Sunday, October 6, 2013


Everyone wants to talk about women. So let's talk about women for a second.

The word "feminist" is accompanied by one torrent of a spectrum, but for the sake of this brief conversation, I'm going to call myself a feminist. 

I think I rock.
As do other women.

As do men.
As a general rule, I think human beings are pretty A+ creatures.

However, I've noticed something that I feel is being miscommunicated that I would love to clear up, if I can. It has to do with image, modesty, representation, and self respect.

If this is the first you're seeing this image, don't be too hard on yourself. This is Rihanna in her new video "Pour It Up." It emphasizes the allure of strippers and wealth. I'd like to hope that Rihanna has a whole truckload of redeeming qualities. I just...can't tell from that video.

I'm not seeing any strides for women here. I see power, yes. Perhaps a sense of freedom? To be honest this really isn't the kind of power I'm looking for. Maybe that's weird.

Now before you get all crazy on me and start thinking this:

I want to clarify that I don't think a body is anything to be ashamed of. I'm quite proud of mine, to be honest. This is not a "cover up- no one wants to see that" conversation. What an incredible phenomenon is the human body! I just mean to make the point, ridiculous as it may seem, that there is more to me as a being, a woman, a student, an activist, and whatever else I choose to be, than my physical appearance or sexual allure.

It's right about now that the big ugly word "modesty" comes into play. I know people hate that word. "Modesty" has come to have a nearly oppressive tint to it, and I lament that. So when I use it here, yes, I'm referring to clothing, but more than that- I'm referring to a sense of self imposed self-respect.
(Did anyone else notice how many S's that was? Just saying.)

Everyone likes talking about women in relation to men, so I'll indulge you for a second.

This image is featured at the Women's Rights Museum in Seneca Falls, New York. It's one of my personal favorites, and it's really what I'm talking about here. The message is, women are often seen for their quality outsides, and men for their quality insides. Under this rationale, I hope you're really proud of those master's degrees, ladies.

Do you wish to be respected for what goes on in your brain?
Do you consider yourself to have a strong character and a sound mind?
Does your will power or your cool intellect contribute and make the world a safer and more sane place?

Does your love for others give them hope or a greater reason to press on?

Then do yourself a favor. Focus on that, instead.

As a final example of what I mean by all of this, I'd like to give you just a few examples of women who I personally look up to, regardless of their sex appeal or nerve to walk outside in underwear. 

Jessica U. MeirAssistant Professor of Anesthesia at Harvard Medical School, and one of the eight new astronauts of NASA. (Ok...once the government shutdown shenanigans are over)
 Chimamanda Adichie- Inspirational speaker and author. She has received education from Yale, Johns Hopkins, University of Nigeria,  Drexel, and Eastern Connecticut State University.
Crystal Christensen- Elementary school teacher, talented blogger, good friend, and currently battling bone cancer like a champion.

These three beautiful women inspire me to further develop what makes me who I am. Every day should be spent questioning, learning, giving everything you've got to make this world a better place, and let's be honest- the best way to do those things is with your clothes on.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Enculturation. But what else can you do?

Hi everyone!

I've been asked to do one of those assignments you do when you tell people about what makes you you and all that and stuff.

You are now privy to it.


1. Microphone- I am a recording artist, and will be releasing an album in the fall. These songs mean more than fame or recognition, but have always been a part of who I am. I am not trained, but play the piano, guitar, and I sing. In more aspects than just music, I think of myself as slightly rough around the edges but true.

Possibilities. Imagination. Creativity.

2. Cheerwine- I am from North Carolina and miss it. Being from the South has shaped much of how I see myself and others. It has molded my political views, the pace of life, my environmental preference, and my sense of home.

Accepting. Nostalgic. Heritage.

3. Engagement Ring- I am getting married in January! I come from a culture that values marriage, and it's not so strange to be getting married at 23.

Commitment. Sacrifice. Hope.

4. Tracting shoes- I served a mission in Upstate New York and returned in May of this year.

Hard work. Dedication. Religious conviction.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

There are few things more paralyzing
Than that fear

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Fairweather Friend

Well, hear we are.

Home is kind of a funny word. As it turns out, I attach that word to people. With that said, I am really happy to be home with my dad and brothers. I sure do love them.

Mostly, I think I was surprised at how normal it felt to walk back into life after being a missionary. Don't get me wrong- I loved and appreciated my time preaching the good word, but I knew this was coming. I knew it was time.

I think probably the strangest part about being hurled back into what is generally termed as reality is that you've missed the slow progression of all your loved ones. Sometimes people have started turning their lives around and then when you get back you're pleasantly surprised. On the other hand, those who've let themselves go are much more of a shock than they would have been otherwise. The difference between your interactions as a missionary and non-missionary is that as a missionary I primarily dealt with people searching for help. Now I seem to be swimming in a world full of my friends and family who are so sad and would prefer for me to watch them suffer rather than help in any way. That's comfortable.

Pros and cons exist in all situations. Happy to be home, but I need to build up some of those old callouses.

Friday, May 3, 2013

You are the torch and it all makes sense

The best word to describe this week is probably "unconventional."

We just had a lot of strange stuff go on, but considering it was my last week as a missionary, I probably shouldn't be that surprised.
First of all, last Sunday Sister Szuch and I were invited to go speak at the Wellsville Branch. There were 21 people there in total, and that's including 8 missionaries (us, a set of elders, and 2 senior couples). It took just over 2 hours to get there, and the way was beautiful. Spring came on super quick here in New York and it has been so wonderful this past week! The rolling hills and trees everywhere is pretty similar to North Carolina but not as hot. It was nice to have so much time to just sort some things out in my head. There is something so therapeutic about car trips.
Sister Szuch and I both anticipated the entire event being kind of sad because of how small the group is, but I was really surprised! There was such a happy and pleasant spirit about those people, and I feel so privileged that I had the opportunity to meet them and speak there! It made me so happy to think about how valiant and strong people are all over the world. Going to church is not about entertainment or talent- it's about truth. Every week they carry on with their various tasks, standing very alone in their groups of friends and family, but they know what's right, so what else matters? I spoke on receiving guidance and revelation through the Spirit, and Sister Szuch spoke on what we've recently termed "the big three." Those are:
1. Prayer
2. Scripture Study
3. Service
Everyone has those days where they just feel irritated or depressed. Sometimes it's seemingly for no reason, sometimes it's because of legitimate circumstances. Regardless, on those days I've started asking myself- how were my prayers this morning? Was I really trying to pray or was it routine? Then, how was my study this morning? Did I do it? Was I really there or was I unfocused? And then finally, who am I serving right now? If you are seeking to gratify yourself, your day is going to continue to be terrible. If you are looking for others who need help, you will feel lighter and more happy. If your day has been rotten, go back to the big 3. Generally, it is there that you will find your answer! I know God didn't put us here to be unhappy. He put us here to confront challenges for sure! But He is always looking to help us through.
So I guess this is my last email! There are a bunch of different ways I could end this...quite a bit has changed over the last year and a half. I'm about the same weight, (although I'm pretty sure I've lost some baby fat in my face) I'm the same height, I still don't like onions, bees are still of Satan, but so much of how I see myself, God, and the world has changed. I feel at peace, and I feel more whole. I will miss so much of Western New York and being a missionary, but I am looking forward to the next chapter of my life. I am so grateful for the opportunity I've had of being a full-time missionary. The church is true, my friends.
See you all soon!

Sister Raines signing out.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Full court press

This week we went on exchanges again, except since a lot of weird stuff has been going on with the site trainers, I went with Sister Aiello from Italy instead of Sister Madsen, and Sister Butters came to Waterloo with Sister Szuch. It was interesting! Sister Aiello goes home a transfer after me but she's really struggled with English. I'm proud of her for keepin on- language is not an easy thing. 
Other than that, there's really not much to update anyone on! I hope everyone has a good week
Sister Raines

Friday, April 19, 2013

Righteous Revolutionaries

To give you a bit of a glimpse of what it's like to live in my house right now...the 4 of us spent a good 10 minutes this morning discussing the label on my recently purchased body wash. It's called "sheer twilight." We were specifically discussing how it's impossible to say that name without whispering it. It has to be whispered! Anyways.
As for the rest of life, I have been getting more and more tired. You can see it in pictures taken of me, which is part of why I've been sending fewer and fewer pictures. I've been learning more on my mission to live in the moment because sometimes it's too much to think about anything besides the task at hand. Yesterday morning I woke up and thought to myself "I can do today." And I knew I could! And I did. Sometimes I have to tell myself "I can do this next hour" or something like that until I can get up the energy to focus on more. I can't think about anything at home really because it's too much to focus on and it's overwhelming because I can barely do what I need to do for the rest of the week! I used to be really good at seeing ahead even years ha. As much as I really love this work, it is very tiring. More tiring for your soul and emotions, it seems. Tiring nonetheless. I am grateful for every moment, and I am grateful for moments to catch your breath and dive back in. This is a lesson I'll need to understand for the rest of my life! Not everything is a cake walk, but I can do today.
I said goodbye to my dear Bre and Yesse from Rochester this week! I'm attaching a picture of them from when they were baptized in December. The Elders in the singles branch taught them, but somehow or other we got to be good friends. It was weird to say bye to them because it was one of the first goodbyes I've had to say. They are planning a trip to Utah in June though, so I hope to see them then.

A theme that Sister Szuch and I kind of stumbled into this week comes from Mormon 9:19-
"And if there were miracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being? And behold, I say unto you he changeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles."
Miracles don't always look like we expect they will look! But they are still there. I'm grateful for the many miracles in my life. It was a good pilot light of a scripture for this week for me. I hope it helps some of you, too.
That's all from me!
Sister Ray

"Hope on. Journey on. Honestly acknowledge your questions and your concerns, but first and forever, fan the flames of your faith." -Jeffrey R. Holland