Thursday, October 1, 2015

Dysautonomia Awareness Month!!!


As many of you know, I have a disease called Dysautonomia.
Well, every October is National Dysautonomia Awareness month. During this month, I and others with forms of Dysautonomia attempt to raise awareness to this rarely diagnosed disease. Dysautonomia is the umbrella term for diseases that affect the Autonomic Nervous System such as POTS, EDS, NMS and PAF.
This October, my friend Alexa and I decided to take things into our own hands and host a day of awareness as a part of the Dysautonomia International Foundation, calling it Noise for Turquoise! During the month of October, we will be sharing posts with information regarding the disease and are encouraging friends and family to add some Turquoise Noise to their profile pictures and cover photos on Facebook!
How can you get involved?
The 15th of October, wear a turquoise or a shade of blue, post a picture of yourself wearing your blue and use #NoiseforTurquoise!! 
If you want more information, check out  Dysautonomia International or visit the Contact Me page and shoot me an email!
Cant wait to see you in your blue!!!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Life Lately: August and September

Does anyone else feel like the days are just flying by? 
Throughout the end of Summer and the beginning of Fall, my life went through some crazy changes and I cannot wait to share my adventures with you. 
Dylan ended up taking a position as Assistant Cross Country Coach for the fall about 4 hours away, which has been so growing and challenging for us as a couple as we move forward in our relationship. Nothing makes me more excited than our nightly phone calls and short weekend visits. It has truly taught me to be thankful for what I have, though I still get greedy and want more time with him. 
As you can see in the princess picture, I have started working for a company called Once Upon a Dream Parties and absolutely love it! We throw parties and are available for princess appearances in the Upstate of South Carolina. Talk about a dream come true, right?

As August ended, we entered my favorite season of all, FOOTBALL SEASON! I think it is a requirement of any South Carolinian girl to be a diehard football fan, and in my house, we yell GO TIGERS! Luckily my closest friends do too! Besides watching Clemson destroy their opponent, my favorite part is getting to catch up with my fellow Tigers.
Finally, the absolute best part of August/September was starting class in an actual classroom! Achieving my goal of becoming an RN is now so much easier with actual teachers instead of online programs. Can I get a "Yay!" for college?
How has the beginning of your fall been? I can't wait to hear!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Life Lately: Summer

My summer was probably one of the craziest, most emotional and most growing summers of my life, but hey, I probably say that about every season!

As all of you know, I struggle with some severe neuropathy called 
Dysautonomia that sometimes interferes with my life, and this summer was no exception. At times, I felt great, better than every, but the crashes were harder than ever. That was the biggest reason for my absence this summer. 

On to lighter things, the highlights of my summer were incredible! I went to Disney World with my dance studio, Edisto Island with one of my best friends and spent the majority of the summer making wonderful memories with my boyfriend of 6 months!

But enough of me talking, here are my favorite pictures of the summer!

Hope your summer was equally as fantastic and adventurous.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Life Lately: March

How is it that another month has already passed? 
I honestly feel as if I was just writing my Life Lately: February.
If you have been keeping up with the craziness of my life, you will know I had some pretty major events in March! I can't wait to tell you all about them!

  1. I traveled across the Atlantic Ocean to Madrid, Spain to be the light is some dark places. If you want to read more about the incredible time I had there, click here!
  2. The weekend after I returned home from Spain, I was the 11th/12th Grade ladies leader for D-Now. If you ever have the opportunity to be a part of student ministry through volunteering for trips or leading a small group, I would so encourage you to do it!
  3. After being away for 7 months, I finally got to see and go on vacation with my brother! Chase has officially left the Navy and is moving on to new exciting adventures, and I am so glad we had the opportunity to spend some time together.
Life is so incredibly busy, but I have been so incredibly blessed through this season! 

How was your March?

Hoping your April is fantastic.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Pick-Me-Up: Cute Chipmunk

Because I love animals and this is precious!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

From Spain, With Love

Seeing as I have been home from Spain for 10 days now, I am overdue for an update post about my trip!
Our main goal while in Spain was to hold an English camp for the children in Parla, a smaller town in the southern part of Madrid, to help our partners create contacts and friendships in that area. Most of us spoke little to no Spanish and they spoke little to no English, so you can imagine the chaos that ensued. As the week went on, communication became easier and the for the children love grew deeper and after a week, the thought of going back to the states filled us with more sadness that joy. 
Towards the final days of the trip as exhaustion- both physical and emotional-set in, I was reminded of a verse in 2 Timothy.
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time for my departure is close. 
While this verse discussed Paul reaching the end of his life, our team found it easy to relate as we all felt we had been poured out ourselves. Coming home from Spain we were able to say that we had given the trip, our camp and the people all the time, effort and love we possessed.

I could go on and on about this trip and what it meant to me, but I figured you all would like to see some pictures too.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Reclaiming Insecurities

We all have them.
I can guarantee that as soon as you read that word, a list began to form in your mind. 
Teeth with stains from childhood medical issues. A soft stomach. A nose with a big bump instead of a nice slope. Thighs and hips double- maybe triple the size seen in magazines.
Those are just a few of mine. Trust me, the list could go on and on. 
I have never been confident in my looks. The comparison game? I was a pro. I would instantly break down my body and score it against the world's standards.  

We live in a world of airbrushed beauties, size zero models and every other commercial on the television is advertising makeup to cover every imperfection and cream to lift every wrinkle. It is so stinking easy to be negative and pick a part our flaws and insecurities, but it doesn't have to be that way. 
It's not easy, but when you start to accept your so-called flaws, you begin to realize that they are special. 
Those imperfections are you. Embrace it. Each quirk is what makes you unique. 
Be an example for young girls who are constantly weighing themselves. Be an example for ladies your own age debating nose and boob jobs. Heck! Be an example for me when I hate my legs and I'll be an example for you when you hate your smile. 
Because I love your smile. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Love Story pt.4

              Unlike many Christians that I meet, I didn’t grow up in the Church. I remember going to Sunday School a few times, but it wasn’t a priority. But I guess it starts my love story with Christ. How God was constantly trying to pull me to Him: slowly melting and softening my heart to Him. He knew that there would be little success in an instant conversion in the long term, but the more I grow in my faith and see how He was always making a path for me to Him, the more I know that my faith will never waver.

                I was intreeged with Christ through most of high school. I went to Christian concerts with friends and tried to attend a few youth group activities, but nothing ever seemed to stick. I would always find some kind of crack in what people were telling me: Tell God your problems and He will fix them, BUSTED. Follow Christ and your life will get better, BUSTED. Nothing I was being told was matching up to real life. As far as I was concerned, something was obviously very wrong with this whole process.

                But maybe it was a blessing. I was brought to Christ, not through Christian activities, but through my future husband.

                I had started hanging out with a bunch of Drama club kids, which all happened to be Christians. We all hung out a decent proportion of the time. There was one guy who always seemed to be hosting Disney parties, Smash Bros tournaments, and the biggest flirt of them all. At first, he was in the background of my attnetions. Eventually, we became closer friends and I started hearing more about his convictions. This guy was Simeon. He was pretty open with his Christianity and I’ll admit to blowing it off at first. His words did nothing more but slip over my head until I started taking an interest in listening to him.

                At the end of my Junior year, it had become painfully obvious that Simeon and I both really liked each other.  We had gone to Prom together and no one could doubt that we liked each other. There were a couple problems. Simeon had already declared that he wasn’t going to date in college and there was no way that he would ever date a non-Christian. So we entered into talks to figure out what we were going to do from there. Simeon started off very firm on his declarations until we realized that there were really only two options: break his declarations or not be friends any more. That’s when Simeon decided to start telling me about his Savior.

                I started listening to Simeon tell me more and more God and Christ. Eventually, Simeon broke down his barriers, shoved his face in a pillow, and asked me to be his girlfriend, while breaking both of his rules. I wasn’t a Christian yet, but I was listening. I was understanding. Things were finally connecting. I pulled the bible I had received years ago out of a box and started trying to read bits and pieces. I started in the most obvious place to start a book: at the beginning. Wrongo. Not a good idea for someone trying to figure that all out. I started going to youth group and church on the regular. I even signed up to go to the bible camp that my friends had been going to for years.

                This bible camp would be the thing that changed my life. I went thinking it would be incredibly fun and that was about it. But I learned oh so much from the wonderful speakers and teachers at this camp. EVERYTHING started clicking. EVERYTHING started connecting. All of a sudden EVERYTHING fell into place for me and I was suddenly overwhelmed this Christ and His love for me. A love that I had been running and running from. I suddenly got to turn around and accept all the love that I had been running from.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Dear 19

Today I am turning 20, and in honor of this birthday, I am writing to myself at 19.

Dear Tori,

You haven't started transitioning over to calling yourself Victoria yet, but you will soon. It will confuse people. Especially with your full name on Facebook. Some people will even call you Ashley.

But that's beside the point.

You're barely 19 and just spent the morning celebrating with friends. It's your last year of being a teenager and that is certainly something to celebrate. But before the year ends, there will be so many times of doubt and excitement, tears cried and lessons learned.

This coming year will push you and stretch you in ways you never thought possible. It's true that most days you will feel like giving up, but trust me, it's so not worth it. Because when you power through you will find the hidden strength you never knew you had. Hold tightly to that strength, for not many have it.

You are so strong, Tori. So incredibly strong. And though not everyone will see it, it's true. Your friends and family will always be there to remind you of that.

Cherish your friends and try not to push them back the way you tend to do. It's okay to be vulnerable. You will learn that this year. Vulnerability is a beautiful thing, not ugly. And it will draw others to you when you take the courage to share your story.

Allow God to use your heart and shape your story to His will. He is writing you the most beautiful story, but you might not see it yet.

Never let this world get to you. For you are in the world, but not of it.

Take chances, because even if you fail, it is okay to fail sometimes.

Trust your instincts but always turn to the Father.

Learn to love and let others love you.

I promise you will not regret it.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Elizabeth Loves Blogs

In case you haven't noticed, my blog has been completely updated thanks to Elizabeth at Elizabeth Loves Design!
 I could go on for days about how amazing my experience working with her was! From my multiple emails over which picture I should use, my being picky over colors and designs, my constant second guessing each decision we made, she never let on if I was irritating her and always knew exactly how to ease my panic. She took a pinterest board and turned it into my dream blog design and incorporated everything I asked for! Her prices are super reasonable too which is a huge bonus. 
If you are ready to give your Blogger blog a face lift or need some branding, please please check her out! 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Pick-Me-Up: Heroes

I found this today and just loved it! Go be a hero today!

Love Story pt. 3

What is Love?

To begin any tale of love, it is first important to define love. What is it that we are speaking about? You see, it is important to consider and to wonder where you have gotten your definition of love. Here are some possible places you might have been taught about "love":
  1. Your parent's relationship.
  2. The legacy of a grandparent's relationship.
  3. Your first friend in middle school or high school who claimed they were "in love".
  4. A movie
  5. A TV show...such as the Bachelor
  6. A book
  7. Music
  8. A wedding
You get the picture. There are lots of places that the word "love" gets thrown around. Now the counselor in me is going to really come out. Can you remember a time when "love" was intentionally explained to you? When a definition was clearly given, and you were given the opportunity to ask questions? If your answer is yes, then please consider yourself blessed. If your answer is no, then this post is for you. My name is Terrence and I know Jesus, am 25-years-old, married to an incredible Godly man, mother to a beautiful baby-girl, and still sometimes wondering if I really truly completely know what love is.

the bachelor repurposed blog series
  This year I committed to writing a blog series about the TV show, "The Bachelor". Some people probably wondered what a Christian girl whose husband is studying theology in seminary was doing writing about a show like The Bachelor. Sometimes I wondered myself. But the truth is that I am severely concerned for the well-being of young women, and part of what I am concerned with is what they are mistaking as love. I wanted to write so that maybe one girl...maybe just one...would realize from my writing that what she is seeing on TV is not love, it's lust. And then, just one week in to the season, a couple from a past season breaks up. Ends their engagement. My point is proven. My mission sealed. A Bachelor couple who had claimed "love" multiple times in front of millions of young, impressionable girls, called it quits. It really got me thinking: That's not true love. So what is? So I turned to the Bible:
Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, Doesn’t have a swelled head, Doesn’t force itself on others, Isn’t always “me first,” Doesn’t fly off the handle, Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, Doesn’t revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end. -1 Corinthians 13, MSG
Is that how you think of love? I think that most of us, Christian or not, would read that list and agree with it. But where most of us run into trouble, however, is that we add things to the list. Like..."love always makes me happy." Or, "love agrees with everything I do." No: "Love puts up with anything", even the things that make you unhappy. And: "Love takes pleasure in the flowering of truth". You can see now how your definition of love may have been clouded. Where the truth may have been choked out. You see, as I said earlier, this post is not for the blessed few whose parents knew love and taught them. This story, this love story, is for the unchurched. It's for the girls (or boys) who grew up with little guidance from the One above. Who, no matter how strict or loving their parents were, still felt confusion on their journey to find love and marriage. This story is for you.

  It was the quest for true love that drove me into the arms of my Savior. And for the first 3/4ths of my life, I was deathly confused. You see, I watched all the TV shows, I'd seen all of the movies, I'd listen to the songs like "Love Story." I'd heard the word "love" used freely since I could remember. I'd even heard the words "I love you" from people who seriously hurt me. When it came to love, I was one confused little girl. And then I became a confused woman, and things got dangerous and real. And one day I ended up in a risky, near-death situation all in the name of what I thought at the time was "love". And I sat in the waiting room at the medical clinic and I had a thought that I knew was not my own. It was strange...I could not remember this kind of thought ever happening to me before. The strange still small voice said "you don't know what love is." Rebellious me brushed it off as I waited and counted the thought as ridiculous. But that didn't change the fact that the Thought was right. But God wouldn't let me go. He loved me. He didn't care what I thought about the truth.


Then the nurse brought me back and she went through her routine and in the midst of it--In the scary midst of life or death--I opened my mind to the thought from the waiting room and as God moved I turned and looked at the nurse and interrupted to say, "excuse me, ma'am, but I don't think I know what love is." She looked at me and with a gentle Christ-like smile she said "You can start with this simple truth: Love always protects." It was from the Bible. And there it started. After I left the clinic that day I left my old life behind. I got into the Bible and I joined a Christian Church. I gave my heart to Christ. I look back and I see how much God protected me from all of the reckless things I did on my search for love. There is no other possible explanation for why I am where I am today except that the almighty hands were holding me, loving me and thus protecting me. My love story did not go the way that I thought it would: it went better. It was a not a prince charming who saved me and made my life complete. It was God. HE is THE prince charming. Only Jesus can get the glory.



 It amazes me daily where God has brought me. From that time in the medical clinic to now...with a beautiful family and wonderful life. I'm deeply grateful for the moments comforted in the powerful arms of husband with whom God blessed me. But make no mistake: that is not the ultimate kind of love. It was recently, as I read through a children's Bible with my precious daughter that I came across this. I will leave you with it. And with a prayer. A prayer that you will come to know love...His love. And as Ephesians 1 say: "that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.":
Now, some people think the Bible is a book of rules, telling you what you should and shouldn't do. The Bible certainly does have some rules in it. They show you how life works best. But the Bible isn't mainly about you and what you should be doing. It's about God and what he has done. Other people think the Bible is a book of heroes, showing you people you should copy. The Bible does have some heroes in it, but (as you'll soon find out) most of the people in the Bible aren't heroes at all. They make some big mistakes (sometimes on purpose). They get afraid and run away. At time they are downright mean. No, the Bible isn't a book of rules, or a book of heroes. The Bible is most of all a story. It's an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure. It's a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne -- everything -- to rescue the one he loves. It's like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life! You see, the best thing about this Story is -- it's true. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Pick-Me-Up: I Feel Pretty

I've got so much homework to do, I am supposed to meet friends for dinner and I have been going back and forth with my insurance company and doctor's office ALL day trying to get my new Dysautonomia trial started up. I am tired, feel gross, have no desire to put on real clothes, and just want to cry.

Today has just stunk.


My dear friend who knows my love for excellent song covers sent me this video and it completely lifted my spirits.
Here's hoping you feel pretty today!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Grace in Weakness

I hate the word "weak". Especially in relation to me. I just hate it. But recently, I have realized that weak is a good word to describe myself.

Now before you go off on me for talking down about myself and anything else you want to say hear me out.

I have a disease with no cure.
My body uses double the energy for everyday activities as a healthy person.
I can't drive.
I struggle in college with a lighter load than most of my peers.
Some days I can't even get out of bed.
I cry almost every other day.
I am always at my doctor's office for tests and visits. 

By the world's standards, I am weak. In survival of the fittest, I would not make the cut. 
That's not me feeling sorry for myself, it's the honest truth. 

And that used to drive me INSANE. Regardless of my situation, I wanted to be seen as powerful, capable, strong. 

I selfishly prayed to the Father to take away my problems, for a healing. Not so that He would be glorified, but that I would be. 

But recently this verse has been popping up everywhere. And I mean everywhere. 

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 CEV
"Three times I begged the Lord to make this suffering go away. But he replied, “My gift of undeserved grace is all you need. My power is strongest when you are weak.” So if Christ keeps giving me his power, I will gladly brag about how weak I am. Yes, I am glad to be weak or insulted or mistreated or to have troubles and sufferings, if it is for Christ. Because when I am weak, I am strong."
His grace is made perfect in my weakness.

His grace is made PERFECT in my weakness.

It could be through my worldly weakness, He is making His grace known to others.

And if the Father wants to use my life as a vessel to make His grace evident, then I am honored to be weak.

Does this knowledge make my struggle any easier?

Does knowing that the Father is using my struggles to bring others to Himself make it worth it? 
Yes. Always. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Adventures in DC

For those of you who didn't know, I spent the first week of January in Alexandria, Virginia which is a suburban area surrounding Washington, DC.

It was INCREDIBLE, but didn't start that way.

Rewind to January 1st, around 11 pm and you would find me in my mother's room crying, asking if it was too late to change my mind about the trip. I was physically hurting and doubting my body's ability to make it through a full week in the cold of the North. Mind you, three of my best friends are in the next room sleeping away, completely stoked about the adventure planned for the next morning.

Against my doubts, I was dressed, ready and in the van Thursday morning on my way to DC. The day of driving passed slowly as we inched north towards upper Virginia. When we finally made it to our new "home", the excitement of the week finally set in.

When we were finally settled in, we were given the story of the church building and how we came to be a part of this project.

The church Woodlawn Baptist had been dying for a long time and when it made the way down to the final members. the decision to gift it to a local church plant project was made.

Enter Pastor Brian.

Brian Collison was a father, Army Reserve and student in South Eastern Seminary when the Father called him to be a church planter. His number in the Army was called up and he and his family were uprooted and moved to DC where he would be a part of a security detail for important members of government. During his time in DC, Brian began going to Pillar Church where the Father made it clear his plan was for Brian and his family to begin a church close to the local military base, Fort Belvoir.

Our job was simple. Woodlawn Baptist gave the building to the Collisons as is. All of their junk and stuff left in it's place. It was our job to clear our the building, organize all of the stuff left from the former church, paint walls and basically give the building a fresh start.

The days of organization and painting passed with friendships blossoming right and left. 22 girls in one small room in an upper, cold room of the church made sure of that. There were times, because of a leak, that we went without water, but there were never any complaints. Our group came together and performed our mission; to serve wholeheartedly.

While we worked hard, we also played hard. Our third day in the area, we spent a few hours in the National Mall taking pictures of monuments and playing the part of perfect tourists. Our nights were filled with Mafia (a classic of the Loft), Jenga, Assassin, Phase 10 and as many games of cards as we could handle.

I couldn't have imagined a better group of people to work, serve and do life with.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

...Hello 2015!

To get the new year started right, I will be going to DC on a mission trip with my college group!
So, you won't be hearing from me until the 7th with the queued first installment of Love Story and then the 9th, I will be back to a regular blogging schedule!

Enjoy your new year!