Santa Paula – Ventura

 

Travel time again! I must give a little back story to this trip in particular; When my husband and I got married, we were in a tight place financially, Johnny was out of time off from work and seeking better employment, so our honeymoon was very short. With that being said, we agreed to go on a trip once a month to enjoy our first year of marriage in a spread out way, instead of all at once. Sadly, after I was laid off from my full-time job, it took us a while to get back on our feet, but we finally made it!

Our most recent venture took us to a small Stars Hollow-esque town near Ventura a few weeks ago. Due to the Antelope Valley’s summer heat and our lack of AC at the time, we opted for a much cooler getaway. Santa Paula was the perfect escape from the heatwave, and the small town feel was extremely relaxing. We checked in at the rustic Glen Tavern Inn and settled in to explore our new find. The charming inn was the perfect opening point for our adventure. The small town was home to an Agriculture Museum, an old railroad and a handful of small parks and old town restaurants. Although almost everything in the town seemed to be closed on Mondays, we found a nice little BBQ spot to meet our hunger cleverly called “Best BBQ”. After strolling around the outside of the Agriculture Museum, we decided on dessert at the Irish Pub near the hotel, called Garman’s. To be honest, I’d never been INSIDE a pub before, and after all the movies and shows I’ve seen, I don’t really know what I expected, but it was perfect. It was a quaint little spot, and we had a perfectly delicious bread pudding. Honestly, some of the entrees looked so tasty that I wished we hadn’t already had dinner.

After strolling around the outside of the Agriculture Museum, we decided on dessert at the Irish Pub near the hotel, called Garman’s. To be honest, I’d never been INSIDE a pub before, and after all the movies and shows I’ve seen, I don’t really know what I expected, but it was perfect. It was a quaint little spot, and we had a perfectly delicious bread pudding. Honestly, some of the entrees looked so tasty that I wished we hadn’t already had dinner. At the table across from us, an older couple seemed to have been reunited with their grandson from France, a little further down a family with young children were watching the soccer game on the pub’s giant flat screen.

On Tuesday, after having breakfast at Vince’s Coffee Shop, which turned out to be a country/Mexican breakfast cafe (Not what I would’ve expected from the name, but it was good), we headed out to Ventura.

What I’d have to say about Ventura could be summed up in the word refreshing. After a short and cold trip to the beach, we found a pretty good (but a little overrated) fish tacos place and then took our food up to the Ventura Cross for an ocean-view tailgate.

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As long as I can remember, the most refreshing times of my life have been nearby a body of water, especially the ocean and this trip was no exception. We found a bunch of other neat spots on our way back, but I think getting away is an essential part of life, at least it always will be for me.

Another side note for any of my natural travelers, if you’re carrying homemade soaps or anything that includes coconut oil, make sure it’s sealed super tight! It has a nice smell, but I would’ve like to keep it all INSIDE of my containers.

Sincerely,

Tori Lynn Cortez

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Phoenix

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.

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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.

Sincerely,

Tori Lynn Cortez

Weak Knees and Feeble Arms

Hebrews 12:12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.

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With my incredible boyfriend who has helped and encouraged me to “stand firm” in many ways at the GLC banquet this year!

This year has been an incredible adventure so far, but something almost caught me short. This past May I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis; an auto-immune disease that attacks the joints of the body. As someone who has always enjoyed physical activity, this has been a very humbling time. My first couple of weeks with the symptoms consisted of many tearful prayers, being unable to do simple tasks such as opening a door or a water bottle, and severe pain every time I tried to walk. After the official diagnosis, I was able to start some medication that helped ease the pain a little, but the fatigue caused by the medicine became discouraging. Since May, I’ve pushed through things that I used to enjoy thoroughly, I’ve found my discomfort at the front of my mind and anxiety about the medicine’s side effects multiplying. As someone who only took Children’s Advil until recently, this has been very humbling. I have to often fight my pride to ask for help standing up many times a day, I’ve learned the value of rest between activities and I’m just starting to alter my diet to increase my health.

This passage in Hebrews has been my theme scripture for dealing with my various physical challenges. The author had just finished speaking about how all hardship is discipline and how it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. And then he says to strengthen our feeble arms and weak knees. I’ve always seen this passage as an encouragement to overlook our shortcomings, but it has grown to have a much deeper meaning for me. In my sin, I could wallow around in discouragement about how painful everything is, or I could take the necessary steps towards managing my pain and trust God. For me, strengthening my feeble hands and weak knees often means being willing to ask for help. I am so grateful for my ministry and especially my boyfriend Johnny for being super considerate of me this whole time. I’ve had to learn how to share my faith powerfully at high-energy times and take breaks when I need them (which gives me a great time to do follow-ups!)

Psalm 28:7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.

Hearing the stories of powerful women like April Baker, who is co-leading the mission team to Dubai, UAE with her husband has inspired me. Despite her heart issues, God has brought her to an incredible place. In times like this, it is so clear that my strength does not come from me, but from God. I have to learn the same kind of faith, to take the necessary steps to build more energy, trust God through this challenge, and remember that I’m nowhere near alone in fighting against my health for God’s Kingdom.

1 Peter 5:9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

Having people around me to pray with me and encourage me through this have helped me see God’s incredible grace even more in my life. I don’t deserve to be where I am. I don’t deserve this Kingdom, this ministry, this family. I don’t deserve God’s love and I don’t deserve how he uses my weaknesses to show me his strength.

2 Corinthians 12:10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Regardless of how weak I feel at times, God has certainly used this challenge to show me his strength and I am amazed.

To God be the glory,
Tori Lynn.