Tuesday, July 28, 2009

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

July Fun Fotos!

Here are some pics from Heather's visit. Other pics to come!

Heather, Dave, and I at the beach - getting ready for the fireworks!

Waiting outside Sprinkles, and remembering MJ.

We were SOOOOO excited to see Banks!

This is only one example of the hilarity that ensued all day long at Universal Studios. This picture is in response to me saying, "Pretend like you just saw a dinosaur..."

We were glad to be together!

July Fun!

So July has gone by in a whirlwind. I don't know how it happened so fast. I got back from Texas at the end of June and thought that July was going to be a quiet and relaxed month - but that was not the case - and I think I'm pretty glad.

Right after I returned, Heather (my old roommate from Greenville) came to visit. She was here over the 4th of July and right before her 28th birthday. So we decided that it was a birthday weekend and we were going to live it up! It was a really great time! We went to Universal Studios on Thursday and spent basically the whole day out there - TJ joined us, which doubled the fun. It was great to hang out with them and just be silly the whole day!

On Friday, we had a special treat - our old friend Dave Banks happened to be in LA, and met us at the UCLA campus, after I took her on a tour of campus. After meeting Dave's coaching friend, Brandon, and his wife, Tye, the five of us headed out to Hollywood for Pink's hotdogs! We had to wait about 90 minutes before we got to the front of the line but it was a fun experience and we enjoyed the dogs! Heather and I took Dave to the airport and then headed back to Beverly Hills to meet up with TJ and his girlfriend Emily, who was visiting for the weekend. We went to Sprinkles cupcake bakery for a little treat and then headed out to Century City to see "Public Enemies". This was the perfect "Heather Day" because it included all things she loves! Heather loves hot dogs and cupcakes, Johnny Depp, and Gangster movies. This day included all of it with the added bonus of including TJ and Dave, who Heather hadn't seen in a long time. It was such a fun day.

Saturday was the 4th of July and the only things we had left on Heather's list of things she wanted to do were: Fireworks and Beach. We picked up my friend Dave (from school) and headed to Huntington Beach, to accomplish both goals! After a looooooooong search for a place to park, we finally found a free space (both available and at no cost!) a little over a mile from the beach. We were already glad Dave was with us, but he ended up carrying the cooler full of ice and food, so we were even MORE glad after that! Despite the long walk to the beach, it was a really fun day. The sun was shining and even though there was a breeze, it wasn't too cold (though as the afternoon progressed, we got progressively colder!!). We found a great spot and enjoyed ourselves relaxing in the sun. Later in the day we packed up and headed to a spot where we were blocked from the wind by other people in bigger tents, and where we had a great view of the fireworks. The firework show in Huntington was INCREDIBLE! It lasted almost 30 minutes and even though we were kind of far away, we were close enough to enjoy it!!

Heather left on Sunday, after church and lunch at CPK. It was a great visit and reminded me how much I miss hanging out with her! I'm glad I got to celebrate her 28th b-day with her!

Other notable July fun!
* My friend Shannon, who is a Hall Director at Baylor, was on vacation in Portland and LA. She stopped by one afternoon and we had a really fun visit. She toured campus while I was in a meeting and then I had the opportunity to introduce her to Linda Sax (my faculty advisor) - I was really glad for that chance, because Shannon is preparing to apply for PhD programs and I'd love to have her here at UCLA! :) We ended up going to dinner with Dave and then hanging out at his apartment until late into the evening. It was really fun to have her include me in her trip out west!

* One of my friends from school turned 40, and invited a bunch of us to celebrate with her at the horse races. It was especially fun for me, since Grampa used to take us to the track when he and grama came and visited us in Seattle. AND, I had a little bit of luck! I certainly didn't come out ahead, but I was one of the three people that won some bets on a few races - and we had a great time all in all!

* I have had the great opportunity throughout July to spend a lot of time with TJ. TJ was one of our Greenville College football players back when I worked for the program, and he is just one of my favorites! He's left now and headed back to Greenville where he will work as an assistant coach for the season, but it was great to have him here while he was able to be. We saw a lot of movies, ate a lot of food and just generally were hilariously ridiculous together while he was here. I will miss him a lot!

So out with July, and in with August. I have high hopes for what August holds. And I hope that my next update will not only give more updates on the various summer activities I've been doing - but also I'd like to share more about what I'm reading and learning.

Pictures in the next post!


A friend recently asked me to give him some quotes that might work for a program he's doing at his residence hall. The program is designed to help upper division students think about meaning, purpose and calling.

So I've been trying to utilize my quote book lately (I mean, the book that I write quotes in). This is not one of the quotes that I gave him, but a friend posted it on Facebook and I thought, "Isn't that just the truth!?!"

I'll try to post some of the others, but for now:

Why can't we get all the people together in the world that we really like and then just stay together? I guess that wouldn't work. Someone would leave. Someone always leaves. Then we would have to say good-bye. I hate good-byes. I know what I need. I need more hellos. ~Charles M. Schulz

Love you! Tiff

Monday, July 13, 2009

Words to Soothe a Grieving Soul

“…but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story, which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.” (from “The Last Battle” book 7 in the Chronicles of Narnia series, by C. S. Lewis)

"If DEATH my friend and me divide,
thou dost not, Lord, my sorrow chide,
or frown my tears to see;
restrained from passionate excess,
though bidst me mourn in calm distress
for them that rest in thee.

I feel a strong immortal hope,
which bears my mournful spirit up
beneath its mountain load;
redeemed from death, and grief, and pain,
I soon shall find my friend again
within the arms of God.

Pass a few fleeting moments more
and death the blessing shall restore
which death has snatched away;
for me thou wilt the summons send,
and give me back my parted friend
in that eternal day.”

-Charles Wesley

Gone too soon.

*p.s sorry in advance for weird formatting. I copied from a word doc into blogger and it is going crazy. ugh.* there should be gaps between the paragraphs, I don't know why they aren't showing up.* or else they are an I've written this note for nothing. double ugh.*

In approaching the one year anniversary of the death of my grampa Dick, I am newly moved by grief.

C.S. Lewis has been a comfort to me, as well a hymn/poem that I read by Wesley. I will post these words in the next post. I will also likely post on this topic again, around the one year anniversary, but don't worry friends. I hope I will not continue in my maudlin musings - and I have a great update on my CSLewis book re: the Psalms and nature!

Just now, though, I was thinking at how different the passing was of my grampa versus that of Michael Jackson.

My grampa “went missing” – in the sense that he had a heart attack, was picked up by the paramedics and taken to the Lk. Tahoe hospital, then airlifted to Reno – all while my family was returning from Reno to Tahoe. So when he didn’t show up at the assigned meeting place, he was missing. No one knew where he went. We called the sheriff and the police, but there are two sheriffs because there are two counties and we called the wrong one. We asked at the casino, but there had been a shift change, so they didn’t know about what had happened. We did eventually find him, the few of us that were there to look for him. MJ on the other hand, had the eyes of the world on him from the first moment. Though there was a lot of speculation about where his body was, there were like 15 helicopters and 300 people around his hospital.

When my grampa passed away suddenly, after the dr. telling us that he thought grampa might actually recover; we sat around together in the hotel room and had a glass of champagne in his honor, told stories about the things we would miss; and my brother read some words. It took about 3 hours, and there were 9 of us there. It was his only memorial service – because my grama said he would not have wanted a fuss. MJ had a 2 million dollar public memorial service with almost 20k people in attendance.

On the one year anniversary of his passing – August 14th – I don’t expect many people to mark the passing of my grampa. Though loved by all who knew him, many of those people have gone Home and others simply won’t realize the significance of the day. But when MJ’s one year anniversary comes, it will be front page news.

I know that it’s the way of this world – MJ was an icon to billions of people – he was known world-wide, so I’m not bitter about the differences, but they could not be more distinct. And sometimes I wish more people knew how awesome my grampa was – that they knew about his history of service in WWII, his love of wordworking and crafts, the way he cajoled my grama into letting him have candy bars and bacon, the silly jokes and sentimental words.

I miss him as much today as I did 11 months ago. And I wonder when my grief will slip from pain to ache, from wound to scar. And I wonder how my grama can continue, knowing that her grief is infinitely greater than mine – and I am proud of her that she has.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Interesting discussion in recent Relevant Magazine

OK, I'm not not putting the "M" word in the title or right here because of discomfort. Mostly, I just don't want someone to google the word and have my blog come up first thing. :)

But, for those of you who are interested in the discussion about self-stimulation (how's that for a work around!?) and especially for those who have heard Ruth Huston and I discuss this issue in public forums, I think you will enjoy this very congenial discussion between two men about the issue as it relates to Christian morality.

I do with that they had a woman's perspective on the issue but I think that as much as it has a stigma for men, the stigma is even greater for women - in fact, many men don't even think women think about it. Which after my tour of duty in college student affairs and women's ministry I can tell you is false.

So check out the dialogue posted here:

And please comment as you see fit!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Oh, the Places You'll Go... and by that I mean: Texas!

Well friends, I finally have a few minutes to write about my trip to Texas at the end of June. (pics at the end!)

For those that didn't know I was gone (and since I have not been a good blogger, I'm sure that may be a fair number of peeps), I will give you this overview:

My friend (and former roommate at ol'BU), Sarah, planned to marry my friend, Myles, and they chose a wedding date so that I could be there - for which frankly I was pretty grateful. I decided that my gift (being the cash-strapped, Phd student that I am) would be that of service. In other words, I would come a week before the wedding and do whatever needed to be done to make Sarah (in particular) and Myles enjoy their wedding week and wedding. Luckily they accepted, otherwise they would have recieved a $15 gift card to Books-a-Million. :)

Additionally, I decided I would spend a second week in TX, visiting my friends the Fergasons who live in San Antonio. Many of you know John and Karen, or know of them. Karen is my best friend and over the past 10 years has become more like a sister than anything else. She and John have allowed me to live with them off and on, and to be deeply embedded in the life of their family. I haven't seen them very often since moving back west, so we were all looking forward to an extended visit.

Additionally.... I was also planning to celebrate my 35th (yes, i know, how is that possible?!) birthday right smack dab in the middle of the two weeks. In fact, the day after Myles' and Sarah's wedding. (it was actually a week chock full of b-days - i arrived just a few days after Sarah's, and before the wedding we celebrated BOTH of her parents b-days as well, and then mine the day after).

Finally... Some friends of mine were also invited to the wedding, and a number of others live in Waco, so we decided this would be a fun week to have a mini reunion in addition to the b-day celebration.

In hindsight, this post will be long. Perhaps I should have broken it into installments? Perhaps I should have just posted a photo album and left it at that? Alas, no. I shall press on, I will just say less than I could - which we all know will be a feat indeed!

WEDDING WORK (and play)
My time with Sarah and her family, and her soon to be family, was really great. It was fun to feel like I was useful and that my gifts were utilized. It was encouraging to see how Sarah's and Myles' friends and family came around both of them and helped in so many ways. For example, it was hecka hot, people, SO HOT - like near the surface of the sun hot - and all these people came out and decorated the reception site and didn't complain or argue or fuss. Really neat. I was pleased to get to know a few of S & M's good friends I had not met before, like the famous Sarah (Crum) Rice, and the still more famous Stills; and it was fun to be reunited with those I had, like Anna Walton and Lyndsey Ostrom. Sarah, of course, was super organized, and so at almost every step of the way I knew what I needed to do to run interference and keep things moving. Overall, it was a great time with great people. And most importantly, Sarah and Myles were married in a really meaningful and thoughtful (as is only fitting for those two) ceremony - and fun was had by all at the reception.

OH, and as a special blessing from the Lord, when the people originally scheduled to read scripture could not and S & M asked me and another friend to read in their place, I got to read from my favorite book: COLOSSIANS! I felt so pleased to be able to read a passage from Col 3 to my friends and to encourage them with Paul's words on how to love and serve each other.

So it was a little like having two separate lives all week, because in the days I would hang out with Sarah and her crew doing wedding stuff, and at night I would hang with my BU pals. I stayed the first night at the home of my dear friends (and former neighbors), Joel and Jessica, who were out of town until the wedding. Beginning the second night, I stayed - with gratitude for the generousity - at Dub Oliver's house (former VP of Student Life at Baylor, now Pres of ETBU) with friends from my cohort: Candice, Collin, and Matt (and later Kathryn).

Each night (except the night of the rehearsal) I had the joy of hanging out with my housemates and some other friends of ours - mostly Melissa (her blog is linked on the right) and JT, but occasionally Kristen, Carrie and Marc, Shannon, and Sarah as well. It was super fun to drink margaritas and beers with them, as well as to get caught up on each others lives and the lives of others in the cohort. We had some really hilarious times together those nights and I often did not get home before the clock had reset to a new day! So as you can imagine, as the week went on, I was mostly running on adrenaline and caffeine!

It was such a treat for me to really spend a good amount of quality time with these friends. (I'm not so into one-on-one quality time, as many of you know, it is pretty draining for me - but this was the perfect tiffani kind of quality time - group outings with loud talking and lots of laughing) I felt loved and rejuvenated and encouraged - in ways that I hadn't felt in the last year. It was really a special treat from the Lord that we had so much time and so much fun together.

Now, in reality I always look forward to my birthday. I mean, I'm not married, so this is the one day a year that I get to be totally celebrated. And in my family birthdays are a big deal. So I was excited to be spending my birthday with friends from TX both in Waco and in San Antonio!

Even before the actual birthday, Sarah - who is thoughtful to a fault and did not want to miss my bday - took me out for a pedicure. We both got pedis - and it was her first, so it was doubly-doubly-fun! I was grateful for the gift and for her thinking of me - but especially grateful for the time with her alone early in the week to just talk about our lives. Later in the week, we really only had time to talk wedding talk, so it was special to have this time with her, so reminiscient of our times spent together in Numero Quatro-Ocho.

The reception was the night before my birthday and it was a super fun time - dancing, laughing, drinking, joking, photoing. Afterward, we traveled to Crickets where we hung out longer and ended up starting my b-day at midnight. But boy was I tired by the time we got to bed! On the morning of my actual birthday, my housemates (and Anna) were going to come with me to my old Waco church: University Baptist Church (UBC). I thought the service was at 11. Wrong - actually it starts at 10:30. So we were already late and then when we went to pick up Anna, the Martin family arrived and so Anna and I said good bye to them at length (there are a lot of them after all). Ultimately, church was skipped. Sad that I didn't get to see many of my UBC friends, but I did get to see some of them earlier in the week at Rosa's so it made up for it a little.

We continued with our plans: Breakfast at Cafe Cappucino. Cafe Cap is one of my favorite breakfast places in Waco (pretty much that and IHop. Don't mock) and it was fun to spend a little while there together. After that, we took Anna Banana to the airport and then went back to the house to make sure our stuff was cleaned up (aside: it was father's day and Dub and his family were having people over for a BBQ). Then we hit the road! We saw "UP!" in 3-d (did you even guess they had a 3-D theater in Waco?! its metropolitan, baby!) - which was a really fun time, and the movie was good, too. Next we gathered at Ninfa's (my favorite restaurant in Waco, hands down, delicioso mexican food and margaritas - home of the crawfish enchilada, which I could eat almost daily till I die) with a BUNCH of friends. It was so fun to be together again, laughing and talking and I felt like I was the belle of the ball. Finally, to cap off the night a few of us went out to Lake Waco to enjoy the tail end of the sunset and a twilight (well, by then it was dark) swim out "to the buoy". I love swimming and don't get enough of it, and it was nice to have this be the end of my bday experience in Waco. I felt like "Hey, I'm 35 and I can make it out to the buoy - that's not too shabby!" (OK, haters, it wasn't that far, but it was dark)

Monday morning was kind of bittersweet. I had already said goodbye to a number of friends the night before - who I hope I will see again at conferences and such, but not in the sooooon future. Monday morning I waved farewell to Candice, Collin, and Matt and then after a final breakfast with Kathryn to her, too. And then I drove off into the well, not sunrise or sunset, just distance I guess. I was a little sad on my way to San Antonio, but I decided it was sadness AND exhaustion. Boy, it is really hard to control your emotions when you are running on very little sleep!

Despite my melancholy, Monday turned out to be a terrific day. Karen took me and her daughter Andi out for a birthday lunch (her birthday was earlier this week) at Macaroni Grill where we really had a nice time and they gave us delicious chocolate cake for dessert! Then we traveled to a bookstore where we all got to pick out birthday books, and finally we went back to the house where we read and relaxed together - with no boys! (they were all at Nana and Papa's). It was really a nice girl time! Later we went over to Dorothy and Nick's (Nana/Papa) and had a fun birthday celebration for me with my favorite TX meal: Chicken Spaghetti - and a really nice visit with the Ferg and Martini family.

The next day, Andi and her dad left for Seattle for a few days, so it was just me and Karen and the boys. I was excited to be with the boys and we ended up having a really fun time, going swimming, to movies (we saw Night at the Museum 2), and on awesome trail adventures. Likewise, Karen and I had GREAT friendship time together. Because it was just the two of us at night we were able to not only indulge our shared love for Jane Austen movies (we watched the A/E version of "Emma" with Kate Beckinsdale and "Becoming Jane" with Anne Hathaway), but also to really get caught up with each others lives, to listen and to speak words of life into each other, and to pray. Oh, what a joy those days were for my soul.

When Andi and John came back, the good times were still rolling! I taught Andi how to cross stitch, we went to the pool on the Base (which has 3 water slides), and just spent a good amount of time hanging out all together. Very fun.

If you are still hanging with me this far into the post, I have to say THANK YOU! and also let you know that that is pretty much it. I mean, I could have said more about each of the days, but that seems excessive. I could have described each of the activities in greater detail, but again - excessive. What I will say is that it was such a great time that I had a pretty tough time getting used to being back in LA! Luckily, my friend (and old roommate) Heather, joined me mid-week that week for a terrific 4th of July vacation - we celebrated her birthday in style! But I'll wait to report on that until a few more days! Love you all!! Tiff

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Midweek Wonderings: Judgement and the Psalms

* Hopefully this can be a new feature for the summer! Midweek Wonderings will be more philosophical - but will talk about something I've been learning or reading or doing *

When I was in San Antonio a couple weeks ago, Karen let me spend $25 at Borders (pretty sweet, eh?) as a birthday present. I was looking for Henri Nouwen, but the religion section at Borders is pretty spare, so I couldn't find the one that had been recommended. Instead, I picked up a book by C. S. Lewis that I hadn't read before. The book is called "Reflections on the Psalms" (1958/1986)

In the intro, he mentions that he is not an expert on the Psalms, but that what insight or thoughts he might have could be helpful to others - the same way that two students working together can understand a concept more deeply sometimes than when a student asks a professor for help.

While sometimes my pal, Clive, is hard to understand (lets face it, he's a deeeeeeep guy), the first chapter of this book really resonated with me. The chapter was on the subject of "Judgement" and justice as found in the Psalms. I think because I have been learning a lot more about social justice this last year the chapter was even more poignant for me. Our God is a God of JUSTICE for the poor and oppressed!

C.S talks about how differently the psalmists talk about justice and judgement compared to Christians. Now, Christians have a perspective of individual and final judgement of our souls, but the psalmists did not live in post-Christ reality. C.S. suggests that the judgement the psalmists talk about has to do with actual earthly justice.

The psalmists look upon judgement with joy and longing, saying things like "all things shall rejoice before the Lord who comes to judge the earth." C.S. suggests that the psalmists are viewing themselves as plaintiffs in a court of law - bringing a case to the judge (rather than Christians who view themselves as a criminal defending themselves).

Listen to this, friends:
"In most places and times it has been difficult for the "small man" to get his case heard. The judge... has to be bribed. If you can't afford to "oil his palm" your case will never reach court. ... We need not therefore be surprised if the Psalms, and the Prophets, are full of the longing for judgement, and regard the announcement of judgement as good news. Hundreds and thousands of people who have been stripped of all they possess and who have the right entirely on their side will at last be heard. Of course they are not afraid of judgement. They know [that they are in the right and their case will be won] - if only they can be heard. [And] when God comes to judge, at last it will." (p.11)

And this:
"It supplements the Christian picture in one important way. ... Now the Jewish picture of a civil action sharply reminds us that perhaps we are faulty not only by the Divine standard (that is a matter of course) but also by a very human standard which all reasonable people admit and which we ourselves usually wish to enforce on others. Almost certainly there are unsatisfied claims, human claims, against each one of us. For who can really believe that in all his dealings with employers and employees, with husband or wife, with parents and children, in quarrels and in collaborations, he has always attained ... mere honesty or fairness? Of course, we forget most of the injuries we have done. But the injured parties do not forget even if they forgive. And God does not forget. And even what we remember is formidable enough...." (p.13)

He goes on to really challenge the reader about how many ways we have cheated our work, our friends, the government; how many ways we have have we not given justice to those around us.

What I took away from this chapter was not really a general conviction about my behavior. Perhaps as Christians we should always live in that tension and conviction, and I think that generally I do. But my take away was an increased awe and worship of God. When I think about who Jesus was to all people - men and women, rich and poor, sinner and pharisee - I remember how good he was, how he tried to rewrite the laws of justice to benefit and help the poor, powerless, and overlooked.

But as I look back at the Psalms and read this chapter, I am filled with joy and praise to God. God, Jehovah, is the Righteous Judge who will eventually right all wrongs. The prohet Joel says that the Lord will restore the years the locust has eaten. Elsewhere the writers of the bible say that the Lord will wipe every tear from our eye. There is a time coming when the Lord will restore the poor and oppressed, a time of real social justice will come when those who were unloved and overlooked in life will be blessed and comforted.

As you think about the quotes above, and read the psalms, what do you think about? Where do you see God's justice in the Old and New Testaments?


Check around the blog! I've added a couple things AND have added a bunch of pictures to FLIKR - if you're not on facebook you'll enjoy checking them out - from my recent trip to TX and my friend Heather's recent visit to Los Angeles.