happy fall!

Posted by Tori on Oct 1, 2012 in a good word., family., thankful heart.

Ok, so I unintentionally took a blogging break for the entire month of September, but it’s October 1 now & I am back to my keyboard with some fresh vision and a completely renewed heart. You should know that October – February are my absolute favorite months. I am expecting big things for this season!

September completely drained me. I don’t think I was aware of how intense of a month it was until I was out from under it. I found myself completely bogged down and pretty discouraged about the progress of some major things we’re juggling. Basically, I just needed a break! Time alone, time with my Lord, and some time with my husband. It’s so great how God knows what we need so much more thoroughly than we do. Can I get an amen on that one? He totally knew what was coming my way and orchestrated an entire week for William and I by ourselves. It was so great to finally get the refreshment and shift of perspective that I needed. We got back home a week ago tonight. Then, three days later, I got sick. I’m getting better, but still not over it. Even though it’s been tough being sick this week, I can see how He has changed me. I am more hopeful and have a glimpse of the picture He’s painting in the very areas I was so discouraged over before. Thanks, Lord.

So…this month, I am expectant. I know that it won’t be easy and that there’s a lot of hard work ahead, but I’m excited because I finally have vision. His vision.

Here are some pictures from September…

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This is what we look like when we get some time to ourselves a couple states away from real life. So fun!

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Pretty coffee!

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Steven & Mary Beth Chapman! Met them on our trip to Nashville. So sweet!

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Our first NFL game. Titans vs. Lions. We left the stadium with less than 2 minutes on the clock & the Lions down by two touchdowns. Got over this walking bridge & someone yells that the Lions tied the game & it’s going into OT! What?! How does that happen? Well, we don’t know because we weren’t there! Ducked into a bar to watch the end. Lions lost in OT. Crazy.

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Yes, we are silly. This is what three kids & four years of marriage does to you.

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Love, love, love this! We used to have one in Charleston, but it’s gone now. So sad.

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Reunited with my crew! Love them.

 

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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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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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my heart might explode.

Posted by Tori on May 1, 2012 in family., thankful heart.

CIUgals

I absolutely love these gals. Shared life with most of these sweet women for four solid years. I can’t say enough about how much influence each of them has had over me. I am so grateful for each moment, each laugh, each tear. I wish we could be together more often, but I am thankful that we still make time for one another even though we are all in different places now. Everyone should have a group of friends like this! Ladies, I love you more than you know!!

 

Later, after lunch with these friends, we took a family trip to the beach! This was the twins’ first beach trip!! Everyone had a great time.

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This is Chelsea with her daddy. She made us laugh the hardest! As soon as we set her down in the sand, she looked around, and then power-crawled as fast as she could and as far as she could! We would run after her and bring her back to the towel and she would take off again immediately! I don’t think she’d ever seen so much wide, open space!! We’ll have to keep an eye on this one…

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With all this grace and all these blessings, I think my heart might explode!! His goodness is beyond measure. These are just some of the little ways He reminds me everyday.

 

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amen & amen!

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thankful thursday.

Posted by Tori on Apr 19, 2012 in thankful heart.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Happy Thursday! So many reasons to thank our Lord this week…here are just a couple. I hope these inspire your heart to praise Him for His crazy love over you!

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I am thankful for this contraption…and for my husband for surprising me with it. I’ve had it for a while, and it’s amazing. I don’t have one of those fancy 1-cup brewing systems, so I would make a pot of coffee and it would always get cold before I had the chance to finish it. Now, whenever I want just one cup, I can pull out this thing.

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You insert a filter and add your coffee.

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Pour over some hot water, and you have a single cup of your favorite blend!

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So thankful for Ayden’s sheer silliness…it never fails to make me laugh!

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Really thankful for these sweet moments that happen just about everyday. Whenever daddy calls to say he is on his way home from work, Ayden will grab his chair and head to his special spot to sit and wait for daddy. When the car stops in the driveway, Ayden runs to sit on his daddy’s lap and help him steer into the garage. Love it!!

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It’s always a favorite when daddy brings home a “special treat.” This day it was raspberry M&Ms.

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On Saturday, William and I headed to Athens to watch the UGA spring training game (G-Day 2012). This is the first year that Ayden got to go with us!

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He was sooo excited!

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Two peas in a pod. They make my heart melt.

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“Mommy, football!” “Get it, ball!” He just soaked up every minute.

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Cheese!

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Tuesday, the babies had the best time playing together inside! They were all over the place…making one another laugh! I love watching them bond as they grow together!!

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And…I especially love these sweet moments. I was too slow with the camera, but Ayden plopped down next to Brooklyn, held her hand, and gave her the biggest kiss right on the mouth. It was so precious!

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Finally, I am really thankful for this rainy Thursday. It’s rare that moms of little ones are thankful for rainy days, but I really, really am. We have had the best time together today playing inside!! Thanks for the rain, Lord, both physical, and for the downpour of grace over this little family.

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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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thankful thursday.

Posted by Tori on Apr 5, 2012 in thankful heart.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Here are some reminders of His faithfulness and reasons to praise Him that I collected from this week.

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Easter goodies! I love watching Ayden learn & discover during this season of the year. We have been doing “resurrection eggs” with him during the days leading up to Easter. He absolutely loves it, and I hope that he is learning and that his little mind is soaking up the truth about Jesus.

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This is the Easter craft he made at preschool. Love those precious fingers. If you look closely, you can tell that his pinky finger is a little crooked. Each one of our children has two crooked pinkies – just like their daddy. I love those precious details of how beautifully He formed them.

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Ayden and Brooklyn playing and sharing a few priceless moments.

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I love these little faces! And I am so happy that they love one another, even as babies.

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As if I needed another reason to adore Target, they have made a shopping cart that all 3 of my babies fit in!!

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I love it, and so do they! Since they sit across from one another, they had the best time making one another laugh while I shopped.

And…the most incredible reason to give thanks this week and every single minute.

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thankful thursday.

Posted by Tori on Mar 29, 2012 in thankful heart.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Sometimes, in life, you just become so aware and overwhelmed by the Lord’s everyday blessings that you’re struck speechless. At least, that’s how it works for me a lot of the time. His grace is so beyond my comprehension. I am thankful that He has opened my eyes to the little things each day – little things that remind me that we live and walk in His grace, little things that remind me that He is ever-present, and little things that remind me that I am and have absolutely nothing without Him. So, here are a few of those reminders from this week. I hope they bless your heart and encourage you to see His hand more clearly over your precious life.

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These two put on their nice shirts to take me and the baby ladies out for a special evening – complete with dinner, Starbucks, and a trip to the mall.

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My view across the table. That face gets me every time.

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Then, Ayden and I went on a special mommy-Ayden date. It was so much fun. Driving the police car was one of his favorite moments…mine too!

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Ayden’s daddy gave him some money to buy me flowers on our date. He kept the money carefully tucked in his pocket until it was time. He helped pick out these flowers. He said they were “pretty, mommy.” When it was time to pay, he handed his money to the lady, took his change, and said, “thank you” with the biggest smile! My heart melted. Over him and his sweet daddy.

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Thankful for my new favorite candle. It makes me happy.

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Also thankful for warm cookies and strawberries shared with my husband after the kids are in bed.

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And for sweet times coloring with Ayden when he wakes up from his nap before his sisters do. Thankful for how wonderfully God has and is forming him and growing his mind.

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sweet gifts

Posted by Tori on Dec 7, 2011 in ayden., thankful heart., twins.

It’s the little moments I treasure most…thanks, Lord!

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starbucks drink of the day.

Posted by Tori on Nov 5, 2011 in thankful heart.

 

peppermint mocha. mmmm…

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