The Truth About Our Move To Brisbane

Hello everyone! It has been a while since I’ve blogged, but I have felt God tugging on my heart to tell the world how I really feel about moving to Brisbane, Australia in January, 2019. As it may seem from my social media platform, travel is of the utmost importance (and this is partially true – traveling is one of my favorite things to do)! However, our move to Brisbane is not about traveling. Let me explain…

About six months after we moved to Ann Arbor, I was finally beginning to get settled. It’s difficult to transition from the UK back to America, but I finally had my furniture back, my family around me, and the thought of settling in that beautiful city comforting me. During a conversation with my aunt about her considering using her skills/gifting with medicine to do international ministry work, my heart squirmed from the idea as I contemplated how God was using me for his Kingdom purposes. About a week later, I had a chat with someone very close to me who travels to the Middle East/North Africa/Southeast Asia for Bible Translation opportunities (to these dangerous places, where being a Christian poses a threat to your life). Again, I was challenged with how God was using me to advance his Kingdom here on earth.

As I was sitting on my couch, taking in the beauty and comfort of my wonderful surroundings, God spoke loud and clear. He asked me what was the one thing I was clinging to that would stop me from going where He was calling us. My answer: our furniture! We had second hand furniture that wasn’t particularly nice – but it was ours! We bought it when we got married – it represented independence, security, and ultimately, our cushy life in America. I yearned for that furniture the entire two years we were in Manchester, and yes – it may seem ridiculous, but I took pride in the things we had. So, naturally, God told me to sell it and go.

One thing I think you should know about my husband and me is that communication is one of our strongpoints. He’s my best friend, and we tell each other everything, especially something as profound as God telling me to sell all that we own and go where he sends us. But I will say that, in that moment, I considered keeping my mouth shut. You see, if I didn’t tell Matt what God was prompting in my heart, then we would continue doing ministry in that beautiful city that offered us so much. We could have our family around us (both immediate and extended in Canada). We could live our comfortable and cushy lives, receiving a sturdy, bi-monthly check that supported our every need, without ever having to give anything up. However, as God would have it, tears filled my eyes and I accepted that all those comfortable things in my life were not worth the joy that would come in following God’s will for our future. So, I told Matt.

That talk was both long and scary. We discussed what this all really meant, and what God was trying to do with our future. We eventually landed on Australia for several reasons: I don’t think I could live in a country with a foreign language and manage my Celiac disease, we do well ministering in a secular/atheistic culture, and a potential opportunity for ministry partnership was already flourishing. After much prayer and meditation on the idea, we began moving forward in the process.

Back then, I didn’t know all that I know now. God has moved in incredible ways to prove to us that it was him working on this transition. Ann Arbor would have never worked out, for various reasons, but we were presented with the opportunity to sell all of our furniture (just as God had requested of me months prior) and move to a transitional job in the NC Mountains. This job not only provided a home and furniture for us, but it gave us the opportunity to start raising funds in our off week, thanks to Matt’s awesome work schedule. However, I still I cried like a baby leaving Ann Arbor.

Has it been easy to endure this transitional phase before moving to Australia…no! Every other week, we are without a home, which means we are constantly traveling (yes – almost always enjoyable, but understand this is much more difficult than it seems). We depend on friends and family for a place to stay in our off week, or we spend a lot of money traveling elsewhere – sometimes for fundraising opportunities, sometimes for pleasure.

Which brings me to my final point of this post…although my life may seem amazing from the views presented on social media, there’s so much I struggle with about this move. Will we be able to raise the money we need to live off of in Australia (especially with the expenses of the move)? Once I arrive, will I find that gluten free eating is accessible, or will I be accidentally contaminated, leaving me ill for the following months (yes – when I get sick, it usually lasts for about two months)? Will God honor our efforts in Brisbane as we see a community come together for the sake of the Gospel? Will I be able to see my family once a year? Will our friends slowly forget about us as they get caught up in the beautiful, wondrous lives they lead back here in America?

On the surface, anyone would say how great it is that we are moving to Australia. However, we have faced the reality of doing cross-cultural ministry already, and we know the challenges that are going to be presented. Our first year in Manchester was potentially the most difficult year of our marriage – we were committed to each other and to Christ, but we faced serious spiritual warfare the moment we stepped out to do ministry work, and that was tough. We trusted God with our funds, but there were so many moments I lost all emotional control from the dwindling numbers in our bank account. When we first moved, the fear of getting lost of losing sight of Matt (or my parents, who visited just after our move) was nearly crippling. I’m not joking when I say I almost had a break down in the grocery store because everyone wanted to go on a different aisle…ridiculous, I know, but it’s the truth!

Now, we are doing it all over again. And although there is excitement in the opportunity to get back into ministry and to partner with such a wonderful, Christ-focused family (Rich and Cherie Priebbenow), there are hang-ups. I cry a lot as I think about leaving my two nieces and my nephew behind (flights to Australia are expensive, and I doubt my sister and her whole family will ever be able to visit…especially not all at once). I don’t know when I’ll be able to visit our cottage in Canada again once we settle over in Australia. My blood pressure spikes when I think about all the money we have to raise for our three planned years there. But one thing I have to cling to is scripture, and this passage was shared with me during the wonderful week we spent in Brisbane this past March:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?… – you of little faith” (Matthew 6:25-27;30b).

I’m a worrier; no…not a warrior – a worrier. But I have heard God’s calling, and I want to follow his will for our lives, no matter what that entails. So, as fun as Australia may seem to all of you, I thought I would share my fears, hesitations, and struggles. It may not be easy, but it will be worth it, and I’m trusting God every step of the way!

Matt and Tiff

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Colorado Springs

I had such am amazing time in Colorado Springs with my sister, April, my brother-in-law, Shawn, and their two precious children, Marlowe and Fletcher! Matt and I were able to get a quick photo shoot in at Garden of the Gods – what a beautiful place! It was really windy, but April did an excellent job as our photographer (she is so talented)!

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A big thanks goes out to April for her hard work and willingness to take on this short project! It’s been a while since our last photo shoot, and I love the way April is able to catch our personalities through this session! Matt is my best friend and soulmate – so glad that we could enjoy some time away in Colorado Springs this month!

From Manchester to Ann Arbor

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I was sitting on one of my couches this morning – my beautiful charcoal gray leather couches that I haven’t been able to sit on for two years – and as I looked out beyond our small back cement patio in our new first floor apartment in Ann Arbor to the green grass and trees, I took a moment to reflect on our recent journey from Manchester to Ann Arbor.

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Yes, there was lots of green rolling hills and sheep spotting those hills in England, which is one of the many things I miss about the U.K., but looking out of my window in Manchester, I saw a very different sight.  I have to say, living on the third floor in a building of flats had it’s perks – we got to see sunsets and all the slated rooftops that line Derby road. Yet, I couldn’t turn from the irony of the different views I had in Manchester and have in Ann Arbor while reading my Bible in the morning; these views are a small representation of the major differences of two places that are dear to my heart.

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We had some new friends in for dinner last night, and we got to talking about the differences between Manchester and Ann Arbor.  Manchester is a fairly big city bustling with Uni students, and Ann Arbor is somewhat smaller, and has yet to fill with U of M students (although the time is inching toward us)! We hand washed our dishes from a small kitchen sink that had two faucets (one for hot and one for cold) in Manchester. We rinse extra food on our plates down our sink in Ann Arbor so the sink garbage disposal can eat it up before we place our dishes in the dishwasher of our modern spacious kitchen.

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Our living room in Manchester was often decorated with the many clothes that needed to dry, whether they hung from racks, radiators, or curtain rods.  Our living room in Ann Arbor has been subjected to my older sister, April’s, impressive decorating skills to make it look like a photo on Pinterest. And these differences are only in our living quarters – imagine the differences that exist outside our front doors!

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But no matter the differences, these two cities are dear to me. I don’t know if it was the old  flat that had it’s quirks but was our home for two years, the way of living that was new and adventurous, or the cultural elements of living in England always reminding you of your foreign residency that made it so difficult to leave the U.K.. I can say, though, that it was the people we met during our two years there that impacted us so greatly.  I will never forget the tears shed on our last trip to the Manchester airport, and then the continuation of unexpected emotional outbursts that lasted until we disembarked the plane. Leaving Manchester was not easy, but our welcome to Ann Arbor has certainly added some ease to our transition.

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We love our new apartment only a mile away from The Big House! We are getting to know the city more and more each day (we even travel without the use of a GPS most days now). The sun is usually shining, and we make use of our apartment complex’s community pool. But most importantly, the people we have connected with at Redeemer Ann Arbor Church have been exceptionally welcoming and friendly!  Matt and I are two incredibly blessed people!

Novel Launch

Love’s True Colors

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EXCITING NEWS that I have been waiting a while to share: Ark House Press is publishing my first Christian Romance novel!!!! Love’s True Colors is a fictional novel based on my life.  This story line weaves through the highs and lows of romance, but ultimately reveals that God’s love is the most healing, fulfilling, and powerful love known to human kind!

This story isn’t exactly the perfect romance story – as you discover things about my life, you will find that there were many struggles endured.  However, my hope is that you will read this novel and extend grace and kindness to me as you realize that Christ has ultimately rescued me from my past through His grace and unfailing love!

Love’s True Colors is written for an American audience, ultimately targeting females ages 15-30.  There is some difficult material to work through in the book, so my suggestion is to have an adult’s approval before teenagers explore the story line. However, no matter the target audience, if you are interested in discovering more about what it means to experience God’s love in every sense while working through real struggles faced in a romantic relationship – this is the book for you!

So…you may be asking: How can I get my hands on this novel?! Glad you asked! Here are the next big events tied to the launch of Love’s True Colors…

In the U.K.:

I will be doing a book launch at the Alexandria Library (247 Wilmslow Rd.) on June 28th from 8-9 p.m. Feel free to stop in and purchase a copy of Love’s True Colors.  The night will be targeted toward sharing a little more about my writing experience in Manchester and giving you a small taste for the novel’s content! There will be drinks, snacks, and desserts – so come along and partake in the fun of my first release event for this novel!

In the U.S. & Canada:

The very first opportunity to purchase Love’s True Colors in the U.S. will be presented at the Art Walk in downtown Elizabeth City, NC on Friday, July 1st.  Copies will be sold as part of the festivities, and a table will be set up with information about the novel & author!

On July 8th, from 7-10 p.m., I will be doing a book signing at Muddy Waters Coffeehouse in downtown Elizabeth City (100 W. Main St.)! Come grab a coffee and some cake sold to you by the amazing staff at Muddy Waters while I share some inside details about the novel! There will be a live band and a “free book drawing” to kick-start the event (more information to come)!!!

If you are not able to make it to any of these events but would still like a printed copy, personal message me and I will see what we can work out! Otherwise, Love’s True Colors will be sold on Amazon, as an Ebook, or potentially at a bookstore near you!!! More information to come as my transition from the U.K. back to the States currently takes high priority! My hope is that once we are settled in Ann Arbor, Amazon copies and an Ebook edition will be available (I expect this to be around mid-July to early August – updates to come)!!!

Love’s True Colors is a product of hard work, dedication, laughter, and many many tears.  This novel has been about two years in the making, and I have treasured every high and low of the writing and editing process.  I am so pleased to have partnered with Ark House Press in the publishing of Love’s True Colors, and I can ultimately say that none of this would be made possible if God did not burden my heart with the need to share my story. I hope you all enjoy my novel!!!

Ann Arbor, MI

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The Prices are moving to Ann Arbor!

To be honest, I can’t talk about my next stage in life without crediting the last two years in Manchester.  England is magical, and although Manchester is not beautiful in terms of architecture or elaborately designed buildings, the people here make the city beautiful.  I have absolutely loved my time in Manchester, but because it isn’t coming to an end until July – I will leave those details for another day!

Matt and I visited Ann Arbor about a month ago – we were greeted off the plane with snow flurries and Northern American accents! The city is absolutely fantastic, and although we are going to have to gear up for the cold, we know that this is exactly where God wants us!

The long weekend was spent getting to know Jim and Bart – the two pastors that Matt will be working with at Redeemer Ann Arbor, an Acts29 affiliated church that meets only minutes away from the University of Michigan campus! The families that we were introduced to are absolutely wonderful; they love the Lord, and they are amped to do God’s work and spread the Gospel in Ann Arbor – needless to say, Matt and I can’t wait to be a part of it!!

We have been praying for the next step in life, and we are thrilled that God has strategically led us to Ann Arbor, Michigan.  In fact, we were so sold on Matt’s job offer that we put a deposit down on an apartment only a mile away from “The Big House” – University of Michigan’s football stadium that seats over 100,000 people! Good luck driving when the Wolverine’s play at home…right?!?

We look forward to settling into our new home around mid-July. This is going to be an emotional roller-coaster for me as I leave England and move back to America (but close to the Canadian border). However, I know that this is God’s plan for us and for Matt in his ministry, and I am excited to see Him grow us in every way. Woohoo – Ann Arbor, here we come!!!

New Years Resolutions

Can I just start off by saying that I tend to dislike New Years Resolutions.  Often they are categorized as dreams that never cultivate, strives that never conceive, and goals that get placed on the back burner.  One year, I decided that I was not going to make any New Years Resolutions – that I was good enough as is, and that I didn’t need to strive for anything new.  Luckily, that Sunday morning service addressed the problem in my heart.  Scott Neal spoke about always striving to make changes and to improve on our lives – physical, emotional, and most importantly…spiritual. That’s when I decided that New Years Resolutions were an important part in welcoming the new year; there is always at least one area of my life that needs improvement.

Spiritually, I knew that I needed to spend more time with God every morning.  My studies have recently caused me to fall out of this habit.  For a while, I put Bible readings on the back burner, knowing that if I had accomplished the assignment for the day that I would visit God when I had the free time in the afternoon or the evening.  But really, I knew that I needed to make God my first priority every morning, and so far – He has been. But I also know that I need to be kept accountable for this desire…so don’t hesitate to ask me how my morning devotionals are going!

Emotionally, I find that I am quick tempered, hot-headed, and impatient. I think my husband can attest to this! So my goal is to be more kind with my words, gentle with my tone, and patient with my responses. And the hard work begins…

Finally, let’s get down to what this blog is all about – my physical changes. I have to admit that the last three weeks have been a hard, uphill battle – but I am finally seeing the physical results that I have wanted…and within a couple of scrolls, you will too!

After the holidays, I put on so much weight that I think my jaw dropped when I stepped on the scale.  I had never in my life seen the numbers I was staring down at, and I knew at that moment I had to make some serious changes. Let me share with you how those changes started…

Healthy meals (low carbs, low fat, low protein, low sugar), Workouts (yoga in the morning and either befit or cardio/strength training circuit in the afternoon), my new found love and obsession with my Fitbit (if you have me on snapchat – tifferr09 – you know), and lots of discipline.

 

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My dinners often resemble something like this (pretty much was this for the first week). Small, but filling, especially because of the 1/2 avocado! For breakfast I eat low fat Greek yogurt with apple and almond slices (honey and cinnamon for sweeteners) or Gluten Free Corn Flakes with half a banana and 4 prunes (diced) for flavor. Lunches consist of 2 rice cakes with fat free humus and sliced tomatoes or sliced cucumbers on top. Again, this was surprisingly sufficient.

 

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As the second and third week progressed, I branched out a little.  I had meals like this delicious salad with a balsamic and olive oil dressing. BTW – Coconut oil is my new favorite thing to cook with…so healthy!! However, I have to be honest, I cheated a bit in the last two weeks…red wine, a half pint of cider, a couple cookies, and one of my very favorite snacks when your craving something sweet – some chocolate chips and a tablespoon of peanut butter melted in the microwave…cut up a banana, throw it in, and enjoy!

Yes, I was occasionally naughty, but what I found was, if I ate everything in moderation, I still got the results I was looking for! On another note, one of the things I found to be a fantastic assist in these body changes was a natural pill called Grenade that helped fuel my workouts and slightly curb my appetite.  I bought 100 pills, and although it calls for four a day, I only take two – one in the morning when I wake up, which I take with a pint of water (yes…drinking tons of water throughout the day was incredibly helpful with my hunger pangs), and one in the afternoon before my workout.  Again, drinking a ton of water is necessary – and if you take this pill without a decent diet in place or a workout plan, the pill is useless!

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These are the ingredients for the capsules – again everything is natural.  It’s essentially like drinking a couple shots of espresso before doing your workout, except you don’t feel like barfing it up when your pumping out those mountain climbers 🙂

Okay, okay…so now I know you want to see the results – but before you do, please know that posting these pictures was a big step for me.  I was bigger than I had ever been, and I’m still not where I want to be, so be gracious when you view my progress and know that I’ve worked hard for this body.

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On the left was the body that showed no self control over the holidays; the body that ate what it wanted, when it wanted, and however much it wanted. On the right is how I look now…three weeks later. what I love about pictures is that it shows not only the weight shed from my midsection, but also my legs, and it allows me to see the progress I’ve made; the progress that doesn’t seem so visible from day-to-day.

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This is the same progress in my back side.  Again, I’m not where I want to be, but I am happy with how far I’ve come over three weeks. I think overall success is found in the weight that was shed across my whole frame.  I decided to take pictures because I do not have a scale and I wanted to be sure my efforts were revealing results.  Taking pictures is scary, because I woke up thinking that I probably hadn’t changed at all, worried that all my hard work was for nothing – but this is clear evidence that diet and exercise work!

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This is my progression picture….starting from the left: week 0, week 1, and week 3. There is steady progress in each of the pictures, but I love how in one week I was already feeling better and seeing the change.  That was just diet and discipline…the grenade pills didn’t come till week 2.

Anyway, with all this to be said, I want to be an encouragement to those of you who think your beyond making the changes you want.  I felt awful when I took the first picture, but seeing my body like this gave me the motivation to make the changes I wanted.  The way I see it, you only have one body in this life time; and the Bible tells us our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19)…we need to respect our bodies as a gift from God, and use self-control when determining what we put into them. I’m not saying this as a challenge to you anymore than I’m saying it as a reminder to myself. My hope is that I will always value the way I feel now, and maintain this healthier lifestyle through every stage of life. It’s not about getting ripped or competing to be the thinnest, most attractive body around – it’s about being healthy and happy. I hope my journey has been as motivating for you as it has been for me!

 

 

Things I Learned Over the Holiday

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I spent Christmas in North Carolina this year, and I wanted to briefly share some of the things that I learned over the holiday…

Christmas is about Jesus’ birth. His physical presence in this world is the best present any one of us could receive.  It’s not that I learned this for the first time this year, but more so that I was reminded yet again that Jesus’ existence on this earth was the best gift that I have ever received.

Family is beyond important. I have always felt that my family (extended and in-laws included) is one of the best gifts that God has given me – and spending time with my loved ones over the holiday has been nothing short of delightful.

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We spent Christmas Eve and morning at my parents.  My sisters and their husbands were there, along with my two nieces, Marlowe and Fletcher.  Having this time with them was better than all the many wonderful presents I received that morning – especially considering that this visit was my first time meeting Fletcher Hope! She is a smiley, happy little baby with a laid back personality developing more and more everyday! The videos, facetimes, and pictures of her just don’t compare to holding her! I love her just as much as I love Marlowe, and we all know how much that is! She is such a joy and delight!

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We traveled to Roanoke, VA for a short but wonderful visit with Lisa (my lovely mother-in-law) and Dave.  We spent time laughing and hanging out while decorating for Christmas and soaking in the gorgeous scenery.

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We spent Christmas day and night with the Prices! There is never a dull moment with this clan (4 crazy adults and 5 restless dogs)! My beautiful sister-in-law, Laura, (out-law really) drove in for the holiday and cooked us all an amazing Christmas dinner! We also had the chance to celebrate Billy’s (my wonderful father-in-law) Birthday. Time with the Price family is always a hoot.

Back to what I have learned…my best friend and her husband endured a hard loss this year. Their beautiful baby girl is in Heaven, and her eternal father is cradling her as we speak, but that truth doesn’t negate the terrible heart ache we feel for earthly time lost with Hadley.

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Hadley’s pictures of her precious features will stay with me always, I only wish that we could have been there to hold her. But I know that she is in Christ’s arms now, and I can’t wait for the day that I get to meet this gorgeous little girl.

My friends are my source of fun and stability. I have a handful of wonderful girls that have been my strength and confidants through it all. Mindy, Jillian, and Allie (my best friends) were all priority visits during our trip back to NC.

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We stopped in Asheville for a couple of nights with Chad and Mindy.  We spent our time playing cards, hiking, and chatting with these friends from our Seminary days.  It seems like our time in Wake Forest ended only yesterday when we get the chance to reconnect with this amazing couple.  We are so proud of both of them and what God is doing in their lives and hearts. Our time there was too short, but much needed.

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We stopped in Morrisville to see Jillian and Thomas, one half of the Chowan trio! This fantastic couple is always a delight to spend time with, we only wished we could have spent more time with them this trip! Our dinner was spent catching up and laughing while exchanging memories of “the good old Chowan days”!

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At the end of our trip, we got to see Allie (but sadly missed Spencer), the other half of our Chowan trio. It was absolutely fantastic to have a quick lunch, and luckily a short stay in Richmond to see Stella Grace and the Fagan’s new house! We were sad that Spencer could not join us, but our time with Allie was irreplaceable!

Finally, we were able to spend a week at the beach house this year. I couldn’t begin to explain the relationships that have formed over the past 15 years with this ongoing “beach house” tradition, but I can tell you that each individual holds a special place in my heart. I was especially glad to see the newly married couples – including the Morris family – never thought John would be part of this gang when we first met at Chowan!

The last thing that I learned over the holiday is the importance of my Dad’s recent career shift, the wonderful work he is doing, and his desperate need for prayer going into 2016. This week’s recent scare with his health reveals only a slice of what this amazing man is going through. I am so proud of my dad. Through this holiday (and the past week) I have learned a lot about the power of prayer.  I will continue to pray relentlessly for the Kingdom and God’s work, because He is worth it all.