Friday, December 11, 2015

2015 - A Year in Review

Dear Family and Friends,

The New Year started with a bang as we watched fireworks in the San Francisco harbor on a dinner and dancing cruise with the Kelleys. We returned back to reality, and I began the job hunt – polishing my resume, printing business cards, and networking. It seemed like an eternity, but within two months, I was working as a contractor at Wells Fargo. I joined a fun team and enjoyed the work (developing a center of excellence, launching a new software application, and creating business process models, i.e. flow charts). Oh and in the midst of everything we moved to a condo in Dana Point (across the street from the beach) where we have enjoyed many beautiful sunsets this year! If you are ever in the area, you should come visit us.

To celebrate the new job we took a trip to Utah to see the snow, and after our Prius was buried overnight in the snow, we decided it was time to get out of town, so that we did not get snowed in. I did not want to lose my new job! As soon as there was a break in the snow, we dug out the car and headed to Las Vegas. We went back to Vegas two weeks later to join the Perry siblings for an exciting weekend celebrating Cameron and Katey.

I enjoyed the work at Wells Fargo, but it was a temporary contract, so I was delighted in April when I was offered a position at Capital Group (an investment firm and the home of the American Funds). I am a Business Analyst, where I work with the Operations division on strategic, cross-departmental projects and act as their liaison with IT. I also commute to the LA office periodically, which has been its own adventure. The position is exactly what I was pursing, and I am delighted to work with such a great team. Every day is unique, and I love the cycle of learning, analyzing, and transforming the business.

In May we flew out to Lake Lure, NC to attend Cameron and Katey’s wedding. What a beautiful event and so much fun! We also visited the Biltmore estate which had a temporary exhibit of Downtown Abbey costumes (lovely!). We finished the month with the U2 Concert at the Forum in LA. They certainly know how to rock! We also saw Mumford and Sons a few months later, and had a great time.

Over the summer you would often find us watching the sunset at the beach after work. On the weekend we enjoyed a couple picnics and Shakespeare plays too. Let me know if you want to join us next year! We dug out the camping gear and joined the Donnowitz for a weekend camping trip to Big Sur – one of the most beautiful places in the world! We also were delighted to visit Katie and Iseah to meet our new little niece Mia. She is so adorable and smiley!

In July I went on my first business trip – to Geneva, Switzerland. The work was fun – collaborating with the team and documenting their processes, but the weekend was the best – chocolate, cheese, and castles! And oh the delicious French food. My French is pretty rusty, but I remembered more than I thought. Here’s hoping I have another excuse to travel very soon! Maybe to the London or Singapore office next time.

This summer we spent some time on the beach with our families, including my first trip to Catalina Island where we went jet skiing among the dolphins! We concluded the summer with a weekend getaway to Carmel by the Sea to celebrate our 4th anniversary. Wine tasting in vineyards, chatting with local artists in their galleries, and strolling by the sea – if you have never been, you have to put it on your calendar for 2016.

Probably some of the biggest news of the year is that Clint is no longer teaching. After dedicating a decade to teaching the youth, he is starting a new adventure – the world of sales. In August Clint started his new job as Account Executive at Image 2000 where he helps businesses save money on their copier contracts. And he would have me add that if you or your organization have a copier, you two should talk ; )

The craziest thing I did this year was the YMCA Stair Climb in September – climbing to the top of the US Bank building – the highest skyscraper east of the Mississippi - it has 76 flights of stairs. It was quite the challenge, but a great opportunity to bond with coworkers and to see the city.

I spent Halloween in Hemet, soaking up the cuteness of my little niece and nephew – Iron Man and Snow White. Clint flew to Dallas to meet up with the guys and see a Cowboys game. For the first time, we spent Thanksgiving in Dallas. It was a fun celebration – we were all stuffed and had fun playing games and watching football. Okay, the Cowboys football season has been more painful than fun, but we enjoyed time with family. And we cannot wait to meet Chris and Julia's little one - due in February.

What's next? Well, for the holidays, we will be spending Christmas in Hemet at my sister’s, and for New Year’s we will be skiing and drinking hot cocoa at the Heavenly resort at Lake Tahoe with Clint’s parents and the Kelleys. We are looking forward to our 5th anniversary next summer. No big trips planned, but we want to do something fun. No kids yet, but we know you are eager. We are too, but with new jobs, we are just waiting for the right time. Oh and Shiloh has had a great year too, by the way. He turned 3 this year, and he loves being near the beach.

Sending you our love,
The Perrys


Thursday, February 28, 2013

Life and Death and Life: Our Resurrection Hope

Perhaps it seems morbid, but it’s on my mind today. Is the potential loss of a loved one a good reason to not love? Is the fact that a friend might move reason not to reach out? Is the fact that a relationship might not work out reason not to date? Is the fact that a child might die reason not to have children? Is the fact that a husband might die reason to live alone? Does the existence of pain and the potential for sorrow mean that I should not love? These are the sorts of questions that I think when I witness pain. Was it worth it? Were the happy times worth this great sorrow?

One of my coworkers lost her husband last night unexpectedly. He was not ill, and only in his early fifties. They should have had another ten or twenty years together at least. Instead, she is now grieving and arranging his funeral. Everything had been normal as she came home from a day at the office, until she found him already gone. Can life really change so quickly? Can everything be different in an instant?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

And so it begins - Lent 2013

I’ll begin by giving away the ending – By God's strength I did not eat the cookie.


My initial response to the idea of Lent is generally, “Oh that sounds like a profitable exercise. I’ll lose some weight and start some healthy habits…Wait, that sounds like a bummer!” This year was no different. Strangely I had been sort of looking forward to Lent beginning – simplifying life, having more quiet time, eating less and exercising more. That is until yesterday when I realized that I would not be able to eat my favorite treats, so I proceeded to eat a bite of everything that I would miss for the next 40 days including meats, sweets and drinks.

With the sunrise on this Ash Wednesday morning, the Lenten fast began. It seemed quite an ordinary day besides the growling of my stomach. “This whole Lent thing will be a piece of cake!” I thought. “I’m a veteran.”

At work we had our weekly staff meeting, and then were called into a conference room to celebrate the completion of a year-long project. The celebration was nice and encouraging until they passed out cute, chocolaty, sugar cookies – our little treasure troves. Now it might not sound appealing to you, and sugar cookies are far from my favorite dessert, but it certainly looked good in its little plastic wrapper.

I sat there holding my cookie and staring at its glittering golden sprinkles. “Surely it would be okay if I ate this cookie. I definitely earned it by my contribution to the project. It is mine. If it is a gift, isn’t it okay? What could one cookie matter? Who makes up the rules anyway? Aren’t they a bit arbitrary? You don’t have to tell anyone at church. You could frame it that everyone was eating their cookies and it would be ungracious to decline the offer…” The thoughts, excuses, and possible schemes swirled in my mind, as I walked back to my desk.

Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 in Reflection

Our Christmas letter this year:

Dear Friends & Family,

You are all so very dear to us, and we are blessed beyond measure to have you in our lives. Although many of us are apart this Christmas, we cherish your role in our lives and are praying for you continually. As we enter this new year, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on all that 2012 held:

*January We launched a home school group, reading and discussing the works of the Inklings, great British authors like C.S. Lewis, Chesterton, Sayers, and Williams.
*February Lent began.
*March We hosted a 24 Hour Famine with our church’s youth group, fasting from food and media, and participating in a food drive to collect food for the community.
*April We celebrated Easter! I accompanied Clint and his class to the LA Cathedral, and lead a tour for our Inklings students at the Norton Simon Museum.
*May I started a Book Club with a group of friends where we met to catch up and discuss our book of the month.
*June We had a bittersweet time moving out of our first place. Clint finished teaching for the school year and then flew to Notre Dame for six weeks to continue working on his Masters degree in Church History, and I moved into the Becher’s house (a fun and generous family we met through friends at our church).
*July We spent the 4th apart, but both of us found a dear friend with whom to celebrate. I worked the Compassion International booth at Fish Fest and was overjoyed to see dozens of children sponsored! The highlight of our summer was celebrating our first anniversary in Chicago, complete with an art museum tour, four-course meal atop the John Hancock, and a river cruise with fireworks! Clint certainly outdid himself in planning this romantic day! The next day we drove across the border into Indiana where we spent the week at Notre Dame, then returned to Chicago and enjoyed sharing some sweet time with his parents. At the end of the month I was delighted to welcome Clint home and to rejoice in his hard work.
*August Clint was named the Youth Director at our church (St Matthew’s Church in Newport Beach) and we had a bonfire with the students at Huntington Beach. The Dallas Cowboys training camp was in Oxnard, so we traveled up to see the team. On the 31st we moved into our beautiful new apartment in Orange, which we affectionately call “Perry-dise” (a pun on “Paradise” thanks to Coldplay).
*September We spent the month getting settled, shopping for furniture and planting my herb garden, and Clint started his second year at Saddleback Valley Christian School where he teaches honors Bible classes, called “religious studies,” in which he reads great books with his students and discusses them in a seminar style, classical education model. We celebrated our Epic Event Weekend with the youth group which included pizza and hot dogs, bowling and an Angels’ game. Additionally, we were delighted to visit Clint’s mom at her work conference in San Diego.
*October I was accepted into the MBA program at Concordia University in Irvine and started my first course, Financial Accounting, while continuing to work full-time as a Quality Control Specialist at ECCU.
*November I had the joy of co-hosting a jungle-themed baby shower for my sister, who is due with their first in January. Clint and I are super excited to become Uncle and Auntie very soon! The following weekend Clint’s family flew out for a delightful visit of “super fun,” visiting the beach, touring a museum, and lots of shopping!
*December We are observing Advent by serving in an Operation Christmas Child service project with the youth group at the beginning of the month. Later we will celebrate Clint’s 28th birthday, see some of the new movies that we have been eagerly awaiting all year (anyone else exited about Les Miserables and The Hobbit??) and spend a merry Christmas with my family in Ridgecrest.

“Walking Briskly”
A poem by Tori Perry 

Running through the grocery store,
Well, “walking briskly” is much more
Accurate to describe the feeling:
Appearance of decorum, concealing
The stress and exhaustion that lies
Under this festive, glittering guise.
For cookies to bake, gifts to buy,
Parties to plan and bows to tie
Leave little time for me to muse,
To wonder at that glorious news
Declared by angel choirs bright
On that anything but silent night
The humble virgin did give birth,
Glory to God and peace on earth,
When divinity in manger lay –
Resplendent heaven in the hay.

Perry Reflections - Advent
Many times the weeks leading up to Christmas are hectic and exhausting with festivities galore, but we pray that it will be a time of preparation for us all, that we might sit in wonder at the glory and mystery of Christ’s coming and His promise to return again.

This past Sunday (Dec 2nd) our church inaugurated the beginning of a new Christian year with the season of Advent, even as we see Christmas on the horizon with all its festivities. One of the prayers from the service captures the heart of Advent:
ALMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen.

May the Lord bless you during this season and fill you with hope as we await with expectation the coming of Christ at Christmas. Peace be with you!
Clint & Tori Perry & Shiloh ; )

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Statement of Intent

That's right. Four years after graduating college, I am hoping to go back in order to pursue my MBA. I am currently in the process of applying to Concordia University, and as with all graduate school applications, I was asked to provide a statement of intent – “Why do you want to attend school at Concordia? What do you plan to do with your advanced degree? Explain how this new academic program will contribute to your career goals.” Thus, I began a journey of prayer, Bible reading, and silence, as I asked God to direct my path, to show me if this is what He has for me, and to gain a vision of my vocation. He met me in this place of searching just as He promises in Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."

Last Friday I sat on a bench in the courtyard at the San Juan Capistrano Mission, reflecting on the lifework of those courageous priests. Thinking of the Christians who have faithfully served the Lord for the past two millennia and further back into our Jewish heritage, I asked to be given a vision of what it means to be a Christian woman and a business woman. In His loving kindness He brought Proverbs 31 to mind (you should pause to read it if it has been awhile: ). I was captured by the beauty of this image and how it brought together the competing viewpoints that I was entertaining of a Christian woman as gentle and kind while a business woman was strong and assertive. In these verses I found my calling: I long to be a virtuous woman - a woman who tenderly cares for your family, works diligently and wisely, generously gives to the poor, and seeks to honor the Lord in all that she does.

Well, without giving too much more away, here is my statement of intent for your reading pleasure (safely under the 500 word count maximum at a smooth 494):

The Lord has given me a passion to see the Kingdom of God grow, both through the ministry of the church and in the marketplace. Since graduating from Biola University four years ago, I have gained experience at ECCU (Evangelical Christian Credit Union in Brea, CA) working with churches, Christian schools, and non-profit ministries through banking operations and loan servicing. It is my desire to continually grow in effectiveness, as I pursue excellence coupled with efficiency in my current position as a Quality Control Specialist. In the days ahead I would like to move into a management position where I could seek continued enhancements to my unit, and be able to invest in staff, mentoring them to maximize their potential. Eventually it is my dream to work for a non-profit, particularly because they do so much good, but have so few resources. I currently volunteer as a child advocate for Compassion International, so I would love to help shape the future of that ministry. Additionally, I have a passion for museums, so it would be exciting to work as a business consultant for a struggling museum, striving to increase their effectiveness and sustainability. Finally, it is a dream of mine to partner with my husband, who is a high school teacher, in order to start a classical Christian school at our church in Newport Beach. Wherever the Lord leads, I want to be equipped for the journey.

During a recent informational meeting I was impressed by the caliber of professors and students who are drawn to this university, and I would love to be a part of what God is doing in the business community of Orange County through this school and its alumni. I have a few years of business experience now and with a proven track record, I will continue to grow and progress over time, but the MBA program at Concordia University would equip me with unique tools to be more effective, as I seek to grow in knowledge and experience beyond my present capacity. At Concordia I would be challenged and given the opportunity to explore aspects of business like marketing and financing that I do not encounter every day, and to embrace my calling as a business woman. I am particularly fascinated by the Public Policy emphasis, as it would unite my passion for history, fascination with government, and exposure to regulations, federal legislation, and legal documentation in the banking industry.

Ultimately, it is my desire to be a woman of virtue, as described in Proverbs 31 – a woman who tenderly cares for her family, works diligently and wisely, generously gives to the poor, and seeks to honor the Lord in all that she does. For the past few years I have debated and prayed, asking the Lord to direct my path. I genuinely believe that the MBA program at Concordia University is my next step on this journey to grow in grace and truth both professionally and personally.

I appreciate your prayers as I prepare for classes to begin and more fully embrace my calling. May the Lord bless you and direct your steps as you seek His face.

Monday, July 23, 2012

One Year Later...Our First Anniversary

Last Monday we celebrated our first wedding anniversary. Wow! While engaged it seemed like the wedding day would never come, and now it has come and gone, and here we are a year later, hand in hand.

It has been quite a year! When I look at what we did just in 2011, I laugh to think that we had no idea what we were really getting ourselves into, and then I smile at the delightful surprise and precious gift that God has given to me in my dear Clint.

Our first place was a cute, but sometimes cramped, studio apartment in Anaheim. It proved to be our testing grounds for this first year, as well as our little abode, our hiding place. In reflection, I think the biggest lessons of this first year for me have been about communication, vulnerability, and trust.

Friday, June 15, 2012

"An Ode to Our First Place"

To you, small box of the dull white walls,
To the metal handles that always fall off
To the jet engine fan in the bathroom
And the angry wasps on the patio eves

I will not miss you on the summer nights
When the room was stifling hot
Until the whirling air condition clicked
Turning it into a freezing ice box