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.