NORTH ZULCH, TEXAS: If this writer had to choose someone who she thought personified the idea of ‘being a survivor’ as Reba McIntyre sings – it would be Leslie Kyle Lazenby, age 46.
Leslie, who is mom to Rebecca, 26, Jesse, 23 and Eliza, 19, and grandmother to three, has overcome many hurdles in her life.
At the age of 24, Leslie lost both of her parents. “My mom passed with cancer, which we knew was coming, but then Dad died six months later.”
The loss of her parents nearly devastated the extension program assistant for the Texas AgriLife Extension Service in Madison County.
“I had two babies, and was in an emotionally abusive marriage,” Leslie told The Murphy Gazette. “Not having the support system of my parents in place gave way for more abuse without having a check and balance system.”
She continued, “I grew up in a Christian home and didn’t believe in divorce. I prayed continually, and had a great relationship with God, but my marriage didn’t improve.”
“My children were subject to the yelling, fighting and ugliness as well,” Leslie said, continuing, “and after 17 years, God gave me a dream to get a divorce. There was a lot of events leading up to that, and it was hard to hear, since I didn’t believe in divorce.”
She said, “But as I stepped out of the marriage blessings began to come from every direction. It was evident that God’s blessing was on mine and my children’s lives.”
“So my heart is to let Christian women know, God is on your side. He is your advocate and will be your husband. Hear His direction and you will make the right decisions for your family,” Leslie encouraged.
A true Texas farm girl, Leslie started working with the Texas AgriLife Extension Service before her divorce. “I was working as an office manager at Madisonville Junior High School, and was ready for a move. I prayed about it, and was surprised when Billy Zanolini called me … out of the blue … about a job there, because he had heard about me.”
After her divorce, financial needs guided Leslie into making a move to another job, and Zanolini improved the pay, and she came back in 2008. “I love the work.”
Leslie said, “My interest is in teaching kids leadership skills, and giving them a passion for agriculture.” She remembers as a kid “always dreaming of business ideas … and still am. In high school, I wanted to be an agricultural journalist.”
She enjoys gardening, cooking and “crafting occasionally when I am in the mood.”
When asked about sharing advice with others who might have a spiritual need or emotional need, Leslie said, “My best friend’s mom says, ‘Life’s an adventure if you’ve got the guts to live it!’”
She said, “I hope that my living life inspires others to step out of their fears and let God lead them in the adventure He’s created specifically for them!”
Leslie’s definition of hope is as follows. “Hope is a mental picture of your future … powerful enough to mold your present. If you don’t know where you are going, you are already there … always look forward and not backward.”
And that is why Leslie personifies the idea of being a ‘survivor.’
(c)Leslie Lazenby Photos 2019