worship wednesday. jesus lives.

Posted by Tori on Jun 13, 2012 in a good word., family., video., worship wednesday.

I couldn’t think of anything more appropriate to post this week than this song! I have been playing it all week. As you probably know, my grandfather passed away this week. His funeral service will be tomorrow afternoon, which also happens to be my grandmother’s birthday and my wedding anniversary.

I hope this song will encourage your heart and fill you with joy for the hope of Heaven and for the inheritance that awaits us as believers. I pray that you will hit the pause button on your busy Wednesday to shift your focus from the temporal to the eternal – to what really matters! Jesus lives!

Why don’t you grab a button and link up with me & Mrs. Pate?!

Write a post with a Scripture, song, picture, poem, etc. that leads your heart to worship and then enter your website url below. If you aren’t a blogger, but you’d like to join in, just click the post-it note at the top of the post. You can leave a comment, or share what’s on your heart with the rest of us!


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one thing remains.

Posted by Tori on Jun 10, 2012 in a good word., family., thankful heart.

When I think back on my life, and the process through which the Lord drew me to Himself, there are several strategic people He used to teach me and grow me in specific ways. Aside from my parents, the very first person He used in such a way was my grandfather. My mom’s dad. When I was a baby, my mom went back to work and I stayed with my grandfather. We spent a lot of time together. He had retired from the FBI, both of my parents worked, and so did all of my other grandparents. So, he stepped up to the plate so that my parents wouldn’t have to send me to daycare or preschool. We lived within minutes from one another until my parents moved to Savannah when I was four.

Every morning, he and I would go to a cafe up the street. He would have his coffee and I would eat a slice of cantaloupe…with salt on top. Every morning. We got to where everyone around town knew us. On Fridays, he would always take me to TCBY after my nap. The chocolate was my favorite…and his. As I grew up, when we would come to visit, he taught me how to play card games and he and I would play and laugh for hours. He loved football! This was before you could pay to watch 18 games on your screen at the same time, so he would flip back and forth constantly. His favorite was, of course, UGA football. I would sit and watch with him. He taught me the rules and how the game was played. I wanted to do everything like him. He would tell me stories from captures he made in the FBI that would keep me on the edge of my seat. I thought it was so cool that he had a personal letter from J. Edgar.

But, beyond all these fun things, my memories and the things I learned from my granddaddy go a lot deeper than my ABC’s, football, and old FBI stories. He introduced me to Jesus. He was all about Jesus. Every morning, he would spend an hour in a room in their house by himself. That was his time with the Lord. Whenever he went in there and shut the door, we all knew that his time there was sacred. He read the Bible in its entirety to me before I was three. He couldn’t stop talking about Jesus and what He had done, and what He was doing. After I came to know the Lord, he was one of the first to disciple me and teach me how to read Scripture and to pray.

He also showed me what it looked like to love people like Jesus. Especially his wife. He truly esteemed her and his love for her was a beautiful picture of Christ and the church. My only memory of arguments between them was shoving one another in front of the kitchen sink after a meal, deciding who would wash the dishes – because each one wanted to do it to serve the other. Most times he won.

When I would spend the night with them, I slept in my mom’s old room which was right across the hall from their room. They always slept with the bedroom doors partially opened and I would fall asleep listening to them talk to one another in their bed. It was beautiful the things they would say. They would talk about their day. He would thank her for being the remarkable help mate that she was. He would tell her that he couldn’t do life without her and that he would never want to. He would pray over her. And she would do the same for him. I remember asking God, in those moments, to bless me with a marriage like that.

As granddaddy got older, he developed dementia. At first, it was hard because he was aware that he was forgetting more and more. He knew what was happening to him. It worsened to the point where he couldn’t remember anyone, not even his wife. He would have moments of clarity where his memory would return and he would recognize his family and be able to tell us how much he loved us. Even on the worst days, He would remember Jesus. He would still talk about the Lord and he still read his Bible. My grandmother became his caregiver in their home. Her love for him, her care for him when he could no longer take care of himself, and her undivided faithfulness to him has become a beautiful picture, once again, of Christ and the church. Their marriage functions how the Lord designed it.

She is still doing just that. Only tonight it looks a little different. He is lying in a hospital bed next to theirs. His breathing is labored and slow. Very slow. His eyes are closed and his body is frail and unable to move. He will see his beloved Jesus very soon.

I was able to be there last night with them. I say I will never forget these things. All the memories. All the laughs, and kisses. All of our conversations that we had just the two of us. How it felt to spend this morning in the bedroom with him and have the last conversation that we will have this side of Heaven. The lump in my throat. But the truth is, I may forget. My memory may fade just like his. But, one thing remains. The eternal truth written on my heart. The way God used him to show who He is to me. The eternal investment he made into my life will not perish or fade like the earthly things will.

2 Corinthians 3:2-3 says, “You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”

It is written on my heart. Sealed by His Spirit.

It makes me want to run even harder after Jesus. When the people who know me look at my life, is Jesus preeminent? Is He everything?

What about you? What do people see when they look at your life? What legacy will you leave? Will you leave only perishable memories, or will you allow the Lord to use you to plant the imperishable? To participate in His work; in what will last for eternity?

When you’re prompted, please pray for our family. We are asking the Lord to turn our hearts from earthly grief and sorrow onto eternal joy and hope of Heaven and our inheritance as co-heirs with Christ. This Tuesday is my grandparents’ wedding anniversary. Thursday is my grandmother’s birthday. We trust God’s perfect timing. He has done great things. And our hearts are full of gratefulness. His love is perfect. He is everything.

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worship wednesday. beautiful.

Posted by Tori on Jun 6, 2012 in a good word., video., worship wednesday.

Welcome to the third installment of Worship Wednesday! I’m hosting this weekly blog post with the lovely, Mrs. Tiffany Pate! Check out her site to see what she is posting today too.

I am praying that the Lord will use this word to remind you of His beauty in every circumstance, as He has reminded me this week! I was reading Spurgeon’s, Morning & Evening, and was struck by these words. (As a side note, if you are looking for something amazing to read on a daily basis that will keep you in the Word, I highly recommend this work. You can get it anywhere, but if you use the YouVersion Bible app on your Android or iPhone, you can get it as one of the reading plans.)

from Morning & Evening (C. H. Spurgeon), Evening – Day 143

Song of Solomon 1:16, “Behold, thou art fair, my Beloved.”

“In the manger and in eternity, on the cross and on his throne, in the garden and in his kingdom, among thieves or in the midst of cherubim, he is everywhere ‘altogether lovely.’ Examine carefully every little act of his life, and every trait of his character, and he is as lovely in the minute as in the majestic. Judge him as you will, you cannot censure; weigh him as you please, and he will not be found wanting. Eternity shall not discover the shadow of a spot in our Beloved, but rather, as ages revolve, his hidden glories shall shine forth with yet more inconceivable splendour, and his unutterable loveliness shall more and more ravish all celestial minds.”

He is absolutely, everywhere, altogether lovely. In every season. In every moment. His beauty shines forth even in our ugliest of times.

Why don’t you grab a button and link up with me & Mrs. Pate?!

Write a post with a Scripture, song, picture, poem, etc. that leads your heart to worship and then enter your website url below. If you aren’t a blogger, but you’d like to join in, just click the post-it note at the top of the post. You can leave a comment, or share what’s on your heart with the rest of us!


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SOWING AND REAPING.

Posted by Tori on May 7, 2012 in a good word., thankful heart.

Everyone knows this truth. It really is common sense. But here, in the middle of 2 Corinthians, Paul sees fit to remind us.

2 Corinthians 9:6, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.”

In this passage, Paul continues to say that, “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:7-8)

Now, in this section of his letter, Paul is encouraging the Corinthians to give generously for poor believers in Jerusalem. He explains how others have given, and encourages them to show love for these brothers in a tangible way as well.

These verses are sure, solid ground that we can depend on, freeing us to give generously with joyful hearts because God has promised that He will bless our giving with His grace.

Lately, I have been reminded and have seen just how true this Word is. Really, not even in the area of financial giving, but in the giving of yourself, your time, and your talents. If you hold back in serving people and loving on them the way Christ would, you are sowing sparingly. To the degree you are investing in your marriage, or your children — or you fill in the blank, you will reap blessing.

Also true, is that I may be going through the motions of loving or of investing in someone, but I may be doing it reluctantly or under compulsion. This does not please the Lord and it, ultimately, does not bless others. Sometimes, I can get burned out. Sometimes, I don’t wake up in the morning excited about loving people the way He does. There is no room for an ounce of pride or selfishness in this love. But, thankfully, the Holy Spirit is the one who does the loving through me. My job is to surrender. So, if I spend myself and my time fully pouring into those around me that He has given me to love, I will reap generously. I will be free to love with a happy heart. I won’t get burned out because I have the promise of His grace that will enable me to prosper in every good work.

So…let’s be reminded of this simple, yet profound truth today.

Ask the Lord if there is an area of your life where you may be holding back in loving others the way He does. Loving without an ounce of pride or selfishness. Having this conversation with Him is important, because often, it is easy for us to be unaware that we are holding back. Ask Him to check your heart and show you if you may be serving Him or others reluctantly or out of compulsion. Ask Him to give you the grace to serve and love with nothing but cheer. In this passage, “the freedom and authenticity of generous giving are marked by…cheerfulness.” (G. Kittel, TDNT, 3:299) Finally, ask Him to give you the faith to trust His promise — that we will reap generously for giving generously and that His grace will enable us to excel at every good work — so that we can love with sacrifice, even those who may not be grateful and may be difficult to love.

Thank you for the cross, Lord, that is the cornerstone of this truth. Change my heart, and teach me to give like Christ gave.

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slow motion.

Posted by Tori on Apr 16, 2012 in a good word., thankful heart.

A sick day. We all need one of these every once in a while. It’s nearly impossible to take one when you’re the mother of small children…but today, I did nonetheless. Yes, I was actually feeling bad, but today my entire focus shifted. The meals were sill served, the loads of laundry still got washed, and the floors were still mopped and vacuumed. But the sense of urgency, the rushing, and the pressure to get it all done was gone. And, I thought, “I should have days like this more often.”

I napped when the kids napped and woke feeling refreshed (and also a bit confused about what day of the week it was…). I took extra time just to play and snuggle with each one of the babies. I took extra time to just soak in all of His love and extreme grace over us. Yet, everything still got done. It’s like the day played out before me in slow motion – and now as everyone is tucked in their beds, I’m remembering it and treasuring it – because it was about what really matters.

We didn’t do it all perfect, but it was honest; laid before Him as an offering and an invitation for Him to be in the middle of it all doing His thing in us. Everyday should be like that. But it’s not. Why? For me, I think it’s because I’m too afraid to let go – too afraid to not really care if my plans for the day ever really happen.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s good to plan. I’m a planner. But He is a better one. I trust Him way more than I trust myself. So, as I lay down tonight, I’m asking Him to remind me in the morning about this truth. So that tomorrow will be just as profound and lived out of gratitude for all He is. Praying your day is nothing less.

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WHAT’S REAL & WHAT’S NOT.

Posted by Tori on Apr 12, 2012 in a good word.

Ladies, let’s be honest. Our culture gets it way wrong. I was with a dear friend of mine the other week. She is quite a bit older than I am. We stopped into Target and she picked up a watch. It was a lime green plastic watch that went on like a slap bracelet. $10. She put it on once we got in the car. I said something like, “Oh that’s cute!” She said “Thanks! I thought it was fun.” As we drove along, she started to question her purchase. “Does it look okay with this outfit?” “It’s not too loud, is it?” “Does it look like I’m trying to be 15?” “Maybe I’ll just stick it in my purse.” After a little convincing that it was cute and fine for her to wear, she pulled down the visor to check her lipstick. “I just look old. And there’s nothing I can do about it. My makeup doesn’t even help. It’s so hard to look good when you’re old.”

Why?! You’re beautiful! Our culture screams at women so loudly that we are supposed to look a certain way. That we should try to prevent aging. Or even when we’re young that we have to have this perfect body and this perfect hair.

And really I’m no different from my friend. Even though I’m young, I’m constantly wanting my hair to be different, checking the number on the scale, worried about my clothes fitting and looking just right.

So, are we just trapped in this cultural spiral, where there’s always something about ourselves to fix, and we’re never content with how we look?

Absolutely not! As followers of Jesus, we are to influence our culture with the TRUTH, not conform to it, and certainly not believe its lies. The truth is that beauty comes from a life that looks like Jesus. Outward beauty does not last and is judged by a temporal, ever-changing standard. True beauty never fades and is judged by an eternal, unchanging standard.

Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. Proverbs 31:30

Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 1 Peter 3:4

Ladies, don’t believe lies. Be transformed by the truth and transform our culture with the truth. These lies lead to insecurity, pride, and a whole host of sin. The truth leads us to Jesus every time. Let’s believe who He says we are and let’s give Him the full freedom He deserves to do His work in our hearts.

I have two amazing daughters. Yes, they are beautiful. I want them so desperately to grow up to understand the truth about beauty and who they are. I want their confidence and their identity to come from Christ alone – the only one who can truly deliver and the only solid ground for their precious feet.

 

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slow to speak.

Posted by Tori on Apr 3, 2012 in a good word.

I love how the Lord orchestrates seasons in my life. There are times when He inspires me, challenges me, changes me, and kindles flames that ignite into raging fires, causing me to shout and to write furiously about all that He has done. Then there are the more tender seasons, seasons of great teaching and instruction that change me and ignite fires in me in very different ways. These seasons are just as sweet, but different because they leave me without words, at least for a while.

I feel like that is where I have found myself the first few months of this year. It is a beautiful place. One that is full of time spent playing, teaching, and guiding the little arrows he has entrusted to William and I (Psalm 127:3-5). Spent at the church, in the backyard, in the kitchen, folding the laundry, on late-evening coffee dates with sweet friends; spent on our family evening walks around the neighborhood; spent in sweet conversations with my husband about the Lord’s grace and His hand over our family and about where we are and where He’s leading us. And at the end of the day, when he and I are snuggled close and my head hits the pillow, there are no words. Just a sigh and a sense of peace and rest in the incredible knowledge that He is working and that He holds us in the midst of it all.

So, I am embracing the truth that I don’t have to always be profound, or have a million words. It’s okay to just soak it all in. And doesn’t His Word tell us that we should be quick to listen and slow to speak?

Lord, let me be wise with my words and make them count – in my writing and in my speaking.

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JESUS LIVES.

Posted by Tori on Mar 22, 2012 in a good word., family.

This week has been a whirlwind! I received a phone call on Sunday that my only living grandfather was unwell. Monday morning, I packed up the babes and headed to GA. When we arrived, I got a call that William’s great-grandmother had passed away. Thankfully, my grandfather was doing much better than I expected. We had a wonderful visit. I will never forget the beautiful moments he spent sitting next to my sweet Chelsea, stroking her hair and telling her how precious she is. Tuesday morning we packed up, ready to head back to Charleston. My plan was to leave by 10. 11 rolls around and we are finally loaded in the car and ready to head out. Then…traffic stopped as far as the eye can see. We took 1 hour to drive 4 miles. We finally make it home at the same time William does from work. We wake up early the next morning to drive to Columbia for his great-grandmother’s service and then we make it home again by 9:30 that night. In all of this chaos and traveling, the Lord provided a few much-needed quiet moments to speak into my heart.

My life and my moments are His. Far too often I get distracted and try to make them mine. That’s when all measure of stress, discontent, strife, bickering, and frustration come flooding in. It doesn’t matter that I wanted to leave by 10 and that we really left at 11 and then crept along at a snail’s pace for another hour. What matters is realizing that my time is His and spending it on what He desires. I’ve never been so thankful for a traffic jam.

I kept playing this song in my head over and over again this week.

I am so thankful for a legacy of family that has gone before me, carrying His name. I am thankful that because He lives, my earthly grief fades to the background and the foreground is filled with His glory and celebration of the hope we have in Him. Come, Lord Jesus! Capture every moment of my crazy day. Make it yours. Give me eyes to see eternity in each circumstance.

Jesus lives.

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before all nations.

Posted by Tori on Dec 31, 2011 in a good word.

There is so much to say and reflect on as 2011 has ended. But I like stepping back and looking at the big picture. And the big picture of 2011 for us is that it was glorious, full of His grace, and exploding with His Scripture coming to life in our family! His blessings have been abundant and His voice has been clear.

When 2011 began, I was pregnant with my sweet girls and asking the Lord to prepare my heart and our family for their arrival. Simultaneously, William and I began earnestly praying for what the Lord had for us as a family, believing He had put a fire in our hearts that there was something MORE. He called us out and made it clear that international missions is what He has for us. Still, we don’t know how this will work, or what it will look like, or what it truly means for us, but we have His word and it is sure.

Isaiah 61 became so sweet and alive to me.

“So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” Is. 61:3b

“For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes the things sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all nations.” Is. 61:11

God WILL do this. And He allows His people to be a part of it. Incredible. There is nothing sweeter than the dead coming to life by the power of Christ to be planted as oaks of righteousness to HIS great glory.

So, so excited to see what He has in 2012.

We are yours, Lord. There is no life apart from you. It only works when you are absolutely EVERYTHING. Your way in every decision, every thought, every word, every minute. Anything less is counterfeit faith and a false gospel. Let us be found faithful.

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completely loved.

Posted by Tori on Dec 12, 2011 in a good word.

I’m having a real sense of the Lord’s complete love for me tonight…showing up in so many different things. His love is so undeserved, yet so perfect and complete and constant. It really is intoxicating. It rushes in when I am not looking for it and catches me unaware. It is there, strong and steady, through my sad times, my mad times, my quiet times, my loud times, my happy times, my alone times, my impatient times…all the time. It comforts me when no one else can. It covers my sin and makes me holy. It calms my anxious heart. It restores my joy. It reminds me of what really matters. It shows me my sin. It shows me great grace. His love is all over me. Lord, thank you for this crazy love. Teach me to love you well and to love others well. You alone are worthy.

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