Friday, December 16, 2011

Pre-wedding Pow Wows (part 3): Awesome Advance Activities

Thursday dawned with three big events on the horizon. First, Mom, Curby, and I, along with my matrons of honor and Jr. Bridesmaid were going to the Flower Mart in downtown LA to buy the flowers for the wedding, and then in the evening Curby had a bachelor party and I had a lingerie party.

Going to the Flower Mart in the morning was something I had been looking forward to for a long time. I went there a year ago with my faculty advisor, to do the flowers for her daughter's Bat Mitzvah, and was in awe of all the flowers and their great prices. Once Curby and I got engaged, I knew that I wanted to us to do our own flowers and that we would be getting them at the flower mart. :) Kathryn went with me to the market in July, to get some practice flowers and figure out how much we'd have to budget for flowers.  That trip was super fun, on its own.

On the Thursday before the wedding, we all got up early and caravanned to the flower market. It was a special time for me, since I got to have Candice, Karen and Andi there. We didn't have many other times to really visit during the weekend, and Candice got to have some car time getting to know Curby which was really nice, too.

We wandered the market, picking up flowers that mom and I had identified earlier in the week and finding the very best roses, etc, for the bouquets. All in all, we ended up with about 10 dozen or so roses, some Lisanthiams (i think?), Picasso Calla Lilies, Misty Blue Heather, and some Boxwood to use as greenery. It was a lot of fun and we were all in awe of the beauty of the market. A couple collages of pictures are below.

some flower market memories - including some of the very few pics of Candice and I together! 

My handsome (future) husband!

Can you believe what a grown up Andi has become!? I loved having her at the market with us!

While there are no pictures from Curby's Bachelor Party (that I know of, LOL), there are a few photos from the Lingerie Party the girls had later that night. We are super indebted to Mark C (one of Curby's Best Men) for crafting a really fun and special evening for Curby, and to Jessica R, Barb V-M, and Sarah M-W for crafting an entertaining and fun evening for me. The girls and I enjoyed cocktails, sweet and salty snacks, while opening lingerie presents. It was really fun to share this evening with some of my closest friends in LA and from around the country. My bachelorette party was really fun (we did Accomplice: Hollywood - blog post to come!) but this was a really fun way to spend time with the friends and family who were out of town for that event.

(had to show at least one piece of lingerie, right?)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Pre-Wedding Pow-wows (Part 2): Delightful Disneyland Doings

[oh yes, i did just double alliterate you, suckas!]

Wednesday was the first real day of "Wedding Time." We had meticulously planned the week leading up to the wedding to ensure a few very important things:
1) I wanted to be able to not be stressed out during the week - to just be able to enjoy my friends and family that had come into town. After all, many had come from far away - and the Bullards had come all the way from England. I just wanted to be able to see them all.
2) I wanted to be able to have fun events that were not centered around getting ready for the wedding - for example, I wanted Curby and I to be able to go to Disneyland on Wednesday with the Fergasons.

Early in our conversations about their trip out to LA, Curby and I had talked to the Fergasons about going to Disneyland when they were here. The kids started saving up their money for the trip, and Curby and I started planning the wedding week in a way that we could go with them. Our moms agreed to stay at the house, watch Tiny, and finish a few crafts for us. On Tuesday night, I had sewn all the wedding programs (I'll post a picture of one later), but we still had a few things that the moms were going to do for us - like putting together the centerpieces and wrapping the gifts for the wedding party. (Our moms really are champs, people, CHAMPS, I say!)

Early in planning our wedding week and trip to Disney, we had decided that if there were going to be 12 of us - and 6 who were under the age of 14 - we needed matching shirts. So we decided to have shirts made for our whole bridal party (4 of the 14 were fergasons), and for all the fergason family. For those of us who went to Disney, we put a little Mickey iron-on patch and everyone's names on the sleeve. It was really fun to be matching at Disney and its a great memento, still, of the wedding.

The morning of that Wednesday Curby came and picked me up and we drove over to where the Fergs were staying. We ended up caravanning down to Anaheim, and we took two of the older kids - Jared and Ryan - with us. It was fun to visit with them and they had a lot of questions about what to expect at Disney. The day ended up being a big success! We got to ride Star Tours and then a bunch of roller coasters. Later, we all had our own ice cream sundaes, and before Curby and I left them for the day (they stayed till the end of the night), we were able to watch three of the boys participate in the Jedi Training - which was really fun to see.

Overall, we had a great, great time, and would not have missed it for the world! For those of you who are engaged out there, I would totally encourage you to plan your week so that you can have fun things like this in the schedule. The events, like this one and the others that happened later in the week, are the things that really made the week special. And frankly, without some of these events I would not have gotten to see my friends or family hardly at all during the week - at least not outside of "work times." We made some really precious memories on that Wednesday!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Friday Video Fun: When Curby Met Tiffani

I really do want to get back into more regular blogging. But having two blogs is difficult. For now I've decided to keep both blogs, but sometimes I'll either post the same thing on both - or more likely refer people from this blog to that one when I have posted something there I think you'll like. And then you can click and go there. (Alternatively, you could bookmark the tiff and curby blog or add it to your RSS reader)

This is one of those days.

Go to this link immediately: to see the most awesome video, made by our friends Ryan and Bethany over at Effulgence Photo and Cinema, that we played at our wedding. The video was designed to be a documentary style video - and our inspiration was "When Harry Met Sally" - but I'll be honest.... the Speiers blew our idea out of the water. The video is really amazing and I cry every time I watch it. It will be a great memento for us and for our family over the years.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Pre-Marital Pow-wows! (part 1)

[Please note: I am an unfortunate victim of awesome alliteration - I just like it, even when it doesn't really "work"... case in point: this blog title!]

There are woefully few pictures of the events of the week before the wedding, leading up to the Thursday night before the wedding... so my memories and recollections will have to do for now. Let me start by saying that it was just an awesome week.

I got back from Wisconsin and had less than a week before Curby's and my mom came into town. Those last few days were marked by a few things:
1) my apartment slowly closing in as Curby had moved much of his stuff into the apartment while I was gone and as wedding paraphenalia took over.
2) wrapping up the final details of my two jobs, so that I could take a full two weeks off of work and voice-mail/email checking.
3) lots of errands and crafty-times.

Those days flew by quickly.

Before I knew it, Curby and I were on our way to LAX to pick up my mom. People, my mom is awesome. Seriously, she arrived at like 4:30pm and we hung out for a bit, then she stayed home to work on crafts (she folded EVERY SINGLE ONE of the program inserts) and Curby and I went out for our "last date as unmarried people."  Right? She is awesome.  So Curby and I left her at home and went out to our date wearing The same outfits we had worn just 8 months before, on our first date. We had a great time at our favorite Mexican restaurant (Paco's Tacos) and then down to the Santa Monica Pier (where we walked to on our first date). We rode the famous ferris wheel for the first time, then wandered to the bench where we sat and talked and where Curby kissed me for the first time. It was a really sweet time and so special to have that night together before everyone came into town and all the wedding happenings started happening.

Our first date picture on the left... "last date" picture on the right.
Curby's mom came into town the next Morning. Mom and I went to church and then spent the rest of the day running errands - I made her go out to the valley to the giant JoAnn Fabrics and Wal-Mart, and then to Michaels and Rite-Aid - yes, seriously, we went to all those places. It was really fun, actually, to have that day with my mom and get to be just the two of us for one last day.

We spent the next two days running errands and doing crafts. On Monday, Mom and I went down to OC to do a "wedding hair" trial and then to the David's Bridal to pick up my dress. I had tried to pick it up the week prior, with my friend Lisa, but they needed to make further adjustments to the bustle. It was pretty fun to go to the bridal store with my hair all done up - and it was really fun to go with my mom. Kimberly Jackson, our pastor's daughter, did my hair for the wedding and she was awesome at both the practice time that Monday and at the wedding. That night Curby moved the last of his things into my apartment and we had a nice dinner with him and his mom.

Tuesday Curby's mom ran a few errands, and mom and I went down to OC (again!) to get my engagement ring super cleaned and pick up a few final things for the wedding (gifts for friends and stuff). That afternoon both the Bullards and the Fergasons arrived into town. I went over to welcome the Fergasons and then John and the kids came back with me to my house to pick up some DVDs and meet Tiny. It was great to have them in town - I was overjoyed to see their faces, hug them and just be in their general chaos. It was great. Additionally, later, there was some hilarity as Tiny accidentally got left outside TWICE during a variety of chaotic moments. Poor dog. I think he must have been very glad later in the week when he got to go off to Jane's house for the week.

Me and Brooki (flower girl) at my apartment
More fun event recaps to come! Stay posted, my friends!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bridesmaiding it up in the State of Cheese

When I was out in Greenville for Heather Caddell's wedding, Curby and I had lunch with some old friends of mine from the Greenville days - Maura and her husband, Marcus, and Jenn. Jenn and Maura were part of a small group bible study that I led back in 2004-2006, and it is a total joy to still be in relationship with them and call them friends.

Well, while I was introducing them to Curby, Jenn mentioned that she had heard about my meeting and falling in love with Curby at (basically) first date, and prayed for something like that. And a week later it happened. Seriously! Cool, right? So when we saw her in May, she was saying that things were moving quickly and that she thought they might be getting married, too! (Curby and I were not yet engaged) I'll be darned if they weren't engaged just a few weeks later (one week before Curby and I) and their wedding was planned for two weeks before ours.

Curby and I had talked about it before we knew the date of their wedding and agreed that if we could work out the $$, I'd be at the wedding. Later, Jenn asked me if I would be IN the wedding as one of her bridesmaids and I was so honored to be able to say "Yes!"

So there I was, two weeks before I tied the knot, on a flight to Milwaukee. I"ll admit that even I thought I was crazy! At that point, I had started having trouble sleeping - on a few days I'd wake up at 5 in the morning thinking about wedding stuff, unable to get back to sleep, and basically was barely hanging on with the work I had to do. My head was totally full of wedding stuff. Despite that, I was really looking forward to hanging out with Jenn and helping her get hitched to her beloved, Edward. I was also excited because my friend, and bridesmaid, Laura lives near Jenn, and we were going to get to hang out on Sunday - and I was going to get to meet her baby, Hope, for the first time.

I arrived late Thursday night and had a great drive home getting caught up with Jenn and hearing all about the wedding. On Friday, we worked on some details for the wedding, like making the bouquets and some crafty things (centerpieces and such), a rehearsal and a really fun time decorating the rehearsal hall. Saturday was the wedding and it was just beautiful. The pastor knows Jenn and Edward well and really tailored the ceremony for them, and the reception was tons of fun! We had a blast!!

After the reception, I went home with Laura and Andy, and stayed with them until Monday morning. While I was helping Jenn, I slept great - we were burning candles at both ends and so I was sleeping HARD - but the night after I got to the Petersons', I woke up at 5am again and could not go back to sleep. It was all back - wedding thoughts! Luckily, it was just a really great day and I was so blessed, despite my full mind of worry. I had breakfast with another friend (and former student) and her husband, Jamie and Zach (who I hadn't met before), then hung out with the Petes the rest of the day. I got to play with Hope (see below) and enjoy that time together.

And then later I was treated to an amazing amazing treat.


Laura's mom treated all of us to dinner and a show at the Fireside Theater in Fort Madison, Wisconsin. Laura and I followed the rest of the crew, so that Hope could sleep a little longer in her nap, so we had a really great visit on the way there, and then we got to have a delicious (!!!!!) 4 course dinner, and see one of my all-time favorite musicals: Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

Picture from the preview of the show

It was really awesome and I was so blessed. It was a small theater, so every seat was good, and the music was amazing and the dancing great, and it took place on this small round stage, so the staging was interesting and fun, and it was just awesome. I was completely grateful.

It was a great end to a great trip. I flew home excited to see my future husband, excited to see my friends and family, and fully ready to begin running the sprint that was set before me.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Wedding! Marriage! Life! (or rather a series about all of it)

Trying to get my head around the idea of blogging dissertation-writing, but although its been challenging to get my mind back into even the idea of writing, I know I need to start somewhere. So I've decided that in the next few evenings, when I'm sitting here with my glass of wine and my dog - most nights waiting for Curby to get home (he doesn't arrive until 7pm) - I can blog. Being forced to gather my thoughts will help me in my academic writing, right? Fingers crossed at least.

Here is the plan for the posts:
1) Stuff leading up to the wedding (or: my fun friends and family and how they bless me)
2) Wedding awesomeness! (or: the amazing story of how I got to marry my true love)
3) Honeymoon fun (or: why I want to be independently wealthy)
4) Settling in (or: boy, we sure have a lot of laundry)

While I'm at it, I'll also post some pictures. We don't have a lot of our wedding pics yet, but I'll post a few candids and a couple that I got from Bethany thus far.

I'll also continue to blog on the "transitioning out of singleness series" and at some point, I'll decide if I'm going to transition into using the tiffandcurby blog full-time, or if I'll keep both.

Thanks for reading!

p.s. here's a pic to whet your whistle!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Transitioning out of Singleness (part 3b)

Hi Friends! Today we have a follow up to my previous post "How did I do it?" A friend of mine, who was also single into her adulthood (I can't remember at what age she met and fell in love with her now husband of four? five? years, but she was not 21), had a comment that turned into a post. 

We worked together in the University Ministries Office, when we were both studying for our graduate degrees at Baylor and one thing I admire about her is her candid way of communicating, and her sense of humor. Her response to the last blog post is below. I've copied it here in its entirety because I thought it was just so good! Enjoy.

Hey Tiffani-

I really enjoyed your blog post today and I was writing a comment and well the comment just got away from me and became more of an essay (yikes). I'm posting in via email and will leave it up to you on how to share it.

I love this post, because it is SO honest.  Kudos to Sally for asking and wrestling with really good questions.

As a woman who was single for a while, dated A LOT (not in a good way), and struggled often with these same kinds of questions I think I can offer some encouragement and advice.

Just last night, I spent the evening with a group of married women in a bible study and the subject of our discussion was about the hurt, loneliness and rejection women experience and carry around mainly because of abandonment (usually by a father figure).

I sat and cried alongside these friends and shared a bit of my own story of sexual abuse by a family acquaintance right about the same time I was emotionally abandoned by my father.  I know that these kinds of feelings are not isolated to being single. I was also reminded of a truth that I learned while being single that helped in those moments when I felt “like shit for being single” and even now when I feel like “shit” for some other insecurity or fear.

Truth #1 “It is not hard to love me.”  The worst part of dating and having your hopes dashed, regardless of how high your expectations or hopes are, is the nagging feeling of rejection.  Even if the reason things don’t work out has little to do with you, there is still an underlying sense of “is something wrong with me?”

It doesn’t help that there is a prevalent idea in Christian culture that lauds marriage as an accomplishment reached only by those who have “gotten it all together” or somehow fixed all their broken parts.

 The challenge is not to believe the lies the Enemy tries to tell you in these vulnerable moments.  The lie says that you are broken and unlovable.

The TRUTH is we are all broken, but we are all redeemed!  I am healed and made whole by a savior who loves me.  It is not hard to love me.   Christ loves me.  I can remind myself that this is true because of the host of people in my life that show love to me on a daily basis.  This is a struggle I dealt with as a single person and one I still deal with as a married

Getting counseling is a wise move.  It will help.  It was for me as I was able to see clearly and deal with the underlying hurt and rejection that contributed to the “shitty” feelings of being single.  I was able to see them as just shitty feelings, less about my relationship status and more about hurtful things that happened to me or that I did to myself.

The longing didn’t go away, but understanding made it a lot easier.  Knowing why a feeling is happening helps give perspective.  When you have a good understanding of your “issues” (for lack of a better word) Relationships, dating or otherwise, are *easier* (note I didn’t say easy).  Realistic expectations for dates are more manageable when you have good perspective on yourself and how (& why) you deal with various challenges and situations.

Truth #2 “Give the Time value.” I refuse to spout any of the cliché’s I heard while single about waiting.  My only encouragement is to use the time. Don’t look at this single part of your life as a time of waiting or getting ready for something next.  Rather than view this as a “time of singleness” or the future as a “time of being married” or a “time of whatever,” just look at your life as *time*.

When I was in college I could do things that I can’t do now because of work and family obligations.  There are things I can do now, working rather than studying, because I have more financial resources than I did in college.  There are things I can do now as a younger person I won’t be able to do when I am older.  I will be able to do things when I am older that I can’t do now.

Time doesn’t have good or bad value.  It is just valuable.

I would encourage anyone younger than 30, married or not, to use the time to create some really good habits (Tiffani's note - I would encourage this at any age! you are never too old to develop good habits).  Develop the kind of habits that become so ingrained in who you are that you must do them in order to function properly.  Bible Study, prayer and contemplation, exercise and self-care are the habits that will see you through whatever life brings your way.   If these kinds of things are challenging to make into habits, then again,
counseling is a great place to figure out why.

Romans chapter 12 is, for me, a guiding treatise on how to live life in every time.  The final verses of the chapter seem appropriate here:

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: 
   “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
   if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. 
-Romans 12:9-21 (NIV)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Transitioning Out of Singleness (part 3): How did you do it?

Recently a friend of mine sent me an email about her current single-ness, and asking me a couple of questions. I decided to include it here, as part of the series, along with my advice to her, because a number of my friends are single and hoping to be married someday and
1) She thought the advice I offered her was helpful, so maybe others will, too.
2) I thought that some of you out there might a) have advice that is in addition to mine, and b) have questions that we can all answer together.
I certainly do not think that I know anything about courtship, really, or that my experience is indicative of the experience of others. But I do hope that what I have to say below will bless you like my conversation with - lets call her Sally - blessed me.

(all communication posted with permission)

From Sally:
 I just ... I have to know how you did it. Each time I go on a date that seems promising, and then realize I've been duped once again I feel like my heart breaks a thousand times over. I just can't do it anymore.
And I refuse to believe that wanting something or not wanting something is what affects the outcome. Any tips you have on not feeling like shit for being single are welcome! Because at this point there's not enough glue in the world to glue the pieces of my heart back together.
 - Sally 

My reply:
Hey Sally,
My friend, may the Lord be with you! I feel for you so much. I wish I could tell you that I had a solution to the pain that comes with being single and wishing to be otherwise. But most of my answers will seem trite or pat, and I don't want to offer you such things.

I totally agree - "wanting" and "not wanting" are not the difference - that is "The Secret" kind of stuff, and it's BS. (Even though you'll hear Christians say things that sound eerily similar to that philosophy). Plenty of people in scripture wanted things and Lord withheld for a time. This was most often true of men and women who wanted children, but I think that wanting to have a loving relationship is a similar "want".

I don't know that I have advice that will be super helpful, but what questions and advice I do have, I will offer you:
advice #1 - be extra choosy. One thing I like about you, and that we have in common, is a predisposition to believe that the next thing is the best thing. Because of that, you have to raise your standards higher, so that not every cute guy who seems funny and smart gets through door. It will mean fewer dates, but the dates will be more likely to meet your expectations.

advice #2 - take a break from dating for a while, if you need, so that you can let your heart heal a bit. during that time, really think about why you want to be dating/married - what is it about being single that you think you might want to leave behind? what is it about being married/long-term-partnered that you would want? think about what expectations you have for dating and for a relationship, and then think about which of those expectations are ones that could be fulfilled before a relationship really gets going.

advice #3 - give it time. I know this advice stinks, but as someone who didn't meet the love of her life until she was in her mid-30s, I'm here to tell you that even though the intervening years were hard, both Curby and I would say that it was worth it to find each other. You might meet the perfect guy tomorrow, and you both know it! (that is what happened to Curby and I) or you might meet him in 5 years and know it right away. Or you might meet him tomorrow and not be sure for 2 more years. Or you might meet him in 5 years and not be sure for 2 more years. There is unfortunately just no way of saying. My best advice is to just keep doing what you're doing - go out to places where people are, meet people, be friendly, get involved in regular things and hopefully, when the time is right, you'll run into mr. right.

advice #4 - go to counseling. Seriously, I've done it a couple times - and many sessions were me sitting there crying saying, "why all my friends and not me!?" - but its nice to have a place where someone will listen to you say that weekly and offer helpful suggestions for any work you can do to make yourself more ready for dating/marriage when it comes.

Finally, take your pain and hurt and desires to God. Cry out to him in your pain and loneliness and bring your complaints to him. For me, the psalmist who said, "but as for me, my foot had almost slipped" best represented where I was when I met Curby. I had almost lost hope that marriage was for me - I had even started looking into single adoption, but I just kept bringing my request to the Lord and keeping my eyes open just in case. Even when you feel like your heart is broken into so many pieces its a puzzle that can't be repaired, the Lord is there and he loves you. Small consolation, sometimes, but still true. I love that Nichole Nordemon song "Small Enough" because that is what I felt so often.

Grace to you, friend. I hope this is even somewhat helpful. We can continue to dialogue - I'd love it. Blessings, Tiff

What do you think, friends? Do you have any additional advice/suggestions? do you have any other questions/thoughts?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Transitioning Out of Singleness (Part 2b): The Little Things, Or How I Was Prepared Beforehand

When I look back at the past few years, in light of my upcoming marriage, I can see ways that God has really prepared me for marriage. Some of these were things that I did - at the prompting of friends or family - and some of them were just blessings that came through divine appointments.

The various things that I've been reflecting on, in no particular order are detailed below:

* Communication:  Yes, I am a talker. But I have not always been a good communicator. I have been afraid of conflict and an avoider of the "hard talks." My ability to communicate authentically and openly has definitely improved in the last ten years and generally as a result of a few specific encounters:
           1) In 2001, I moved in with the Fergason family. I wanted to live with a young, Christian family and see what that looked like from the "inside." We used it as practice discipleship for all three of us. Quickly after arriving, I realized - as did they - that I was not sharing what I was really thinking and feeling. I would just hold it in to avoid conflict and because of that, it was difficult to work out hard issues that we encountered while living together. We got along pretty well, generally, but as always when you live with someone there are some growing pains and conflicts as you rub up against each other. Ultimately, John and Karen gave me an assignment: When something bothered me, or when something came up in my mind that I wanted to talk about, I had to write it on an index card that I kept in my pocket. Then at our weekly house meetings, I was responsible for bringing up the issues on the card, or abandoning them forever. They didn't look at the card in advance, so it wasn't like I couldn't decide to wait a week, but it helped me to discern what things were worth being upset about and thus bringing up, and what things were not worth worrying about. I've used this exercise time and again over the years, when I knew that I was going to be afraid to bring something up to a friend or family member. Putting it on the card helped me to be responsible to myself and to my feelings. It also helped keep me focus on the main issue.
           2) In 2004, I met Laura Peterson. Laura is a frank and gentle communicator. At one point, there was a mis-communication between us and she addressed it with openness and it not only cemented my friendship with her, but taught me that being open about our issues and concerns is better than holding grudges or making assumptions. (Duh, right?) She also taught me the value of creating a safe space - that when you humble yourself, you make a safe space for someone else to humble themselves. This particular finding has been very evident in my relationship with Curby, who has been willing to be vulnerable with me from the start, making it easy for me to do so also.
            3) In 2008, I became roommates with Sarah Martin-Werntz. Sarah was a mid-20's Social Work Masters student, and committed to justice, equality, and conversation. She was intentional about scheduling roommate time each week at least (Pancake Fridays was our ritual) and helped me to think more about my positions on political and social issues and also how to articulate them in a gentle and welcoming way. Learning how to challenge others and to be challenged was a great boon to my ability to communicate about my heart issues.
*** There were many others along the way to facilitated my improved communication as well. But these three are great examples of divine relationships and how the communication of others is helping me to be an honest and open communicator with Curby.

* Reading and Self-reflection: I love to read, but I don't always read "self-help" type books. However, when I came to UCLA, I found that I was struggling with loneliness and finding my place. Two books really helped me to change how I looked at myself and the world around me.
               1) Life of the Beloved, by Henri Nouwen. I blogged about this book in the past, so I won't expand much, except to say that I had to reclaim my "belovedness" in God's eyes in order to be ready to receive that I could be beloved in Curby's eyes. Being reminded of God's overwhelming and deep love for me not only allowed me to be a better friend to others because it also reminded me of their belovedness. Knowing my own belovedness, and knowing that Curby is the beloved as well, makes me value him and his nature and characteristics even more.
                2) How to Get a Date Worth Keeping, by Henry Cloud. My friend Shannon recommended this book to me, although she had not read it yet. I'll be honest I only got through about 75% of this book, and some of his exercises were near to impossible in my eyes.... BUT - reading this book and attempting the exercises (like trying to chat up five new men a week) helped me to become more open to the idea of dating. It helped me to face my fears and to own my attractiveness, my shape, my style. I didn't even realize how closed off I was until I read this book and was forced to see my own behaviors.

* Good Examples of Others: I am so blessed to have a number of men and women around me who have great, Christian marriages. Because of this, I have been able to glean little tidbits (and in some case have long discussions about a variety of things) about what it means to be a good wife - in the way that I want to be. From Karen Fergason, I learned how to exhort your husband, how to revere him and build him up. From my mom, I learned that it is not worth picking apart all the little things but instead always placing little things in context of the big picture and loving because of it. From Dorothy and Nick, I learned the value of serving your family and finding ways to bless those around you even sacrificially. From my grandparents and parents, I learned that finding shared interests was important and that you could build a life around enjoying the same things.

* Attitude of Sacrifice: One thing that I have taken from my best examples of marriage is the attitude of dying to self and living for the other. This is hard to do in a situation where there isn't mutual trust and safety. But I had been learning for the past few years that there is value in submitting your will to the will of others. To serving others even when its inconvenient and to being a friend who loves in surprising ways. I've seen this example so many times in my family and friends - not just in romantic relationships, but in others, too, and taking on this attitude that others matter more than me has helped me to be a better partner.
Disclaimer: I'm totally still working on this and SO often Curby suggests something and my initial response is "No." - but I'm learning how to say "Yes" first and then change my mind later, rather than the opposite.

* Prayers of Others and the Good Book: I used to do a lot of mentoring, discipleship and counseling. And I counseled women and men, singles and marrieds. I used to feel nervous advising married people, but Karen reminded me that I knew God's word and that if all truth is God's truth, then unmarried people have truth for married people, too.
           1) I mentioned this in the earlier post, but the prayers of others totally prepared me to be a married woman. Knowing that there were people out there crying out to God for me, gave me hope and encouragement. I felt less forgotten and abandoned when one of my married friends sat with me crying and saying, "I don't understand why you're single either, Tiffani, but I have been talking to God about it daily!" Believing that prayer works and knowing that they were praying kept me willing to believe this could happen.
            2)  It may sound cliche, but reading and studying and memorizing the Bible - especially the Psalms, where David cries out for God's help - really helped prepare me for this journey. Not only did they sustain me through my singleness, and give me words for when I was struggling to understand God's plan for my life, but they have helped me in the recent months as I pray in both gratitude and for help to be a better partner, and I know they will help me as I enter into this next season of marriage.

So there you have it. For now, those are the things I've been thinking about and noticing on my journey toward being a married woman. I continue to be excited about my future with Curby and the planning continues to move forward in a joyful way. More posts soon, friends. In the meantime, thanks for letting this blog ALSO be a way that I was prepared for marriage!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Transitioning out of Singleness (Part 2a): Words that hurt the Singleton's heart.

As I was thinking of how God prepared me for marriage, I was compelled to write about two particular things that people often say to singles about being single. It became longer than I expected, so the posting turned into two separate postings. The first (below) is things "not" to say to a singleton. The second post specifies the ways that I feel like I was prepared (and prepared myself) for marriage.

Before I share some of the things that I can see are helping me to be a better life-mate, let me first post my very strongly felt disclaimer.

Over the course of my adult life, I have heard many many many many (often married) people imply that there are specific reasons people remain single. These particular statements always strike me as condescending and generally, though unintentionally, hurtful. By identifying these statements below, it is my goal to expose that these statements are hurtful and to clarify that although I can look back and see how I was prepared, I am not saying that any other person's singleness, nor mine, is/was as a result of the reasons below.

1) The first is because "God wants to prepare them for their husband or wife." Yes, I think that a person's singleness may be a result of their needing further refinement (or I suppose of their partner needing further refinement) but to imply this about someone else is grossly prejudicial and condescending. Hopefully my words in the next post will show how I was prepared, and the steps I took to prepare myself - not just to be a good wife and life-partner, but also just to be a better friend and colleague. I would be more likely to say that doing these things helped me to be more open to approaching a romantic relationship than I needed to do these things "to be ready' to be a spouse. Frankly put, plenty of people meet a marriage partner before they are "ready" to be a spouse and just as many people get married in that same state. I have known them. Some of them worked it out and became great spouses. I just don't think "being prepared" alone is a good reason for a person being single.

2) The second is because "You need to focus all your attention on doing God's will, and then when you stop focusing on finding a partner, God will present that person to you."  Oh, this one makes me even angrier than the other - not the least of which is because I have spent the last 12 years really seeking God's will for my life -and following it into spiritual leadership roles, across the country, and into a new career, as a single woman... None of which I wanted for myself, while knowing the work would likely keep me single through each season. But also during those 12 years I wanted to meet a partner and I continued to look around for that person, even as I had fruitful ministries following God's call. And here I am - a decade older - and just now am meeting this person for me.
This particular statement "Just focus on doing God's work/will/etc, and then you'll meet your person." and its kin "When I stopped looking, that is when I found _______." are particularly painful because it implies to the receiver that they must NOT be doing God's will. Additionally, I frankly did not know how "stop looking" for my future husband. Being a wife and mother was a deep call in my heart and I did not know how to silence that in a way that made me immune to meeting new men and (even if only briefly) wondering "Could this be him?"

I want to bring these up, because I know how easy it is for each of us to advise others out of our own experience. A friend of mine, we'll call him Tom, told the story of how he met his wife and used example #2 above, during bible study, to a single gal asking for prayers for her husband. As Tom told it, he decided to stop just living to date to find his wife, and instead recommitted himself to God and gave up dating...and a few months later met his now wife of four years. This is a great story and yes, for him part of what it took was giving up his dating behaviors and focusing on doing work for God. But his experience is only his experience.  And my experience is only mine - which is why even though I'll gladly tell you I met Curby at, I won't say that you "should" get on that site because that is totally the way to find your husband. Its just rubbish to expect other people's stories to be like ours.

I guess what I'm saying is that everyone's story is different. Is it OK, when you single friend asks why she or he is still single to say, "Well, maybe there are some things you need to work on before you're ready." Sure, I think it IS OK - but only say it if you are willing to be specific with your friend about habits and behaviors that they can refine. And only if you are willing to partner in the responsibility for loving them through it. A better answer might be, "I don't know. But hopefully you'll meet your person soon." and then tell them the story of some old friend of yours who met her soulmate at 37. Or at 42. Or at 54, if you can. And pass on a little hope instead of pain.

Phew. All of that being said.... check out the next post. :)

And feel free to weigh in on this one below. What other "reasons" for being single do you hate? What reasons do you give your friends when they ask why they are still single? 

(and lastly, remember to keep our single friends in our prayers, too - it can be a hard life out there for a single person, and knowing that someone is praying for you to be at peace and to find your soulmate - that someone is crying out for you makes a difference!)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

National S'mores Day!

I'm not as up to date on the national "food" celebrations as I should be...So when I made Mini S'mores Pies last night for my small group bible study, it was without knowledge that today was National S'mores Day.

I first saw this recipe on Pinterest. Pinterest is an online 'bulletin' board where you can pin images from around the web and it will keep track of websites for you. Your friends can connect with you there, comment on the different images you post (I've been posting a LOT of wedding ideas and things), and suggest stuff as well. If you are interested in joining, let me know by putting your email address in the comment field and I'll send you an "invite."

Anyhow, on Pinterest, I found a recipe for "S'mores Pie" - it looked pretty easy (so easy my mom wouldn't send it out on her recipe of the week email) and delicious. I put it aside to try someday.

Last night, I was in charge of bring snacks to bible study and I thought "This is the perfect opportunity to make that pie!"

But then I thought.... What if instead of a big gooey pie, I made little individual pies in cupcake papers?

So I did.

I used break apart cookie dough, and pressed one square into the bottom of a cupcake paper, in a regular-sized cupcake pan (I highly suggest using the papers and not just trusting your pan to release the pies). Then I put in about a tablespoon of marshmallow fluff and topped it with a dollop - maybe 1/2 a tsp? maybe a tsp? of Nutella. The recipe called for Hershey's chocolate bar, but I was experimenting. :)  Then I pressed out another cookie square in my hands and sort of fitted it on top of the filling, like a lid.

Then I baked them at 350 for about 14 minutes (or until they looked almost done).

I wish I had taken pics of the process, but I didn't. While cooking they puffed up really big and marshmallow broke the surface. After cooking they sunk in like black bottom cupcakes. Maybe I could have used a bit more filling?

Either way, they were a HUGE hit at bible study. We all loved them and some people had more than one. It was the perfect amount of sweetness.

The finished product (I reserved a couple so that Curby could try them) looked like this:
(please excuse the quality, they were taken with my phone and I forgot to use the macro function)

So Happy S'Mores Day! Now get baking!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Since Curby and I got engaged, we have been working on establishing our "wedding website." We decided to create our own site on blogspot, so we had more control over the design of the site.

I've been blogging in both places - here on Tiff's Life, I'm blogging about, well, my life....  and on the other site, I'm blogging about various wedding-related events, experiences, thoughts.

My current debate is whether I should re-post my posts onto this blog, or just refer you to the other.

For today, I'm referring you over. :) If you're interested in reading thoughts specifically related to the wedding stuff, go to:, and enjoy. The most recent post was about our experience getting our engagement photography and videography done this last weekend. Enjoy.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Reading for the 21st Century Bride (and Groom)

I'm currently in the process, as you regular readers know, of a series about my transition out of singleness and into married-ness. Here is a review of some books I've been reading lately that are great reads for the modern bride - or the modern single women who wants to better understand men or herself!

I was blessed recently, when a friend of mine, who is also one of my bridesmaids, Sarah Martin-Werntz, along with her husband, sent Curby and I a few books as an engagement present.

The first two books were a companion series called "Couples Only." One is "For Women Only" and describes research on men and what men are thinking/feeling/wanting/needing. The other is "For Men Only" and does the same for women. From what I hear, there are a lot of books out there to help men and women understand each other "Love & Respect", "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" etc. The two books Myles and Sarah sent are similar but are smaller and maybe cover more topics (? I haven't read the others, so I don't really know).

This series has been a great read for Curby and me. We have both learned more about each other, and it has led to some great discussions surrounding our emotions and how we're feeling. It has also opened the door for us to say to each other "You do a great job of this!" or "Now I understand why when you do this, I feel this way," or "...when I do this you respond this way" and "OH! I could do more of THAT to bless you, right?"

The "For Women Only" book has also led to some great conversations with me and my friends! I'll say, "I learned this _________, and this is how it changed me....." and they'll say, "What?! I never knew that _________" or "Oh yeah, I learned that one the hard way by making this mistake __________". Even Curby's book "For Men Only" has helped me learn about myself and has led to some great conversations with my friends as I realize that I am always thinking about all different aspects of my life, and Curby may only be thinking about one thing at a time - as my friend Dave says, "Women are like dry erase boards, men are like file cabinets."

If you are dating, in the process of getting married, or married - or just interested in learning about the opposite sex, I HIGHLY recommend this series. I have been so blessed by Myles' and Sarah's thoughtfulness in giving it to us, and I plan to pass the books along to others on their relationship journeys, as well.

The third book I've been reading - and really, I JUST started it today, is called "The Conscious Bride: Women Unveil their True Feelings About Getting Hitched." Essentially, it is a book about the feelings and experiences that people (women primarily) go through in the marriage process, and how to go through them in a healthy and complete way. Sarah told me about it before even reading my blog post about grief and joy in the marriage process! I've only started it and I can tell that there are going to be major parts that I connect to. I know that for me, as I wrote in that earlier post, the feelings of grief were kind of a surprise to me - no one had mentioned it before - so I am really excited to read a book that talks about the transitions that women go through as they leave daughterhood/singlehood and move into wifehood/marriedhood/motherhood, etc. I think that this book will be a great companion on my journey toward marriage - which is happening just a short 3 months and 10 days from today (ahhhh!!!).

This book is for you if you: are thinking of getting married, are married and you feel like your experience differed from the modern "sunshine and roses" myth, or if you are just interested in being more conscious of your identity transitions in your life in general.

A note: Some of us are older brides (like me!). This means that we may have had a lot of other life transitions already that a younger bride might not have - for example, I feel like I transitioned out of being "Chris and Warren's daughter, Tiffani" to being "Tiffani, daughter of Chris and Warren" years ago. So my identity crisis may not come in that transition, but in the transition from a singleton to being part of a couple. But also, I have been dealing with how my relationship (friendship) with my mom will likely change as a result of living with someone else who has my first attention. My point is, the transitions may be slightly different for all of us, but are still valid and worth exploring. I'm excited to be on this journey with Curby, and excited to share it with you, my friends, as well.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Transitioning out of Singleness, Part 1: Griefs and Joys

Griefs and Joys: On the pain of losing my life 

I bought my wedding dress on a Thursday. My mom and my two youngest aunts, who are truly like big sisters to me, were there to help me try dresses on and pick out "the one." It was a great time where we laughed and cried together and afterward felt victorious, and also like we had really shared one of life's special moments.

At our victory lunch, after buying the dress!

The next morning I woke up to find one of my aunts sitting on the porch of the cabin where we were staying. We sat and talked for a bit and she mentioned, with tears in her eyes, that she was sad to see this visit end, as it was destined to be my last "solo" visit for quite some time. I protested, "No, there will be other times - we can still have girl's weekends and stuff!" But even as I said it, it rang hollow. I knew she was right and it was another reminder that this season of singleness is coming to an end.

Don't get my wrong - I am filled with great joy at the idea of marrying Curby. I cannot wait to be a wife, I cannot wait to be a mother, I'm excited for all the changes the Lord is bringing into my life. There is the joy of bringing some of my closest friends together and telling them what they mean to me and asking them to help me as I make this transition. There is the joy of inviting a multitude of friends and family to come celebrate with me and Curby as we enter into this new state of life. There is joy in knowing I am bringing joy to others in my family and hope to all that God does indeed answer prayer. There is so much joy.

But in the midst of that joy, is something I did not expect: grief.

When I was 32 and single a friend said to me, "I didn't get married till I was older, either, and I can totally relate to how hard it was." This friend had been married 3 years at the time and had gotten married at 29. I tried to be gracious, but inside I was frustrated and said to myself, "I was single at 29, too. And being single at 32 is different, and harder, than it was at 29." And so I have been grieving that in some ways my being able to relate clock ends at 36. This is silly, in some ways, but its how I feel.
   * First of all, to presume that I know how others feel at any age is presumptuous and vain. However, I know that for me I always felt a sort of comraderie and encouragement from those women who were older than me and single, or who had been older when they got married (those 36, 37, 38 yr-old, or older friends who married when I was 33, 34, 35). I am glad to have been an encouragement to a lot of young women over the years, as I pursued the life God called me to as a single woman with (hopefully) joy and confidence, but I'm sad that now I will be speaking from a different vantage point. I grieve that loss.
    * Second of all, I grieve with my single friends who are around my age or older and are losing one more single friend to marriage. Those women and men, who are longing for marriage and who have found companionship in their other single friends - even from afar, are my people. I remember when I was in that position and I was so happy for my friends getting married but also so sad and crying out to the Lord, "What about me, Lord, will you forget me forever?" And I'm sad that now I will represent, even a little bit, that thing they are longing for, and that they will not want to tell me for worry of marring my happiness or for appearing vain or self-centered (all things I worried about as I put on a brave face to with my friends true happiness).

When I think of the conversation with my aunt on the patio, I grieve the awesomeness of the single times I've been able to have with my family and friends around the country and world. I have great memories of times of great joy, traveling to Texas and Illinois for fun times with friends, for weddings and weekends of fun, traveling to Washington for family and friend time combined, and even international travel just because we might as well do it.
    * I grieve that now my travel decisions are in partnership with someone else who doesn't necessarily have the same ties to my friends that I do.
    * I grieve that now my travel decisions are weighted with visiting someone else's family and someone else's priorities and that at the very least, this means my ability to visit my own friends and family may be cut in half as we learn to share travel to these places that matter to us.
    * I grieve that as we begin to create a family, our ability to travel will be even more constrained by finances and convenience.
    * I grieve that rather than being the single person who travels to see everyone, I will be the one asking my single friends to visit me, and hoping that they will.

But even this grief comes with some new, great joys: I love traveling with Curby! We have a great time together whether on the road or in the air, and I love exploring new places with him. My joy in having a permanent "travel-buddy" (to join, not replace, my dear friends who also hold that title: Tall Brian, K-Falk, Fulms, Bullard-1&2) is immense. But I grieve the loss of my individual freedom and "footloose and fancy-free-ness"

Lastly for now, I am also filled with great joy at being part of couple. I am thrilled to have a new way to relate to my married friends - to not feel like a third-wheel, to do "couple things". I am excited that Curby likes my parents and they like him and that we have things in common and that they are looking forward to doing "couple things" together also. I love having someone to watch TV with, or talk to about my day - who really cares/listens, to cook for and to listen to over dinner, someone to care for and to care about.
    * I fear becoming like my single friends who got married and then forgot about the singletons. And I think I grieve because I know that for a season at least, it might be inevitable that I spend less time with my single friends as I cultivate this new partnership.
    * I grieve because I know my aunt is right. I can't stay the same and be different. This relationship is changing me - not necessarily in a bad way - but still changing me. And if I am being changed, then all of my life is being changed, too. And I grieve because I know that it means that others lives are also being changed and not by their own volition and despite their happiness for me, not always in ways they like. And not always in ways that I like or expected or want. I grieve the awesome life that Tiffani and her friends and family had - even as I rejoice in the awesome life that Tiff and Curby and their friends and their family will have.

Thus are the start of the many, many thoughts of a mid-30-something bride-to-be. The Apostle Paul says, "When I was a child, I thought like a child... but now that I am a man, I think like a man." I think this true for me also, when it comes to this relationship stuff. When I was 21 and engaged at the end of college (long story, I broke it off before graduation), I did not think of any of this stuff. I didn't have the experiences under my belt to give me empathy and grace, well hopefully grace. But now that I am a woman, I find myself strangely torn between overwhelming excitement - -  truly, I could literally talk about wedding stuff and Curby's awesomeness all the time - - to embarrassed bashfulness - - I don't want it to look like I'm bragging over these blessings - - to rigid minimalization - - I don't want my friends to feel salt pouring in their wounds. I had those wounds. I have those scars. I understand the tension and the pain.

I don't have a resolution to all this yet, except to grieve the way I've always grieved - which is to say to process it as fully as I can, to cry a lot, to pray and discuss with God whenever my heart aches, and to walk forward into the reality as it exsists and as it is becoming. But I know that I want to be different even as a married woman. I want to be like some of my best married friends - conscious of my single friends, loving on them as family, always praying with confident hope for the desires of their hearts. I hope I can be that woman, that wife, and that friend.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Upcoming Series: Transitioning out of Singleness

In the upcoming weeks (months?), I plan to blog a series of posts on the topic of my transition from being a single, mid-30's woman to a dating/engaged mid-30's woman. My hope is that these posts will help me to process this transition, while also sharing some of the experiences that I've been having with those who are interested because they are friends, and those who are interested because they are single, and maybe some of those who are interested because they are not single any longer.

I think the posts will cover the following topics:
Part 1. Griefs and Joys: On the pain of losing my life
Part 2. The Little Things: On how I was prepared before-hand
Part 3. What I did and didn't know: On counseling couples as a single woman
Part 4. Being Faithful in Hope: On almost giving up and God's faithfulness
(maybe some other parts as other ideas come up)

In an ideal world, I'd tell you that these posts were coming once per week, but I'm working a LOT this summer, and also need to incorporate at least some dissertation writing, so at best I can hope the series will be completed prior to my wedding (ha!). Set up your RSS and keep your eyes open for an update!

Curby asked..... I said, "Yes!"

Background: Two years ago, Curby decided to buy two tickets to the upcoming U2 concert. He was planning to go with his best friend, Mark, and Mark's wife Mandy. He bought two tickets hoping that by the time the concert came around, he'd have someone to take with him. Mandy, hearing this, began to pray that the person he would take to the concert would be his future wife (she mentioned this to Curby, I think, but never mentioned it to me until the day of the concert). As the concert approached, Curby was single and Mandy was disappointed. Shortly after that, Bono broke his back and the concert was postponed for a year.

Flash forward to March 26th, 2011. Curby and I were on our first date, and we both knew that something special and different was happening than had happened to either of us before. As we were walking back to the car, Curby mentioned the concert and how he had an extra ticket and maybe I'd like to go with him. I sort of laughed to myself and thought, "Wow, that is three months from now - I mean this is going well, but I'm not getting my hopes up!" and so I said, "yeah, maybe, that would be fun." and left it at that.

Soon after that first date, we were virtually inseparable. We met each other's families, Curby met my best friend and her family in Texas and some of my local friends, and I started getting to know his friends and church community.

As the weeks moved on, Curby and I continued to find that we were like-minded in almost everything. Our relationship blossomed and moved quickly. Well, to us it seemed not so quick - each week we were together it seemed like we had been together for months. We began to talk about marriage, about what kind of marriage we wanted to have, about our family, and about when we would like to get married. We started to plan our wedding and I knew that Curby was saving up for a ring and planning to propose sometime in the summer.

The U2 concert loomed in the near future, and it was now a given that I was going to attend with Curby, Mark, and Mandy.

June 17th, 2011: The Friday of the concert arrived, and it happened to coincide with three months to the day of when I first emailed Curby from the OKCupid website. We all met at Mark and Mandy's house, with Curby arriving straight from work and in a rush to get there in time. We arrived at Angel's stadium after a brief drive and train ride, and walked around the stadium to find an entrance. Slowly we made our way up to the top level, where we were pleasantly surprised to find that the stadium was serving Irish beer (we presumed in honor of U2). This was especially sentimental to Curby and I, since I first emailed him on St. Patrick's day and had been drinking Smithwicks (an Irish beer made by Guinness) that evening. Curby bought us each a Smithwicks and we headed to our seats.

Lenny Kravitz was the opening act, and we enjoyed getting settled. The weather was great and the music was good. As it started to get dark, U2 took the stage. Most of the songs were familiar and we were enjoying standing up and singing along to the show.

Soon the song "All I want is You" came on. We sat down and were just singing along when Curby turned to me and whispered some sweet words above the din of the music, then said "All I want is you - and they are singing about diamonds on a ring of gold, and I have this ring right here..... will you marry me?"

I, of course, said "Yes" and we spent the rest of the concert in a haze of lovey-dovey-ness, listening to the concert, and texting our friends and family.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Horsing Around in San Antonio!

The thing I was most looking forward to after the trip to Philly was my trip to San Antonio. This year, I had committed to Andi Fergason that I would visit in the spring, on the weekend of her horse show. I had not seen her riding in a show since her very first year of horse riding, and I knew that she had improved a lot. I was really excited to see the Fergasons, get more soul-filling, love on them, and just enjoy each other's company generally! Curby decided to join me on the trip, after I told him that in order to win my heart he also had to win the heart of the Fergasons.  Well, its true and I am committed to authenticity and communication. LOL.

The entire Fergason family met us at the airport, which was a really fun treat. I was inundated by kid hugs and shouts of "TIFF!!!!!" and then quieter voices saying, "Hello, Curby, its nice to meet you." which is how well the Fergason kids are trained!

Curby won over the boys on the way home by disclosing that he used to play video games, and in fact had beaten the whole "Lego: Star Wars" game. That was that, the boys were putty in Curby's hands after that! Later in the weekend we had a Wii party with just the boys and they were in heaven! Its a good thing that I still have the love of Andi and Brooki, because the boys have definitely thrown me over for the Curbster.

Later, Jared (the middle boy) told me that he was nervous about whether or not they would like Curby but their dad had reassured them that "If Tiff likes Curby, then he must be likable. I'm sure we'll like him." So I
said, "Well, J, what do you think, now that you've met him?" "I like him," he answered simply.

The first day we were there was a free day for Curby and me, so we took ourselves on a little hike and picnic in New Braunfels, followed by a blizzard at DQ. It was a really, really fun day. The weather was perfect and the hike was awesome. The picnic was perfect - a deer even came near enough to snap a photo, and the blizzard was heaven. Turns out Curby and I have the same favorite flavor and that was a fun discovery!

The horse show was awesome! Andi looked so good up on the two horses she rode, Zorro and Shilo, and she received first place for her riding on Zorro. I was so proud of her, and very impressed.

After the show, we met up with Curby's parents who had driven down from Arlington to see Curby and meet me. We had a lovely evening eating dinner and then wandering around the town of Gruene (incidentally, where Willie Nelson was discovered). The next morning, Curb's parents joined the Fergasons, me and Curby, at church and then we had a lovely barbeque lunch back at the Ferg's house. Later that evening, Sarah and Myles joined us and we got to have a great visit with them, too.

Monday evening came too soon and Curby and I said a tearful farewell (on my part ) to my second family, as we headed back to LA. Pictures below.

Philly(ing) up my Soul - March, 2011

I tell you what, friends. By early March I was due for some Soul Filling. I needed to see some friends and have some good times with them. Its not for nothing that I look forward to the NASPA student affairs conference every March. This is a great opportunity to at least get together with my friend Matt, and usually a few other good friends from Baylor, while hanging out in a new city and recharging our batteries (and occasionally, attending a few sessions on student affairs-related topics).

I roomed with my friend Jessica for most of the trip. Jessica is a great friend of mine from here at UCLA and it was fun to get to introduce her to my Baylor friends and hang out with her in the evenings! Matt and I got into Philly first, so we spent a day together, exploring Philadelphia - we walked from the convention center down toward the famous Art Museum, where Rocky ran up the steps, then we kept walking and eventually go to the penitentiary that once housed Al Capone. Later we met up with our friend Katie, and ended up at a bar around up by our hotels, just hanging out with some other friends who were in town and getting caught up.

The next days, we spent time exploring Philadelphia, making memories, attending conference session, and one night, by sheer luck and blessing of the Lord, ended up back at the bear from earlier in the weekend - and it happened to Karaoke and $6 pitcher night. What tremendous fun! We were even joined by our old professor, Frank Shushok, who enjoyed himself along with the rest of us - it is fun that we get to be colleagues now!

Overall, Philly lived up to my expectations. I left exhausted with not getting enough sleep and drinking too much beer - but completely refreshed emotionally. Below is a photo album of some of the pics from the trip. Enjoy!

Meeting Curby

Here is the (long) story of how "Tiff met Curby"

My friend Jessica told me I needed more dates. And then she said, "Just sign up for this site -"  We were gchatting on St. Patrick's day. I was disappointed because this guy I had gone out with a couple times had turned out to be a dud and I had no plans that night nor for the weekend ahead. I had also had two beers.

So I did it. While she and I gchatted, I filled out my profile, answered 200 questions and then let the math algorithm of the site do its work.

And it found me a few matches. There were a few highly matched men, many in the mid-to high 90's. Then there was this one guy who was a 99.4% match.

He looked pretty cute, and as I read his profile, I thought, "Hmmmm, he seems pretty cool and thoughtful. He seems to love Jesus and have a good sense of humor, and I think he's pretty smart." So I emailed him.

This is what I said that evening (Thursday):
Hey there Cap, 
I enjoyed your profile for the following reasons: 
1) your overuse of the letter I to the point of your keyboard failing. 
2) your affection for HP7 - though I'll be honest that 5 was my favorite because I felt like the spiritual idea of fighting for something good was so clear. 
3) you made me smile while simultaneously made me think that my (newly created) profile was not nearly cool or thoughtful or funny enough. 
So check out my profile - and consider that in reality I am much more um, cool, thoughtful, and funny than that... Unlike most recent movies, I am much better in 3d than in 2. :) 
Lets talk. Tiffani

I emailed some other men, too. And then I waited.

I heard back from Curby early Saturday morning:

If you are more cool, thoughtful, and funny than your profile, I'm going to have to stockpile more electronics ... I almost launched coffee onto my keyboard when I read about your gchat studying! 
I like you, let's talk indeedy :) 

So I wrote him back a long email with some random conversation starters and stuff, later that day. And he wrote me back a long email on Sunday and totally "got" my sense of humor. He sent me his phone number in case I wanted to call him. I wrote him back that night and included my phone number, saying "I appreciate you giving me yours though, so now I'll know its you if you call/text."

He called me on Monday night. We talked for an hour and it was so fun and easy. Before the end of the conversation, he asked me out for the following Saturday. I had made tentative plans for that Saturday, though, so had to say "maybe." My friend, Jenn, and I had talked about going to this Salsa dancing thing some friends were putting on, but when I talked to her the next morning, she said she was unable to go.

Curby had asked me for a movie, but when I mentioned what Jenn and I had planned to do, he said, "That sounds fun, even though I'll be really bad at it, and would be a much better first-date story than a movie!" So we decided on dinner and salsa. Right then, I knew that he was going to be a pretty cool guy - how many guys WILLINGLY go dancing on a first date?

We texted some, and talked on the phone the next few days, and it was just fun and easy. Even talking to him on the phone was something I looked forward to and felt like we were really learning about each other, not just making conversation. His texts made me laugh and I learned he had a great, goofy sense of humor and was really thoughtful and intentional about his life.

Saturday arrived and I was nervous. I had woken up that morning and remembered the tail end of a dream I had where I was an old lady telling the story of my life and I said, "From then on we were Tiff and Curby." I scolded myself, "Tiffani, settle down! You are putting way too much pressure on this first date!"  The thing was, I liked him A LOT on "paper" - what if one of us didn't like the other when we met in person?!?! So I asked some of my friends to pray that our feelings - whether for or against - were mutual.

He arrived to pick me up, with flowers, and after about 15 seconds of akwardness, it was clear that he was great and that we were going to have a terrific time. It was like peas and carrots. Like we had known each other forever.

We had dinner and danced and we had a great time. Curby asked me out for a second date for the following weekend, while we were dancing, and I said, yes. Afterward, we walked all around Santa Monica and ended up down on the pier. It was beautiful and we talked about our lives and family until it was almost 1am. At that point we decided, "wouldn't it be fun if we just stayed up all night and kept talking? that would be a great story!" So we did. While we were hanging out at my apartment, Curby said, "Saturday is too long to wait to see you again, I would like to take you out sooner."  (I swooned and said, "Well, I'm only free on Monday." and so Monday it was.)

We had breakfast at Marie Callendars' (next to my apartment) and he left for his church, and I got ready for mine.

And that was that. From then on we've been together, like chocolate chips and cookies, like shoes and socks.

More to come on this, I'm sure. But now you know one of the reasons why I've been so absent on the blog lately!

In the meantime, please join me in my rejoicing and in praising the Lord for this good thing. We have both been so grateful and thankful for God's goodness in bringing us together. He has done more than either of us could ask or imagine. I am learning a lot about myself, about God, about my assumptions and my heart, and about what things I knew before this relationship and what things I realize now I didn't know. I'll have a post on my transition from adult-singleness to adult-coupleness soon. But other posts will likely come before that.

Thanks for reading, friends. :)

Curby and I on our first date.