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!