Drafts Need Endings

If I could turn these letters into coherent thoughts and tie the stars together to form constellations, I would feel much more at ease.  The truth is, I’m not really on much of a writing hiatus at all.  Instead, I’ve been collecting fragments and scattered ideas to form something that will hopefully make sense in the end.  I’ve been building deep studies and piecing together the puzzle of my heart.  It’s been a rather messy process and I think my hands have come out with quite a few cuts and bruises, but I’m excited about the outcome of it all.

It’s much like cultivating an old garden.  I’ve been working the ground for a while now, but I’m finally starting to get to the end of all the rusty pieces and broken pottery.  Flowers are bursting forth, and it’s time to write their story.  My mind is full of eraser crumbs and scratched out ideas, but the horizon is endless and I can barely catch my breath as we dance through the sunset of this chapter.

Santa Monica Pier, March 2015

 

~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

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

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

Holding Back

Some things are difficult to write- not because the author does not want to portray them, but because life is delicate and words are clumsy.

Yet, there’s something beautiful in the mess, something to treasure in words that were too valuable to time perfectly.

Whilst digging through the depths of caged up thoughts and unspoken words, I’ve come to the conclusion that holding back is rarely worth it.

Once the rusty words and muddy thoughts are being excavated, you’ll find that the playground of your life is much more open for friends to stream in.  And as the open fields start to pour out, take in the view.  It really is extraordinary, and I’ll never forget the ones that helped me get here.

~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