Blossoms of an Artist · Ocean Stories

You make me brave, You call me out beyond the shore into the waves…

I hadn’t seen the ocean (aside from driving by it) in over a year. Last week we finally visited a ocean-side trail and snuck down to the tide pools. Although we didn’t get to go to the beach, I still felt refreshed to be there.taken July 9, 2014 (featuring my brother, Ty)

I didn’t really hear anything during my time at the tide pools about the ocean and what it could tell me about life. But on the drive up, as I looked out at the water, I grabbed my little notebook and instinctively wrote this:

The ocean may be countless colors–

Stoic gray today, vibrant turquoise the day before–

But it will always be the ocean.

And you will always be you.

Recently I’ve discovered the work of present-day poet Tyler Knott Gregson, and although many of his pieces are not my cup of tea, some make me pause in wonder for a few moments after I read them (my favorite here). The thing that strikes me most about him is that he writes a poem every day, on any scrap of paper he can find. I usually feel like I need to prepare myself and be in an artistic state in order to do something creative, and I’m learning I need to rid myself of that mindset. When we create out of what we think and feel in the moment, that’s worship. And some of the truest, loveliest art comes from unplanned and unexpected worship. That’s why I’ve begun writing daily poems, too, just in a little notebook for myself. Some of the best writing advice I’ve heard is from Henry David Thoreau: “Write while the heat is in you. The writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with.” I need to stop trying so hard to be a great artist and start trusting that it’ll come out when I’m being authentic, because God has already made me an artist.

That four-line poem came out of me in an instant. And no, it’s not my best work. But I actually really like it. It told me something I needed to be reminded of– no matter what changes, Jesus doesn’t. Even if I see things about Him I haven’t before, He will always be who He always has been. I don’t think I would have gotten that message from just looking out at the sea and noting that it was different colors in different spots. But when I gave in to the impulse to write, I found it. I found something hidden there.

I think this is just my encouragement to you to put trust into who you were created to be. You have the ability to find the little treasures God has placed in front of you. Don’t try so hard to be an expert or a deep thinker; just be you. God made you, the way He wanted you, and there are some things you can only find when you are being that person. Trust Him as your creator. Maybe you’ll find those treasures when you write; when you paint; when you tell someone else about what you’ve seen; when you toss a Frisbee; when you make a meal for your family. Wherever you are, you are right where you need to be, and there are some incredible gems yet to discovered. You can find them. Will you believe in the treasure hunt? Will you believe in who you are? And will you believe in what you find? Have trust, and begin.

“It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out.”  -Proverbs 25:2

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Ocean Stories

After the storm, I run and run as the rains come, and I look up…

     Yet another lovely visit to the coast last week made of family time, simple adventures to quiet towns, countless rounds of Catchphrase– and a redeemed faith.taken February 19, 2013

     Faith is hard. So many have told me that they see faith in me, that it’s one of my gifts, but I just can’t grasp it; I seem to only remember the moments where my faith has been lacking. Still, Jesus continues to whisper to me that yes, I have faith incredible enough to make the enemy hate me and try to steal it from me. He keeps telling me, Satan demanded to have you that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. (Luke 22:31 & 32) The past little while has been one of those periods where Satan is trying so hard to steal me. He’s been planting thoughts that are NOT mine, wearying me, blatantly attacking me, and it all hurts. But I remember the promise. I remember that the hardship will end. I remember that He felt all this on the cross when He was tortured and killed for me. I remember that He said there is purpose behind the pain. Sometimes the promise looks cloudy through my eyes, but I always remember it, always see it and hope in it. During my little trip to the coast, I got a glimpse of all this through His eyes.

  • First entering the ocean, the waves are huge and the water constantly overwhelms you. As you get further in, however, the water is more steady, you aren’t as overwhelmed, and you’re growing accustomed to the waves. BUT– sometimes, when it’s stormy, waves will get bigger in the deeper water, too. Maybe my relationship with Jesus is like this.
  • Will you still think it’s beautiful when it’s raining? I heard this question so clearly in my spirit as we drove through the little town I’d loved so much on the way up. In the afternoon sunlight, it was wondrous. However, in the morning showers on the way home, it was dreary. Nothing about the town had changed, only my view of it. What I looked back on and wanted became less important to me when I got it back and it wasn’t the same. It made me wonder if I have the same blessings I’m wishing for, only they’re hidden by a little rain. Is He asking me to see past the rain and revel in what I dream?
  • A few glimpses out the window looked the same as glimpses I would have back home (like a front yard that looked like a friend’s house, and a roadside cross like one on our usual highway), but I WASN’T HOME. I was somewhere else. If I didn’t know better, I would have thought I was somewhere familiar. Sometimes this happens in life, too. Sometimes everything looks so similar, like I haven’t moved, but I could be miles from where I was! In my eyes, everything is okay, when really I am so far from where I should be; OR, everything seems wrong and unmoved, but really I am moving forward. I think the message was a little of both for me that day.
  • I had no clue how close we were to the ocean (we took a few days away from the coast during the trip), but when it was suddenly next to me I was WOWED. I heard, “I’m right here, I’m over the hill! I’m the purpose behind it! You might not see me now, but just wait until you get over your hill! Find me!” This spoke so deeply into me. It was another piece of the promise He gave me that said there was purpose behind the pain: it’s Him. HE is the purpose, and He is worth it all! Now I know what I’m fighting to find! It was also an answer to the prayer I’d been praying through “After the Storm” by Mumford & Sons.

     This isn’t my typical story about the ocean, but it’s the loudest to me. My heart was given hope that cannot be stolen that day, and I am forever amazed by the mercy He showed me. I love you, Jesus.

Get over your hill and see what you find there, with grace in your heart and flowers in your hair…

Ocean Stories

I run like the ocean to find Your shore…

     Every trip to the ocean is different. Usually I find analogies that use the ocean to symbolize Jesus, and that’s true in my latest trip’s results, but another element was introduced, as well: the sun. I think both represent Him this time, maybe describing parts of His three-fold personality. I enjoyed the beautiful weather and time with loved ones on this trip. Here are some notes from my time with Jesus on the ocean-front porch of my hotel room during a crazy sunset:

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  • Sunsets are incredible, especialy when you think about it hard enough. The sun starts so high up and obviously bright. It gets lower, but at the same time it gets more glorious! It touches the water and makes it shimmer and sparkle magnificently! It goes deeper and deeper and makes the colors in the sky do the same thing! And then– it’s gone. The sky is bright a little longer, then night falls. If you’d never experienced a sunset before, how do you think you would feel? Wouldn’t you feel let down? Wonder why the sun was so close, then just GONE? All you need to do is rest; it’ll come back in the morning, to show you glory after glory every day.
  • Notice how the sun’s beams shed light on certain parts of the water especially at different times?

     The next day, when we stopped at a shore-side park area to give our leftover bread to the birds, the most ordinary, random sight made an impression on me: an older gentleman with his dog, sitting on a bench, silently watching the waves. Here’s the note I scribbled afterwards:

Why don’t you just jump in? Brave the waters? Crazy? Jesus only lets the evil-hearted be dashed against the rocks or drown. You can WALK! He’ll even catch you if you start sinking! Don’t spend your life watching on the shore, alone.

I don’t know why little things like that are the way God chooses to speak sometimes, but I always treasure it; to me, it shows that it’s personal, because who else would think or even understand these things, right? He seeks each of us out individually, in special ways made for us.

     By the way, did you know that I can find ocean analogies in the Bible, too? Neither did I! I was reading Ezekiel 47 last night, and it surprised me! I encourage you to read the passage (verses 1-12) and take some notes of your own; mine are short and sweet:

  • The water gets deeper, but you have to keep moving to get to the depth, sometimes quite a distance.
  • The water makes things live, is the source of substinence.
  • The water feeds the trees so they can bear fruit.

     If you don’t understand any of these, feel free to ask me about them. Keep going deeper and deeper, taking seemingly crazy measures to be close to Him. And never lose hope; He’s coming back.

Ocean Stories

The ocean telling me a thousand stories, none of them are lies…

     I didn’t know what to expect at the ocean this time. I was in a weird place inside, kind of in the middle of everything; I’m not sure how to explain it. It was just a strange place to be in my heart. When we drove to the coast and I got my first glimpse of the ocean in a while, doubts crept in. I had always secretly wondered, ever since that first time I heard from God at the ocean, if I was really hearing Him or simply my own ideas. I wanted this to be real! My expectations were not high.

     Then God put a song in my head: “Vice Verses” by Switchfoot. I know this song may seem weird and confusing to you, but it has always made sense to me, because it talks about my experiences with the ocean! At least that’s my interpretation. The part that I heard God playing for me was: the ocean telling me a thousand stories/ none of them are lies/. He was telling me to trust Him, to not only believe in the things He tells me but also to believe in that fact that He really is speaking!

     With that being said, here’s what I heard from my time on the cold and windy but beautiful beach: (To understand the first three, read Matthew 7:24-27: Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.)

  • Sand that looks solid can crack and sink right under my feet.
  • Rocks appear on the sand– not the entire rock, but a piece, a glimpse, a little proof.
  • I know it’s not very well-done, but click on the picture on the right to look at a diagram I drew– A FISH! I saw this as we drove past the ocean! Even on the sand, rocks and water (Jesus!) sneak in to touch those without them!
  • The wind and the ocean don’t stay on the shore, but things are changed by them; they leave their mark, you can tell where they were. AND, they come back.
  • Waves come in stages. If you stand on the shore you wait for them, but if you’re IN the ocean you don’t feel the waves as much because you’re inside them.
  • I’d been on this same beach (or path, you could say) before but didn’t realize it for a long time. Other people had, too, because I saw their footprints. Many of us have walked the same way, even when it doesn’t look like it, when you can’t see the signs.
  • As I walked, for a long time I was looking down at the ground at all the little sand flea holes. When I looked up at my path, I couldn’t even see them! They did not affect me at all when I didn’t focus on them.

If you don’t understand these, feel free to ask me about them, or anything on your mind. I love talking. And if you don’t know if you should believe God is speaking to you, HE IS. Ask for confirmation, and listen.

Ocean Stories

In Your ocean I’m ankle deep…

Oh, ocean, it has been way too long! I’ve missed you!

I still didn’t get to go down to the beach because there were warnings not to, but again, I heard God through the ocean anyway! Here are the analogies I found, Jesus still being the water. I would also just like to point out that 1) we drove in the snow to get there, and 2) it was Leap Day!

  • The ocean was so covered in foam, it was crazy! Who knew that snow + salt water = foam? Anyway, I saw that the foam covered, almost hid, the ocean, yet it was still a part of it. One just needs to swim further out to get to the clear water.
  • One also needs to swim intentionally to the clear and deep water. You can’t simply float around and hope you’ll move forward; if you do that, the shore will pull you back, like a piece a driftwood.
  • Swimming takes effort, sometimes a lot of it. The tide will push you, and you will have to fight for it. It’s easy to stay in the shallow water, but there is wonder and adventure if you’re willing to go to the deep water beyond where you’ve been.

All the things I heard were so relevant to what’s been happening inside me, so when you read these I hope you felt His mercy like I did. He never leaves us to fight on our own. I’m convinced that He’ll send a few waves our way to help us along if we swim out to Him. Boy do I love Him! By the way, the title of this post is a lyric from an amazing song called “Something Beautiful” by NEEDTOBREATHE. The song is also similar to what’s going on with me, and I heard it in the car on the drive there, so I thought that was pretty awesome, too!

Until we meet again, ocean!

Ocean Stories

Your sins are forgotten; they’re on the bottom of the ocean floor…

     I was so excited  to get back to the ocean– it had been over 2 months since Rachel saw the image of an ocean when she prayed for me, and I’d only visited once since then! This visit was long-awaited, and turned out a little differently than I expected it to. I didn’t go directly down to the beach, but I slept on the pull-out couch in the ocean-front hotel room, where I watched the sun set and rise, and fell asleep to the “applause” of the waves. I still saw a few analogies, too. Once again, I think the ocean is supposed to represent Jesus here:

  • The high tide brought TONS of kelp to the surface. It had always been on the bottom, but the ocean exposed it, and now a whale or sea-lion or other sea creature will come to eat it, completely removing it.
  • The water is constantly crashing against the rock on the shore, slowly wearing it down so that the ocean can be bigger. This is a VERY slow process, but it does work in the least destructive way possible.
  • Something frightened the dozens of birds on the rock; I think it was a big wave. They flew away, but soon returned. This happened a second time, but this time a new flock of birds came and occupied the rock before the others could.
  • There was a long wall of rock far off shore, preventing the water from completely reaching the shore. BUT, the water was crashing into and wearing THAT down, too! And isn’t it beautiful when the ocean splashes against the rocks?!

     One more thing I would like to share that I’m realizing: these analogies can come from anywhere! I do think that God has something special for me at the ocean, but I also see that He’s speaking to me like this all the time. I simply listen better when I’m away from life, basking in Him at the ocean. What would things be like if I listened so well all the time? If I shut out the noise, inside and out, and just listened? I’m going to try, and am praying for open eyes and ears! 

Something to ask yourself: Where do you hear, see, and feel God the easiest? Why do you think that is? Can you apply that to more areas of your life? 

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Ocean Stories

If His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking…

     My first visit to the ocean since Rachel prayed for me was on August 10, 2011. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and I was a little fearful that I would disappoint myself if nothing happened. I then remembered that God doesn’t make mistakes, and tried to trust Him as I set out bare-foot on the sand. One of the first things I saw on the beach was a cross someone had shaped from rocks. It was kind of like Jesus saying, “I’m here!”, and I didn’t really realize that until later. I continued to leisurely walk on the shore, and with almost every little happening came an analogy of God’s grace. Imagine right now that Jesus is the water:

  • The ripples in the wet sand were painful to walk on in bare feet unless the ocean was over them. In the deeper “valleys” of the ripples, the water could go deeper. 
  • When I began to walk out of the water up to my knees that I’d been standing in, it followed me.
  • Sometimes it looked like I couldn’t walk in the water on my straight path anymore (I had to keep up with my grandparents, mom, and brother, who were on the beach with me). BUT, after I stopped looking at my feet, the entire, never-ending ocean was right next to me! Even the tiniest streams led to the ocean.
  • I walked away from the ocean to a place in the sand that looked wet, but it was so shallow that I couldn’t even feel it. I have no clue what happened! It just looked wet from a distance, and the spot even smelled like gross, sun-rotting seaweed. I soon ran back to the ocean and jumped in the waves.

     I don’t know if all of this makes sense to you, but God used it to touch me. I’m so hungry for Him and have lately been praying for Him to show me how to go deeper in our relationship; I think He gave me some tidbits at the ocean. I can’t wait to go back!