Posted by: Leigh Reynolds | February 6, 2017

Doin’ Time

I signed up to be a chaperone for the high school theatre department’s trip to NYC with my daughter. The school district has a new policy wherein all potential chaperones must go through a background check. No problem… I thought…

A few weeks ago I got a call from the district office; there was a problem with the background check. It kicked back a bench warrant for me from 2002, for a ticket I had received for an expired tag on my car.

I called the courthouse and (once they found the info, in the old system, since this was from FOURTEEN YEARS AGO!) I was told to just come and show proof that my current vehicle was legally registered and they’d likely dismiss it. I might have to pay a fine. No problem. I’ll just go clear it up, pay what I had to… Simple… I thought…

I pulled up to the Wyandotte County Courthouse, found a place to park on the street and put enough on the meter for a little over two hours. I thought it would be more than enough and I’d be able to leave the meter with time on it ‘as a gift’ for the next person.

I got through security and asked where I might go to clear up a ticket from 14 years ago. The man at the desk got a little wide eyed then suggested I check at the records office down the hall. I explained the situation to the nice gal behind the window, gave her my drivers license, and sat down to wait while she looked it up.

An hour goes by. I started to think, maybe I would have to pay a fine after all. This wasn’t going as smoothly as I’d thought. Then an officer comes through the door and says, “Reynolds… so you have a bench warrant?”

“Yes, sir. Apparently I forgot all about the ticket. It was from 14 years ago. I just came in to take care of it when it was recently brought to my attention.”

That’s when he took out his handcuffs.

I asked if he was serious. I explained that this was for an expired tag… from 14 years ago… Wasn’t this a bit extreme? He was nice, but unmoved. “Gotta follow process, now that you’re here.”

I was taken down to holding in cuffs. There were mug shots, fingerprints, a thorough pat down, personal belongings placed in a bag in a locker. I was assigned an offender number. Later, I was later offered a bologna sandwich.

I explained, calmly and kindly, that I had a sick daughter at home and an autistic toddler that I really had to pick up this afternoon – that I couldn’t just send someone else. Thankfully they ‘rushed me through’ and I was finally released a little over three hours and $200 later. I have to go to court in a few weeks.

I got out just in time to steady my nerves and get ready for an important call. It’s for a long-term consulting gig that I really need and want. I had to take that call, so I sucked it up and made it happen. (It went well, though not my best, and I’ll hear in a week or so.)

I now had less than 2 hours to do 6 hours of work, so I dove in and after about 10 minutes my computer froze. Then the screen went to all orange and read “Windows encountered an error and needs to shut down.”

Then it went to black and “Boot disk error or no boot disk found”

The screen of death.

I put my head on my desk and just took a few deep breaths. “You have got to be kidding me.”

It was time to pick up Wil. I grabbed my keys and left. Once I got him home, I packed up the computer and got it to my tech guy to see what he can salvage. I’ll likely be the owner of a shiny new hard drive by tomorrow.

I went to a committee meeting at church. Then I stopped by the grocery store for a few things we needed. (And some gelato. Because, well, today…) Once I was home, my husband went to pick up our daughter while I did bed and bath time with our youngest.

Some days are like that. Hard.

Most days are hard.

But here’s the thing… When the officer handcuffed me and said I was being arrested, I started to get upset. Then I chose not too. Instead I thought how much I wish my dad was alive because I wanted to hear his laughter when I called to tell him about this. That thought, of my dad, made me smile.

I thought about getting upset when they explained that booking and such could take all day. Instead I took a breath, explained my situation of needing to get to kids, etc. (reminded them that this was an EXPIRED TAG from FOURTEEN YEARS AGO) and chose to remain kind and calm. They moved me through a little more quickly and I was out in half the time they originally told me.

I expected to have a ticket on my car. Though the meter was over an hour expired, no ticket. I chose to count that as a blessing.

My important call? She was running late so I got an extra 15 minutes to collect my thoughts. It went well. I chose to recognize and be thankful for that.

My crashed computer? Well, it can be fixed for far less than I expected. I keep very few files on the hard drive, but what is there, he can likely recover for me. I have a laptop I can use to get by until the PC comes back. I choose to see all these little blessings in an otherwise crappy situation.

Don’t get me wrong, today sucked. But I was able to make choices. And though next week I might choose to have the fall-aparts when life crashes in, today I chose to roll with it. I chose to actively see the small blessing sprinkled in. I chose to recognize that if the enemy is coming after me, then there is something about to happen that he wants to deter me from. Right now I am choosing to press on and make sure I don’t let him win. Something great is coming. If it wasn’t, he’d leave me alone.

Sometimes this life can feel like your doing time in a holding cell, stuck. Or you’re locked in a prison of frustration or fears. We always have a choice.

I can choose to freak out at the absurdity of getting arrested for a 14 year old non-moving violation, or embrace the fact that I have one hell of a story to tell. I can freak out when my computer crashes or be thankful for a good tech guy that can fix it. I can focus on the problems or embrace the promise.

Today I chose the later.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

 

 

Posted by: Leigh Reynolds | November 3, 2016

Move the Line

“Move the line, lady.”drop_off

Ugly looks. Honks. Glares. Pulling around me in a huff. It’s a big grade school and the line needs to move. People have places to be. There’s a swift system that needs to run smoothly.

But the people in the car line don’t know that we have been working on wearing his new shoes for 2 weeks and he finally has them on. I need to tell the teacher he may struggle with keeping them on all day.

The people in the car line don’t know he can’t tell his teacher about the molar coming in and the pain it is causing him, so he may be a little ‘off’ today. I need just a few seconds to be his voice.

They don’t know he didn’t sleep last night… Or maybe last night he finally slept after many sleepless nights in a row, so I gave him just a few more minutes sleep. That’s why we’re almost late. We’re in a hurry too, but I can’t rush him out of the van and send him off even more anxious than he already is at school.

They don’t know how much he relies on his teacher and her dry erase board schedule to make him more comfortable moving through the day. When she isn’t there, waiting, I need to wait for them to call her so she can greet him and walk him in. If we want the day to go smoothly, we need her to greet him and he needs a minute to read it before he walks off.

They don’t know how much routine matters to him. It’s his security blanket in a confusing world, so no, I won’t move his booster to the other side for easier exit. He’s always ridden behind me, so I have to get out for one minute to open his door.

The people in the car line don’t know that Wil can’t tell me about his day. They don’t understand that I drive 20 minutes each way, twice a day, to do drop off and pick up so I can have just 2 minutes with his teacher to try and get some sense of how things went.

They don’t know how much he wants to connect with other kids but just can’t figure it out. He sees the other kids walking in, waving goodbye as they quickly run off… Smiling, chatting with friends… While he has an escort with his teacher. He wants to be like them, to understand, to have friends. He just isn’t there yet. Social cues are confusing when you are hearing and seeing every little thing >100%. It takes him an extra minute to get moving because he has to discern what, among all the noise, he needs to focus on. It’s OK. We can all spare one minute.

They don’t know.

They don’t know him. They don’t know me. They don’t know autism.

They don’t know, so they honk, glare, and pull around me in a huff.

wil_gazing

They also don’t know his mind-blowing smile. They don’t know his pure joy at the sight of a lady bug or the sound of the wind; the things we overlook and don’t notice. They don’t get to marvel at how he spelled Shakespeare at 3 or taught himself to read phonetically, or taught himself words in Spanish, French and Mandarin. They don’t know that his ‘gibberish’ is really him reciting all 600 Pokemon. They don’t know that inside that beautiful head is a mind that is wired differently, but amazingly.

That don’t know that he can’t hold a conversation with me, but he speaks volumes to me every day.

Oh that they would come to know what they don’t know.

Posted by: Leigh Reynolds | June 28, 2016

Pushing Back the Dark

Wrinkle In TimeWhen I was a kid, I read “A Wrinkle in Time”. It is the story of a young girl, Meg, who travels through time and space with her brother and a few others to rescue her dad. Along the way, she and her traveling companions learn that the universe is threatened by a great evil called the Dark Thing. The Dark Thing is taking the form of a giant black cloud, engulfing the planets and stars around it. In order to save their dad, Meg must realize that her only weapon to defeat the darkness is the one thing it doesn’t have – Love. Only through love can she restore her brother, who was captured by it, and rescue her dad.

I have always loved that idea. Clung to it… Push back the dark. Sometimes, too often, I forget that the best way to do that is to love people.

Phil Waldrup has a great sermon where he talked about how people loved the apostle Paul because he loved people… Paul concludes Romans with a whole chapter just celebrating people he loves. (And they all are slaves, servants, the ones society pushed aside; not the leaders and elite.) Now, most of us would say we love people, that our churches love people, but how do we demonstrate it? How would Jesus have us demonstrate it?

Over and over again, the Bible speaks to us of love. In Matthew 22:37, when asked what was the most important commandment, Jesus told us to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind first, then to “love your neighbor as yourself because all the law and the Prophets hang on these two.” Did you catch that… everything hangs on love.

Go back and read Corinthians chapter 13 – I mean when was the last time you read that chapter of the Bible outside of a wedding? Go ahead and read it, I’ll wait… It’s not really about romantic love at all. It is about loving the people around us.

Pull out your Bible app if you have it, search on love and read a few. If you try to read them all, you’ll be there all day. Or if you have a red-letter Bible, just take some time and read the words of Jesus. Then go back and reflect on your yesterday, last week, the past year.

What was your first thought when you passed the homeless person asking for spare change on the exit ramp? Annoyance or empathy?

How did you react when that new person wandered into your church, covered in tattoos, or dressed in a way that made you uncomfortable? Did you celebrate that they were coming to the cross, greet them with a smile and a warm handshake? Or wish that they’d get their act cleaned up before they come back?

If someone disagrees with you on Facebook do you fire off a snarky comment? Do you tip well? Do you say hello to people on the street with a genuine smile? Are you kind to the postal worker or trash man? What about the Muslim family that moved in down the street? Where was you heart on the whole Syrian refugee crisis? How do you interact with the atheist classmate, or the gay neighbor? How about the gentleman who sacks your groceries with special needs that is annoyingly chatty? Your republican uncle or democrat aunt?

Loving people the way Jesus showed us and told us means seeing all that someone can be, was meant to be, and is in the eyes of the one who created them. Loving like Jesus should change your world-view, make you kind. Loving like Jesus is so counter to our culture.

There is a lot of unkindness today. Far too much of it coming from ‘The Church’ and extremist Christian leaders. As I have drawn closer to God, learned more about Jesus, I’ve learned that I am not always as kind as I could or should be. I’m learning to re-frame how I look at the world, at people (especially those I may not see eye-to-eye with). I am learning to tune out ‘the American Dream’ and all of our mixed up, backwards priorities, and even some modern day ‘church leaders’ because their words do not match up to my Savior’s.

Our world is being engulfed by a darkness that most people don’t see and many have already succumbed to. In His Word, God has already told us how to defeat it. We have the power – love. Love the people who have been overcome by the darkness. Love people who are different, who are lost, who are struggling.

Love is patient, humble, hopeful, generous, peaceful, yielding, kind. Let’s throw more kindness out there. Put on love. Share love. Show love.
Because everything hangs on this.

 

Posted by: Leigh Reynolds | June 14, 2016

#DailyActofWorship

I spent much of last week working Worship Arts Camp at my church. We had nearly 40 children between the ages of 6 and 11, plus a number of amazing volunteers. We led them in singing, dance (street & ballet), sign language and puppetry; we had classes introducing them to cooking, poetry, storytelling, musical instruments, photography, and technology for worship; we created art… Relaying how all these things can be an act of worship.WAC_Selfie

I was ‘teaching’ several classes, leading the singing, and putting the show together to present to families and friends on Sunday night. I went in to the week excited about all we would be able to impart on the kids – the seeds we would be planting. I knew it would be meaningful, have impact and be fun (not to mention exhausting!)

What I didn’t expect was all I would learn. Or relearn…

Life can be challenging, troubling, and exhausting. Somewhere along the way, I let that part take hold of me, my attitude, and how I move through the world. It was a slow shift and I hadn’t even realized how far off course I had gone. Instead of praising God for all He’s done and continues to do daily, I plead for something easier.

“I’ve been faithful, Lord. I’m a good person. All I’m asking for is some sleep, easier finances, maybe one awesome family vacation, a different view, some relief. I deserve that, don’t I?..” These thoughts were pervasive in my prayers. There has been a whole lot of “why me?!” thinking. Somewhere along the way I stopped worshiping and began whining.

It is time to shift course. This is what this last week and the kids reminded me, taught me again.

In music class, we learned more than melody and rhythm; we spoke of how God is the composer of all music. That he plays for us all the time – in the melody of birds, in the rhythm of the waves, in the wind through the trees. He is singing His love song to us, if we only tune in. I want to listen.

In storytelling, we spoke of how our lives tell a story, whether we write it down or not. What we say, how we act, what we post; it all tells a story. We can tell a story that helps people move closer to God or away from Him. Then Cooper reminded us that God is telling us a story of His love throughout all creation. Cooper’s example was how the rings of a tree tell a story – a thin ring, a rough year; a thick ring, a healthy year with lots of sun, good soil, and water. When we walk closer with God, taking in the Son, drinking the Living Water, we grow a wider ring – impact more for His Kingdom. I want to tell a better story; I want to tune in to the story God is telling me.

I could recount moment after moment from this week; there were so many blessings. So many reminders that we each have many opportunities each and every day to remember God, to thank Him, to worship.

In the midst of a world that can be hard, dark, mean, confusing, judgmental and unjust, there is still light, love, a meaningful story, a beautiful song. In the wake of the Orlando shooting, it is all the more important that we tune into the light and are conscientious of what we put back out there. The world needs it.

Today I hope to edit the story I’m telling and the song I’m singing. My prayer is that I worship him daily. Worship can be a big, bold, choreographed service that draws people in. Worship can also be as simple as showing respect and love because that’s what Jesus wants us to do:

  • When I put on my bracelets, it’s not just putting on jewelry. I can stop to think about the ladies across the globe who created them, pray for Mercy House Global and their ministry to empower and enable in Jesus’ name…
  • When I make meals for my family, buy groceries to fill my cupboards, I can thank God for providing nourishment and choose healthy options that take better care of the bodies He’s given us…
  • When I take a walk/exercise, instead of just trying to look better or lose weight, I can approach it from the stance of honoring Him with better health. I can greet everyone I pass with a smile and say good morning…
  • When a friend posts something on Facebook I disagree with, I can slow down and think before I respond, be more intentional, check in with God before I type or before I choose to say nothing lest I make waves – Just ask how He would have me respond…

As people of God, as individuals who claim to love and follow Christ, how we live and move through the world matters. We are telling a story about Jesus to those who don’t know Him.

My challenge to myself and anyone who will join me is to find just one small act of worship each day and commit to it. We can help humanity lean more into kindness, peace and love. With an attitude of worship, we can walk in more grace, write a better story, sing a better song. That’s my hope, my prayer, and my goal. Maybe you’ll join me.DAOW

Posted by: Leigh Reynolds | October 25, 2015

“Be strong and courageous…”

It’s Sunday morning and I’m sitting in the pre-K classroom at church. Wil’s ‘buddy’ was sick today, so I’m helping out. He’s not loving that, truth be told. Been pushing his boundaries a bit with mom this week, in therapy and now here. 

My first instinct isn’t to love this either, truth be told. I love church. I need that reset each Sunday. I am beyond thankful for the many volunteers that help him each week so I can worship. I enjoy my small group and get so much out of it. 

He just couldn’t handle the group today – running around during snack, avoiding group activities he usually does well in. He’s kind of a mess; had a mini-meltdown during snack so we left and came back to the quiet classroom. 

I thought about just taking him on home. I mean, what’s the point? He can play by himself at home. 

Then I looked up and saw the Bible verse for this month hanging on the wall: 

  “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid… For the Lord, your God goes with you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

Then I thought about how Wil paid total attention during the video story of Daniel in the lion’s den.  
  
Then Cindy came back and brought him the painting craft all the kiddos were doing, so he could do it too, just in a quiet room.

He is not alone.  

Then I thought about how brave Wil is every day. He walks through a world where every noise is just as loud as the next, yet pushes through to focus and hear us. He struggles to talk, make friends, yet tries to connect in his own way and is so happy when another kid will play alongside him, even though he may never answer them. He is wicked smart, yet so often people assume he is mentally deficient because of his lack of conversational language. He is a shining star in a square peg world and he doesn’t fit the checkbox. But he shows up every day smiling. If he can be that brave, the who the hell am I to give up on this Sunday morning?

Give up today and the next time it is easier to do so. Give up today and he sees me give in. Expect less if him. No way. 

Sometimes I hate it when I think people can see me struggling with him. Like I’m failing if I don’t have it together every day. How selfish. It’s not about me. I think today was hard on me, but I have no idea how it was for him. Especially once he could feel me getting tense. 

So Wil played, and I got my head on straight. He heard the music, his friends playing, Pastor Sara praying and we both just worshiped in a different way today. I quietly thank God for this amazing gift – being Wil’s mom. I ask Him for forgiveness for forgetting He goes with me. And Wil and I both work on being a little more strong and courageous as we find our way together. 

Posted by: Leigh Reynolds | September 4, 2015

Safety Zone

KeepYourEyesTI had to run a few errands this morning. I was wearing the T-shirt from this past summer’s Musical Boot Camp at FBC NKC and the bank teller commented that she liked it. We chatted briefly about boot camp and I went on my way. But as I walked out of the bank, I got to thinking… When I wear this and other similar, Jesus-loving T-shirts, does everyone I encounter feel safe?

A certain resident of Kentucky has been all over the news for “taking a stand for her faith”. There’s this ‘church’ in Kansas many have heard of that often makes the news for their protests and the way they “take a stand for their faith.” We read news stories about bakers who “take a stand” by refusing service. It goes on and on.

I read the stories, catch glimpses in my Facebook feed, see notifications in my CNN alerts. What I see over and over again are angry faces of judgement, anger, and hate. I don’t see Jesus.

I am a horribly flawed human, struggling to make my way in this world and I get by best when I keep my eyes focused on God. I read and study my Bible, read books and blogs by Christian authors, seek His face as I go through my day – in a beautiful sunset, the happy chatter of my son, the flowers I somehow have managed to keep alive in my front entry garden… I see Him there. I don’t see Him in those news stories or confrontations.

Jesus didn’t go to the well, confront the woman of ill repute, shame her for her sin and berate her into salvation.

Jesus didn’t join in the stoning of the woman caught in adultery, he stopped it by speaking of love.

Jesus didn’t tell the story of the prodigal son, saying “the son came home and after a vigorous tongue lashing and shaming by his father, his dad finally acquiesced and let him come home on a trial basis, noting he had to prove his worth or he was out.” In Jesus’ story, the father ran to his son… Ran to him and hugged him. Before the son could plead his case, swear he’d changed his ways, or promise to rebuke all his sins, he was welcomed home by his dad, who then challenged the other brother to do the same. (And in case you missed the point, his dad represents God and we’re the brother.)

That’s my Jesus. Radically loving, endlessly forgiving, mindbogglingly welcoming. And that’s who I try to be. I fail all the time and fall short far too often, but I keep trying. Because I want people to know I love Jesus and still feel safe.

Safe_Place

I do recall reading about when Jesus got very angry, threw over some tables and gave a few folks a strong talking-to. It was in the temple, to the religious leaders, who were restricting access, passing judgement and charging a fee to assess someone’s worth and thus access to God. But I recognize that is God’s job, too. Jesus didn’t send in the disciples to do that.

I can’t chase after Jesus and love on some people and not others. I have to also try and love that lady in Kentucky, that person carrying the protest sign at the gay man’s funeral, that guy with the Confederate flag tattoo and NRA sticker on his truck. And to do that I have to chase after Jesus all the more.

My prayer is that we all give that a shot. As Christians, we have to chase after Jesus and create a safe zone for those that don’t know him, as well as one for those that think they know Him but really they just know of Him. It’s so easy to love the people you agree with, but we have to love the people we disagree with even more. Because that’s what Jesus did and we’re supposed to try and be like him.

So today I am praying for that lady in Kentucky. For that church in Kansas. For folks who love their guns more than they want our community to be safe. And I am praying for all the people I just pissed off. Lastly, I am praying for me, because I am just as messed up (or more) than anyone on my prayer list today.

Lord_Refuge

Posted by: Leigh Reynolds | August 19, 2015

1,800 Minutes

For almost 12 years I led a children’s choir at my former church. For 45 minutes each week, approximately 40 weeks a year I hung out with a wild and wacky group of kiddos in 1st through 5th grade. I remember when they asked me to come on as a children’s choir leader I thought they were nuts.

I was a self-taught singer. Having attended private Catholic school, the arts were a distant second to core education so there were very little opportunities – no choir classes, no theatre. I always loved to sing and had dreams of acting, but there was no opportunity and I was terribly afraid of trying. In high school I contracted terrible vocal nodes and after my freshman year of college had to have surgery to correct them. It was a long slow trek back to any singing range beyond one octave. I did dabble in performing in college – a review show called Rock Chalk Revue; did some community theatre and Martin City Melodrama & Vaudeville Co. after graduation, but who was I to teach kids to sing? I knew nothing of music theory, couldn’t site read, am still a mess at trying to sing harmonies…

But each Wednesday, for most of the year, for 12 years there I was in the choir room, wrangling and leading a bunch of grade-schoolers. I figured out pretty quickly to stick to what I know – I love singing, love singing for God even more, the meaning of the songs matter, and we may as well have some fun. So that’s what I tried to instill in them. A love of worship through song and the belief that in the eyes of God they were and always would be excellent and exceptional.

For so long I thought I was leading and teaching them, but somewhere along the way I learned I was wrong. They were leading and teaching me. I watched young children overcome stage fright, learn to praise with reckless abandon, and openly pray for terminally sick family members and sick and lost pets (lots of sick cats). As I encouraged them to listen to Christian radio and then vote on the songs we’d sing, they pick out songs I’d never imagine would resonate with grade-schoolers – songs about overcoming the hurt of feuding parents and divorce, saying good bye to loved ones, taking care of the sick and hurting, following after Jesus with great passion. Some would wander in having not eaten much that day, or with no winter coat, or in shoes that barely fit with holes in the bottom. Those kids didn’t come because a parent made them, they came because they sought something on their own. Other were there with mom or dad, or a grandparent, coming from a loving home that was raising them in the church, but they were loving and accepting of each other no matter what they wore, how they dressed or the color of their skin.

Each week, no matter what I was facing in my own life – adult pain and drama, bills to pay, heavy workload, loss of job, death of my father – they lifted me up, refocused me on God and reminded me of what I was trying to teach them… That there is great joy and peace in worshiping a loving Father. That we all were made in the excellent image of a amazing God. That we each have an exceptional path mapped out for us if we only believe and trust where Jesus leads us. Those 1,800 minutes each year, in many ways, got me through the other 523,800 or at least made them richer.

I was reminded last week of how much they meant to me when I attended the funeral of one of the girls in my choir. Anna would have been a senior in high school this year, but for some reason, God called called her home. I remember her amazing voice, I remember her deep spirit when she sang and I remember her smile. When we celebrated her final year in choir, I bawled all through her solo. Last week, I cried all through her memorial. What an awesome privilege it was to know her and play some tiny role in her singing – which had already blossomed into a career that touched many. What a blessing she was to me and how sorely she will be missed.

I ‘graduated’ many a kiddo from my choir over the years, as they moved on from grade school to middle school and then high school. 1,800 minutes out of 523,800 a year doesn’t seem like much; its just 30 hours – not even the equivalent of one work week. But it was so much more to me. I can never repay all those amazing children and all they meant to me, all they did for me. They’ve moved on – those kids from my first year are in college now or starting careers and I am surely a distant memory – but they will all, each and every one of them, be forever engraved on my heart.

I am so thankful someone asked. I am so thankful I said yes, even when I felt so woefully inadequate. I am so amazed at what God did for me and for those kids in just 1,800 minutes a year. Sing on, Jammin’ with Jesus kids – you fill the world with your song and God delights in your praises. You are now and forever, most excellent and exceptional.

Love, Miss Leigh


 

“At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

He called a child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.”

 

 

Posted by: Leigh Reynolds | July 14, 2015

Learning to Run

Growing up I was never any good at team sports. I tried several, but I was mostly scared of them all. Worried I’d let my team down, or look like a fool, or fail. Softball, basketball, track…heck, even kickball at recess made me nervous. I was usually the second to last one picked for the team. Only one other kid was typically picked after me and she had these massive Christmas package sized bows on top of her head that was festooned with long, long braids and she wore lace socks with her uniform. Only she was picked after me.

Flash forward and I am in my forties, chasing my super-high energy autistic toddler about. I need to be in shape! So not all that long ago, I decided to up my game on my daily walk and started running in small bursts. Just a little bit at a time. Make it to that mailbox. Now run to the recycling bin. OK, now make it to the next light pole. Just a little longer to the corner; surely you can make it to the corner.

At first it was terribly hard, but over time I was able to run a little bit more, then a little bit more, until I was running more than I was walking. By focusing not on the whole outing as a run – which seemed impossible and overwhelming – but just the one small section directly ahead of me, I was getting stronger. I was building endurance. I was turning into a runner.

What a lesson for life. Jesus taught us not to worry about tomorrow, for each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:34) He is telling us to focus on today and trust Him with our tomorrow. Tackle just one little piece of the challenge, not your whole life at once. Just run to the mailbox. Then the streetlamp. You’ll get stronger and before you know it, you will be running the race He has planned for you. When we try and tackle the whole thing at once it seems scary and overwhelming, because it is.

Life can often be scary and overwhelming. Loss of a big client and the steady retainer. Teenagers to raise (yes, that’s teenagers, with an “s”. As in two of them. Lord help me.) Home repairs. Car repairs. Sick in-laws. Autistic toddler. When I think of it all – college and kindergarten, IEP’s and new tires, taxes to pay and client to land – it is scary and overwhelming.

But it doesn’t have to be. When I slow down, take time to breathe, take time to be in God’s word, to rest, to ask for guidance but then listen to His leading, it is far less scary. Because He does lead. He does guide and He does protect through all things, when I let Him.

When I was in high school, I ran track for two years. Badly, of course, and scared to death of letting everyone down most of the time, but I did learn to run and I was strong. Then I quit and running became a chore again. (Darn these duck feet of mine!) In college, I picked jogging up again for a while. I have started and stopped several times over in the years since. Not just the running, but the breathing, the time with God, the listening and the trusting in Him.

Here’s the great thing… Whenever I decide to learn to run again, there He is, waiting and ready to be my coach and help me grow stronger. And each time I get further than the time before. He never makes me start all the way over at the beginning, because He has grace and mercy beyond comprehension.

I am learning to run. Again. And there is no greater cheerleader and coach than the One who runs before me, beside me and will come after me, And he is running after you, too.

Posted by: Leigh Reynolds | May 10, 2015

Relentless

That word just keeps going through my mind… Relentless. Life is relentless.

I have been having a rough go of it lately. Not because of one significant trauma, but because of the relentless nature of life. All the little things, and some not so little things, piling up and making it a little hard to breathe.

Gutters shooting craps and my basement office takes on water.relentless

One kid has trouble in school, another is in a ‘mean’ phase, making mothering more challenging than usual.

The heel on my favorite shoes broke.

My plan for additional autism therapy for Wil falls through, the search continues.

Daughter has scoliosis, gotta figure out a plan, more appointments, more bills.

I put on just enough weight that most of my dress pants are too snug. What am I going to wear today to that meeting today?

Another night of no sleep; up all night hanging with a 4 year old autistic that can’t turn his brain off.

Frustrations with work; endless frustrations with a major client.

New client you thought you had in the bag puts you off for a few months – we’ll talk once a few more things fall into place for them.

Desperately miss singing in church but there’s no room in the schedule – maybe soon. Maybe not.

Car window got left open and it rained – the inside of my car is soaked.

That 6am flight I booked so I could make it home on Mother’s Day was canceled. I’m stranded 8 hours away and won’t see them this Mother’s Day.

We all have a list. That list of stressors and challenges that pounds away at us. Everyone has “stuff”. Everyone. And each person’s hardest thing is their hardest thing.

But the truth is, life isn’t fair, or equal, or anywhere near the same for different people. We all have our own individual trail to tread. And some just do have a harder row to hoe. There are so many who have it so much harder than me; and just as many that have it so much easier.

I’m not comparing struggles or pain, and I am certainly not holding mine up as more worthy of attention than anyone else’s. I’m just making an observation and maybe trying to make sense of something that will always be a mystery.

Some people will tell you there is a reason for everything. That God is teaching you something or stretching you to get you ready for the next big blessing. “Embrace the Refiner’s Fire and be purified. He’ll pull you out when you are ready; when you are ready to show His reflection.”

Maybe. But maybe it’s just life. Imperfect, unfair, diverse and challenging.

I have made a lot of right choices and stood firm for Christ. I’ve also made a lot of wrong ones and really disappointed myself, my God, and likely a lot of people I care about. I’ve grown strong and I’m often weak. Some days I marvel at God’s unending beauty, love and grace. Other days I feel totally forgotten by Him.

I don’t have any answers and most days it doesn’t make any sense. Why does that person get secure finances, kind and talented children, annual vacations at the beach, and randomly upgraded to front row seats at a concert of their favorite artist, while another spends endless energy volunteering to help special needs kids lost in the system while their own child with endless special needs and medical issues continues to struggle and their rare form of brain cancer comes back?

God could even it up a bit. He could. I don’t know why He doesn’t. But He doesn’t.

But I do know that I love Him. Like any friend, I sometimes get mad at Him. I am often confused by Him. There are things I wish were different or traits I’d change. But one thing won’t. I will always relentlessly chase after Him.

As hard as this life can be, for all the reasons large and small, one thing I hold firm too… Jesus died for me. He loves me. God has tremendous plans for me that I can’t understand. The Holy Spirit walks with me every day and whispers in my ear, “I am here. We are here. We love you. We won’t leave you. It’s OK. Hang on. Trust me. I will never let you go.”

Some days I hear it loud. Other days I have to fight to remember it. Then a song comes on, a friend calls or sends a quick “thinking about you” text. I read a Bible verse that precisely, specifically speaks to my deepest heart cry. Something happens and that moment of knowing God is real and present is stronger than the moment before that was hard and sad and lonely.

Because as relentless as this life can be, His endless, confusing, love for us is even more so. I don’t understand it, but I will forever cling to it. Relentlessly.

Posted by: Leigh Reynolds | February 2, 2015

All the World’s a Stage

AllWorldsStageI remember when Patrick and I were first dating, I went to see him in “As You Like It”. I must have really liked this guy, because it was Shakespeare and I never understood Shakespeare. Oh, my high school teacher’s tried, but I faked my way through it. Now, here I was, on the front row of this artsy, Gorilla Theatre production of it in a coffee house. A really small space. I couldn’t nap in the back row, I was practically on the stage. I had to pay attention, pretend I understood…

But as the play began, and he entered the stage (and I use ‘stage’ loosely – it was the floor right in front of me), I was drawn in. Not because he was cute (which he was and is), but because he was good. Really good. For the first time in my life, I understood Shakespeare and I was mesmerized by this wonderful play and the tale it told.

Somewhere along the way, I completely forgot that I was watching my new boyfriend act. Because he wasn’t acting, he had become the character, Orlando. I’ll never forget it.

Some time later I had my first dramatic role and I learned a lot. When you are learning a part for a play, at first it is totally foreign. Someone else’s words, on a bound book, pages crisp and new. You crack it open and try to make sense of it. You dog-ear the pages on your scenes, highlight your lines, and wear in the book. Then the director starts to add in the blocking. You are just learning the lines, and now you have to remember when to cross left, when to come upstage or down, sit or stand. Still with the book in your hands, blocking notes written in the margins, you stumble through. Sometimes literally stumble.

Eventually, you need to look at the book less. Maybe you still carry it because you don’t trust yourself to go it alone. Or you know the lines, but can’t remember the blocking. Finally you go off-book, but you mess up a scene, or have to call out, “line!” and someone with the script tells you what to say, how to move, and helps get you back on track.

Somewhere along the way, if you are playing the right part, one you were meant to play, you stop memorizing and recalling, you stop trying and acting and you just are. Then the people in the audience don’t see you, the actor, they see the one you are trying to be.

Today I was practicing a song for church, Let Them See You In Me. It talks about stripping away everything else to just let Jesus come through…

Let them see You in me
Let them hear You when I speak
Let them feel You when I sing
Let them see You in me…

With every breath I breathe, I sing a simple melody
But I pray they’ll hear more than a song

My mind was drawn back to that night at the Gorilla Theatre. How all I saw was Orlando. How Patrick faded away. I thought about my first dramatic part and how my mother told me she forgot it was me. I thought about the process of learning a role and becoming the character.

Then I thought about who I am trying to be. Not on stage, but in life.

The lines I am learning come from the greatest book ever written, and they’re already highlighted in the red letters. The blocking I am trying to walk is being guided by the one who directs the universe, the maker of heaven and earth. Often I trip up, forget the lines, mess up the scene, have to call for help and go back to the script. I try and read it every day because this story is never-ending, the Words speak to me uniquely each time I read it.  The director adds you in to a new scene oh, so often. But Jesus always meets me there. Lovingly guiding me to who he made me to be, calming my fear, lighting my path and directing my steps.

I used to want the starring role, the lead part, the top billing. I craved the applause and attention. But I am learning that role is so empty and flat. Playing that part is a poor performance in a weak script. I want the creator of heaven and earth, the one who placed the moon and the stars in the sky, and who has plans to give me hope and a future, to direct this play and be the star.

I want to lose myself in Him. His will. His words. His way. I want people to forget about me and see Him

Older Posts »

Categories