Sunday, January 25, 2009

Making Memories for Life

When I was at Greenville, one of the things that Coach Kess talked about all the time was "Making Memories" - and so when we get together, there is no doubt that we are going to try to make as many memories as we can.

This weekend was a great opportunity to do that as a few GC football alumni and staff joined a large number of others at the wedding of Derek Robinson and Pam Weins. Derek is one of my favorites, and I'm happy that I've been able to keep up a relationship with him since leaving Greenville.

He moved to Phoenix a bit after his graduation, to room with another former player, Lee, and joined Lee's church in the Tempe area. That is where Derek met Pam. I met Pam when Derek, his mom, and Pam joined us for Christmas dinner about a year ago. They weren't even dating yet, though there was talk, and it was really nice to get to know and like her as an individual - not just as Derek's girlfriend or (now) bride.

Their wedding was Christ-centered, and Christ-filled, and a great testimony to their knowledge and love of the Lord - and more importantly, God's love of them. It was a joy to be there to celebrate with them, and to see how they desired to use the ceremony to honor Jesus. Super neat.

And then there were the guys - some of my very favorites in the whole world, in one location! Coach Kess, Coach Banks, Jared, TJ, Anthony Lash, Jon DeJulio, Seth Fargher and Lee Thompson. Even though we missed some guys and gals we would have loved to see - it was fantastic to have those there that could be -and it was a joy to my heart to see them, hear their updates and just sit near them while they were their normal selves (and by that I mean - ridiculous, hilarious selves).

Perhaps that is all there is to say about that. My tank is full, and my cup runneth over.

Here is a little album of photos for those who are interested. (as a side note, the day was perfect for this outdoor wedding - it was sunny and mid-70's - gorgeous!)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Calamity Jane and the Desert at Midnight

Hi Friends!

Today I bring you a harrowing story straight from the Palm Desert in California, where I was stranded for a couple hours last night.

I should start the story by saying, "It was a dark and stormy night" - but that would be a lie. It was a pretty typical California evening, cool, breezy, and mostly clear. I was driving to my folk's house in Phoenix, to attend the wedding of one of my dear former students: Derek Robinson.

The day began rather well; I left my apartment about 30 minutes earlier than planned and was feeling great - until about 20 minutes into the drive I realized that I had left the outfit I was wearing to the wedding.... in my apartment. It took 30 minutes to get back and 5 to get the dress, so by the time I was back in the car and on the road it was now 30 minutes LATER than I planned to leave. Now it was 3 o'clock. At this point, my expected Phoenix arrival time became 11pm (because its a 7 hour drive and a one hour time change).

Well, I rebounded well from that disappointing detour and was prepared to enjoy my drive with phone calls to friends, good music, and the excitement of being home as soon as possible. I had a fantastic talk with my friend Laura - we have a hard time connecting because of the 3 hour time difference, but we ended up talking about great and deep things for over an hour - what a blessing!!

By the time I got off the phone with her, I was entering the Palm Desert. I stopped and grabbed a quick bite to eat at a drive thru, and kept on keeping on. Suddenly I heard a *noise* under the front left of my car, near my tire - in fact it sounded like I ran over something metal - but it was fast and brief, and when my car seemed to continue to drive OK, I decided that my best option was to try to get the 10 miles further to the top of Chiriaco pass where there is a well-lit gas station off the freeway (because the only thing around me was desert and darkness). I didn't remember driving over anything (I didn't see anything in the road) and I was a little nervous, but the car was handling fine and I was just trying to be alert.

Suddenly there was a noise and out of the darkness I see a tire tread FLY UP out from under my front left tire, in the process, shattering my driver's side mirror. Frankly, I was pretty startled, but managed to get pulled over onto the shoulder of the pass. (side note: for those of you from Washington - its not a "pass" in the sense of like Snoqualmie - I was halfway to the top and my elevation was only 1400 feet - so it wasn't snowy or anything) It was pitch dark (no lights anywhere except cars) and the cars and trucks were blowing by at 60-80 mph outside my door. Yikes. I was pretty freaked out for a minute, but was able to get myself together.

I called home to tell them what happened, and then called the state patrol. They were sending an officer to help me - I needed to put on the spare, and I feel comfortable doing it myself, but not on a tiny shoulder in the dark when the tire is on the road side. When no officer appeared after an hour, and I was worn out of waiting, I called the patrol office again to follow up. There had been an incident, and the officer had to take care of it, but eventually he'll be there, the officer on the phone told me. Also, he reminded me that the California Highway Patrol is not AAA, and would not be able to change my tire. To which I informed him that I didn't need someone to change my tire, I needed someone to provide light, and protection from getting splattered over the highway (I just said "hit" - didn't want to be too dramatic...). Apparently those were the magic words, because he was nicer after that and said the officer would be there as soon as the incident was taken care of.

On a side note, ladies, I asked the officer on the phone to tell me the name of the officer that would be responding to the call - that way I could verify if it were really him/her when the officer arrived. The phone guy didn't think this was odd or anything, and then later when they switched responding officers - he called to tell me, and told me the new name. Stay safe on the roads, ladies!

To continue... I decided to do as much as possible to safely prepare my car to put the spare on (this was my mom's encouragement - frankly it was kind of scary out there and I watch a lot of cop shows, so I didn't feel good about being out of my car... but I did it!) - so that once the officer arrived it would be faster. I went out the passenger side and started taking things out of the trunk so that I could get to my spare - all the trunk items when into the car and I got the spare out put it behind the car, and then got back inside to wait again.

This whole time - to my dad's surprise and frustration, and to my expectation, no one stopped to help me. I didn't have the heart to tell my dad that if some stranger had stopped to help me, I probably would have not accepted - I mean, it was dark and the stranger might be some sort of attacker! (Now in the daytime, would totally accept help, because then passing motorists can see if anything crazy is happening) But anyway, no one stopped or even slowed down.

Well, after about another 30 minutes, the CHP called back and told me Officer McFarlin (sp?) was on his way. The Patrolman showed up and put his lights on my car and I got out to start the work of changing the tire. (Ladies, I should have waited to let him identify himself, but frankly, I was really ready to get out of there!) It is at this point that the story goes from harrowing to sweet and hilarious.

I am a twenty-first century woman. I am single and handy, and often have had to fix things without the help of my opposite sex friends. Changing a tire is not a big deal to me in general, it was just so dark that I didn't want to do it without the patrolman there. But this was the first time I was doing it on the Olds......... which has hubcaps....... I was totally prepared for Officer McFarlin to hold the flashlight and protect me from oncoming traffic while I changed the tire. I had no expectations of him further (though I try to never turn down help when it is offered).

I get the spare over to the front of the car, grab the 4-way wrench and start to loosen the lugnuts (which you have to do before you jack up the car). As Officer McFarlin approaches, I realize I am turning them the wrong way - seriously. But they aren't getting tighter, so that explains my confusion. I say to the officer "I'm turning this the wrong way, aren't I?" because I know I look like a fool, and he says, "Yes, but those are actually the caps....." - which he proceeds to quickly twist off, practically with his fingers. Then he says, "Here, I can do this".... and basically ends up changing the tire almost completely by himself while saying to me, "The most important thing for you to do is to not get hit!"

Officer McFarlin, of the California State Patrol, you are my hero and I'm grateful for your kindness, and your good sense of humor, and your willingness to step in and put on my spare... even though the CHP is not AAA.

Once we got the spare on and the bad tire back in the trunk, I get ready to drive slowly to the summit, to the gas station to fill up the tire with more air. As I'm doing it, I realize both my GPS and Phone need to be charged - luckily, I have this cool "cigarette lighter" expander that plugs into the lighter and has three spaces for chargers. I plug in the expander and the blue light comes on. Then I plug in my GPS and the yellow light comes on.... suddenly both lights go out. Yes, the fuse blew.

You can imagine all the thougths running through my mind now. Mostly things like, "Lord, seriously?" Praise God, I was already planning to stop at the station, and I had extra fuses, and I was able to easily replace the cigarette lighter fuse - and it worked fine after that.

But I lost two hours between being stopped on the pass and getting the car finished up at the gas station and getting myself cleaned up. Ugh.

Well, the rest of the ride home was uneventful. I was grateful to my family for their support while I was stranded, and my parents dozed in the living room until I got home safely... at 2am Arizona time.

So here I am on a Friday morning, with homework to do, and I'm barely awake. I took the car into the shop this morning to fix the mirror and while they were at it, a couple other problems the car is having... and almost $600 later, I am going to be back in business, with a nice mirror, working driver's door, etc. Oh, and I haven't even bought a tire yet. We'll save that error maybe till tomorrow morning.

Anyhow, Yesterday was a day of calamity, but well worth it to have the opportunity to see Derek marry his Pam tomorrow afternoon, and to get a reunion with some of my Greenville favorites.

Blessings, friends!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Thoughts on the Shepherd and the Sheep

Before Christmas, I heard a really powerful sermon.

During Advent our church went through a series called "He Shall Be Called....." and each of the four weeks of advent we heard a sermon about one of Jesus' names. This particular week it was "He shall be called the Shepherd."

Some of you know that I love the analogy of the Shepherd and the sheep. There is a great book called "A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23" that has informed my understanding of God as a Shepherd and really transformed how I view Jesus. This sermon - awesomely - was not on Psalm 23, so I got some new insights.

The three-fold premise and the questions I felt I needed to ask myself are:

1) Luke 15:1-7. The good shepherd goes after and seeks out his sheep.
Someone once said that "sheep nibble themselves lost" - in other words, they just slowly nibble along and suddenly look up and are separated from the flock and have no idea where they are. But the Shepherd doesn't let them go that easily. He seeks them out.
I wondered: "How am I being like a sheep right now? Where am I nibbling and slowly moving off the path of my Shepherd? In what area am I lost right now?"

2) John 10:11-18. The good shepherd protects his sheep to the death.
A shepherd's life is his sheep - he will defend his sheep to his own death if necessary (we see this in old testament stories of David - fighting animals to protect his sheep). If you go up to a sheep and shout at it - it will run away and all the other sheep with it. That is why the shepherd (and staying close to him) is so important - he will protect us from the things they are trying to scare us off.
I wondered: "How am I being like a sheep right now? From what fear am I running? How is the Shepherd protecting me today?"

3) Zech 13:1-6, 7-9. The good shepherd protects us from the holy wrath of a holy God and leads the sheep home.
Zechariah tells us that false prophets will rise and tell us lies, and that many will be led astray. But Jesus tells us that a sheep knows the voice of his or her shepherd. In fact, when two or more flocks of sheep are sharing a pasture, all a shepherd has to do is walk out and give his call and his flock will run to him. The sheep know the truth, the true voice.
I wondered: "How am I being like a sheep right now? Am I listening for the voice of my Shepherd? What false prophets am I listening to? To whom can I tell the truth about the True Shepherd?"

I hope as you approach this year you will consider these questions as I have been. Blessings to you tonight!

Welcome to 2009

I know, I know. "Tiffani, what happened to your repeated vows to update regularly?" "Why haven't you posted in so long!?"

Ok, lets face it - that is probably all in my head! But Christmas break was not what I expected (i thought I'd have time to do and be, but alas, no) and then I went to Seattle for the briefest of brief visits and then school started - yikes! Now I am about to enter week 2 and have at least three different blog ideas in my head - which i likely won't get to tonight - and I want to at least give a little update.

2009! Year of possibility!

Well, I think each year is a "year of possibility" - and I've always been right. :) The beginning of a year is awesome, I think - there is so much that can happen, so many things that can change, and its exciting.

This year I decided instead of resolutions, I'd try this: To "be more" and to "be less."

As I was praying and journaling about the beginning of the year, it came to me that I didn't want to set goals that were difficult to keep and discouraging like "lose 10+ pounds" but instead I just wanted to "be more healthy." and I didn't want to "go on two dates" but "be less anxious about being single and be more open to opportunities"

See what I mean?

My list is not very fully developed yet. But the ideas are in my mind, so that even this week when I thought, "Maybe I won't do xyz" the spirit in me said, "Yes, you will - Be more _____."

Here are a few:

Be more....
open to opportunities.
honest with myself and others.
fit (in my diet, activity, and mind).
orange. (some of you know what this means)

Be less....
afraid of rejection.
afraid of my path/calling.
of a couch potato.
content to settle for the status quo.

What are the things you'd like to be more of and less of this year?