Time for Something New

Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong.

-Mandy Hale

If you ever followed my blog closely, you may be wondering why I’ve been dormant the last several months. 

No, I haven’t stopped writing, it was simply time for a change. This blog carried me through high school and the remainder of my teen years, but around early summer, I realized I just didn’t fit it anymore. It was like pulling on the pair of jeans you’ve owned for years, and for the first time it stopped at your hips and that was that. I struggled to force myself in with a few last scattered posts, but the time came and I moved on. 
I’ve actually been writing in my new blog for a while, but I decided not to publicize it until I grew more comfortable with it. 

A lot has changed for me. I used to write this blog “Thoughts From Hazel” in a sort of ambiguous way, detaching myself from most of the writing for effect. However, I have developed a much more direct way of writing, and I’m enjoying it. My new blog is much more personal, it has deeper roots in my adventures as well as my emotions and I’m excited about it. This old blog got me through a lot throughout the last several years. However, another story is starting and has already begun.

During this time, I co-led a campus ministry on Cerritos college for a while and now I’m involved in a “marketplace ministry” at the Long Beach Town Center until I finish raising support to go to the Philippines as a long term missionary. I started dating and incredible man of God and have walked with wonderful women of the same heart and purpose.

If you are interested in following my writing from here on, this is the link to my new blog:

Tortles.wordpress.com
And if you are interested and able to help support my venture to the Philippines, here is that link:

Gofundme.com/toriphilippines
Thank you for all of your support through the last several years, and especially if you continue to hold to that. It has been quite the adventure so far. 

We’re not falling down

We are stronger now

Dreaming out loud

Breathe easy now

-Breathe Easy ~Mree

 
Here’s to the journey.

-Tori Lynn

Happy Easter(?)

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I’m not that big on religious Holidays.  Not that I’ll protest them or even really express any particular dislike for them, but they’re just not a huge deal to me.  If anything, the day after them is really when everything sets in.  How many people will talk about Jesus’ birth the day after Christmas?  In this case, how many of the multitudes will study the Bible the week after their yearly “return to church” on Easter Sunday?  I don’t mean to be cynical, if anything I want to solicit a reaction.  Will you study the Bible, or will you just let this pass by like another event?

Romans 6:3-4 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

Even though Easter is celebrated as Resurrection Day, I’m continually grateful for the great joy I’ve had to share in His resurrection through baptism. Yesterday, countless people who never set foot in a church the rest of the year attended, many people who never speak of God posted scriptures on their social networks and talked about how grateful they are for the cross. However, in this time of hypocritical spirituality, very few are willing to truly study the Bible out and change their lives.

I’ve reflected on what the cross means to me, and it drives me to work harder everyday.  As the new churches are preparing to be planted and the Bible studies are picking up, I couldn’t be more grateful for the life I’ve been given.  If you’re interested in what I’ve been up to, an update is coming soon.  However, I would love to hear from you.  Make a comment, send me an email or even give me a call if you want to know more or just want to catch up.  Hope to hear from you soon.

~Tori Lynn

Five Years

Five years ago, I started my journey in writing.

At times it’s been a skip through the briars, and others a hike through the meadows, but I think I’m finally starting to get a grip of what it means to climb mountains.  What I mean by that, is simply explained through the first Rule of Writing,

“Write to Discover.”

And while I could diverge on the other rules of writing, such as “There is no greater discovery than love.”  I would rather hone in on some of the less obvious discoveries I’ve made in my journey.  When I first started, my writing was sloppy and overzealous a best, I poured intense amounts of character into stories with no landscape and rants with no backbone.  Is this to say it was all pointless?  By no means.  I had to discover the follies of my thoughts and misplaced imageries.  The crusty wallpapers came down to reveal quite a different landscape of my own mind.

I’m rather certain that five years ago, I never would have imagined myself here, and by here I don’t only mean Southern California.  I had a rather dull view of happiness, thinking that it would be satisfied in finding “The” relationship and flying off to another country in glamour, letting God spill out His direction like shimmering jewels every time I doubted His existence.  I couldn’t quite recap the events or words that led to such a dream, but the glowing fields I painted in my head were covered in shards of glass such as depression, deep-seated hatred, ungratefulness, and a load of selfish ambition.  It’s sort of embarrassing to divulge the true state of my heart at times, but only through writing have I really been able to come to terms with it all.  Though I haven’t written near as much on here, I haven’t stopped journalling since then, and I’m at the point where I almost fill an entire notebook every month.

However, I’ve made many other discoveries as well.  Vulnerability has helped me uncover the wildflowers of my past, to stumble upon abandoned coves and open up brand new horizons that are awaiting their own sunsets.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how long I’ll retain this blog, and I suppose now is as good a time as ever to announce that there may be some pretty big changes on the horizon.  After five years of pouring out the treasures and thorns from my journey, I have much hope for the future.  I can’t imagine what has kept you all so attentive to these words for so long, but I hope that you find encouragement in this.

Romans 5:3-4 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

I’m truly happy.

The trek up the mountain of life has become rather challenging, and I love it.  The new directions and hopes have opened up broadened skies and I feel so free.  The truth is freeing, but it’s the kind of medicine that stings on the way down, and if you aren’t willing to take it, you’ll end up much like a child skipping barefoot through fields of glass, claiming them to be flowers.  Trust me, it doesn’t end well.

For the time being, I will continue to post my discoveries here, but don’t be surprised when bigger changes come this way.  Thank you for bearing with me! (Happy five years!!)

~Tori Lynn

Iscariot

As the new year approaches and the pagan holiday turned Christian (whatever that means) aka Christmas has passed, a lot of sentiment is passed around.

I digress.

Why Iscariot?  Perhaps because for me, the picture of Judas Iscariot is most appropriate for this time of year.  It’s a rather graphic image, not for the faint of heart or certainly not for the heart that craves comfort, it challenges anyone with their eyes truly open.

The name known synonymously for betrayal.  The man no one wants to admit they’ve related to, or even felt sorry for.

I’ve been reading a wondrous work of historical fiction based around his life.  It’s rather uncomfortable to imagine Judas whole heartedly pledging his life to the long awaited Messiah.  I’ll be honest, it’s rather difficult to read for the same reason most historical accounts are- I already know the end.  Rather, his end.

Why is it so uncomfortable?

Perhaps the same reason we find comfort in the regular Christmas traditions.  They’re a bit glossed over, it’s not pleasing to talk about the real story, it’s not cozy and there are certainly no warm feelings attached to Judas splayed on the ground after his suicide.  In all truth and honesty, it’s painful.  It’s comfortable to remember baby Jesus, but don’t talk too much about him being spat on and beaten, not right now anyway.

But why?  Why is it painful to think of a man who lived and died thousands of years ago?  Perhaps that’s just it.

Living and dying isn’t that great a feat, after all.  All of us do it, or will.  That’s what makes Jesus so wonderful, isn’t it?

2 Timothy 1:10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

But there’s someone who didn’t overcome death, and that is Judas.  In the darkest hour, he gave in.

Will you be faithful to the end?  Maybe that’s the real question.  Judas was considered a faithful disciple, and when I read the account of his calling, as given flesh in the fictional history novel written by Tosca Lee, it brought me to tears.  To think that Judas Iscariot was once given the call, the very same call extended to us and many after our time,

“Come, follow me.”

To realize he also had a life to leave behind, doubts to overcome, and the very remorse of his betrayal that led to committing suicide in the end, it’s not comfortable at all.  The love God extends is unconditional, and to imagine Jesus’ pain in calling him friend, in teaching Judas and training him, knowing the end result is an example far above our own love.

The parallel of Peter’s denial at the same time shines hope, though he also betrayed Jesus verbally and abandoned him with the rest of the disciples, he returned and spoke boldly until his death of the One who called him.

And so I say again, will you be faithful to the end?

Matthew 27:3 When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders.

Matthew 26:75 Then Peter remembered the word Jesus has spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.

I share the thoughts of the author of this particular version of Judas’ life, to realize that humans rarely set on a course intending to betray or go down in history as a villain, perhaps he felt justified, or he thought he was doing what was best.  Sin is a blinding trap that almost always seems right, keep your eyes open and check your heart.

2 Corinthians 7:10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

I pray this can serve as an example, for there is certainly hope.

Happy New Year.

~Tori Lynn

Rainfall

Psalm 147:8 He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills.

If you’ve known me for any length of time, you’ve probably discovered that rain is one of my absolute favorite things on this earth.  However, as I now live in Long Beach, California, rain has become a rare luxury.

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Strange as it is, I’ve had several days where I just prayed about it, telling God how much I miss the rain.  Perhaps it comes from the long mornings on the Gilroy’s porch in Costa Rica, watching the rain fall as I poured out my confusion to God, it’s something special to me.  Regardless of why, something spectacular happened today.

As I woke up, I heard the familiar sound of rain pattering on the roof.  At first I didn’t believe it, but with a childish hope in my heart, I ran to the door.  Sure enough, there was a steady pour of rain to greet me this morning.  Nothing could hold me back from running into the rain and spending my morning prayer walk in it.  I’m ever so grateful for the little things, my God loves me so much that He made it rain.  When I found shelter underneath one of the trees outside our apartment, I recalled my prayers and hope for rain with a smile.

My God, why do I ever doubt?

~Tori Lynn

Love of Thousands

As a former introvert, you can imagine my amazement at a long weekend conference of over a thousand people who not only truly love God, but each other as well.  As I wandered through the delightful fellowship every morning and evening, I exchanged numbers and hugs with countless people.  Not only did I constantly find myself in conversation with previous strangers, but it didn’t matter where I ended up sitting.  It sounded a little scary at first, but I tell you, there’s nothing like it.  

Hebrews 8:11 No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.

 

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This verse truly reminded me of the beauty of every moment.  Some embraces were new and warm, others were overflowing with excitement as old friends were united, but every one was filled with pure love.  Never have I seen anything like this before in my life.  Ah, to imagine that this is only the beginning, and to think that not every single one of us was present.  As the beautiful voices echoed through every room in that hotel, a mental image sunk into my mind that I shall remember in the most difficult moments.  

We are Family, to the End.

~Tori Lynn

Confidence

Romans 14:23b and everything that does not come from faith is sin.

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Every step should be a step in faith.
Faith is a confidence, a trust in the unseen.
Were I to look up and suddenly not trust the ground,
I would be considered a fool.
And rightly so.

So why is it,
that when I doubt the steps I take,
that it seems natural?
This should not be,
for as much as the ground is still there,
surely He has and will be there longer.

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This is quite the epic journey
And one rather unexpected.
However, this is no excuse to doubt.
I must be confident in my steps.
Not only on the physical ground,
but on this tangible pathway where grace abounds.

If I am to doubt,
as I have,
I am thankful for those
who correct my course.
That is love.

Full of twists and never-ending turns,
this journey will wind on.
And I am ever thankful
that this is the journey I am on.

~Tori Lynn