Tag Archives: new evangelization

Tori Harris: Music Missionary {August’s Dreamer in the Spotlight}

30 Aug

tori harrisI 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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 Adoremus - EP, Tori Harris
For more, be sure to…
Checkout Tori’s website.
Download her music on iTunes.
Follow Tori on Twitter.
Like her Facebook page.
Watch the Face to Face music video on YouTube.

Real Connections = Real Change

7 Jun

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Often times, I think we, as Christians, feel like we aren’t doing enough to reach others or we get caught up in how many people we can influence. Of course, with the emphasis on the New Evangelization and this being The Year of Faith, many of us are focused on how we can better spread the truth of Jesus and the faith. This is something to which we are all called for sure and needs to be done.

Sometimes, though, I think we are distracted by the “big picture”. The truth is, as the quotes on this page point out, that showing love to our spouse, children, and neighbors is the most powerful and meaningful way that we can bring about change in our culture.

I think many of us who are busy working and raising young children, especially, may feel like we aren’t contributing as much as we’d like in our parishes and communities. (For me, personally, this is why I love to blog. I am able to work a full-time job, take care of the family that God has blessed me with, and still feel like I’m offering something outside my own little world.) We need to remember, though, that building strong, loving families is the foundation of our society and is worthy of most of our time and attention. Being able to sacrfice for our children in this way, enables us to grow in selflessness and be more open to whatever God is calling us to do now and in the future.

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When we do find ourselves in situations where we can reach out to others beyond our family, we are still called to focus on each individual person. As last month’s featured Dreamer Ryan Eggenberger encouraged, “Everybody – every single persion – is worth it to God. That means everybody – every single  person- is worth it to you and to me.” When we, through our actions, express to someone else that they, alone, matter to us and to God that is when real connections and relationships bloom. This is when we are most like Jesus.

It is, of course, easier said than done at times to take ourselves away from our work, thoughts, and to-do lists to really be present to others. Going outside of our comfort zones to really make a connection with someone can make us vulnerable to being rejected, but without taking risks and listening to promptings from the Holy Spirit, life would be pretty lonely.

I think a great example of someone who is living out this idea of influencing others by making deep connections is Contemporary Christian Music artist Matthew West. Matthew’s two most recent albums consist of songs that were inspired by stories of  specific individuals. He read thousands of letters sent to him and then crafted some of these into hopeful and healing songs. On Matthew West’s website he shares the real-life stories behind each song. The cool thing is that several people are relating to these songs, even though each one was written for a particular person!

If you have not listened to Matthew’s latest Into the Light CD yet, I highly recommend it! My girls love dancing and singing the words, too!

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We all have a role to play to bring others closer to Jesus. It can be as simple as making eye contact and giving a smile to a stranger – or your child. 

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Getting to Know Ryan of EntreCatholic {May’s Dreamer in the Spotlight}

31 May

I am so excited that my 100th post on A Dreamer’s Wife is such a great one today! I get to share with you my amazing interview with this month’s featured dreamer Ryan Eggenberger of EntreCatholic, “a (personal) blog about business, leadership, and the New Evangelization”! Ryan’s answers blew me away. Be sure to read all the way through until the end, because that’s the really good stuff!

1.  You recently announced on your blog that you quit your job to be a “solopreneur.” How did you decide it was the right time to take this next step?

I knew for two reasons – one personal and one practical. I knew that I was ready personally because I was ready to give myself as much as possible to the New Evangelization as a layman with the skills I have; namely, new media, marketing, and online platform building. But of course, jumping into entrepreneurship with a dream and a desire is not enough to pay the bills. Over the past several months I have worked on the side to bring in half of my normal income during my off hours. Once I accomplished that, I was ready to jump.

2. Please share a little bit about your mission in regards to the New Evangelization. What goals do you have for your business?

I honestly don’t have a real mission in regards to the New Evangelization. I suppose you can say, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” All though I am not the model Christian by any means (in fact far from it), I hope to always go where Jesus tells me to go.

With that said, at the core, I am a teacher. I have the gift of being able to quickly learn the language of the party with whom I am speaking, and break down a concept – be that theology, technology, or marketing strategies – and systematically walk with the student or client through the teaching.

3. Many people who will read this post have their own websites and dreams. Do you have any special tips for those who are trying to reach more people online?

Sure! I think this has to be answered in three parts:

First, if you want to reach more people online, you have to know why. Is it to gain personal fame or is it for the Lord? Is it because you want to eventually land a job and your site is an online resume? Is it because you have a book idea and you’re hoping a publisher will find you? There are no right or wrong answers here – you just need to know what you’re purpose is.

Laptop Work by sqback

Second, in order to connect effectively,  you must resolve to love authentically. You have to remember that a follower on Twitter is a real human being, not just a follower (generally speaking). Behind every ‘like’ on Facebook is a real person with real passions, problems, and dreams. If the way you speak to people on social media would get you punched in the face in real life, you need to re-evaluate your motives and your means.

Lastly, just use this: plan it, do it, tell people about it. Just start! I always recommend that you blog on a self-hosted WordPress site. You can download a free guide on how to do that from the front page of EntreCatholic.com. I often blog about tools, tips, and tricks regarding social media and platform building. I’m also thinking of starting up a social media class, if there’s interest.

4. What advice do you have for those of us who find it uncomfortable to self-promote?

Great question. I can’t quote any theology or research here, but with the vast and rapid changes to the norms of making money and finding work, having an online platform – like a blog or social media accounts with followers – is like having a resume, but online. Fortunately, it’s out there 24/7 in case an editor with a company and money likes your stuff happens to find you.

In addition, if your efforts are directed toward leading people to Jesus, you should not worry. Do you need to talk about Jesus all the time? No, of course not. If your expertise is in interior design, you don’t need to always mention Jesus in a post about picking the perfect shade for your living room.

Listen, there will always be some people who will not understand, not agree, and not like you, your work, or your goals. Worry not at all about those people. Jesus had the same problem 2,000 years ago and in fact, still does today. When people give you trouble, just love them! For me, loving people that disagree with me, for the most part, means giving them a word of encouragement and moving on with my life. You don’t need to justify your actions to folks who don’t care to understand anyway.

5. Do you have a favorite song, quote, or movie that motivates and inspires you?

Source: Catholic.org

Source: Catholic.org

Yes. I heard a story about Mother Teresa that is applicable, and necessary in my opinion, to effectively engage in the New Evangelization. Some years ago, a Novice Sister in the Sisters of Charity was standing with Mother Teresa at the motherhouse in Calcutta, when they both noticed a regular visitor approaching the door. The visitor was an old man; difficult to look at, smelly, and often inappropriately obnoxious. Upon seeing the man stumble toward the door, the Novice took a deep breath, and exhaled in irritation. Noticing the Novice’s annoyed attitude, Mother Teresa leaned over and whispered in her ear, “Look – here comes the Lord again in his distressing disguise.”If we’re going to effectively bring people to Jesus, we have to first love them, no matter the circumstances. Why? Because He loves us first. Even while we are still sinners, he loves us.

Everybody – every single person – is worth it to God. That means everybody – every single person – is worth it to you and to me.

~

Wow!  See what I mean about the best stuff being at the end?! Absolutely powerful! Be sure to follow Ryan on Twitter @RyanEggenberger! He’s doing great things for the right reasons!

Thanks, Ryan, for taking the time to share more about yourself and inspire all of us! Great advice!

Eric Metaxas Stops in Nashville on Bonhoeffer Tour

8 Mar

In January, I posted about five life-changing books I read in 2012. One of those, was Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas. If you have not read it yet, I highly recommend it! It is a vital read for this day and time! I am a HUGE Dietrich Bonhoeffer fan now and a few of his published books are on my ever-growing to-read list!

I’m also an Eric Metaxas fan, as well! I recently read his short book, No Pressure, Mr. President! The Power of Belief in a Time of Crisis, about his speech at the National Prayer Breakfast last year and I just downloaded the Kindle edition of another book he wrote, Amazing Grace, which is only $2.99 on Amazon for the month of March!

Courtesy of ericmetaxas.com

Eric Metaxas / Courtesy of ericmetaxas.com

This past Tuesday, I was fortunate to be able to attend the Bonhoeffer Tour: An Evening with Eric Metaxas New York Times #1 Best Selling Author sold-out engagement in Nashville!  I loved how Doug Hudson, who introduced Metaxas, set the tone for the event in his brief speech.  Hudson commented that the night was not to celebrate Bonhoeffer or Metaxas, but “to celebrate Jesus Christ who is the root of our courage.” Can I get an “Amen”?!  It was such a blessing to be able to attend a talk that focused on two men striving to do God’s will so that others may know the love and grace of Jesus!

Having read two of Metaxas’ books already, I had a lot of background information prior to this event.  The Q & A session at the end was a great opportunity to hear Metaxas expand on certain issues and concerns.  One of the biggest, is the fact that there are so many parallels between the state of America today and that of early Nazi Germany.

Metaxas discussed that Hitler and the Nazis started out by “resricting religious liberty,” which was enabled because the church didn’t “seem to be willing to fight.” Metaxas went on to acknowledge later, “Religious liberty is genuinely being threatened right now.”  Of course, this is clear based on the pending  implementation of the HHS mandate and attacks on the vocation of marriage.  Metaxas also made this point:

If you don’t stand up early, it’s a lot harder to speak up later on.

Due to being in the blogging world, I have had the opportunity to read so many great posts by other Catholics.  I am very encouraged that there are so many Christians in this country who are standing up and writing about truth and striving to do God’s will!  If you are one of these amazing evangelists, please continue your good work!  Let us imitate Bonhoeffer’s saintly example by praying and acting!  Metaxas stated that Bonhoeffer believed that “prayer must lead to action.”  He truly lived his life based on this truth.  Metaxas also commented, “God calls us to live fully in this world” and “God blesses us to be a blessing.”  Amazing words!  Thank you for your work and example, Mr. Metaxas!  To learn more about Eric Metaxas, check out his conversion story!

May we have the courage to stand up for the right to live our faith, so that we may encourage others to do the same!

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