Friday, August 27, 2010

It's Very Beautiful

Here in America, I think we forget the power of the Gospel. We've heard it so many times, in so many different places that we forget what a moving, incredible story it is.

In Peru, our main goal was not to feed the children, not to care for orphans, but to bring the gospel to the people of Comas.

Truthfully, I wasn't really looking forward to street evangelizing. It made me nervous. In America, you didn't just go up to someone and tell them about the Gospel - they'd think you were a weirdo. Was it any different in Peru?

On one of the days we street evangelized, me and a few friends went up to these two little boys with a translator. Our mission - tell them that Jesus loves them.

We started like always. Giving them a gospel bracelet, and asking them if we could tell them what the bracelets meant. Then we started the story.

In the beginning, God created the world. He created it perfectly. And he created us to have a perfect relationship with Him. But, we sinned. And sin could be anything that we do bad - stealing, lying, cheating. Because we sinned, we could no longer have that perfect relationship with God.
But, God loves us SO MUCH that he sent His son, Jesus, to die on a cross for our sins. So that if we believe in Jesus, He can forgive all of our sins, and we can have that perfect relationship with Him again.
And once you accept Jesus into your heart, God comes to live inside you as the Holy Spirit. It helps you make good decisions, and choose between right and wrong. When you accept Jesus, you want to know EVERYTHING you can about Him, so you learn more about Him by going to church, or reading your Bible, or praying. And then, when we die, and leave our bodies here, if we've accepted Jesus, we get to live FOREVER with God in Heaven. Heaven is a perfect place, where there will be NO PAIN and NO SADNESS. We'll be happy forever!

Then we asked the boys if this made sense to them. They nodded and seemed enthusiastic. One boy in particular was smiling, and he had a bright glow in his eyes. He looked at us and said, "Muy bonita." Very beautiful.

We prayed with them and they asked Jesus into their hearts. They wanted to go home and tell their families. Before they left we asked them, "Have you ever heard this story before?"

The little boy shook his head. No.

Those little boys had never, in their entire life, heard the story of Jesus. In America, we soften the meaning of God's Word. We don't get excited about it like those little boys did. God's Word is GOD. The Bible is God's way of talking to us. We take that far too lightly here. It's time we start looking at God's Word like those little boys - full of wonder and excitement.

Let's get excited about what God has to teach us!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


That's how I feel here in America. Absolutely useless.

In Peru, for the first time in my life, I was living out God's Word all day, every day. I got a taste of what (I think) God has called me to do - love on kids with special needs in third world countries.

So, when I came back, I wasn't used to how slow things would be. Day after day, things moved like sludge. Moving, but barely. I was ready to run at the speed of light, ready to go, go GO!

But God wasn't. Sometimes it's best for us to slow down. As useless as it feels when I'm not in an orphanage, God has a purpose for me everywhere. My problem is that I want to do something big. REALLY big. Something that will change the world. But, sometimes it's the small things that matter the most. Saying "hey" to the new kid at school, reaching out to your little brother or sister, doing your chores without your parents asking you to. God loves it when we do that kind of stuff just as much as he likes us starting orphanages and street evangelizing.

Maybe God has something "big" planned, but maybe not. Maybe it's my job to do the small things, and treat them like big things. God certainly doesn't think I'm useless when I play on the floor with Levi, or when I unload the dishwasher, or when I pray with a friend. And neither should I.

I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.
          -- Helen Keller

Saturday, August 21, 2010


I don't like waiting. Never have.

I love Christmas, hate having to wait all year for it.

I love school, hate having to wait all summer for it.

I love summer, hate having to wait the whole school year for it.

I love Evan, hate all this pointless waiting when, really, they aren't gonna do anything better with her.

Most of all, I hate waiting for God to tell me what He wants me to do with my life. I know He wants me to work with special needs kids, but I have so many questions. When? Where? Will I go to college? If so, what for?

I hate waiting for answers to these questions. But, when I finally got the answer, it wasn't the one I was looking for.

You don't need to know that yet.

Maybe I don't need to know it yet, but I want to know it.

But, then again, my relationship with God and His plan for me isn't about what I want, it's about what I need. Maybe I didn't want to get sick in Peru, but I needed to learn that God would be with me in situations like that. Maybe I didn't want Levi to go to the hospital, but I needed to experience that to realize that God is the only thing I really need. I don't want to have to wait a whole year to serve in an orphanage again, but maybe I need preparation.

While these things might not always be clear to us in the moment, God always has a plan, and it's always in our best interest. God really and truly, with all of his being, loves me. Loves me more than my mom and dad do, more than my brothers, more than Evan will, more than my husband will, more than my own children will. He loves me so much that he died for me. How could I think, even for a second, that He didn't have my best interest in mind? How cruel, and distrusting is that?

I need to trust God with my life, whether He allows me to see ten years, one year, five minutes, or five seconds into my future. He knows exactly what I'll be doing every moment of my entire life. The least I can do is trust Him with it.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Another Year

Well, the summer has just flown by. About the speed of a jet plane, I would say.

I have to admit, while I like hanging with friends and not having homework as much as anyone else, I'm excited for school to start again.

In an odd kind of way, school gives me purpose. It gives me something to do, something to work for.

But, for most people, the only good part of school is that you get to see your friends every day.

I realized a few days ago that I had been living an extremely hypocritical life. I always tell people to live for Christ, and let your life be an example for Him.

But, I wasn't doing that. I can't remember once having a serious spiritual conversation with my friends from school. I don't remember mentioning Jesus, or what God was doing in my life. And I go to a Christian school!

This year at school, I'm going to challenge myself to be more open about my faith. If my whole life is supposed to be for God, school needs to be included as well.

It's harder for public school kids to be open about their faith. Where I go to school, pretty much everyone believes basically the same thing I do. But, in public schools, there is a wide range of spiritual beliefs. Even those who say they're Christian may not be living out their faith.

See, I want to be distinguished. I want to be that girl who is really living for Christ. When people talk about Tori, I want them to say, "Oh, yeah, that girl who's crazy about living for God."

I don't want to be known as the composer girl, the smart girl, the girl who's good at writing. I want to be the girl that lives for her Savior.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Crash Landing

My youth pastor said right before we came home that we were all on a mission trip high. And, to prepare ourselves to be injected into society again.

I didn't believe him. I didn't feel like I was on a spiritual high. I felt like I could hear the Hallelujah Chorus and might start crying I was so happy to be home.

Even after I was home with my family again, I didn't feel like I'd come down from a high. I felt like I'd never been on a high, and that now I was just filled with more passion, and more drive to do God's will.

What I didn't realize is that that was the high.

The first few days home, I spent planning ways to help special needs kids, especially the ones I'd met in Peru. I started planning for the Christmas Warrior project.

About five days after being back, I crashed. In Peru, I was used to my days being packed full of doing God's will and loving on "unlovable" kids. Here, there's no orphanage to visit. Here, there's not hundreds of kids roaming the streets.

I crashed big time. What am I doing here? Can this really be where God wants me? Why waste my time going to school, learning things like Algebra and Chemistry? I don't need those things to love on kids!

While, I'm still struggling with the crash from the "mission trip high" I was on, I've realized that, no, I'm not going to be loving on orphans every day here. But, I can show God's very same love by loving on my brothers. I can show his love for children by volunteering in my church's kids ministry.

I may not be able to get people to come to Christ by doing the Hoedown Throwdown in the street and giving them a cheap bracelet here, but I can be open with my friends about God and Jesus. I can let my words and actions show His love.

See, the battle ended in Peru, but the war is still happening right now. In school, at home with our families, on the bus, at church, with our friends. We let our guard down here, and we allow Satan's minions to infiltrate us from the inside. There is a war here in America, a war that we are losing because we refuse to see it. It's time for Christians to put on our armor, and take up God's sword. It's time to fight.

Friday, August 6, 2010

When Everyone Else Is Gone

I left Nashville for Peru with so many drugs I'm surprised it wasn't illegal. I had every kind of medicine I could get - just in case I got sick in Peru, a possibility that scared me more than I cared to admit.

After our first day in Peru, I was still feeling good. But, I woke up the next morning and noticed - I couldn't breathe through my nose!

All my senses snapped into place, and I frantically searched through my explosion of a suitcase for my medicine bag. I found a Mucinex and two vitamins, and took them in one gulp. I was not going to get sick in the middle of South America, not if I could help it.

But, as usual, God had other plans.

I woke up on the next Saturday morning, my stomach churning, feeling like I might throw up. I was absolutely terrified - there was no way I could be sick. Absolutely no way. Other people got sick, but not me. I couldn't be sick.

I went through the morning doing our normal activities, but when we got back to the church later, I couldn't even eat lunch. I just collapsed on my mattress.

I knew I was going to throw up. I had that feeling. That feeling you get in your gut and you just know you're gonna puke.

Now, a little background info on me: I absolutely hate throwing up. I would rather have a hacking cough for months than throw up once. I hate it.

So, I'm in the middle of South America, in a strange country, with no Mama and Daddy to take care of me. There was no one. I sat in the bathroom for an hour and half, hyperventilating and tearing up because I knew I was gonna throw up. And I was absolutely terrified.

But, you know what? When no one else was there, when I felt completely alone, like I had no one to help me, I was on my own, God was there.

I threw up, sure. I felt like crap for the last two days in Peru, and even when I got home. But, no matter how crappy or how alone I felt, God was there.

God taught me that missions is a battle field. Satan will do whatever it takes to get you out, to take down God's warriors. He'll take out the people you love the most. He'll isolate you so that you feel alone. He knows your worst fears and will do anything he can to bring them to reality.

I was a part of a spiritual battle in Peru, and I was injured. Satan brought me down with some kind of gross stomach bug. But, even then, I could feel God as my leader, my general, sitting next to me, screaming not to quit, that I had to pull through, that my fellow soldiers needed me. And, with His help, I did.

But, Peru was only a battle. The war is going on every moment of every day. Every unkind word you say to your mom or your little brother, every selfish thought, every time you lash out in anger, that's Satan's spies trying to infiltrate our camp.

Every time a family member dies, or your house burns down, or you have to go to the hospital, that's Satan trying to take down God's mighty warriors by taking down the things we care about.

But, through all that, God is right next to us with a giant sword, cheering us on, screaming at us not to quit. When everything else is gone - your house, your family, your friends - God is still there.

God fought to the death for us. Let's see if we can do the same for Him.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

All Through One Little Boy

How was Peru?

The three-second answer:

God changed my life and showed me what to do with it all through one little boy.

I want you guys to meet someone. This is Hectór.

Hectór is eight years old, and he has Down syndrome. At first, I was unsure if he had Down's or not - a lot of Peruvians have wide eyes. But then he smiled. And his smile looked exactly like Levi's. Already with tears in my eyes, I went over to say hello to him. He was sitting with his mother at a table. None of the other children were speaking to him.

I knelt next to him and said, "Hola, Hectór!"

His grin immediately covered his entire face and, all of a sudden, I had the air knocked out of me. Two little arms had wrapped themselves tightly around my neck. Two little legs had latched around my waist. And, one little wet mouth kissed me over and over again.

At this point, the sobs started racking my body. This little boy reminded me so much of Levi, yet he probably lived in a hut with no water, no heat/AC, no room of his own. He'd probably grown up with his mom trying to teach him everything she could, not understanding why her son couldn't learn like the other children. He'd probably never been to physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy. He probably never will.

It wasn't fair. How was it fair, that I, who has everything this world has to offer, could be unhappy anytime, when this little boy, who had nothing was uncontrollably full of joy just to meet a stranger?

How did I get everything, when he was the one that deserved it?

I sat with Hectór, crying more than I can ever remember, for the entire hour we were there. When he noticed my tears, he got up from my lap and ran off somewhere. Heartbroken that I might never see him again, the sobs continued. But, suddenly, I felt two little hands rubbing across my face, full of tissues. Hectór was wiping away my tears. I was blown away. I couldn't believe how selfish I'd always been, how blind. I couldn't stop crying. I didn't know much Spanish, so I said the only thing I knew, over and over again - Gracias!

I felt like my heart was being physically wrenched out of my body when we had to leave. One of our mission trip leaders literally had to grab me by the arm and drag me out of the building. As I was about to get on the bus, Hectór ran out of the building and grabbed my legs shouting, "No, no, no!" I fell to the ground and held him there for another five minutes, sobbing harder than I ever have.

Leaving Hectór was the hardest thing I've ever had to do in my entire life, but it made me realize how fortunate we are. I complain about all of Levi's therapies, but what if he didn't have them? He was a late walker already, but what if he hadn't had physical therapy? Would he be walking now?

Or, what if Levi didn't have feeding therapy? Would he ever be able to eat anything besides cheese puffs, french fries, and smoothies?

What if Levi didn't have a hospital to go to? A hospital that treats special needs kids the same as regular kids? He wouldn't even be alive.

What if he didn't have pediatricians to go to? We wouldn't know he refluxed. We wouldn't know he aspirated. We wouldn't have known his heart needed fixing.

Special needs kids in other parts of the world don't have these resources. And we take them for granted. Think of how special needs people are thought different, alien, and abnormal here in America. How much more magnified is that in countries where they don't have resources to learn anything to help them in the world?

While I was in Peru, God spoke more clearly to me than I have ever heard Him. He said these words to me as if he were sitting right next to me:

You will fight a battle. And you will fight for the children that cannot fight for themselves.

That is his plan for my life. And I'm ready to dive in. I'm ready to fight.

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.
                           - Proverbs 31:8