The World According to Tiff Sniff

Meandering ponderings and wonderings on the state of things.

Make that One Degree....

So it turns out that I'm closer to the Winkler family than I thought. I actually went to high school with one of Matthew Winkler's brothers; we stood next to each other in chorus my senior year. My heart broke a little bit more when I found that out. This isn't just a remote story on the news - this is a tragedy involving people I know.

Haiku for a March evening.

Sneezing, achy, yuck.
Spring in Tennessee can suck.
Shrek-a-thon. Better.

Three Degrees of Separation

This story is beyond heartbreaking. Any domestic violence is awful, but this one hits awfully close to home.

First, there is the geographical aspect - Selmer is only a couple hundred miles from where I live. Second, there is the Church of Christ connection (I'm a lifelong C of C attendee), compounded by the fact that the couple met at Freed-Hardeman, where my father went to college. True, they weren't there at the same time, but Matthew Winkler's father probably was there with mine. Third, my roommate has a good friend who knew Matthew while he led the youth group at the Central C of C in McMinnville. This woman was a missionary in Scotland for a time (which is how she met Michelle), and the Winklers helped her raise her funds - she was supported by Bellevue C of C while he was the youth minister there.

There are no details coming out yet, really, but one thing is clear: you just never know what goes on in any family. Clearly there was something seriously wrong with some dynamic between this husband and wife; we just don't know what. It's scary, though, especially to someone who is unmarried, like me.

I think it is critical that we (as Christians, as humans) lift this family, and especially those little girls, up in prayer. Can you imagine what a huge inner struggle they are facing? Very few of us will be able to help them directly, but every one of us can take a few minutes to do some spiritual battle on their behalf. Pray that God will protect their innocent hearts, and that He will surround them with people who will guide, comfort, and nurture them in healthy and healing ways.

Wow, there's really not anything else to say.


On the recommendation of my roommate and Kasey, I bought and am reading Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge. John wrote a well-known book called Wild at Heart, about the nature of men. This is a complementary book, about the nature of women. Both books put our gender roles in a faith context that, to me, is fresh and new, and not constricting and repressive like most of the books that tell women how to be better Christians. (Or tell Christians how to be better women.)

Now that the book review is done, on to the important stuff.

A lot has changed in my life lately, and very quickly. In fact, it's far from over. There is a huge, life-changing possibility in my near future. I don't want to talk about that now, although it is relevant. I don't mean to be cryptic (I'm just superstitious), but until I'm pretty sure it's going to happen, or that it's not going to happen, I don't want to mention it.

I'm too used to disappointment, and I don't want to have to tell you all that it didn't work out when I thought it would. I've had to do that too often in life.

Throw all of these continent-shifting changes together, add in a couple of recent emotional encounters and some deep-seated resentments resurfacing, and you get what I am on this Tuesday: a worn-out, happy-but-not-satisfied, little bit wiser girl.

I have always struggled, and will always probably struggle, with my self-esteem. I know that I am smart, kind, funny, and pretty. But there is a part of my voice that tells myself that I'm just not quite smart, kind, funny, or pretty enough. Enough for what? Who knows. But this is the fear I live in.

Growing up, my parents always encouraged me in my academics, athletics, and music (I took piano at a young age and for a long time). But somewhere in there, it always came back to comparisons. I don't fault my parents, or think they did a bad job. On the contrary, I love them dearly, am very close to them, and feel incredibly lucky to be from my family. But I was always coming in second, and they wanted me to win. For my own sake, I know, but it was hard. Why didn't I do the extra credit so I could be top in the class? (I was third overall in my graduating class, most likely to succeed, and had full scholarships to both college and law school.) Why didn't I work that much harder on my piano or basketball, so that I could be the star? (I was always second-string on the team, and my musical skills were never quite as good as the out-and-out prodigies I studied beside for a time.) If I was careful, and watched my weight as I grew, I would be as beautiful as any supermodel (I heard, "Don't get fat, or you'll never be as attractive and desirable as this girl.")

Part of my demons come from my family, but many of them come from simple life experience. I was well into college before a guy I wasn’t related to ever told me I was beautiful. I didn't believe him, and eventually broke up with him. My best friend is unbelievably gorgeous. I love her, and am so proud of her, but it can be hard to go out with her. I don't get asked out, don't get "the vibe" from many guys (and usually only from the weird ones), and don't get watched when I walk across the room.

I still struggle with a feeling of almost-ness, constantly watching my back in fear of some past mistake or weakness coming up from behind to steal what little glory I've earned and give it to someone more deserving, more beautiful, more pulled-together.

I know that this is a myth, an image that we flawed humans have concocted to give our lives reason - something to strive for. But it doesn't mean that this concept doesn't have power over us.

Here's the point: in the book, the Eldredges point to the time in the Garden, when man and woman were perfect and complemented each other. They make the argument that the very nature of the fall - Eve's pushiness and striving to make herself "better", Adam's fear of denying her or of taking the blame later - explain much of the pain each sex feels today. It has certainly resonated with me. In reading it, I've put a lot of my experiences together to see that, while I know I am all the things I listed before, I still feel I am not those things to the degree I should be.

The other thing that has started me to heal is the recognition that the desire to be found beautiful is an innate one that every woman shares, and that it is not something to be feared, thought weakness, or repress. It doesn’t mean that a woman is only truly completed by a man, but it does mean that our desire to be wanted is an honest and true feeling, and not just one forced onto us by our culture. To me, an affirmed feminist, this has actually been quite liberating. I don’t have to fear my femininity; it does not condemn me to traditional or stereotypical roles. Embracing it frees me to be a woman in my core – not just by my actions.

All of this is not to ask you to validate those things to me. You can't do it; it's too big and ingrained. I have to work through this myself, and with God's help and Jesus' healing, I will. I'm learning to look those nasty memories full in the face, see them for what they are, and leave them behind.

What you can do: tell the people in your life what you think of them - not in vague, emotional terms, but in concrete language. Tell your best friend that you love her because she is beautiful, but also because she is insightful, shares your same quirky taste in music and movies, and because she makes the best homemade t-shirts in the world. Tell your mom you love her because she encouraged you to be an intelligent and independent woman, and not to listen to the conservative environment that would discourage you from pursuing your career goals. Tell your dad you love him because he treated you like a friend, played games with you and talked to you about books and movies you both enjoy.

I feel a little guilty and nervous putting such a self-indulgent post up, but that is exactly why I am doing it, as an exercise in self-validation: I am a good writer, and my words and thoughts deserve to be read and enjoyed. If you don't enjoy them, just keep that to yourself, and let me have my moment.

The things I know about myself:
1. I am loved
2. I am very intelligent
3. I am a capable and effective leader
4. I am creative ( this is a relatively recent realization)
5. I can make my good friends laugh so hard they cry
6. I am a good friend myself
7. I am great with kids, and kids love me
8. I can cook with the best of them, given the opportunity
9. I am a terrible housekeeper, though
10. I have an insatiable thirst for story: books, movies, music, conversations, all of it
11. I have been blessed with amazing friends and family
12. I have the coolest eyes - dark blue with some green, and little gold flames around the pupils from time to time
13. I love God in a way I can't put into words
14. I have good fashion sense, now (although I can't often dress the way I want to, due to weight and money issues)
15. No matter what I thought back then, I know now that in high school I was pretty, talented, well-liked, and a whole lot more successful at life than I knew
16. No matter what I thought back then, I know now that in college I was looked up to, noticed, pined over, and fallen in love with
17. No matter what I thought back then, I know now that in law school I was as capable, funny, and attractive as any other girl there
18. No matter what I thought then, in the years between law school and now, even when I couldn't support myself, couldn't find a job, and just generally couldn't make life work the way I wanted it to, I was still everything I had always dreamed I would be at that point
19. No matter what I think now, I will look back in five years, in ten years, in fifty years, and see something I can't see now, and will be grateful for this time
20. I do not have these blessings and talents, these friends and memories and treasured moments, because I have earned them or deserve them. I am blessed simply because I am, and because the One who created me wanted me to live, and to have life to the full abundance.

Need a laugh?

The best story I've seen in ages.

Thinking out loud

Saw the Bachelor over the weekend. No, not in a celebrity dream. He was walking into the bathroom, so I didn't talk to him. Sarah was nowhere to be seen. She was probably off somewhere with the new boyfriend.


Our church celebrated our first Sunday in the sanctuary of the new building yesterday. How cool it was to have everyone together, worshipping in the same place at the same time. I am really excited to see what the next few months and years will bring.


Have I mentioned how much I love my new job? It's interesting work, I have great coworkers and bosses, and it's a regular paycheck. Does it get any better? Plus, I get free CD's and stuff. It's pretty cool.


My first year in California, I started practicing Lent. I gave up coffee. It was very hard. I can still remember what that first cup tasted like, and how jittery I was the rest of the day. :) After a sunrise service, a few of my friends and I grabbed coffee at the Coffee Bean and went up to a monastery on a mountain overlooking the ocean. It was such a cool experience, to sip a cup of great coffee and look out at that view, contemplating the resurrection, and be surrounded by people I loved and just be thankful for all of my blessings. So Lent has become something I try to do every year.

This year, I've given up novels. Reading fiction is my absolute favorite thing to do in the entire world, which is my only basis for giving it up. It's been 5 days, and I already hate it. But I guess that means it's working. I am reading some non-fiction, which is good for me, and is better than nothing. But I haven't really gotten into any of them except "Searching for God Knows What" by Donald Miller. I had started it before Ash Wednesday, but I finished it in a hurry once it was the only thing I was reading. For what it's worth, I liked it even better than "Blue Like Jazz". I'm already thinking about what the first book I read come Easter should be. An old favorite? Something I've been meaning to read but haven't gotten to? A brand new release? Anyone have any suggestions?


My roommate and I are still watching "North and South". It still rocks.


I keep meaning to sit down and write a "deep" post. I want to write about "Narnia", and about the list of "core values" published by the current president of my alma mater, and about the significance of the church move, and so many other things. I will eventually, I promise. For now, I leave you with a blurb from a study my friend Jennifer told me about:

A study conducted by UCLA's Department of Psychiatry has revealed that thekind of face a woman finds attractive on a man can differ depending on whereshe is in her menstrual cycle.For example: If she is ovulating, she is attracted to men with rugged andmasculine features. However, if she is menstruating, or menopausal, shetends to be more attracted to a man with scissors lodged in his temple andtape over his mouth while he is on fire.No further studies are expected.

It's better than nothing

So this isn't a real post, but I've received it via email several times lately, and it just seems to fit my mood today, so I thought I'd put it up here as well as sending it back to everyone who sent it to me.

1.What time did you get up this morning? 6:45, to eat breakfast with my coworkers
2. Diamonds or pearls? Diamonds
3.What was the last film you saw at the cinema? Chronicles of Narnia
4. What is your favorite T.V. show? ER
5. What do you usually have for breakfast? Yogurt and/or protein bar
6. What is your middle name? Renee
7. Favorite cuisine? Chocolate
9. What is your favorite chip flavor? Salt and vinegar
10. What is your favorite CD at the moment? Pride and Prejudice soundtrack (the 2005 one)
11. What kind of car do you drive? A silver SeXTerra named Ralph
12. Favorite sandwich? Grilled cheese/ham and cheese
13. What characteristics do you detest? Dishonesty, meanness
14. Favorite item of clothing? Jeans (which I can wear to my new job – neener neener!)
15. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation,where would yougo? London when it’s warm, the tropics when it’s cold
16. What color is your bathroom? One room is yellow, one is sapphire blue
17. Favorite brand of clothing? New York & co.
19. What was your most memorable birthday? My sweet 16th, but only because it was so bad. It was on a Saturday, and I ended up sitting home alone (not even with my family!) watching Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.
20. Favorite sport to watch? Basketball
21. Furthest place you are sending this? The borough of Lough
22. Who do you least expect to send this back to you? All the people who sent it to me first
23. Person you expect to send it back first? Is this where I get to tag someone?
24. Goal you have for yourself? Pay off all my debt by the age of 35 (hey, I never said I was ambitious!)
25. Are you a morning person or a night person? Major night owl
26. When is your birthday? May 21
18. What is your shoe size? 11(and how did question 18 get between 26 and 29? What happened to 27 and 28? I’m going to use Michelle’s made-up questions)
27. Pet peeves? People who talk on their cell phones while in the middle of a conversation with someone else (ordering donuts and coffee, for example), people who don’t wash their hands after using the facilitles
28. Weirdest thing you ever got in trouble for? Swapping roommates too early in the school year (I had to write an essay and everything)
29. Pets? Not since my fish Jaws died
30. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share withus? The Bachelor and Sarah broke up, and he and I started dating when we ran into each other in the local coffee shop where we both hang out. We just had to wait until the show was over to go public. We’re getting married at the top of the Eiffel Tower next month.
31. What did you want to be when you were little? A mommy
32. What are you doing today? Working first at the office, and then when I go attempt to wrangle 12 two-year-olds at church tonight
33. What is your favorite candy? Chocolate, or those Sweettart Gummy Bugs3
4. What is your favorite flower? Lillies of all types, roses, pretty much anything that smells good
35. What is a date on the calendar you are lookingforward to? October 20, when I get on a plane to go back to L’boro
36. What time do you try to sleep to on the weekends?Until I wake up
37. If you could have one wish/prayer what would itbe? That someone would pay off all my debt for me, or alternatively, to marry an insanely rich man who would support my new career as a socialite
P.S. Michelle also noticed that there is no question number 8. Again, I will make up my own:Reason for filling in this survey? It’s fun to talk about myself. S ame reason I blog.

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