ON SITTING STILL AND SAVORING.

Posted by Tori on May 16, 2013 in a good word., beauty, thankful heart.

I’m sitting alone in my “spot.” The house is quiet (except for someone’s snoring…), and I’m curled up with my keyboard and a good book, spending some time sitting still with Lord. Today I turned 27. This day has been filled with such sweetness to me — with seeing the sacred in the ordinary. Savoring each moment with this man and these babies He’s given, not being in such a hurry. Today, I just slowed down — took it all in, and if it wasn’t crossed off of the to-do list at the end of the day, it’s alright.

I had a special date night with my little 3-year-old-man. He is the sweetest, silliest boy I know.

I’ve been just flooded with His grace to me through the priceless friendships He’s blessed me with. I do not deserve to know and be loved by such incredible people.

I’ve had cake with every meal (yes, even breakfast). Don’t judge me on my birthday.

And…I’ve been thinking about this wild ride of a life He’s pouring out. 20 years with Him, and each moment is sweeter than the one before. Not one thing compares to knowing Him.

Not one.

So, I’m gonna sit here in my spot a minute more. Savoring His graciousness and mercy toward this soul that deserves just the opposite.

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SUMMER SHOES WITH A PURPOSE

Posted by Tori on May 13, 2013 in a good word., beauty

Y’all, I have been so excited for a while now to share this with you! My friend, Brittany, works with a mission in Port-au-Prince, Haiti called REBUILD Globally. They are a socially conscious business operating in Port-au-Prince to provide dignified, living-wage employment to earthquake survivors. Their REBUILDER, recycled tire sandals are designed by Haitian artisans. They are handmade with the highest quality craftsmanship, using recycled tires for the sole, and recycled leather for the uppers and straps.

100% of proceeds from sandal sales go back into the team’s community development initiatives, which provide basic needs, education scholarships, and job skills training to vulnerable youth in the community. You can read more about REBUILD Globally, their products, mission, and apprenticeship initiatives on their website: rebuildglobally.org, and be sure to follow them on Twitter. If you’re interested in getting involved even more, consider hosting a sandal party.

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This is such a great mission and I am so honored to be able to blog about them and share them with you! I absolutely LOVE my sandals, and, even more than that, I love what they accomplish, and that they are so much more than just a cute pair of summer shoes.

Charleston friends – good news!! – you can buy your own pair locally at McKevlin’s Surf Shop on Folly Beach!! If you’re not local, you can also order online.

Have a great summer — and go buy a pair of tire sandals!!

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LESSONS FROM LEANING IN CLOSE

Posted by Tori on May 1, 2013 in a good word.

These days, I have been  p r a y i n g,  and  w a i t i n g,  and  l e a n i n g  in to listen for God’s wisdom over a specific thing. And, as I’m writing this, I’m still right there in the middle of all that. Here are some things I know to be true in this moment.

  • Sometimes, when you’re placed in a holding pattern, it’s more for the benefit of someone or something else than it is for your own.
  • When you receive push-back in ministry, it does not necessarily mean that you have misheard or misjudged the direction of God or the prompting of the Spirit. There are a million reasons why we receive push-back in ministry, but they are always because God is at work accomplishing something greater. Something more sweet and more important than if things had gone the easy way. So, thank Him for the push-back — even when it’s  frustrating — because something better is coming. (And, it likely won’t look like what you think, but that’s another blog post…)
  • You don’t have to be right all the time. It’s hard to be bent on being right and remain humble. The Bible has a lot to say about pride…and there is never room for it in our hearts. We have to learn to hate it like He does. I love the link in the verse below between humility and wisdom.

“When pride comes, then comes dishonor, but with the humble is wisdom.” Proverbs 11:2, ESV

“As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.” C.S. Lewis

So, my hope is that this will encourage you, should you find yourself in a similar place of pressing in to discern His wisdom. He will give it, freely and fully in His perfect timing. When you’re tempted to doubt, remember what you know is true from His Word. He is with you and He is for you.

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DUSTING OFF THE SHELVES

Posted by Tori on Apr 29, 2013 in a good word., theology

“Men’s minds need to be fed just as much as their bodies. And the kind of food our minds devour will determine the kind of person we become.”  John Stott, Your Mind Matters

I mentioned in my last post that I have been re-reading literature that I once fell in love with, but has since been relegated to the dusty bookshelf or (God-forbid, but it’s true) an old box. I fear that in our present age of, literally, the world at our fingertips, we are actually missing out on a great deal.

There is a false idea that the classics are only for the intellectuals, or the book-worms, or the culturally out of touch. And that the ones who are well-read on the modern works of “literature” are the ones who are most relevant and able to most profoundly influence the current culture.  Unfortunately, this is now an out-of-control trend in Christian circles. Have you visited a Christian bookstore recently? It has turned into a gift shop, filled with inspirational baubles, self-help, Be Your Best You books, and daily 10-minute devotionals — not to mention books by contemporary church leaders out to show “how traditional ideas have grown stale and dysfunctional” (RobBell.com).

Sadly, this has left us both spiritually and mentally poorer and less equipped to produce the lasting influence on our culture that we desire (not to mention less equipped to live victoriously). We are in a dangerous place when we build an entire theology around the preacher on Sunday morning and the 365-day daily devotional. Yet, this is the reality for a shocking number of Christians.

One of my passions for the women of our day — whether you’re a stay-at-home mom, working professional, retired school teacher, or any other combination of the roles and responsibilities we take on throughout the various seasons of our lives — is that we exercise the mind the Creator has given us to truly understand how to study His Word for ourselves and create a careful, thorough hermeneutic. Part of that involves familiarizing ourselves with the conversation that has developed over centuries of thought.

These classic works have proven themselves over time, and have acted like savory salt over centuries of history to preserve culture and proclaim the Gospel of Christ. C.S. Lewis writes in his essay, On the Reading of Old Books:

A new book is still on its trial and the amateur is not in a position to judge it. It has to be tested against the great body of Christian thought down the ages, and all its hidden implications (often unsuspected by the author himself) have to be brought to light…. If you join at eleven o’clock a conversation which began at eight you will often not see the real bearing of what is said…. The only safety is to have a standard of plain, central Christianity (‘mere Christianity’ as Baxter called it) which puts the controversies of the moment in their proper perspective. Such a standard can be acquired only from the old books. It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones.
 

He makes me chuckle, but he’s right. And, as one with aspirations as a writer (even just as a blogger), I must be careful to measure the weight of my words. If I’m going to write, I want to write something that will endure and contribute to the conversation. Lewis rightly points out that the classic authors were no more clever or any less prone to making mistakes than we are today. He says, “Two heads are better than one, not because either is infallible, but because they are unlikely to go wrong in the same direction.”

Bottom line: don’t be intimated by old books or label them as “boring,” and be aware of the dangers of an entirely modern diet.

“Thus says the Lord: ‘Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.'” Jeremiah 6:16 ESV

And…just for kicks, here’s another favorite Lewis quote from that same essay. Has very little to do with what I’ve just said, but maybe I’m not the only one who relates…

“For my own part, I tend to find the doctrinal books often more helpful in devotion than the devotional books, and I rather suspect that the same experience may await many others. I believe that many who find that ‘nothing happens’ when they sit down, or kneel down, to a book of devotion, would find that the heart sings unbidden while they are working their way through a tough bit of theology with a pipe in their teeth and a pencil in their hand.” C.S. Lewis, “On the Reading of Old Books.”

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ILL-MATCHED THREADS.

Posted by Tori on Apr 25, 2013 in a good word., beauty, thankful heart.

(Normally, when I return from a long blogging break [which is, admittedly, way too often], I normally feel the need to break the ice with a comment or a post explaining myself, etc. This time, an acknowledgement is all I’m making. Glad to be back at my keyboard once again.)

I’ve been in a mood to re-read literature that I once fell in love with but haven’t picked up in ages. It has really been so refreshing and fun. I came across this little gem from Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God.

“She who reconciles the ill-matched threads
of her life, and weaves them gratefully
into a single cloth —
it is she who drives the loudmouths from the hall
and clears it for a different celebration
 
where the one guest is you.”

 I remember reading this for the first time in middle school and loving it. The rest of the poem is equally as good. Our lives are all made up of ill-matched threads. And they’re all different. Mine aren’t the same as yours. And each one of us will do or make something different with them. Truly, He’s the one weaving the cloth. I’m seeing it’s beauty forming and learning to hand over the threads more readily. With gratitude even. Most of the time. I’m seeing more and more His masterful design in each ill-matched, chaotic mess of thread. And the most beautiful part of it all? The celebration that’s all for Him. He alone is worthy of celebrating. He alone is worthy of glory for the redemption and the restoration of a once broken and lifeless soul.

Here’s the rest of the poem:

“In the softness of evening
it’s you she receives.
 
You are the partner of her loneliness,
the unspeaking center of her monologues.
With each disclosure you encompass more
and she stretches beyond what limits her,
to hold you”

Lord, you’re everything to me. The threads may appear ill-matched and messy, but they pass through your fingers before they ever come to me. And, I am grateful. So, so grateful.

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TO FEEL A PRAYER

Posted by Tori on Feb 18, 2013 in a good word., thankful heart., theology

I have been thinking, and practicing, and learning more and more about prayer in recent weeks. [As if God had something He intended to teach me 😉 ] It’s at times like these that I often find it difficult to articulate all that I’m taking in from everything that life holds right now. But, I will try.

Because another season will come when I will need to look back and be reminded of these lessons. Because the Word of God was not given to build up our theology; it was given to change our reality. That’s why I study. That’s why I write the way I do. Because His Word is is alive, and it changes us. That’s why theology is so important — not so we’ll be smarter — but so we will be different, more like Him.

There have been countless, endless words written and spoken on what it means to pray, and how one should do it. I don’t have anything relevant to contribute to that conversation…at least not now. But, I will share a few elements I’ve been focusing on currently:

1. We are to pray with persistence. Even to the point of seeming annoyance.

I love the example Jesus gives in Luke 11:5-13 when teaching His disciples to pray. He talks about a friend who comes knocking at his neighbor’s door at midnight asking for bread to serve an unexpected guest. The neighbor calls back to his friend to go away because his house is already sleeping. But, if his friend keeps on knocking and asking for the bread, he will get up and give him whatever he needs.

I’m not a fan of this usually, but let’s modernize just for kicks. You’re tired and sleeping. Your whole house is sleeping. You are awakened by a text, but ignore it and roll over. Then, they call. You silence the phone, huff, and roll over again. Then, it rings again. Finally, you get up and answer the phone. Not because it was your friend who wanted something, but because they kept on calling.

I love this about Jesus. For SO many reasons. I love that I don’t have to walk away discouraged because I think He’s silent. It doesn’t mean He doesn’t hear, or doesn’t care, or wants me to stop asking. I love that it’s okay to be annoying in how often I bring something to Him. He can take that. In fact, He takes delight in it.

2. We can approach our Father in prayer with confidence & humility. These two are not conflicting. We come full of passion, emotion, raw honesty, truth, and surrender.

I love this picture of confidence clothed in humility as we approach the Lord in prayer. We come humble, bowing low, realizing that in our prayer, we have audience with the Most High, the Maker of heaven and earth. We bow low, perhaps both symbolically and physically, in reverence. Yet, we come with the full confidence awarded to us by the finished work of Christ.

Few things get me charged up like the book of Hebrews. I LOVE spending time there (I think I have some writing to do about this book….). And, even fewer things get me fired up like chapter 10. It might just be one of my favorite portions in all of Scripture. Read what the author says in verses 19-25.

“Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”

So, the book of Hebrews was written to Jewish Christians, explaining the inadequacy of the Law and it’s role as a shadow of what was to come in Christ. Christ is the complete fulfillment for the religious system that these Jews had known and been taught their whole lives. That’s mainly what the beginning of this chapter is making clear (10:1-19). (I’m really fighting the urge to unpack all 19 of these verses right now…because IT’S SO GOOD!!!)  Bottom line: The first section of 10:1-25 explains the necessity and efficacy of Christ’s sacrifice (10:1-18), and the second applies that truth to the lives of the readers (10:19-25), which is the part we’re interested in today.

What we learn about prayer here is that, as believers, we are to draw near to God in full assurance that Christ’s blood is an adequate covering and cleansing agent for our souls.  This involves recognition of who we are in Christ, and agreement with God that His sacrifice is complete and enough to save us.  We are able to approach Him boldly as His children, whom He loves and has redeemed.

The doctrine of the priesthood of Jesus is a major theme throughout the book of Hebrews, but it is sort of a foreign concept to Western believers in our culture today. We should remember that, under the Law, only the high priest was permitted to enter the holy of holies once a year on the Day of Atonement. As he entered, he sprinkled blood from the sin offering on the mercy seat and offered incense. But, now, we read that through the high priestly work of Christ, we can have “confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus” (Hebrews 10:19-20).

This leads us beautifully into our next consideration…

3. We are to pray according to His Word and in His name.

John 14:13-15 says, “Whatever you ask in my name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

Compare these verses to similar Scriptures on asking things of the Lord in prayer.

John 15:7, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”

1 John 5:14–15, “If we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”

Mark 11:24, “Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

Here in John 14, we don’t find any of the conditions italicized in the verses above. Instead, there is only one condition: “in my name.” So, does this imply that we can ignore all the other conditions: abide in him; ask according to his will; believe his word? Or, could it be, that, as John Piper suggests, all these are included in the meaning of asking in my name?

I think so. I think that’s what Jesus would say.

And, in case I have to say it, it is inappropriate to tack “in Jesus’ name” on the end of anything you want to pray.

Praying “in Jesus’ name” means that we come, asking: For His fame, not mine. Because of His infinite worth. On the basis of the payment He made on the cross. According to His wisdom (submission to His wise will and plan). Anything asked on that basis for the glory of the Father; anything prayed for through the filter of His fame, His worth, His purchase, and His wisdom will be answered and done.

And we are promised to have everything we need to do the work He’s called us to do. Like Jesus says in John 14:12, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.

Now, that’s powerful.

There’s a big difference in “God, be glorified in what I’m doing.” and “God, do your thing for your glory.” That’s what I want to pray. And that’s how I want to live.

4. He loves. He listens. He responds.

Friends, the One we approach in prayer is our Father. Prayer gives us fellowship with Him. Because of Christ, we can come to Him at any time, with any thing. Prayer continually teaches us to see our world, and our circumstances with the eyes of eternity. He is for us. And my soul is ever grateful.

As our kindred spirit, Anne, once said:

“Why must people kneel down to pray? If I really wanted to pray I’ll tell you what I’d do. I’d go out into a great big field all alone or in the deep, deep woods and I’d look up into the sky—up—up—up—into that lovely blue sky that looks as if there was no end to its blueness. And then I’d just feel a prayer.”
― L.M. MontgomeryAnne of Green Gables

Might be loose theology, but we’re benefited to remember the freedom we have to approach Him as His daughters and sons.

Never forget the enormous gift and privilege that we have to come to Him anytime, anywhere, with anything.

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SOME LESSONS FROM THE UNNAMED WOMAN OF SAMARIA

Posted by Tori on Jan 30, 2013 in a good word., theology

Y’all. I am so blessed to be able to serve in a rock star women’s ministry. I’ve attended for several years, and the past couple have been privileged to co-lead a small discussion group. These ladies are the real deal. They don’t mess around when it comes to studying God’s Word. This semester, we’re doing a study called, Nameless. It’s a look at several unnamed women in the Bible — women whose stories are recorded in Scripture, but for whatever reason, their names are not mentioned. These accounts are incredible and they teach us so much about the Lord, and about ourselves. I studied and taught on the Woman of Samaria that Jesus meets by Jacob’s well in John 4. (If you’d like to listen to the full lesson, click HERE.) I learned SO MUCH through this, and it really did change meThere is SO MUCH truth packed into these 42 verses, it will literally blow your mind. Here’s some of what rocked my world:

I. Jesus is multi-purposeful.

From the text in John 4 and surrounding passages, we could assume several possible reasons for Christ’s leaving Judea and choosing to travel to Galilee by way of Samaria. He knew this woman intimately. Do we suppose that He only knew her when He saw her? That would be ridiculous. No, He was coming for her. He knew exactly who He’d find drawing water from that well in the middle of the day.

You see, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of reasons and purposes behind every one action of Jesus. He is never doing just one thing when He deals with us. He is always doing a whole host of things we can’t see. Take the disciples in this situation. What did they see when they walked up? Jesus talking with this woman of ill-repute. John records that no one asked him what He was doing talking to her. But, they were confused. They tried to get Jesus to eat. Lunch was the only thing on their minds. They didn’t see what Jesus was really up to here. We have to remember that He is infinitely wise. He may be accomplishing 10 million purposes through something, and we may only know 3. So, we should be very slow to try to take control of a situation or distrust Him as if the three we see aren’t enough to work the way we think things ought.

When my world looks shaken, there are a million reasons why and I may see 1 – or none at all – except what is revealed to me in Scripture. But, I can trust Him. He is infinitely sovereign, infinitely wise, and infinitely good. And, oh how exciting when He is gracious to show us a glimpse of what He is doing. We are left jaws dropped to the floor, worshiping Him in wonder.

II. The thing I love most about Jesus in this passage is His ability to come in and completely level the playing field.

He loved this woman and desired for her to have right relationship with God. Regardless of her sin, regardless of her race, regardless of cultural precedents, regardless of the opinion of others. None of that mattered. What mattered was that from the beginning of time, God knew His creation would fall, and Jesus was the remedy. The Gospel of Christ always levels the playing field. When the Holy Spirit is doing kingdom work in and through us, His purposes are always higher than whatever barriers man has built.

John 4:17-18, “The woman answered and said, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You have correctly said, “I have no husband”; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.'”

This is where Jesus reveals His greatness to her. He proceeds to tell her everything about her life and her past. He knows exactly who she is and what she’s up to.

We may not have had five husbands, and we may not be living with a man that is not our husband, but we too are adulterous over and over in one form or another. Up until this question, she had NO idea of her need for Him. When we see ourselves like she does now, and stare straight into our true condition, it allows us to see His greatness and His provision more profoundly.

In verse 16, it may strike us as random that Jesus asks her to go get her husband, but He is intentionally exposing her sin…to her. He already knew full well that she didn’t have a husband when he made His remark. He is intending to expose the areas of her heart and life where she is in the deepest need of living water. Another thing that makes this portion of their dialogue appear so random, is that Jesus never returns to it. It is left completely open-ended. He brought it up to expose her thirst. She had no idea just how thirsty she really was. He is forcing her to deal with the secret places. In order for the living water to really saturate and do its work, it has to go deep. The living water is for your soul, not for your mouth. He touches every single raw, hidden, shameful nerve in your life. You see, just like this woman, we cannot open ourselves up to receive the living water. Look back at John 3:20, “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.” Jesus knows this is how we are. The reason He presses in so is not to condemn or aggravate an open wound. It is to heal us. To bring life to our lifeless bones. He is the only one who can do it.

His love is compassionate, relentless, and complete. This is how He meets us. Nothing hidden. All laid bare before Him. Ministering to the deepest part of our being.

He offers us living water that we might be deeply satisfied, rooted and secure in our identity in Him. Our hearts have endless desires, appetites, and cravings. The living water of Jesus offers a well that continually satisfies day after day. We no longer have to run from man to man or hobby to hobby, or whatever it is in search of fulfillment. When we come to him with all our hungers and longings, He provides a stable, secure, rock-solid, deep contentment that is only found in Him.

III. He will not have you on just on the surface.

And, praise Him for it! Sisters, He is for you. He is the fulfillment. We are all made to be filled by Christ. Apart from Him, we will never be satisfied. We have to see the reality of our need for Him. What substitutes have you settled for instead of the living water? Thrust them all aside. For He is far greater than them all.

John 4:20, The woman continues, “Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.”

She shifts the focus again and brings up the age-old controversy over places of worship. We see it over and over in the course of their conversation. She is always reverting back to the external. The temporary. You don’t have a bucket, give me water so I don’t have to come here to draw, which is the right place of worship? Even though she may have been genuinely interested to know where He stood on this matter since she now sees Him as a prophet, her whole life is one of externals. Jesus will not deal at that level. He is prying open her heart. He is after her. He wants all of her. She is ironically oblivious to the thirst that she is trying so hard to quench with failed marriage after failed marriage. Jesus knows. He is well acquainted with pain, loneliness, desire, passion, craving. He made her! He alone can explain why she lives the way she lives.

IV. We go through Jesus, or we don’t go to God at all.

John 4:22, “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.”

Verse 22 shows the supremacy of Jesus above all other religions. Any worship that does not hold Christ, as He is revealed in Scripture, as the focal point is completely meaningless and false. Jesus states it plainly in Luke 10:16, “Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; but whoever rejects me rejects him who sent me.” And in John 5:23, “Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.” Also, in 5:46, “If you believed Moses, you would believe me…”

This is HUGE even today. Not just for modern-day Jewish people who are sincere and devout in their religion, yet still await a Messiah. There are many who call themselves Christians in our own culture, yet to not know or live according to His Word. Even though they claim to worship the same God, they do not. They have got it wrong and have missed what Jesus came to do. Any other “brand” of Christianity or the Gospel other than what we find in Scripture is a false religion.

John Piper says it this way: “The more people you know personally who are very religious but who do not embrace Jesus as their Lord and Savior, the harder it will be to believe that their worship is not true worship. But if the courage of your faith gives way [He’s meaning when you are given the opportunity to share truth with them], you will forsake the Jesus of the New Testament and join the world in creating your own.”

Woosh. Sounds harsh. But it is true. Be bold when you talk about your faith with your friends and neighbors. Don’t shrink back for fear of offending them. Tell them the truth.

V. Jesus treats women differently.

I find it interesting that John specifically says that, upon their return, the disciples were surprised to find Him talking to a woman. Then in verse 31, the first way they addressed Christ was as “Rabbi.” Rabbis back then did not talk to women. In fact, the Jewish women were not even taught the Torah. Historically, we know that women were not largely treated with the respect and dignity they are today. But, Jesus treated women differently. With the Fall, came a distortion of God’s design. One that could swing to either spectrum of extremes. With women being either overly timid and helpless or either overly dominating and controlling. And with men being either sheepishly passive and spineless or overly harsh and demanding. But Jesus came to reverse the distortions and to redeem mankind from the effects of the Fall and He treated women as God designed them. As being made in God’s image, possessing equal worth and dignity, while embracing their specific, differing, and complementary roles. That’s how Jesus means for it to be. I think that is likely another reason that of all the people of Samaria He could have revealed Himself to, and out of all the different ways in which He could have done that, He chose this woman, and this way.

VI. Everything about this scene is remarkable.

Jesus asked this woman for a drink, and then proceeded to offer to quench her thirst, a thirst she didn’t even know she had, and not quench it with water, but with Himself, the living water.

Jesus knows. He meets you where you are. He destroys barriers and levels the playing field. He is the living water you were made to drink. He knows everything about you and still wants you. He is the Savior who came into the world to redeem sinners and make true worship possible for you.

It is no small thing that Christ mentioned Samaria with regard to the spread of the Gospel in Acts 1:8. You can read about the coming of the Holy Spirit to the people of Samaria in Acts 8:4-25. His plan for this people stretches far beyond just that woman at Jacob’s well. It reached to the entire race of Samaritans and it reaches straight to all of us sitting here today.

We are this woman. We need Jesus. A lot of people teach about Jesus engaging the woman in this passage. That we should imitate Jesus and be intentional about bringing people to Him. Which is true. But, if we really met ourselves in this woman. If we really see that we have desperate need for Him that we can’t even recognize until He shows up and reveals it to us. If we really got that to the core, we wouldn’t need to be taught to share Him with others. We would just do it. Exactly how this woman left her bucket at the well and ran back to town.

Revelation 22:17, “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.”

You can listen to the full audio of this lesson here. Enjoy! His Word is so rich. We can dig and study and never reach the depths of its wisdom.

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JANUARY 2013 BIRCHBOX REVIEW

Posted by Tori on Jan 23, 2013 in a good word., beauty

Yes, I realize that the blog has been waaaaay too quiet lately. I apologize. I have been drowning in reference books the past few weeks, preparing for a Bible study. (Truthfully, there  is NOTHING I’d rather be doing. I absolutely love that process of studying and writing. Wish that could be my job. I would do it all day everyday.) That project is over and done with now, and I am really excited to share some of what I learned. Because the process was so, so good and rich. I want you to taste it in the worst way. So, I’ll be working on condensing some of my notes to post on the blog. But, for now, I hope you’ll enjoy this little post that requires no exertion of your mind whatsoever. (*wink*)

My January Birchbox came last week, and I was really excited to see what was inside! Here’s a look:

Oscar Blandi | Pronto Wet Instant Volumizing Shampoo & Conditioner: Really, I don’t need to try another shampoo. And when I do, I usually need to use it for longer than the amount they give you in the sample pack to decide if I like it or not. So, it was nice, but I didn’t notice any “instant” volumizing miracles. (Maybe I’m not in a very good mood for writing about beauty products right now…but still…) The full-sized product retails for $24 (each). Maybe you’ll get better results?

Eyeko | Skinny Liquid Eyeliner: I was actually excited to try this one because I’ve never used a liquid eyeliner before. But, I wasn’t as impressed as I had hoped. The Birchbox “how to” says: “If you’re a liner novice, draw a few dots as close to your upper lashes as possible with the tip and then connect the dots. More advanced users can trace a single stroke across their lashline.” So, maybe I’m just not skilled at applying eyeliner. The product retails for $15. So, I’m gonna have to get better before I spring for a $15 eyeliner.

Nicole | by Nicole Richie: I feel like this is a heavier, more evening-dinner-cocktail party-formal type fragrance. Not that I know anything about fragrances, but that’s the type of thing I think I would save this one for. Full-size: $55

Embryolisse | Lait-Creme Concentre (24 Hour Miracle Cream): This stuff really is fantastic! I love it. I have been using it as a night-time moisturizer, but it also doubles as a makeup remover too. I haven’t tried it as a makeup remover, but the instructions say you can put a little on a cotton ball and gently rub your makeup off with it, rinse, and then cleanse. It is a rich moisturizer, yet not heavy feeling at all. Really do love this one. The full-sized product retails for $28 — a little pricey, but it is awesome.

Oscar Blandi | Pronto Dry Styling Heat Protect Spray: This is a great spray that you can apply either before or after blow drying to protect your hair from the hot styling tools you use. I know that this is really important for me because not only to I blow dry my hair 9 out of 10 days, I will also use either a flat iron or a curling iron in addition. I really loved this product. There was just one draw-back — and this is a huge one, especially for hair products — was the smell. Maybe it’s just me (but I don’t think so), but this one does not smell great. Now, I did only notice it as I was applying the product to my hair. I did not notice my hair smelling like that after I styled it. Otherwise, I would have only used it the one time. So, all in all, I like this one a lot too. It retails for $23 for a 4oz can.

 Well, there you have it! Sorry there weren’t any fun pictures with this one. But, it was a great box. To learn more about Birchbox, or to subscribe, click here. Here’s the low-down on how the subscription works: Each month, you receive a box filled with samples of high-end beauty and lifestyle products. You can subscribe for a whole year, or just try it out month-to-month. The boxes are $10/month & it’s always a fun surprise to see what’s inside! Once you get your Birchbox in the mail, you can sign in online for a list of the products you received, more information, videos on how to use the products, as well as the option to purchase them with free shipping during that month. With each product in your box, you also have the option to submit feedback and receive 10 points. 100 points are worth $10 for future redemption in the Birchbox shop on any product they carry or promote. Pretty neat! (And, if you save up your points, you could get your favorite item free.) Also, for each friend you refer to Birchbox, you will be rewarded with 50 free points! It’s so fun! Happy Sampling.

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A NEW DAY — SURRENDER

Posted by Tori on Jan 5, 2013 in a good word.

I love new beginnings, fresh starts, new days, but some something about lofty resolutions, goals, and vision statements for a new year have have always seemed way too daunting. It’s not that I don’t find value in these things. I do. But, for me, I think the main reason I’ve shied away from voicing my own “new year’s goals” is my own (sinful) fear of failure. I think I get nervous to share ideas and plans for fear that I’ll lose credibility when I don’t follow through. (Way to make it all about me, right?!) There’s a few things (well, a lot of things) wrong with this thinking. We should never act or make any decision out of fear. His Word makes it very clear that fear does not come from the Lord, and has no place occupying the thoughts of His followers. Also, whenever I try to do anything out of my own power and strength, it will lack His blessing, and eternal value. Only what is directed and accomplished through His Spirit will have those. So, it’s imperative that my heart beat as one with His. And if my goals are in line with what He has called me to do, I cannot fail. I may not achieve my idea of success, but whatever is placed completely in His hands, I can trust He will not waste.

Another popular thing to do at the beginning of a new year is to select a “one word” that describes the overarching theme of what you want to be about during that year. I like this idea a whole lot better.  So, I thought I would give it a try in 2013.

God is doing big things in and through His church in our generation. I have no idea what 2013 holds, but He does and He’s already doing work to prepare me for it. So, for this year, I want my life to be marked by a complete SURRENDER to Him. I don’t want to build my own kingdom, waste my time on anything that doesn’t honor Him, and I don’t want to miss what He wants to do in me.

Surrender is far from a passive rest, or a defeated throwing in the towel. It requires a constant realigning of ourselves with Him. It cannot be done apart from His Spirit. But, when we live and walk in surrender to Him, we are sure to fall more deeply in love with Him, and experience the abundance He desires for our lives. That’s what I want for 2013. A heart and life that belongs entirely to Him. For Him to use however He is pleased. Come, Lord, Jesus. Make this year one worthy of remembrance.

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2012: LOOKING BACK AND RECOUNTING THE WONDERS

Posted by Tori on Dec 31, 2012 in a good word., beauty, coffee, family., thankful heart.

Recounting the wonders. As I was forming vision for this site, the Lord kept bringing the words of Psalm 40:5 back to me. Over and over. It’s a verse that has meant a lot to me over the years. On my wedding day, it’s what I prayed would become the testimony of my marriage. And, I can honestly say — as I look back over my life, my marriage, my years as a mother — is my testimony. It has remained true in every season.

“Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.”

But, that’s what I want to try to do — recount the wonders He has done — as I remember all that 2012 has brought. When I was sketching out ideas and remembering things that have happened this past year, so many things flooded back to me. Were I to revisit all of them, we would be here until next year. So, at the bottom of the post, you’ll find some of my favorite moments in pictures.

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Writing is so important to me. The Lord uses the writing process in so many ways to grow me spiritually. That’s part of the reason I love blogging so much (one of the selfish reasons, I guess). So, here are some posts that have really changed me and meant something very deep to me.

 Dear Ayden
Jesus Lives
What’s Real and What’s Not
Sowing and Reaping
I Exalt Thee
ONE THING REMAINS (Probably my most treasured from 2012.)
Sovereign Over Us
Stronger (No Playing Favorites)
That’s What it’s all About
We Serve a King and a Kingdom
Perfect Doesn’t Mean Pretty

This year has been full. Full of great things, full of hard things, but mostly just full of His faithfulness. I am thankful that the Lord designed us for seasons, and that He’s constantly at work in us and for us — whether we realize it or not. So, I am closing the book on 2012 with a grateful heart. Lessons learned and ready to embrace what’s coming in 2013. Thankful that He uses even (or especially) the hard and confusing things to prepare us and work good for what’s to come.

Whether this year has been one of plenty, blessing, and abundance, or one of pain, difficulty, and confusion, rest in the truth that He is. (In Greek it’s Ego Eimi). I AM. He’s got this and He’s got you. Right in the center of His sight & His hand. He won’t be surprised by anything that comes along with 2013. He’s busy making something way bigger and better than we can see. For our good. And His glory.

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.” 1 Corinthians 13:12

 

 Cheers!

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