Jun 30, 2012

My wife was in the movie "Brave"

My wife was in the animated movie “Brave”. OK, she really wasn’t, but I “saw” her in it, in one particular scene. I’ll get to that scene, but first some background.

The premise of the story is that Princess Merida feels trapped and suffocated by her situation—her mother the queen, who does love her, is trying to make her into something the princess is not. She is not a “prim and proper”, sit-indoors type princess. Princess Merida has a fiery heart and taste for outdoor adventure, likes riding her swift horse Angus, and loves archery, which she is an ace at. All of that is who she is, in her very DNA.

OK, now the scene. In one of her adventures, Merida climbs a dangerous, vertical rock face, drinks from a legendary water fall, and then spins around in sheer delight on top of the pinnacle. Instead of being cooped-up in the castle, stifled by princess “training”, she is in “heaven”. It’s who she is, and it’s joyous and beautiful to see!

My wife Laura is battling breast cancer for the second time in five years--repressed by surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy treatments, and all that comes with this. It can be overwhelming at times, suffocating, draining the very DNA of who she is. …Yet, she hopes for a “new” life some day, a new body, in heaven, with God. And when I saw that scene of Merida scaling the pinnacle, drinking-in life, and dancing in utter glee, my eyes teared-up because I saw Laura in heaven.

~Randy Reininger

Jun 9, 2012

Skating at 40-50 mph

I’ve been skating since I was a kid, in driveways, on ramps, and at skate parks. A few months ago, I got into downhill—going as fast as you can bombing a hill or flying down a speedy, curvy road. It’s an adrenaline rush like I’ve never felt before! And it’s more fun than you can imagine. Going 40-50 bombing an insane hill is indescribable. But it’s the 35-45 curvy, speed runs that really challenge me and are the most fun. In skating, riding motorcycles, and even our daily lives, it seems to me that adventure is in the curves.

Straight roads, easy street, predictability, cruise control. We all want that, instead of the difficulties, instead of the dangers, instead of the things that weaken our knees, instead of the unknown…instead of life’s curves.

But honestly, in my life, it’s the challenges, the fears, the times that my legs went weak, the curves, where I have experienced the most adventure. It’s uncomfortable. It stretches me physically, emotionally, mentally, and, yes, spiritually. The curves. Man, they’ve been hard, so excruciating—failed relationships with parents, divorce, cancer—so many curves.

Looking back at the curves, I couldn’t have made it without God. And part of me wishes they weren’t there, that it all could have been straight, easy, predictable, cruise control, sit back and enjoy. But that is not life on this planet we are spinning on.

At the same time, life without the curves would be boring, uninspiring, too easy maybe, making us all comfy and snuggly in our little cocoons of self-absorption, spoiled, with everything too easy.

So I say bring on the curves! Get your helmet on, pad-up, get into your tuck, let’s ride!

Oct 15, 2011

Cancer 2

My wife's cancer returned--this is our second bout with breast cancer. Tests, multiple trips to the cancer center in Houston, intensive surgeries, chemotherapy, more surgery, yearly scans of every sort, and the ever present fear in the back of our minds--will it come back a third time?

...God, help us get through this...

Today, we stand a few weeks after her surgery. Pain, scars, emotional and mental drain. God is with us, helping us, holding us up, because we are too weak to stand in this on our own. Expectedly, the deepest concern is for my wife Laura, and for our youngest kiddos--8 and 11. Concern for Laura, who suffers in her body the pain of this, is of utmost importance.

But this post goes out to the one in the background, playing the support role, holding everything together, attempting to do the impossible--the dad, husband, spouse, or whoever you are. I understand what you are going through, the unsung hero that no one seems to notice, the one who is giving everything he/she has 24/7.

...because I am that guy. And it's kicking my tail...

I'm not throwing a pity party; please don't misunderstand what I'm saying. I just want to say to those in my shoes (or me in theirs maybe) that you got guts. I want to encourage you to not give up, though I KNOW you feel like it. I used the word "impossible", and I know that's how you feel. You feel like you are doing everything you can, but it just doesn't seem to be enough. You feel like you are burning the candle at home and at work and in the middle. Man, that candle is toast!

Yep, I'm with ya. I understand this impossible, grueling, unforgiving road full of holes, boulders (mountains maybe). It's taking everything you got just to keep sane. I feel for ya...'cause I'm right there with ya. Yeah, it's a bummer. But keep going. Don't give up.

Our false sense of "being due a peaceful, easy American-dream life" is not reality. Yep, I hate it, that it's not that. Oh for peace and safety! Yep, I want that nothing to worry about, easy street, all fun and games life. But what was I expecting out of life? That every second would be bliss. It's not. Life is hard, difficult, impossible at times...especially at this time.

I'm sorry. I wish it was different. I wish I could fix it for you, my fellow friend. I wish I could fix it for myself. I remember sitting with my wife Laura in the pre-op, watching all the others being prepped for surgeries that morning. I saw some that didn't look worried. But I saw even others who were fearful and in tears, some for themselves, some for their loved ones. So many sick people in one place. I wished I was Jesus then. I would've walked down the row of beds and healed each person, physically...emotionally...and spiritually. And their loved ones too. I prayed for that. I cried for that. It was hard to see.

I want Laura to be healed from cancer forever, but I can't do that. I can't protect her from that. I can't protect my kids from being worried about their mother and whether cancer will come back in her body and take her from them. I hate it that I can't. It's SO difficult. But I'm not in control. None of us are.

But...I believe in God. And though I don't understand fully this difficult road that we're on, I still believe He is bigger than all this. I believe that He is bigger than my life, bigger than my problems, bigger than my wife and my children. If He wasn't, this would be a senseless, meaningless world, devolved in it's difficulty and pain and brevity.

So, every night, as I clean kids' lunch boxes, clean the kitchen, wash my family's clothes, and every day, as I pack those lunch boxes, get kids off to school, and then go to work myself, I feel frustration from the grind of it all. I feel like a machine, just going through the motions. And that makes me feel worthless, small, meaningless. It's hard.

But deep inside, I know God is there, with me, helping me get through this, even though I'm caught up in the grind.

...thank You God...

Apr 26, 2011

There once were two marriages...

...an arranged marriage where the husband and wife did not know each other, and a marriage where the husband and wife loved each other deeply.

In the arranged marriage, the husband committed himself to the marriage, but he did not love his wife because, frankly, he did not know her. No matter how hard he tried or how committed he was, it did not change things for him. He even tried doing the things "normal" husbands do--he bought his wife flowers and cards on their anniversary, and took her out to dinner to celebrate. But their normal day-to-day life together was mundane, boring, even ritualistic if you will. They were together, but the love was just not there--no connection, no "gooey, lovy-dovy stuff" that you see in newlyweds. Sadly, over time, the husband had to muster up more commitment within himself because he was now easily distracted from his marital relationship. Work was an easy-out for him to get absorbed in. And he began spending time with his friends in the evenings and weekends, anytime he wasn’t working. And even though he maintained a certain level of commitment to the marriage, he found it more and more difficult to not look at other women.

In the second marriage, things were quite different. The husband spent lots of time with his wife, getting to know everything about her that he could. The more he learned, the closer they became. And the closer they became, the more he loved her. And when he was at work, he could not stop thinking about her. He called her on his lunch break. He raved over her to his friends. And he couldn’t wait to get home to be with her. He even took her flowers sometimes and made her little gifts, for no special reason. He knew her favorite movies. He knew her favorite foods. He knew all her little moods. His friends even got tired of him not hanging out with them on weekends because he spent so much of his time with his wife. And the more time he spent with her, the more deeply in love he became. The rest of his world was a blur compared to her.

Jesus told his followers, “If you love me, obey my commands,” and in another place he taught that, “The greatest commandment is to love God.” My question is this. How can we love someone that we do not know?

listening to and reading:

Jan 17, 2011

Culture Shock

We all need our comfort zones, right? ...or do we? It seems that when it comes to "church", we definitely exercise our right to pick where we want to go. And, it's always somewhere we feel comfortable. If it's too much for us, we go into culture shock! Of course, I'm being funny here, but there still is some truth to that I think.

I'm basically leading up to this. My family and I go to a "church" full of young people, and led by young people. And it's AWESOME! No church building, just a borrowed room at a local eating establishment. A general time limit of a couple of hours, but it's nothing for it to go 3. ...pretty incredible...

For some, I do understand, this would be a culture shock. And hey! If I focus on it too much, it could be for me too. But we really are blessed to see God working through high school and college-age people. It's so refreshing.

They are an encouragement to me and my family, like you can't imagine. When they pray for us, or our kids, it's humbling and powerful at the same time! God is definitely using these young people, and I am so thankful to Him for His work in the next generations. It's simply amazing!

What I like, too, is this band of believers looks very similar to the new beginnings of the church in the New Testament. It's liberating really. Freedom. Freedom in the Lord. Compared to where I've been throughout my life, this could be a culture shock. But it isn't; it's like a cool, refreshing, renewing drink of water when you're parched. And I'm thankful to God for it. I'm thankful to God for these young people, following Him, and not ashamed of Him.

Culture shock compared to a conventional church? Yeah, maybe. But WELL worth it...