Jul 30, 2013

book review // Streams in the Desert

I love to read, but I think even more than my love for reading, is my love for sharing a good book with a friend. I get excited to think about how it will be an encouragement for them. So, on my drive home from work today, I thought of starting a series called Random Raves where I will rave about a book, Bible study app, devotional, etc.  I always love getting recommendations from other people and want to share some of the awesome things that have been a blessing in my own life.

Case in point: 
Streams in the Desert 
(by L.B. Cowman)

I completed the year-long devotional a few days ago and I am already wondering if I should read it again. It was that good. It was the perfect way to start my day . . . or if I was in a rush that morning, a perfect way to end my night.

Streams in the Desert was originally published in 1925 (two years before Oswald Chamber's My Utmost for His Highest, which I need to start soon!). It stands apart from the modern Christian devotionals that focus on finding contentment, joy, blessings, etc. Instead, Streams daily deals with suffering. Not always a popular issue in today's culture, but it is so important to get a Biblical view on suffering and pain.

Each reading is composed of a short Biblical verse, followed by excerpts from poems, sermons, or books of Christian leaders of that time who do not skirt around issues such as grieving, death, illness, and pain. And though this seems like the most depressing way to start a morning, I assure you, God used this devotional to bring joy in my days when all that my eyes wanted to see was darkness.

I started the devotional last summer, before starting my new job as a pediatric nurse practitioner. I didn't have many worries last summer since I had finished grad school, got a job, and took a trip to Europe.  A few months later, reality hit me. I was drowning under the weight of always-too-short appointment visits , piles of charting, and phone calls to worried parents. On top of that, I was dealing with my own issues of people-pleasing and perfection-seeking [read more about this here] , which led me to compare myself to the other nurse practitioners and pediatricians I worked with. I would go home every day wondering if everyone realized how dumb I really was.

And on top of all of that, I work with a lot of kids and teens in really tough socioeconomic backgrounds who come to the clinic with issues like teen pregnancy, abuse, depression, anxiety, and suicidality. I would worry about these kids when I left work and would wonder what else I could have said or done for them. Eventually my dreams became scary and work-related, waking me up at least five times per night. I would have days when I would have to go outside after listening to a child with a mental health issue because I would start becoming really overwhelmed. In short, I allowed myself to try to carry a burden that I was never meant to carry. At some point, I placed the burden of those children and adolescents upon me and expected to fix their lives, which I can never do, so of coarse, the natural consequence is anxiety stealing my peace and joy. I became sad all the time and never at rest. I felt like I was always worrying about something.

And all the while (this lasted about 3-4 months), I was reading daily from Streams in the Desert. God had prepared me for my own desert by placing this book in my hands as a "stream" of hope and renewal. And even though my days were still hard, and my tears were still constant, the daily readings would give me glimmers of hope in my dark days. I would be reminded of God's faithfulness in the storm, His active presence in the silence, and His comfort when I was scared or grieving. I was amazed at how perfect certain excerpts where for specific days. In in time, I realized that I had been listening to lies about my own worth as well as lies that I had to "fix" anyone. I learned to surrender those kids to God and trust that they are in the best hands. My own hands fail, but His are faithful.

So, yes, I wholeheartedly recommend that anyone of you would start to read this beautiful devotional. I can see the journey that God has taken me on this past year with adjusting to moving from a city I loved so much (Seattle), starting a new (stressful) job, and going through everyday battles  that we each go through. It challenged me to find joy and rest in Jesus when I myself had none.

Here are just a few of my favorites:
I do not ask my cross to understand,
My way to see --
Better in darkness just to feel Your hand,
And follow Thee
[from July 25th]
"I willingly bear witness to the fact that I owe more to my Lord's fire, hammer, and file than to anything else in His workshop. Sometimes I wonder if I have ever learned anything except at the end of God's rod. When my classroom is darkest, I see best" -- Charles H. Spurgeon
[from April 12]
"We are doing more good than we know. The things we do today -- sowing seeds or sharing simple truths of Christ -- people will someday refer to as the first things that prompted them to think of Him. For my part, I will be satisfied not to have some great tombstone over my grave but just to know that common people will gather there once I am gone and say, "He was a good man. He never performed any miracles, but he told me about Christ, which led me to know Him for myself."" -- George Matheson.
[from Feb 24]
"The Lord is my shepherd". Not was, not may be, nor will be. "The Lord is my shepherd." He is on Sunday, on Monday, and through every day of the week. He is in January, in December, and every month of the year. He is when I'm at home and in China. He is during peace or war, and in times of abundance or poverty." -- Hudson Taylor
[from Feb 8]
In "pastures green?" Not always; sometimes He
Who knowest best, in kindness leadeth me
In weary ways, where heavy shadows be.
So, whether on hilltops high and fair
I dwell, or in the sunless valleys where
The shadows lie, what matter? He is there.
[from Jan 3]

Are you ladies reading any great devotionals you recommend?

P.S. check out my bookshelf with other recommendations!

Jul 26, 2013

imago Dei // link up

Simple Moments Stick

"Then God said, "Let us make man in our own image
after Our own likeness . . . 
"So God created man in His own image
in the image of God He created him; 
male and female He created them".
[ G e n e s i s  1 : 2 6 - 2 7 ]

Image. What does that word conjure up when you hear it? The first thoughts that come to me include "picture", "reflection", "vision",  and "mirror".

Isn't it amazing that nothing else in all of creation can declare that it was created in God's image? The trees cannot boast it. The birds cannot declare it. Only humans are marked as image-bearers of the Creator God. But wait, did you catch the fifth word in the above verse? Us. The Trinity created us. Father. Son. Holy Spirit. And not only that, but the Trinity created us to image the Trinity
"You are created in the image of God, and nothing short of God will satisfy you."
 A.W. Tozer.
Why is it significant that we are image-bearers of God?

The image that we bear enables us to talk with God. Again, nothing else in creation can do this. We therefore are, what Bible teacher Paul Tripp calls, "revelation revealers". We can hear the Word of God and can therefore live out of that revelation. He speaks through us mainly through the Bible and we respond through songs and prayer. As the often-faltering, easily-shaken humans that we are, it is pivotal to hear and speak to God, for that is how we can learn to image Him more fully.
"To image the real Trinitarian God of the Bible is to make Him visible to the world . . .
Image is both personal and communal. By personal, we mean that we as individual worshipers must continually ask wether we are good reflections of our God. By communal, we mean that churches, families, and Christian communities must continually ask whether they are good reflections of God to one another and the world." Mark Driscoll, Doctrine
We exist to mirror God. As girls, we have at least a few mirrors in our homes, am I right? But do you own a cracked mirror? It's rather useless, right? It distorts and gives an incorrect representation of what is meant to be imaged. My full-length mirror, for example, has a large crack at the top, so whenever I check my outfit in the morning, I am rudely greeted with an odd, double-headed version of myself because of that particularly placed crack. Not very flattering, I would say. Biblical counselor Ed Welch uses the analogy of humans as broken mirrors that are in desperate need of being put back together by God so that we can reflect God more and more. This is a life-long process and it can often be painful. The sharp edges of glass cut. I have personally seen this when God has been reconstructing "my mirror". My own pride and stubbornness have led to shattered pieces that God graciously and masterfully works on, but it is often a hard and painful process to letting go of me and holding onto Him. Some cracks take days, while others take years. But the Creator God is faithful.

Honestly, I reflect the glory and goodness of God poorly and infrequently. But what joy and hope that because of Jesus, who happens to be the ultimate image of God, the proverbial broken mirror has a chance at restoration. Because of the Gospel, I have hope.

We are reminded in Romans 8:29 that we are "conformed to the image of God", meaning that God's grace enables us to mirror Jesus more and more. And in our worse moments when that mirror seems shattered or marred because of our sin, we are called to humble repentance and daily deciding that we desire to image God.

The significance of being made in the image of God is also important because it gives us purpose. The fact that God declares that we are fashioned after His own likeness gives us a reason for living a life fully surrendered to Him.

How can we image God?

If we want to image God well, then we must know who God is. And if we want to know who God is, we have to do our homework. Study His word and reflect on His attributes (I have done this through journaling who the Bible says He is and it made a huge impact on how I prayed and trusted in God). Fill your car and home with praise songs that declare who He is. Listen to teachings that focus on all of Him, not just the parts that are socially acceptable (yes, God is loving, but He is also just). Fill your life with people who speak of Him in the way that His Word declares of Him (the Bible -- not a blog, movie, or book -- has the ultimate say in who God is).

So, what does a life that images God even look like? Is it possible?

We image God when we choose to serve Him, especially in the small things that go unnoticed by the human eye.

We image God by respecting human life. Our hearts should bleed for the weak, oppressed, sick, & unborn.

We image God through our thankfulness towards God even in the days of suffering and tears.

We image God when we forgive those who have wronged us.

We image God when we reflect the Trinity by worshiping through our mind, body, and soul.

We image God by resting in who He says we are, not who we or the rest of the world may think we are. He named us and declared we are in His image. His opinion trumps any other opinion of man.

This quote serves as a great concluding thought:
"In this valiant effort we must constantly choose to believe the truth -- that reflecting God alone is a great life. It is not an easy life, or a simple life, or a perfect life. But it is a wonderful life that is filled with evidences of God's grace, healing from our past, and hope for our future. Furthermore, because mirroring God is the essence of our true humanity, as we reflect His glory we discover the source of our deepest joy, even when life hurts the most" M. Driscoll, Doctrine.
imago Dei. Oh, what beauty in this truth.

(p.s. check out the picture link at the top of the post to read what 
being In His Image looks like to other Christian bloggers!)

Jul 25, 2013

so they may encourage // little sister adventures

"Older women are to be reverent in their behavior . . . so they may encourage the young women . . ."
{Titus 2:3}

As daughters of the Almighty God, Christian women are called to live in fellowship with one another as sisters. Think of the typical family where there are big sisters as well as little sisters. The older sisters have gone through a few extra years of experience (some good, some bad) that is usually helpful for younger sisters to learn from (whether fashion advice, not listening to seniors on first day as a freshman in high school, or how to talk to boys once you realize they don't have cooties after all).

 As the oldest of three sisters, I wish I could have had someone older I could have confided in as a young teenager many, many (undisclosed) years ago.   It may have saved me from years of internally fighting lies from the enemy all on my own because I was afraid I was the only one going through specific issues. Little did I know, so many other girls dealt with similar struggles. 

The enemy is a liar and deceiver, working often by isolating us from one another and silencing us into hearing only his lies. That is why it is so important to hear God's word in our daily life though personal study of the Bible, teachings/sermons, worship music, and fellowship within our family of Christians.

 Although I don't consider myself an "older" woman of Titus 2, I definitely feel the burden of the younger generation of girls to have "big sister" figures in their lives to help point them to Jesus. Even though I am single and cannot teach younger girls the art of being a mom or an expert homemaker, God has so faithfully taken care of my needs and led me through an exciting adventure, especially in the past three years and I am excited to share them with these girls.  He has brought me redemption and freedom by giving me a bigger view of His amazing love for me as His beloved daughter. This was done mainly through Bible-believing, Jesus-loving community. Two years ago, I joined a community group (similar to "small groups") of young-ish marrieds, singles, and in-betweeners (who soon became marrieds) and experienced what I believe is God-glorifying fellowship. A few months later, I started living with five Christian ladies in an adorable house by a lake that I absolutely adored. These groups of people became family. I was encouraged, loved, and prayed for in tough times, but also challenged to go beyond my comfort zone. I celebrated exciting events (like my grad school graduation!) with these "family" members, while also being covered in their compassion when I walked through dark valleys. 

Now that I am living closer to the church I grew up in, my heart yearns to show the younger generation of girls that they are not alone. Although us "older" young ladies are not perfect and we are still learning lessons ourselves, we believe that God can use us in spite of our own flaws to show these girls how amazing our Father is. 

So what happened a few months ago is that a group of girls who had this similar heart's cry answered the call and began to reach out to the "little sisters" of our church in a one-on-one fashion. These "older sisters" are in many walks of life:  married, single,  mothers. Some are in college, others are post-graduates working full-time. But all share a desire to reach out to our "little sisters" and walk through this life together by using modern conveniences such as texting, Facebook, and emailing to connect with the young teen ladies. In addition, the goal is that each "big sister" meet with their  "little sister" once a month for coffee, a walk in the park, or some other venue to meet and talk, pray, and explore life together. And surrounding all of this is lots of prayer for these "little sisters". Because face it, no matter the age, girls today are being barraged by the culture's crippling definition of beauty, relationships, and self-esteem. Everywhere they turn, the world aspires to teach them lessons fully contradictory to the Word of God.  It's about time they get to hear other voices too! Voices that point towards the works and power of a God who died for their mistakes and failures. Voices that will point them to true joy and peace everlasting that is found in Jesus. 

* * *

So, this is what my "little sis" and I did yesterday! I told her to invite a friend and took them both to the Portland Art Museum. What resulted was a whole lot of fun!

The Cyclopedia: Iconinc Biciycle Design exhibit showcased 40 bicycles, each chosen by Vienna-based designer/bike aficionado Michael Embacher to show pivotal moments in bicycle design. As one of the cycle-friedliest cities in the U.S., Portland is the perfect place for this special exhibit.

European Art exhibit, which focused on Renaissance works. 

English Silver exhibit. I just loved the seafoam room among all that silver!

our favorite piece in the Contemporary Art exhibit was this big red glass thing

I was so excited to see Monet at  the Impressionism corner  of the P.A.M... swoon!

We enjoyed a late lunch at the amazing Nuvrei Patisserie & Cafe in the trendy Pearl district of Portland, where we each ordered delicious sandwiches (my Croque Madame was superb!) and mouth-watering sweets (macarons, croissants, and brownie cookies, oh my!) 

I enjoyed hanging out with these sweet young ladies yesterday and look forward to more adventures!
 I pray that I use this place of influence as a mentor to showcase Jesus whether we are talking about difficult topics or whether we are perusing an art museum and laughing at weird statues.  I am not there to fix her problems or to be the first person she goes to in hard times. Instead, I am there to hopefully guide this sweet lady closer to the God who absolutely adores her and has a great plan for her. The God who sent His son Jesus to redeem and save us. The God who calls us to be in His family and no longer walk alone, but together.

Jul 19, 2013

frankly friday // link up

Today I am linking up with the fabulous Amy from 
Taking Steps Home to share some frankness on friday!

I just recently have gotten back into blogging and I have already realized one of the reasons I took a long hiatus. It's embarrassing & {humbling} to admit to it, so allow me to frankly share a bit of my heart on this Friday evening.

There are two unbiblical strongholds that tend to show up if I do not guard my heart and mind.
They have snuck their smelly, slimy heads into many facets of my daily walk.

I am a people-pleaser and a perfection-seeker. Quite a lethal pair, wouldn't you say?

So when blogging is added into the mix, it only seems natural that I am tempted to increase my followers and comments, have a spiffy-looking layout that is the envy of the (digital) town, and feel that I need to always have something great to say.

Don't get me wrong, it is good thing to love people. It is also a good thing to want to work hard and improve. And blogging in and of itself is not wrong. But when my identity is found mainly in being accepted and loved by people instead of being accepted and loved by the Creator God . . .  Houston, we've got a problem.  On that same note, if my identity is grounded in always having the wittiest thing to say, wearing the hippest clothes, having the most interesting hobbies, or {dare I say it}, having the best blog on the neighborhood, then I am standing on shaky ground. 

I will never please everyone. I know that. I've heard it many times. 
I will never be perfect. Yup, I've heard that one too.

So why does the temptation to run after these two lies find a way into my heart and mind?
Why do I get dejected, anxious, and disheartened when I fail at making everyone happy or when I realize I have fallen short yet again?

It is because in those moments, I allow myself to step into an identity crisis. I allow these things to define me. I find my identity in wanting to be something I can never be, so the natural consequence is despair and anxiety. I make Man big and God small

But Jesus desires something else for me {and you!}

I am a beloved child of God, made in His image. No part of creation other than humans can declare that! I am here on this earth to glorify and image Him. However, He does not expect perfection on this side of Heaven because we are  not yet in a sinless state. So I do not owe Him perfection.
 Instead, He wants my brokenness, honesty, humility, and trust. 

When I am acting out of a perfection-seeking, people-pleasing state, I am bound to dependence on what others think of me. If I am accepted and applauded, I feel powerful and hopeful. Yet if I am rejected or ignored, I feel powerless and hopeless. My identity in these moments is as volatile and shifting as sand on a windy beach. It goes with the flow of my circumstances.

Is that why Jesus died on the cross? So I can cling to man's approval and live a life of constant struggle for approval and praise? Or did He die so that I can truly live a life of freedom found in Him?

A life that looks to Him first and foremost for approval.
A life that looks to Him as the only definition of Perfection.
A life that seeks the eyes of God instead of the eyes of man.
A life that is rooted in Christ rather than my own self.

For those who are in Christ, we are defined by Him. Period. Not by my own works but by Jesus.

So how does this apply to my blogging? I want to weigh each word I write in light of being identified as a child of God and saved by Jesus. Whether I write about traveling, lessons He is teaching me, or decorating my apartment.  I do not want to find my worth in my ability to be witty or funny, nor in how many comments I receive. Instead, I will write out of a heart that is grounded on the eyes of my Jesus. . For only when He {and not Elena} is glorified, then my writing has worth and beauty.

"In Christ we have redemption through His blood,
 the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace."
 {  E  p  h  e  s  i  a  n  s   1  :  7  } 

. it's your turn, friend .
  1. How are you intentional about blogging in a way that showcases Jesus and not yourself? 
  2. How are you intentional about not getting carried away by the popularity of your blog? 
  3. How are you intentional about letting Jesus lead your posts in whatever direction He wants? 

your friend,

Jul 18, 2013

creativity // the circle

 The fabulous ladies at The Circle issued a challenge circles (pun intended, hehe) around (ooh, there I go again!) creativity. Here is my take on it!

* * * *

you can't use up
the more you use
the more you have
[maya angelou]

* * * *

 1. What does creativity mean to you?
Creativity cannot be mentioned without first starting out with the Creator. The Trinitarian (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) were all present at the beginning of time when something came out of nothing. Hold that thought for a second. 


God is the only One in all of creation who can truly create something out of nothing. The Hebrew word that is used in Genesis 1:1 for 'created' is bara, which literally means "something out of nothing". This word is only used for God's act of creation. Any time that we "create" anything, we are making something out of something, which in Hebrew is asah. It literally means "to make" or "to fashion and shape". So, for example, when Adam and Eve pulled a Project Runway and fashioned themselves a fig leaf wardrobe, they were essentially asah-ing, not bara-ing. The English language combines both of these words and uses the verb 'to create' interchangeably,  but the difference between them is crucial.

So to sum it up:
"We can take things that God has given us such as seed and land to plant crops and harvest food, but in so doing we are not creating food from nothing but rather creating it from the gifts given to us by God in creation.  (Mark Driscoll, Doctrine).
We create because we were created in the image of a Creator. He makes beautiful things. We see it everyday. Vibrant flowers, creatures large and small, rolling hills, snow-capped mountains, distant stars and planets. 

He is a perfect painter of a masterpiece. He is a perfect author of a story more adventurous and daring than anything a NY bestseller could conjure up. He is a perfect sculptor that molds and makes us to be more and more like Him. 

So, when I create, in a small but powerful way, I am reflecting my Creator. Therefore, creativity, to me, is a way to bring glory and fame to my God. It's my small attempt at showcasing one of the first characteristics we learn about God from the Bible:

My God creates.

(Source for the above is credited to Pastor Mark Driscoll's book Doctrine; the above photo is my own)

2a. Where do you draw your inspiration from?

(1 {mine}, 2, 3, 4{mine}, 5, 6

I draw inspiration from a hodgepodge of locations. Among my favorites are pictured. 

Jesus is my inspiration for how to love others.

Music inspires me to dance to the beat of my own drum.

Reading, especially poetry, biographies, and very old novels, bring out a yearning for something more.  Click here to see my favorite books

Pretty homes, especially in my favorite style, shabby-chic, inspires me to doll-up my flat. My favorite store that inspires me is Anthropologie. I go home thinking, "How can I create that look on a budget?" and then get to work on something anthro-y.

Kids inspire me. Their imaginations remind me to believe in the impossible. (Pictured above with his blog debut is my adorable nephew!).

Paris inspires me, especially my style. Most of my wardrobe is made of of stripes and the Eiffel Tour can be found in at least eleven places in my flat (yes, I just stopped my writing & walked around to count. {parisien} nerd alert).

b. How do you stay creative?

I love pinterest and use it frequently for inspiration. Other bloggers and friends are also great sources of inspiration.  But my favorite ways to stay creative include:

Journaling. I have several (I can count three on my nightstand) journals I try to routinely use for various writing. I especially love to light a sweet-smelling candle, turn pandora on my Helen Jane Long station for some beautiful classical music, place a vase of pretty flowers in front of me, and then let loose and write. Sometimes letters, sometimes poems, sometimes psalms, sometimes testimonies. It is amazing what comes out when the t.v. and computer are set aside and we return to the simple act of writing.
(1, 2 {mine})

Another beloved way I stay creative is by traveling. I love traveling. I love everything about it. Really, I do. I love creating the itinerary months in advance, then I love annoying my co-travelers with (what I believe is) the super exciting itinerary I've planned. I love the airplane rides (although I do not love my hears feeling like they will pop at any moment).  I love finding my way around the city. I love sending postcards from where I am traveling. I love watching people living life and I love imagining what it would be like to stick around for an year. I love taking photos of beautiful things while traveling. I love tasting new tastes, seeing new sights, and smelling new smells.  I love coming home and sharing all about the trip and creating photo books to remember the trip for years and years. I come home refreshed and energized. You may even say, I come home inspired
(check out my posts on traveling to 
NYC, London, Paris, and south France 
in the 'labels' section on the right!)
3. What is a creative side of you that you don't share much on your blog?

I love writing letters to friends and sending them in envelopes with their name and address in calligraphy (or at least my attempt at calligraphy). I try to include a handmade bookmark (although I have been finding great store-bought ones, so I have not made them recently) that has an encouraging verse or quote. While living in Seattle for two years, I found that writing letters helped me stay connected with friends, but also helped me stay grounded. It is a relaxing time for me. I light a candle, sip on tea, put music on, and pretend I am a Jane Austen character at my writing desk. It brought me joy, especially when I made the card or spent extra time with word art and doodles. It is a lost art that I am so glad to have picked up three years ago and find that I have to now be intentional at writing letters since my busy schedule often makes emails, Facebook posts, and  text messages more tempting.

Visit my pinterest for more photos that inspire me!

Check out The Circle and join the fun with this challenge! 

Jul 17, 2013

fading flower; enduring words

"The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever"
Isaiah 40:8

How truthful these words. Minutes ago, I "pruned" my flowers I bought last week from a locals farmer's market. My bouquets were filled with hydrangeas, dahlias, babies breath, and a purple flower I do not know the name of. They were beautiful in the vases and seemed to endure for the first five days. Soon, however, they began to lose their strength and began to bend beneath the weight of their petals. My dahlias began to droop and my hydrangeas started shriveling up. I eventually needed to remove the dying flowers and separate them from the longer-lasting babies breath and unnamed purple flowers. 

 I took a short walk on a nearby trail yesterday, attempting to practice some basic photography lessons I learned from photography blogs. The above photo was taken after many failed attempts to explore apertures and fading backgrounds, but as I look at it now, the faded and withering grass in the background is also what reminded me of the above verse. Without the refreshing Pacific Northwest rain showers that our soil is accustomed to, the once vibrantly green lush grass becomes withered and pitiful by midsummer. 

But how reassuring and comforting that the faithfulness, love, and promises of God remain forever. They do no dry out or need to be replaced by something better or more current. 
God is the same and does not fail us. He endures even when all else fails us.

He will not fail, nor mock, nor disappoint you;
His comfort and care change not with the years;
With oil of joy He surely will anoint you,
And wipe away your tears
{J. Danson Smith}

Jul 11, 2013

beach-hoppin' adventures

I love the beach
I love spending time with family.

Put these two together and you have a recipe for a spectacular Father's Day weekend!

We celebrated our awesome dad with a trip to the Oregon Coast! There are nine kids in my family and roughly half were able to make it. We started off in the cute beach town, Seaside, which has been a go-to spot for years and years. I absolutely love this beach. It has everything: little shops, cafes, arcades, elephant ears (yum!), bike rentals, volleyball nets, kite-flyers, and a quiet residential area on the boardwalk.

We started the morning by unloading the two bikes we brought from home and then headed over to a shop to rent a 6-seater for the rest of us. We had to work for those elephant ears!

My sweet parents who still act like they're newlyweds

Can you tell we like bikes?

We ended up having a snack (we shared elephant ears and pizza) and after some walking, headed to the beach where we laid out for a few hours and listened to the waves rolling nearby.

Soon enough, we were hungry, so we headed about 10 miles away to my second favorite beach town, Cannon Beach, and entered Tolovana State Park to get our grub on at Mo's Restaurant. If you're on the Oregon Coast, you must try Mo's! Their clam chowder is heavenly and they have lots of other delicious plates to chose from if seafood is not your cup o' tea. I was going to take a photo of our food but got too excited to eat.

But here is my adorable mum and sis while they were waiting for their dishes

The other great thing about Mo's is the view from your table. After dinner we walked ten feet away from the parking lot and caught this amazing viewpoint.
Daddy with his three daughters
The lovebirds again
 After dinner, my parents and one of my sisters had to go home because they had work the next day. The rest of us spent the night at our favorite hotel at Seaside, Rivertide Suites. But before we headed there, we walked (and laughed) off some serious calories.

Cannon Beach is well known for Haystack Rock, a 235 foot sea stack, and the adjacent "Needles" that my siblings are passing in the photo below.

After our walk we stopped at Les Shirley Park, which is a stones throw from downtown Cannon Beach to rest for a few minutes before beach hopping again.

We then headed less than a mile away to John Yeon State Park, which neighbors the larger Ecola State Park. It is a small, private beach that my little brother discovered while longboarding on a previous visit to Cannon. It's hidden in a residential area full of mansions on the cliffside and was so quiet and peaceful on this cloudy evening.
And my favorite shot (caught on my iPhone and edited a bit)
The next morning, I woke up early and went for a 4.5 mile jog around Seaside. It was amazing. The usually-busy beach town was still waking up.  Aside from cute elderly couples walking down the boardwalk, I was alone. Perfect conditions for an introvert!

I started off running a few miles on the beach . . . until I reached the farthest I could go.
So then I turned around, jogged onto the boardwalk and followed it several miles until I reached the end of the boardwalk on the other side of the beach. 
It was fun to explore the areas of Seaside that I had never seen before. It was also a great time to just jog and pray. It may sound funny, but I do a lot of praying while I jog. It helps me focus and pray for things I otherwise might forget in a busy day. 

By mid-morning, we checked out of our suite and headed to Ecola State Park. One of the rustic, more undisturbed beaches that happens to be part of Ecola is the beautiful Indian Beach. We played frisbee and watched surfers tackle the morning waves after the short, pretty hike.
And then we drove to the more popular part of Ecola State Park, the viewpoint. And boy, what a view!

We finished off the day by driving back to Cannon Beach, relaxing on the beach, then doing some shopping along the main road, which is filled with adorable shops. Cannon Beach is a bit more quiet and petite compared to the busy Seaside, so I loved visiting both and getting a great balance.

Lastly, I want to finish off with the song that was on my heart the whole weekend as I was surrounded by the ocean. What a truth-filled song of God's love and faithfulness when we are in oceans deep.

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Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)

(Hillsong United)

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

I will call upon Your Name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine