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

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

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.

Something About Airports

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Every time I fly, no matter how long it’s been since I last wrote, words fill my heart.

Its an interesting thing, how many places I’ve flown through, but never left the airport. Flying back home to North Carolina, I made a pit stop at STL (St. Louis) for a few hours. It reminds me of how different kinds of people tend to gather. After living in SoCal for almost two years, it’s a refreshing change to hear airport employees cracking light hearted jokes over the intercom.

“Attention: The plane we will be using has just landed… In Washington. Just kidding, that’s what happens when you don’t listen to announcements.”

“Jessica Day, if you still want to go to Las Vegas, your plane is leaving and the doors will be closed. Please run.”

and the like.

It’s been a nice pit stop so far, and the flight over wasn’t too bad either. I’ve been reading The Search For Ancient Order Volume I and using various apps to learn some Tagalog. Flying is quite a lovely experience, even with the little bumps along the way.

-Tori Lynn

Powerful and Effective (Prayer)

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As I’m back in the Taipei airport, this concludes my first excursion to the Philippines and I’ve completely fallen in love.

imageThis trip held a lot more than just an adventure to a foreign country and getting to see my boyfriend.  This was a trip of faith in the face of impossibility.

Funny enough, the little lessons I’ve been learning the last month or so have built up to the climax of this occasion.  Never before have I faithfully (yet with a surrendered heart) prayed for something like this to happen.  With a little over $100 in my bank account and most tickets reaching up to $1,200, the idea of this trip seemed more crazy than impossible.  Yet, here I am on my way back to LA.

Not only was the trip itself an impossibility, but certain prayers that will be disclosed in the near future were also answered.  Alongside that, though, I was able to witness the answer to prayers of many.  A few years ago, a faithful sister named Gina took a stand for true doctrine and found herself fighting alone in the Philippines until she was joined by an incredible couple.  As others gathered to them, forming a faithful remnant group, they prayerfully and tearfully awaited the mission team that would help them again establish a church in Metro Manila.  This past Sunday, this dream came true at their Inaugural service that over 306 people (including myself) attended.  It was such a beautiful privilege to speak to the disciples as well as the visitors.  Many have waited and prayed for a day like that to come, many stumbled in quite unaware of how great a thing they had found, and still others are yet to come.

“This is the church I remember.”

“This is the church I was baptized into.”

Many who had been wandering in the spiritual desert found themselves refreshed and drawn again to the true church they remembered.

But the incredible thing is that this is just the beginning.  As I had the wonderful privilege of sitting in on a Bible study before heading out, I caught a glimpse of the great hope for the Pac Rim.  And though this may seem impossible as well, I cannot wait to return one day soon.  (On that note, if you are able to help support that endeavor in any way, please contact me at tori.lynn.wallace@gmail.com)

Looking back on it all, the way that I pray has changed completely.  Pray like you’re going to get an answer, because once you do, it’s pretty scary if you weren’t expecting it.  The path ahead for me is much unlike anything I’ve ever known, but I’m utterly thrilled.

To God be the Glory.

~Tori Lynn

Good (4am) Morning Tai Pei!

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If you’re a seasoned traveler who knows how to prepare for overnight layovers, you may get a good kick out of my first one.

Flight #1 was nice, great food was served twice along with cute little Chinese trail mix (much better than American in my opinion.)  I watched three movies and got some work done and had some good reading time before knocking out completely. However, the plane cut The Prestige off with only 26 minutes remaining as we landed in Taipei. After many warnings, I decided rather reluctantly not to leave the airport long before actually arriving here. However, as it was the middle of the night, there would not have been any question anyway in my mind.

I could now write a pretty good list of things NOT to forget for an overnight layover. Some I was grateful enough to have remembered, such as chargers, a sweater, and a travel toothbrush. Others… Well let’s just saw I would always advise traveling with something warmer than a long sleeve shirt and maybe a little tube of face wash and lotion.

Once you add the days together, I suppose I’ve been napping on and off for a day or so. 3 hour jet lag is nothing, I repeat, 3 hour jet lag is nothing. The whole 15 hour thing is spinning my brain into a massive confusion.

However, I was super grateful to be in one of the only terminals known of worldwide that has a completely free travel lounge for overnight layovers. That’s right. Couches. I was absolutely overjoyed. Despite my difficulty sleeping due to the jet lag and cold air puffing in my face, I have been able to rest quite a bit simply by being able to stretch out. Across the room other people have switched out taking naps as well. Once all of the flights stopped coming in, it became rather quiet in here. And there’s actually showers (if the people you have to ask for the key ever come back) and really nice computers to use if you hadn’t brought your own. Taipei, you’ve been good to me. Hopefully next time I’ll come more prepared.

In any case, even with all of that, I think it’s been a good heart check in preparation for Manila. It’s rather comfortable, and despite this, my nasty American nature is to still be dissatisfied. So after a good prayer, I found myself really enjoying this little lounge. There are so many more difficult places I could have had a ten hour layover, and I’m sure I’ll see them one day.

The fear of the Lord leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble. (‭Proverbs‬ ‭19‬:‭23‬ NIV)

To God be the Glory.

-Tori Lynn