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Old Man Ocean and I, 2013oldmanocean-5

(More photos after story, as well as on Instagram: lindsbrunsman. Click on photos for higher resolution view.)

The man I know and call Old Man Ocean, otherwise known around Kailua-Kona as Freddy, passed away this week. I had hoped I would get to see him again, but am very thankful and honored for the two times I was able to engage in conversation with him, in addition to the privilege of capturing his portrait both times.
I’m learning much more than I knew about him through many talking about him on my blog post from four years ago and through emails from his friends – he seemed to be a generous and genuinely humble man.

In his words, when asked why he was always by the ocean, “The ocean has a calming effect; it helps me to reflect on the good I’ve had in life, and it reminds me that with every breath I take there is a rhythm to my heart beat. When I was a young man, as long as I looked to the ocean, out past the horizon, I was reminded that I could accomplish more than I could dream of, with or without people’s help. When there was a tree in front of my ocean view, it showed that there would always be obstacles on my journey, but there would always be a way to get through life…” God bless you, Old Man Ocean. Thank you for sharing some of your stories with me and the gift of your photos.

— original story from 2013 —

This is a man I’ve always known as Old Man Ocean. Five years ago I was going through the School of Photography at the University of the Nations in Kona, Hawaii. My class and I often encountered this man wandering around town, and one thing he made clear to everyone was that he never wanted his photo taken.

One particular day, I was walking around town with my camera, turned a corner around the back of a building, and there he was. As I approached, I held up my camera asking if I could take his photo. He unexpectedly motioned me towards him and communicated that I could snap shots of him. While doing so, I carried on in a short conversation with him, and remembered him telling me how he had once lived in Texas. The photographs I captured that day remain very valuable to me, and I have sporadically wondered about him, his life story, and how he got to where he is now.

This time while in Kona, I took a day away from the beaches to walk around town with my camera. Old Man Ocean had been on my mind, and I wondered if he was still around. Just as soon as that thought came and went, I happened upon him. Astonished, I exclaimed, “Hey, Old Man Ocean! You let me take your photo five years ago…” He replied, “How much did you pay me to do so?” I answered back, “Nothing, you let me take your photo for free!” We exchanged a few more words, then parted ways.

I immediately felt burdened with a strong desire to talk with him more, but felt awkward to just run up to him and start talking… so I followed him a bit, and got to a point where I caught up with him, and looked over and said, “Hello again!” This sparked our journey walking around town and exchanging stories.

I asked him what his actual name was, his response, “I have many names.” 

I followed with questioning which he preferred, and he told me that he doesn’t like any of them because they put a label on him. I thought out loud, “The man with no name!” He retorted with a smile, “That’s a label.” I quickly evaluated his response, then agreed. Our conversation jumped around from questions of him asking me things like, “What river are you?” Confused, “I’m sorry, what? I don’t understand… what river would you say that I am?” With a smile and glitter in his eyes he responded, “You would be the river of purity and perfection!” Taken by surprise, “…Wow, thank you!… that’s a compliment…” 

He shared with me stories of how he hears voices, and of one particular time when he was scuba diving off the coast of California, he heard a loud voice command him to stay out of the water. We talked more about water, and he informed me that we can all live without water… that it’s not really a necessity. We exchanged thoughts about marijuana after he asked my views on it. He also instructed me to always think positive thoughts and never allow negativity to come near me, and he shared how many people who come near him are full of negativity and he has nothing to do with them.

His eyes… they are such a crystal clear blue. I affirmed to him that his eyes captivated me, and every time he smiled they would light up and twinkle. I followed with asking if it would be possible to capture more photos of him, and focus on his eyes. He agreed, so we walked to a spot where there weren’t as many people walking around. We neared upon a sweet lady, that for the life of me, I can’t remember her name, but her smile was warming and inviting. She waved and exclaimed, “Freddy!”, so we walked over to join her company. As I prepared settings on my camera, she lit up a joint and kindly asked if I smoked then proceeded to offer a drag. I politely declined, then informed that I was ready to take photos. Old Man Ocean started out playfully engaging with the camera with different poses, but then seemed to transition into being camera shy.

He asked me as he pointed to his hair, “Do you know what I call these? What would you name them?” Nothing came to mind, “Uhhh…I’m not sure what I would name them… I just know them as dreadlocks…” “They are warlocks.” he educated me. He shared that many years ago a man came up to him with a knife and slashed him from his ear to across his face, and that the blood that gushed from his infliction is how his warlocks were birthed.

At the end of our time spent together, the man I will continue to know and label as Old Man Ocean rested both his hands upon my shoulders, leaned in and gave me a kiss on the cheek goodbye, then wandered off idly roaming through town.

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This is perhaps not my most flattering foto, BUT this is how I feel every day learning the brilliant language of German… Ha, I think this is a good representation of how I look and sound speaking it too.  ‪#‎theyloveeeemyamericanaccent‬

Nonetheless, a short story from my walk today:

Eine deutsche Geschichte für dich!… meine erste deutsche Geschichte habe ich geschrieben.

Heute bin ich in Ohmenhausen spazieren gegangen, und auf dem Weg habe ich zwei alte Männer gesehen. Sie haben mich aufgehalten und haben mich fragen gefragt und mit mir gesprochen. Ich hatte keine Ahnung von was sie geredet haben. Ich habe gesagt, “Entschuldigung, ich weiß nicht von was du fragst…” (ja, informal, ich weiß 😒)

Ein Mann hat mich gefragt, “Wo wohnst du?”

“Oh, ich wohne in Ohmenhausen, aber ich komme aus USA, aber ich wohne jetzt in DE!” Er hat gedacht ich wäre 19 Jahre alt, und ich habe gelacht und gesagt, “ICH?!?!? Danke, aber bin ich 32!!!” Sie waren geschockt und ein Mann hat gesagt dass mein Hut mich jung machen. Der andere Mann hat gesagt, “Er ist dreimal 18!…” Anyway, dann haben sie mir den Weg nach Ohmenhausen gezeigt, und dann trennten sich unsere Wege. Es war sehr lustig.

PROSTWhen I gaze upon 2013, the unexpected and profound blessings knock me off my feet and take my breath away. I look back to where I was at in life two years ago – one year ago, and my response is a release of an overwhelming surge of tears.

My tears are tears of thankfulness for everything I’ve fought through to overcome, and the victory I’ve been granted. I wouldn’t be nearly where I’m at now if not for my Redeemer’s awe-inspiring grace, love, healing and redemption. I literally cannot grasp onto the words to illustrate the intense emotion of thankfulness and reverence overflowing from my heart.

If I had to describe this year in one word, it would be

REDEEMING.

Redeeming in every way. Redeeming because of the fierce love and healing that have flooded my spirit and heart in ways I never imagined possible for myself. Redeeming because of the life and passion that have been restored to dreams and visions. Redeeming because of the refinement and flourishing of giftings. Redeeming because of relationships, and the hope, confidence and joy I have in them. At the beginning of this year I was still in a place of solitude, with an absence of deep relationships and connections with others. The Lord was re-wiring me to know what true love is and how to walk forth in it. To observe the incredible change and growth that has unfolded over the course of this year is… humbling.

Relationships are definitely the brightest twinkling star of my 2013.

My Lord has joyously and unexpectedly resuscitated some dear relationships I had let go of, He has gifted me with the birth of new ones, and He has grown and strengthened existing ones in ways I did not anticipate. He has breathed His life-sustaining breath into these relationships at the most perfect and timeless moments. I am left speechless with immense love and adoration for those I am honored to share in life with. Thank you, Lord.

There are stark moments of pure goodness and bliss that are forever embedded in my mind and heart… To recap highlights of my 2013:

  • Going on a journey with me, myself and I in March to my happy place in Kona, Hawaii. And my time with Old Man Ocean.
  • The incredible team I am blessed and privileged to work with at St. Charles.
  • Visiting family at the farm in Kentucky over July 4th.
  • Celebrating Chandler Day with Mary & Megan; what a truly fun day.
  • Summer road trip to Canyon City to visit Beth, Mama & Papa Fischer and George, and the incredible healing that surrounded us.
  • Thailand and Cambodia with Steps of Justice in August, and doing photography for them. Also the new friendships that emerged from that time… Melina, meine Deutsche Freundinn, and Phil & Amy Bloomer, my new nearby neighbors! Oh and I ate a cricket, held a tarantula and drank beer with ice!
  • Celebrating Chandler’s 21st birthday with Mark and Dianne at Crater Lake and McMennamin’s with friends!
  • Josh Garrel’s concert with Beth.
  • The National + The Lumineers weekend with my Gabbert family… and just spending increased time with them in general over the course of this year.
  • The Pink Room Documentary Screening at McMennamins. It was a huge success!
  • Provision of justice at the corrupt orphanage Taryn and I were at last November in the DR Congo!
  • Thanksgiving with my family in Texas!
  • Adventure with Hattie to stay a night with a really cool host family in Portland!
  • Kona, Hawaii AGAIN in December to visit Mel, and lots of swimming!
  • Schoolhouse Christmas with Papa & Mama Fischer, Beth, Amanda, Tiffany and Katie!
  • And other random things would be tattoos, crossfit, rock climbing, line-dancing with Kara, Taryn & Hattie, coffee dates with Kara, Amanda moving back to Bend!!!, being featured in the newspaper, new lifestyle of eating, learning German AND SO MUCH MORE!

I am SO deeply blessed. At a contrast from last year, I blow a sweet kiss to and wave g’bye with a smile stretching from ear-to-ear to 2013, and open my arms wide to embrace 2014 with much hope, eagerness and anticipation.

All praise, honor and glory to the Most High God.

PROST und ein gesegnetes neues Jahr!!!

What a day of reflecting on the past few weeks… the waves of realllllly missing my new friends, the land and people of Cambodia (& Thailand) and my time there have fiercely crashed ashore in my heart.

A dear friend shared a warming thought with me, ‘Just think, loneliness is a symptom of loss. You truly gained something while you were there.’ And that I did; I gained an immeasurable amount that has been a passionate whirlwind stirring within me, and will take some time to articulate into words.

Working intently on my many photos and stories to share with you all hopefully so very soon. Thank you for your patience.

In the mean time, may you all get a kick out of me attempting to become a Khmer tuk tuk driver!

35 hours of airports and airplanes… let’s do this! done & done.

offigo

Thailand & Cambodia

Off I go for Thailand and Cambodia…

I will arrive Bangkok, Thailand on the afternoon of the 9th, and continue on to Phnom Penh, Cambodia on the 12th thru the 23rd.

My purpose in Bangkok is just to explore and experience some of the city, sights and culture.

My purpose in Cambodia is to do photojournalism for a non-profit called Steps of Justice; a justice based organization that partners with local churches, communities, and activists to bring awareness, education and practical steps that help people engage in serving the poor and oppressed of the world. I will be with an international team of about 20 other’s.

My primary focus is to capture photos along subject matter of: human trafficking, poverty, clean water, orphans, education and more. These photos will be used by Steps of Justice for a 30-day prayer and action guide as well as for their marketing purposes.

I would really value prayers for:

safety and protection – of myself, the team I’ll be with and equipment/belongings,
health,
discernment and sharpness,
peace and assurance,
insight and wisdom,
that my hands and eyes would be anointed to see and capture God’s story and His heart…,
and that I would be Spirit filled and led,
that the Lord’s glory, love, truth and healing would triumph and shine through us to every person we encounter.

If you would like to stay updated, I will be posting photos daily on Instagram & FB!

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, 
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.—Is. 61:1-3

Here I am Lord, send me —Is. 6:8

lettinggoisloving

A lot of unfathomable change can take place in just one year… in just one day, one hour or even one second. In so many ways I’m not the same person from one year ago, notably in how I relate to others and walk out in relationships. It seems unreal and is crazy to me.

I’ve gained self-revelations that have been profoundly humbling and life-giving, and at the same time have grieved my heart and soul beyond words. If only I had known and seen what I know and see now five or ten years ago… but I cannot dwell upon that wish. Thankfully my Lord and Savior has granted me much grace and mercy with myself as I humbly look in the rear-view mirror and recognize the path of devastation I caused upon myself and others. He has given me so much grace and mercy for myself because I was, at a time, blind and plowing through everything and one around me like a bull in a china shop.

I literally didn’t know any other way.
I was operating with dysfunctional and toxic tools of relating that I was trained with and raised to use.
I was surviving in self-protecting habits formed from childhood trauma.
And I was drowning in a roaring sea of fear and lies.

The truth is, I have never known what love actually looks like or how it rightfully and healthfully operates.

I’m speaking of true love, the love of my Heavenly Father… the love He speaks of in His word and commands me to have for Him, myself and my brothers and sisters. The love that triumphs over and destroys fear. A love that is selfless… and I could go on with a long definitive list.

One year ago marks a pivotal point in my life that I now commemorate. A point where I exploded free from cursed walls that I had exhausted myself and failed continually at getting past. My eyes and heart were blinded by ebony veils that kept me stuck in an unhealthy and vile pattern I detested. Long story short, those veils were miraculously and thankfully removed by my Redeemer, and over the course of a year thus far, my life has been a healing process of being completely stripped bare and learning for the first time what true love is and how to walk out in it. What does being stripped bare look like, you may ask? For me, it was being stripped of all relationships and being hidden quietly with Christ in solitude for nearly a year, so that He could gently open my eyes and heart to one revelation at a time. Hours adding up to days, and days adding up to months of painfully sitting alone and still to be “re-programmed”, while filling up countless buckets with tears. I’ve not wept more in my life than I have these past 12 months.

I believe I have enough words to write a book about the refinement, goodness and truth I’ve gained in 365 days, but to highlight and extend upon one personal revelation out of the many I’ve come full-circle on is…

Letting go is loving. 

Before I share thoughts on this idea, I would like to acknowledge that I don’t have this all figured out – these are my personal revelations up to now. I am daily being enlightened to additional truths of what letting go looks like, and further challenged to continue risking steps forward in doing so.

Letting go has been the theme of my life for three and a half years now, and only recently have I begun to embrace the heart of what it means. It is the single most courageous act of love I am challenged to walk forward in every day of my life. Simultaneously, letting go is the most devastating, painful and seemingly impossible deed I’ve ever been burdened with, yet doing so is radically liberating.

The tighter and longer I hold on, the more I’m vying for control and my will be done, while creating greater heartache for myself and all who are involved. When I openly let go, I am freely able to  give and unconditionally love. There are many scenarios of letting go, but one example to follow this thought is:

 Think of when someone hurt you intentionally or unintentionally. As you hold onto that hurt, bitterness takes root, pride is welcomed and encourages you to judge and avenge yourself, and fear invades and locks you in to withholding love. On the contrary, if you let go of and forgive the wrong, it is a true act of love. It is a humble acknowledgement that we are all human and the one(s) who have hurt us, as well as ourselves, are broken human beings coming together from different walks of life, doing the best we know how with what we’ve been given and trained to use. Letting go in this scenario is a willingness to see beyond ourselves, admit that it’s not about us, erase all debts and expectations and confess that we hurt people too. We need their grace to let go and forgive just as much as they need ours.

Letting go of wrongs incurred upon you from others is one scenario; letting go of lost/ended relationships and of desires, hopes and dreams are two others. There are many detailed scenarios of letting go that I believe (at this point in my revelation) would nest under one of these three.

To let go of a desire, dream or hope does not mean that I stop desiring, dreaming or hoping; it just looks different. It’s difficult to put into words this idea, but desires, dreams and hopes that I’ve let go of, remain alive in my heart, but they are held loosely in the flat palms of my hands pushed upward as far as I can reach towards Heaven. It’s being okay if I don’t see or experience the desire/dream/hope come to fruition in my life on earth. What if God has something beyond my limited capacity to dream that is better than what I believe to be good and desire?

All together letting go is creating room for something new to be birthed. It’s respecting God’s will, in addition to other’s free will. It’s acknowledging that it’s not about me, and that it’s okay to not be in control. It’s radically liberating (to illustrate this point: I exhaust myself when I fight against a current and still end up moving with it in the direction I don’t necessarily want to go. When I let go, my perspective takes a 180º turn off of myself and I’m able to freely move forward, take in the beauty of everything around me and give to others). Letting go is a monumental leap of courage and a sprint of faith and trust towards what is uncomfortably right and true.

So as my story proceeds, I simply take each day one at a time, seeking to be educated, refined and strengthened in true love. May I freely and unconditionally love my God, brothers and sisters with everything in me as I wait patiently for my ultimate desire to be fulfilled – Heaven. Until then, my God alone continues to be enough for me even through letting go of all of my unfulfilled desires, dreams and hopes, lost and broken relationships and woundedness. May His kingdom come and His will (not my own) be done in my life on earth as it is in Heaven. Thank You, Abba Father.

{{psalm: one o’seven}}

It often feels like my heart
is going to explode from
ceaselessly expanding love
and grief, and a pharaonic
ache for healing, reconciliation
and truth to conquer.