Home- 

This past week was a long one, that’s for sure. I found myself stuck in a bad attitude and full of tears for three days straight. I couldn’t shake those feelings and one thing after another kept on coming at me. To be honest, a large chunk of those upsets had to deal with living in Charlotte (this hectic lifestyle isn’t for me and just gets to me sometimes lol), disappointments with grades, seeing two bad wrecks in a day, the occasional meltdowns of being a college student, and having a very low self-confidence level. So, I decided to go home for the weekend to take a break.

While being back home in our small town of Salisbury made me realize just how important “home” is. Home is that house where you grew up and created some of the best memories. It’s where you learned how to be yourself. It’s where you made some mistakes but also corrected and learned from them. It’s where you met some of the greatest people who helped shaped you into the person you are today. But most importantly, home is where your parents are. Being in the presence of my mom and dad really rejuvenated my spirit. Having that comfort, support, and hugs after a long week was so needed as well. And there’s nothing like quality time with your momma and daddy.

As Sunday rolled around and I pulled out of the driveway to drive back to Charlotte- I found myself in tears and praying to God. Thanking Him for blessing me with such loving parents who show me endless amounts of support. Who are always there with encouragement and open arms. Who are ready to pour advice and wisdom into my life. Who simply care about me and my well-being. Who have shaped me into the woman I am today and who always show me the love of Jesus.

This season of life is uncomfortable and not easy, but having such amazing parents as backbones and a Heavenly Father; keeps me going.

Mom & dad:
Thank you both for everything and being the absolute best. I love you more than you know-momdad

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Thank YOU-

I always knew I wanted to write an ode/thank you to a special place where I spent two years of my life at, before I actually left to take my journey elsewhere. I would always tear up at the fact that I’m leaving a place that I hold so near to my heart and people who I love so dearly. I always knew this day would come but wow, it came so soon. So, here’s a thank you/reflection/ode to North Myrtle and everyone at Chick-fil-a. 

Moving down to a city where you were four hours away from all of your friends and family, starting the college journey, and living on your own is how I began my middle of August in  2014. Shortly after I got settled in, my parents and I took a day to job-search. I went everywhere– from hotels, restaurants, reality companies, retail stores, Starbucks, and then Chick-fil-a. It was nearing towards the end of our long, stressful day when I decided to check out Starbucks to see if they were hiring. They were but it just didn’t feel like my place to be at, ya know? So, pulling out of the parking lot, about to take a left to give up and go home; we saw Chick-fil-a and considered going there. I thought, “Yeah I love Chick-fil-a, and they’re a Christian company so sure!” We went straight across that intersection, I walked into Chick-fil-a, and my life was changed from then on. 

From starting my first real job on August 15th, I was a little nervous yet excited. I walked into a community of Christ followers and people who are so loving and welcoming, that it quickly turned into my favorite place to be. I loved my job, I loved serving others and making CFA a remarkable place for guests to enjoy, I loved the guests (especially our regular ones!), and I loved all of the people I worked with. Chick-fil-a and I shared the same morals and values and that is also what made that job meaningful to me. Within my two years there, I learned a lot, grew as a person, and made life-long friends. 

From the beginning, I was blessed to be able to look up to awesome directors as mentors and role models. By majoring in Business Management and having a concentration in Human Resources, my job taught me a lot about management and interacting with people. All of the directors handled themselves with confidence, sincerity, and concern for their guests. The amount of support they continuously showed everyone on the team was so admirable. Each director truly lived out the meaning of what it means to be a leader. They portrayed the importance of treating others with Christ-like love no matter who that person was. They also showed me how to handle a guest complaint with true concern and wanting to accommodate them in the correct manner. I learned how to be a leader in the workforce and in everyday situations. Since we all had a lot of fun together while working; they taught me that it was possible to not just do your job, but to have fun while you’re doing it. All of the directors showed me the love of Jesus. Lastly, they gave me a lifetime of skills within just two years. Thank you guys so much for that. 

Also during my time at CFA, I grew as a person. I grew in so many ways that I’m beyond thankful for the experiences and people who taught me these things. From having Bible studies with everyone, to just hanging out, to conversations and situations during work… I have been so impacted. I learned how to challenge myself while balancing college full-time, working part-time, and having time to be with friends. I took steps out of my comfort zone to try new things. My relationship with Christ has grown so much throughout these couple of years from the influence of such Godly friends. I learned how important it is to trust God with everything and that He always restores your soul. I learned how to fully live a Christ-like life not only during work days, but also during everyday life. So, thank you Lord for blessing me with the experiences and opportunities that stretched me as a person and made me grow. 

As said earlier, I was blessed with friends who I hold close to my heart. During my first couple of months I remember every one being encouraging, genuine, welcoming, and loving. These people who invested so much time in me, quickly became some of my closest friends. Every time I walked into a shift I was always greeted with a “Hey Tor,” a hug, and a huge smile. It is also so great to have people there for you who truly care and just do life with you. The great thing about CFA is the community within it. From living here in North Myrtle for the past couple of years, I also learned the importance of surrounding yourself with good company. All of these friends poured so much joy into my life, helpful advice, and unconditional love. Having such a good community of people who are like family around me was comforting to have. We were there for each other, always kept each other laughing, grew in so many ways with one another, and share lots of fun memories together. So, thank you for everything you guys.

Another thing CFA does every summer is letting Cru (Campus Crusaders) from the mid-west, come in and work for the summer while they are on their summer mission. From being able to experience two summers of some really great people with awesome accents come and be a part of our team; also had a huge impact on me. Before my first summer with Cru, I heard everyone talk about how amazing Cru is and get so hyped up about them coming. I remember the first week that they arrived and how much love they shared. Not only are they some of the most fun people, but also the most devoted. They were really inspiring and made me want to join Cru whenever I got to a university. So, whenever our Cru members came this summer… I was one of those telling everyone who hadn’t experienced a Cru summer yet, just how amazing they are and getting so excited for them to come. As always, they continued to bring tons of love with them. The community that they all have is centered on Christ, loving others, and a strong sister/brother bond. Getting to know each of them personally just by conversations at work, on breaks, or hangouts outside of work was such a pleasure. The amount of encouragement they give, genuine love they have, and their desire to just be like Jesus is SO incredible. Spending a whole summer with them is great, but the team is always sad when they have to go home! The mark you guys leave on our hearts is huge and it is nice to look back on memories we all shared together. So, to all of the Cru members: thank you for impacting my life, being such great examples of Christ, all of the laughs, many hugs, loving us southerners so well, speaking life into us and others, and your hearts for God. You guys are the greatest, love you all!

Making the choice to cross that intersection was one of the greatest things ever, because CFA has truly blessed me with people who I will always have a lot of love for. It is interesting how God will take you down different paths of life to shape and mold you into the person He created you to be. He also places people in your life who help you out along the way. The choices we make in life is so significant to the plan He has for us and to become more and more like Him. God also continues to guide us where we need to be to reach people, learn things, and fulfill our purpose. All of these people have truly impacted my heart and I will forever be changed by their kindness and love that they have always shown me. There are so many memories and laughs that I will take with me, and I’m looking forward to many more with you guys. Thank you to every single one of you. Y’all are THE best. I love y’all so much! cherry-grove

CAMPFIRE

Lately I’ve been listening to Rend Collective’s album CAMPFIRE… and I can not tell you how much every single song of theirs is what truly being a Christ follower portrays. It’s definitely #1 on my best worship album list. You’re probably familiar with these lyrics, “build Your kingdom here, let the darkness fear, show Your mighty hand, heal our streets and land.” But I so encourage you to go listen to all of the other songs because they are just as amazing! Anyways, throughout many mornings on the way to class, on my way back from class, and nights before bed I’ve listened and learned a lot. Here’s 11 things I got out of their 11 songs on this album:

  1. Come On: “Lord, we open up our hearts to You, we let down our walls. Sing my soul” Worshiping our Father is an all-around beautiful thing. It’s a time where we open our hearts and pour everything out unto Him. It’s a moment where the Lord touches your heart and gives you peace and joy through song.
  2. Desert Soul: “All that I am is dry bones without You Lord, a desert soul, I am broken but running towards You, God, You make me whole” We are only satisfied by our Heavenly Father. We can’t find satisfaction in this world or in things of this world, because it only leaves us empty and searching for something more. We can only be full with the Lord inside us. His love is the only thing that satisfies our hearts.
  3. Build Your Kingdom Here: “We are Your church, we pray revive this earth” Along with the familiar lyrics I said earlier; these are words we sing, think, and pray. This world is a corrupted place. Which is why us, Christ followers are His church. We have to be disciples and go out into this world and show His light. It’s our job to help clear out the darkness with His light and love and spread His word around. We pray for non-Christians to come to know You and we pray for less evil. We are more than conquerors through Christ, and our light can overcome any darkness.
  4. Movements: “I’m running fast and free to You, cause You are the movement and fight in me. I’m running fast and free to You, cause You are my home where I wanna be, come move in me” Being a Christ follower; we always have to make movements towards Jesus. This relationship isn’t just a stand-still one. He always wants more of us and more of our hearts. Just like us wanting more of Him and His heart. He is our true home, and we have to keep running to fully know Him continuously.
  5. You Are My Vision: “You are my battle-shield, sword for the fight. You are my dignity, You’re my delight. You’re my soul’s shelter and You’re my high tower. Come raise me heavenward, O Power of my power” God is our strength in everything we go through. He is our comfort and peace when we need it; He’s always there to provide. It’s so awesome to know that our Father has our backs, and will give us the power we need to push through something. He is an Almighty God and loves us dearly. Keeping our vision on Him is such an important thing to do.
  6. You Bled: “How marvelous, how boundless is Your love, is Your love. How wonderful, how sacrificial is Your love” Guys, Jesus bled on a cross for us. He suffered so much pain to save us. He did that because He loves us and didn’t want us to suffer in our sin and shame. He sacrificed His life to save ours; we just have to call out to Him for forgiveness. Jesus can only wipe our sins clean… Reach out to Him.
  7. The Cost: “I’ll chase You through the pain, I’ll carry my cross. Cause real love is not afraid to bleed” Our God is worth it. Through any painful situation or narrow road, we have to remember that He is the One to follow. He shows us where to go next and leads us to beautiful people and places in our lives. Do everything you do unto the Lord.
  8. Alabaster: “I will bow my life at Your feet, at Your feet. My lips, so lost for words will kiss Your feet, kiss Your feet” I find myself in moments where I am just in awe of Jesus. Those moments where I’m just so thankful for Him and well up with tears of joy. We have to give our lives over to Jesus and obey Him. We have to let Him be our guidance. The Lord knows what’s best for us and wants us to put our trust in Him relentlessly. We should not fear or worry because He already knows what will happen tomorrow, two days from now, or two years from now. When you rely on Him, He will do amazing things.
  9. Second Chance: “Fragments of brokenness, salvaged by the art of grace. You craft life from our mistakes” This couldn’t be more true. We’ve all been broken and we’ve all made mistakes. It’s a part of life and there’s no getting around that. But through our brokenness, He pieces us back together when we call out to Him for help. He binds our cracks up with everlasting love. In our mistakes, He teaches us to come to Him and ask for forgiveness. By His mercy and grace, we are saved and cleansed. When mistakes are made; there’s so much to learn from them. We have to choose to learn from them though, and not make them again. There’s so much to gain from what He reveals to us during and after our times of hardships. So, choose to live like Him in every area and moment of your life.
  10. 10,000 Reasons: “You’re rich in love in love and You’re slow to anger. Your name is great and Your heart is kind. For all Your goodness I will keep on singing, 10,000 reasons for my heart to find” Our God is so loving to us and so kind. He’s patient with us and He’s good to us. He’s amazing and powerful. He is beautiful and wonderful. He is so much more than words can describe. And I pray that we all strive to be more like Him.
  11. Praise Like Fireworks: “Through joy and pain we worship. Through joy and pain we worship. With heart and soul wide open. With heart and soul wide open” Life is full of twists and turns and it is on us to have a perspective on those. I know it’s hard to choose a more thankful perspective in a difficult time; but that’s what will ultimately get us through it. We can’t just worship God in all of the great and happy parts of our lives. We have to worship Him in the bad and rough parts too. Why? Because worshiping and praying and trusting is the only way we’ll get through them. Open your heart and soul up and let His Spirit consume every inch of you. 

MOTIVATION for Your Wednesday

Luke 22:42

Reading this verse is kind of hard to swallow sometimes. We’re all human, we all want things to happen the way we want them to, and we all want to be in control of our situations/life at times. But that’s the thing; we’re not in control of these things. GOD is. We have to remember that He is in control at all times. We have to let go and give it to God. That’s hard for some of us to do though, because we’re so wrapped up in wanting to do things “our” way. I find myself falling into this a lot of times. But by acting like that, we’re not letting God do all of His wonderful works in our lives.

That’s essentially when we have to take a step back, and rely on the promise that Jesus knows what He is doing. It’s time for us to push aside our pride and selfishness and look to Him. That’s what He’s calling us to do. He wants us to come to Him in times of trouble and confusion. He wants us to make plans based off of our hearts desires. Although, He wants us to lift up our plans to Him so He can make the best out of our lives. He wants us to learn how to love like He does. He wants us to grow closer to Him. He wants us to trust Him and rely on Him with EVERYTHING. He wants us to look to Him for guidance and strength. He wants us to say “Your will God, not mine.”

By saying those words; you’re letting GOD be in control of your life. We have to realize even though we make our own plans; that sometimes God wrecks them for something better to take place. Let Him guide you through this life. Let Him be your light through dark times. Let Him take care of you when you’re hurting and tired. Let Him reassure your heart with His unconditional love. Let Him.

Having God at the center of your life is the greatest thing you can do. Focus your life on Him, and He will continue to do great things in you. Be on FIRE for GOD. Do all things to honor Him. Yall, He loves each and every one of you.
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Being Thankful in Every Circumstance

Driving down the road today on the way to class, I’ve realized how it’s so important to be thankful. Many of us could look at today as, “Oh, it’s Monday again” and roll our eyes. But choosing to look at today as another day to live for Jesus is what we should all choose. No matter what season of our lives we are in, whether it be a painful one or a joyful one… We have to remember that He is with us through it all. Choose to praise Him in pain and in joy. Even if we’re so caught up in our emotions; your heart will thank you for choosing to praise Him instead because it lifts your spirit up. It helps you work through those emotions you have. It refreshes your spirit and draws you closer to the Lord.

By being thankful in every season of your life; gives you a new perspective over situations. You learn to put your trust in Him and fully depend on Him to get you through it. You learn that everything happens the way it does, because He knows what is best for you. So, I looked at today as it’s the start of a brand new week. It’s the beginning of a fresh day and I was thankful to wake up in a warm home, underneath warm covers. I was thankful to be on my way to class to engage in opportunities to learn. I was thankful to be able to eat a nice breakfast with a cup of coffee. I was thankful to have a car to get to class, and Rend Collective’s CD to worship in the car with. I was thankful for warm clothes to wear on this cold day. I was thankful for a healthy body. Most importantly, I was thankful for my God.

So friends, changing your mind and attitude to think this way isn’t an easy thing to do. You have to want it. When you do choose to want it, it is so freeing.

Fixing your eyes on Him is a beautiful thing to do, and will bless you in the process of doing so. Don’t fall into the worlds image of what Monday’s are. Fall into His image of what Monday’s are. A beautiful, fresh, new start to rejoice in Him and follow Him continuously.

  

Sin.

We live in a world that is full of sin. It’s no secret. Sin is all around us. It’s in the thoughts we think, it’s in the words we speak, it’s in the way we act, it’s in the things we do, it’s in the shows we watch, it’s in the music we listen to, it’s in the things we read or look at online, and it surrounds us since we live in this world. We as humans are going to sin no matter what. But that is the sole reason why Jesus has died for our sins. Sin comes from the enemy and he is never going to stop throwing sin at us. He tempts us, puts thoughts in our heads, and does everything he can to turn us away from our Almighty God. But sin is the one thing we can overcome. We don’t have to fall into the trap of sin. Yes, we have human desires, thoughts, and words and we will act upon them sometimes. But that is when we turn to God and seek Him more than anything. He sent His son Jesus to die for us on the cross for our sins. He chose to die for us so we would not have to suffer in our sins. We can be forgiven and move on with our lives to glorify Him.

But that’s the catch… We are supposed to learn from our sins and overcome them. Jesus does not ask us to sin. Although He is fully aware that we are going to sin because we have those fleshly desires. But we have to remember that that doesn’t give us an excuse to keep sinning. He gives us grace and forgiveness as to when we do fall into sin, but that is when it is solely up to us to overcome that sin and learn from it and never partake in it again. We are called to be Christ followers and obey Him. He does not want us to keep falling back into sin like a never-ending cycle. He wants us to overcome it and fight against the temptations that the enemy is throwing at us. That’s the ultimate decision we have to make. We have to choose to say, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” and stand strong against these temptations and stay away from them. They are no good and they do nothing for us. But He is good and He is everything for us. We have the power of Christ in us to overcome any and every temptation no matter how big or small and conquer it. Rend Collective says this verse in one of their songs, “We are more than conquerors through Christ. We have overcome this world, this life. We will not bow to sin or to shame, we are defiant in Your name.” As well as Galatians 5:16-17 saying, “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives.” Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires… Verse 22 says, “But the Holy Spirit introduces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Let Him guide your life in all that you do. Don’t let the enemy take you out. You have Jesus on your side and you have to seek Him in EVERY thing you do and in EVERY moment of your life. Why? Because this life is hard. It is hard without Him and without Him, sin attacks you and keeps attacking you. But when you have Him at the center of your life, you start to look at sin with your game-face on. You want to overcome it and not fall into the sinful trap. You do everything you can to stand against it with the strength that Jesus provides.

We may be weak but His spirit is strong in us. Jesus rules all. He forgives all. Choose in every moment to not let the enemy overtake you and keep Jesus in your vision. Make Him the center of your life. Seek Him. Keep your eyes on Him, because He is a beautiful vision to have and the only One that sets you free.

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Embrace with Love

With this being my first blog, I wanted to start off with an experience I recently had. I’m a sophomore in college and I attend BCC (Brunswick Community College). One of the great things about this college is that they have a program for people with special needs/down syndrome. This program gives them an opportunity to learn in an environment that is fit for them. Ever since I first heard about this program, my heart was drawn to it.

It was during my freshman year of college, in an English class. Our instructor gave us a chance for extra credit and believed in going out within the community to help, instead of writing an extra paper for credit. So, he handed us a list of opportunities and I picked out two or three. Volunteering with this program was one of them. Then, I did what I needed to do to arrange a time for volunteering and did it. Being this was my first time ever volunteering with people with down syndrome; I was apprehensive when I walked in. I didn’t know what to expect or how to act around them, but those feelings quickly left. I signed in and a lady walked me to a classroom where I sat with a guy named Thomas. Now, just to give you a little background info on Thomas… He was about in his thirties and would talk to you nonstop. You could tell how eager he was to meet a new face and establish a new friendship… We bonded right away. Thomas introduced me to the rest of his classmates and everyone we passed in the hall. He really knew how to make someone feel welcome. I couldn’t help but to smile! I’m pretty sure I walked out of there that day with cheek pains because of how much I was smiling.

Once I was familiar with everyone, we went about our day and I helped with class activities as well as just being a friend to them. As they were learning and practicing what they had to; I was learning with them. I learned how big every single one of their hearts are. Their smiles are so heartwarming, and you can see how sweet they are in their eyes. They quickly became some of my favorite people. Thomas and his friends changed my life in the short amount of time I was with them.

As my volunteering came to an end that semester, I was sad to go. The minute I walked out of that door, I felt withdrawals… It wasn’t until maybe four weeks ago when I felt something in my heart that made my mind keep thinking about my friends that I made. I was sitting in my car one morning before class, near their building and saw a couple of them outside gardening. I spotted a sweet lady I remembered from when I volunteered a year ago. My eyes began to tear up, my mind replayed memories, and I felt something in me to go give her a hug. Did I listen to that feeling? Unfortunately, I didn’t. You’re probably thinking, “Why didn’t you go give her a hug?” Well, to be honest it was just fear and thinking of myself. I pushed the thought out of my head because I was worried about what she would think when I embraced her. Would she remember me? I wasn’t sure, so I told myself I should just start walking to class instead. That whole entire class and afterwards, I felt these weird feelings in my heart. Feelings of frustration, stress, guilt, and sadness. Then I realized later that day why I was feeling like that. It’s because I was angry at myself for not overcoming my fear and just doing what my heart told me to do in that moment.

That next day, Riley (my boyfriend) and I went to Southport during my lunch break. We were sitting at our favorite spot having a conversation about life and God. I told him about how I first volunteered there, then brought up my feelings with that situation that one morning. I told him how much I missed everyone and how important they are to me. He saw my eyes starting to fill with tears as I tried to hold them back. He then encouraged me to go sign up to volunteer again because he saw how I truly felt about them. I looked at him and said, “I will.” Those words felt so great coming out of my mouth because I defeated my fear just then. That next morning, I walked through the front door of that building and talked to the lady about volunteering.

Fast forward to Monday, Sept. 21… I walk into volunteer around 10:15 ish. The minute I stepped foot in those doors, I felt a sense of peace come over me. Y’all, I was SO happy to be there again. I then was placed with a lady who was a full-time helper there, named Jeanne. She was very informative, sweet, and really funny. I learned so much about the whole program as well as her story, and why she chose this as her career. Her class had a couple of people I remembered from my last time there, so it was nice seeing some familiar faces. I was paired with a man named Ricky and I sat beside him as he put together a puzzle. I was also sitting across from a sweet girl named Susan. We talked and talked and talked. She told me about her family and how so many of her family members have birthdays in September. We bonded over the fact that we both LOVED watching Full House. She’s beautiful. I also sat near a girl named Angela. She was always laughing and acting silly. Beside her was this other sweet girl, whose name was Jade. I didn’t get to talk to her that much because of where I was sitting, but I’m making it my goal to spend time with her next. Every time I turned around and she was turned around, I would always see a huge smile smiling back at me. Guys, her smile literally warmed my heart. She is such a sweetheart and you can tell just by looking at her. They’re all so kind and loving and have the most genuine hearts.

Then it was time for them to switch classes and time for me to leave for the day. They were all so sweet as I heard “see ya later’s and byes” when I left their classroom. I let them know that I would definitely be back within the next week. I couldn’t tell you how grateful I am to be back with them. I’m so glad I overcame those fears and just embraced an opportunity my heart kept longing for.

God is good.

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