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!