Brian James

Yesterday we buried someone so important.
Someone that I loved.
My soul brother.
My friend.

When I think back to all of my memories as a child, Brian is there. 
Born six months before me, Brian did everything first. 
He crossed the street, rode a bike, and made friends with everyone while I sat by and waited for his "ok". 
To this day I can hear him, "Lynnie, COME ON! Just cross the street!" 
& When I wouldn't cross, he'd just put me and my dollies on his big wheeler and take me himself. When I moved back to Delaware for High School, Brian forced all of his friends to hang out with me. 

He was the ultimate pal.
Always up for an adventure...
He wasn't scared of anything. 

Everything he did, he did full throttle.
He got married young and laughed when people tried to tell him otherwise. 
He joined the AirForce and traveled to places I've never even heard of. 
He picked on his sisters and I, but defended us to the end. 
When Bree came into the world, he was smitten immediately. 
His mom was his BFF even when it wasn't cool. 
His family was his first priority & his cousins were his favorite people.
He got in touch with his sister, and went on and on about how amazing she was.
He loved everyone. 
He stood up for the little guy.
He didn't fit into any molds or standards that people try to make for us.
He was an artist, poet, athlete, musician, father, brother, friend, and airman all wrapped up into one dude. 
Losing him hurts. 
& I am sad.

In 2005 I wrote a blog post about his birthday party & it ended like this:

"so anyway we get out (of the movie) around 1130
and its snowing
so we skip to the car
arm in arm like bestfriends are supposed too.

then we're
jamming to pink floyd,
thinking about the past...
16 years and hes still my best friend.

from riding on his big wheeler
to riding shot gun in his moms van,
we have come a long way"

Losing him hurts.
& I am sad.

There will be a day when we'll be arm-in-arm,
 skipping around singing praises to God.
Eternity with Christ, and he'll still be my best friend. 
I can't wait.

In the meantime, Brian would want me to live full throttle. 
He'd want me to be the ultimate pal.
He'd want me to be up for every adventure.
He'd want me to be brave.
& I will. 

You are the God of peace.

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid"
John 14:27
This life gets crazy.
Today, I am thanking God for His peace.

xo, Lynn Raye

The Great Outdoors

Two weeks ago, Teeds & I spent an entire day in the woods.
We packed sandwiches for lunch
and cooked our dinner over a fire.
We spent the hours in between kayaking and hiking. There were a lot of other people enjoying the park, but there were moments where the entire space felt like ours. Someday, we'll be able to spend a whole weekend in the woods. But right now, we will take what we can get. Planning a wedding is hard & living three hours away from each other ain't no walk in the park either.
We try to make the most of our short weekends.

xo, Lynn Raye

AVT BAND Weekend.

Last weekend I had the privilege of traveling to Lake Gaston to sing with some of my favorite people We celebrated America and honored veterans! The weekend was so fun that it felt like three minutes instead of three days. I even got to spend a few hours with my MOH on the way to our hotel. Pit stops for lunch with your bff are the best!

After hours of rehearsal on Friday, my voice was shot. 
I sort of came to terms with the fact that I'd probably really suck on Saturday, but for the most part my voice came through. 

We couldn't have asked for better weather & the veterans that we honored were so sweet. The whole trip was worth the lack of sleep and the ten hours of traffic we sat through on the way back. 

My trip highlights:
- lunch with Sabs
- completely butchering The Beatles with Mark. Whoops.
- belting Whitney Houston across the lake
- making a new pal named Logan
- Taylor being a cool roadie
- a certain band member trying to be slick and losing his speedo (gross)
- the never ending firework show
- snuggling with Lynn on the pontoon boat while fearing for my life
- swimming for 30 minutes

It's been full week since i've been back and I am STILL trying to recover.

xo, Lynn Raye

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There was a shooting (again) in the neighborhood that I work in.
Shootings aren't foreign for this little neighborhood, but whenever they happen, I feel them with my entire soul.
You see, children in this neighborhood SEE this stuff daily.
This is the lifestyle that they see as normal.

Violence is just second nature.
There are battles being fought in these streets every day.
Sometimes they are fought with hands,
other times, with weapons.
I am hurting for this neighborhood.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

I serve a God who has overcome all of this.
He has a plan for this neighborhood
& I trust Him in my hurting.

Please join me in praying for peace.

xo, Lynn Raye

Vocal Rest & Veteran Love.

(hot water with lemon)
My voice hurts.
On Saturday I had an 8 hour rehearsal for the veterans tribute concert this weekend.
I spent Sunday morning belting notes with my favorite worship team.
This morning I woke up with my throat itchy and dry.
I took to facebook for advice on what to drink or do when I lose my voice.
A lot of people had great advice.
My favorites were:
Apple Cider Vinegar,
Fruit pops & Water ice,
tea tea tea,
Super early bedtimes,
Pineapple juice,
slippery elm lollies.

Truth be told, I think I just need to stop & relax.
This isn't going to be a very relaxing week, but I need to put myself to bed (at 8pm) and stop saying yes to every thing under the sun. Sometimes taking care of yourself helps you better take care of others.
On Saturday we will honor veterans through music.
We have a set of over 80 songs that we've been rehearsing for months.
I am shaking in by boots but I know that we will be met with a lot of love.
As a musician AND a social worker, I am always looking for ways to combine my two loves to help people. Honoring these heroes through music is a great way to incorporate both of my passions.
These men and women are heroes and should be honored.
I want to be at the top of my game on Saturday.
I want to sing the songs that they requested to the best of my ability
and I need to take care of myself in order to do that.
Can't wait until this weekend.
Hope my little voice finds its way back to me.

"Because all of us believe and understand in the fabric of the common bond of why we call ourselves American is to care for the men and women who wear the uniform; and when they take off the uniform, we care for them when they are veterans. – Steve Buyer"

How do you find a lost voice?
Let me know!
xo, Lynn

High Five for Friday!

Happy Friday friends! 

I cannot believe this week is over. 
I feel like it flew by 
but I ain't mad at it. 

Here are some of my Friday Favorites:

1. These mulberries that I found in the backyard of my work! I had to turn to Instragram for advice on if I could eat them or not. Turns out, I can! & they are so sweet. 

2. My new shower routine for my crazy skin. You should feel my skin after I use this stuff. I'm sooooo smooth. (for once)

3. On Sunday, Taylor and I enjoyed some tandem kayaking. I like working together, but I think next time I'll get my own kayak. I like kayaking beside him & linking our paddles together. It's WAY more fun than not being able to see him behind me!

4. (you can't really see them) but we made bird feeders out of old water bottles. It was a really fun activity for the kids that I work with. We even put the feeders outside! 

5. Ahhhhh! Last but not least::: FOOD. 
My job is very fun. Yesterday we thought the kids how to make "General Tso's Chicken"
I obviously only ate the green beans and rice! But the chicken certainly smelled good. Let me know if you'd like the recipe! 

Next week marks the beginning of July. 
The thought of July makes me shutter a bit because it's going to be SO busy for me. I'll be spending much of next week packing & preparing for my weekend trip to Gaston, NC. 
Can't wait to get away, but I'm not excited about the long drive and LONGGG hours of singing.

xo, Lynn Raye

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Marshy Waters.

Marshes are kind of cool.
Disgusting, but cool.
When you think about it, they're pretty ugly & the creatures you find in them aren't very snuggly. 
When you explore a marsh, you can't wear your good gladiator sandals. 
Rain boots or ugly sneakers are a necessity. 
While I was exploring a marsh today in my hometown, I started thinking about their purpose. 
Marshes hang out near large bodies of water and act as sponges to prevent flooding. They've got plants and animals living in them that help feed right back into the large bodies of water. Marshes give and take at just the right moments & are an extremely important asset to this world.
Exploring the marsh and its purpose got me thinking about mine.
I'd like to be more like the marsh. 
I'd like to be the kind of human that gives and takes at all the right times.
I'd like to soak up the overflow of peoples pain & produce fruit that feeds the souls of everyone I come in contact with. 
I am disgusting,
but kind of cool because of Christ.
Lord, help me be more like the marsh & in turn, more like You. 

xo, Lynn Raye

New Community.

I am moving.
We are moving.
I am losing community.

In four short months, I will be moving 2.5 hours away from the community that inspires me to love Jesus better. My church families and close circle of friends mean so so so much to me & i'd really like to figure out a way for all of them to move to WB with me this fall. I'm not sure that will happen but a lady can dream can't she?

I am a planner.
I plan everything. 
My outfits are pre-planned, my meals, my day... etc (I'm a little crazy)
When I began preparing my heart for this move, I was met with great anxiety & fear. 
How will we make friends?
What if no one likes me?
Where will we worship? 
We certainly can't find another church plant to love and grow in, can we? 

God must smile big when I bring my silly fears to Him.
Ladies & Gents, we haven't even moved and I am already feeling love from our future town.
About a month ago, Teeds and I visited a church plant in downtown WB.
The visit wasn't really random because I had been stalking them for about a month before the actual visit... (Like I said, a little crazy)
Even though I had been listening to their podcasts and fervently following them on Facebook, I was still so nervous to walk into the chapel for service that Sunday. 
After a bit of coaching from Teeds, we headed in. 
Almost as soon as we sat down, people came over to say hello. The greetings weren't just a "hi" and a "bye", these people wanted to know our names and stories. So there we were, the service hadn't even started and I was totally smitten. As the worship team led one of Teedle's favorite songs, I could tell that he was also falling in love. After a beautiful message by Pastor Dan about "inside out religion" (can be found here), we were sold. To top it ALL off, the church was experimenting with a "meet the pastors" lunch after the service. Of all days! The day WE visit. Oh, God makes me smile so big. 
He was there! He had planned all of it!
Oh what joy!
Teeds and I stayed to have some Pizza (carrots and chips for me) & chat with our new favorite people. It turns out that the mission of the church is very similar to the church I currently attend. They are ministry focused & care about the spiritual, emotional, and physical needs of the people in their community. My social work heart smiled ear-to-ear over this! The best part is, we were only there for a couple of hours & we felt like we were home. We saw the love of Christ moving in the ministry team and their love for Him was absolutely contagious. 
What a beautiful day.

I serve a God who is bigger than worry, fear, and doubt.
He is already moving in WB & I can't wait to see what else He has planned for Teeds and I.
Last Friday, I got THIS in the mail with a sweet message from Pastor Dan and his wife, Joy! 

(Sweet, huh?) 

I am moving.
We are moving.
I am finding community.

xo, Lynn Raye