Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Secret Place

It was a story about a mid-west girl like me who went to the West Coast to visit her aunt and uncle for the summer.

She spent her summer on the beach.

She made the most important promise of her life on that beach.

I felt like I was her. We had the same thoughts and insecurities. Even now, a character named Christy Miller, and her beach, have a special place in my heart.



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I was amazed at how warm the water was as it splashed against my bare legs. Back home in Chicago it would have felt freezing and my skin would have been covered with goose bumps from the waves. Here... the blue water was perfect. I couldn't really go out into the water. To this day I don't know if it was because of the whole "I might break my leg" thing, or because I was simply scared. But one girl was able to convince me to at least step out knee deep. The beach was crowded and hot, so the water was refreshing.

Later that week our high school choir traveled to the other side of the island. As I peeked out of the bus window to one side of me were glorious green mountains, and on the other side was the most beautiful ocean shore I had ever seen. No people. Nothing touristy. Just a natural beach with waves crashing against the shore.

I"ll never forget how the sun set behind the ocean, or the way the rainbow always framed the perfect picture.

That was when I knew I had to come back.
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It was our last morning and we decided to spend it on the beach.

The students from the university thought we were weird for wanting to spend so much time there. But I guess when you go to school in California, going to the beach isn't that big of a deal. But we were students from Chicago - the closest thing we had to the ocean was Lake Michigan. It just wasn't the same.

It was chilly and I had to wear a sweatshirt. However, compared to the mid-west it was summer in February, so I didn't mind taking my shoes off to dig my toes into the sand. The day before we had spent the whole afternoon there. Playing volleyball, making footprints, playing tag with the waves.

Now we were silent. Spread apart along the shore, Bibles and journals in hand.

It was not the most beautiful beach I had ever seen. But I didn't want to let it go. I just wanted to sit and watch the ocean.

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I had just moved away from home only a month earlier, and I found myself sitting in a circle with a bunch of teenagers who were suddenly in my care. 

We spent the week together. Listening to speakers. Rocking out to bands. Listening to God's voice. 

Each night we met before curfew to check in, make a plan for the next morning, and reflect on the day. 

Another final day. 

We laughed and cried together, sharing our stories, not ready to go home yet.

The next chapter of my life had begun.

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A year later I'm on a different beach. 

Christy's beach.

Or at least if it wasn't, I was pretty darn close. 

Not everyone in my group enjoyed it as much as I did. I didn't care though. They complained about the sand in their shoes and the salty water. But I soaked it all in. Walking up and down the edge, watching surfers and people fishing, seeing the sky turn shades of pink. 

Glad to be back again.

Taking part of Christy home with me.

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Then returning to Florida with another group of teenagers.

Not just the wide-eyed-just-finished-college-I'm-gonna-change-the-world-girl anymore. 

I was tired. 

But that first day back on the beach. Where God had always spoken to me before. One of the places I felt him best. I watched as the teeangers I had been working with for a few years now, no longer little jr. highers but young adults, now were experiencing what I had when I went to Hawaii for the first time when I was their age.

The ocean.

They now were able to have their own special beach memories. Games that they play. Quiet moments where they could hear God's voice. 

And it filled me up again.

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This month's theme is "The Secret Place."

Where do you like to go?

It could be real.

Or not.

It could be a physical place.

Or not.

What's your secret place?

4 comments:

  1. I remember my first beach experience was in college, study of the west coast (I live in California and had never been to the beach!)We went to Monterey, CA and just south of that we went to this national park/sea shore. I LOVED it. Huge waves crashing on the rocks, breeze blowing about. The pure beauty of the place and the fear I had of just how intense the waves were and how much damage they could do was shocking. It's times like that when you are in awe of God and his creation. I don't have a secret place but if I did it might just be the coast. I am going to Hawaii for the 1st time at the end of June and I believe I will have another awe moment and remember it forever.

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    1. You are going to LOVE Hawaii! It's so beautiful. It rains everyday, but its like a light mist in the morning and then you get a rainbow everyday. So amazing. Which island are you going to? And go ahead and go to the popular beaches, but if you get a chance check out the ones that aren't for tourists. They are so much more beautiful and natural.

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  2. Maui near Kaanapali (I am not sure if that is the correct spelling)

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    Replies
    1. I'm so jealous. I want to go back SO BADLY!

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