And so 60 is in the books <3

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Good Monday Morning to you <3

Our family and a couple of close friends are keeping their phones close in case I need intervention for what they are calling PBLDS….Post Birthday Let Down Syndrome

…but so far I am doing okay.

The fact that I have to move all small pieces of furniture off of all carpeted areas before 9:00 is helping keep the adrenaline rush steady because… the carpet cleaners arrive in a short 48 minutes.

So here’s a quick rundown of how #60 went …

or as my new favorite baker in the whole wide world said it…

the “new 30″….

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We kicked off the celebration weekend with our annual “twin birthday dinner” with this sweet one ….

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Not the best pic…but not much lighting at The Burg that isn’t neon <3

From then on it was family that feels like friends and friends that feel like family so here are the highlights…

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John treated us to late night Escape Room adventure so Zach could join us when he got off work. www.laurareimer.net

We did beat the room with an extra five minute grace gift from the guy who worked there. He said we were so close to beating it and it was only a 10% success rate room so…he had to let us finish it out.

I was maybe a little less than 10% helpful since most of the time I was still trying to finish reading the clue when the rest of the team had solved it, opened the lock and …mooooved on…oh well..it was a blast and I loved every second of it.

All 3,630 of them  <3

Sunday Russ arranged to have brunch for everyone at Tuscany’s…

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Thankfully Rachel did not follow her google map…

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and it was kinda nice of Caroline to coordinate with my dress…

making her solidly my favorite granddaughter <3

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After lunch we came to the house for yard games like…

ball bounce…

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and..

empty the cooler…

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…because we are fun like that.

We gathered for cake…

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at the exact moment my west coast family called to sing to me..

so it was a high tech song fest of silliness..

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Please note the first aid kit on the counter because it wouldn’t be a Reimer event without some kind of chaos.

We took a few zillion group photos…

and you may have noticed we are missing Zach, who had to work, and the rest of the Corley bunch…

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Couldn’t figure out why all the littles are looking at Tia but she set the timer and then would run back to get in pic…and I think they were just highly impressed with her.

So were we.

But we were too cool to act like it.

Then there was this attempt at a jumping pic..

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which proves that John has regained his skillz at imitating Air Jordan…

and no, Sarah is not using a trampoline…

that’s just her…

and once again Joel and Caroline can’t take their eyes off of her…LOL…

And then there is this…

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for which I am so very thankful.

Have a happy Monday.

I promise I am going to just settle down now and get on with regular life.

Thanks for celebrating one of the big ones with me <3

 

 

 

The Great Belonging <3

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Happy Friday the Thirteenth!

Thanks for indulging me this week to share my heart in some observations about categories of life that affect each one of us in 2018 as I have sorted through thoughts and ponderings and perspectives in honor of ending five decades on planet Earth. 

So today you all get to jump in on the last one for the week as I muse on the Church and what it means to me.

As I have done all week, I pray for God to speak something clear through the muddle of thoughts swirling in my brain and give you a word of hope and encouragement today.

First off, I love church. 

I love the organized, local body of Christ church and I love the universal Church of believers through the ages and around the world. 

I do know for some there are woundings from betrayals within the walls by leaders or people in the pews and this breaks my heart if it has driven anyone away from the fellowship of believers. 

While individuals have caused harm and I do not love that this has happened, I am speaking of the Spirit-filled, Christ-following community of believers who have made up the Church since Christ commissioned the first congregation on a hill outside Jerusalem and who wait for His return.

I love the fellowship of believers gathered in a variety of churches I have visited across this country on vacations…

I love the Church in all denominations…

and styles…

from pipe organ led hymns and a minister in a long robe to a worship team made up of kids who look like they just rolled out of bed and a pastor in torn jeans. 

I love the experiences the Lord has blessed me with to worship with the Maasai in a concrete block building jam-pack full of bodies or sitting out under the blazing sun with the same saints while church ran for three hours and ladies served us glass bottles of Coke and Orange Crush. No ice…of course…because…Kenya.

I have loved loving Jesus with the believers in Cuba and in Mexico where, even though I should not have been able to understand a word since I do not speak Spanish, I felt more at home than I do in other places right in my own town.

I love the words of those who were the Church in generations past that stir my heart to love Jesus more authentically in my day…Oswald Chambers, Andrew Murray, Charles Spurgeon, Madame Guyon, Francois Fenelon, Hannah Whiteall Smith…Paul, John, Peter…those who belonged to the True Church of Jesus Christ. Those who spoke into the cultural paralysis of their time here and urged believers to worship in spirit and truth.

My most precious memories of my dad are leaning against the sleeve of his suit on Sunday mornings and having him slip me a sour ball candy out of his pocket when the sermon went on a little longer than my attention. 

I can still hear my mom and my aunt singing loud and an octave higher than my voice has ever been able to reach every single time the strains of How Great Thou Art kick in during some service. 

Though we sit in padded chairs instead of pews now at our church, there isn’t a Sunday I don’t remember three little Reimers spread out across our laps or feel the echo of a young arm looped through mine as I take sermon notes. 

And just saying, anytime I hear The Old Rugged Cross it is a guaranteed two-tissue minimum experience for me.

When some newscaster or politician sneers as he or she says something about “the Evangelical Christians” like we are some kind of freak show, I respond in my gut with the same kind of Momma Bear crazy I get when someone picks on my family.

Because the Church is my people. 

Imperfect? You bet.

Quirky? Then some and more.

Frustrating? Quite often.

Cliquish? Yep…we often migrate towards the ones we feel more comfortable with.

But all those qualities? 

You find them in every group of human beings, every social club, every office, every playground and around every dinner table. 

And yes, there are those who have gone out in the name of Christ or the name of His Church who have done damage…and continue to do damage…even under the guise of “new revelation” about His Word in our day and age.

But the Church…the True Church.. is different because in the Church of Jesus Christ we are all brought together with all our tendencies and wiring, all of our short-comings and flaws, all of our misconceptions and misunderstandings…all brought into unity under One Head. 

And that head? 

It wore a Crown of Thorns. 

It bent low as it gasped for breath and looked through eyes that squinted through dried blood and asked for forgiveness for all of us. 

All of us who love Him and all of us who don’t. 

The Church of Jesus Christ is made up of anyone who recognizes that He paid the price for our sins and by His sacrifice, we are made right with God. 

HIs Church is made up of those who will receive this. 

I love the Church because Christ loves the Church and He gave His life for us. 

If you have received Him…you belong. 

The Great Belonging is through Jesus Christ. 

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.    

Ephesians 2: 19-22

From one blood…He made us <3

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Last night our Rachel texted me with news that a small plane had made an emergency landing along the edge of one of our local interstates. It clipped a car in landing, but no injuries and whew…but still…

What the heck?

And all of this knowing Russ had just buckled himself into the seat of a much larger plane for the flight from O’Hare to Springfield. 

Life comes rapid fire these days, doesn’t it?

And for me I am often left sitting on the sidelines of the latest surge of chaos, trying to sort through all the thoughts that run through my head as I try to make sense of much that will never really make sense in this fallen world.

I keep going over a conversation I had last week with a guy who cleans windows for downtown merchants. 

As he does frequently on his stops in our store, he walked in the door talking to me like I was the owner. 

True to the pattern of his visits, it wasn’t until he was standing right on the other side of the counter and we had talked for several minutes that he said…”Oh, you aren’t her.”

And then he told me how he knows “you all” think we look alike, but we think the same thing about you.

“You all” being white people.

Awkward pause, right?

Because this gentleman is black and as he stands and makes observations and assumptions about how I think, I flounder with thoughts that I don’t know how to express.

Let me give you the three simultaneous ones that rose up in my head quickly, but thank God did not fly out my mouth last week.

  1. I don’t think all black people look a like…however I do get some black, some white and some of all races mixed up when I don’t know them well and they have any combination of similarities in their size or facial shape or personality or haircut or whatever.
  1. I wonder if I were to have said that to him, if he would have perceived me as racist and offensive  and what are the ground rules for who can say what?
  1. What else does he assume about me just because of my race, gender and age?

I was curious and perplexed and have mulled this whole thing over since it happened.

Racial tension and the offensive/defensive postures it creates is a huge elephant in the living room of our culture today.

While I do not understand the violence and the anger, I have to acknowledge and accept the truth I have not experienced the issues which have created the turmoil.

I do cringe when I look at old text books and even encyclopedias that feature eager young students and see only one race represented. Mine.

I notice things like photos from events in the history of a company or even vintage greeting cards feature only white people.

I watch a documentary on Jackie Robinson and hear the ugly words and realize this all happened a short decade before I was born and I feel ill.

I see film of the activities of the Klan and I die a thousand deaths of fear and pain that such hatred existed and to know it still exists. 

I remember that it was only forty short years ago people still thought it was okay to segregate between races…at water fountains, on buses, in the military, in schools…in ways we must hang our heads over. 

I have heard the crude comments of others who are the same skin color as me, but I have also seen the manipulation of those who would use racial tension as a means to their political ends and the brokenness of all of it leaves me feeling helpless.

I wonder how we embrace the concept that our country was founded on the principle  all men are created equal, and yet realize the flaws in the thinking of those who penned those words. 

And it leaves me knowing that the richness of my belief that God created us male and female…that He made all the tribes and all the nations…it is in this context that I relate to people, all people, as individuals. 

I have  to admit I do harbor prejudices based on experience, and understand others have prejudices based on experience, as well.

But when I strive to view each and every person as one created by God, in His image, and ask Him for His mind and heart regarding the encounters of each and every day…when I confront the subtle patterns of the worldview I have been programmed to accept in myself, when I extend grace because I don’t know the experiences that have shaped another person’s viewpoint…and when I realize I am ignorant and I will make mistakes…I become a vessel the Lord can shape and mold and transform. 

And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwelling, so that they should seek the Lord in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each of us.

Acts 17:26

In these times of conflict between so many, when a spirit of offense would cause us to seek shelter in a “them versus us” stalemate…may we be people of the Cross.

People who seek the Lord, groping for Him in the midst of these desperate times. 

We have been placed in this time and this place to seek Him and we can know with great assurance, no one race…no one person…is left out of this great promise of Him who created us all. 

To everything a season

One of my devotions today was about the dreams God plants in our hearts as children for what our future will be.

The author knew in fifth grade she wanted to be involved in business and has seen God move her into that dream over the years.

My mom used to tell me I had fulfilled my greatest hope for my life when she would visit and I was up to my elbows in diapers and dishes with one kid hanging off the hem of my pants as I tried to move around the kitchen stepping over toys and debris from lunch.

She would remind me that I filled out every “When I grow up, I want to be….” with the words….a wife and a mother.

What I didn’t know when I was scribbling those words in pencil on lines of cheap tablet paper and practicing for hours with baby dolls in a play kitchen in our basement is that wife and mother are not occupations…they are relationships.

And they change over the years.

 

They have seasons and we all know change is not my forte…however…God is and He has been so faithful to teach me how to be what is needed for my family as they have moved into new phases while I try to hold fast to the past deep in this stubborn, slow to adapt heart of mine.

I am a doer and fixing meals, washing clothes, keeping the calendar, micro-managing everyone’s every move…those were the highlight years of this gig.

These days, though, the birds are making their way on their own. And I have to find new ways to love them and support them. I didn’t see this part coming. And sometimes it is hard to adjust to the changes…but…

They aren’t a project, they are people…with choices and consequences…they have jobs and friends I don’t always know…they pay bills and support causes…and if we can get one or two times in a year where we are all in the same place for a few minutes, we thank God and snap a picture.

And daily I am reminded that the order of the desire the Lord placed on my heart was to be a wife first and then a mother.

Daily I thank God for the years He has given me with Russ and I am humbled that one such as I should be able to say I still get to do that thing God laid on my heart so many years ago.

He is not finished with me in my role.

As I continue to seek His will for my days, He shows me the ever-expanding legacy of family.

Seeds planted and sown…watered with tears and prayers…fruit in season and out of season…all in His timing.

All His idea to begin with…and to end with <3

 

 

 

 

Let the Birthday Week Musings begin….

A current trend on social media is pictures of loved ones and the comment “My heart”

Well, for your viewing pleasure, I have a photo today that we could label…

My Brain.

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Because right here is a classic peek into what the top of my desk and the inside of my gray matter looks like most of the time.

Ideas and scenarios and imaginary conversations fly around in a frightening whirl pretty much all the time in this blonde brain as I try to capture them on slips of paper.

 And to be honest…it is kind of exhausting sometimes to be me. 

I can only imagine what wear and tear it brings on my sweet husband who is often treated to one of my thought streams in mid-flow. 

Because basically a lot of my conversations start out like you walked into the middle of a complicated movie and you have no pre-informed notice as to characters, plot or even the genre. 

So this week, I thought it would be fun (for me, anyway) to share some of my observations gleaned from my life thus far.

As I was praying about what to share and what to hold back, I came across some topics for the week. 

Some are kind of awkward maybe, but they are the things that keep surfacing so I am going to pray one more time and spin the wheel and hope my thoughts shared are acceptable to the Lord and can be used by Him today to draw each of you closer to His heart.

Yesterday I was headed home and for some crazy reason, realized I had entered the turn lane into our local mall. 

As Russ pointed out later, it is possible to circle the mall on the access road and still get to our house without shopping, but I thought that maybe God wanted me to go the mall…and I certainly wanted to yield to His direction in my daily walk…so there is that. 

Like so many large shopping centers, our mall has quite a few empty store fronts as well as one of the anchor stores closing soon. 

I think about how the way we purchase things has changed over the course of my life, and I wonder what we are going to do with all these big old buildings if large retail companies continue to go out of business.

I think about how the malls damaged the mom and pop shops and downtowns. And the cycle of cities trying to rebuild those small businesses.

I think about how we can look at big companies and say their greed drove them to ruin. 

But what about our greed?

What about us in smaller cities wanting all the choices of the big city folk?

I look at a company like Starbucks and I think it was our demand that said…I can’t walk another block for your coffee…I want a shop right outside my office. 

So they built them…one right after the other while we plunked down our dollars for their brews.

We would go there when we traveled and then we wanted a Starbucks here in our town..so we got two…and if you aren’t local, you need to know…they are within a few feet of each other. 

I am not kidding. 

It would take more time for the barista to make a latte than it would for you to walk from one Starbucks to the other. 

So we got all the stores…we got the Walmart and Menard’s and Lowe’s that put the small grocers and hardware stores and lumber yards out of business….and now we have the ability to order all the stuff even cheaper online…so these stores are struggling…and where does it end?

I look at my own overstuffed closet and my constant search for a different knick-knack to update the look of our home…and I want it to not cost much but look like it did.

It is my own greed that has pushed jobs away from this country and financed sweat shops. 

Apparently our government has gotten tied up in trade to keep our shelves stocked and there is a system in place that is beyond what you and I can even comprehend. 

Consequences for years of decisions – on all levels…us included…have created fall out that we are going to start feeling here in the heartland in real ways. 

Because you really can’t get something for nothing. 

There is always a cost. 

And I don’t know how to turn this big of a ship around and I am not sure we can.

 Nor am I even convinced we are meant to.

Because God’s Word is clear about how this thing goes down in the end.

All the systems that are in place are coming to a point where they will rise up against God one last time…and then … He wins. 

Once and for all. 

So for me, I live in the struggle of knowing what I am capable of when it comes to greed.

I don’t get it right all the time, but I know God put me where I am in this time to use the resources He has given me to serve Him. 

My purchase at the local shop, whether it is at the mall or down on Merchant Street, is providing income for someone here in town. 

My purchases from a company that provides something I can not get here, yet need…it too provides income.

And yes…the people at the top are getting rich while many, many are just barely getting by…if that…and when I am made aware of injustice, I need to act by doing without that item.

By recognizing, as just one person in the mix of all the “systems” of this economy, that all that I have belongs to God and is to be used to advance His Kingdom…that is the place to start.

Honestly addressing the motives behind my expenditures is another way I can bring our finances under God’s authority.

Prayerfully seeking direction for the dollars we save and spend and give…this is the way we honor God..and that is really the only thing in the economy I do have control over. 

It’s easier to spot the corporate greed than to face it in myself. But God wants me to look deep in my own heart and wallet and make the changes there first…

We are blessed to bless.