Friday thoughts <3

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Good morning to you and Happy Friday!

Yesterday I spent some much needed time going through several stacks of notes and paper around and on the desk Russ and I share. He got his stacks cleared this week and it inspired me to finish this dreaded task. 

Sometimes I wish I didn’t have the brain I have because ideas come to me at all times except when I am actually sitting in front of the computer, so I jot them down on any available piece of paper and then stash them in the office. 

There are times I can’t even read what I wrote…or piece together why I thought it was a good idea. 

But other phrases are gems to be mined on mornings like this, when I pray and ask God for a good word to share with you and He whispers … how about that one?

So today I bring you the phrase our dear realtor planted on me two years ago when we were scrambling to get our house on the market ASAP because, lo and behold, we had just finalized the purchase of a new one scheduled a few days before Christmas.  

We have owned two homes before so we didn’t need to go travel through that desert again.

I assured God we had learned all that could be taught the first go round, so I began to launch into high gear as we packed up boxes and parted with treasures like all the construction paper projects for elementary grades 1 – 6 times 3…yes…I am that mom. 

The agent we were working with happens to also be a good friend and so she looked at my sentimental self and our house that reflects all people loved by us and she sagely gave me this truth…

They’re not buying the HOME. They are buying the house. They are not buying your bathroom rugs or your stuff on the fridge. All these things are what make your house your home, but they are not looking for your home. They are looking for a house to make into their home. 

I could go so many directions with that this morning, but I am going to share just one thought and then leave that truth to speak to you as God would lead your understanding. 

I wrote down in my notes my own take for the season we were walking through and it was this. 

Sometimes my imperfections are ok for me, but not to show everyone. 

It is not false to withhold displaying all that is in my heart to strangers passing through. 

I am wired to be an open book. 

What I am thinking, feeling, going through is transparent to everyone from my closest confidants to the check out girl at Kroger. 

But not everyone is looking for my heart. Nor looking out for my heart. 

And it is ok to guard our hearts. 

Be safe with who you are today.

You…yes you…

with the refrigerator door full of hand drawn pictures and some old wedding invitations from summer….

you with the tears hovering a bit too close to spilling over and…

you who struggles to fight back inappropriate laughter in awkward situations…

or any other of the wildly unique and quirky ways that God has made YOU….

you are precious and loved and of great value to Him who gave His life for you <3 

The hostess with the mostest… right down to clean up detail <3

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As promised yesterday, I am sharing a suggestion from the first chapter of the book Get Yourself Organized for Christmas by Kathi Lipp. **

I actually marked the passage and then wrote “Genius!” out to the side. 

But let me forewarn all who venture here to journey with me on a daily basis. 

Some of you can totally relate to me and the way I am wired and some of you can at least hopefully glean some insight into your family and friends who drive you crazy. 

So as I share this EUREEKA!! moment of enlightenment today, I am picturing a few of my dear friends who struggle not at all with indecisiveness and hesitancy to complete tasks.

I can imagine you shaking your head and possibly dismissing this as nonsense….but for those who are like me and for those who are not…this is useful because people like me are not being difficult or stubborn…we just lack direction in how to direct others….let alone ourselves…

In the opening pages of the this book, Kathi writes about the scenario that invariably occurs in a kitchen when friends and family gather for holiday meals. 

I would add that this will apply to ANYTIME you have opened your home for entertaining guests throughout the year. 

She writes on page 17:

“Every year we have people over for our celebration, and the most common question is, ‘How can I help?’…In the heat of the moment…I’m almost always at a loss for how to direct people on how to assist.”*

Yes.

I so understand this. 

When I prepare a meal for guests, you will find stashed in a drawer a stack of the recipes, a timetable for preparation, oven settings, additions to be made to each dish and the time frame to make it happen and what to pull out of the fridge five minutes before they will arrive. 

But when the meal is over and one to nine women are gathered in the kitchen with me amidst stacks of dirty dishes and food that must be stored away, I become overwhelmed. 

Russ attempts to gently remind me before guests arrive that they will want to help clean up and to be nice when that happens…he truly is my better half. 

When I read Kathi’s words, I felt understood. 

It’s not that I don’t appreciate the help, it’s just that I find my head spinning as I am being asked a variety of questions and decision making is something that takes me quite some time to commit to…and if you don’t believe me, simply pull out that drawer I mentioned and look through all the recipes I weeded out…the adjustments to the schedule I made to tweak my timing…etc…etc….

So what is the solution to my dilemma? 

Kathi suggests pre-planning for those who will want to help. 

Take all that hyper-planning gift a step further so that I am prepared for the inevitable.

For me, this would mean having containers already in place for the leftovers, and Lord help me, room in the fridge for them to stash it! It involves knowing in advance what can go in dishwasher and what will need hand-washing and helping the helpers help.

It’s not cheating to have a list of ways people could help me with clean up so that I am not left offending my sweet friends and family because I can’t process all the questions and end up alienating the people I worked so hard to make at home in our house. 

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I am looking forward to applying this knowledge, not only for the holidays but for our get-togethers throughout the coming year. 

Such a simple concept, Kathi ends the chapter with the truth that a little planning in advance for how others can help will bring much relief to the hostess, her guests and her poor husband who loves her in spite of herself. 

Be blessed <3

If you are interested…here are the resources and information for the book <3

* Get Yourself Organized for Christmas, Kathi Lipp; Harvest House Publishers, 2015, p 17

**Information on how to order book:

https://www.kathilipp.com/get-yourself-organized-for-christmas/

Celebrating well…while we wait <3

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Last night I was able to attend a beautiful event sponsored by the women’s ministry at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. 

You all know I am a “decorate for Christmas after Thanksgiving” kind of girl, but oh… it gave me the fever for all things yuletide. 

Picture a room filled with tables all decorated creatively and lovingly with real life Pinterest holiday perfection and then gathering in the stillness of the sanctuary as a narrator walked us through the Advent wreath amidst the backdrop of a set right out of the best illustrated O Little Town of Bethlehem scene possible. 

We were asked to suspend the reality of being a group of women who had silenced our cell phones and all of our twenty-first century thoughts and were invited to pretend we were villagers hearing the joyous story of a young girl who had taken an extra cloak to her shepherd brother on a chilly evening that turned out to be the night that changed not only her, but everything. 

Forever. 

Oh, I hope I have transported you to the experience well enough for you to at least get a feel for not just me sharing an event I got to attend, but also I hope you are picking up on the tension we live in as we approach the Christmas holidays. 

We will be packing a lot of extras into already full schedules, just like we do every year at this time. 

We will face the urge to compare our preparations: not only with what we see, and or perceive (big difference) about how others are doing it all, but also our own reality versus what we hoped it would look like. 

We will be inundated with enticing visuals on television and social media.

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Holiday eye candy… as one of my dear friends calls all the shiny glitter that can make us giddy with anticipation and leave us empty with disappointment. 

We will try to balance this with the “reason for the season” and perhaps wear ourselves ragged making sure we attempt to juggle the fun of Santa with the importance of the Nativity…and all this to say…

I am checking out a new book to help me get this over thinking mind of mine into a more disciplined state before I drag out those tubs of decorations and launch into Christmas 2018. 

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So far it has proven to be a sane voice and I hope to share some tidbits gleaned.

One of the things mentioned during the gathering last night was how the women of the village loved and cared and watched out for each other. 

This holiday season, let’s do that … men and women…let’s not fill up our lives and calendars with so much of our own celebration that we neglect to care well for those around us who are struggling. 

Let’s be intentional to leave room for interruptions and the unexpected and uninvited. 

We are not watching for the Messiah to come…we are celebrating the time He came. 

We are watching for His return. 

Let’s watch out for each other as we wait <3

Held <3

I just wrapped up the Psalm 34 study  this morning. 

No coincidence God would teach me the lesson in real time before I listened to the last video. You can check it out here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmliq-y0wds&feature=youtu.be&ck_subscriber_id=234651462

Psalm 34:22 reads: 

The LORD redeems the soul of His servants, and none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned. NASB

The video that accompanied this passage was a reminder that while we are saved into eternal life upon receiving Christ, we are also saved over and over through the rest of our days as God works on our souls. 

Our soul…the headquarters of our mind, will and emotions.

He is in the long term business of redeeming us from our natural tendencies until He comes back for us once and for all time. 

This is good news for one like me. 

Because; as all the rest of humanity does, I struggle with a soul that is in the process of redemption. 

It is called sanctification and it is, at times, a bloody skirmish as the flesh that still clings to entrenched places in my heart wars against the regenerated spirit that longs to mirror Christ. 

I get my feelings hurt. 

I feel rejected. 

I feel misunderstood or taken advantage or out of favor with those who matter to me. 

And I respond in a way that does not line up with the truth that it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives within me. 

In these moments, the turmoil within me opens wide the door to all the lowest parts of my nature.

The resulting fallout can leave me assured I am the biggest failure and disappointment to God and humanity….yet again. For one who can dwell in self-condemnation as a comfortable cave…this is not good. 

But I look at the verse today and reflect on recent soul battles, and I see God’s redemptive truth calling out to me. 

I am a servant of the Lord…even when I fall short.

My heart and my life are committed to serving Him. 

He redeems my soul from the challenges I face at times to surrender my will, emotions, feelings and mindsets.

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I take refuge in Him by lifting hot tears and cries for help, holding out the opposing forces fighting inside my heart and thoughts up to Him and pleading for His help.

Sitting still and letting Him love me just as I am, I face the voices of condemnation that would sentence me to accept the verdict of impossibility that I will ever change…

and in the shadow of His wings…

this daughter of the King…

is held and loved and is a little more transformed into the image of Him who died for me <3

Sometimes it doesn’t add up <3

Hey ho and happy Monday to you! 

I am chuckling because I just noticed I have my posts for this month saved on a document I have entitled “Novermber 2018” and for some reason it makes me hyperventilate less to have a made up month added to the year so I am keeping it. 

Maybe we could just add an extra time between October and November to catch our breath and finish off the leftover miniature candy bars, rake the leaves and get the yard furniture off the patio and slow down the transition into winding down the year. 

Why not?

It would seem pretty much anything is up for grabs these days and it seems we increasingly encounter things that cause us to pause and wonder what in the world is going on. 

Last week Rachel sent a text with a math assignment for Graham where two problems were marked incorrect. 

He had added two numbers together correctly but both equations had a red X marked through them. 

Granted the directions asked him to first separate the numbers out so that he would first come up with a combination that equaled 10 and then add the remaining numbers. 

To which Rachel and I both ask…why?

Because if the point is for the child to be able to add and come up with the correct answer, why jump through unnecessary hoops to get there?

I have heard parents and teachers vent about common core math over the years but now the problem (no pun intended, honest) has landed squarely in our laps. 

I remember when John was in grade school and would do his math assignments without showing the work. His wise teacher told me her solution was to ask him to do a couple in front of her. 

Like his Great Grandpa Lochner, whom he never even got to meet, John had the uncanny ability to do complicated math in his head. Once he proved himself, she was fine with how he did it. 

The point was that he could do the math, not spend hours doing extra work. 

Once that skill was mastered we could move on. 

I am sure there is a good reason why this method is being used and required and Graham and his parents and his grandparents are going to respect the requirements and jump through the hoops and for sure attempt to bite our tongues…not counting this blog post, of course…I will bite my tongue after this, I promise. 

I realize there may be a teacher or two who would love to set me straight on the value of Common Core Math, but I am just sharing the heart of a Lola who has to watch her daughter try to explain to her grandson why he can’t just solve the math equation for math class…he has to do it in a way that is confusing and more difficult for him. 

My heart goes out to young parents as the options for learning and the methods are as varied as ways you can add 12 + 6.

So much confusion. So much noise. So much division. So much strife. 

Yet this morning I flipped my little desk calendar to NoVERMber 12th and I read this unchanging, solid word of truth….

Try hard to live right and to have faith, love and peace, together with those who trust in the Lord with pure hearts. 2 Timothy 2:22 NCV

I love what is packed in that truth right there…

Living right and having faith …having love and peace…won’t be easy. 

There are things that are going to make it difficult…but you…who trust in the Lord with a pure, undivided, clean-before-Him heart…you keep trying. 

Put forth the effort every day…no matter how much you want to quit…keep doing the thing….day after day…in fellowship with the Body of Christ <3