hey, 2013.

As the last few seconds of 2012 ticked away on tv with the NYC ball dropping in Times Square in the background I felt a small sense of, what was it? Panic, I guess, that the best year of my life so far was coming to a close. I am SO incredibly thankful for everything that happened in 2012, the Lord was so good to me, people were good to me, I was good to me. Just like most everyone else, the new year’s arrival has made me think about life a lot the last 23 hours (as I have been awake for most of them) and as amazing as last year was I still have hopes that 2013 will only be better. I don’t have any giant plans set in stone just yet, I learned in Kenya that doing so isn’t very wise as God likes to throw us big loving curveballs at the last second, but here are a few things I am planning on doing in no particular order of importance. The list will only continue to get longer πŸ™‚

let little things be little things. i think everyone could use a little less drama in their lives. i am trying to cultivate more peace by being more peaceful. if it’s not a big deal, i will not make it one. is it worth getting super stressed about traffic when i have no control over it? will 2 no-show clients really make that big of a dent in my paycheck? if people in my life don’t do things the way i want them to or in the time i wish they would does that mean they need to change or that they don’t love me like they should? No, no and definitely not.

take better care of myself. this is all encompassing. i want to get back into bikram yoga (it hurts so good!), drink more water, listen to more music (live, please!), read more, write more, pray more, listen better, express myself better, encourage myself, get massages more often (i’m learning how necessary this is being a MT), run when i want to, quit tearing myself down about looks/thoughts/things i am doing/things i am not doing/weight/etc., and enjoying all alone time.

learn to play the guitar. i have always wanted to. i’ve fiddled around with it for years but i seriously want to devote time to it each week so i can play whatever i want when i need a solo jam-out session.

start my own business. i actually have two ideas in mind, one is under wraps for now but i definitely want to work for myself more when it comes to massage work, after a few more months under my belt i think i will be able to make it work pretty well. i am fairly certain i will be moving back to san diego sometime in the summer so that is when i’m hoping to kick that one off, i am open to creative business names!

meet friends for coffee more often. just to chat.

log in more Bible time. it’s seriously essential and i have been depriving myself.

learn to crochet. just long enough to make one infinity scarf. that’s the most serious commitment i can make to such a sport at this time.

I’m so excited for new endeavors in 2013. I see lots of love, lots of silliness, lots of goodness, lots of books, lots of surfing, lots of learning, lots of YAY on the way. 123GO!

be. f u l l. of. l o v e.

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“the desires of my heart are made complete”

Since I have been in Kenya (which is just over a month now!) I have tried to write 4 or 5 blogs…all of them quickly get deleted because my brain is full of too many awesome things. So I have decided to focus on one of my favorite stories from the trip so far. The one about my Martin.

So around this time last year I wrote a blog about a little boy named Martin who I met at the IDP camps the day I got to visit last summer. It was a brief visit (around 45 minutes) but it was probably the most influential day of my life up to that point. My world view was drastically altered and I felt such intense love for this little boy who I had just met, who’s life looked so incredibly different from mine. After meeting Martin, I literally thought about him every. single. day. I didn’t have my camera with me the day I met him and so I always thought about how much I would LOVE to find a picture of him and asked God a few times if He would please, please, pleeeeease let me stumble upon one of someone’s Facebook. And wouldn’t you know, He did. I was so excited & printed it out in black and white on my printer at work & carried it with me all the time in my purse. The caption of the picture mentioned something about Martin’s health being poor and he had been to the hospital so he was on my mind even more and I was just praying that he would be okay. As the days and months went by I found out that I was coming back to Kenya for the whole summer (yeeeeee! I still cannot believe that I get to be here) and so I just kept hoping that I would get to see him when I went back to the IDP camps. Fast-forward to when we all arrived here and went to the IDP camps for the first time: As we walked through the camps to the school, my eyes were peeled, I was searching every little black face to see if I recognized Martin. I glanced through all 250+ children’s faces at the IDP school & didn’t see my little buddy.Β Where is he, Lord? Is he okay? Maybe he is just playing hooky today…

A couple weeks later, Sierra and I were walking to meet the rest of the team at Joseph’s (one of the IDP residents & one of the most amazing men I’ve ever met) house & as we turned a corner, there he was!!!!!! Standing in the grass with his goofy little grin. I was in semi-shock and just reached my hand out and said “Martin, kuja hapa!” (come here!) and he ran right over and grabbed my hand. I really don’t think he remembered me but he is just very friendly and I’m a mzungu, & the kids love holding the white people’s hands πŸ˜› As Si & I went into Joseph’s house with the rest of the group, Martin ran off with some other kids & I just stood there thinking, “THANK YOU JESUSSSS!!!” even three minutes of Martin time was great, just seeing that he was there & looking healthier than the last time I saw him was enough. And THEN about an hour later when we were leaving, there he was again, waiting for all of us. As we toured the IDP camps with Joseph we had a parade of about 40 children with us. I felt like we were wandering through Neverland with all of the Lost Boys. And guess who held hands with me the whole way? Martin. I think he has claimed me as “his mzungu” because he always pushes the other kids away when they come over to hold my hand or whatever & he is always glued right to my hip. I got home to Naomi’s that day and just cried out of happiness & just the overwhelming feeling that my Father totally loves the MESS out of me. The next day we went back and I saw my little buddy again and was able to hang out with him & serve him porridge. Serving him what is probably one of the only things he has to eat or drink during the day was SO humbling and amazing and has become one of my most cherished memories of my entire existence. God totally gives us the desires of our hearts and this is just one example of that in my life.Β 

I am so thankful for everyone who is reading this and for everyone who isn’t but has prayed for me or encouraged me in some way. I hope this heart change makes it back to America and looks just as beautiful, maybe just a little different. I have had time over the last month to more fully realize all of my blessings- the ones here and the ones back home in the US. Most of them are people. I am so grateful for the people in my life. You are all wayyyyy more important than any clothes I could buy, car I could drive, place I could go, title I could inherit or goal I could achieve. I love you all so much & I hope to show you that more & more every day. Nakupenda! (i love you!)

Β 

be full of love,

torImage

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the one with all the cool stuff

AHHH! I leave for Kenya in 5 days (well, technically 4 in an hour and 1/2). I am so incredibly excited that I can hardly contain myself; I have been waiting for this since June 1st of last year. As I pack all the t-shirts and long skirts and headbands and ugly shoes that will be my wardrobe the next couple months, I can take a deep breath…this is me. Not matching, hair in a ponytail, dirty toes, laughing, stress free, sunshine on my face, holding hands with little African loves. I get to go back to my normal next week. Well, ONE of my “normals”. Here’s the thing…

So many places feel right. What a “dilemma”, huh? I love too many places to ever decide where to stay. But the more & more I think about it, the more God keeps reminding me that I don’t have to choose. He has made me to be a wanderer.

Actually, I think He has designed all of us to be wanderers. If He gave you breath & some sort of mobility & talents of some kind (which 100% of you reading this have been given all of these things) then I believe He wants you to wander. Explore the world He placed you in. He may not be calling you somewhere like Kenya, 8,000 miles from where your house is. Maybe He has created you to see the needs that should be met right down the street more easily than the ones that are miles and miles away. He might be calling you downtown to visit an old veteran who’s life choices have lead him to a homeless shelter where he is now hungry, kinda smelly, disheveled and very lonely. Taking yourself out of your comfort zone by spending your Saturday morning making friends with him will make you feel worlds away from your everyday life. Maybe you will find one of your “normals”.

As I think back to 2 1/2 months ago I am shocked. I remember thinking, “How am I ever going to be able to wait for May to finally get here?! Time will just drag on by and waiting on May to get here will be sooo agonizing”. Well, that definitely wasn’t the case…and believe me, time has flown by. I know by now & God has alwayyyys known, that I learn better by experience. Not by reading or watching or listening. I learn better by doing and being an actual participant. I watch surf DVDs all the time and one of them is a documentary about Bethany Hamilton and her life before and after the shark attack. In one part, she and her mom were explaining that before Bethany’s accident they had been really praying that God would show Bethany the fruit of her life, to allow her to see how He wanted to use her. So for a while, I had been praying the same thing for myself, just saying, “okay God, I know I want me to be in Kenya this summer & I am pretty sure You do, too. So just open doors for that to happen if that’s what You want. And show me what I am supposed to be doing here, too. I don’t just want to be sitting around wishing for my flight to leave. Help me to be productive while I am waiting.”

So then God decided to bring someone into my life who was totally, completely, 100% unexpected. I feel so lucky & blessed to have met this guy. He is someone who helps to bring out the best of me. The best of my kindness, the best of my understanding, the best of my gentleness, the best of my patience. My life has been missing one of my best friends for 23 years and while I am bummed I have been missing out I am so so so thankful for the Lord’s timing. In the last 2 1/2 months God has just been showing off for us. It’s crazy. He has let us know so clearly that He has listened to our prayers and my faith has been strengthened more in this time than ever before and it is SO cool to say that. Here I was thinking that I was going to have nothing exciting to show for the winter/spring months and once again, I was so wrong. Being wrong is so great sometimes.

SO. Here I am. Sitting on the floor of my bedroom with clothes and shoes and miscellaneous things strewn about and I am feeling emotionally bipolar. I am SO EXCITED to leave and see Kenya and run around in long skirts and dusty tshirts with sweet Kenyan babies. But I am also dreading saying goodbye for two months to someone who has become such an integral part of my daily life. Change is scary and also exciting. I just have to keep reminding myself that the best IS yet to come. No matter what that entails, I have to go back to that- what is coming is better than what came before. I am also feeling bipolar about the condition of my room. I am by no means a neat freak, but I do like going to bed when things are semi-picked up…and my room right now is an absolute disaster. I kinda like this clutter though, it’s all suitcases full of things I’m taking across the world. Little tiny pieces of home to wear on my person every day. And when I get back, I’ll be wearing little pieces of home from Africa. After all, home is where the heart is & obviously, mine is all over the place.

be full of love,

tor

P.S. Here is a song that I’m in love with. It’s called Your Love is Strong by Jon Foreman πŸ™‚

Heavenly Father
You always amaze me
Let your kingdom come
In my world and in my life
You give me the food I need
To live through the day
And forgive me as I forgive
The people that wronged me
Lead me far from temptation
Deliver me from the evil one

I look out the window
The birds are composing
Not a note is out of tune
Or out of place
I look at the meadow
And stare at the flowers
Better dressed than any girl
On her wedding day

So why do I worry?
Why do I freak out?
God knows what I need
You know what I need

Your love is
Your love is
Your love is strong

The kingdom of the heavens
Is now advancing
Invade my heart
Invade this broken town
The kingdom of the heavens
Is buried treasure
Will you sell yourself
To buy the one you’ve found?

Two things you told me
That you are strong
And you love me
Yes, you love me

Our God in heaven
Hallowed be
Thy name above all names
Your kingdom come
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven
Give us today our daily bread
Forgive us wicked sinners
Lead us far away from our vices
And deliver us from these prisons

 

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‘from my heart to the heavens’

Usually when I fast, it is an amazing way for me to get quiet, to get centered and to find more time to spend with God. This time around, not so much. (My body is definitely happy that I gave it a 4 day break but I ended up breaking my fast two days early tonight. After a 90+ degree day stuck in the aquatics room my energy was drained and I had about 4 too many quazi-fainting spells so I decided enough was enough…I hadn’t spent much more time in the Word or praying anyway.) I found myself longing for the end of this day, things just kept going wrong. I kept over-thinking things. I let fear overcome me. I kept speaking without thinking things through. I felt like an idiot. Maybe I was being an idiot? Only then, after all my floundering did I run to my Father. Not so much while I was working so hard to keep fasting. I know I can fast for a few days, I don’t always need His reassurance for that. But I do need reassurance when it comes to matters of the heart. When I feel as though I may have ventured out too far, sometimes I find myself running back to hide behind Him. Did I say too much, Lord? Did I give too much? Should I be doing something more? Am I seeing things all wrong? I am often asking myself these types of questions.

I really do believe God is in everything we do. Even the little things, scratch that, especially in the little things. (So grateful to Ann for helping me to see this) but tonight as I was scanning the web for something inspirational, something to maybe lift my mood a little- I stumbled across a blog someone wrote called Following the Feminine Heart – it’s such a great post- read it! But it is basically about how God designed our hearts as women: they are sensitive, our emotions are intense. That’s a good thing. ‘Our hearts bear the image of the God who formed them.’ I should always be mindful of the movements of my heart, it knows better than my head, anyway. Why? Because my heart is hidden in the Lord’s and His in mine. God does not capture our minds at first, He captures our hearts. So if I am aware of that truth and God’s heart and mine are one, then I shouldn’t feel discouraged or fearful about who I am loving or how I am loving them or when I am loving them or how much they are loving me in return. God has always blessed me with an abundance of love from all angles of life, I should never let the amount of love pouring out of my heart be affected by my perception of the love I am receiving. I have just learned that today. Right now. In the past few minutes. Woah.

Anyway, it is the week of Easter, my favorite holiday! I’m gonna go ahead and say that it should be everyone’s favorite holiday. Easter is the epitome of Love. Which I think if we were to be completely honest with ourselves, Love is the one thing that keeps us going. We are either searching for it; rejoicing because we have so much of it; we are figuring out how to get it back; we are renewing it, igniting it, rekindling it, exploring it, fearing it, running from it, sprinting towards it, dancing through it. I pray so fiercely tonight that we will all be renewed and restored this Easter. That we will remember where love comes from and what it looks like and what His name is.

And HERE is my favorite Easter-y song. How awesome it will be to get to heaven & sing Hosanna with all the angels right at Jesus’ feet.

be full of love,

tor

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dust > sparkles

It’s official. Flights for Kenya are booked! I am going back for real. πŸ™‚ Is this real life?!

I am just so excited…some of the things I learned because of the trip last year happened before I even left the US and I am so excited for what is to come as these last 2 months until my departure race by. What all is God trying to teach me this year? Last year, I was having such a hard time trusting that God would provide money for me to get to Kenya. Well, He totally took care of that & so this year, while all the money isn’t taken care of just yet, I have no worries. I know I am supposed to go to Kenya this summer & my Father owns the cattle on a thousand hills so a couple thousand dollars is not an issue for Him at all. But this year has been interesting. The things I have worries and doubts about are a lot stickier. Last week especially, I felt super targeted by the enemy. He for sure is trying to shake me up right now and for a few minutes the other day, I let him.

When I need some time to process things I will usually go on a run for an hour or two. It’s so nice to be able to tune out the world for a little while & leave my phone at home & just spend some time getting stoked on life again, remembering my blessings and just talking with the One who gave them to me. After a pretty tough morning last week I decided to go on a long run to clear my head. I heard some things that were said about me by a family member, things that were very hurtful, partially untrue and that really hit a nerve in my heart. It’s unnerving when the things you hate the most about yourself and want so much not to be associated with your character are spoken out loud by people who have known you for the majority of your life. After hearing this, I decided right off the bat that I shouldn’t let this situation bother me but then it just kept creeping back into my mind. What have I done to make this person feel this way about me? Do my actions and choices make me look narcissistic over any other good traits?Β I know I act like a spoiled brat a lot. I know my life is at times a complete mess.Β  I know that sometimes I do a horrible job at showing my love and appreciation. I know. I knowww. So as I started off my run, getting more and more worked up by the minute, the song Embracing Accusations by Shane & Shane came on (youtube it now!) and as I listened to these words, I ended up crying, wiping tears off my face and laughing at the same time as I finished my set of stadiums:

Oh the devil’s singing over me
an age old song
that I am cursed and gone astray
singing the first verse so conveniently over me
but he’s forgotten the refrain
Jesus savesΒ  πŸ™‚

Why do I always have to be reminded of God’s love, grace, forgiveness and power? Yeah, I’m a mess. Some days I screw up pretty much everything I attempt, literally tripping over my life. But God is sooo. good. Like a big, huge, endless hug. Or a perfect sunset that never turns to darkness. He is thoughtful. He is kind. He has already rescued me. He has already transformed me into a new creation. And those bad characteristics that I may have been known for in the past?…they don’t belong to me anymore. They are not part of my identity. They may resurface at times, as bad habits tend to do, but I just need to be mindful of who. I. am. and Who’s I am & get back to work.

So who am I? I was reading a blog the a few days ago, I can’t remember which one. But it was basically a Jesus girl’s amp-you-up blog talking about how all of His daughters are holy princesses and how we are so loved and beautiful and how God chooses us to take part in His story. But I mean, when I think of princesses, I think of pink sparkles and tiaras and crowns and fancy dresses and knowing which of the 14 utensils to use first at a lavish, 6 course dinner. None of which describe my life or style at alllllll. I think in my case, that word “princess” needs to be redefined. Maybe I need to make it a little less fancy, a little less sparkly, a little bit weirder, a lot more empowering. Because the crown given to me sometimes looks like a sweaty headband adorning my tangled mane of hair as I get to play sing-song games with a group of rescued orphans in Kenya. And very rarely has God placed me in situations requiring me to wear heels, I was not blessed with that sort of grace πŸ˜‰ He made my feet so that they shine the brightest and radiate the most beauty when they are covered with red dust that takes days to scrub off. He has designed each of his daughters for a specific purpose, with specific gifts, talents, weaknesses, strengths, body types, cultural backgrounds, everything. It’s time we all start embracing who we are, who we were made to be…if we did, holy princesses would be a fearsome sight to behold, I tell you. No matter how it looks or what avenue of the world we have been designed to impact, we have been called to sprint across hopeless fields with His banner of love waving over and out behind us for everyone to see. And when we are focused on bringing His goodness and His kindness and His love to light- it won’t be my narcissism or my clumsiness or my inadequacies that people will see; the only thing anyone will be able to see is Jesus.

be full of love,

tor

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Live everything.

I want to beg you, as much as I can, to be patient toward all that is unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue.

Do not seek the answers, which cannot be given to you because you would not be able to live them.

And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.

– Rainer Maria Rilke

 

I woke up this morning with a feeling of renewal. A feeling I have needed but for some reason haven’t thought to pray for. Maybe someone else did for me or maybe God just gave me this feeling because He knew I needed it. Recently I have not been in a bad space, I’d like to think I am better off than I have ever been before, but there are just those things that I find myself holding onto…things unresolved, things I have no control over at all, just things. There are things about myself that I second guess or that I sometimes want to hold behind my back until someone really knows me. But why? I am free & it’s time that I start living that way every day. Embracing the beauty that is only mine, that was gift-wrapped just for me (I’d like to think God wrapped my individuality in heavenly newspaper, kind of like my dad used to do with the San Diego newspaper for my birthdays and Christmas. Unique, simple & silly…okay, and maybe kind of cheap?). So I feel like this has become a time of further self-discovery & enjoying the person I am right now, not just the person I want to become.

And for all those unresolved, mysterious events in my life? Well, if my attention is drawn to them at any point from this moment on I will acknowledge them as they are- secrets that Life has just not decided to reveal to me yet. I will learn to appreciate them in that way and not spend precious minutes of life trying to Sherlock Holmes the living hell out of them.

lovelovelove

tor

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The Sound of the Redeemed

Ohhhh, life. Crazy as ever.

I feel like this has been the most amazing summer of my life. Some summers I have literally been gone on trip after trip and haven’t had time at home, just going going going all the time. This summer, that was not the case. I did have 3 equally spaced out trips. Africa, SWO & a trip to VA. Africa was by far the best, the best part of my life to date. But what had been so amazing to see is the way God has worked in me and around me since I got back. It’s easier to see Him now. Easier to hear Him. Harder to ignore Him. I’ll elaborate more.

For months and months my best friend and I have been praying that her boyfriend would be more open to the Lord. He wanted absolutely nothing to do with church, which I completely understand…a lot of us act like a-holes. But finally, finally, finallyyyy after all the praying and hoping and wishing, his heart was softened and rescued & we have all been to church together a couple times this summer when he has been in town and it’s just so beautiful to see how perfectly things come together sometimes. PTL!

When I was in VA a week and a half ago, I was seriously thinking of moving back to San Diego. I was filling out applications and making tentative plans; I was so ready to go. When I got home and talked to my parents about it, they were semi-supportive but concerned that I wasn’t making a very wise decision (as I was planning on leaving by the 25th of this month, less than 3 weeks away from that day) and so my mom said “well, I am just going to pray that if God wants you to go that He will open the doors so wide for you to be able to do so, and if not…that He won’t” and what do you know, the next day I got a call: my job fell through and my dad was wayyy less excited about the prospect of me living with him for a month or two until I found an apartment. Cool deal, Mom, thanks for the dagger prayers that shot holes in my plans! So I decided to take a giant step back and rethink things, and when I felt like God was just saying “I’ve already told you what you are to do”. Duh me. I know that. God has called me to do big things in Africa. Not to be in San Diego where I can skip work and go surfing or go to awesome shows every weekend. That would be sooo lovely if that were His plan for me, but it’s not in the plans right now. And I have to keep reminding myself that. In this in between time it is hard to hold on to the words the Lord spoke to me in Africa. It’s frustrating to wake up in Smalltown, USA every day longing to wake up in Kijabe & hike down the mountain to see the kids at Naomi’s. But I need to be here for now & take hold of every opportunity that comes my way. Probably more than anything, I need to learn how to be content in every place the Lord places me. Since I obviously haven’t nailed that little lesson down yet.

I was listening to We the Redeemed by Hillsong on repeat tonight & I just love it so much. It was inspired by Exodus 15:13 about God’s promise to lead His people on the journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. It reminds me that I am one of the Redeemed. That my life is a journey, whether I am on the Egypt side of my journey (like right now), where I don’t know when or how I am going to get (back) to the place God has called me to; or whether I am taking a crazy step in life to get to that place orrrr whether I am finally in that place I’ve been promised, looking back on where I’ve come from. I am being redeemed every day. I’m growing to love the Lord and the life & passions I’ve been given more and more each day & I am so glad to be able to say that.

Oh & I also scored a ticket to see Hillsong on Friday & I am soooo stokeddd. πŸ™‚

 

 

 

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