I am really excited to feature this month’s Dreamer in the Spotlight – Catholic musician, Tori Harris! This “music missionary for a new generation of faithful” is definitely using her gifts for God and inspiring others to do the same!
Over the weekend, Tori found time to answer some questions in the midst of speaking and singing at Immaculee Ilibagiza’s “Treasures of our Faith” retreat. (Side note: If you haven’t read Immaculee’s book, Left to Tell, about her experience during the Rwanda genocide, please do. It is a life-altering read!)
1. You released your beautiful EP, Adoremus, earlier this year. What does the rest of 2013 have in store for you and your music?
Thank you so much! This year has been such a whirlwind of blessings and surprises. It seems that everything is moving so quickly, it’s hard to keep up. I’ve got a few big media events happening in the Fall. National Worship Leader Magazine is featuring my song, “Face to Face” on their songDISCovery disk, I’ll be interviewed on Catholic TV at least 3 times, and there is a bunch of radio lining up. This summer I took a leap of faith and began playing music full-time, so, by the grace of God I’ll continue to stay on the road with a heavy tour schedule and this Fall, the hope is to take a few weeks off to go back into the studio and start putting together the next project. Over the past 2 years I’ve had the honor of writing with some INCREDIBLE songwriters and I can’t wait to give these songs some legs and watch how they do on a CD. But ultimately, providence determines what I’m doing and where the music is going. So, the hope is to do these things, but the reality is that, at all times, God is in control and I can only do that which He permits.
2. Since beginning your journey of pursuing Christian music for the New Evangelization, do you have a favorite “God-moment” that stands out?
That’s a hard question because there have been so many. One that really continues to teach and speak to me was this Easter. At the time I was really struggling to financially stay afloat and still do music, but I had a bunch of shows lined up and my only opportunity to earn money would be through CD and merchandise sales. I didn’t have any money for merchandise, so we charged the credit card. All in all, the expenses totaled about $2000. I had no plan for how I was going to pay off the debt, I was just confident that this was an investment I needed to make. A week later, just as I finish praying with my mom on the phone about where the money is going to come from, I met some friends for lunch. When I walked into the restaurant, there was a check for $2000 sitting on my plate. The wife of the couple looked at me and said, “Now what you see before you isn’t a gift from me, but from the Holy Spirit. I don’t know why you need this money, but I’m certain you need it. Jesus wants you to have it.” I held my composure through the lunch, but as soon as I got back to my car I wept for about 30 minutes. To be loved so lavishly by Christ touches one of the deepest longings of the human heart – and my God loves each of His creatures that much and more.
Tori Harris/Courtesy of toriestories.com
3. I love your guest post on Ryan Eggenberger.com where you shared your story of facing fear and discovering God’s purpose for you. Please elaborate on how you use fear and insecurity to guide you.
When I talk to young people I find myself repeating, “the battlefield for the soul is fought in the mind.” Extraordinary circumstances aside, the devil most often attacks us through our thoughts, especially the thoughts and stories we tell ourselves. Scripture is very clear that the emotions of fear, doubt, insecurity and anxiety are birthed in Hell and thus NOT from Heaven. When you apply this knowledge to the fact that the devil attacks that which is most Holy and most good – you quickly realize that if you are feeling doubt, fear, anxiety or insecurity, that you are likely in thought or action, doing something very good and very holy. You see, our God is SO good. He desires to pour into us the deepest desires of our heart. He has organized the universe very intentionally and very exactly so that He can present to us our hearts deepest desire. The devil knows this and can’t stop it. He can’t change the universe… but he can cloud our thoughts with lies. Lies of fear, insecurity, anxiety and doubt. When the devil does this, it isn’t the universe that ceases to move, but us. We cease to move. And when we cease to act, we cease to have faith, because what is faith but our RESPONSE to love. I’m learning again and again, that fear is affirmation that I’m doing something right, that I MUST keep moving. And every time I recognize it and walk forward, stepping into the fear, I watch as God’s perfect love casts it out, and another part of my soul heals, and I am able to know love just a little more intimately.
4. I read on your website that you give a 40-minute talk titled “Discerning God’s Call in Your Life.” What advice do you have for those of us who are searching for our passion and purpose?
I’ll give you discernment cliff notes:
1. Make a list of all the things you’re insecure about, all the things you’re afraid of. (I’ll never be thin enough, No one will ever marry me and I’ll end up alone, the ladies at church judge me and don’t want to spend any time with me)
2. Make a list of your hearts deepest desires. (This is the most difficult of all the steps. If you feel stupid, dumb, afraid and hope no one ever sees this list, then you’re doing it right)
3. Go through the second list, your heart’s deepest desires, and ask yourself “do any of these desires violate God’s law?” If it violates God’s law scratch it off the list.
4. Compare the two lists. If you see any parallels (For example, I am insecure about my singing voice and my deepest desire to stand on stage at Church and cantor) then prioritize those desires first
5. Act. Face your fear, step into your insecurity, and act. Follow the desire. Just do it.
6. Marvel at what God does next. Because what He will do will change your heart and life forever.
In the words of St. Teresa of Avila, “if you become only what God intended you to be, then you will set the world on fire” – I think it’s about time we had more souls setting the world on fire.
Photo by Joy Williams/Courtesy of toriestories.com
5. Do you have any favorite songs, verses, books, or movies that inspire and motivate you?
Good art and culture always inspire. The book that changed my life was “Abandonment to Divine Providence” by Jean Pierre de Caussade. I read and re-read that book and every time, the truth it contains etches itself more intimately upon my heart. If you’re afraid of making a radical change in your life, this is the book that will give you the courage to leave everything you know, take up your cross and follow Christ.
Thanks, Tori, for taking the time to share your journey and your wisdom with us! Great stuff!
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