Mountain Walks

This past Sunday I grudgingly took a walk through the mountains. I say, grudgingly, because at the time, I did not want to do it. As an extrovert with heavy introvert tendencies at times, I have been spending 75% of my time alone these days. More due to the fact that my heart has been needing to mend; and lately, I just need time alone. And that’s okay too. Don’t worry, friends. Your vivacious Raelynn will be back soon. It’s odd for me, too. But right now, I need some time. But, I digress, so with as much enthusiasm as I could muster, I went along on a hike because I said I would the Sunday before and I wanted to be true to my word. That whole, “let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’, and your ‘no’ be ‘no’! And that, my friends, takes work. Because when you want to be alone, sometimes you want to turn that Yes, into a No! Not just a no, but a hell No!!! But like I said, I want to be true to my word, and as I secretly hoped it would rain…it didn’t, so off I went.

As we drove toward Silver Lake the sky turned grey and cloudy. Inside I was like, Yes, they’ll want to turn around. But onward we went because the sky was full of bright sun and grey spots. So there was much hope, no on my part, that our area would be full of sun. As we pulled in to the parking lot, it was pouring down with these odd snow/hail pellets. Affectionately termed “snellets” on this trip. And we sat in the car, waiting out the grey and snellets… then gratefully, it happened —yes please not the sarcasm here–the sun shone and called us forth. I was literally pulled out of the car, because again, my heart wasn’t in it quite yet.

We began our walk around the lake in the slightly grey–but not grey enough to keep us from going, yet still with bright sun peaking out of the clouds. And since I was on route anyway, I gave myself over to the adventure. So I walked, talked, and enjoyed the beauty that I was surrounded in–breathtaking. And slowly as I walked, it began to happen. You know…that moment! God began to speak soft, fatherly, comforting words to me. As it happened, I intentionally began to wander on the journey alone. Due to the fact that tears were so near the surface, my heart ached and needed healing, and I knew at that moment I was desperate for a moment with my Father. Which for any of you who know me, this was new to me. When it comes to God the Father, I tend to shy away. Due to not feeling as protected as a child, I’ve always kept myself distant and wary. Knowing that He was good and is good–all the time; but more toward you, and not toward me. Because again, I didn’t feel as protected…even now I can say that. But that was all about to change.

For any of you who know me well, know that when I’m in the mountains..and it never fails, He always puts a song in my heart. Something I just can’t help but sing. Sometimes they are super serious and worshipful, or even pensive, upbeat and happy, and at times it’s been “Colors of the Wind” from Pocahontas. After all, I am a Native Princess. But, anyway, I began to hear “You Found Me” by Loud Harp. One of my most favorite songs about God loving His children who feel lost and far away, yet He comes to rescue them. Like a Good Father does!! As the lyrics talk about how we wander and feel lost and are even caught neck deep in the mire–of our shames, guilt, and so on; that’s exactly how I’ve been feeling for some time now. Lost and wandering. Wanting a safe place to belong and call home. A place of total acceptance; and not based upon what I can do for you, or how I have to change to fit your personality in order to feel love and belonging. Truth be told, I’m quite transparent about much, but YES there are walls that I have had up for years and with good reason. And I have always longed for that Father acceptance and embrace; but felt it wasn’t for me. Such a long story that I understand and don’t understand. (It will take some time for a trained professional and I to sort out. But, with God, we’ll get there!) But, I heard God keep saying, “Be still and be with ME!” Which I felt terrified and anxious, but so needy for His comfort. As we walked He kept bidding me to know Him, but more importantly, to allow Him to know me. Basically, He was letting me know that He wants to know me–open and transparent–too. He wants to be with me. He wants me to tear down the walls I have and share myself with Him. And that terrified me.

Though I was terrified, the amazing thing about God, our Father, is He is loving. And He woos us. He knows I’m terrified to let myself be fully known. He knows that I am scared to let someone in fully to see the messes I’ve made; or to see what I truly think/believe of myself; or to see the hidden shame I stumble through trying to restore myself…which really is getting me nowhere. He already knows all of that, but He is allowing me to let Him in so I don’t feel forced in to it. He just waits for me. He waits for me to come to Him. And in that moment, I realized the depth of His love for me. When I could look at Him with all my flaws and mistakes–past and oh so present, and didn’t feel like I needed to lower my head. But instead, I could lift it high and wrap myself up in His arms. He was ready, more than ready…as I said He was waiting for me, and was oh so willing to rescue me when I opened myself up to Him. It’s the beginning of a new adventure of me understanding God the Father and His love for me..and you. I’m excited to move forward. And all I could hear as I continued my mountain walk was more of the song that says,

“You’re a good Father, this is a good home
right in the palm of Your hands,
You’re not letting go!”

I’m getting there…I’m embracing the journey…and soaking up every bit of good, bad, ugly, and awkward that comes along with it. I have no need to fear, though it is me, He knows I’ll get anxious at times, but I’ve got my Father along with me on this journey.

Check out Loud Harp if you haven’t yet! You won’t regret it.

Words!!

Words. I love them. Always have. I love learning new ones. I have a plethora of favorites because I love hearing them spoken and enjoy how they roll off the tongue. Words like: resplendent, lackadaisical, brouhaha, conundrum, insipid, persnickety, etc. Growing up I would try to learn one new word a day. Words are yummy to me. Meaning, I could devour them up they are so good. I have always been a reader. I could get lost in books. From an early age, I read books that had LARGE, smart, words. I remember sitting with a dictionary and when I’d get to a word I didn’t understand, I’d look it up. Then, viola, I had another word added to my Raelynn dictionary. I think Jason Mraz expresses it best in one of his songs. It goes like this…

“See I’m all about them words, over numbers, unencumbered, numbered words.
Hundreds of pages, pages, pages, forwards. More words, than I had ever heard,
And I feel so alive!”

You can string words together to create a fantastical image of emotions, thoughts, points, and recollections. For me, words, were how I expressed all that was going on within my head. I’m a thinker. Most times, I can get too lost in my own thoughts. So many words happening all at once can create a perfect storm of catastrophe in your mind. And to be able to journal it out helped stopped some of the inner processing that was unhealthy. Words are also strung together wonderfully in music. You can generally tell the mood i’m in by the songs i’m listening to. I’m not a genre snob when it comes to music. It can be pop, country, rock, rap, R&B, opera, folk, yodeling…the point being, the lyrics are what draw me in, those beautifully strung together words, within the song. They speak to my emotions, happy and sad. Reaching deep into my soul. Telling of all that is going on deep in my heart. Or, solely, expressing fun and being alive.

I’ve always been expressive. Ask anyone who knows me. It’s rare that i’m at a loss for words. Though, i’m sure many wish I was at a loss for words in some instances. For that, I say, I’m sorry. But not really, it’s just who I am. I’ve always been verbose. It’s me, I’ve accepted it. Please for your sake, accept it, too.

Lately I’ve been pondering on the power of words. Words have power for good and bad. I’ve been thinking about how words can bring life or bring death. They can build up or they can tear down. And as verbose as I am, I have felt the need to be silent. See, even a wordy, gabby, talkative, expressive person can be quiet and still. I’ve been trying to tie together what i’m feeling with my words. But I’m getting mostly silence. The words have stopped. It was frustrating at first. But God has been speaking to me in the silence. He’s been quieting my words and speaking to me His words. God is gracious and faithful. And He’s been speaking life to me as I’ve been in a place of grief, healing, and uncertainty. He’s been quieting my words, when I want to lash out at what’s hurting me. He’s been wooing me with His loving kindness and speaking words of healing that remind me that no matter the words I tell myself or that others speak over me, I can’t get farther than His grace can reach. With a sound of his voice — His words, brings forth healing. He heals us from all our diseases…even the disease of negative words that are spoken about us, from us, or over us.

I’m going to cover in another blog, or two*, more about what I’ve been learning about the power of words. Lately, as much as I love words, I feel like words have been shooting arrows at me. Word arrows from myself, from those closest to me. From those that I love, and those that love me. From the expected and from the most unexpected places. There have been many tears in the last month as I’ve pondered, or analyzed to death, the words that have been spoken over me…and my choice to believe them. But, with God, we are on a journey to overcome them. To find healing and freedom from the negative. And to only accept in my life what is truth and life giving. We all know its easier to believe the negative, than the positive. With Him, I’m on a journey to use the power of words to build up, not tear down. Because this is what you need to know…once a word has been spoken, heard, and/or seen, it sticks on us for better or worse. And it can bring encouragement and life; or such heartache and grief. I want to bring encouragement. I want to bring LOVE with my words. I choose not to tear down, because I don’t want anyone to feel what I’ve been feeling lately with the words that have been taunting me.

*I didn’t want this to be any longer than it already is….see, verbose! So it was easier to break into more blogs. 

Change

I love hate change. There’s no way around it. I love it, but I hate it too. Passionately, on both sides. Change makes my eye twitch and can even, at times, make me break out in hives. Even now while i’m typing this, I feel all twitchy. I don’t like talking about change because that means I’ll have to accept the reality of what it is. Change is inevitable. And sometimes it’s a slow moving process that you look back at and say, “oh, I didn’t even know”; but you feel and see how change was just a slow moving enriching process on your journey. But then at times, it comes at you like a freight truck and runs you over before you even know what happened and you’re left there with the carnage. Sounds extreme, but that’s how it is at times. At least for me.

I’ve been going through a season of change. I say season, because it’s been with me for awhile now. I’d say for the last 6 months change has come at me like a spider monkey, screeching and demanding I take notice while it hooks on to me. I’ve been great at ignoring that little, but oh so present, spider monkey. Or, rather, avoiding. Again, the twitchy thing! But, I’m at a place where I just can’t avoid anymore. Avoiding was fun and carefree for awhile…okay, not really, as it was rough often; but where I am right now, that will not work for me anymore. Avoidance. It’s not good for me, it’s not good for those I love, and it’s really not what God would want from me. He wants me to face it bravely and honestly. He sees it for what it is…just more chapters in my story. And I’d like to tell you I’m brave and honest…but not so much. Well, I’ll be honest with you, but not so honest with myself.

In reality, change is going to unfold new adventures full of happiness, laughter, hope, joy, discovery…but also it brings sadness, loss, devastation…shall I go on? Basically, there’s good and there’s bad to change. I’m realizing now, it’s how I react to that change is key. Am I avoiding, kicking, screaming, saying NO?! Or am I leaning in to it; the good with the bad, and realizing that this movement of change is all part of my story. And I can try to flee from change, but it will always be there. I can run away, but one way or another, i’ll run right back in to it.

So for now, this is just a short post on change, because I’m still wrapping my mind around it fully. I have so many thoughts not put together. Change is here. But it doesn’t mean that things are ending. I don’t need to be so gloom and doomy about it. But rather see the beauty that unfolds: how I change, how people change and how we react to those changes. And I’m going to learn to embrace the beautiful mess and uncomfortable feelings I have associated with it. In those uncomfortable moments, we have some of the sweetest life lessons. Change doesn’t mean BAD, it means a new chapter in the story. And what a beautiful novel I am. You are. We are.

Accept the work of the Holy Spirit in your life.
Accept the journey you are on.
Accept the story that is changing.
~Graham Cooke

Candy Shop

Take a little walk in my Candy Shop. Here’s a wee list of what I’ve been enjoying…

Blog Candy:
Sarah Bessey ~ “Be Not Afraid: A Letter to my Charismatic Brothers and Sisters”
Such an amazing read!!

Sarah Bessey ~ “Dear Body”
Beautifully written and honest.

Ear Candy:
If I could marry a voice, right now it would be Ed Sheeran singing, “Thinking Out Loud”. I just can’t get enough. It’s soulful, yummy and British. Love it! And how can you not just love the line,“Cause honey, your soul could never grow old, it’s evergreen!” I mean seriously.

Motivational Candy:
Brene Brown ~ The Power of Vulnerability
I’ve watched this a couple of times, but needed it again this week. I find myself in this place often. Dealing with vulnerability, shame, connection, authenticity, courage, etc. But, I’m learning to “Lean in to the discomfort!” Life is messy. But it’s ok.

That’s it for now, folks. I’ll add more treats to the Candy Shop soon!

Communion Sunday

My first recollections of communion are from going to church with my great grandmother. But before I go into that there are a couple things you should know. 1st, my great-grandma, aka MY granny or G-ma, was my world. There is no one on this earth that I believe loves me like she did. My grandmother was the most loving; awesome, coolest, wonderful, amazing…continue adding adjectives here about her wonderfulness. She was all of that, plus some. And y’all, I’m just going to say it…my grandmother was better than yours. And I’m certain I was her favorite. Yeah, I said that too. 2nd, my grandmother attended a small town 1st Baptist church where she was very influential and well respected. You know, a pillar in the community.

Now, let’s get into my recollections of communion. When I would visit my grandmother, I always attended church with her. I remember when the communion plate would pass I was always told to not take it. I would get a very assertive look from my grandmother and other churchgoers that I was to not take it. As a young kid, at first when this was happening, I was more concerned why I was being denied a snack when everyone else got one. The other kids got to. What’s up with that? I mean, really! It was never spoken of why, but I knew deep in my soul that it was serious. And in my young mind and heart, I even felt the weight that something was wrong with me. I must have done something wrong. Even more so, that I was wrong. Finally, after multiple communion denials, one day I asked my grandmother about it. She explained the importance of communion. She went through the process of explaining the elements.

  • Bread, or mini hexagon shaped cracker, was to represent His body and life given. We take it to remember.
  • Grape juice, not wine, as it was a small town Baptist church, was to represent Christ’s blood and sacrifice for our sins. We take it to represent the new covenant.
  • And overall, with communion, it’s an examining of oneself. Presenting yourself right before the Lord.

Okay, I get all of that. I can get behind that. I think. Maybe that “right” thing I got an eye twitch from because, again, I knew something was wrong with me. But overall, I agreed with the communion process. So, again, why was I denied? Now here’s the kicker of where my struggle with communion began. My grandmother and this church, and many other churches I attended, believed that you could not, and definitely should not take communion unless you were RIGHT with Him. Do you know what I mean by right? Yes, that…not just right, but perfect. It wasn’t stated, but most definitely implied. Only the “good people” without flaws and mistakes were able to take communion. Insert now…shame and an even greater building inside of me of the truth that I created in my little mind, I’m not good enough. So, here you have me, little Raelynn, who is a lover to the core of all that’s within me. Even then, before I fully gave my life to Him, I loved Jesus. And I wanted Him to love me too. And I learned in Sunday school that He, in fact, did love me. But with this communion issue, I understood, that even though He loved me, I wasn’t good enough. I quickly learned and knew I wasn’t good enough for a multiple of reasons that would take too long to explain in this post. But super short version is…being in small town Oklahoma where Native American’s were considered heathens and less; not to mention, my Father’s family name was associated with trouble and all manner of negativity. Plus, I never felt right. I always felt I was messing up. I was just a little shame bucket. I was far from RIGHT!

Fast forward to my adult life. Communion Sunday’s still make me anxious at times. Even though I’ve prayed, discovered, and explored my own thoughts on communion; I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t believe it’s that cut and dry. But honestly, at times, that need to be perfect still creeps in. Shame and fear rear their ugly little heads in my thoughts and remind me that I am not good enough to be standing before Him. They point out my flaws, sins, and those ugly things I don’t like about myself. And then I start thinking about His sacrifice and life and compare it to where my life is. And I want to run. I want to hide because I have made, and continue to make, doozies of mistakes. I am reckless with my life at times. I forget to remember Him in those times and I want the fleshy part of me to reign a little more because I want my own way. And this may come as a surprise, but I am not perfect. I know, weird, right? The only thing I feel perfect at is being perfectly flawed. So for me, it’s always been a bit of a struggle when it comes to communion. I feel like that little girl who was not good enough. Who understood because of the not so great circumstances of her life, is not allowed to stand before Him until she is perfect. This belief created a whirlwind of striving within me and I have yet to measure up. Because I know me. I know I’ll mess up again. I know i’ll make mistakes. I know I’m not perfect. I know, that even recently, I have been reckless and have made said mistakes. So how will I ever be able to stand before Him and commune with Him truly? It’s created quite a conundrum of sadness in my life through the years. How do I work this out?

The last couple of weeks I’ve been working through some hurts and mistakes. You know, those things that hurt deep in the soul. The ones you worry you can’t come back from. We all have them. But I always feel mine are greater and bigger and unredeemable. And I was laying in my bed thinking, okay over analyzing to death, the unbearable mess-up-ness that is Raelynn. And I heard God clearly say to me, “commune with my Son.” And I said, “What?” He said, again, “commune with my Son.” And I began to list off to Him all of my flaws, mistakes, sins, and why I shouldn’t really be communing with Jesus right now. Basically, I was like, can I get a rain check? And I was heartbroken. But God, being who He is…gracious and merciful, began speaking to me about the truth of Jesus life on the cross. And why it is important to remember; but more importantly why it’s important to have communion with Christ. Communion means to communicate. And then it happened, the Aha moment! Yes, Christ died on the cross for me; yes, He gave His body and shed His blood to cover all of those things I was listing off on why I couldn’t and shouldn’t come before Him. The enemy does that to us. Reminds us of our flesh and mistakes. He shames us. But the power of the cross is greater than that. More powerful than any of those mistakes or any shame that I am trying to get right before I can stand before Him. And then I realized if communion is a remembrance of His life on the cross, then at those desperate times of my flesh, I should be running to Him. I should be running to communicate with Him. I shouldn’t be shamed in staying away, but instead should be in His presence. I understood that it’s okay, actually more than okay and allowed, that I should be taking the elements as a symbolic act of remembrance of His life and work on the cross. It’s so that I can freely come before Him and commune with Him. To have an honest conversation of the good, the bad and at times, the even uglier moments I’m dealing with. Remembering that those things that I’m working through are just “stuff” and He’s bigger than the stuff. The work on the cross is more powerful than the stuff. I don’t need to be shamed. Again, I NEED to be running to communicate with Him. Because in that communication the enemy loses his hold, he can no longer keep me from my freedom that was freely given me because of Christ’s work on the cross. I no longer have to live under this cloak of “perfectness” in order to have a relationship with Him; because let’s be honest, it’s not going to happen.

It’s liberating. It’s freeing. It’s true communion.

Netflix Haze

Hello. My name is Raelynn. And I’ve been in a Netflix haze for a few months now. I’ve watched a plethora of movies, sitcoms, sagas, documentaries, reality shows, blah, blah, blah, etc. etc. It’s part of my avoidance of those 6 blog drafts that I referred to in my last post. It goes something like this: I come home with intentions to write. So I open the computer. Write more words down on those things i’ve been thinking on. (okay, more like analyzing to death). Then when I can’t figure it out to completion…I say, forget it, then watch another episode of Park and Rec. Or whatever series I’m on to at the time.

The haze has been good for me. It’s also created a bad habit of escape. Now don’t get me wrong, escaping is good for a bit. But, i’m realizing it’s time to quit escaping and face life head on. There’s so much to discover. So much healing to receive. So much beauty to observe. So many adventures to be had. So much life to live. It’s time to quit escaping and jump on board with life.

Netflix haze…I think it’s time we break up. The world is my oyster. The night is a puppy, so I must get to it.

Right after I finish this one last episode……

You Should Know (Vol. 1)

I have about 6 different blog post drafts that I am trying to get out of my head. Problem is I am a bit of a perfectionist; and now tie that in with being a slow processor on the serious stuff. What does that leave me? Drafts! I’m still not 100% sure that I can accurately express the thoughts that I’ve written thus far. Yet, also, do I believe them? So they are sitting there in my draft pile. Just staring at me. Mocking me. Goading me. Challenging me. To open my heart, to believe, to tell the truth, to learn more, to think more, to process more, to laugh and be silly more, and most importantly, to be.

I’m a mess. A beautiful mess; but a mess, nonetheless. Hey, that rhymed. I’m a poet and didn’t know it. (Ha, see what I did there?) But I digress, I’m learning to embrace that fact that I am a mess. Not as something to look down on or to work toward being better. But i’m learning to be honest about what is real and what is the facade. Life is a beautiful mess full of learning’s, hurts, pain; but yet, still so full of joy, hope, happiness, love and grace. Being a mess isn’t a bad thing. Embrace the awkward. Embrace the mess. It leaves so much more room to be free.

GRACE!!! The weight on the understanding of this little word, but large amazing gift has been heavy this past week. I’m learning to understand truly what grace is. Not what I want it to be, nor what I believe in my, often times, fleshly driven mind. But what God means when He freely and openly extends us grace. It’s BIG, y’all. And wonderfully heavy. And, oh so beautiful. I can’t even fathom it. There’s a reason they wrote a song about the amazingness of grace. It’s unexplainable; and i’m starting to feel the weight of the gift of it. I’m learning to swim in this ocean of grace. And it feels good. It’s scary because I don’t feel worthy of it. But that’s the point. It’s GRACE!!!! And has nothing to do with me or my feelings. Grace. Grace. And more, grace!!!

I’ve felt the need to be silent lately. I know, a shocker. Me? Silent? But, in life I tend to fill the uncomfortable deep achy space with chatter and build a fake world that I masquerade as truth in order to avoid. To be robotic in my, “everything is alright!”, and “It’s all okay!” cadence with a plastered fake smile. I don’t have that in me right now. Silence seems best. Silence is also loud and screaming at me. But, silence, I’m wanting to embrace it. Because should I open my mouth it would unleash an exodus of hurt, pain, sorrow and recklessness. Right now, the uncomfortableness of life hurts and sorrows is ugly and not fun. But it’s also refining me. Molding me and shaping me in to who God wants me to be. I love it and I hate it all at the same time. So, for now, silence is best. It’s not you, it’s me.

Hurting people, hurt people. Generally the ones they love the most. It makes no sense, but it’s there. Take it for what it is. It’s true. It’s true of you. And it’s true of me. I’ve been praying that God would show me how to embrace and accept His agape love; and then show me how to lavish it on others. Even when I hurt and don’t feel so loving. More so, when I hurt. Because then it’s authentic. When you have the ability to love during the dark and hurting spaces of your own life…I think you are beginning to truly understand and function in what love is and what it should look like. The unconditional love of Christ. Loving at ALL times. Not just when it’s convenient. We say it like a broken record…that we love at all times. But i’m learning we don’t. In theory we do. In our hearts we want to. Our minds repeat it as truth. But we don’t. Because when we hurt, we hurt others. I’ve been seeking to love fully, truly and honestly. Especially in my hurts. Because that’s when you will get the truth of my love because it comes as a sacrifice and takes effort. It takes me going beyond myself. I have more to say about this subject, but for now I must stop.

I have permission to live and move forward. Regardless of my past. Regardless of my mistakes. God loves me. He wants me to live. Letting light into the darkness so the enemy can’t keep me shamed or doubting. I am embracing that permission to live, even when things still look jumbled and not perfectly settled. I have permission to live.

Oh how He loves me.

Oh how He loves YOU!

Oh how He loves us.