overdue for an update.

Posted by Tori on Sep 29, 2011 in family.

The last few months have been so busy, and I took a long break from the blog…but now it’s time to pick it back up. I do believe that an update is in order.

The twins are nearly seven months old now and growing like crazy! They learn new things everyday and are just so much fun!

Ayden is 20 months now…the big 0-2 is approaching way too fast! His vocabulary is expanding everyday. He has begun preschool one day a week at PCA and is loving it so very much!

William and I have been going to the UGA home games this season and are really enjoying those little dates.

Today my mom is here and we are going to take the kids for a shopping trip in search of some Fall weather clothes. Is so nice having her here and I am looking forward to the time with her.

Tomorrow when Ayden finishes at PCA we will travel to GA for the weekend. Ayden is planning to go to his first carnival with his grandmother…so I’m sure there will be many fun pictures and stories to report.

This morning I have been reading Psalm 63. Verses 6-8 say, “When I remember you on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches, For You have been my help, And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy. My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.” His provision for me is so excellent and undeserved. My soul is clinging to Him.

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The Gospel

Posted by Tori on Jul 26, 2011 in a good word., family.

In our bulletin at ECBC, there is normally a prayer listed to use in preparation for worship. A few weeks back, it said the following:

“Almighty God, we are thankful that your mercy is higher than the heavens, wider than our wanderings, deeper than all our sin. Forgive our frivolous attitude toward the Gospel, toward life itself, our callousness toward suffering, our envy of those who have more than we have, our obsession with creating a life of constant pleasure, our indifference to the treasures of heaven, our neglect of your wise and gracious law. Help us to live in the joy of repentance, to change our way of life, so that we may desire what is good, love what is good, love what you love and do what you command, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (emphasis mine)

As I was reading over this it struck me, as it has been for the last few months, but this time in a much more in your face sorta way.  I started having questions run through my mind like Why do we envy? What is my obsession? Why a life a pleasure in worldly things? Do I have a frivolous attitude toward the Gospel?

A few weeks ago, Tori and I decided to share the responsibilities of posting. This is my first attempt. Tori said recently that God has been changing our hearts and igniting passions (or re-igniting them as the case may be). This prayer really made me examine myself. I did have a frivolous attitude toward the glorious Gospel. I had no passion to share my faith with any one. How could I really say that I loved people and not care about their life in relation to eternity? The short answer was I didn’t. Why was this? Well, it comes from the next two statements. I envied those who had more and I was obsessed with having a life of pleasure.

We moved to Charleston a little over two and a half years ago. Why did we move?  Answer: Money. I took a job that was paying a considerable amount more than I was making in Columbia. The raise I received for coming down here secured me to make more than double what I was making working at CIU after graduation. Tori and I were just married and it seemed like a good thing to do. It also meant that we would not want for anything. Since then, nearly every decision that we made was through the lens of security for our family and keeping up with the Jones’s.

Recently, we  have felt God calling us in a different direction. I took a job in March that we thought would lead us in that direction (overseas missions). We wanted to go with the IMB for what we thought were valid reasons. Herein lies the problem the reasons we wanted to go with them were the same that we had been chasing for the last few years; security in finances (we didn’t have to raise support), and obsession with a life of pleasure (we didn’t have the stress of putting full faith in His promise). This led us to a church (that we love by the way) and the story from there is all God’s providence. We started working with the youth ministry and a small campus close to our house. We were there for a few months and then felt God calling us to something different.

The road that was started with that calling is where we are now and our lives will never be the same. We started working with the college ministry and are now able to say that if raising support is what God has for us then we are ready. I have been able to meet with the college pastor and our time is such a blessing. He is very wise and has many years of experience. I feel like every time I am around him I grow a little (or a lot) in my faith. I am looking forward to the experience that we will have as we partner with him in ministry.

Last weekend, I went on a trip with the college ministry to check out a ministry called Campus Outreach. I had an amazing time and God really showed up. Not only did I develop some great relationships, but I was also able to go out with college students to share our faith. This is where the change is beginning for us.

Proverbs 23:4-5 Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, Cease from your consideration of it. When you set your eyes on it, it is gone. For wealth certainly makes itself wings like an eagle that flies toward the heavens.

I read this while on the CO trip. Along with the prayer at the top, my life cannot be the same. I am determined to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. No longer will I chase after money. I pray that I will no longer envy what others have, be obsessed with a life of pleasure, and most of all may I never again have a frivolous attitude toward the Gospel. I don’t know where our family will be in the days to come. But, what I do know is that we are chasing after the Lord hard and we are willing to go wherever, whenever, and however He asks us to even if it means sharing our faith in a place that is not pleasurable or the envy of the world.

wm

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behind and before.

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

Psalm 139:5-6 says:

5 You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

It is so freeing to rest in the truth that we are hemmed in on all sides with the incredible grace of our Savior. It completely takes the pressure off and removes (even though sometimes it’s only momentary) my temptation to worry when I am faced with the unknown.

Philip Yancey wrote, “A person who lives in faith must proceed on incomplete evidence, trusting in advance what will only make sense in reverse.”

This is so beautifully stated. As I look back over my life in reverse, at the forks in the road I faced and the decisions I have made, I can see so clearly God’s design. It all makes perfect sense. In the present, however, as my story is being written, I am working with an incomplete, fragmented picture, yet I trust that God will be faithful to His promise and and claim my life for His glory. This is, in several areas, where we find ourselves as a family.

I have just finished reading Mary Beth Chapman’s book “Choosing to SEE.” It is such a beautiful story of grace and of trusting in advance what will only make sense in reverse. God has stirred such undeniable passions in my heart and in William’s for ministry, specifically to university students, and for adoption, among other things. Following God in these specific things is definitely having serious implications on the way we live and on the decisions we make for our family. Our faith is being exercised in new ways and our heartbeat for his glory is beating with increased intensity.

The other day I was sharing about some decisions we are making in ministry and some research we are doing on foreign adoption with someone and their response was, “That’s so exciting. You’re at the age where anything is possible.”

Granted, they did not ever intend for me to pick apart their innocent statement the way my brain just naturally strips things down to the simplest form and examines every possible implication. But, I think it’s healthy to do that sometimes.

Is it age that causes me to believe that these things are possible for our family, or that anything is possible, for that matter? I certainly hope not. I hope it is my faith that informs my decisions and my trust in a God who is vast and incomprehensible that causes me to believe that He would accomplish these things in my family for His glory. I am encouraged by the faith of Abraham, who most today would not have considered to be “at the age where anything is possible” when he was blessed with a son.

This journey we are on as believers is a wild one! Our God is FAR beyond our capacity to comprehend, and so it makes sense to me that the intricate story He has for me, William, Ayden, Brooklyn, and Chelsea will be too. There’s a reason I’m not writing the book, and there’s a reason it’s not about me, but I am so privileged to be a part of it. I’m believing Him for BIG things.

This wild ride is full of fun and adventure, as well as pain and grief. Yet, He remains the same. At Maria Sue Chunxi Chapman’s memorial service, her brother, Caleb, said this:

The only analogy I can come up with is this: it’s like God is an abstract artist…and when you’re real close to a painting like this, it’s hard to focus, it’s blurred, and you can’t see what’s going on. You have to walk really far back, and then the whole painting comes into focus and you can see what the artist was doing. That’s what this experience is like for us. We’re just really, really close to this mess…but I think the farther we get away from it in time, the more we’re going to see this picture come into focus. Man, it’s a really big one too, so we’ll have to walk pretty far away.

Beautiful words and a beautiful image of what God is doing with each of us in extremely different ways. We have NO idea what He has for is in this life. But, I know that no matter the joy, the struggle, the pain, or whatever the process may be, I don’t want it any other way. All along the journey, whether we are experiencing extreme grief, whether we’re heading off to another country or unfamiliar place to do His work, or whether we’re flying halfway across the globe to meet the next member of our forever family, we can be CONFIDENT that we are hemmed in behind and before, and that His hand is on us.

Anything really is possible. There can be no failure. Our hope is sure.

showhope-logo

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thanks, clive.

Posted by Tori on Jul 1, 2011 in a good word.

Read more…

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fearless.

Posted by Tori on Jun 17, 2011 in a good word., video.

Fear is so crippling. There is no freedom in fear. It is no accident that the most frequent command in Scripture is DO NOT BE AFRAID. So, why do we so often choose fear over courage and trust? Can you actually imagine living your life without even a hint of fear? Is that even possible? Well, if the Holy Spirit is in us and if He really has given us all we need for life and godliness, then I think it’s possible.

1 John 4:18 says that perfect love casts out all fear. Courage comes from the Latin word meaning “heart.” Courage comes from a heart convinced that it is loved.

It all comes back to asking, “Do I really trust God? Do I believe Him?”

My God will take care of me no matter what! Resting in this is incredibly freeing. We don’t like to think about things that scare us. What is the scariest thing that could happen to me? Often, we just trust that whatever we fear most will never happen to us. There is no victory in thinking this way because the enemy will keep threatening us with these things. This is a warped, conditional faith.

We have to trust God. I will never find myself in a fearful situation where God will not offer courage. We CAN be brave.

Choose it and take it!

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he is with me.

Posted by Tori on Apr 28, 2011 in a good word.

This is a good Word for today.  Thanks, Lord for your nearness and sweet love.  Totally undeserved.  Thanks for taking such good care of me.


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let’s start the insanity.

Posted by Tori on Apr 16, 2011 in family.


Change has come! Everything in my life is different now. It’s a lot crazier. I sleep a lot less. I have a lot less time to myself. I drink a lot more caffeine. But, despite all that…it’s so much more fun! I love a lot more. I pray a lot more. I laugh a lot more. I appreciate the little things a lot more.

I am so in love with my three little miracles.

Today, we are traveling…crazy, I know. Earlier this week, we loaded up all the babes and practically everything we own and headed down to Georgia for some much needed time with family and a change of scenery. At first, the thought of all that packing and the logistics of a 5 hour car trip with a 15 month old and two 6 week olds overwhelmed me…but I have an incredible husband. So, it really wasn’t all that hard to organize, and the car ride was actually pleasant. We only stopped once for lunch to feed everyone. Right now, my babes are in excellent hands and I am on my way to Athens with my husband and brother-in-law. We’re going to watch the G-day spring football game. But, really I’m going so that I can enjoy my Starbucks and some adult conversation for a few hours without having to change diapers or wipe noses.

I have learned a lot during the past 6 weeks! I’m probably a different person to some degree…but that’s the way it should be. I am thankful for the ways the Lord rocks my world and refuses to let me get bored with life and continually refines my character. It’s definitely not always easy, nor fun, but extremely worth it. It will take more than one blog post to catch you up and to process all this change, but let’s just begin scratching the surface.

Last weekend, my incredible husband (whom I am nominating for father of the year), volunteered to stay home with our little ones while I attended a ladies’ retreat at church. What a blessing! Not just to get out of the house and spend a few hours with some other women, but also to have a few hours devoted to studying God’s Word with them. One comment that the speaker made was, “You weren’t made to just survive this world; you were made to change it.” Of course we were. But, it was a nice reminder to a mom who hadn’t seen much of the world outside of her own house in what seemed like weeks on end, and who spends most of her time changing dirty diapers and wiping spit up. Even though it sometimes felt like I was just surviving the days staying at home by myself with the kids, it was a great reminder of the purpose God has called me to and just how temporary these days really are.

Aside from my role as a wife to William, being a mother is the greatest role that God has called me to play in life. I do not take it lightly. I love how the Lord uses these roles as a part of the greater calling I have received. I am fully aware that, at any point, these roles can be snatched from me. As long as I am drawing breath, I am to be about His glory and bringing people to Him. This is what my life is to be about and I am so thankful for the ways that my roles as a wife and a mother allow me to accomplish this, along with the other roles and platforms He has given me.

Perspective is a beautiful thing. The Lord is so good. Yes, it’s hard. No, it’s not always pretty. But it is so satisfying to reside in His JOY and trust Him to make something beautiful out of the mess.



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to trust is not to rest.

Posted by Tori on Feb 6, 2011 in a good word.

I have been blessed by the privilege of studying the life of David in Bible study with a group of ladies on Thursday mornings. We are using Beth Moore’s revised study. I cherish those mornings because I know that there won’t be many more like them for a while once my precious girls arrive! I was struck by something Beth mentioned about trust in God, and how it so poignantly related to my life in preparation for these girls.

She quoted Artur Weiser as writing:

“Trust in God IS NOT a place of refuge to which the believer can retreat from the turmoil and the disappointments of the world in order to find there his satisfaction and rest. Trust in God IS a cell of organic life, a power-centre which does not remain in isolation, but cannot help bearing fruit because it feels inwardly constrained to prove its living reality through acts of faith.” (emphasis my own)

This explanation so beautifully captures what it means and what it looks like for a believer to trust God. I think too often we view placing our trust in Him as an inward act or attitude of surrender, and after choosing to trust we tend to want to take our hands off of our circumstances and reside solely in our declaration of trust. We do sometimes see trusting God with a tough situation as a place of refuge or rest from that situation, passively declaring Him “in control” of it. However, that is not biblical trust in God. Scripture calls us to trust in God at all times and with all things, and also tells us that God Himself is our refuge and our rest. Our trust in Him is to bear fruit in our reality. Trust in God is displayed through acts of faith in our circumstance. Our faith is meant to be lived out in our reality! We have life to live. Yes, we pour out our hearts before the Lord and find our refuge and rest in Him, but when we trust Him, we pick ourselves up and face our circumstances with great faith because He is worthy of our trust. We can simultaneously allow our soul to find rest and refuge in Him, while choosing to trust Him in our reality and living out that trust with active faith. All it takes for life-altering victory and freedom in our reality is to come to the place of recognizing that God alone is all we need. He is our portion; He is our provision; He is our sustenance; He is all to us. This may be an incredibly painful place to arrive, but it is a beautiful place to reside.

As for me, I can declare that I trust God to give me the strength I will need and the grace it will require to care for my twins and for Ayden. My soul can find refuge and rest in Him when I so desperately need it, and when the dailiness of life tempts me to become overwhelmed. My trust in Him is displayed as I live my life by faith one day at a time, caring for my children and facing my reality with confidence, knowing that all I need is in Him alone. My trust is not my place of refuge. My God is. My trust is a living, power-center that proves its existence through my faith.

Thanks, Lord, for being everything I need. I am complete and whole and free in you alone. You are my refuge, my rest, and my strength. I will choose to trust you by faith as I live and walk in the purpose you have for me.

Psalm 62

1 My soul waits in silence for God only;
From Him is my salvation.

2 He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken.

3 How long will you assail a man,
That you may murder him, all of you,
Like a leaning wall, like a tottering fence?

4 They have counseled only to thrust him down from his high position;
They delight in falsehood;
They bless with their mouth,
But inwardly they curse. Selah.

5 My soul, wait in silence for God only,
For my hope is from Him.

6 He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold; I shall not be shaken.

7 On God my salvation and my glory rest;
The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God.

8 Trust in Him at all times, O people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah.

9 Men of low degree are only vanity and men of rank are a lie;
In the balances they go up;
They are together lighter than breath.

10 Do not trust in oppression
And do not vainly hope in robbery;
If riches increase, do not set your heart upon them.

11 Once God has spoken;
Twice I have heard this:
That power belongs to God;

12 And lovingkindness is Yours, O Lord,
For You recompense a man according to his work.

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the cost of discipleship.

Posted by Tori on Jan 25, 2011 in a good word.

I’ve begun reading this book by David Platt. At first, I’ll be honest, I didn’t think I would like it. Then, I read the first chapter and my mind was totally changed! I will tell you that I am not finished with it yet, but based on what I have read so far, I highly recommend it. I hope to have it finished before the girls get here…we’ll se how that goes.  🙂

I don’t necessarily mean to comment on the book here, but Platt speaks about a chapter in the Bible that I think it’s important for me to revisit in my own life right now. Luke 9. In Luke 9 we learn so much about our Lord: his character, his ministry, the church, and what He means for a follower of His to look like. It is the last of these that has struck my heart over the last few days. Here’s what the closing verses of the chapter say.

57 As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.”58 And Jesus said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”59 And He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.”60 But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.”61 Another also said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.”62 But Jesus said to him, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Platt breaks down these verses and their implications on the follower of Christ. It almost seems as if Jesus is attempting to talk these fellows out of following him. What He means to show us is that following Him has EXTREME implications. Not just for the men that approached Him that day, or for the 12 men who shared life with Him during His ministry. The implications for us today are just as radical. Too often, we fail to truly grasp this.

The first man told Jesus that he would follow Him wherever He went. How often have we told Jesus that? Here’s what Jesus says to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” While God does promise to provide for us, followers of Christ are not necessarily guaranteed that they will have adequate shelter.

Jesus invited the second man to follow Him. The man told Jesus about his father, and asked if he could bury him first. Startlingly, Jesus replies, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.” Stated even more simply: Don’t take care of your dad’s funeral arrangements or even go to the funeral. There are more important things for you to be doing.

Another man approaches, indicating that he wants to follow Christ after he says goodbye to his family. Jesus responds, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” The decision to follow Jesus requires total, exclusive, and sole devotion to Him.

Platt sums it up:

“Become homeless.

“Let someone else bury your dad.

“Don’t even say goodbye to your family.”

The call to follow Christ has not changed. This is what it looks like to follow Him…then and now.

He doesn’t just require certain believers to follow Him in radical ways. He calls all of us to follow Him radically.

Platt writes, “This is where we come face to face with a dangerous reality. We do have to give up everything we have to follow Jesus. We do have to love him in a way that makes our closest relationships in this world look like hate. And it is entirely possible that he will tell us to sell everything we have and give it to the poor. But we don’t want to believe it. We are afraid of what it might mean for our lives. So we rationalize those passages away. ‘Jesus wouldn’t really tell us not to bury our father or say good-bye to our family. Jesus didn’t literally mean to sell all we have and give it to the poor. What Jesus really meant was…’ And this is where we need to pause. Because we are starting to redefine Christianity.”

So I have to ask myself, “Do I really believe that Jesus is worth losing EVERYTHING for? Do I really believe that HE is so satisfying and so fulfilling that I’m willing to leave everything I have and everything I am to find my fullness in Him? Do I believe Him enough to obey Him and to truly follow Him WHEREVER He leads – even when others in my culture, or even my church, choose a different response?”

I want to know and understand the Gospel in truth, not for what we have manipulated it to mean. I want to see a purpose for my life that transcends the country and culture I live in, and recognize my desperate need for His presence to fulfill that purpose in me. I want to re-evaluate where true security and safety are found in this world, and determine not to waste my life on anything but reckless abandonment to my Savior who invites me to be a part of His work in a radical way and promises radical reward.

Lord, accomplish this work in me. Make my heart like yours. Change my mind. Help me to follow in obedience.

Extravagant Grace

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peace to guard my heart.

Posted by Tori on Jan 21, 2011 in a good word.

This is what i need today. Today is one of those days…I’m tired and I need His peace and rest. I am so thankful for His Word…what a deep and rich treasure.

Philippians 4:6-8

Be anxious for NOTHING, but in EVERYTHING by prayer and supplication with THANKSGIVING let your requests be made known to God.
And the PEACE of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

Lord, let my mind dwell on these things today. Supply your peace to guard my heart and mind. All my heart is yours today…every last ounce of it. Thank you for your indelible grace!


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