joined the young adults (single men and women 18-35 yrs old) group that meets in San Gabriel. Previously, I was in the Seattle young adults group, and even joined the St. Louis group for one year. The bible studies are AMAZING! I credit most of my bible knowledge to the foundation I gained attending BSF. There are also women's and men's groups, so its not a "singles" thing - its a legit bible study. This year we are studying the Life of Moses, from Exodus to Deuteronomy. I did this study back in Seattle in 2001, but I am really excited to see how I encounter scripture as I go through these books this time. I know that it is going to be a challenging experience!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Live from LA... its Tiff's life! post 2 of 2

OK, so on to this week.... :)

We picked up the trailer on Sunday, and loaded it with all my worldy possessions.... OK, it didn't quite all fit in the trailer, but my dad did a great job of loading the trailer, truck and my car. We played one final summer smackdown of Settlers (dad won) and went to sleep early so that we could leave before dawn for LA.

We planned to leave around 5am and actually got on the road about 5:30. It was a good drive, but long (7 hours total) and we got to LA around 1pm. I got my paperwork and keys and we started unloading. It took a long... long... long time. Not quite as long as it took to load, but way harder work. By the time we were done unloading we were exhausted and hungry. However, we wanted to drop off the trailer before we ate. UHaul gave us a drop off place in Santa Monica, and so we eventually made our way out there (got a little lost) and when we got there the parking lot was blocked off!~ Ugh, what a hassle - when I called them, they told me "there wasn't enough room" for our trailer! You can imagine how frustrated we were. So we got some snacks at a gas station and headed to the next location given to us (I had recalled UHaul). That happened to be near my parent's hotel, so we parked and got them checked in. You can imagine at this point we were all a little cranky and still really hungry... but, Ikea was only open until 9pm, and it was already 7, so we decided to head there and eat while we shopped. Well, it was the last day of a three day sale, so it was crazy, but we got the things that were urgent (i..e my bed!) and decided we were too tired to eat there. We left Ikea at 8:30 to head home.

(Bet you didn't know you were in for this much detail when you started reading, huh!? I figure this is what I would tell someone on the phone, so you're getting it here).

While mom and dad looked at the bed parts, I ran to the local grocery store (Ralph's) and picked up some food to eat. I got back and it was 10:30pm. So we were all exhausted, I couldn't even think, I was so tired. But we decided we were too tired to put together the bed, so we ate a little and said goodnight.

Tuesday was a better day - I got up early and unpacked the kitchen, and mom, dad and I went to breakfast at this little bakery down the street. Then I went to get a parking permit, while mom and dad started on the bed. When I got back.... turned out one of the pieces was damaged so we had to go to Ikea AGAIN to exchange it. We had a really nice early dinner at In n Out and then got back home and finished the bed - thankfully. It was quite an experience to get it all together. My folks were supposed to leave around 3pm... but instead left at 7:30!! I am so grateful for them staying so much later than expected to help me get the bed together. That task alone was too much for one person!!

Since Tuesday, I have been running errands and unpacking. I did some shopping to get a few things (storagy) that I needed to make the apartment work better, got my bruin ID card, and have put together my desk area. I am almost ready to take some photos and share my apartment with all of you!

The loft bed was a little scary at first, to be honest, but now that I'm more used to it, the little wiggles it makes when you get on it aren't such a big deal, and it certainly expands the space I have! I think I'll enjoy my little desk area underneath it, and my little living room is looking great. I have a gas stove and oven and that is taking some getting used to, but by next week, I hope I'm an expert!

Final couple things: I am planning to start BSF this week, if possible. There is a Young Adults class (can barely believe I still qualify for that class!) on Tuesday nights, so I'm excited to get started and meet some people that way. I have made a couple new friends and hopefully will continue to get to know people better. And I think I'm going to make it a "regular date" to go to the corner bakery on Friday mornings for breakfast.

Photos to come. Thanks for your prayers.

Live from LA... its Tiff's life! post 1 of 2

Hi Friends!!

You will forgive the long delay in posting, I hope! My last post was the day after my grandfather passed away, and it was hard to get back to posting for a little while after that.

We left Tahoe, with bittersweet feelings, on Saturday the 16th, and when we got back to Laughlin, Nevada (where we had originally met my grama and grampa and picked them up), I drove Grama back to Lake Havasu City in her and grampa's car. It was so sad for us to be driving back from Tahoe without grampa, and I felt it keenly, as where he would have been sitting in the van was instead a bunch of "stuff". Then grama and I had a good drive back to Havasu, but it was sad and hard for both of us.

I was really glad, however, that I was with her for a couple days at the trailer, as I think it would have been even harder for her to be there alone. As it was, I left on Monday and it was a hard week for all of us, especially her. But while I was there, we went through all their papers and boxes to look for important things like the car title, and other stuff. We found some really neat papers and family memories, and I was really pleased to be a part of the discovery. I learned a lot about grampa and grama and I shed a few happy and sad tears together.

I returned home and found that I wanted to do nothing - seriously, I was lethargic and tired. I have done a lot of grief counseling over the last few years, but even knowing what to expect, I was too lethargic to think about it! I took a lot of naps, and sat quietly a lot. One other thing I did, and I think it was a healing experience for me, was make a photo scrapbook of my grandparent's 60th anniversary celebrations (the first couple days of the tahoe trip) for my grandmother. My parents and I went up the following Saturday to Havasu, picked her up and we returned to Laughlin so she could go back again and get that experience over with. Afterward I gave her the album, which made all of us cry, and I was glad to have had the opportunity to spend time with those memories before giving it to her.

I was going to take some pics of the album.... but I forgot before I gave it to her! :(

OK, so then I started packing and making the final arrangements to get here to LA. That is what I will talk about in the next post.

In the meantime, here is the link to the online obituary of my grandfather. In the paper version there were two photos, but I don't have them digitally yet, so you'll have to be content with the pic in the online version, which is from when he was a soldier in world war II (master sergeant):

Friday, August 15, 2008

In Memoriam: Richard K. Smith

This week my family (both sides) traveled to Lake Tahoe to enjoy a huge family reunion. On both sides there were sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles who had not seen each other in years. It was so neat to spend the time with both my mom's side and dad's side of the family. One of the other purposes was to celebrate the 60th wedding anniversary of my grandparents (which took place on June 20).

On Monday night all of us got together on a dinner cruise and sailed around lake tahoe, drinking champagne and celebrating. We even had a cake for grama and grampa's anniversary!

On Tuesday we had a small gathering of just my mom's family with a "trip down 60 years of memory lane." It was an amazing and special time and we all cried with joy.

On Wednesday, tragedy struck, as it does - seemingly randomly, always at the worst time. While a number of us traveled to Reno for the day, my grandfather decided to stay and gamble at Tahoe casinos. Around noon, he had a heart attack and was later airlifted to Carson City. He survived long enough for all of us (except one cousin, who flew in as soon as he could - he was the only one missing from the trip) to be with him at various points through the 24 hours.

But around 1pm Thursday, his heart gave out. He was 83 years old, and loved to laugh and make jokes. He teased my granmother constantly, always trying to get her frustrated with him, but he loved her deeply. He was loved by all who knew him, and was fiercly loyal to his family and friends. He loved to gamble and it was grampa dick who taught us how to bet horses! He was a woodcarver who carved a number of carvings for his church, Faith Lutheran in East Wenatchee, Washington.

He was one of my favorite people in the world. Today my heart, and the hearts of my family are broken. But I also rejoice in knowing that our Lord is the author of every day, and every experience. I have felt God's presence in this time, and saw his mercy in many of the experiences of the week.

Grampa is survived by his wife of 60 years, Joy, two daughters and two son-in-laws who he loved like sons. The daughters gifted him with two grandsons and a granddaughter, and two great-grandchildren. He will be deeply missed.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Music – yours for free, supporting independent musicians

Sometimes I post things that are ads, etc, but this is not an ad – it’s like a Public Service Announcement. There are some Christian Contemporary artists who I really enjoy – among them: Derek Webb, Jill Phillips, and Andy Gullahorn – who are not signed with any major label. There are a lot of reasons for this, and Jill and Andy have been to Baylor Chapel a number of times to talk about piracy and the difficulty of being with a major label. I won’t get into all of it here, because surely I will misrepresent them if I try.

But they have formed a group of independent artists, supporting each other and helping get their music out. In fact, Derek Webb has been releasing his CD’s free of charge for a few years now (I got “Mockingbird” as a free download at least two years ago). Today, I got information about a new website:, that features these artists and others with their albums FREE if you refer three friends to the site, or you can “pay what you want.”

This is a great way to get exposed to new music and to support independent artists. The artists at the site are very diverse in their sound and approach to music, so no matter what kind of music you like, you might find something there to enjoy. I would absolutely recommend the three artists I mentioned above (!)

If you get time, visit and take a listen. If you like it – download some of the albums, refer some friends, and help small (but great) artists to succeed!