When I moved to Italy in 2011, I was new to being a military wife, I knew no one. I'd left America naive and scared to death. Tiffanie befriended me online long before I moved, she sought me out, and knew the feelings well. At the time I was a young 22 year old, I didn't know if I could be friends with someone so "old". I didn't think Tiffanie would "get" me or understand anything I was going through. I actually avoided meeting her the first three months (silly me) We actually met in the woman's bathroom on base, it was really random. The minute I met her, I automatically *loved* her. I kicked myself for not meeting her sooner, and judging so quickly without getting to know her.
After our first meeting, we hung out every week, She only had Cathy at the time, and I got to babysit a lot. Tiffanie is the spirit of grace, love and acceptance. I've always been in awe of her kindness. Chris and I would go over for a weekly "game night" where the competition was indeed real. The first year was the hardest, I went through some severe depression, I gained 50 lbs and became obese for the first time in my life, it was a huge struggle, but Tiffanie helped me get through it. I was also judged by many military wives, and it was the most hurtful thing I've been through. Again Tiffanie was there for me.
There was so much I went though, loneliness, anxiety, depression, 50 lb weigh gain, severe-homesickness, a miscarriage, judgement, and many people who I thought were my friends back at home, completely stopped talking to me, and moved on. That was a heartbreaking day. I think I sobbed for a week straight, Tiffanie cried with me, and comforted me. It was hard enough not being with my family, but when friends "move on" and no longer care, it broke heart. Through all my trials, Tiffanie was literally right there, she had my back, she held my hand, she let me vent, cry, and yell. We've been on so many "girl dates" throughout the years, shopping trips, lunch dates, coffee dates, even dates where we worked-out together, or went to the dentist for support.
Tiffanie has her options, and we've disagreed more then a time or two, but we needed to have those hard talks to get where we are now. In all honestly, I think those talks brought us closer then ever before. Tiffanie is my "person". She's the one I call daily, the one I cry with when I have a hard day, or vent to when I'm angry. I know she always has my back, she's always praying for me and encouraging my walk with God daily. She's the person I call when I just don't have the motivation to workout, and she will Skype with me, just to make sure I do it. She always has encouragement when I call and cry about not being pregnant yet another cycle. Time has made us stronger and distance has made us closer. Chris left the military last year (it wasn't something that was planned) but we felt God open that door. So we moved home to Minnesota to be with family. Saying "see ya later" to Tiffanie, was the hardest goodbye I've ever been through.
I always tell Tiffanie she's like a sister to me, she's my closest friend, she actually understands some of my issues and she loves me for who I am. I always wondered why God let me go through the worst years of my life in Italy. I truly, hate the experience I had and look back with great sadness and heartbreak. But recently, I've realized, If I never moved overseas, I never would have met Tiffanie. I never would have known the sweet and wonderful woman she is. I never would have known, that the whole time she grew up in Wisconsin, next door. I wouldn't have had so much joy, and encouragement brought to my life. I would have never had the "best friend" in her that I do. I would have never believed in having a "best friend" If she didn't teach me in every sense of the word, what a *true friend* really is, what they really do, say, and they never leave your side when life gets tough.
Tiffanie is amazing, God has given her the gift of laughter, the gift of motherhood, and being a wife. The gift of selflessness, patience, kindness, self control and gentleness. Tiffanie has always risen up no matter her circumstances, she is always willing to speak her mind, even if she gets bashed or lectured about it. She's always open about her faith in God and stands up for what's right. She's courageous and truly one of the greatest mom's I know. Her love and commitment to Jamie is beautiful. I love that she speaks her mind, I love that she teaches her kids the Bible, what's right and some good old fashioned respect. Tiffanie, I love who God created you to be, I love that you don't let anything get you down. You're the strongest woman I know. I love that you push through your workouts, even when you don't feel like it, your determination is amazing.
Tiff, Thank you for being you, and always having my back, thanks for taking my late night phone calls, for always being willing to listen, even if that means not giving advice. Thank you for your smile, and your laughter. For your unconditional love for me, but for everyone you come in contact with. Your spirit is beautiful and there's a light in you that shines for others to see. Thanks for all the girl times, girl talks, girl dates, shopping trips, sleepovers, breakfast dates, movie nights, games nights, thanks for letting me hang out every week, for babysitting your girls, and for letting me photograph your family. Thanks for being there for me through the hardest times in my life. Thanks for letting a naive 22 year old, open her broken heart to you, and taking her under your wing, teaching her the love of Jesus and the acceptance of God. Thank you for being the best influence on me a girl could have, If it wasn't for you, I wouldn't be who I am. You have impacted me so very much. You're my best friend, and I want you to know how grateful I am for you. I owe you so much.
I hope you have the Happiest Birthday in the world. And now, here's a trip down memory lane, just for you. P.S. I can't WAIT to SEE you in Two weeks!