My Friend Tori

This week I learned that one of my dearest friends has been placed in Hospice care as she draws near to the finish line of her battle with cancer.   While her days here may be short, she has an eternity to look forward to.  She has run her race well and her husband and children call her blessed.  I want to share a few things I’ve learned from Tori.

I think it was sometime around 2002 or 2003.  As I get older, the specific year becomes fuzzier.  It was the year my best friend Carson and I moved to what has been affectionately labeled as the “Ghetto” of Graceville, Florida.   We were very excited to move into a duplex of government housing located about a block from where we were attending college.   We were pretty sure there were people selling crack just a couple of duplexes down from ours, but it did not concern us in the day to day.  However, what DID concern Carson and I was with whom we would be sharing a duplex.   Who would be our very close next-door neighbors?  We were both just over 20 years old and single so our first question was, if they are girls, are they cute?

If memory serves me correctly, when were moving our stuff in over the summer we had our first encounter with our neighbors, at least one of them.   We met a girl named Tori.  She had on yellow cleaning gloves with a dew rag around her head.  She had a mop in her hands and looked as if she was doing some serious cleaning.   She was kind but said very little.

I did not realize it then, but this first encounter with Tori would accurately paint a picture of who she was.  Carson did not realize it then but this glove-bearing lady with the mop would turn out to be the love of his life.  The mop and bucket would signify her servant’s heart that never feared hard work and was always willing to get her hands dirty.  Her quiet kindness would well represent her personality.   She was not flamboyant and did not draw attention to herself, but she has always had a great ability to make others feel important.

TORI IS SMART

I can remember Tori reading through an entire Systematic Theology book in just a couple of days (I think over 500 pages).   She was always well versed in scripture.   In her grade school days she memorized the entire book of Philippians.   She could still quote it when she was in college.  Some of my favorite verses in the entire Bible I think very adequately describe Tori.  “Philippians 2:Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.”  Tori never used her intelligence to belittle or demean others.

TORI IS PATIENT

Carson, Hope (Tori’s Roommate), James Bridwell and I would often get in disputes (I remember a particular time when James threw Hope’s shoes on top of the roof).   Tori was the patient one who would bring peace (literally her last name was Peace before she married Carson) to the situation.  She never lost her cool.  She has always been the picture of stability.

TORI LISTENS TO OTHERS

Tori had a gift for counseling people.  So many people would come and talk to Tori when they had problems.   This was not because Tori would give wise sage advice (although she would if you asked).  It was mainly because Tori had the gift of listening.   She had the amazing ability of making you feel heard and important.  She made you feel valuable without having to fix you.  Many times in talking to Tori you would work out your own problems by simple questions she would ask.

TORI IS A SERVANT

Most Christians find service as a duty that must be done and we begrudgingly comply in order to be like Christ.  It seemed that Tori found service as a delight.  There was never a task that was beneath her.

One vivid reminder of her heart for service happened in the Ghetto of Graceville.  As Carson and I were roommates, neither of us was the cleanest person.  Our apartment was a typical bachelor pad with two couches that were donated to us, and a large TV that worked some of the time.  Our ghetto apartment had no dishwasher so we had to do it by hand (oh the horror).   We would buy as many paper products as possible and would take turns doing the dishes.  The greatest argument Carson and I ever had was over the dishes.  It almost ruined our friendship (no, neither one of us has a pride problem).   I swore it was his turn to do the dishes and he swore it was my turn to do the dishes.   Instead of us acting like Christian men and offering to serve one another, we were at a match of the wills in which neither of us would submit.  The large pile of dishes stayed in the sink for literally months.  IT WAS GROSS!  Our whole house stunk because of the decomposing food matter rotting in our sink.  This was deplorable and sad looking back on it, but it is the sad truth.  When school was on break for a few weeks Carson and I both went home to our parent’s houses to spend time with them.  Do you think we washed the dishes before we left?  That would be a resounding, NO!  Our Duplex mates (Tori and Hope) at first enjoyed the dish drama but finally saw it as real problem between Carson and I.  When Carson and I arrived back from break we came home to a house with clean dishes, and a lemon fresh smell.  When I arrived I thanked him for finally realizing that I was right and it was his turn to wash the dishes.   Carson said, “I didn’t wash the dishes, I thought you did!”  We were both perplexed at the mystery of the clean kitchen and clean dishes.   When we started looking at things we realized it was much too clean to have been done by a man.   We finally found the answer to our mystery.   Tori broke into our house (I think she climbed in a window) over break and cleaned everything for us.  She thought our friendship was more important than dirty dishes.  She was so right!   I am thankful for this lesson in humility and service that she taught me.

TORI AND CARSON HAVE SUFFERED WELL FOR THE LORD

I have talked to Carson and Tori from day one of her cancer diagnosis.  It has been a heart wrenching thing to watch a perfectly healthy, hard-working woman to become quickly ill with a debilitating cancer.  Carson and Tori have shown us all how to suffer well.  Tori has used her cancer to show all of us how to trust the Lord and depend on Him each day for strength.   She has been an amazing witness to her nurses and doctors.  She has fought hard and she is nearing the finish line to soon receive her crown of glory.  I know Tori; she will gladly lay that crown down at the feet Christ.  Perhaps just as hard as having cancer is watching someone you love with all your heart be stripped of her health and know there is nothing you can do to take her pain and suffering from her.  Carson has made the love and care of his wife first priority in his life.  I have watched my friend put life on hold in order to be there to hold Tori.   I am so proud of my friends and their passion for Jesus.  They have believed together that to live is Christ and to die is gain.  Tori’s family has also been an amazing testimony of the Lord’s grace during this time.   Tori’s sister, Joy, has been through much to give her sister every chance at healing.   Joy went through the process of a bone marrow transplant for Tori.  Sadly, the transplant did not work, but Joy’s selfless sacrifice is to be much-admired.  My wife and I were so touched by Tori’s strength and faith that we named our youngest daughter after her (Victoria Joy Hermann).  We pray that the strength and faith found in Tori would be found in her as well.

We all wanted to see Tori healed of her cancer.   All of us who know her are heart broken at the loss of her presence among us.  When I think about my friend I think about a life well lived for Christ.  She may only have a short number of days left here, but we rejoice that this is not the end of Tori.  She is going to be with her Lord Jesus.

Please pray for Tori, Carson, Caleb and Gracie!  This sweet family has some very bittersweet days ahead.   Pray specifically for Caleb and Gracie that God would protect their hearts from bitterness towards the Lord.  Pray that they would love the same God their mother has so faithfully loved all these years.  Pray that Carson would have wisdom and strength in the days ahead to be all he needs to be for Tori and his kids.   Pray that Tori finishes her race well.

If you know Tori would you share in the comments below of how she has impacted your life?Slide2

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25 thoughts on “My Friend Tori

  1. So beautifully written about a woman whose impact had lasted years in my life! We did lots of ministry in college, loved in the same dorm, played some football and had lots of laughs! She is everything that you and written about! She has left a Godly legacy for all to see!:-) when I think of Tori I see her smile!!:-).

  2. Oh my word! I have laughed, cried, laughed, and then cried some more at this beautiful picture of Tori. This is exactly how I remembered her. I was one of Hope’s good friends and the three of us served at the same church. She was indeed a servant. She worked tirelessly for the Lord. And I never saw her angry. She never had anything negative to say about people. She was and (still) is a picture of God’s grace. I have followed her story and have been in complete awe at the way Carson and her have handled this trial in there life. Whatever the Lord chooses do with her He will be glorified!

  3. A beautiful tribute, very fitting of such a beautiful woman. She allowed Christ to shine through her. I will always cherish, and thank God for the time she and Carson served at Friendship, they had such a positive impact on not only the youth, but the adults as well. We will continue to lift this precious family up in prayer in the days and weeks to come.

  4. Carson and Tori, I am praying for both of you. You both were a joy to teach. Tori, I think the first time I had extended conversation with you was on a trip with female students to Louisville. I remarked to my wife – “She is a remarkable young lady.” You sill are.

  5. So beautifully written! Yes this is how I remember Tori too! When I think of Tori I think of someone who is wise and knows when I speak and when to be silent. A true proverbs 31 woman! She always lit up the room with her gentle and loving spirit.

  6. A wonderful and fitting description! Just how I remember Tori in our BCF days. Prayers are with her and her family.

  7. I went to BCF when you all were there, but I was two years younger. My husband was the same age though and he was a youth pastor in the same association as Carson when they were newlyweds, so I got to be around them. I was always touched by the joy they both had. This post was beautiful and it is true. I have prayed and watched (via FB) how this family has been such a witness for Christ during this time. Despite everything, there has been joy, love, peace, patience and so much more. I hope to be at least half of the woman she is.

  8. Tori was one if the first people that I met in Graceville when Greg Williams and I began courting. She and Hope were kind enough to let me stay at their house when I drove up for visits (since I lived 3 hours away). I remember one Sunday morning eating breakfast with her while we both read our Bibles. Tori and Carson, Greg and I are praying for you and your precious family. Thank you for showing me kindness even though you hardly new me.

  9. Tori and I started college the same year and were in the same circle of friends during those first few semesters. I had never met anyone like her, I didn’t know people like that existed. It was contagious, I wanted what she had, that satisfaction and fullness of the Holy Spirit. I am the sentimental type who often thinks of my past and the people I have known along the way. Even years later those people continue to impact and challenge me. Tori’s example, along with others, helped me to grow up and prepare me to do hard things like marriage, ministry, parenting, foster care and adoption. Her influence has spread like ripples on a pond and her legacy in life will forevermore echo in eternity in the Kingdom of God.

  10. I remember her too. I was not close friends but remember her being a very sweet girl. I will keep you guys in my prayers. God bless and remember that God has a great plan and will use her life for his glory.

  11. I have never met Tori personally but her fight and her attitude with her diagnoses has really inspired me. I was saddened to hear the news of her prognosis. I just pray that she is as comfortable as she can be.

  12. I met Tori when she came to Trinity Church in Geneva, Alabama, along with her roommate, Hope, to serve in the nursery and young children’s ministry. I always told them that the church would have never made it without them during those days as we were a new church and lacked enough people to help in that area. She and Hope were two of tne finest Christian ladies that I have ever known. I am so thankful to God that He let our paths cross. All that was stated in the above piece are so true. Tori had such a servant’s spirit and was spiritually mature way beyond her age. I am blessed to have known Tori. My heart just breaks when I think of her leaving her earthly home but in reality, this is not her home and we are all basically homeless on this earth while awaiting our heavenly, permanent home. His ways are not our ways nor His thoughts our thoughts. I love you Tori. Thanks for sharing your life and your witty sense of humor with me

  13. Was privileged to be one Gracie’s AWANA leaders last year, when Tori got her diagnoses. I saw how this sweet mother has impacted her children. Caleb was a sweet friend to my grandaughter for several years. Cadence started looking for him as soon as we pulled into the church parking lot. In March of 2013, just two weeks before Tori’s diagnosis, Cadence died in a tragic accident. I know that Caleb impacted the life of my sweet grandaughter,short as her life was, because his life had been impacted by his mom. I am so thankful for this sweet mother, who showed her children how to live.

  14. Tori has been a true champion for Christ. She has shown such unwavering faith and trust in her Lord. Even when she received disappointing news from the doctors, she was never disappointed in Jesus. What a legacy she leaves for her children and so many others; she most definitely been a inspiration to me… Though cancer is a horrible disease, Tori’s posts were beautiful to read because she was always so positive. It is very evident this wonderful lady continues to trust her Lord no matter what the outcome. I know that Jesus must be so proud of His child, Tori Fellows.

  15. I went to grade school with Tori and her siblings, and she was always kind to me. Her family holds a special place in my heart.
    I love you, Tori, you have been a pillar of strength that only God can give.
    A visible reminder that this life is hard, scary, unpredictable and cruel.
    But GOD IS IN CONTROL!!! no matter what happens, it’s all in Gods will.
    Praying for your young family.

  16. I know Tori from our days in Graceville, at BCF. She was always so incredibly kind to me. I am heartbroken over this prognosis, but am happy that she will suffer no more, and will be at peace, at the feet of her sweet savior soon. I just wish it did not have to be this way. I will continue to lift them all up in prayer. ❤

  17. Our hearts are heavy at First baptist middleburg. But, we know the treasure this young woman is and how she has affected so many around her. My husband and I send this sweet family our love and prayers and encouragement to now that this King of Kings is in the midst of the battle. We love your little family and pray for you often. In Christ. Amen

  18. Several years ago as a high-schooler, I had the privilege of serving under Carson and WITH Tori at FBCM as she supervised the student-led Wednesday night Life Group. Although my time with them was brief and my conversations with Tori somewhere between “few” and “some”, in the years since I have remembered Tori as the Proverbs 31 woman; someone whose face comes to mind when God’s word instructs us to “let our words be few”. The news of her illness was staggeringly shocking – a friend back home (I moved away for college) sent me a TEAM TORI t-shirt. I have so much respect for her and cannot imagine the uproarious celebration in Heaven as Jesus tells her, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

  19. My family will be praying for Tori and her family. I do hope that when it is time that she goes I. Peace. I wish there would be a miracle and that she would make a turn to health. She seems to be a wonderful Christian woman and a person that is so educational to everyone of The Lord. We will be praying for gods will.

  20. I am so saddened by this news. Tori and I started BCF the same semester and lived in the same dorm. We sang and laughed together. I remember walking into the cafeteria one day and she had her head down, I asked her if she was ok and she said “my neck is just tired from holding my head”. She has a hilarious way of putting things. Beautifully written blog about Tori.

  21. This story breaks me in half! I am praying! I love these guys. Thankful for the resurrection and the day when we will be whole! I am overwhelmed with the horror of the moment. God help us. I feel like its been a long time but I will never forget our times hanging out in old BCF days.

  22. Tori was my roommate the second semester of our freshman year. She was and will continue to be one of the most unique people I have ever known. Some of the best memories from those day are things we did together. Although time and distance has separated us she continues to be someone I will always look up to and admire.

  23. I know Tori from our time working at HCA and during our time there she was an absolute blessing. There are some people you have to warm up to and there are some people who you just feel like you’ve known for your entire life after a few short moments of introduction. She was humble and so willing to listen and just be a friend. She was always supportive and encouraging. I have lost touch with Tori since I left HCA, but I was kept informed from time to time. The last information I heard on her condition was that she was improving and I just recently heard about her situation from my dad at a Wed. night prayer meeting. When I heard the news, my heart sank. I know this is not the end for her, Jesus is a much better choice over this life, but even still, I will keep praying for her and her dear family. I love you Tori and will keep praying for you! You are a beautiful person to behold and you are a precious gift from God to anyone you encounter.

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