Rooted

Steve's Light, No Fireworks

It was a day just like today. The air was thick with humidity, the sun shinning brightly. Families and friends were making their preparations for picnics, and cookouts, and trips to the beach.

It was summer 2012. I had just graduated from Hampton University and was back home in Maryland. It was the perfect weather to go swimming with friends before the fireworks that evening. I was on my way to do just that when I found myself in traffic heading south on Route 50. I pulled out my phone and went to Twitter, because that’s what you did when no cars were moving on the highway. I probably should have left sooner to beat the holiday traffic.

I saw on Twitter that Steve was in the hospital and he wasn’t doing well. I texted my friend whose tweet I had read to see what exactly was going on. Without a second thought as to the plans I had made for the day, once the cars started moving, I got off on the next exit to turn around and head north towards Baltimore.

The first time I met Steve he walked into our high school youth group lugging an oxygen tank. He had inherited a lung disease from his father. I didn’t know then the impact his light and life would have on mine, the impact we would have on each other’s lives.

I reached the hospital as fast as I could. Wearing shorts and my bathing suit, I was thankful that I always kept a spare hoodie in my trunk. When I entered the waiting room, I found a seat among Steve’s family, friends, and church family. We did a lot of sitting that day, and waiting, and praying. Although the air conditioning caused my bare legs to shiver, there was nowhere else I would have rather been.

After a while, Steve’s brother Jordan took me in to see him. Steve had been placed on life support because his lungs just couldn’t breathe for him anymore. He looked… different, not the animated person I knew, but he was still Steve. Jordan spoke to him on behalf of both of us and although unresponsive, we knew that he could hear Jordan’s voice. I couldn’t say a word. Why hadn’t I come here to see Steve earlier?

When Steve came to our youth group, he came as another one of our leaders. Over time the oxygen tank stopped tagging along and he was healthier than ever. Eventually he became a youth pastor and he was one of the best. Steve made the Word of God come alive to a bunch of high schoolers and showed us how Scripture applied to our everyday lives. He showed us how you could be intelligent, athletic, kind, funny, generous, young and a Christian. That the idea of Christians being boring didn’t exist. Jesus wasn’t boring (see the Books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John). We could still love Jesus with all our heart, soul, and mind, and be cool without compromising our character. That being a Christian, a follower of Christ, was all about our relationship with Jesus the Son of God and not about religious activity. He lived his life as an example of true freedom in Christ.

To me, Steve wasn’t just my youth leader, but also a mentor, a friend, and a big brother. He supported me in the sports I played, told me to stay away from silly boys, tried to pick out my prom date, and taught me about the Word of God. My friends and I spent time with his family, we ate together, we played ball together, we prayed together, and had dance parties at youth conventions. He could preach his heart out, sharing about the love of the Father for all people and then have you laughing later that day. It was truly a gift and everyone loved him.

I knew Whitney was the one for him right away and I was thankful that I was able to fly home from college to attend their wedding in the spring of 2009. I was even happier when I found out they were expecting a baby boy a year or two later.

Steve was on fire for God and he loved him some Lakers. I had and have never known anyone like him. I am so grateful that I was able to meet Steve, learn from him, watch him get married, and begin a beautiful life with his family. I’m thankful that I was able to see him that summer day in the hospital.

There were no cookouts for me, no pool or memories at the beach, and no fireworks. It was a day of praying, and waiting, and hoping, and loving.

Steve died the next day. I had never cried so hard in my life. Up until that point, I had never really experienced the death of a loved one who I was in close proximity with, who I had done life with on a daily basis.

A week later I was honored to speak at his funeral on behalf of all the youth whose lives he touched. For all those who saw the light in His life and surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ. For all the youth who saw how you can still be cool and a Christian. You can pray, and read the Bible, and love people and Jesus, and still have fun. How being set apart isn’t a burden, it’s an honor. I was delighted to share stories of our times together, words that I couldn’t say in the hospital the week before.

I still think about Steve often and the impact he had on my life. After he died, I realized that I couldn’t live my life the same way. I couldn’t say I was a Christian, yet live my life outside of daily relationship with Jesus. There was no more time for that. College showed me that my light wasn’t as bright as I thought it was. Steve’s life, and death, showed me that it’s better to walk in the light than to run in darkness.

By the end of August, I started reading the study Bible I received as a graduation gift from my other spiritual big brother, Jonathan. I began in Genesis and read the entire Word for the first time in my life. I read of Gods grace, and love, and knew it deeper than I ever had before.

Everything changed after that summer and I’m grateful for the light in Steve’s life that helped point me back to the cross. Unlike fireworks that brighten up the night sky for a brief moment in time, Steve’s light will last through eternity.

There isn’t a doubt in my mind that every moment of that day for me was orchestrated by the Holy Spirit - for me to be in traffic, to see the tweet, to send the text, to turn around, to get to the hospital, and see Steve alive on this earth one last time. Even the fact that I was in Maryland that summer and not in Arizona working for my cousin like I had originally planned, was all God.

It took me a while to understand that God has a plan for everything, even death. He knows our beginning, and our end, and He loves us.

The scripture I reflected on and attributed to Steve’s life was what Paul wrote in Philippians 1:20-21:

I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Steve was 30 years old when he died, the same age Jesus was when His ministry began. July 5, 2012 wasn’t the end of Steve’s ministry, but simply the beginning of another chapter. You see, people who knew Steve came from all over the country to attend his funeral. Some of them met Jesus through the drawing of the Holy Spirit, experiencing His mercy, His peace, His love for the first time ever. Others were awakened to the truth of The Gospel because of the trail of light that Steve left behind him. Some of them now pastors, teachers, missionaries, mentors. His legacy of truth, surrender, and faith will continue to live on through his wife and sons, and their generations. It will live on through the lives he touched, the young people he inspired, and through me.

Grace & Peace,

Raine


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We love you Steve, Whitney, Quincy, Kevin, Mrs. Barbara, Georgia & Jordan

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?

Catching My Breath

Photo by @iamjohnbrandon

Photo by @iamjohnbrandon

It’s finally Saturday.

The kind of Saturday I’ve been longing for since this new year began.

I’ve already done some Saturday type things, like waking up early to read my Word before the day really began. I went to breakfast with a friend from church and for lunch I ate fruit with my leftover chocolate cake from The Cheesecake Factory. I’m currently wearing Saturday type clothing: sweatpants, an old Nike shirt and a blue sweater. It’s quiet in our new apartment and the sun’s light is shining through the six large windows that make our tiny space feel bigger than it actually is.

I love it.

I love this place that we are in. This place that The Lord has brought us to. This place where I can inhale His grace and be refreshed by His Spirit.

I love that today, on this beautiful Saturday in sunny Florida, I can finally catch my breath again.

The last few weeks have been quite the whirlwind, but they have also been some of the most life changing moments of my life.

First there was Christmas, where I spent time with siblings and family from my dad’s side whom I had never met before. It was pretty much the best Christmas ever.

Then, John and I packed up all our belongings (again) from my parents’ home about an hour outside of Orlando and moved into our new apartment here in The City Beautiful.

After that, as well as settling into our new home, John and I both started new full-time positions in organizations we were already working in. For me that included a week in New York for my on-boarding and then immediately transitioning from a 20-hour per week workload to a full 40 hours. I work from home, which is a huge blessing that I hope to never take for granted, but each of those hours at home working are definitely accounted for. I haven’t worked full-time in almost two years, so this has positively been another adjustment. I was also doing some contracting work that took up time in the mornings and evenings before and after work.

Along with what I’ve already mentioned, this past month I spent a lot more of my personal time reading and writing. Not writing for the blog every Sunday like I had hoped, but nonetheless, creating. These activities have been my form of rest and self-care as January was off to an energetic start. As well as being a wife, cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, going to church, attending events like a wedding and birthday dinner, etc. Oh, and being sick for the entire week that I was in New York. You know, the life things.

The life thing that has changed my life however, was a week of prayer and fasting (3 days). Between Sunday, January 20th and Sunday, January 27th my church, by the leading of the Holy Spirit, participated in a total fast (water and juice only) and gathered for prayer for an hour at 6am for three days straight. It was my first time ever completing a total fast. It was also my first time ever going to church for prayer three mornings in a row. My experience that week was absolutely amazing. It’s still a challenge trying to find the words to describe it all.  

We also prayed that Wednesday and Sunday evening, outside of our normal Friday night young adult service (which consisted of more praying) and our two Sunday services called Rivers. We were at the church a lot, but that week changed my life forever and I look forward to finally getting the right words down on the screen to share in an upcoming post. Stay tuned…

So, after all that took place towards the end of December and throughout the entire month of January, today, on this beautiful Saturday afternoon, I get to sit beside my husband, write, reflect and breathe in life from my Creator. 

I expect that the rest of the year will be filled with more running after the things of God, more abiding in Him, more prayer and fasting, more gathering, more writing and reading, more work, more traveling, more adulting things, more life. I want to be ready to hit the ground running, knowing that The Lord will always provide a time of rest and refreshing if we simply take a moment to slow down and breathe Him in.

“For the Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” – Job 33:4 NLT

How are you spending your weekend?

Grace & Peace,

Raine


Around the beginning of each month I hope to share with you what I’m reading & listening to, as well as some of the bloggers I follow. Each month will highlight different books, podcasts & bloggers. Be sure to look out for this section!


READING

In the Bible… The Books of Genesis & Acts

Educated by Tara Westover

Fierce Hope: Why the Only Truth Worth Living For is Greater Than the Empty Promises of Our Chaotic World by Savanna Hartman

JANUARY RECAP: The Biblical Books John & Romans, It’s Happening by William McDowell, The Well by Stephanie Landsem & Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott



SPOTLIGHT

The Narrow Way by Keisha Ford

I was introduced to Keisha online via a woman whose daughters I used to babysit when I was in high school! She was like, “hey, you are both great writers and I think you should connect.” She didn’t say it exactly in those words, but you get the gist. That introduction lead to a two-hour phone conversation about writing, blogging and faith. Keisha’s blog is always real and always encouraging. She is also a self-published author! Follow Keisha on Instagram.

Cloistered Away by Bethany Douglass

I’ve been reading Bethany’s writing for a couple years now. She writes a lot about homeschooling, life at home, the seasons and more. What I enjoy the most is her reflection and encouragement for our creative lives. She speaks of rhythm and routine, our souls and rest, letting go and making space in our daily lives to be creative. I always look forward to her posts, even the ones that don’t necessarily apply to my current season (like homeschooling). I save them for later anyways. Follow Bethany on Instagram.

What are you reading/listening to this month?

A B I D E

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For the past few years I have chosen one word to guide my year. Rather than setting goals that never wind up getting accomplished, this practice has truly made a difference in the way I go about being intentional throughout the year.

In 2015 I graduated with my Master’s degree in Social Work, began working at my first job out of college in Baltimore City, purchased a new car for the first time in my life and learned more about God’s GRACE.

In 2016 I embraced the JOY of the Lord and married my best friend.

In 2017 I went on a mission trip to Iceland, self-published my first book of poetry, was let go from my first job out of college and waited on the Lord to lead me in a new direction as I discovered His WONDER.

In 2018 I did my best to become BRAVE as John and I moved our entire life from Maryland to Florida, formed relationships with new people, met my dad for the first time, started opening up about some of the things I am going through, went to my first counseling session and really began digging into my past and emotions that triggered shame, stress, anxiety and fear.

In 2019 I carry with me grace, joy, wonder and bravery as I long to ABIDE in the Lord.

For me abiding in the Lord means pursuing a deeper, more intimate relationship with my Father every day of my life. I desire to sit at the feet of Jesus, reading His Word, pursuing His presence through prayer and worship and resting in His love for me. I desire to become deeply rooted in my faith in Jesus Christ and my identity as a daughter of the King.

I just want to be with Him, more than I ever have before. And He wants to be with us too.

He wants to be with you.

““I love each of you with the same love that the Father loves me. You must continually let my love nourish your hearts [abide in my love]. If you keep my commands, you will live in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands, for I continually live nourished and empowered by his love. My purpose for telling you these things is so that the joy that I experience will fill your hearts with overflowing gladness! So this is my command: Love each other deeply, as much as I have loved you. For the greatest love of all is a love that sacrifices all. And this great love is demonstrated when a person sacrifices his life for his friends”” (See John 15:1-17 TPT). — John 15:9-13

What’s your one word for the year, or goals if you have them?

Grace & Peace,

Raine


Around the beginning of each month I hope to share with you what I’m reading & listening to, as well as some of the bloggers I follow. Each month will highlight different books, podcasts & bloggers. Be sure to look out for this section!


READING

In the Bible… The Books of John & Romans

The Well by Stephanie Landsem

I’ve read this book twice now and it gets me every time. I’ve committed to reading it once a year and this month I have a friend reading it with me. It’s definitely one of my favorite books ever in life, so you should check it out too and let me know what you think!

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

This year I want to be more intentional about learning about the craft of writing. I’ve been writing in different forms for most of my life but have never really taken the time – outside of school – to really sharpen this gift that I enjoy. I want to become a better writer and other than actually writing, that starts with learning. I’ve heard great reviews about Anne Lamott’s books, so this will be my starting point.

Do you have any suggestions for books on writing I could read?


LISTENING

Deeper Fellowship Church Podcast

The Next Right Thing by Emily P. Freeman

Chasing Creative by Ashley Brooks & Abbigail Kriebs


SPOTLIGHT

Savanna Hartman

Savanna and I met at our church recently and instantly connected through our love of God, writing and reading. I found her blog online one day and fell in love with the words she shared that came directly from her heart. Savanna’s writing is pure, full of emotion, vulnerable and heart-changing. You can sense the presence of God in her words as she pours out her life before Him through what she presents her readers. Please check out her blog because it is truly some of the best writing I have ever read, and I don’t say that lightly. Follow Savanna on Instagram.

A Wholehearted Life by Lindsay Crandall

I remember reading words on a blog one day that led me to Lindsay Crandall’s website. I read some of her writing and wanted to read more. So, I did. There’s something about the way that she writes that draws you into the imperfections of life and positively encourages you in your own life, especially when it comes to writing. She is one of my favorite bloggers, one whose writing I look forward to reading every time. Follow Lindsay on Instagram.

What are you reading/listening to this month?

Our Journey Deeper

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Today is January 6th, 2019, the first Sunday of the New Year and I am currently in a coffee shop, sitting next to my best friend (& husband) John.

Feeling blessed.

Tomorrow marks the 1-year anniversary of the Sunday we packed up both of our cars with all our belongings and made the 14-hour trip from Maryland to Florida to embark on a new chapter in our lives. Towards the end of 2017, we knew the Lord was calling us to a new season of training, equipping and preparation and the place where we were to receive all of that and more was Deeper Fellowship Church in Orlando.

It has been 1 year since we took a leap of faith in God, trusting Him to provide each and every one of our needs as we decided to follow Him to a new state, a new church, new friends and community, new levels of faith and growth and eventually new jobs. And He has done exactly what He promised.

To be honest though, 2018 was one of the most challenging years of my life. When I look back on the year (only 6 days out) I see a lot of tears from dealing with different emotions about different things. I see lots of grasping for air as I struggled with stress, anxiety and panic attacks. I see me missing having our own space as John and I were blessed to stay with my parents for the year while we got settled here in Florida. I see lots of indecision and fear as I started Write Light twice – once in March and once in August, both times deleted and pushed off. Even this post has been a struggle to actually sit down and write, as I had hoped to begin on the 1st.

But here I am, on the other side of this past year, and looking back at it all there are other things I see too.

I see John gaining a new passion for photography, being blessed with great mentors and a new camera and really thriving in this gifting. I see the people God has placed in our lives, church friends who have now become family and we have all grown in the past year through new jobs, new entrepreneurial endeavors, new marriages, new babies, new commitments to what God has for us in this season. I see the shepherds of the church God sent us to truly walking out a Spirit-led life, hosting the presence of the living God and cultivating an environment where we are experiencing true revival. I see my parents faithfully serving God in their retirement, loving on people the way the Bible commands. I see me building relationship with my dad who I hadn’t known for 27 years of my life and my whole family on his side. I see John and I moving from some-time, to part-time to full-time positions allowing us to move into our own apartment and start building towards our future. I see me cooking more and getting outside for walks, and jogs and swims, even in the Florida heat. I see the precious times spent with friends and family in California, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and Texas. I see the people in my life encouraging me to keep writing, to be brave.

I see God drawing me closer to Him throughout it all, calling me, inviting me to come closer to Him, to sit at His feet. I see Him drawing me to new levels of faith, and trust, and belief and freedom. I see Him, in the good and the bad of 2018. I see the Lord high and lifted up, seated on the throne of my life.

I see His joy, His grace, His mercy, His favor, His provision, His protection, His peace, His comfort, His healing, His power, His wonder, His humor, His tenderheartedness, His strength, His love, His light surrounding me, filling me, and drawing me deeper.

2018 was a year of transition. It was a year of revealing the hidden things in my heart and my life so that I could surrender them to the Lord and allow Him to do His deep work within me, because 2019 is here and there are great things in store for me.

For you.

I couldn’t stay where I was, moving through life still holding onto the same routines, past hurts, negative thought patterns, excuses, strongholds, sins, beliefs and more that were holding me back from intimacy with my Father.

I still have a lot to work through, to write out and process, but I’m thankful for this journey of faith. I’m thankful for the growth. I’m thankful for the New Year because now I see clearly that everything that 2018 brought – the good and the bad – was all to make me stronger, braver, wiser and to draw me right into the arms of my loving Father.

And He desires to draw you closer too.

I don’t know what your 2018 looked like, but what I do know is that this year you can decide that no matter what you see you will continually seek the Lord with all your heart and draw closer to Him every day, because He is calling you deeper.

Can you hear Him?

“Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me. By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.” – Psalm 42:7-8 ESV


Grace & Peace,

Raine


Write Light is a faith-inspired blog about my journey of faith in Jesus Christ. My purpose is that I would bravely walk out my faith in God & write about the light of His Son Jesus. So that you would know by His Holy Spirit & believe in your heart that He exists, that He loves you with an everlasting love, that He created you to be brave & to be light. My hope is that this space & these words encourage you in your own journey of faith & inspires you to be brave enough to love others deeply as you allow your light to shine through the creative gifts that God has called you to.