Tuesday, December 29, 2009


So much upcoming to the Tiff's Life world.

First - I have a number of crafts I'll be working on soon, including an I-pod pouch and a placemat purse (which I learned about from my friend, Liz). I may end up using a pattern from the web for the I-pod pouch, but for now, I'm working on making the project just from my brain. We'll see how it goes - I can't wait to post the finished project!

Second - I have a ton of pictures and stories to share from my 3 week vacation around America. Hopefully these will be posted by the weekend.

I look forward to sharing all of these things with you, soon!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Book Review: The Liturgical Year: The Spiraling Adventure of the Spiritual Life (by Joan Chittister)

"The Liturgical Year" is part of the Ancient Practices series (see my friend Beth's recommendation about another Ancient Practices book here), and is a terrific addition to it. Whether you are looking for an informative read to learn more about the purpose of the Christian Liturgy, or desiring a devotional study, this book fits the bill. Chittister, a Benedictine Nun, is an excellent writer with a strong understanding of the historical aspects of the church year. However, she also writes thoughtfully, answering questions the reader might be asking about "How does this all apply to me?"

The book begins by providing a brief historical account of different world calendars and how the liturgical calendar fits in, emphasizing the importance of the cyclical nature of the liturgical year and explaining the components of the year itself (e.g. Sunday/Sabbath, Advent, Christmas, Ordinary Time, Lent, Easter). Soon she delves into detail about the different elements, spending more time on the more important events in the Christian year, such as Advent/Christmastide and Lent/Easter. Each event is explained from a historical perspective and a devotional perspective. While sometimes the text is somewhat wordy, and there are weird "quotes" throughout the pages that are highlighted - but are essentially what you just read in the paragraph, the book is insightful and enjoyable.The chapters are relatively short and if you read one per day, you would finish the book in just over a month of devotional readings.

For me, the first half of the book was especially powerful and poignant. The chapter on Advent is entitled "Advent: The Human Experience of Waiting" and it was interesting that I ended up reading it actually during Advent. This meant that God had my attention because every sermon was about waiting and hope, and so was this chapter. She says, "the year opens with Advent, the season that teaches us to wait for what is beyond the obvious.It trains us to see what is behind the apparent. Advent makes us look for God in all those places we have, until now, ignored" (p. 59). In this chapter she argues that learning to wait expectantly and patiently is a key element to spiritual maturity. As I was reminded of the stories of Simeon and Anna during this Advent season, I realized that in order to be more spiritually mature, I must also learn to wait in hopefulness and watchfulness for what God has for me.

Later, in the chapter on Ordinary Time (which happens twice, first between Epiphany and Lent, and then between Easter and Advent), she teaches about the problem of self-indulgence and the wisdom in asceticism (or withholding from the self certain pleasures). I was reminded how important it is to train my body to submit to my mind and spirit.

All in all, its a great read and I give it 4.5 Thomas Kincaide calendars out of 5. It may be a little cerebral for some people, but if you are willing to go with her down the road, it is both informative and completely emotionally engaging.


Sunday, December 27, 2009

10 Years in Tiff's Life

Wow. I kind of forgot that 2009 signaled the end of the first decade of this millenium. Well, at least until I got the "Decade in Review" issue of Entertainment Weekly. So first, I'll say that I wish that at the end of the decade movies and newspapers did both the year in review issue AND the decade in review issue - because I think the good things of that year get short shrift when competing with 9 other years.

That being said, I'm totally just posting a decade in review update rather than both. Forgive me - on the bright side, 2009 was pretty uneventful compared to 1999, in "Tiff's Life." To make this post most efficient, I decided to categorize some of the happenings.

Births: I celebrated the births of SO MANY of my friend's kids; including 3 new Fergason children (Jared, Drexel, and Brooklin - though Andi was also born during the decade), and 1 of my two Godchildren (Evan). As I try to enumerate the other births, the number skyrockets as so many of my high school, college, and post-college friends began to have babies. In the last decade, there have been upwards of 20 kids born to friends of mine. What a joy this has been to see, and I can't wait to see how many more are added at the start of the next decade, including those who will come early in the year: Baby Cruikshank, Baby Martin, and Baby Peterson! These three babies are ones I have been praying for for some time, and so are especially precious to me!

Weddings: Similar to births, masses of my friends were married in the last decade. I was able to be a participant in many of the weddings and was grateful for the opportunity to serve my friends in a variety of ways. In the last 10 years, I served the Browns, the Wangs, the Koonces, the Martin-Werntzs, the Smiths, the Cruikshanks, and maybe a few others that are lost in the haze of memory as scripture reader, house party, bridesmaid, and maid of honor, among other things. These weddings are just a drop in the bucket of weddings I attended all over the country as my friends came of marrying age, and as my college students also began getting married. Being a part of these weddings often reminded me of my committment to God as his bride until I take a husband, and also filled me with great joy as I saw friends make lifetime vows to each other.

Deaths: The most important loss to me in this decade was my Grampa Dick, who passed away at a family reunion in 2008, while we were together celebrating his 60-year marriage to my Grama Joy. His loss is a shadow on a terrific decade, but knowing that he is rejoicing in Heaven and that we will see him again someday brings me great peace. I also lost an old friend, Mike Cook, to suicide, and a dear elderly friend, Rosella Kessler, to illness. Rosella is Scotty Kessler's mom (my old football coach at Greenville) and was a sweet supporter of mine from 2003 until her passing. She even called me when she got the email that my Grampa had died and gave me sweet words of kindness and support.

Moves: I remember ringing in 2000 with old college friends at Ryan and Julie's house in Redmond - and I also remember having no idea what was in store for me in the upcoming years. In the last decade I moved from Bremerton to Renton (back to my old neighborhood, actually) and moved from JCPenney to Eddie Bauer. After that I moved across country for the first time to Greenville, IL to work at Greenville College. Next I moved down the country to Waco, Tx to work and study at Baylor University. I moved back across the country west, with a brief stop (for the summer) in Phoenix and eventually landing at UCLA in Los Angeles, CA. All told, I think that I have driven approximately 5,000 miles (just in moves!) in the past 10 years.

Jobs: Likewise, I have been a Jill of All Trades this decade. I started the decade as a Merchandising Manager at JCPenney, went on to be an Allocator and then Store Planner at Eddie Bauer; later I was a Coordinator of Football Operations and then Fitness Center Director, Recruiting Coordinator for Softball, Senior Women's Administrator and Consultant for Football at Greenville College. Following that, I was the Graduate Assistant for Chaplain Ministries in the
Office of Spiritual Life at Baylor University. Before starting my "job" as a PhD student at UCLA, I worked as a Nanny and Housekeeper in Phoenix one summer. Yes folks, apparently I do it all!

Birthdays: In 1999, I celebrated a really fun 25th birthday in Las Vegas with Anne and Shawn Brown and my folks (that was a terrific time!), in 2004, I broke into my 30's with a field-day party (which meant barbeque and three-legged races, etc) and Greenville friends, and in 2009, I welcomed 35 by celebrating with some old friends in TX after we finished celebrating Sarah's and Myles's wedding. All of those celebrations were terrific!!

As this decade comes to a close, I am so grateful for the friends I've made and experiences I've had. I started Bible Study Fellowship in 1999, and learned so much about my faith as a Christian and who the Lord was calling me to be. I also made many great friends through my years in BSF. The Lord's provision through that ministry has been awesome! I went on my first international mission trip (to Chile in 2002) and domestic trip (Hurricane Katrina relief in 2005). And led 17 students on a trip to Kenya, Nairobi to serve there in the summer of 2007. I also ran my first long-distance races: The Seattle Half-Marathon in 2000 and the Honolulu Marathon in 2001. I was baptized in this decade, which gave me a great opportunity to share my testimony with family and friends. And began mentoring and discipling women in the Christian faith - the women the Lord has had me work with have been tremendous and taught me as much as I taught them!

Also, as a new decade begins, I look forward to what the Lord has in store for me and my family. I'm praying for an increase in hope and expectation as I think of the things I wish for in my life. I pray for you, also, friend, that this new decade would bring an increase of faith and an increase of hope, and that the things you have been hoping for would be made incarnate.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Unto You a Child Is Born!

At Christmas time, I love remembering that the angels came to the shepherds and said, "Do not be afraid! I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be for all the people. Unto us a child is born!"

And then it makes me think of the little girl at the end of the "Best Christmas Pageant Ever" who stands outside the church and shouts "Unto you a child is born!!" to the neighborhood. Which always makes me cry for some reason - maybe because its important to remember that this great joy really is for ALL people.

Friends - unto YOU a child is born. God came down, leaving all the blessings and power of heaven, so that he could experience what we experience, and ultimately pay the penalty that was owed for our sins. May the Good News of today bring you great joy and peace.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

In honor of the upcoming holidays - some of my faves!

I am slowly working on a "Highlights of the Decade" list, but in the meantime, I'm posting some of my favorite holiday movies of all time - probably not a "top 10" (I'm sure I'll forget some) and not in any order (its too hard to put them in order).... But here goes. I look forward to your feedback and comments on YOUR faves!

The Family Man
* This is an old Riggers family favorite - and by that I mean my dad cries every time we watch it. Starring Nicolas Cage and Tea Leoni, it is the story of a man who has everything... but feels completely empty. After running into Don Cheadle, however, he is suddenly in a different life... a life he could have had, "if only."
It's a sweet and funny reminder of why family matters. And the little girl in it is precious and really entertaining. I hope you'll consider checking it out!

All I Want for Christmas
* My senior year in high school, my volleyball team was awesome. But a series of events led to a loss in the district championship game and that meant the season was over one week earlier than we expected. So my boyfriend at the time planned this great date that included a trip to the Point Defiance Zoo (in Tacoma, Wa), followed by lunch out and a movie. Since it was late in the year, he took me to see "All I want for Christmas." It was just what I needed.
All little Haley wants for Christmas is for her parents to get married again, and since she still believes in Santa Claus, she of course travels to Macy's to ask Santa for this one small thing...; and her brother, Ethan, comes up with an elaborate scheme to make it happen. Its an entertaining and touching story that also has plenty of laughs thanks to the kids and Kevin Nealon as mom's new boyfriend.

White Christmas
* This is probably my favorite Christmas movie. I love the script, the music, and the dancing. I don't even know that I can say more than this: When "White Christmas" is on, I am smiling. If you like musicals even a teeny little bit, you will love this movie.

While You Were Sleeping
* I watch this movie year round, even though its set at Christmas and New Years - its just a terrific movie. Starring Sandra Bullock (so you can really not go wrong) and Bill Pullman (who is a totally believable love interest somehow), its the story of a woman who falls in love with a man she sees at work - and before she knows it is falling in love with his whole family.
I find it hard to believe that you haven't seen this one, readers, but just in case, that's all I'm gonna say. Its a classic.

* I love this movie. Its completely ridiculous, but hilarious and fun. Buddy the Elf finds out he's actually NOT an elf after all. Thus, he heads to New York City from the North Pole to find his father. Hilarity ensues, of course! Enjoy!

The Holiday
* When I first saw this movie, I both loved and hated it. I loved that the women ended up happy, I hated that they started lonely because they were single or their boyfriends were louses (either way or both) - and that the message of the movie is that you can meet and find your soul mate basically, between Christmas and New Year's Eve, and that you are not whole unless you are mated up. But despite my discomfort with those two themes (which are pretty much the hallmark of any rom-com), I fell in love with it. I love Kate Winslet and Jack Black and their funny encounters, I love Eli Wallach and how perfectly he was cast for that role. I love Jude Law and how he turns out to be a sweet and mushy, not debonair at all. And I think Cameron Diaz is delightful. So there. I like it. You will probably like it too.

Love Actually
* Maybe my second favorite Christmas-themed movie, it is both entertaining and funny, crass, and touching. Yes, there is some nudity (and let me tell you, it was awkward to watch it when I saw it in the theater with my parents and my two youngest aunts....) - but that is one of my favorite stories, since those characters, who are stand-ins for an NC-17 type movie, eventually - well just pay attention to their final lines in the airport - its sweet. The other stories are equally infuriating, sad, hopefull, and happy.... and what you take away is a reminder that no family is perfect but that love "is actually all around." Oh, and the soundtrack is tremendous.

Other good ones you might want to check out:
* Its a Wonderful Life
* Miracle on 34th St. (the original)
* Sleepless in Seattle
* You've Got Mail
* National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
* Muppet Christmas Carol
* Home Alone

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Final's Fun!

Its not Friday, and I haven't really been posting Friday Fun this quarter because I was kind of overwhelmed with school and life - -- - - BUT, today is like Friday to me for three reasons:

1) All my coursework for the quarter is complete.
2) The conference I was attending on Spirituality in Higher Ed is complete
3) I have finished my last school related meetings for the quarter

And in honor of my "friday feelings," this is for all y'all to enjoy with me.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Grace for today. Bright hope for tomorrow.

“It is a consoling thought that Christ is praying for us, even when we are negligent in our prayer life; that he is presenting to the Father those spiritual needs which were not present to our minds and which we often neglect to include in our prayers; and that he prays for our protection against the dangers of which we are not even conscious, and against the enemies which threaten us, though we do not notice it. He is praying that our faith may not cease, and that we may come out victoriously in the end.”-Louis Berkhof

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Selling Stampin' Up Sets

Hey Friends,

This is random, but I am selling 4 stampin' up stamp sets. They are posted below. If you are interested in buying any (or all) of them, please put a note in the comments below and include your email address. I will reply to you by email and we'll work out mailing, payment, etc. For each of them, the shipping will be an additional $5.

See the photos below to see what I'm selling. (p.s. I decided not to sell on ebay because there 22oo - seriously - sets for sale there, so it seems like this is just as good as an option.)

Set 1: Fun in the Sun
Condition: NEW; Price: $15

Set 2: Are We There Yet (may or may not be the "real" name)
Condition: Used Once, cleaned; Price: $10

Set 3: Kids at Play
Condition: Used Twice, cleaned; Price $10

Set 4: Rainy Day Fun (this is my favorite set, but I just don't have time to do anything with it!)
Condition: Used 3 times, cleaned; Price $10

Giving Thanks in 2009

This year has been a hard one. But despite that, or maybe because of it, I want to relate a few things for which I am sincerely thankful. This year at Thanksgiving, we went around the table and each said something we were thankful for, but the problem is that once someone says "family being together" you feel like a schmo if you say the same thing, and even more of a schmo if you don't!

So this list includes big things (like family) and little things (like my new TV) in no particular order:

* the opportunity to study at UCLA
* my small group at church
* the ladies I sit with in church
* my Tuesday morning talks with grama
* that my mom likes talking to me daily
* that I can pay my rent with my southwest visa... which has helped net me a few free tickets this year
* that I've been able to travel to visit friends and family using those free tickets
* knowing God loves me and is with me, even when I don't feel it
* my parents visiting me every quarter
* my dad's success at ASU and my mom's success at Qwest
* my brother's engagement and soon-to-be new family
* research ideas and support for those projects
* getting two papers/presentations accepted at different conferences
* my cohort buddies
* my new TV
* my loveseat (see earlier posts!)
* that my car is working great
* Dollar Dinners at Dustin and Jeremiah's house on Wednesdays
* my friends who are newly married
* my friends who are expecting babies

I know that these are just the tip of the iceberg. But knowing that makes it even better.

More posts to come!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Movie Review: Lars and the Real Girl

Tonight my friends Dave and Jenn came over. It was great to host people at my house, which is something I don't get to do often enough since I came to LA, but which I love doing. I made an appetizer with figs and gorgonzola (recipe coming to you soon, Candice!) and apple pecan pinwheels for dessert (outstanding). They brought the salad, pop, and ice cream and we ordered pizza. OK, yes, that sounds like a lot of food and it was!

Anyway, this post is really less about the food than it is about the movie we watched "Lars and the Real Girl."

When this movie came out in 2007, I wasn't really sure about the premise and if I wanted to see it. When my friend Laura visited in September she mentioned it to me and told me how it was a little bit odd, but that she loved it and thought I would too. At her recommendation, I cued it up in my Netflix and waited anxiously for it to arrive. Unfortunately, it arrived the afternoon I left for the conference in Vancouver, and so I didn't get a chance to watch it until tonight!
* special note... I just spoke with Laura today and she said it was NOT her who recommended that movie to me... so if you recommended it, and you read this blog, then speak up...otherwise, we'll pretend it was Laura for now.
* reference Sarah's comment below - it was totally Sarah that recommended it. Thanks for the rec, Sarah!

Its hard for me to know how much to share with you about the plot, so I'll try to give you a little bit without giving too much away. Essentially, Lars is lonely. He ends up buying a life-sized "Love Doll" over the internet and treats her as though she is his girlfriend. Bianca, his "girlfriend," becomes a part of the community and helps Lars make connections with his family and friends. Its a touching movie about love and loss.

So much about this movie really connected with me. Its no secret that since coming to LA, I have been exceedingly lonely and that the loneliness is sometimes intensified as I celebrate the marriages and pregancies of my friends. I long for connection with people that I don't really have here, and that's been hard. So as I watched Lars interact with Bianca as though she was real, I kind of understood. I could relate to wanting to have someone who listened and who you listened to. I could relate to wanting to have someone to do things with. And I could relate to how much better it is to have a date to take with you places like parties, than to go alone. I don't think I'm at a place of mental illness that I would actually take a mannequin or sex doll with me places, pretending he was real, but it made sense to me. Bianca becomes, for Lars, a gateway into all these other places of life - a way to help him gain courage and weirdly, acceptance.

This movie might end up being like "Stranger Than Fiction" in my movie collection - a slightly odd movie that speaks to bigger issues and touches my heart. I love movies that have glimpses of truth, and "Lars and the Real Girl" is one. Check it out if you get the chance!

Five "love dolls" out of five.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

October Visits!

About 2 weeks after I got back from my mom's birthday weekend, I welcomed Bethany and Ryan back to the beautiful city of LA! Bethany is a good friend from my Greenville days. I love having her around and so it was great to see her, even if only for half a day! Ryan is a budding filmmaker and had a film showing at the LA Children's Film Festival. (His film was terrific - it was a documentary about a program at the Tacoma Museum of Glass called: Kids Design Glass) I am hoping that Ryan and Bethany end up here in LA for Film School - because it would be great for Ryan and because it would mean that I would get to have Bethany in my life more often!

After watching a few short films, we headed down the street to get some dinner together.

Before they dropped me off we shared a Diddy Reise experience!

The week after Bethany and Ryan were in town, my parents came over for a long anticipated visit. Because my dad is in school this year, it is difficult to find times for them to come over to LA - and because I'm in school its difficult for me to get there very often. This means that although I had just seen my mom a few weeks earlier, I had not seen my dad since before his semester started in August. We had been looking forward to this visit, even though we knew that it was going to be short - as in 24 hours. My parents arrived Saturday around noon (having left early that morning from Phoenix) and we had a fantastic time together until they left on Sunday mid-day.

Once a month there is a "Public Star Party" at the Griffith Observatory. It's this really cool thing where the LA Astronomical Society comes out to the observatory lawn and puts up all their telescopes and anyone gets to look through them. It just so happened that the weekend my parents were in town coincided with the star party. It also happens that my dad loves astronomy and space (as do my mom and I... but my dad especially).

So when my parents arrived, we got them checked into their hotel and then headed off to the Olive Garden for a late lunch. I had requested a meal at OG, because I never get to go there and we had a GREAT time. Good food, good wine, and a really nice time to get caught up. Afterward we headed up to the observatory. It was so crazy and busy up there! But we got settled and then mom relaxed in the chairs we had brought, reading and watching the sunset, while dad and I explored the observatory. It was really terrific. The observatory is incredible, the view is beautiful and the sunset was spectacular. We went to the Planetarium show, which was entertaining and really well-done (and only $5). Then afterward came out and looked in some telescopes! I got to see Jupiter and 4 of its moons. That was pretty sweet. We had breakfast the next morning at Denny's (which is just down the block, about 40 yards, from their hotel) and then said goodbye as I headed to church. They ended up going to the beach for a couple hours before heading out of town.

It was a great visit. Too short, but we all needed a little time together get us through to Thanksgiving, so I was really grateful that they drove all the way out to LA for a one day visit with moi.

Dad outside the observatory. I think this should be his facebook profile pic if he decides to set up a FB account. :) I love the sunset light on his face and the observatory in the twilight.
The observatory at twilight with the moon on the rise behind it.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Book Review: For God and Stephen Mansfield

“The Search for God and Guinness” by Stephen Mansfield is the story of the Guinness family and how the family and those associated with the organization used their wealth and influence to advance the cause of social justice in Ireland. Mansfield is a well-known biographer who has tackled Presidents Bush and Obama as well as Winston Churchill and Booker T. Washington (among others). In this text, he meanders through the story of Arthur Guinness (the founder of the Guinness company) and his offspring, sharing anecdotes and historical facts about the storied family – all while extolling the benefits of a good glass of Guinness stout.

I expected to really enjoy this book and the beginning didn’t disappoint. Though its organization is a little confusing (it starts with a sort of history of beer and Guinness in particular, then talks about history, then gets to Arthur after 30+ pages), I did enjoy the stories. I didn’t know that beer was often brewed as an alternative to hard liquor, and that everyone was drinking either liquor or beer because the water was contaminated. Fascinating stuff. However, about mid-way through the story seemed to grow weaker and I found less real information to support the idea that the Guinnesses throughout time were great God-fearing people, and learned that there were a lot of people in the early years of Guinness who did great things for God, and some of them were Guinnesses, and some just worked there. I’m a biography lover, but ultimately, this book didn’t hold my interest after about 150 pages. It was hard work getting through the rest.

If you like biographies and beer, you might enjoy it. I’ll still loan it to my beer loving friends, but I can only rate it 2 ½ pints out of 5.

Mom Turns 60!

My dad has 6 sisters as some of you know. As the siblings have turned 60, they have tried to get together and do something special for them. You might recall my post from early April when I flew to Phoenix as a surprise for my dad's 60th - 3 of my aunts and one uncle flew in, too, and we had a great fun-filled birthday weekend.

My aunts wanted to do something for my mom that was equally as special. After a lot of planning, they flew my mom up to Seattle for a girl's weekend of her favorite things. I flew up, too, and was blessed to be able to spend her birthday with her and my aunts. AND my aunt Becky (my mom's sister) was able to come, too. All in all, it was a great time. You'll see a few pics below.

I got a ton of homework done in the airport on Friday before meeting my mom at her gate at Seatac. Gloria and Donna picked us up and surprised us by booking us a hotel room for Friday night. We met up with my aunt Anita, uncle Brian and my cousin Monica at a mall near the hotel and had one of our favorite Seattle treats: Taco Time! We then went to the movie: Couples Retreat, which was pretty good (3.5/5).

That night mom and I stayed at the hotel and I gave mom her birthday gift from me and Ben: an Ipod Shuffle! It is hot pink and adorable, and on the back it was engraved with "Happy 60th! Love B & T." We also gave her a set of headphones (so she doesn't have to use earbuds) and they are hot pink, too! I had loaded it with some of her favorite music, and charged it up so it was ready to use. It was the perfect gift for her!

The next day was a whirlwind. We met up with the girls for breakfast at Denny's and had a rollicking good time. We headed to my aunt Anita's house to relax and spend more time chatting. Then after lunch, we went up to Redmond to a little wine shop and enjoyed a wine tasting with appetizers. Really delightful. Then, while the gals were getting stuff together for the rest of the evening, I took mom and aunt Becky to a nail place in Kirkland and we all got pedicures!! It was my mom's first pedicure and she loved it! That night we had a great dinner together and created a scrapbook for my mom of memories from throughout her life. We titled it: "Recipes for Life", and it was neat that we all contributed pages and memories to it!

On Sunday morning, we headed to the Snoqualmie Casino for a terrific (and I mean TERRIFIC) brunch and a little gambling. Afterward, we headed to the airport via the Longhorn Barbecue shop in Kent (this is one of our other favorite Northwest spots). Mom picked up some sandwiches to take to the boys back home, and after a quick stop in Renton at my aunt Linda's apartment, we dropped her off at the airport. I left early the next morning. It was a super birthday weekend and I think my mom felt loved!

Breakfast on Saturday

Wine Tasting at Redmond Ridge


Some gag gifts got everyone laughing.

All the girls at Sunday Brunch!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Time sure flies...

Clearly school has started. My sheer lack of real posts (the book review doesn't count) since my aunts' visit the week before school is evidence enough of the life I have been living for the past few months. It has been crazy! Gloria and Donna left town the Monday after the Emmy's (see earlier posts) and school started that week. This quarter has been my most intense by far, since starting at UCLA. The quarter seems to be flying along and I am just barely keeping up. But tonight I'm committed to taking a few minutes to giving you a run down of the highlights of the last 5 weeks.

School started up with a bang. I am taking a "cognate" this quarter, which is any class that is outside of the school of education. The cognate requirement (I must take 3 before I can take my doctoral qualifying exams) is designed to be an individualized component to each student's educational program. In theory, these courses should inform the student's dissertation (or at least the refining of a dissertation topic). In reality, there are very few courses being offered at times that I can take them (when they don't conflict with a required course) that speak to the issues of: religion and spirituality, moral or ethical formation, history of religion or ethics, etc.

All of this to say that I'm taking this great (but exhausting) Psychology course: Psychology of Intimate Relationships. We read a LOT, and write a 2-3 pg paper every week related to the reading. Because the material is completely new to me, it has been a really challenging addition to my schedule. And though I don't know that its particularly related to my dissertation thoughts at this point, but I'm learning a lot in general.

I'm also taking a research methods course in qualitative methods, and a research practicum course - for both of these I will have a research proposal completed by the end of the semester or before. Finally, I'm taking a "research apprenticeship course" - we only meet 5 times per quarter, but this is a great opportunity for me and the other 5 peeps in my class to make progress on our own research projects.

So these projects are mostly cumulative - for the research proposals we work on a little bit of it each week - which is nice, but they all require research and writing and rewriting, etc. Which means that I have felt swamped since the start of school.

My final addition to that was wrapping up my summer job. When the summer ended and the quarter began, I still had a little bit of work left for my final evaluation of the summer program. It was hard to get the time set aside to get that work finished - though now I FINALLY have done it. I'm proud to have turned in what I hope is a helpful report to the CENS office and I am glad to have had the experience of program evaluation. To go along with the finalization of the project, my co-evaluator and I (she did the high school program and I did the undergraduate program) presented a poster with some key findings at a recent reearch conference on campus.

So there you have it friends. My school-life in a nutshell. If I lived life in a vacuum, then that would be all there is to tell you, but in reality, there has been so much more going on, as well. I'll elaborate in a few other posts, but I traveled to Seattle in the beginning of October to celebrate my Mom's 60th birthday, my friends Bethany and Ryan were down for a day a few weeks later, and my parents came into town for 24 hours to visit their daughter. And finally, this week I head to Vancouver for the ASHE conference - where I am (praise God) not presenting anything, but will enjoy hearing about current higher ed research, and making connections with other higher ed peeps.

Visit recaps in other posts. Stay tuned!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Book Review: Find your Strongest Life by Marcus Buckingham

The author of “Now, Discover your Strengths” (among other books) now directs his attention toward women with “Find your Strongest Life,” subtitled: what the happiest and most successful women do differently." Buckingham provides examples of successful and unsuccessful women and then provides a framework of roles (similar to strengths) to help women understand how they can work most successfully. He also offers a section on solutions to questions related to careers, relationships and kids.

I have to be honest, friends. I didn’t like it. I have read Buckingham’s previous books on strengths and consider myself a “strengths-person.” I believe in the strengths finder program and the idea that we should be working primarily to improve our strengths (not our weaknesses) and that we should try to operate in our strengths as much as possible. I’ve also heard him speak before and enjoyed it. So I am as surprised as you are about my lack of enthusiasm for this book. Here were my major problems with it: 1. It took too long to get to the solutions – I had to read almost 100 pages before the roles were identified. 2. The examples were unclear and too wordy. I read two chapters with no idea what characteristics I was supposed to be identifying in the main examples. And 3. It is 100% geared toward working women/mothers. I found little value here for the stay-at-home mother, and if I were a stay-at-home mom, I would get a sense that Buckingham would feel I am better used in the work world.

That being said – perhaps this book IS written for the working woman/mother. In that case, then it may be more readable and more helpful. I thought the roles that he assigns are interesting and I can see myself in some of them, and I thought that after he explained the roles, the examples were much more clearly articulated and easy to understand.

I took the strong life test twice and was disappointed in the test: 23 questions that often had no relationship to my life, but more importantly, the four options for answers generally did not encompass ANY of the responses I would have to those situations. Or I was forced to pick an answer when my real action would have been some combination of two. The first time I took the test, I think the roles assigned to me were the most like me. The second time, I answered 3 questions differently, I think and the roles were completely different and one was totally unlike me.

For your money, I would buy one of Buckingham’s book on the strengths instead.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

"Hooray for Hollywood!" (subtitled: a great visit with my aunts)

So yesterday I told you about my visit with my dear friend Laura. Laura was with me as I celebrated my one-year anniversary of living in LA. But the celebrations and the fun of summer did not end with her visit! A couple days after she left, I was back at the Hollywood Bowl, with some friends from church, enjoying box seats at a production of the Berliotz Reqium - amazing. And then just a couple days after that, two of my aunts arrived for a week-long visit.

My dad, as some of you know, has six sisters. Well, the youngest 2 are about 10 years younger than the next oldest. Which means that they are only just over 10 years old than me. Gloria and Donna have often been more like big sisters (especially in my adulthood) than aunts, and we always have a good time when we're together.

This trip, they had booked a week at a resort in Anaheim (near Disneyland), so we split our time - about 1/2 in Orange County, and 1/2 up here. Glo and Don arrived on Saturday and came up to Westwood for just a little bit before heading down to their place. We had In-n-Out then I took them on a surprise field trip. I confidently put in a certain address into my aunt's GPS on her phone and we started off. I was a little surprised at where the GPS was taking us, but I had not been to the surprise destination before, so I wasn't 100% sure where we were going. I felt like maybe we were headed in the wrong direction, but I'm not an LA native, so we followed the GPS. And ended up at 1100 Venice Blvd. The wrong one. This is what it looked like:

This is what it was supposed to look like:Yes! I was taking them to "Rydell High" from Grease - which is actually Venice High School (about 4 miles from my apt - meanwhile we drove about 15 miles into East LA before realizing our mistake and driving alllll the way back). A funny start to the beginning of the trip!

On Sunday we had our first (of many) days at Disneyland! It was pretty busy and VERY hot, but we had a great time going on all the rides we could get to before we were just too blooming tired. I stayed overnight at their resort and we headed for round 2 the next day. Glo wasn't feeling well, so just Donna and I took in the park on Monday. Mondays and Fridays are great days at the park - hardly busy once school starts, so it was nice to have shorter lines. We finished the day by riding the rafting ride at California Adventure 3x in a row and then heading to the California Screamin' roller coaster for our last ride.
(Here we are with Sulley from Monster, Inc. at California Adventure)

Tuesday began the "Hollywood" portion of our visit! The gals drove up early to my apartment and we headed into Burbank for a tour of the Warner Bros. studio. We had a good time learning about how they make television and movies. We saw some famous sets (like the El train from ER, and Central Perk from Friends) and a great display of costumes (including a bunch of them from the Harry Potter movies). We also saw Zachary Levi (from Chuck) as we were driving on the lot.( at Central Perk from Friends!)

After the tour, we had tickets to see a taping of the Ellen Degeneres show. It was a really fun experience! The guests that day were Jennifer Aniston and the Dave Matthews Band!! We saw a short outdoor concert with the DMB and the whole audience recieved "Shake-It Weights" - which are a silly weight lifting system - you can check it out on the ellen website.

Later that night, we went back to Westwood for some good Chinese food (Mr. Noodle!) and were able to see Jennifer Aniston and Aaron Eckhart on the red carpet at the premiere of "Love Happens" - that was a fun finish to the night, even though we didn't get to get into the movie.

Wednesday and Thursday, Gloria and Donna hung out in Orange County and I spent the two days working. But Thursday afternoon, they came back up to LA and we drove to the Bonnie Hunt show in Culver City. I think this was even better than Ellen! Bonnie is so personable and after the show she actually came up and talked to the audience, shaking their hand and saying "Thanks for coming!" The main guest for the show was Queen Latifah and we all received copies of her new CD!! I was really excited that the week included getting to see Jennifer Aniston, Queen Latifah, Bonnie Hunt, Ellen, AND the Dave Matthews Band in person. What a week!

I drove down to Anaheim on Friday and the three of us took Disneyland by storm one last time. It was a really fun day - we did all the rides we really liked one more time. Very fun!

Saturday was "beach day" so we met up at Scotty's in Hermosa Beach for a fish - and -chips lunch and then walked on the beach a little bit. Afterward, we drove along beach blvd and ended up hanging out at a beach watching people practice hang gliding. It was a beautiful view, the people were nice, and it was really cool to watch them fly over the dunes. Later we drove into Redondo to see "Love Happens" - then headed home to rest up for our big Sunday plans.

Sunday was the last day of the visit, and we had saved our "coolest" thing for last. Gloria and Donna had gotten us tickets to sit on the bleachers at the red carpet for the Emmy awards. We got there after breakfast and were hoping for a cool day, but it was right in the middle of our heat wave - so it was hot as the sun out there! Once we got onto the bleachers, we got gift bags - including a little backpack from People magazine and an Emmy t-shirt! They also provided us with free water and coke. It was a long wait until things started happening, but soon celebrities had filled the red carpet and we could barely keep track of the people going by! Highlights for us: julia louis-dreyfuss, the cast of 30 Rock and the Office, bob newhart, jeff probst, among others. We were totally exhausted by the end, but it was totally worth it! We came back to the apartment, ordered some pizza and watched a little bit of the broadcast before the gals headed back to their hotel to get ready to fly out the next day.

(Our "Emmy's 61st" bleacher wristbands!)

(we were in the bleachers right near a giant Emmy statuette, and across from Nancy O'Dell and the Extra stage)

(Why yes, LL and Chris, I would love to accompany you into the theater. Oh, what was that, you already have families and were just looking at me in my beautifulness and saying "hello"? Well, then "Hello to you, good sirs")

It was a terrific visit full of great memories!! More pictures available on facebook, and I'll try to get an album posted here or on Flickr, too.

Recent Visits


You have been so patient! I am grateful for it. I just looked back and noticed that I hadn't posted about my friend Laura's visit yet, either!

So Laura is one of my best friends. Her husband, Andy, was on staff at Greenville Football when I was. And though I had met them briefly once at one of Andy's Arena Football games, our first real meeting was at my 30th birthday party! We had invited them to come to Greenville and get to know all of us, and it happened to be my birthday party. :)

Well, since then, the Lord has been so faithful to knit Laura and I together. We became dear friends and have supported each other through a number of joys and sorrows. She came to visit in early September (over labor day), but before that we had not seen each other for three years! We were so excited about this visit - we had been anticipating it for literally months!

Laura had never been to California, and never seen the Pacific Ocean, so going to the beach was high on the list, as was a trip to Hollywood and Beverly Hills, some shopping (I needed her to help me buy pants!) and Disneyland. We also anticipated a lot of walks and naps as a part of the trip.

After picking her up, we went straight to the beach, so that she could get her toes into the ocean as soon as possible. We drove to Santa Monica, parked and walked. The sand was so hot that day we about burned our tootsies off, but getting to the water was worth it. We also walked along the pier before heading back to the car. The best part is that there was a pack of seals off the end of the pier that were having fun together jumping in and out of the water! They ended up swimming pretty close to the dock (50 feet-ish) so we got a nice close view of them. That was a special treat!(Laura posing at Santa Monica beach - the original home of Muscle Beach)

The next day, we slept in, then packed lunches and headed to Hermosa Beach (my favorite beach). It was the perfect beach day - it was nice and warm, and the breeze wasn't too cool. We ended up swimming a little bit in the ocean (it was actually not cold, which was wonderful), reading, napping, walking, and talking. After we had gotten our fill of sun (and a little sunburn), we headed into Redondo for mexican food and then a cheap movie. All in all, it was a great day!

Saturday, we headed to Hollywood and enjoyed delicious pretzels and a tour of Hollywood and Beverly Hills. Then we went shopping out in the valley (this was a highlight for me - because I really needed Laura's opinion and help!).
(Laura with Samuel L. Jackson... at Mme Toussaud's Wax Museum in Hollywood)

Sunday, Laura came with me to church and helped with the kiddos. It was really fun to have her there! Afterward, we ate some lunch and toured the UCLA campus. That night we met up with my friend Jessica and a friend of hers, and the four of us went to the Hollywood Bowl. We packed food and ate in our seats before the show began. The show itself was amazing. Each year they do a "Night at the Movies" and this year it was a tribute to Rodgers and Hammerstein - so the symphony orchestra played parts of the scores to R&H movies while they showed the movies on screens throughout the ampitheater. We got to watch the scenes and listen to the vocals from the movie while the score was performed live. It was really incredible!! What a great night!
(Laura and I at the Hollywood Bowl before the show)

On Monday we headed to Disneyland, which was another fun day. We rode some rides, tried to stay out of the heat, and I loved seeing Laura experience it all. It was Laura's first time, and we are excited to go back again someday with Andy and their kids as well!
(We got Laura a "1st Visit" pin at Disneyland!)

Laura left on Tuesday, bringing our great reunion to an end. We had a great time and can't wait to get together again!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A funny moment from Ellen

See friends... I'm trying to placate you with book reviews and funny videos until I stop running around so much and have a minute to update the blog. There are awesome updates to come, though - maybe tonight even! But classes started this week, so its been intense. But tonight, perhaps I will take a minute as SYTYCD runs in the background to post an update of my aunts' recent visit.

In the meantime, enjoy this funny game between Ellen and Heidi Klum (I love Heidi, though I do NOT love the outfit she is wearing here. She looks like a polka dot marshmallow with no hands)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Book Review: Seaside Letters by Denise Hunter

This week I’m reviewing a fiction book by Denise Hunter called “Seaside Letters.” It’s the story of Sabrina and Tucker, who live on the small island of Nantucket. Sabrina works as a waitress and serves Tucker (a captain of tour boats) every morning at precisely 7:10. It also happens that they have a vibrant email relationship, but under pseudonyms. Sabrina knows its Tucker she’s communicating with, but doesn’t think that he would like her as much if he knew it was her.

Yes, it sounds confusing. And if you’re me, you think, “Golly, why don’t you just say, “its me!” And frankly, a few times during this story, I wondered that. Stop messing around people. Let’s just get honest with each other and tell what we know! Because of this, the story seemed a little slow to me (which sometimes can happen when the reader is in on the secret). But the characters are well-written and Tucker especially, is an engaging and worthy “hero” of this story. And in fact, after a couple chapters the story picks up and it turns out there are many more secrets the reader has to discover. Most of the plot twists are surprising and inventive. In all, I enjoyed the book – it was a quick, fun read that took my mind off my own life; just what I want a romance novel to do. It had a pleasant amount of romance without being trashy, and I thought the chemistry was well-written between the characters. Four seashells out of five.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Book Review: Let Go - Live Free of the Burdens all Women Know by Sheila Walsh

Sheila Walsh is a prolific author who has penned a number of books for women about how to live in the freedom of God's grace. Her newest book, Let Go: Live Free of the Burdens all Women Know, is another take on how to stop being weighed down by the pain of our pasts, by the uncertainty of our futures, and by the stress and anxiety of our todays. Each chapter begins with a few bible verses and quotes from notable authors, and each ends with questions to ask yourself (or your book group) and a prayer.

I appreciated that Walsh started each chapter with not just verses, but also contemporary quotes from great men and women of history, it helped put the different topics into perspective for me. I also like that though you could just pick a chapter that deals with what you're dealing with, if you read it from start to finish you are taken on a journey in healing and overcoming. In particular, I love the chapter on shame and guilt ("Shame on you!") which talks about the difference between the conviction of sin (a sense of guilt given by the Holy Spirit and meant to lead us to the cross), and shame (an emotion from Satan that makes us feel as though we are not worthy or valuable to anyone, and that forgiveness is impossible). I also loved the following chapter which clearly articulates how Jesus served as our scapegoat on Calvary - taking our shame and bearing it because he loved you and me. This book is a great read, even for those who feel like they *know* all this stuff, it is a great reminder of how to live like one who has been redeemed.

(Remember: You can review books for Thomas Nelson, too! I got this book for free - all I had to do was read it and post a review!

Getting to "Guest" a lot these days!

Well friends, I have to be honest, I'm feeling pretty good about myself lately.

Last week, I was a "guest book reviewer" on my friend Beth's blog (I reposted my review of Henri Nouwen's book Life of the Beloved on Tiff's Life, but I wrote it originally for her site). Soon I will be a "guest movie reviewer" on my friend Kevin's movie site, and today I became a "guest tributer" on that same site (*

Not only THAT, but yesterday I was a guest at the taping of Ellen and she even gave me a free gift! LOL! Well, I guess it could be important to point out that it wasn't like I was a "Guest" - you know, sitting and chatting with Ellen, but I did get to sit in the studio, dance, and laugh; and I did get a free "Shake It" Weight from Ellen.

Tomorrow afternoon, I'll be a guest at the Bonnie Hunt show and on Sunday a guest at the Emmy's. Now again, I'll mostly be a spectator, but I have to say - I'm feeling pretty special!

In my line of work, you only get to be a guest writer or commentator once you've become an expert in your field. Then they start saying things like, "Will you be the guest editor of this edition of the Journal of College XYZ?"

So thanks to everyone for letting me be a guest! I guess I've finally "made it!"

* Kevin asked me for just a little blurb, but I'm verbose. Anyway, the "Three Hands" site offers some pretty entertaining movie reviews. You may enjoy.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

How Many of Me?

Well, when my grama called my parents to tell them they should name me "Tiffani," which she saw in a magazine, I don't know that she would have known how unique the name would be!
LogoThere are
or fewer people with my name in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Living the "Life of the Beloved"

I had heard things about Henri Nouwen over the years, and knew that I would enjoy reading his works - but there are so many other books to read that he didn't make it to the top of the list. This summer, I was feeling kind of lost. I wanted to rekindle the passion for Christ that I've had before, but that in the last year had been waning in the wake of moving to a new place, the loss of my grampa, and feeling as though some of my life goals were at odds with God's plans.

A friend of mine, Matt F., loves Nouwen, and had a devotional book with excerpts from him and as I read a few pages one morning, I knew that I had to read Nouwen this summer. I asked for Matt's favorite Nouwen book and he suggested the book I'm reviewing today: "Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World."

Nouwen wrote this book for a Jewish friend of his, who had asked Henri to write something for him and his secular friends. Henri undertook to write a book that expressed the heart of Christianity and that in some ways would lead these men and women to a better understanding of God's love for them, and eventually to Christ. What I found when reading it was a powerful reminder of how loved I am by God and who I was created to be in Christ.

The book is broken up into three parts: Being the Beloved, Becoming the Beloved, and Living as the Beloved. Ultimately, the book presents a portrait of the Eucharist - and then applies that portrait to each of us. Here's a brief idea of how he talks about it, with a quote or two from each section to give you an idea.

First, remembering that we are TAKEN - that God claims us as his own, he grasps hold of us - like Jesus grasped hold of the bread.
"When you lose touch with your chosenness, you expose yourself to the temptation of self-rejection, and that temptation undermines the possibility of ever growing as the Beloved." (p.56) ~ boy, this had been my experience this year, and at this moment, I knew that my appointment with this book was divine.

Next, we are BLESSED - God's complete and total love for us, the fact, in grace, that we can never lose God's love and blessing for us - like Jesus raising the bread to heaven and blessings it.
"I tell you this because I know how moody you and I can be. One day we feel great, the next we feel miserable. One day we are full of new ideas, the next everything looks bleak and dull. One day we think we can take on the whole world, but the next even a little request seems to much for us. These moods swings show that we no longer hear the blessing that was heard by Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob, Leah and Rachel, and Jesus of Nazareth and that we, too, are to hear. When we are thrown up and down by the little waves on the surface of our existence, we become easy victims of our manipulative world, but when we continue to hear the deep gentle voice that blesses us, we can walk through life with a stable sense of well-being and true beloning." (p. 73)

Third, we are BROKEN - God allows us to be broken; to experience hurt and pain, to be humbled - like Jesus breaking the bread.
"Yes, we have to find the courage to embrace our own brokenness, to make our most feared enemy into a friend, and to claim it as an intimate companion." (p. 93)

Finally, we are GIVEN - God uses us, in our broken humanness, to feed others - like Jesus serving the bread.
"Our greatest fulfillment lies in giving ourselves to others." (p. 106)

I chose to read this little book (less than 150 pages) one chapter per morning. Each day I would read and reflect, and - well frankly - weep. But a good weeping; a weeping which led me to peace in my spirit, and to a rejuvenated sense of self. This book helped me to remember God's love for me, and to see my own ability to bring God's love to others. It also reminded me that the joys and pains of life are intimately intertwined - and that its OK to live deeply this way. As you read it, may the Lord use it to breathe his love and blessing deeply into your life and then into the lives of others around you.

When Bacon is the Line in the Sand...

I know that posting videos is not the same as posting updates, but sometimes I see these and they crack me up so much.

This is an excerpt of a video from Wife Swap. Enjoy.

I ran away from home when I was this guy's age. I'm not sure why I left, but it was probably as silly as this reason.

Make it a great day, friends. My old friend Laura arrives tomorrow for the long weekend. Lots of stories and pictures to come!

Monday, August 31, 2009

This one's for Christine H. (but you will all enjoy)

A funeral for Lucky the goldfish.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Seat of Love!

I had been thinking about buying a love seat for a long time. My apartment is small, and I knew that I had a nice, efficient space with my two chairs from IKEA. But first, I didn't like that there was really only seating for two in my apartment, and second, sometimes I just wanted to be able to stretch out and nap. (aside: I used to just put down blankets and make a nice bed on the floor for naps, so it wasn't too bad)

Anyway, I decided that one of things I wanted to do this summer was get a little couch. I searched around, looked at IKEA (they have a cute one, but to get a nice cover it increases the price by almost $200!), looked at a hotel outlet store, looked online. I measured all these different couches and tried to decide how much I could spend.... as my friend Candice will tell you, making the decision was hard to say the least!

Well, I found one that I thought was a good price and a good size. I went into Caprice Furniture in Culver City (after looking at their website online), and ordered it! It arrived a week later and they delivered it today! Here are the pics!

Sort of "Before" - I had already moved the furniture to make space for the couch, but you get the idea.

After! With a nice little comfy couch and two other seats! I think I could fit four people in the apt now! Yay!

A better look at the couch. I love it!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Crafting and Prayer

In February my friends, John and Karen, had their fifth baby, a little girl named Brooklin Dorothy. Brookie has a strong will and knows what she wants - and she has a smile that will make you want to give her anything. Well, for a long time she was not gaining weight as she should, her eating was not great, and she wasn't sleeping well. There were even a few crises in the first number of months. The Lord has continued to be faithful and give the family help and peace, and actually, when I was in Texas, Brooklin was doing a little better. She is so small that we call her "Pixie" - because she just looks like a little fairy or pixie, with her tininess and her full head of dark hair that sort of frames her face and ears. Here is a picture from when she was about 5 months old.

I recently picked up some gifts for the oldest 4 of the Ferg kids. There wasn't a toy at that store that was appropriate for an infant, so I was just not getting Brook a gift. Until I was at JoAnn's the other day and saw this adorable little quilt project. It had all the fabric and the directions -I just needed to cut, sew, and quilt. AND.... it had pixies on it - for real!! I thought it was the most adorable pattern with really sweet colors (see pixies below).

As I cut the fabric, stitched it together and as I started the quilting, I was thinking about Brooklin and her family. And I found myself praying for her as I sewed. Below is the (almost) finished product.
Its just a really lightweight blanket (no batting in between) that can work as a blankie or whatever. But, I loved that as I worked on it the Lord continued to allow it to be a time of worship and prayer for me. I am hoping that I can continue to do craft- and artwork as gifts to people that I can also use as a prayer tool, and then as a blessing in my giving it to them. I'm again thankful for the Lord's reminder that He is in these moments of creativity and work.

"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." Colossians 3:17

Creativity and Worship

When I was in TX in June, Sarah Martin-Werntz, Sarah Rice (one of Sarah's bridesmaids) and I spent a few hours out at Homestead Heritage. Sarah R and I had conspired to get Sarah away from everything for a little while, to reduce stress and to enjoy each other's company. It was a great time, and if you are in Waco, you should check it out! (see the link for more info)

After eating a delicious lunch, we headed into the store to look around. I had been wanting to start Andi Fergason on a new craft and so was looking for something she and I might enjoy. I found these cute, small cross-stitch projects - and I got her one of a little butterfly. I also saw this great "Names of God" sampler for me to work on.

I have loved doing cross-stitch over the years, but have not done much of it in the last few. What I found in this case was that as I was stitching the different names of God, as I looked at the pattern and changed the colors or little bits of the fonts, etc., I found myself worshipping.

As I stitched "Name Above All Names," I could hear the song "Jesus, Name above all names" running through my head. As I stitched "The Way," I thought about the verses in scripture where Jesus says he is the way, the truth, and the life. It was almost as though each stitch was a prayer.

I was pleased with how it turned out, and I'll look forward to framing it and putting it up somewhere. And I'm excited that I have a TON of embroidery floss left over and can just buy some more aida cloth and make it as a gift.

Ultimately, the project reminded me that the Lord wants to use the works of our hands to bring glory to Him, and that I can worship through art and creativity. I feel a little bit like Eric Liddel who said, "When I run, I feel God's pleasure" - when I do crafts and artwork, I feel God's pleasure.

I'm glad for the reminder. In the next post, you'll see what I did, most recently, with that reminder!

*** Where do you feel God's pleasure in your life? What are your creative pursuits? ****

Monday, August 24, 2009

Crafty Sunday

Hey Everyone,

Sunday was a fantastic day! I loved church - I attended the 9:01 service, worked with Growing Kids, and then the 11 o'clock service. The band had a bluegrass flair today and even played one of my favorite Crowder Band songs: "I Saw the Light." What a great start to the morning!

After church, I headed up to Porter Ranch to the Joann Fabrics Superstore to pick up some crafting supplies for a few things I am in the mood of making. Since school starts one month from today, and since 2 of those four intervening weeks are filled with people visiting, I figured I'd better get some crafting done!

Waaaaaay back in December/January, my parents hosted a Christmas party at their house. Each of the four of us (my parents, brother, and I) all invited guests to attend. I had planned to make these really cute cocktail aprons for us to wear - but since we also planned to make about a million different types of appetizers, I just ran out of time. Well, I pinned the aprons a few weeks ago, and FINALLY yesterday got them all sewed together and I have to be honest...... THEY ARE ADORABLE!! See picture!

I am also working on a gift for my friends' baby, Brooklyn - so no picture yet - its not quite finished. AND working on making some coffee cozies, too. My friend Kristen made one for me for my birthday and I thought it was a really fun gift! So I figured I'd try my hand at making a couple.

Finally (and unrelated to yesterday), I had been working on a cross stitch sampler this summer. I finished it a few weeks ago, but haven't had time to post a picture - one will come soon!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Casey and David's Wedding's

When I lived in Seattle, I attended United Evangelical Free Church (as some of you know, of course). Its a little church in Ballard, and at the time some close friends of mine (the Fergasons) were attending. I ended up becoming a member there (my first - and until later this year, only, officially church membership), and though I had come to faith in Jesus years earlier, I was baptized as a profession of faith there. While at United, I joined the Fergasons in youth ministry and worked with the Jr. High and High School students.
Casey Chapman was in Jr. High when I started working with the youth, and finishing her sophomore year of high school when I left for Illinois. Her dad was our senior pastor, Todd (he baptized me), and her parents together were lovers of God who allowed their children to seek faith on their own, engaged them in real conversations about Christ, and loved them fully. Casey was one of my favorites - she is authentic, fun, and funny, and has a zest for life and an inquisitive mind.
Shortly after I left United, the Chapmans relocated to Orange County, where Todd is now the senior pastor at Richfield Community Church. Casey and I have been in touch through Facebook over the inervening years, and I was thrilled to rekindle our friendship in person when I moved to LA (though we don't get to see each other enough, even though we are only 40 miles apart - in LA, that might as well be 180!)

Well, that is a long introduction to these photos -and to tell you that on Friday I was honored and privileged to attend Casey's wedding!! I can barely even believe that this young woman, who I've known since she was a young teenager, is now someone's wife. She has matured into a woman of grace and character. Both Casey's and David's fathers are pastors - and so the wedding ceremony was performed by both of them. And Casey's mom served as a bridesmaid, which I thought was especially sweet. Lots of happy and melancholy tears were shed. It was a great end to one season of life, and beginning of another. Here are some photos!

Casey and I after the ceremony:

Casey and David Bartosik, their first dance:

Proud Parents: Julie and Todd Chapman

While at the wedding, I happened to sit down in the same row as some old friends from United. I was pleased to see people I knew, and to get caught up with them. What a pleasant treat!

Me with the happy couple: