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

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Moving: Clinging to God's Promises

Moving. Ugh. It happens to all of us – some more often than others. Growing up my dad was in the Navy, so we moved every three to five years. We were the “lucky” ones who lived mostly on the same coast, but no matter the distance or the noble cause, it is hard for a second grader to understand the goodness of leaving her home, best friends, church, school, and all that she knows because Dad has to report to a new boss. Perhaps I still have some unresolved issues from my childhood trauma, but I encourage you to honor the servicemen and women you know, for they and their families have sacrificed quite a bit for the freedom that we all enjoy in this land.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Art of Seeing: A Visit to the Getty Center

A trip to the Getty Center in Los Angeles is always a delightful excursion!  Its vast collection could certainly keep a person occupied for an entire weekend if he simply wanted to “see” all the pieces.  My favorite visits, however, are with a single destination in mind, one gallery upon which to focus my attention.  I will view one exhibit and then spend the rest of the afternoon enjoying a picnic with friends on the lawn or reading a novel and sipping a glass of iced tea on the patio overlooking the central garden with its beautiful and mysterious waterfall.  Last Saturday I had just that opportunity.

The Getty has amassed a wide collection of illuminated manuscripts spanning from the eighth century to the sixteenth. Due to the delicacy and age of the texts (particularly the ink), the Getty rotates their collection of illuminated manuscripts on display every three months or so. In this way I have an excuse to visit four times a year at minimum. Who knows when these texts will see the light of day again? This might possibly be a once in a lifetime opportunity, so my husband and I filled up the gas tank and drove into the city.

Living in Anaheim we have our fill of traffic and concrete as we meander up and down Orange County each week, but we do not make it into L.A. County very often any more, save to catch up with friends from Biola at the La Mirada Starbucks, to jump on a plane at LAX, or to visit a museum.  Still, it is always obvious when entering LA County for the traffic increases instantly, even on a Saturday morning, the lanes narrow, and the square footage of concrete increases inversely to the number of trees. Along the pavement, claustrophobia increases upon merging with the 405, only to exit and be led by the florescent lights into the cave of the parking garage.  Here, however, is clearly seen the intentionality and psychological insight of the architect. All visitors mount a white platform in the sunshine and eagerly wait. The tram slowly arrives, the passengers glide into their seats, and the tram gently rises up the slope, passing through clusters of shady trees and emerges on top of the hill.  On a clear day the skyline is visible and even the ocean.  Time has slowed down on this journey of transcendence.  The hustle and bustle of the city has been drowned out and all are brought to the foot of the staircase, all men on equal footing and with a renewed sense of peace.  We are above the worries of life and concern for our daily bread.  Here we are encouraged, we are free to discover our humanity, to touch the heavens.   On this hill we are free to explore, to stare at a painting, to examine a drawing under the magnifying glass, to try our hand at sketching one of the great works of art, or simply to relax and read a book or enjoy a sparkling conversation with friends.

Whether leading an epic outing of friends and family or as a solitary contemplation, the Getty has facilitated dozens of enjoyable days for me over the years.  It was here on this hill that I first fell in love with art, here where I discovered the beauty of paintings and the powerful insight of the artist.  As a seventh grader I was challenged here to see art for the first time, to really see it, to look, to view, to stare into the lines and sway with the curves of the paint, to imagine myself as one of the characters, to sense the softness of a silk dress or the warmth of the sun, to feel the hue of the paint, to squeeze between the shapes and into the blank space, passed word, shape, color, sound, gazing, or rather glimpsing for a brief moment, True Beauty.

Are you looking for something to do this Saturday? Consider a trip to the Getty Center. The Villa in Malibu is also a great place to view Greek, Roman, and Etruscan art. Begin to plan your trip today at or chat with me and we can plan one together!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

I joined the fight against poverty: Clemence and Compassion International

“I joined the fight against poverty!” the white-lettered t-shirt seemed to shout from its black canvas, as I pulled it out of the cardboard box, careful not to dump the packing popcorn all over the floor. I had been waiting for this package to arrive for weeks, and it was finally here!

It all began long ago, but in the spring of 2009, I finally took action. I was looking ahead to my one year review at work, my first full-time, "I’m an adult now," job, and I wanted to do something special to celebrate my adulthood and God’s provision for me. That's when it hit me - I was, for the first time in my life, financially stable, generally independent, and actually able to sponsor a child through Compassion International! I had grown up watching the commercials on TV of children in need, their empty eyes yearning for food, for hope. I had even spent a couple summers with the Continental Singers raising sponsors for the organization. I had always wished that I could do something for the poor children of the world, but I hadn’t had a steady income. Now I did! Now I could do something about it!  Now I could change the life of a child!

Praying As Our Fathers: The Book of Common Prayer

*This morning I led the devotional time for my department at work.  Below is what I shared:

I have found that learning to pray is one of the hardest aspects of the Christian life.  Scripture exhorts us to pray, but what do we say?  How do we maintain a balance in our approach between the amiable sentiment of “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” and the sobering “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” both talking to a trusted friend and standing before the throne addressing our almighty king?  The disciples themselves struggled with prayer, and asked Jesus for lessons in how to pray, for in that context of the Gospels is the Lord’s Prayer recorded.

Over the years I have attended many seminars and Sunday school classes on prayer, with advice ranging from “follow these five helpful tips to improve your prayer life,” to “just pray as the Spirit leads.”  Many times I have struggled praying consistently and finding motivation to pray for extended periods of time because I feel like I do not know what to say.  When I do pray, it can be heavily laden with my emotions at the moment such as bemoaning my overwhelming problems, without always clearly clinging to the truth of Scripture in faith.  In the midst of this struggle to find a balance between expressing how I feel to my Father and seeking for my will and desires to become more aligned with those of my Lord, I found a little book, written five hundred years ago by devout clergy and drawing on centuries of the Christian tradition, which has radically changed the way that I approach prayer.  It has brought a new consistency in my daily prayer.  This book does not replace spontaneous prayer, but it has brought a balance to my extended daily prayer life, by equipping me with a language and structure for my prayers.  It has encouraged me to daily confront my sinfulness and to truly be thankful for the abundant redemption that we have in Christ.  It is called The Book of Common Prayer.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Banana Nut Bread Disaster: Learning to Laugh at Yourself

Okay.  I will be the first one to admit that I am easily embarrassed.  I am a reserved person, preferring to put my best foot forward and make a good impression, so I naturally tend to keep to myself, especially those things which are weaknesses or flaws.  Marriage, however, is helping me, well, my dear Clint, is helping me to admit my failings, apologize if necessary, and even to laugh at myself if the occasion calls for it.  He certainly finds some of the things that I find to be embarrassing or mildly traumatic to be cute and funny – like this morning.

Let’s just say that I am not a baker.  I mastered baking the turtle fudge brownie box mix after many bake sales for theatre, but I am a failure with most everything else.  Okay, I'll admit that I even have a hard time with boxed cookie mixes.  In my defense, there is a big difference between nine and eleven minutes in the oven! 

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Love of My Life

We glided across the dance floor, my wedding gown swishing and his silver tie shimmering.  Having just been introduced as Mr. and Mrs. Perry, we had excitedly taken the floor and now danced to “Green Eyes,” our first dance as husband and wife.  The candles glowed and the lights overhead glimmered.  With a twinkle in his eyes, he lifted his arm, signaling a spin.  I smoothly twirled away from him, but in an instant our eyes met, and entranced I stepped back into his arms.  Laughter and smiles sparkled effervescently, dancing our Rumba box step, as we floated under the twinkling lights.

Just a couple hours before I had been waiting in the foyer of our church, eager and giddy, veiled and on my father’s arm.  I thought of the pure bliss in his eyes, as the doors slowly opened and I first entered the church, the organist playing my “subtly majestic” anthem.  Tears twinkled and a smile spread across the face of my beloved, while he watched me slowly approach the altar – approach him.

A Hospital Visit

The walls were white, the tile a dingy grey, and the hallway smelled like sterilizing cleanser and urine. Slowly I trudged up the stairs. I knew that I was obligated to go see her, but everything within me wanted to run, to escape, for I was wracked with guilt. What would she say? Would she even look at me? Did I even want her to look at me? I was convinced that her eyes would bore holes through my chest.

It was a gloomy March Sunday morning, overcast and cloudy, not raining at the moment, but it looked as though it could begin again any minute. More significantly, it was the day after the accident.

Since freshmen year, we had all been great friends, The Five of Us, as we referred to ourselves. That sunny Saturday had been our long-awaited study break – a day at Disneyland! We had talked about it for months, and finally the day came. We had experienced the wonder of Fantasy Land, adventured with Indiana Jones through snake-filled caves, screamed our way down the Tower of Terror, and been transported into the future together. It was a wonderful day! After eating fajitas and kettle corn, and watching the magical fireworks display, we loaded into my green station wagon, Tommy the Taurus, and headed back to campus around midnight. We were all exhausted, but it was a smooth ride.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Phone Call

“Hello?” I answered the phone confidently.

“Yes, hello.  Is this Victoria Wade?” the masculine voice asked on the other line.

“Yes, that’s me,” I replied cheerfully.

“Excellent.  How are you today?” he asked.

‘Should I say that I’m great or that it depends on how this interview goes?’ I thought.  I settled for the standard, “I’m good. And you?”

“Excellent.  So why are you interested in joining the Torrey Honors Institute?” the Director asked, jumping through the formalities and to the heart of the conversation.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Flannelgraph Faith

It was a day like every other day, a night like every Wednesday night, yet heaven reached down to earth that day – January 19, 1994. 

I was a giddy eight year old attending my local AWANA club with my Bible memory book in hand and my little red Sparky vest ironed and buttoned neatly, bedecked with all the crowns and jewels that I had earned over the previous two years.  In fact, I had just turned eight two weeks before, and my dad was to turn thirty-seven the very next day.  Even so, the evening had been like many others.  I arrived just before 6 o’clock and played with my friends until the whistle blew.  I had recited the Bible verses to my leader, Mrs. Campbell, which I had memorized the previous week.  Now I sat eagerly, awaiting the beginning of “Council Time," as we called it.

Mrs. Peggy, as she insisted on being called, rather than Mrs. Berry, was like a grandmother to all of us.  She was our favorite leader, and it was her time to share the lesson tonight.  We cheerfully heard the news and quieted down, sitting up straight with our legs crossed.  We were arranged on colored strips of Velcro by on our color team.  I sat on the blue line, hands folded, as Mrs. Peggy approached the front of room.  She smiled and greeted us, encouraging us to jump up and join her in singing “Father Abraham.”  The entire room echoed, as we sang as loudly as we could, then as softly as we could, left arm and right foot in, turning around, and finally sitting down, laughing and smiling.  That’s when she retrieved the felt board from behind the podium and propped it up beside her stool.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Noontime Nachos

Delightedly munching on another cheesy chip, fingers covered in nacho sauce, I reached for a sip of my ice cold Dr. Pepper. It was Friday and that meant that my mom had given me a respite from ham sandwiches and carrots; instead, giving me two dollars and fifty cents with which to purchase my lunch. I don't know what she expected me to buy. Perhaps she envisioned a cafeteria-made lunch such as meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and peas, but those little white trays always looked gross, and the smell in the cafeteria often kept me from desiring to enter it. From time to time I would enjoy the French bread pizza or burritos that they kept stocked under the heat lamps, and I loved it when McDonald’s came to campus, but that was usually on Thursdays when I would walk by some of my peers standing in line for those coveted yellow wrapped burgers, while the rest of us walked by with our brown paper bags. Today, however, was Friday.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Rest for the Weary: A Pre-Lenten Retreat at Hilltop Renewal Center

O GOD of peace, who hast taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and in confidence shall be our strength; By the might of thy Spirit lift us, we pray thee, to thy presence, where we may be still and know that thou art God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

This past weekend Clint and I went on a Pre-Lenten spiritual retreat to Idyllwild, where we stayed at a beautiful cabin called Hilltop Renewal Center.  According to their website, the renewal center beckons “the weary for a rest, the reader a quiet spot among nature, and the one seeking prayer a place to converse with God in His beauty,” and that was no false advertising!