Words

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.

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?