Thursday, April 15, 2010


Good morning friends!

I only have a few minutes to write, but I am SO excited to tell you that I have reached my first goal!

As you'll see on the right hand side of the page, I have reached my first weight loss goal of 2010! 5%, or 11lbs!

I'm really excited to share this news with you. I am feeling healthier and even though it has taken [what seems like] a LONG time to get to this place, and even though I often feel like I can't see a difference yet, I am REALLY excited. :)

I think the most exciting part is knowing that I have been able to be consistent in my new eating habits over the last 12 weeks, and that I have "kept it off" the whole time - rather than losing 4 or 8 lbs for an event and then gaining it right back plus a little extra.

Hooray!  (Also, I know that in some pictures it is starting to show, so that makes me feel good)

Well, I've set my next weight short term loss goal, which is another 5% target. My big picture goal is to lose the 26 remaining lbs before my brother gets married in September, which is about 23 weeks away. If I keep up my slow and steady pace, I should be right on track at his wedding.

I've also started taking "Spin Class" at the fitness center on campus, which I will write about soon - on a day when I am not already 15 minutes late getting ready for work.

Just wanted to share the exciting news with you! Look for an updated short-term weight loss ticker with the new goal later this week!
And thanks for all your support!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Easter Haps and Birthday Bash

Last weekend, I spent Saturday morning studying with my friend Lisa; Saturday night with a bunch of my pals, helping my friend Chiara celebrate her 30th birthday and I spent Sunday with my friend Suzi - first at Easter services at the Hollywood Bowl, and then at an Easter party with some of her friends. I also got to meet her bird, Chula.

This is Lisa - she is my regular study buddy. We spend most Fridays and Saturdays in precisely this arrangement; only the location and our companions change. For some reason, when Lisa and I are together at any sort of coffee shop, we become WORK MACHINES and get so much done, plus, we get to chat a little bit and take breaks together. I'm so grateful for her!

Chiara's birthday was a "Red Carpet Event" - and so we were supposed to dress as though we were going to be on the red carpet (or as our favorite celebrity). Rather than wearing one of my fancy cocktail dresses from my Baylor ADPi advising days, I decided to do something a bit more funky. I found a fun black top with colored sequins, dressy shorts, and some awesome aviator-like sunglasses.... and decided to be Kristen Stewart, K-Stew if you will, from Twilight fame. I decided all I needed to do was put on the outfit and a scowl and I could be her doppleganger! Unfortunately, I'm not great at scowling, its more like pouting, so even though it was a good costume, I could never be unhappy enough to imitate her for long!

 Here I am (on the right, duh) with (L-R) Chelsea, Chiara, and Yen Ling. We loved getting to pose with Chiara at the backdrop on the red carpet (yes, there was really a red carpet... and a papparazo taking photos!).
 Posing with some of our friends from our research practicum course (L-R: Diane, Yen Ling, Chelsea, Siduri, and me)
This guy is a friend of Chiara's. We asked him if he would pose with me and squint like Robert Pattinson - and he did it! I think that technically he looks more like that guy from "3rd Rock from the Sun" (French Stewart)but considering I don't really look like K-Stew - its not a bad pic. At the least, it makes me laugh and is a good story.

Here's me and the birthday girl! The party was so much fun! The food was so delicious (and plentiful), the bar was open, and the dance floor was just the right size. We started dancing and tore it up for a long time before Yen Ling finally got us all off the dance floor and into the car, so that we could get some sleep before church the next day.

 Suzi and I met up at church at 8:15am the next morning. We rode the shuttle busses up to the Hollywood Bowl and go there early enough to get TERRIFIC seats in the box seats section of the venue. We love sitting close at regular church, so it is no surprise that we were really excited to sit so close for Easter church.

What a great service, too! The choir was really great, with an AWESOME soloist; there was a full orchestra; and the worship band sang some of my favorite songs, including a few Crowder Band favorites.
 Here is the orchestra and choir on the stage. I had to take three pics to get in all the people, but only wanted to post this one.

Before going to our Easter party, I joined Suzi at her condo, where we took some pics of her and her bird, Chula. Her boss, Jimmy Kimmel (!) had asked her for a picture either of Chula alone, or of Suzi and Chula together. She wasn't sure why (and later he said it was a surprise) but I was happy to take some pictures for her. My reward was that I got to hold Chula (and she was even nice to me) and get my picture taken!

After this quick errand, we headed over to an Easter party with Jimmy's family. Suzi is a regular at this (very large) family gathering, hosted by his cousins. Everyone was REALLY nice and I was so blessed to be with a group of friends and family who really seemed to enjoy each other, and at a place where there were a lot of kids. There was an easter egg hunt for the kids, and Jimmy's son dressed up as the Easter Bunny for the kids - it was so cute!

From a nerdy celebrity loving perspective, I was also really excited because not only did I get to meet Jimmy (who was very welcoming) but I also met Adam Carolla (and his wife and kids, all so nice and cute as can be), and comedian Jeff Ross - as well as some other people that I've seen on Jimmy's show. What was best about it, though, was that it wasn't a whole celebrity thing - people were just hanging out and having fun. So that was especially nice, because we were all sitting there together when the earthquake happened and we all kind of mildly-freaked out (but luckily, no damage, just a little seasick!).

So there you have it friends! More to come soon!

What's up these days in Tiff's Life

Yes, I know that weeks ago I promised some really great posts. And I still hope to write them... :)

In the meantime, here is what is up these days in my life:
1) I just bought a ticket to travel to the U.K. this June to visit my friends Candice and Collin who are living in Cambridge, England while Collin works on a PhD in Religion. We are hoping that our friend, Matt, will be coming, too - because the four of us really like vacationing together. Also, when you spend almost 2 weeks together, its nice to have 4 people because that is like 3 combinations of 2 people each - or maybe 4 combinations - anyway, its nice because you don't have to be all 4 people together all the time, and you don't have to be the same two people together all the time. The mixing it up makes for less of  us getting annoyed with each other. (At least I'm sure this is the case, though we have gotten along pretty well the other times we've spent lots of time together in a row).

2) I am presenting TWO papers at a conference in Denver in Late April / Early May. The conference is the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association. I am presenting one of the papers with my faculty advisor and another colleague and that paper is basically done. I am also presenting one of my papers SOLO (very exciting and nerve racking) and that paper is NOT done. I mean, really really not done. Lots of stats left to do for that one, so that is taking all my emotional and physical energy these days - well, whatever energy is left after classes and my new job.

3) I have a new job! I am now the Graduate Student Researcher for the Evaluation and Assessment arm of the Office of Instruction and Development. That means that I support the Director of Evaluation and Asssessment in doing things like analyzing results from undergraduate class evaluations, helping to develop learning outcomes and figuring out how to assess them. I am really excited about this position and grateful for its provision at the perfect time.

4) However, this quarter is INSANE! Not only do I have the two papers to write and present (they are due, written, on April 9th - this Friday) and the presentations are 4/30 and 5/1; but I also am studying to take my qualifying exams mid-May, and working on finishing my year-long research project. This project has been a little bit of a bane as I struggle to get approval through the IRB and now find participants. Slowly but surely, I am getting people to volunteer and interviewing them. I'm confident that this will all work out, but as to how it will work out? Well, as they say in France: Mystere et boule de gum. In other words - I don't have any idea.

5) Finally, I attended Easter service yesterday at the Hollywood Bowl with one of my friends that I sit with on Sunday. I'll have a few pictures to post later (of that event and a few others) but for now, I want to say that it was a really great experience to be worshiping the risen Lord with so many people - and almost made up for missing the Fergason Family Easter day celebration.

Be well, friends. I'll be back in touch soon. This quarter is a little like an 11-mile race....but I am already through 1 mile, so I'm excited!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Reflecting on Good Friday

I've had the movie "Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire" in its red Netflix envelope for over a week. I just wasn't ready to watch it. I can admit it. I knew that it was a great movie (lots of awards, Oscar Best Picture Nominee, etc). I knew that it could be a hard movie to watch. And I have a confession: If I really had to choose, I would not watch movies that are hard to watch or that make me cry (out of sadness) or that remind me of the brokenness of this world.

After seeing "Up in the Air" with my friend Matt, we were both kind of stunned by the ending. Matt said, "Well, I guess it was more like reality." My reply: "I have enough reality in my own life, I don't need to see it at the movies."

And that's really how I feel. My life is real enough. So is yours.

But then again, how can I really consider myself a critical thinker, a world-changer, a Christian, if I am afraid to interact and engage with real issues?

So I psyched myself up for it. I read Myles Werntz's very excellent and thoughtful review, I went shopping (for Hot Cross Bun ingredients), and I decided that this was a perfect movie to watch on Good Friday.

While my little apartment filled up with the smell of Hot Cross Buns, I watched it. I didn't cry as much as I had expected but I was totally as broken-hearted as I had expected. Here's what I remembered as I watched almost 2 hours of painful reality: this world and the people in it are broken.

No, not the most profound insight, but on Good Friday, the day that Christians worldwide acknowledge the painful and horrifying death of Jesus Christ, this brokenness was especially important for me to remember.

I remembered that this world will continue to be broken - increasingly broken in fact - until whenever Jesus returns to redeem the earth. And that in the meantime, the best example of love and truth and wholeness that exists is in the total insanity of an innocent man being killed on a wooden stake 2000 years ago - or rather in the fact that this man did so willingly (though not easily), and who, even while the last breaths bubbled out of his mouth, asked God to forgive his killers and haters and deserters.

I remembered that our only hope for wholeness and healing in this lifetime is to believe that it is possible that this same man who died also rose to life again - proving that what he had been saying all along was true - that He was God.

I remembered that no one would even know about this man if people didn't tell his story, and that I need to be a part of that storytelling legacy. I remembered that I encounter men and women who are broken every day, perhaps their lives have not been like that of Precious - in my mind I can hardly imagine a life worse than that character's though I know they exist, and who is to judge the magnitude of an individual's pain anyway - but nonetheless, they have pain and brokenness and I can tell them the story of Help.

Finally, I am increasingly reminded that although the message of repentance from sin is important (crucial, even), "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Rom 5:8) I am reminded that evangelism is less about reforming errant sinners than it is telling people the good news of Jesus (that is what evangelism is after all - telling of the good news) and that discipleship (or what comes after one has received Jesus) is the part about reformation and repentance. I don't deny that a person needs to know her brokenness and sin in order to know she needs Jesus's help and redemption - but isn't what she needs to know first is that God loves her despite that?

Didn't Precious really just want to know that someone loved her as she was, perfectly as she was - and not in a flawed way that said love to her face and then raped and abused her, but loved her in a way that lived up to the things we believe about love deep in our hearts? (the answer to that question is "duh, of course, yes.")

And so as Good Friday comes to a close here on the West Coast, I am grateful that somewhere along the line, about 16 years ago, some friends (Julie, Anne, Barb, Chalea and others) lived their lives so that I could see that Jesus loved me just as I was. More importantly, I'm grateful that two millenia (or so) ago, Jesus died on the cross for me.

"Jesus paid it all. All to him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain. He washed it white as snow."

Happy Easter everyone.