Good Friends and The Good News
by Stephanie Reynolds - Founder of the Christian Writers Collective, LLC (755 words)
Moving from the “hood” to the suburbs of Milwaukee in 1969, when I was 10, changed my life. I quickly learned that nice and not-so-nice people came in all colors, especially at school. There, the White kids laughed at my ebonic accent. When busing brought more than four other Black kids to the suburbs, they called me an “Uncle Tom” for sounding White!
Even so, I managed to make several good friends at school. Two of them loved me enough to tell me about Jesus. The first, when I was 14 and the second in Tucson, when I was 21, pursuing a BS in Architecture from the University of Arizona. Each time, I thought my friend was crazy, but I was perfectly “normal.”
Right after my crazy friend returned to Milwaukee from visiting me in Tucson, a man I'd dated for just 2 months before leaving for college, moved to nearby Phoenix. Homesickness contributed to mixed-emotions about this. I was looking forward to going to college “unattached” for 1,200 reasons. That’s how much the round-trip flight to my first boyfriend’s military base had cost me. He dumped me shortly after my arrival.
It took me over thirty years to realize why I wisely chose to not reconcile with my first boyfriend after he apologized, but I stupidly chose to accept everything my future ex-husband told me, even when I knew he was lying. It was pride.
Pride made me an easy target for gaslighting, a simple, but highly effective psychological manipulation tactic. From the moment he arrived in Phoenix, until I filed for divorce in Milwaukee, almost five years later, pride lead me to believe and do things I shouldn’t have when it came to this man. It was my pride, not my ex, that had cost me everything, starting with my college savings and my self-respect. Thankfully, I wound up pregnant four months after we rebelliously eloped. The despair created by being married to an unfaithful man drove me to consider suicide. But, my innocent, unborn child gave me a reason to live.
Remember my friend from Milwaukee that came to see me in Tucson? When she told me again about Jesus being able to give me a new life, she didn’t sound crazy anymore! A new life was exactly what I needed and wanted.
On Sunday, April 10, 1983, while I was at church with my future ex-husband, which was a miracle in itself considering I didn't 'do church' and he hadn't attended for years, I received my new life. God knew exactly what it would take for me to lay aside my pride and start living the life He had planned for me rather than the lie I was living to save face. A few weeks later, He used my Christian friend and her husband to transport me and my eleven month old son back to where we most needed to be for that season: at my parents’ house.
My son is now 38 years old. He became my brother in Christ when he was just 4-1/2 years old. The highest compliment I could pay my son is to say that even if he wasn’t my son, I’d admire the character of the godly man he has become. Founding the Christian Writers Collective (CWC) is the first fruit of my desire to reach the high bar he has set, but in my role as a godly parent. I also want to be obedient to Proverbs 13:22, which says we're to “leave an inheritance for our children's children.”
My best friend, Mrs. Naomi Walker, was the only person I had told that Jesus was prompting me to return to college at age 57 because of Proverbs 13:22. I had planned to complete a BS in Business & Communications. She was also the only one that knew how He was rewarding my obedience with step-by-step instructions for founding the CWC. Every essay and term paper I wrote paved a clearer path to success! For the next 4 years, she enthusiastically and professionally proofread everything I wrote from college papers to resumes. Words, alone, can't express what an encouragement she was to me.
When Mrs. Walker died on my 61st birthday, October 8, 2019, I knew it was God's providence, not coincidence. She had demonstrated her belief in me and the CWC with her friendship, her enthusiasm, and her tireless proofreading. I pray the Lord would allow me to honor her by dedicating our first book to her, Jesus Can...Give You A New Life!, on 10-8-2020, the first anniversary of her Homegoing and my 62nd birthday. Amen.
# # #
UPDATE: October 8, 2021 - In yet another display of His providence, today is the official release date of our first book, Jesus Can...Give You A New Life!, and my 63rd birthday. The book is dedicated to Mrs. Walker, my spiritual mom, and my physical mom, Marion Reynolds, exactly one year beyond the date I had originally prayed for at the end of my testimony. As I wrote in a previous update, “I know Mrs. Walker would be pleased. In my head and my heart, I can hear her singing, more than saying, ’Congratulations, Stephanie!’ as only she could.”
Below, is a link to my Friday, March 12, 2021, blog post where I take the opportunity to express my gratitude to Mrs. Walker and many more that helped make this possible. It was also a great opportunity to list each of the other 29 CWC writers/members featured in our first book someplace other than the Table of Contents:
I'm so thankful for everyone that I've met thanks to the CWC. I am a woman most blessed.
To God Be The Glory!