Rebecca K. Reynolds is a contemplative, lyrical voice who helps us see God in the midst of angst and pain. She is head of the English Department at a classical Christian school, and teaches literature, rhetoric, and philosophy. She also launched a university-model school which serves homeschooling families.
A storyteller at heart, Rebecca is the lyricist for Ron Block of Alison Krauss and Union Station. She also writes for Andrew Peterson’s website The Rabbit Room and sister website Story Warren.
Rebecca lives in Tennessee with her husband and three children.
What started you on your writing journey?
When I was four or five years old, my parents rushed my brother and me to the basement because a tornado was touching down nearby. To pass the time, Mom folded a stack of Dad’s old, pink duplicate papers in half and stapled them into a book. She handed me a pencil, and I wrote, “Once there was a wolf. He didn’t eat girls. He ate wolf food.”
I could hear the wind blowing like crazy outside, but there I was, hidden away in this little nook, making a story. In that moment, I realized what writing could do. By it, you could touch another world, even in the middle of a storm. I’ve never gotten over that.
The Author and Creator of our lives often writes in a twist that ultimately blesses us more than our original plan. Have you ever experienced such a “Divine Detour”?
Funny you should mention it. Since I started writing this book, my dad had a heart attack, my mom got cancer, we’ve faced some heartbreaking family issues, and my husband lost his job. (Note to self: Never write a book on courage. Ha!) I’ve written every page in honest struggle. The last time I was on my knees, struggling to understand, and asking the Lord to help my will be absorbed in His was about eleven hours ago.
Sometimes American Christians mistakenly affiliate the word “blessing” with stuff the world values—money, fame, or ease. But the blessings of eternity can also come to us through trials that expose the weak spots in our faith. I am too much of a coward to choose pain, but when I’m honest, I must admit that I’ve needed to hurt in the ways I’ve been hurt because disappointment has propelled me into realizations I could never have found otherwise.
I’m still waiting for the day the Lord gives me the cozy-Craftsman-cottage-on-the-coast lesson. Today, the lesson was learning to spend less than thirty bucks at Aldi’s while empathizing with other shoppers in the same boat. That’s no small blessing, even if it’s not the sort of riches I would give myself.
Let’s talk about your new book, Courage Dear Heart, Letters to a Weary World (NavPress, August 2018). Please tell us about it.
Do you remember that scene from the Narnia series? The Dawn Treader becomes trapped in a thick darkness in which every passenger’s worst fears become reality. Lucy cries out in desperation to Aslan, begging him to appear if he loves them at all. At this moment, Aslan appears in a beam of light, as an albatross, and he whispers over her, “Courage, dear heart.”
I can’t read that phrase or think of that story without getting goosebumps. I want Jesus to see me in my darkness. I want him to call me “dear,” and to know that He will provide courage for me to endure difficulty.
So many people feel like this—people who are struggling to believe, struggling to feel like God loves them—people who need to know that there is reason to hope. The best way I knew to reach those people was to write a book for them. It’s not a perfect book. I was so tired when I wrote most it, and there are parts I wish I could rewrite (after about six months of sleep). But if two mites count in the economy of God’s kingdom, maybe the Lord will use it to encourage others who are walking through fatigue.
Why did you choose to present it as a series of letters?
Several years ago, I started trading real letters on real paper with a fellow writer. In a world of reckless hashtags and frantic, cyber correspondence, it was wild to go to the mailbox and unfold two or three pages full of actual human handwriting.
Those letters didn’t get any “likes” on Instagram. They didn’t build anybody’s platform. But I still keep them in a drawer with my greatest treasures because they remind me that someone took time to interact thoughtfully and slowly with my heart.
There are so many “how to” and “12-step” Christian books on the market, and those books probably have a vital place in human culture. But I’m never going to be corporate, important, or influential. I haven’t even brushed my hair today. The people I’m drawn to aren’t glitzy or influential, either—they are real, honest, and unknown souls who are hacking out life in the trenches. Letters fit what I had to say to the sort of people I wanted to speak with the most.
[ctt title=”Sometimes American Christians mistakenly affiliate the word “blessing” with stuff the world values—money, fame, or ease…” tweet=”Sometimes American Christians mistakenly affiliate the word “blessing” with stuff the world values—money, fame, or ease. But the blessings of eternity can also come to us through trials that expose the weak spots in our faith. ~ @BeccasPockets https://kathyharrisbooks.com/rebecca-k-reynolds-courage-dear-heart-letters-to-a-weary-world” coverup=”dyae5″]
Every topic you discuss is important to today’s culture—but one chapter caught my eye. Please explain what you mean by “walking at Godspeed.”
Isn’t that a cool term? Actually, I stole it from a video I watched a couple years ago at Hutchmoot, the annual gathering of The Rabbit Room. (If you don’t know about the Rabbit Room, check it out. Man, I love those folks.) Editor’s Note: The Rabbit Room founder Andrew Peterson has been featured several times at Divine Detour. Read one interview here.
The video tells the true story of an American pastor who desires to learn more about caring for the church. However, instead of jumping into a big-name, mega-church residency, he finds himself working in a tiny, invisible rural parish in Scotland where he is forced to slow down to what he calls “God’s speed.” Here he learns about how Christian community actually works. Here’s a link to the video. I think you’ll like it.
A few fun questions…
When the words aren’t flowing—or when you want to celebrate if they are—what is your favorite comfort food and why?
So this is pretty nerdy, but today I rewrote Shakespeare’s Sonnet XIX to celebrate fried potatoes and ketchup. (I also Googled to see if Ed Sheeran actually had a ketchup tattoo. He does, BTW. #hero)
Homemade biscuits and gravy.
Cream of Wheat made on the stovetop with milk.
European chocolate. (Go Aldi’s)
Pho. (Okay, almost anything Vietnamese or Thai. Or Indian.)
Corn on the cob and fresh tomatoes.
Salad, if I can eat it by myself in a room with my fingers. (You guys, do this. Especially all you type-A people, do this. It’s the most liberating experience.)
A drippy, topping-covered bacon cheeseburger in the car when you’re on a road trip alone.
Oasis Audio took me to a restaurant called The Ivy after I recorded my audio book, and I got this (oh man) butternut squash ravioli. Y’all, I have dreams about that stuff.
Barbequed ribs. (These saved my marriage once. I’ll tell you about it sometime.)
Can we just make the rest of this interview about eating?
What Bible passage or story best describes your journey of faith?
Oh man… that non-priest guy who tried to grab the Ark of the Covenant when it almost fell. Uzzah. I have tried to jump in and rescue God way too many times, and the results have never been good. (Firstborn syndrome.)
Or maybe I’m that older brother in the Prodigal God story—the one who gets mad and sulks.
Or maybe I’m Peter who promised to be a hero and then ran away when things got hard.
I’m pretty sure I answered this question the wrong way.
In the story that is your life, are you the strong, female lead; the girl next door; the mysterious woman behind dark glasses; the super heroine; or the little girl trying to walk in high heels?
Can we be friends in real life? I love this question.
Is there a girl who stays up until two in the morning reading about deep sea vent worms on the Smithsonian website but pronounces “pedagogy” the wrong way when she’s talking to smart people?
I’m a dog lover. Please tell us about your pets, if any, or your favorite pet as a child.
Oh man, PLEASE ASK ME ABOUT MY DOG. I love him so much. He’s been my friend through some of the hardest years of my life.
His name is “Trot,” after a Betsy Trotwood quote from David Copperfield. Here’s the quote of hers that won me over: “We must meet reverses boldly, and not suffer them to frighten us, my dear. We must learn to act the play out. We must live misfortune down, Trot!”
Trot and I are ridiculously codependent. He sits on me when I write.
C.S. Lewis wrote something nasty about little old ladies who were addicted to their dogs, and this is one of the few arguments I need to have with him in the big upstairs. I’m sending you a picture of him so you can say, “Awwwww.”
Awwww. Thanks, Rebecca! It’s nice to have you as a guest at Divine Detour.
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