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

Light and Momentary Troubles

That Sunrise

2 Corinthians 4:17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

If you’re anything like me, perhaps you thought that this would mean that our troubles would always feel small, and we would be unfazed.  And if that’s the case, like myself, you’re in store for a very rude awakening.  In the very same passage, the life of a disciple is painted through words like “hard pressed” and “struck down” paired with hopes of not being destroyed.  However, as Jesus stated very plainly in John 16:33, we WILL have trouble.

Now, there is a clear difference between trouble we get ourselves into by sinning and trouble that disciples face for being disciples, but I won’t delve into that right now.

I suppose what I really want to say is that I’ve learned a lot about fighting the fight, and I’ve been struck, but not knocked down as well.  Depression has been a battle of mine for as long as I can remember, I just didn’t quite know what to call it.  Since I was small, there would be days where it was just hard to get up, where I didn’t feel motivated to eat, move, talk, and essentially live.  When I became a disciple, I fooled myself into thinking that this struggle was finally over.  Yay, no more depression!

But I was wrong.

Though it’s still a battle, it’s on an entirely different field.  Not only has God given me the grace of His help, but He’s surrounded me with people that are here to help me.  The struggle sometimes, though, is asking for help.  Pride is killer, and we aren’t meant to fight alone.  There will be months when I can easily forget about ever being depressed, through wonderful Bible studies and grand adventures, the journey seems to remain in the peaks of the mountains for a time.  And while the summits are beautiful, I wouldn’t learn very much if I remained up there.  Even Jesus himself had to suffer to be made perfect;

Hebrews 5:8 Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered

So don’t lose heart, and if you feel like you aren’t really fighting, maybe it’s time to start.  If you want to study the Bible more, get deeper into the heart of it all and find the hope that drives us heavenward, contact me, I’d love to study with you.  Though these troubles are light and momentary compared to the hope that we have, without that hope, they can kill.  Believe me, there’s a huge difference in fighting them with the hope I have now.

Don’t give up, keep fighting, the Son is coming.

~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

Looking Ahead

Spending time in North Carolina has been excellent this time, and as much fun as I’ve had, I also learned a lot.  It was very sobering to see more of who I used to be.  To be honest with myself about the states of depression I’d been in, and to see how the old state I used to call home wasn’t near as bad as I once thought.
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DSC02537There’s a large difference between these two girls, from my senior photos to this little trip.  Seeing the old photos and sitting in my room gave me a delightful peace of how different I am now.  Who would have thought, when you really trust God, He takes care of you.  Ha.  As I look forward to 2015, I wonder what the difference will be between that woman and this one.  As I pass over the pine trees in a couple minutes, I’m entering another chapter entirely, and I’m genuinely excited about it.  All I can say is that God is good, and I couldn’t be happier that He’s in charge.  Here’s to the new year!  Love you all.

~Tori Lynn

To Russia With Love

No, I’m not going to Russia- at least not right now.  However, a large part of my heart is, and as this valiant team flies off this week, they will have my prayers.  During our time together, I’ve learned a lot about love, forgiveness and most certainly zeal.  These are things I will not forget, and people I will look forward to seeing again in the future, whether in Europe, America or wherever else God takes us.

Their example- flying out on their own money to train more deeply in the Bible and God’s ministry.

Their growth- as they’ve learned they don’t quite have it together, and their humility to change.

Their zeal- From the youngest to the oldest, I’ve seen them jumping up and down to raise money for the mission as well as singing with all their hearts to encourage one another.

Their love- Never have I felt so embraced by an utterly foreign culture as with them, I genuinely feel Russian around them sometimes.

I could say many things, but I will say this-

1 Timothy 6:12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

For it surely is a fight, and you are never alone.  Я люблю тебя!

Moscow Mission Team"The Russians and Tori"

~Tori Lynn

Emotions and Weather

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I’ve come to discover, that there are no emotions in the weather.
The snow blowing in the wind is no more romantic than the leaves dropping to the ground. The heat of the summer is no less thrilling than the first signs of spring.
I’ve thought for years that seasons marked times in our lives because of the seasons themselves. However, I’ve begun to realize something else entirely.
Seasons mark times in our lives because we remember them by the way the snow clung to our hair and the summer sunlight filtered through their eyes.
Seasons are simple, they come and they go, until they come again. But I’ll never be the same person during another summer.
As this season passes, another chapter closes, and I wonder still what the next season shall bring.
~Tori Lynn

My First Year

One year ago, my life changed entirely.  However, it was truly just the beginning of a new journey.

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When I said the words; “Jesus is Lord.”  I realized that life would always ask me, “Is He really?”

I can genuinely say that I’m not the scared little girl I was when I went down into the water, but I’m not necessarily the girl that came up out of them either.  Though I died to myself a year ago, I have learned the truth in this verse:

Luke 9:23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

Daily.  Every single day from here on out I am becoming more of Him and less of me, and it’s been fantastic.  There are the obvious changes, of course, learning what it means to be a woman as well as living as a Disciple.  But a friend of mine asked me the other night, “Besides those, how have you changed the most?”

It caused me to think deep, but being able to answer that question was evidence enough.

I used to carry a thick notebook with worn pages and a cover that was falling apart.  I called it my “Thoughts” notebook, but secretly referred to it as a “Breakdown notebook.”  Every time my mind could no longer comprehend things, I would write frantically, hoping to calm myself down.  Shortly after this time last year, I simply stopped using it, and one day took it back to North Carolina and left it behind.  As I was explaining, I realized what caused this difference.  Openness, the freedom to express the depths of my heart with people whether or not they will understand.  As I poured out my heart with the brothers and sisters this weekend, the reality of this beautiful truth set in.

1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Perhaps I no longer need this form of therapy because now I have learned to trust God and talk to the people He has given me, and to listen to what they have to say.  Honestly, I know these are still my first steps, but the mountains ahead are thrilling, and my heart can only harbor so much hope.  Sincerely and truly, I want to thank all of you who helped me get this far.

As I reflected in the mountains this past weekend on the year before, my heart was overwhelmed with a joy unspeakable.  Standing in the same places I had cried out to God for clarity the year before welled up gratitude within my heart.  Where last year I was filled with questions, this year I have been immersed in a deep love.  From the depths of my heart, God, I am grateful for Your kingdom and Your salvation.  When people ask me how it’s been, my answer remains: “It’s the hardest life, but it’s the best life.”

Philippians 3:7-8 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ

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It’s been a wonderful journey so far and I can hardly wait to see what this year holds.  Somewhere along the line I realized that it’s no longer a trip or  simply an adventure, but the life I’ve been given, and a splendid one at that.  And I want to say, thank you Lord for loving me! ❤

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~Tori Lynn