Our Relationship with God

An Open Letter To All My Fathers

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Growing up I used to hate Father’s Day. I hated going to church on Father’s Day knowing that I would be there celebrating all the dads in the room and mine wasn’t there. As I got older it started to hurt a little less and eventually I was cool with Father’s Day.

Over the past couple of years I have come to understand that my heavenly Father has blessed me with fathers for every season of my life. There was never a year in my twenty-eight years that I didn’t have a father present. And that makes me blessed beyond measure.

So today I celebrate all of the fathers in my life, especially the One who graciously gave them to me. God I thank You for being my Father and for giving me dads here on the earth to guide, protect, provide for, teach, cover, pray for, play sports with, travel with, laugh with, discipline, encourage, support, comfort and love me.


To the father who has been there since the day I was born, literally...

Tree, you are the best godfather a girl could have ever asked for. As my moms best friend, you were one of only two people present with her when she gave birth to me on that Wednesday (other than the doctors and nurses). You introduced me to the game of basketball by taking me to see the Washington Mystics play in 99. We saw Hot Sauce and The Professor hoop it up two years in a row when And1 was the hottest thing. You came to graduations, birthdays, basketball games and more. You let me do my laundry at your house during grad school, fed me and taught me to play the piano. You walked my mom down the aisle at my wedding and welcomed John into your life by creating space for him to walk in his gift of worship. We miss you and we love you dearly. You are the greatest godfather in the world. Happy Father’s Day Tree.


To the father who has been there since I was a young girl...

Mr. Claude, thank you for loving and marrying my mother when I was sixteen. For loving me as your own daughter. I honestly don’t know where we would be had you not come into our lives and led us to a place where we could understand relationship with Jesus Christ versus religion. True freedom. If it had not been for you I also never would have met John. Thank you for always standing firm in your faith and loving on people like our Father loves. You took me to get my license and proudly bought me feminine products at the store. You saw me off to prom and drove me back and forth to Hampton those last two years of high school. You supported me every year of my education, graduations and helping me move in and out of dorms and off-campus housing. You took in my friends and treated them as my brothers and sisters. You listened and you prayed and thankfully you cooked. I’m glad that it was you who walked me down the aisle. I love you Mr. Claude. I love you and I am so grateful for you. Thank you so much for absolutely everything. Happy Father’s Day.


To the father who has been there since I became a young adult...

Pops, I still don’t understand how you went from being “Uncle John” to father-in-law. I believe you had a hand in that, but I also believe that my relationship with you and “Aunty Kim” paved the way for my relationship with your son. You saw before we did the potential for our union and I thank you for the amazing young man of God that you have raised. I still have the card you all gave me for my high school graduation. Can you believe we’ve been in each other’s lives for over ten years? I’m thankful and I look forward to the many many many more fruitful years to come. I love you and Happy Father’s Day. Oh, and we need to get some photos of just the two of us =).


To the father who looks just like me...

Dad, I am so happy that we found each other. There is so much of myself that I now see in you and have discovered over the past two years. It’s quite fascinating, how although years apart, our interests were the same. I’m getting to know you and myself at the same time. Like now I know why I had asthma all through high school and college. You had jet skis, I’ve always wanted them. You had huskies, if I were to have a dog it would always and only be a husky, probably named Huey. You had a horse, I love horses. We both had jeeps, and love spicy food, and tacos and the water. I believe all things happen for a reason and that God’s timing is perfect. We have the rest of our lives to continue getting to know one another, to be father and daughter, to share life together and to eat many many tacos. I love you dad and Happy Fathers Day.


To the Father who loves us more than we could ever comprehend, the One and only living God...

Papa, You knew me and had a plan for me before time began. You created me in my mother’s womb and sent Your Son to the earth to die for my sins so that I could be free. There aren’t enough words in the world to tell You how grateful I am. Thank You for saving me and drawing me to faith and relationship with Your Son when I was thirteen and continuously walking with me everyday. I love you, I am Yours and I will worship you with my life through eternity. Happy Father’s Day Papa.


Love Always,
Your Daughter,
Raine Kirstin Brandon


P.S. - to all the men who have raised their children and children not their own with courage and love, thank you and Happy Fathers Day.

Grace & Peace,
Raine

Swimming + Writing + Praying

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I went to the beach last Saturday. All by myself. With no plan other than to read one of my books for March and journal whatever came to mind.

I used to love going to the beach. I used to love being near the ocean. I used to love swimming and allowing myself to be swept away by each wave.

I would say that I still have those same feelings, except this was my first time even going to the beach since I moved to this peninsula (Florida) in January 2018. Why has it taken me so long?

One summer while in undergrad I participated in a research internship at The University of Miami Graduate School. I was at the beach and swimming every weekend during the 10-week program. No matter who else in the internship came with me each weekend, I was there. The sea at South Beach was like a magnet. I remember the sand was a light beige color and the water warm and clear. You could walk a far distance from the shore and still not hit the dip in the ocean that takes you deeper. I loved every moment of my time there.

It makes me wonder where my enjoyment of certain aspects from my childhood all went. Things like swimming and going to the beach; playing basketball well after the sun went to sleep; getting lost in writing stories and having them come to life through illustration.

This week I reread pieces of writing from a journal I had when I was 11. I wrote down the five things I wanted to be when I grew up:

1. A basketball player

2. A writer

3. A fashion designer

4. A chef

5. A basketball coach

The only thing on that list that I’m still passionate about is writing. I’m interested in cooking, a little bit. Like a little tiny bit.

Back then I was constantly in the water, outside playing, inside creating and now I go to the beach and just sit there.

What I have realized is that I long to get back to that childhood wonder I had in regard to the things in life that I do still enjoy as well as in my relationship with Jesus Christ.

On my way to the beach I stopped at Target and picked out two composition notebooks. One is covered in reddish-orange sunflowers and the other is a scenic view of the Everglades. I became excited thinking about using the type of notebooks I used while I was in school, doodling in the margins and writing poems whenever the words came to mind. I wanted to see if using this classic medium would make an impact on what and how much I write. The composition notebooks now have spirals attached to them which makes them even more wonderful.

I also picked up two boxes of the original Barnum’s Animals Crackers, a box of Swedish Fish and a Sprite. Beach essentials of course.

What I’ve noticed over the past week is not only have I been writing more than I have been recently, but I’ve been consistently writing every day. I even feel more creative. I don’t think it’s the journals themselves, but that childhood desire coming back alive within me. My writing has consisted mostly of journaling reflections on my life and journey of faith, as well as coming up with different ideas for blog posts and short stories.

My two main goals for this year are to develop a consistent life of prayer and writing, two essential foundational pieces of my life that I’ve never really had before.

Yes, I pray and I write, but not consistently. Not yet anyways. But I’m on my way, as it’s a desire of mine to constantly grow in my faith, grow as a writer and as me, Raine.

In both prayer and writing - relationship with Jesus and words - I feel like I’m going back to the beginning. Back to when the Holy Spirit first met me alone in my room, in between the lines of my journals and then introduced me to Jesus at the age of 13 and I started praying through words to my heavenly Father.

The best thing about journaling is that I’m writing directly to the heart of God. And when I create stories and poems, He’s sitting right there with me.

For me, prayer and writing have always been connected.

How Am I Currently Developing a Consistent Life of Prayer & Writing?

One way I’m doing this is by staying off of social media for a while. I don’t know how long yet, but for some time. I need the space to clear my mind from seeing what everyone else is doing and focus on what I’m doing. So far it has been such a breath of fresh air.

I am also reading more - the Bible and other books. In order to know Jesus, I have to come to His Word daily and in order to become a better writer I have to read what other people are writing. Reading is about learning and growing.

And of course, learning to talk to Jesus throughout my day and journal, both every day.

So, this is where I am currently in my journey of faith. It’s a long process - building or rebuilding a relationship with Jesus and writing - so I’m learning to slow down. It’s not about how much or how fast I can produce, but really about building a foundation for the life I want.

I look forward to writing and sharing more as I go. I am also trying to figure out the next time I’ll be going to the beach. Going back to something I love has clearly made a huge impact on me and I do miss the ocean. I’m excited to discover more.

Next time though, I won’t be alone. A couple people have already told me that they want to come too.

I will definitely be swimming.

Grace & Peace,

Raine


Journal Reflection

What is something from your childhood that you enjoyed, that you haven’t done in a while? I encourage you to write about it, how it made you feel, why you stopped doing it. And then, go do it.

S P R I N G || Come Away With Me

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Winter has gone on far too long. Spring is on its way and I hear Him calling to me, “come away with Me…”

 “The Shulamite

 Listen! I hear my lover’s voice.

I know it’s him coming to me—

leaping with joy over mountains,

skipping in love over the hills that separate us,

to come to me.

Let me describe him:

he is graceful as a gazelle,

swift as a wild stag.

Now he comes closer,

even to the places where I hide.

He gazes into my soul,

peering through the portal

as he blossoms within my heart.

The one I love calls to me:

The Bridegroom-King

 Arise, my dearest. Hurry, my darling.

Come away with me!

I have come as you have asked

to draw you to my heart and lead you out.

For now is the time, my beautiful one.

The season has changed,

the bondage of your barren winter has ended,

and the season of hiding is over and gone.

The rains have soaked the earth

and left it bright with blossoming flowers.

The season for singing and pruning the vines has arrived.

I hear the cooing of doves in our land,

filling the air with songs to awaken you and guide you forth.

Can you not discern this new day of destiny

breaking forth around you?

The early signs of my purposes and plans

are bursting forth.

The budding vines of new life

are now blooming everywhere.

The fragrance of their flowers whispers,

‘There is change in the air.’

Arise, my love, my beautiful companion,

and run with me to the higher place.

For now is the time to arise and come away with me.

For you are my dove, hidden in the split-open rock.

It was I who took you and hid you up high

in the secret stairway of the sky.

Let me see your radiant face and hear your sweet voice.

How beautiful your eyes of worship

and lovely your voice in prayer.

You must catch the troubling foxes,

those sly little foxes that hinder our relationship.

For they raid our budding vineyard of love

to ruin what I’ve planted within you.

Will you catch them and remove them for me?

We will do it together.”

-Song of Songs 2:10-15 The Passion Translation

 

Is anybody else ready for Spring?

Time to go catch those little foxes.

Grace & Peace,

Raine


Around the beginning of each season I hope to share with you my reflections of the previous one, what I’m looking forward to in the current/next season & what my intentions are. Be sure to look out for this section in early Spring, Summer, Autumn & Winter!


LOOKING BACK

Too many cloudy days.


LOOKING AHEAD

I wanna feel the sun on my skin.


MY INTENTIONS FOR SPRING

Begin taking long walks with The Father through His Word

Begin having regular conversations with Jesus over breakfast, while I’m working and throughout my days

Be still and be present to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit

Get outside, even for a few minutes, everyday

Write and read and read and write

Explore my new home here in Florida and learn to appreciate it for everything that it has to offer

Less social media, less tv, less distractions, less clutter, less procrastination and more abiding

I wanna eat more fruit

I wanna dance

What are your intentions for this new season?