Friday, December 18, 2009

christmas card 2009

Most of you reading this post will have received my Christmas card, with a link to my blog on it.

work: I am still learning something new every day about dental anatomy, making crowns and bridges, and I even got a good report last week! So, after 3 months, I think I'm finally catching on. Below is my "report card."

("near perfect"... hooray!)

home: oh, Allen Street, our home sweet home! Caroline and I almost forgot how vacant the street becomes once the cold weather sweeps in. It's bittersweet, because although our street is mostly quiet, we don't get to see all our favorite neighbors as much. The fence is serving its purpose and preventing folks from going into our back yard.

(me & caroline at a mute math concert)

church: the Lord is using Christ Central to constantly encourage and challenge me. I'm very thankful for my community group and the youth group especially. The teenage girls I get to be spend time with are such a delight and blessing. I'm so happy to be staying in Charlotte and be with them more.

(me & youth group girls)

family: Darla's college volleyball team went to nationals this year. Tj is changing schools. Mandy & Jacob are learning how to manage work with new baby Davis. Davis is the cutest ever and is a joy to be around. I never knew I could love a baby this much!! Momma is staying busy from keeping Davis during the day- any grandmother's dream!! Dad is staying busy researching good real estate deals in the area.

(davis- he's so stinkin cute!)

school: I'm hopefully going to be taking a seminary class next semester. I'm waiting on my acceptance into Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS).

thank you for taking time out to read this.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

winter, the hated season.

winter falls between december 20 & march 20....

why is winter my favorite?

- the air feels clean. something about the cold makes it crisp and non-humid and it feels good to breathe in.

- layers! i love scarves, sweaters, coats, boots, gloves, hats... and wearing 15 layers. it's so much fun to get bundled up & it makes outfits more interesting. i have an easier time putting together outfits during winter.

- christmas. that means advent, family all together, gifts, generosity, parties, happy people, good moods. and celebrating Jesus' birth collectively.

- new year's! i looooove parties, people, dressing up, sparkly things... and that's what new year's is. plus, it offers a fresh start, makes people set goals and evaluate their lives.

- my birthday!!!!! haha.... seriously, though, i love birthdays and parties and gifts, especially mine.

Monday, November 30, 2009


you might be thinking,

"gee, tiff, it's a little early for a post on christmas."

.... and i would have to agree, but i will continue nevertheless.

you see, i'm not the usual type to get very hyped up about holidays (other than my birthday of course!). i understand it sounds selfish or scroogish or strange, but the way i look at it, i'm giving others more room to be excited since i'm not.

however, this year is different! i am beyond thrilled about christmas season!!!!

i don't know what hit me, but i want to decorate everything. i've already bought a real tree and am continuing to decorate the house, and i smell christmas smells at random points during the day. like right now, i smell peanut butter cookies (my momma always makes these at christmas). and, confession: i even have a crush on my christmas tree salesman (he was attractive, but i think it's because he has one of the most exciting jobs to me right now!).

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

i'm sorry

this post is dedicated to all my friends who apologize too much- i'm sure i've probably told you.

it's been a tough lesson for me that at the beginning a new job, there is a learning curve. i just want to immediately be great at everything. this i-need-to-ask-someone-what-to-do-next feeling is quite annoying. i want to be independent, for goodness sake!

and so, in my new job, 97% of everything i do is something new to be learned. yikes! needless to say, i make many mistakes, so i find myself apologizing numerous times during the day. granted, these are much-needed and sincere apologies (unlike those crazy-nice people who apologize all the time!). however, i hate apologizing at work now... the words feel so empty. i wish there was something else i could say or do to make it better.

i'm not sure why this was the tradition in my house growing up, but i just didn't apologize much to my family. i guess it could've been because i didn't do anything to hurt anyone, but if you know me you'd probably disagree. in all seriousness, i think we were scared to admit our wrong, admit our hurt, and sit in that awkward or painful emotion. i think i was also scared to not be forgiven, so i just avoided the difficult beauty of forgiveness and instead chose to ignore the other person's wound.

this also hinders me from entering in to true confession and repentance to my Heavenly Father. He calls me and expects me to say "i'm sorry" regularly. and He promises to forgive me and still loves me every time i hurt Him. i'm so so thankful for a loving Father who prepared a way for me to come to Him and apologize.... and has left the Spirit to guide me into a deeper understanding of this phenomenon.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

staying put

Recently I've been thinking a lot about the value of staying in one place for years.... thanks to a few wise friends, the thought of investing in where I am for a little while really does make sense. It's strange to even write that, because I love change and moving and new adventures and excitement... and, not to mention, I would love to be overseas right now. However, I want to be obedient to the Lord. I know that as I'm seeking Him, I won't miss out... and missing out is ultimately what I fear.

And so, I hope that I will continue to see value in being in Charlotte, investing in friendships here, my church, the youth, my job, and still feed my desire for newness in other ways. It's so easy to just pack up & move away and start over somewhere else.... it's much more difficult in my generation to STAY. My goodness, I can't even sit still for 5 minutes....

Thank the Lord for the Holy Spirit and peace that passes all my understanding. He is good. Reminds me of my favorite psalm:

Trust in the LORD and do good;
Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the LORD;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the LORD,
Trust also in Him, and He will do it.

(psalm 37:3-5)

Thursday, November 05, 2009


my community group is breezing through the book of isaiah right now, and i cannot put to words all that i'm gaining from reading this prophet's writings. one thing i want to talk about is the theme of redemption. God's redemption. His love surpasses our comprehension. the beauty of His redemption, as modeled in isaiah, is that He first destroys that which he rebuilds. it's written throughout much of scripture, but is very obvious when you read chapters in isaiah. the book has taken me on quite the emotional journey, because the Lord is promising His wrath of doom and destruction on His people, and then promises to redeem, rebuild, and restore them.... to restore us. i want so badly to say that the Lord is judging and vengeful against my enemies only, but really He has already taken His wrath (that i deserved) out on His Son, Jesus. instead, the Lord simply asks me to wait on Him and hope for that salvation that's coming when Jesus returns. trust in the Lord's faithfulness (which He has shown throughout history), and do not rely on my futile attempts to save myself.

i'm so so thankful for where the Lord has me right now. although i feel a little trapped in committing to be in Charlotte for some years, i'm pretty confident it's where God has me. i'm simply grateful that HE HAS ME. the Lord, Creator of Heaven and Earth, wipes the tears from my eyes, holds my hand, and prepares a way for me to walk in. thank you, My Savior.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

somebody's baby

this hit home.

strength & song

a little study on the Lord as our strength. Caroline and i are teaching children's church this month and it's been about the Israelites. We've taught them how good God is to them despite their ignorance, disobedience, and "whining" all the time. i had the kids practice whining and it was so annoying.... but that's what the Lord hears from me all the time and is still so patient and gracious. i pray i can be like that towards those around me and that i will thank God for being so kind to protect me no matter how i am to Him.

Exodus 15:2 The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt him.

2 Samuel 22:33 God arms me with strength. His perfect way sets me free.

Psalms 22:19 But you, O LORD, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me.

Psalms 28:7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.

Psalms 73:26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Psalms 118:14 The LORD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation.

Isaiah 12:2 Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; For the LORD GOD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation.

Habakkuk 3:19 The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights. For the director of music. On my stringed instruments.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

old bagels into bread pudding!

friends of mine were about to throw away 15 stale bagels from bruegger's.... i hate waste, so i was brainstorming what could be done with them:
- croutons?
- feed the birds outside?
- give them to my neighbors?
- feed the geese at UNCC?
- feed the cats at UNCC?
- feed the college students at UNCC? :)

although it was a tough decision, none of these quite made the cut as soon as i thought of BREAD PUDDING!

you should know, i've never made bread pudding, but after perusing recipes, i decided that stale bagels just might work. and if they don't, then i don't have much to lose.

so, i just put it in the oven and will hopefully present a picture of it in about 30 minutes when it comes out-- only if it's a success!

here's the recipe i used

my end result is yummier than it looks!!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

unfailing love

i sent this out in an email a couple weeks ago and was thinking about it once again, so i figured i'd share it with the world:

"Overcoming the Insecurity of Feeling Unloved" (taken from the Bible & Beth Moore)

Prov 19:22- "What a man desires is unfailing love; better to be poor than a liar."

The Lord is suggesting that we are lying if we're saying that our greatest need is anything besides unfailing love. Prov 19:22 implies a deep craving for unfailing love: a love
that is unconditional, unwavering, radical, demonstrative, broader than the horizon, deeper than the sea. And it would be nice if that love were healthy, liberating rather than suffocating, and whole.

Since the only way to have eternal life is to receive Him, God created us with a cavernous need that we would seek to fill until we found Him.

Searching for perfect, unfailing love in anyone else is not only fruitless, it is miserably disappointing and destructive. I am convinced that our hearts are not healthy until they have been satisfied by the only completely healthy love that exists: the love of God, Himself.

Oswald Chambers: "No love of the natural heart is safe unless the human heart has been satisfied by God first."

We are not wrong to think we desperately need to be loved. We do. But we are wrong to think we can make anyone love us the way we need to be loved. Throughout life we will lose people who really loved us to death or changing circumstances. As dear and as rick as their love was, it was not unfailing. It moved. It died. It changed. It left wonderful memories... but it left a hole.

Psalm 143:8 "Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,/ for I have put my trust in You./ Show me the way I should go,/ for to you I lift up my soul."

Jesus Christ is the only One who is never overwhelmed by the depth and length of our need.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

why i live where i live

This is what makes caring for the body a Christian work, that through its health and comfort we may be able to work, to acquire, and lay by funds with which to aid those who are in need, that in this way the strong member may serve the weaker, and we may be sons of God, each caring for and working for the other, bearing one another’s burdens and so fulfilling the law of Christ [Galatians 6:2]. This is a truly Christian life. Here faith is truly active through love.

(Martin Luther)

How did Jesus love? "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." (Jn 1:14) Jesus relocated. He became one of us. He didn't commute back and forth to heaven. Similarly, the most effective messenger of the gospel to the poor will also live among the poor that God has called the person to. A key phrase to understand relocation is incarnational ministry.


There's a contemporary model or urban ministry that best explains why I live where I live:

"the three R's"

1. Relocation: living among the people... "Living out the gospel means bettering the quality of other people's lives spiritually, physically, socially, and emotionally as one betters one's own. Living out the gospel means sharing in the suffering and pain of others."

"By relocating, a person will understand most clearly the real problems facing the poor; and then he or she may begin to look for real solutions."

2. Reconciliation: people to people & people to God...

3. Redistribution: of resources

Step 1 is my short-term explanation, and steps 2 & 3 are long-term goals. to read more about this, click here.

I cannot help but sing praises to my Lord for giving me the privilege to live among my neighbors. It has already grown my faith in ways I never could have imagined. And the Lord sure knew what He was doing putting me & my roomie Caroline together.... I couldn't ask for a better person to live here with. I am learning to much from her-- about urban ministry, loving neighbors, loving my friends, loving my enemies, praying for those who persecute me, and being free to be myself... to name a few.

Friday, September 04, 2009

emily & ryan's wedding invitation

i had the privilege to help design my good friend emily's wedding invitation. for my first wedding invitation, i think it turned out pretty nicely and she really liked it- so that's definitely the most important thing! the wedding is "country carnival" themed, and i'll post pictures of the wedding/reception in late october!

also, picture a red border on the very outside of this (she attached the invite to a deep red piece of paper).

Sunday, August 30, 2009

just some life goals

maybe this post is more for me than for you readers. listed below are goals for myself, and i'm posting them as a source of encouragement and possibly even accountability.

some things i hope to accomplish in my life:

- be a part of a church plant
- live overseas for a good chunk of time
- practice some form of art therapy
- help raise a bunch of kids
- take voice lessons
- continue making art
- live simply
- learn to organize well

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

recession schmecession

a customer at the coffee shop asked me one day: "is that your recession hair?"

my interpretation: "are you wearing your hair in a ponytail because you can't afford to get it cut right now, or are you just being lazy?"

well, lady, i'll have you know that it's not because of the recession that i can't afford a good hair cut right now.... and boo-yah, i'll just cut my own hair!!!!

so i did....

the front:

the back:

now it's not (by farrrr) the best hair cut i've ever received but it's manageable and i can wear it down comfortably. i guess it's a little shorter than i would've ideally liked but i just kept choppin away at it! :)

Sunday, July 26, 2009


this week, i realized that i'm a christian cynic... and i don't like it. why am i so repulsed by christian culture, sayings, even most contemporary worship? i've asked the Lord to give me an open mind & heart, abundant grace towards people who aren't like me. let's see what happens since i'm now aware that i'm so cynical and believing God will change my ugliness.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

art therapy

Art therapy is a mental health profession that uses the creative process of art making to improve and enhance the physical, mental and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages. It is based on the belief that the creative process involved in artistic self-expression helps people to resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and self-awareness, and achieve insight.

to read more about art therapy, click here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

trader joe's vs. starbucks

i'm not much of a summer gal. this conversation has come up numerous times and folks seem to be surprised that i don't like summer. i don't hate it- it's just my least favorite of the seasons. i see why people love it, though. summer does have its perks:

- the concerts
- the new movies that come out
- more daylight
- people are happier and out more
- vacations
- water sports
- pools are open
- nights out on the porch
- an excuse to eat ice cream every day
- camp meeting!!!!

the thing i look forward to most, though, is TRADER JOE'S STRAWBERRY LEMONADE! don't waste your money on starbucks iced passion tea lemonade; TJ's tastes like it but better! try it for yourself!

Monday, June 15, 2009

if i was a rich girl....

i would:

1. hire a personal driver
2. start my own business
3. hire a personal assistant- someone to check my email & organize my life for me... i know i'm not that important, but i've realized that i'm just not that good at it on my own. it would probably be a REAL SIMPLE employee.

*shout out to my girl, gwen stefani, for her inspiring music*

Saturday, May 23, 2009

lydia serrer

I met Lydia this afternoon in the coffee shop. She is a cute older woman rocking a gray bob with bangs. She has a thick Cuban accent, so thick she had to spell her first name for me to understand. She spoke of her time in Havana, being one of two females who attended the University... with Fidel Castro. He was in a gang and was such a big threat that the University closed down for two years. Lydia wasn't able to finish her degree.

One story she shared was about him and his gang urinating on campus as she was sitting on a bench working. He came up in front of her (exposed) and asked if she liked what she saw. This is why I love Lydia; she responded to him (without looking up), "I've seen better." Years later, she reconnected with him at a conference he was speaking at. When she introduced herself to him, he said, "I remember. You've seen better." She said that Castro remembered everyone and everything and that's how he got so powerful.

Lydia had to immigrate (the right way, she stated) to the States when her dad's newspaper company was taken from him, but she moved to Puerto Rico for 26 years to raise her kids "away from all the Cubans in Miami" and even worked for 6 years in the US Embassy in Argentina.

I thoroughly enjoyed speaking with her for the 3-minute window I had before the next customer came in. Oh, and she's in Denver now because her kids made her stop working and move close to them!

Monday, April 20, 2009

twitter takeover

i must blog about this, because it's become a significant part of my life in the past 72 hours. it's called twitter. and although i've known about it for a while now, i didn't see the need to be on yet another social network. i think my total is up to 5 now... at the very least. i love networking, but twitter just seemed like a poorly-named facebook wannabe but never couldbe. quite the opposite, really....

just a few reasons why i enjoy it thus far:
1. when there are too many people using it, a big cartoon whale with birds holding him up comes up on the screen... "the fail whale". so, the makers of twitter are obviously thorough & clever.
2. you can "follow" celebrities... without having to be their friend. for example, i "follow" john mayer, so i get his status updates (which are quite frequent- 10+ times a day), and they're usually pretty interesting and amusing. others you might be interested in following include obama, oprah, ashton kutcher, ryan seacrest, and many more...
3. i also "follow" NPR and CNN to get the latest news updates-- also fascinating and keeps me current.
4. it uses a lot of '@' signs.

... and there's much more for me to learn...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

front-door ministry

tonight, i heard from missionaries in Mumbai, India... their stories were not only inspiring and encouraging, but also had me thinking about how what they're doing over there can also be done in the States. the Tombings, this Indian missionary couple, have planted churches, started a school, generates a lot of their income, built an orphanage, have a seminary, and reach out to surrounding poorer countries. and that's just the beginning, really....

as much as i'd love to be a foreign missionary, fearing the rebels at any moment and helping bring justice to the children of prostitutes & drug addicts... i realize that i actually have that at my front door.

recently, i saw an art exhibit & video from the artist, who is all about racial reconciliation, political & social justice, and urban "development"-- well, that's my interpretation. i was so intrigued by his art a couple weeks ago that i began to seriously think about what this means for me. right here on allen street. right now.

Monday, January 05, 2009

looking back to look ahead

why i haven't blogged in so long, i'm not really sure....

happy new year!! i'm happy to be embarking upon this new year and am happy to report that a lot of change is about to go down.

last week, God began shaking up how i've been viewing my life. in short, He showed me that i've been waiting for something to happen, something to change-- so that i can "start" living. and My Heavenly Father wants me to not be wasting a moment where i can be living, embracing the gifts He has given me and where He has me at this very second. to not wait for a ministry, but to be faithful with what He has given me. and so He has given me a renewed vision for this season of my life. and i am so thankful that the Creator of the Universe has chosen me as His daughter and follower and promises to never leave me.

as i reflect on 2008, i can only be thankful for the time i have been able to spend with the ones i love. jessica bentson in the month of january. my mom in february (during my surgery recup). in NYC with renee & amy in april. graham & nicole in may. jessica figley in june, road trip to HHI. megan leap in july, with our many celebrations. good times with the youth group on the mission trip in august. sweet time with new friend, jessica forbes, in philly. family time (celebrating my first full month home) in october. quality time with the coffee shop girls in november. extended family & friends from everywhere made december special. all in all, it was a wonderful year, and i pray God continues to teach me more about His love in 2009.