Monday, May 20, 2013

Into Life's Fires ...

Last week, as I sat with the homeless ladies and stared at my dead car, I wrestled with several emotions. There was a liberal dose of panic, a smattering of hysterical humor (sometimes watching my life is like watching a comic strip play out) and a big schmear of "It is what it is."

Later, when I finally made it home -- thanks to the kind brothers I've mentioned before -- I discovered that I had a choice. As tears threatened to take over, I realized that I am likely to be without a car indefinitely (again.) I also realized that buckling to pressure wasn't the approach I wanted to take with this most recent challenge. It was then that I knelt down to pray. When I did, a song began singing in my mind. It's not a new song. In fact, it's one I've loved for quite a while, but had I forgotten about it.

The song? "Into the Fire" from The Scarlet Pimpernel.

Listening to this song, I realized that the words and spirit of it perfectly captured how I hope to face my challenges -- especially this one. I quickly pulled the song up on Spotify and, with tears welling in my eyes, clicked the "play" button. I sang along softly at first, trying to focus on the words. When the song was over, I hit repeat and listened again. I sang a little more loudly with each time I listened.

It wasn't an instant fix, but -- twelve or thirteen listens later -- the spirit of the song no longer just buzzed about my heart. It entered my soul and lifted my own spirits. I began to feel that I could face this challenge with a smile on my face. I felt at peace with my world. I began again to see God's hand in my life. I'm not sure why, but this is a part of my path. There are things I will learn that will help me to be my best self. Perhaps, there will even be things that help my little ones as well.

I don't know how things will turn out. There are some details I'm still not sure about. At the same time, I know it will turn out. I will take it a step at a time. I will trust that I will be able to meet my responsibilities. I will have faith that, when the time comes, doors will open for me to again have my own, functional vehicle. In the meantime, I'll plaster a smile on my face, a bit of peace in my heart, and walk through the fires that must be battled to reach my goals.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Dead Car: My Window to Eternity

It's been an interesting day. To see what I mean, hop on over to my other blog and read about it. You can find it here.

As I've thought about how laughably bad this day has been, and my car experiences the past few years too, I've realized a few things. They're kind of important. Since they're also the kind of things I tend to think I'll remember but seldom do, I wanted to write them here. Maybe they'll stick better that way.

1. I still believe in miracles. 

I believe that God is keenly aware of me and mine, and He knows our needs. I know that He sends miracles, even though we don't always get the miracles that we want. I don't know how this particular situation will work out. But, I know it will, and, perhaps, in this case, the miracle will simply be that somehow it all works out. We'll make it to the other side of this test, and it will be fine.

2. I'm stronger for each challenge I face.

With each stumbling block, I learn to climb a little faster, a little farther, and a little more steadily. Just like physical training does with my body, these moments of life training build my spirit and my soul, even if they tear me down a bit first so that stronger muscles can grow.

3. Humility brings its own kind of strength.

These kind of challenges -- the kind that are completely beyond our ability to solve on our own and the kind that require us to have faith when it defies all logic to do so -- are humbling. There is strength and power in learning to say that we can't fix something. There is greater power in learning to turn to the Lord, in learning to trust His timing, and, most importantly, in learning to still say "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief" (Mark 9:24) when the miracle is withheld -- be it for a time or for always.

4. I can see God's hand best from the far side of my trials.

When I've walked through a challenge, it is there that it is simplest to look back and see God's hand shaping my future. Often, looking back on life, I can see how my Father in Heaven was using those moments to build bridges for my future. I can see how He was weaving my story with others for the good of myself and to benefit others around me. Hindsight is 20/20, but sometimes it's also a glimpse of the building blocks of eternity.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Easily Distracted ... Yeah, It's Hilarious.

One would think with this title on this blog that this particular post would be about being easily distracted from the spiritual things in life. I guess in a way it is, but it's also not that deep. I am a woman who is easily distracted. "Ooh! Shiny!" could be my theme.

My youngest daughter thinks it is hilarious, but she says I have a problem. She might be right ... It's a process ...

For example:

I was on Pinterest.

I realized I was still in my workout clothing.

I got up to change.

I had to pass the kitchen to get to the bathroom to change.

I saw my cup of water.

I went to get a drink.

I saw my cast iron griddle while I was drinking.

I thought I should wash it.

Since I used it to cook pancakes last night ...

I thought about the pancakes.

It was a recipe we hadn't tried before.

They were good.

Really good.

The homemade pancake syrup was really good with those pancakes.

I saw the cookbook the pancake recipe was from.

I thought I should take pictures of it for a blog post.

I took it to the rocking chair for a nice background.

I picked up my camera.

I took a couple of cover shots.

I opened the book.

I saw the recipe.

I thought I'd better write it down for our favorites binder.

I walked back to my computer to grab a recipe card from my desk.

I saw the pretty recipes on Pinterest.

I sat down.

I pinned a recipe.

I looked down and saw the recipe cards.

I grabbed one and saw ...

My workout pants ... that I was still wearing.

I stood up to go change.

I saw some garbage on the living room floor.

I picked it up.

I walked to the garbage by the door.

My daughter reminded me that I was still in workout clothes.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

My Friend

The older I get, the more it seems that life is simply a mesh of interwoven stories -- meeting here, parting there. Every now and then though, it seems that God has more in store. At times, a loving Heavenly Father weaves in a thread of friendship that will dance in and out of the tapestry for the course of the story. I've been blessed with such friends.

Tonight, as I was saying my prayers, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for those friends. A poem began writing itself in my head. I wrapped up my prayer and began to write. The handwritten version is prettier, but I think you'll get the idea ...

My Friend

My friend,
you, who knows me better than
anyone else
not because we speak often ...

Perhaps, it's because
we laugh well
and thoroughly

You are not
the love of my life
or the day my heart stopped

No, you are
and safety.

You know me
and I know you; and it's
happy and
stable in it's instability.

There is no awkward lull,
no worries about
whether our friendship has been
and still is.
It just is.

In a way,
you are my missing piece.

When you're gone
when I'm not around,
I feel your absence
like an ache,
a burden ...
that's not really a burden,

Just a missing piece.

You are a sort of
phantom limb.
Though you're not there,
I feel
an aching

Echoes of laughter --
both nonsense and wisdom --
remind me that
Over the years, I've had such a friend.

You draw out a part of me,
A piece of my soul that is
and witty
and full of life.

In your presence,
I sparkle, and that sparkle

Long after we've parted,
that sparkle
dances in my soul.
It lights my heart,
but ...

it lights the whole room too.

People dance in that sparkle
and wonder at its light.
They remark on what it does,
and they're drawn to it.

They don't know
and they can't see
that really,

it's just a reflection of you,
your own way of dancing
through life,
the way things shimmer with
laughter as they are touched

by your humor.

When life
boxes up that carefree piece of my soul,

Those are the times
you, somehow,
reappear, reminding me
of who I am and
how I shine.

Without knowing it,
you give me --


And it's enough.
Enough to last,
enough to be,
enough for a friend.

You, my friend, are a piece of eternity
God has woven into my

-- Jaymie Reynolds (May 5th, 2013)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Building a Context

Last week, I finished my classes.

This week, I finished my finals.

In so many ways, it's just like every other semester for the last three and a half years. But, in one way, it's entirely different.

This was my last semester of classes. This summer, there aren't any required classes I need to take. This fall, I won't head out to night classes as I have so many times these last years. Instead, I'll begin my student teaching.

Three and a half years ago, my kids and I were starting life over. I was applying for school and registering for classes. Since then, life has revolved, in large measure, around my schooling. Every four months or so, our schedule would reset as my classes reset. Our entire new routine has been built within the context of my education. Finances, work, school stuff -- theirs and mine, have all centered on the needs of each semester.

Last night, I realized that I don't have a context for what's coming up. Yup, finances and scheduling will still revolve around my student teaching this fall, but the hours will be similar -- if not identical -- to what my eventual work hours will be. I'll be home in the evenings. And, there will be no "next semester" to look forward to, to plan for, to pray for energy and intelligence to survive.

Even my little green monster -- aka "the car" -- has lived and died around my school schedule. Prayers that it would limp along until I got a "real" job after graduation were a near daily event. (Often, those prayers have been offered more than once a day. You know, when it dies at nearly every light. When it cries at the thought of high speeds -- seriously, my car cries. It also laughs maniacally like a clown that hides in closets to scare small children. It whines. And, it chirps ... Strangely, while it doesn't have a talent for running, my car is spectacular at sound effects.) Now, those prayers have also changed. "Please let my car run, and run well, until I no longer need it. Preferably until I can get another car ... "

Three and a half years ago, I stood in the doorway to the future, scared stiff and trying to walk forward in faith. I couldn't see what the future would be, because I had no context for what our new life would be. Now, once again, I'm standing in that doorway, trying to see a world that I've never seen in existence. There is again a nervousness in the unknown. Will a job open up when I need it, or will I have to wait on that too? Will we have to move? Will we get to stay? How will I know where to look? Will a job come in time to replace my car before it dies and I once more have to figure out how to go without and still meet my responsibilities? How will we all adjust to our new norms? Will the girls step up to their responsibilities?

Right now, there aren't any answers. There are no magic equations that tell me what will be or what to plan for. There isn't really a way to plan. I just have to trust that it will all be enough, that -- as He has in the past -- God will open doors. I have to believe that miracles will happen and that we'll have what we need. A context will come as we live this new life. I'll begin to see the ins and outs. This piece of my puzzle will find a home as I work to build ours. It's new. It's unknown. And, it's a little bit frightening. But, it's also beautiful, exciting, and full of opportunity to grow. Let the unknown do its thing. Bring on the future!