I love traveling. There are few things in my life I enjoy as much as I love to travel, but the action of traveling is a lot different for me now. For one, it usually results in unnerving fatigue, back pain, leg pain and strong emotions as a result of those things – which results in a pretty strong headache for my husband. However, I’ve still found a great deal of joy in traveling, despite how much it can wear on me.

Arizona Sunrise Recently, the opportunity presented itself to surprise one of my husband’s best friends and old roommates for his birthday. We haven’t gotten away for a decent amount of time since our 2-day honeymoon in San Diego, so I was thrilled to take the opportunity.

Since my husband and I currently live in a desert in Antelope Valley, I didn’t think there would be much of a climate change.

I was wrong.

Phoenix is SUPER HOT. Unlike our beloved desert here in the AV, it does not cool down at night. However, it hosts much more of the cacti that you would expect to find in a desert, some well over 10 feet tall. At the last minute, we decided to take the 7-hour drive at 2 am Friday night instead of arriving around that time. I slept on and off through most of the drive but had the wonderful opportunity to pray during the sunrise.

In addition to the surprise element of the trip, I’m grateful we had the time away to realign our focus. Personally, I need that time away every now and then to remember what I’m doing in life and why. The past month or so, I’ve felt overwhelmed by what I’ve not been able to do because of my condition. In reality, I just needed a breather and some good friends to refresh my perspective.

Although Arizona is one of the few places I can think of that’s hotter than Antelope Valley right now, it drew me out of the stupor I’ve been floating in lately. Life doesn’t always come at you in the ways that you would hope, but all we have left is to make the most of what we’ve been given.

The purpose of the trip was to surprise one of my husband’s long-term best friends; Anthony for his birthday. The guys used to be roommates back when we were all single but being married hasn’t kept them from staying close and keeping up – in fact, I’ve found pretty wonderful friendships with their wives as well. These are the kind of memories I want to build, the kind of friendships that every person needs to survive in life.

Myself, Gabi, and Ashley – Johnny, Anthony, and David

Life is challenging – but that’s no reason not to enjoy it. I hope from here forward to grow and thrive, to find joy in every curve we face in life.


Tori Lynn Cortez


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.