Out of their Hole.

I went home to my home town last week. A place I spent 18 years of my life, I lived in the same house, on the same street all those years; and my mom still lives in that house on that street. At the end of my road and across the street sits a little white church with a sign out front that reads “God Save America Again.” Now that sign may seem annoying, ignorant even but nothing too out of the ordinary in Small Town America until you know one little thing about the people that enter that church every week. . . those people are known White Supremacists. They had their hey day in the 70’s and have been rather quite since but they are still there at the end of my street in my little hometown.

Now this has become a fun fact I share with people when they ask about my childhood. .. “Oh I lived in a small town, the only really note able thing about it is the white supremacist church.”  People will gasp and ask me how I handled that growing up… you know being a black woman and all.

But the funny thing is that I didn’t handle it, I didn’t have to handle it. They stayed down there on their end of the street and I felt as safe as any child could running around the town until all hours of the night. They never bothered me, there were no confrontations they simply stayed in their little church, probably hating my existence.But you know from inside their space I couldn’t have cared less about what went on inside their heads. Because as long as they stayed inside, some part of me knew that they understood the inappropriateness of what they were feeling. They knew they would be met with such resistance in this time in in America that they idea of coming “out” as what they truly were wouldn’t even cross their minds.

Flash Forward to today— 2017—- Small Town America—-

You would think we would have made progress right? Maybe that little white church has been closed up for the last year, maybe the people all scattered around the country, or with any luck made a friend of a different race and realized it was all just a lie.

Think again my friend, here we are in 2017 and for the first time in my life I felt unsafe in my hometown. The people in the little white church still ignored my presence, but someone else some stranger who has never met me and wouldn’t be able to pick me out of a line up felt they had the right to scream

WHITE POWER

At me out of the window of their car as I walked into Hobby Lobby. 

Wait, let me back up just a minute, yes you read that right. 2017, a northern state, a girl and her friends are walking into Hobby lobby to buy wedding supplies and out of no where a grown-ass man yells

WHITE POWER 

out of his window.

It was like my whole perception of my home town came crashing down like the ideals of democracy around me, this place that had always been safe and protective was now foreign and angry. Angry at me because what? I was born with black skin, because the sun doesn’t turn me an angry shade of red, because my hair reaches for the stars while yours falls flat, or angry because a black man in power did something the white men before or after him could not. .. turned so many aspects of the country around.

But there I was furious and hyperventilating in the hobby lobby parking lot, and as much as my friends wanted to help to tell me “anger and fear is what they want.”  or “Don’t let them get to you.”

They truly had no idea how that moment felt; eating away at my insides as I contemplated the true meaning of that statement; White Power . 

And over and over again  I came back to the same thing: 

These people have always existed, there hasn’t been a magical time in the last 40 years when there were no white supremacists in America, they have been stewing and hiding for 40 years waiting for their opportunity to come out of the shadows. Waiting for someone to validate their feelings again, that look all these dark skinned humans whom we have oppressed for hundreds of years have someone done us wrong feeling.

However over the last 40 years they saw the world do the exact opposite they saw a black man become president and the world embrace him they saw his wife become beloved and they had to continue to hide in their holes, angrily sipping on Bud Light and ranting about “if the confederacy had won” But something has shifted; they began to climb their way out of their holes, see the sun and once again think that they deserve so much more than I do simply because of the color of my skin. They were given the chance to once again be validated enough in their feelings that those nasty words; White Power aren’t just uttered in their Klandestine (yes the K is intentional) meeting but rather they have seen the power and they are welcomed back into the fold. 

And this is what truly made me the most sick about that sad, angry man who yelled at me that day. Not that he felt that way, because I am obviously not going to be the person to change his mind. But that he felt strong enough, that enough people would support him and that I was little enough so far below him that he could once again yell it in the streets.Because when these people are strong enough to climb out of their holes, when there are enough people in power that support them that tell them they will fix all their problems by “building a wall” that assure them the wrong doings they perceived against the White Man are legitimate then the real question is

Did the last 40 years even happen, or should I start looking for the colored drinking fountain.

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The Elimination of FOMO!

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The Fear of Missing Out, something I think this generation is cursed with. We are constantly assaulted with all of the wonderful things that everyone  around us is doing. At any given minute any of our friends could be on a cruise, drinking margarita’s in the sun. But the worse cases of FOMO for me happen with things that are right down the road, they are things you easily could have attended if you had only known about it before it popped up on your instagram feed. This was the source of the most anxiety for me living in a city, what could I be doing instead of sitting on my couch curled up with my husband. Which is something I greatly enjoy doing, but someone just posted about a flea market in Cap Hill, and that new movie I wanted to see (or like semi wanted to see, or everyone says I should see) just came out. Or I know that the jazz group is putting on swing dancing lessons tonight, and I have always wanted to learn to swing dance. Or something as simple as I haven’t posted a good beer drinking picture on the instagram lately I should probably go check out a new brewery.

I always wanted to keep up with the pace of everyone around me, I wanted to be doing something just as cool, just to prove that I could. I didn’t even notice this was the source of my anxiety until it was eliminated from my life. Like most of the people in my generation the constant assault of instagram, Facebook, snapchat posts had simply become my normal.

And since I didn’t have very many friends I was constantly forcing my husband to do all of these things with me and even though I didn’t think this was causing me anxiety but here Except for the fact that the first weekend my friends in the PNW all did something together without me, I panicked to the point of literally making Mr. get in the car with me and just drive. . literally just drive so I wouldn’t be at the house. But I wasn’t stressed at all right? Here, I am not even a month later just realizing that that is exactly what it was doing, I wasn’t happy or excited for my friends, I would hit like on all of their posts and comment how cute they looked doing XYZ, but secretly I was wishing they would have invited me, or that I would have been somewhere even cooler.

Last month when we moved to the mountains I feared the fear of missing out for the first time cognitively  I worried about the concerts I would miss being in the middle of nowhere the nights of eating out at my favorite restaurants I wouldn’t get to do anymore. But here I am feeling the most content in my adult life

Here in our mountain town there are now raging parties happening on Friday night, there are no spur of the moment pop ups happening  in downtown. You don’t have to worry about that new movie because no one else has seen it either. But you can count on being invited to the all town broom hockey on Monday night, and you can probably count on watching the Bachelor with the ladies. You may not know everyone in the town very well but you can ensure that they all have a fairly similar life that you do.  And that when there is something going on you will know. I cannot be attached to my phone at all times, because it only works in the wifi, at my house! so I don’t need to look at what everyone else is posting during my lunch break or worry about making sure I post something every time I do something cool. I can focus on God, and life and the people around me. I can engage in conversations without any worry of phone interruptions I can meet new people because I am not too concerned with what the old people are doing. I can actually connect to the world around me.

It has been the most scary and freeing part of living here so far, the ability to immerse myself in the beauty around me the people, the mountains, the living where I can count the stars. I can enjoy life without any FOMO, and that has made all the difference.

-Rae

Out Here!

My new backyard– kind of!hume1

I was born for the city, I grew up dreaming of the smell of the subways and the cigarette smoke of New York. I longed to be lost in a city with millions of people moving around me where none of them knew my name.

See I grew up in a town where EVERYONE knew your name. . .and if they didn’t know my name they sure knew the color of my skin, I was the only black girl in within the town limits. There was one black guy and that was it. There was no such thing as anominity where I grew up. One grocery store, a post office and two bars sure, but wherever you spent your evenings everyone was sure to know about it, and that was before the days of Facebook check-ins and live instagram updates of your whereabouts.

So how in the world at 25 did I end up in a town where there isn’t even 1 bar. Well really it probably has more to do with WHO I did it with rather than How I ended up here, but there are a few hows’ to go in there too. So let’s go through a few of the how’s, the big who and then there where is out here even.

How #1) Growing up I never dreamed I would stay in Colorado my whole life, in all honesty I thought I would move to New York right out of high school go to College there and that would be that. But that was before I understood money and how MUCH money it would take to go to out of state college. That was also before I realized that my Mom was a badass and who would want to move that far away from her. She was the reason I changed my mind about college a month before it started so that I wouldn’t even be 5 hours away I would be closer to 45 minutes away, but that decision shaped the rest of my life so once again, Thank you Mom.

How #2) I never really went to church growing up, not that people didn’t try bringing me, I can remember friends inviting me countless times and I would almost always go with them but I always just felt like the outsider. I felt like these people were just trying to “Save” me to do some good deed but I never felt like I could truly be myself. That’s not to say I didn’t believe in God, I just didn’t believe I needed the church in order to have a relationship with him. (This is something I have found out is much more common than I knew) However my senior year of college I ended up at a church that just felt like home, I was finally able to open my ears and probably my heart to see that there was good in having a community to share this with. Why church is important will come into play once we get to the WHERE I am.

How #3) All of my friends moved away.

That one is pretty self explanatory, no one ever explains to you how truly difficult it is to make true friends after College. I don’t think it helped any that during college I met my soulmates (because our friends are our soul mates of course, Thanks Sex and the City) It was like my ability to make friends was broken in Denver, I couldn’t get past the friends that were supposed to be there but weren’t. And when I did feel like I truly tried to make friends to join a community centered around church I just ended up getting hurt over and over again by realizing I was not someone they actually wanted to hang out with outside of our designated times, right up until the week we moved away. And everyone needs friends right?

Who) Of course it is for a boy, isn’t that why all (straight, cis gender) women do anything truly. I have done countless stupid things for boys, driving my car through a snowstorm and subsequently crashing it into a ditch, quitting my job, skipping school you name it. However this boy or should I say man I guess once you get married he is probably a man right? Has only ever led me to things that will better myself things that will make me grow as an individual and as the wife half to our marriage. He has supported me through grad school, my first years as a teacher in an urban school teaching children with significant special needs. And now, now it was my time to support him in a career move we couldn’t pass up, it didn’t hurt that it would also led me to leaving Colorado, reference How #1.

Where) So where in the world did this city girl end up, right smack dab inside the Sequoia National Forest, in the smallest town I have been in where every one waves hello and stops to check in on you. And where we unloaded a 16 foot moving truck in under and hour because people just wanted to help. This is a place that is so full of Church and Full of Jesus that the How #2 is really important and a place I truly believe I will grow as a wife, person, teacher and in my spiritual understanding of community and hopefully make a few friends.

I am going into 2017 in a completely new place where I don’t know anyone so I figured what  a better place or time to have a few commitments– 1. Be more truly open dive into whatever is around me. 2. Strive to be a “Shannon” – to share my heart and be so loving to people that it is contagious. 3. Put effort into my relationships.

So here I hope to share my life with you while I am out here. Here are My Years Out Here

– Rae

Being a “good” Christian. . . a work in progress.

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If I had known it was as simple as following a wiki- how to I would have had this mastered this years ago!

Learn how to be a good Christian in only a few simple steps here http://www.wikihow.com/Live-a-Good-Christian-Life

Or follow my struggle below. . .

I have only been going to church for maybe two years total, there was a six month period I attended in college and then when I moved to Denver I stopped until I found Bloom.

I have been going to Bloom Denver for a little over a year consistently now, and last January Ben and I dove head first into this whole, church member thing. We started volunteering on Sundays to set up or tear down the gathering space.( Our church meets in the basement of another church so we have to set up and tear down some aspects of our gathering every week.) We joined a house church ( what would be a small group or bible study at other churches) And became full fledged members of the church as some might say. We love our house church and attend every week to gather and share with those 10 people in someones home. We have been studying the book of Luke passage by passage, not skipping not a one! It has been some of the most faithful and thoughtful conversations I have ever had.

This has really been a time when I have began to open up to spirituality.. . But I keep coming back to what does that need to look like? We sometimes fall into “stereotypical” church conversations that just rub me wrong, things like

” Well my friend starting dating a non-christian guy and I just don’t know if I can condone that, she is just setting herself up for heartbreak.”

And

” I made a new friend and I just feel like it is my duty to show her Jesus, it is our duty as Christians to convert people to ensure they are saved.”

Well I don’t believe either of these things  so what am I not a good Christian? I actually disagree with these statements and they make me physically upset when i hear them, causing me to shut down within the conversation. So how do I merge  this. ..

What does being a good Christian mean?

We had a State of the Parish meeting at Bloom the other night, they talked about how the work that we do is God’s work. Whether you are a teacher, a nurse, a truck driver, a barista etc. whatever you do the job of the church is to make you a better outward person, do put the best you out there. Now I do not believe that this means putting our Christianity in the worlds face and saying Hey I am a better(insert profession here) because I love God. But simply being a better (insert profession here) you are showing the worlds God’s love.

I also do not believe that it is our duty as Christians to convert everyone, I am probably in the minority that believes we all believe in the same God, we just give him/her different names, All of those names praise him, and glorify him. We cannot let the people who manipulate his love dictate how we view the people who both call him by the name we know and by other names. It is not our job to tell people what to believe or what name to call God.

It is our job to love them. It is our job to look outside of the church, to take the love and power we gain from our relationship with God and the Church and turn that into love for the people around us.

I believe that this means taking my sphere of influence, my classroom, my family, my friends, my school and making a difference there if I love those people and pour all of God’s love into them through me, it does not matter what name I give it. That is how I demonstrate that I am a “good” Christian.

It does not come with a hand book, and a step by step how too. it certainly does not come from a wii-how- to. . there is no manual. there is not a single way to do it there is no right or wrong. There is a feeling!

No matter what you do, love it, do it well and pour that love into other people.

And if you are in the Denver area looking for a place that will support you in this journey, come check us out, we meet at Hope Community Church at 4 and 6 pm on Sundays. You can find us here on the web http://www.bloomchurchdenver.com/  I would love to see you all there!

❤ Kelsi Rae