we serve a king & a kingdom.

Posted by Tori on Nov 5, 2012 in a good word., video.

I usually choose to remain silent during election season, and times when political issues are extremely popular. I haven’t always been that way, but I think I have learned the wisdom in keeping my mouth shut if I don’t have anything beneficial to add to the dialogue. Ephesians 4:29 says: “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” (NASB, emphasis my own) So, that is my sole intention here: to edify according to the need of the moment so that it will give grace to those to hear.

I was greatly blessed by a blog post I read here yesterday. The entire article is excellent, definitely worth the read, but this portion is what resonated most with me:

My husband and I had dinner with my parents the other night, and we got to talking about how God enters our messy stories and does big things with small people. The genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1 is quite the cast of characters, full of scandal and rebellion and deception and intrigue as bad or worse than any we’ve seen in modern day America. Then my dad pointed out something about the story of Ruth.

Have you ever noticed where in Israel’s history the story of Ruth and Boaz takes place? It’s in the middle of the book of Judges, when Israel is making a bloody mess and clamoring for a king to fix it all. (Sound familiar? It does to me!) The big picture is dismal, tragic, and chaotic. But in a tiny town named Bethlehem, one righteous man and one foreigner who chooses to follow Jehovah come together, and they are the great great grandparents of King David, who is in Jesus’ lineage. I love this story. This is what God specializes in – working big things out of small people doing the right thing in a small place, out of the limelight and ignored by everyone of consequence. Stories like this give me hope in the face of the ugliness, the increasing bitterness, and the chaos in our country.

How true is that?! The big picture is that, as followers of the Way, His kingdom is what we are living for. Rulers and leaders come and go. Some good, some bad. All ordained and permitted by His good, sovereign hand. All of them. The ones we just don’t like. The cruel, wicked, murderous ones. The godly ones.

So, what is our response?

  • We live before our God & our neighbor with integrity, love, & grace. We follow Christ & He does the work to advance His kingdom. One that cannot be shaken or overcome. One that is eternal and perfect.
  • In case I have to say it: Yes, vote. Yes, take full advantage of the freedoms & blessings we enjoy in this country. But remember what’s really important. Remember that we are not the center of this planet & that America is not called to be His ambassador. I am. And you are.
  • Remember what His Word has to say about governments & authorities. Romans 13.
  • Remember Ephesians 4:29 & Philippians 2:12-18. The godly response is never to complain. That’s not okay.
  • Remember to intercede for your leaders. Even before you know who they are today. I don’t know if any of you follow Beth Moore’s blog, but on Monday, she asked her readers to pray Scripture over our next President before we know who he is. If you’re not sure where to start, she suggests thinking about how you would want people to pray if your husband were elected President on Tuesday.

 

And that’s about all I have to say. I’m trusting Him & PRAISING that He works BIG things out of small people who are committed to follow Him.

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november is here!

Posted by Tori on Nov 2, 2012 in coffee, family.

Happy November! I am so excited that this month is here. It is filled with so many of my favorite things: frequent and spontaneous trips to Starbucks, watching football with my man, colder weather, and warm, yummy dinners with family. What are your favorites about November?

This year I have been reflecting a lot about how and where I spend the short hours of my day that I’m given. I have come to see that they are not always spent on the right stuff or with the right attitude. I have come to see that where I spend my time reflects what is really meaningful and important to me; not necessarily what I want to be the most important to me. So, I am asking and inviting Him to make some changes. One of those is in the area of generosity and hospitality. I want to SEE other people – their needs, desires, struggles – and invite them in. Give freely and joyfully as a instinctive response to others. I want to use my home as a place where friends and family are welcomed and loved lavishly. So, there’s never been a more perfect time than now. Lord, change my heart and allow me to reflect your generosity and grace. I want to be about what you’re about – nothing more, nothing less.

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sticky buns!!

Posted by Tori on Oct 29, 2012 in recipes.

I don’t know about you, but this time of year I love to bake. Yesterday, I attempted homemade sticky buns for the first time, and it was a success!! So, I thought I would share the recipe with you. I’ll admit, I was a little bit intimidated by the amount of time and work that is involved in these. Mainly because I have 3 little ones and it’s difficult for me to be in the kitchen that long, but this recipe was actually really simple. I hope you’ll try them out for your family this holiday season!!

Sticky Buns:

Dough:

  • 1/4 cup warm water (105° to 115°)
  • 1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 to 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

Filling:

  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter

Topping:

  • 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 3 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 Tbsp. light corn syrup
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Method

1 Begin with the dough. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine warm water, yeast and 1 tsp. sugar. Stir to dissolve and let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes.

Add milk, butter, remaining sugar, egg yolks, salt and 3 cups flour. Mix on low speed until blended. Switch to a dough hook and then, again on low speed, slowly incorporate the remaining 1 cup of flour. Increase speed to medium, kneading dough until smooth and slightly sticky (adding a little more flour if too wet), 3 to 5 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a large, buttered bowl. Turn dough over in bowl to coat with the butter from the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour (or 2 hours if not in an entirely warm place). After the dough has risen, punch down. Turn out onto a lightly floured cutting board and let sit 20 minutes.

2 For the filling: Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Melt butter; keep separate.

3 Roll dough out into a 12″ x 18″ rectangle. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Starting with the long side, roll dough into a cylinder. Place seam side down on a flat surface and cut crosswise into 15 slices.

4 For the topping: In a 1-quart saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter, honey and corn syrup over low heat; stir until sugar and butter are melted. Pour mixture into a greased 9″ x 13″ pan and sprinkle pecans on top.

5 Place dough slices, flat side down, on top of prepared topping. Crowd them so they touch. Cover with plastic wrap, leaving room for the buns to rise, and refrigerate overnight.

6 Remove the rolls from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature while the oven pre-heats. Preheat oven to 375°. Bake buns until golden, about 30 minutes. Remove pan from oven and immediately (and carefully!) invert onto a serving tray or baking dish. Let buns cool slightly and serve warm.

Enjoy!

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whatever you do.

Posted by Tori on Oct 25, 2012 in a good word., family.

I feel like this is a recurring theme for me. The tension and the struggle to balance all of my roles and responsibilities with excellence and integrity. How do I do it all? And do it all well? It’s exhausting to tell you the truth! The reason it’s something I talk about on the blog so much is because a) I don’t have it down. I’m still learning to surrender and trust. He’s still teaching me to walk in grace. b) I have a feeling you don’t have it down either. And that He’s still growing you too. c) We need encouragement. We need each other and we need to remember His Word together.

What is it that He’s called you to be about during this season of life? I think it’s important to ask for His perspective so we can embrace the season we’re in. At times this is easy, and at others it’s easier said than done. We are so tempted to long for a season that’s passed, or look to one that’s to come. But, the truth is that He has placed us here right now for something specific and important. Sometimes that’s clear. Sometimes it’s not so obvious to us.

That’s ok. Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men…” (NASB)

There is grace when I fail and when I forget. It’s when His Spirit becomes my sufficiency & when my identity is rooted solely in Christ and His finished work on the cross, rather than in my competency or my responsibilities that I am most satisfied (& productive) and He is most honored. So, be encouraged, sisters. We are in this together. We all have influence, we all have roles and responsibilities & we all mess up sometimes. But, He is our constant & the reason we’re breathing in the first place. Lord, help me make the most of this season for the sake of your kingdom.

 

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it’s time!

Posted by Tori on Oct 18, 2012 in thankful heart., video.

This weekend, my sweet friend, Carrie, is getting married! I could not be more excited or happy for her if she was my own sister. She is one of my dearest friends. We shared life together in college and she has continued to be there for me through all that has changed since those days. I am so honored that she asked me to be a part of her ceremony. I cannot wait to stand with her and for her. There’s something about a wedding that I just love. The weight of that moment when Heaven meets earth and the Lord unites two to make one. It’s such a beautiful picture of His Gospel. I ask the Lord’s most abundant blessings on Carrie & Stephen. I know their life together won’t always be happy or easy, but I pray that, regardless, they will always grasp His goodness in any circumstance and learn to dance to the tune of His heart. I pray that their marriage will produce incredible fruit for the Kingdom. So…here’s to you, Carrie. I love you more than you know. Can’t wait for all that’s ahead.

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breathe deep.

Posted by Tori on Oct 9, 2012 in family.

Well, it’s the time of evening in our home where the kids are all tucked into their beds and mom can finally take a deep breath and get some things done just for me. This week has been really different around here. On Sunday, William flew to NYC for a training class. He won’t be back in Charleston until next Sunday. First of all, we have never been apart from one another that long since we’ve been married…let alone me being by myself with my little ones for that long! But, the Lord has been gracious and we have been having a great time so far. I have found myself ironically with more time on my hands to to spend reading, studying Scripture, and just being quiet. I realized that far too often, I am just rushing through life with my family – trying to get the laundry done, the meals cooked, people bathed and put to bed – that I don’t stop long enough to really drink in these fleeting moments. (Or when I do stop, I am just so tired that I pass out.) I find that in these last few days I have been more intentional in savoring the simple moments. They are not mundane at all. They are like building blocks laying the foundation for a lifetime of relationship with my children and building memories that they will carry and will ultimately shape their perspectives. They are such a gift to me. I hope that when William comes home and our family returns to a sense of “normalcy” (whatever that is) that I will continually choose to savor these sweet moments, rather than just rushing onto the next thing. I am so thankful that the Lord has turned a week that I absolutely dreaded into one that has been refreshing and encouraging.

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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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worship wednesday. i belong.

Posted by Tori on Aug 29, 2012 in a good word., video., worship wednesday.

Hi friends! I wanted to share this familiar, sweet song with you today. It has really ministered to my heart this morning and I pray that it will to yours too. Personally, the past few hours have been rough on my heart. This song reminds me of the truth – that no trouble, now or ever – can take me from the grip of His love. I belong to Him. My life is bundled in His hand and nothing can change that. Wow! Such a simple, yet profound truth that can completely transform my attitude and the way I view my circumstances. Thanks, Lord, that I am yours. This truth remains forever.

How is He encouraging your heart and leading you to worship today? I would love for you to link up and share with us. Grab a button for your blog and join in!

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worship wednesday. mighty fortress.

Posted by Tori on Aug 22, 2012 in a good word., video., worship wednesday.

Welcome back to Worship Wednesday! I pray that your hearts are encouraged and blessed as we worship Him together today. He is so worthy.

Today, I have been so blessed  by this reminder of exactly who our God is. This is the one we serve and worship. The one who has ransomed and redeemed us. I was reading Job 26 when Job describes the mystery and power of our Lord. He says:

“He stretches out the north over empty space
And hangs the earth on nothing.

He wraps up the waters in His clouds,
And the cloud does not burst under them.

He obscures the face of the full moon
And spreads His cloud over it.

He has inscribed a circle on the surface of the waters
At the boundary of light and darkness.

The pillars of heaven tremble
And are amazed at His rebuke.

He stirs up the sea with His power,
And by His understanding He breaks up the storm.

By His breath the heavens are cleared;
His hand has pierced the fleeing serpent.

Behold, these are the fringes of His ways;
And how faint a word we hear of Him!
But His mighty thunder, who can understand?”

He is a very BIG God – how easily I forget. We have only glimpsed the fringes of His ways. Lord, we worship you in this moment, surrendering our hearts & minds to you. You are the reason we’re alive. May everything we do honor you.

Tiffany & I would love to read how you’re worshiping Him today. You are such blessing to us. Please link up below and grab a button for your blog from the sidebar!

 

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a birchbox review. august 2012.

Posted by Tori on Aug 21, 2012 in beauty

Hello ladies! It’s time for the August Birchbox review. I absolutely love getting these boxes and reviewing the products! If you are not familiar with Birchbox, you can check them out here. Here’s 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! For more information, or to subscribe click here.

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Here’s what came in my box this month. As much as I adore Birchbox, this month was slightly disappointing compared to the boxes I’ve received in the past. But…it was still a lot of fun. 🙂

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Schick | Hydro Silk Razor: The latest Birchbox Find. It’s added to your normal box as a special find intended to benefit your daily beauty routine. It’s affordable, and is supposed to help make your life happier and easier. I loved the razor. It wasn’t much different from what I normally use. It delivers a smooth, close shave and does a good job keeping your skin moisturized for several hours after you shave. The moisturizing serum was my favorite part about this razor. I’m still using it – so I must like it 😉 It retails for $9.99 and you can pick it up pretty much anywhere.

Yu-Be | Moisturizing Skin Cream: This is a skin cream that has stood the test of time. It’s been around over 50 years and is meant to add much-needed moisture to your troubled areas (chapped lips, elbows, heels, cuticles, etc.). It works great and is very gentle. Definitely does what it says it does and won’t leave your skin feeling greasy. The full-size product retails for $16. Great find.

Juicy Couture | Viva la Juicy La Fleur: LOVE this fragrance. And apparently so do a lot of other people since it’s currently backordered on Birchbox. Layered with of the original version of the scent’s fruity notes are hints of honeysuckle, gardenia, and jasmine. It is a great sheer perfume that has quickly become one of my favorites. The full-sized product comes in a glass keepsake bottle with a pink ribbon and retails for $70.

Pixi | Beauty Lip & Line: I was impressed that Birchbox included a full-size product in the box. Good job, guys! Always love a bigger sample! I really liked the shade they sent too and love wearing it. On one end, you have a waterproof lip liner, and on the other, you have your coordinating lipstick. The product retails for $16, which I think it a bit of a joke since you can find this at Target for around $5. But, it is great and I’m glad it was included in the box.

Last, but not least, I have a confession. I have not actually tried the last product in the box yet, but I have a feeling I will love it. It’s Miss Jessie’s | Original Stretch Silkening Creme. In Birchbox’s own words:

“The curly-hair experts at Miss Jessie’s® continue to impress us with their problem-solving, hair-maximizing products. Their latest formula helps curls look their best by adding volume while boosting shine. It loosens and lengthens tightly wound curls without weighing hair down. It’s great for the full spectrum of curly textures, from kinky coils to tight ringlets. This curl-enhancing cream stretches out each follicle for looser curls while adding volume and shine. Hydrolyzed wheat proteins and wheat amino acids fortify hair, while a team of moisturizing oils including coconut, jojoba, avocado, and olive add silkiness and softness.”

Sounds like a winner, but I’ll have to let you know once I try it.

So, there you have it. Another box of happiness delivered to my door courtesy of Birchbox. I’d love for you to subscribe and enjoy Birchbox with me!

~Tori

 

 

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