Our 48 Days of Engagement

I must apologize for not updating you before the wedding, but if I’ve ever called my life a roller coaster (And I have, many times…) this past month it has been intensified more than ever, although in a very good way. Planning a wedding in 48 days is perhaps the most insane thing I’ve ever done, but I don’t regret it in the least.

I worked really hard on our wedding website and if you didn’t get to check it out, there are several great stories and pictures of Johnny and I together throughout our dating life and engagement. For example:

 Our story has morphed into so many things over the past couple of years. From a love at first sight story to a “I don’t think she’s into me”, it has been a mystery how we ended up right here.

Although we weren’t engaged for very long, we did our best to enjoy every moment and for me, it made the entire thing much more special. However, planning a wedding in less than two months is NOT for the faint of heart, it’s not for everyone and I don’t recommend it unless both you and your future spouse are completely 200% on board and are okay with tons of last minute changes.

We absolutely couldn’t have pulled off this feat without the help of our dear friends and family and I am grateful for each one of them. Above all, for God getting us this far. There is no way we could have the wonderful marriage that we do without His grace and direction in our lives.

“Funny how sometimes, you just find things.” -Tracy McConnel (HIMYM)

Since as long as I can remember, I wanted to be married before I turned 22. However, I never could have imagined the brilliant love story that God had in mind for me. Just before Thanksgiving of 2016, my (at the time) boyfriend and I were on a red-eye flight from LAX to RDU to spend a holiday with my family. As we posed for our traditional airport family photo, Johnny surprised me with a question that would forever change my life – fully supported by my entire family.

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I remember waking up from a nap shortly after (trying to get back in the right time zone) and just staring at my hand in shock. I was engaged to my best friend!

From that moment on, everything seems like a blur. From the hundreds of best wishes and congratulations on social media, to starting watching Gilmore Girls with my family, each moment of those 48 days was so precious.

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Our engagement was a strange time for me, but I learned a great deal about trusting God in the details of life and that great communication makes everything easier.

 

Some details came easier; Anthony officiating the wedding, our wedding party, and color scheme. Others were more challenging; getting our families on board with the date, our budget and getting my family to California. However, The Knot wedding checklist saved so many details for me that I would have easily overlooked. (Thank God for technology, amen.) In all the details, the pre-martial counseling and financial strains, Johnny and I fought to preserve our relationship with God and friendship with each other, and that’s what has brought us here today.

Almost two months after our wedding day, I’m still not entirely sure what happened to our arch, a lot of our wedding footage was lost, and we’re on a new adventure of finding more stable full-time jobs, we’ve finally finished Gilmore Girls, we still haven’t gotten a copy of our marriage certificate back, and we’re happily learning what it means to be married and live together. The little slip-ups at the wedding don’t really matter anymore, I still have about 100 programs because we accidentally printed way too many and we’re just now hanging up pictures in our place together.

To me, 48 days was plenty of time to plan a wedding, but a marriage is something we’ll be working on for the rest of our lives.

If I had any advice for the future brides out there, I would say this;

  • Don’t forget to be friends. There’s a lot of planning to do, but your friendship has to come first.
  • Check details and keep checking them – especially to people you don’t know. (3 people looked over our original programs and no one spotted that it said “Wedding date” instead of the actual date of our wedding until they were printed.
  • GET A COPY OF YOUR MARRIAGE LICENSE BEFORE TURNING IT IN – No one told us this, but probably because everyone assumed we’d know that. We didn’t. It’s supposed to only take about 45 days, but in the words of Ted Mosby, I’d do anything to get those extra 45 days. I honestly have no idea which name to put on job applications anymore.
  • Get advice and help from tons of people.
  • At the end of the day, make your decisions and enjoy your special day, but more importantly the rest of your lives!

In all gratitude,
Tori Lynn Cortez

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Day 365

That’s right! It’s been an entire year since I moved to Antelope Valley. I couldn’t have begun to imagine what this adventure would hold for me. A year ago with tears in my eyes, I said goodbye to the wonderful Long Beach I had grown so fond of over the two years I lived there. As I drove up into the mountains and past the fault lines, I dreamed of a glorious year full of new challenges and victories.

My sunshine and rainbows were quickly shaken by a car accident on the 9th of January last year, leading to a whole string of trials I never would have imagined facing. Dealing with my own sin has been no walk in the park either. Let me tell you something, when you start a year with the ambition to understand what God’s grace really means, you’re asking for a lot.

Ephesians 3:20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,

In the midst of what I believe has been one of the craziest years of my life, God brought me a lot of joy in 2016 – joy that I could not have deserved and far beyond what I could have imagined. Over Thanksgiving, my best friend, the love of my life, the man God has been so gracious as to even put in my life asked me to marry him. Talk about immeasurably more.

So here I am, sitting in the very room that I stumbled into a year ago with what little fit into the back of my RAV4, writing out seat assignments for my wedding next week and starting the process of moving out of my last sisters household. I will be sure to share more of the details as to how I got this far later on, but if there’s anything I learned from 2016, it would be that God’s grace is something far beyond what I could ever study or learn about. God’s grace is that I’m here, that no matter how many times I’ve completely blown it this year, He has provided at every turn. From brining the man of my dreams into my life to helping me fix the Wi-Fi, God has answered innumerable prayers this year. Sure, it’s easy to sit around and think about the ones that weren’t answered, the people that turned their backs on God and me, the dreams that weren’t quite there yet this year, but why should I do that? Of what honor is it to God to pine after the things that didn’t happen this year? It would be like a teenager getting mad at their parents for buying them a car but not an iPhone.

Although I didn’t start out 2016 wanting an auto-immune disease to slowly deteriorate my body, to watch Alzheimer’s to deteriorate my grandmother, or to total the first car I’ve had in years, I’ve let God down more than I can even imagine, and He’s been so good to me. I could sit and think about the days worth of hours I poured out into various women’s lives, only to see them decide to keep their backs turned on God, or I could rejoice in the wonderful women God has brought into our ministry.

All I can suggest is that when you look back at your past, whether 2016 or all the way back to your childhood, remember that regrets aren’t going to help you grow.

Proverbs 24:16 for though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.

(For one more week)

-Tori Lynn Wallace

And to God forever be the glory.

Moving! (Again)

image(And a Happy New Year!)

Well, it must be that time again.  In the last two years, I’ve moved from an apartment in Lakewood to the unit next door, to Seal Beach, to Long Beach, to Signal Hill and now all the way to Lancaster.

This has no doubt been my easiest move physically, I have a small amount of things jammed in the back of Biscuit (my RAV4) and packing only took about two hours to my relief.  However, it isn’t as simple of a move emotionally.

Goodness, although I’ve moved around a lot recently, this will be the first move that will take me out of the South Region of the Los Angeles church and it makes my heart ache a little bit.  I’m also filled with excitement as this new adventure is calling me all the way to the Antelope Valley campus ministry, and this time I can actually be on campus full time.

The move in and of itself doesn’t make me sad.  The irony of my empty bunk actually makes me laugh.  See, for the whole first two years in the ministry here in the South Region, I’ve not owned a bed.  I’ve usually slept on a mattress on the floor or a couch, but for the first time at this particular apartment I decided to buy a bed, only to move a month later.  God is hilarious and I love it.  Even seeing my packed up car gives me goosebumps.  I can hardly believe that God planned out everything so perfectly to allow this move to go smoothly.

However, in light of entering 2016 at the same time as leaving the South Region, I’ve been reflecting a lot on this past year.  It’s certainly been full of it’s challenges as well as wonderful surprises, but I am grateful for each and every one of them.  I’ve made many friends and memories, wept many tears and laughed until it hurt.  I’ve faced more things in the past year than I imagined facing my entire life, there was a point that felt a little bit like the plagues at the sisters household. (I never want to hear the word bedbug ever again)  But all in all, I have to believe that each and every pen mark of this past chapter was in preparation for all that is to come.  And so, here comes the new journey.

Philippians 3:14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

To God be the Glory,

Tori Lynn W.

The Story So Far

Proverbs 16:9 In their hearts humans plan their course,
    but the Lord establishes their steps.

The Story So Far

Welcome to My Story

These journals represent the last year and just over seven months.  Since I set foot in California soil I’ve been consistently journaling everything.  I’ve written down my prayers and even what I read in my quiet times, I’ve recorded events from falling for my boyfriend to the epic trials of faith that I’ve faced and the adventures of our ministry on Cerritos College.  Some of it is a little embarrassing to read, my failures and mistakes are written out pretty clearly.  The rest of it, however, is quite thrilling.

Prayers answered, challenges overcome, and ministry growth.

It’s pretty incredible, actually.  But the most amazing part is that this is just my story so far. Since October 20th, 2013 I’ve been fighting this fight.  Yet, as all of us hold onto the same hope, I believe that the best is yet to come.

As my life is heading in a different direction with a lot more speed, I’ve decided it was time to shift gears.  Today was my last day (at least for now) writing in a traditional journal as I closed the very last page of that green one sitting on top.  My intentions of starting up this blog are to tell my story here in a way that lifts up and inspires others.

And this, this is my story.

The Journals

To God be the Glory.

~Tori Lynn