Even when the word is a hard one <3

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Sometimes Scripture is perplexing isn’t it?

God certainly did not sugar coat nor did He hire a spin doctor to write out the story of humanity….the fall…the redemption…the good, the bad and the ugly of us all.

And aren’t we thankful?

Because life on planet earth is messy. 

It hurts.

It’s amazing.

It’s moments of joy where you think your heart is going to explode in a thousand million bits of happiness.

And it’s those times when the explosion is so painful you can not even breathe as you view the shards of what used to be your existence.

To be honest…I have been so awe struck in the happy that I failed to look for Jesus in the midst of all the beauty of the moment.

But when I have thought and remembered and learned to worship Him…the joy has been eternally sealed.

And sometimes I have missed Him completely in the shattering of pain and heartache. 

But when I have sought Him in raw brokenness …that pain has also become a place of beauty that exists beyond time and space. 

Today I read a portion of Scripture that places two stories back to back that cause me stop and ponder.

Luke 7:11-17 recounts a day when Jesus and His disciples are passing through a town called Nain. 

There is a funeral procession going along…a widow is burying her only son. 

It says that Jesus’ heart “went out to her.”

He goes over to the coffin…touches it…and the son sits up and starts talking…walks off with his mom…goes home…resumes life.

I marvel at this. 

How many moms all around had begged for the life of their son. 

This mom was done and done with the begging and was burying her hopes and dreams and Jesus just saw her…had compassion…healed…raised the dead.

Why?

That’s what John wanted to know. 

Because bumpered up against this passage is Jesus’ cousin John. 

Rotting in a prison he didn’t deserve.

Because he had spoken out to Herod about some serious sin issues in the palace, he was now on death row. 

And he is hearing from his disciples all the miraculous things Jesus is doing. 

But there he sits. 

Jesus even just randomly raised a dead man without so much as a “if You are willing…” from his mom. 

But John faces death any day. 

Innocent of wrong doing. 

The one who had prepared the way. 

The voice crying out in the wilderness. 

Why?

So he sends his disciples to Jesus with a hard question.

Wow. I thought you were the Messiah. The one who would save us. Was I wrong? Should I be looking for someone else? Because…hello? I am not feeling the love here, Jesus. Where are You for me in my time of need?

And even stranger is Jesus’ response. 

He tells the disciples to go back and report to John how the dead are being raised. 

Go back to that dark prison where John waits for Herod to send his henchman and finish this off…and tell him about all the wonderful things that are happening. 

And after they leave.

THEN…

He praises John to the crowd. 

He tells them how great John is in the Kingdom. 

He doesn’t brag about John to John, see?

He gives John’s testimony to the crowd. 

Can it be that right now, He is watching the faithful who struggle and He is declaring your testimony in the heavenliness?

Can it be when He seems the farthest and the least concerned it is because He is saying…well done…well done, faithful one. 

Can we trust His compassion is there when we don’t feel it?

Can we sit in whatever unjust prison we have been assigned and find strength in His goodness even if we cannot see it? 

We must. 

Like the disciples we must say…this is hard…very hard…but where else can we go?

For it is only in You that we find eternal life. 

Please know…I am praying for many of you who are walking through the darkest and hardest of valleys. 

May you know the sweet presence of God in these days. 

Hold fast to the faith.

He is faithful <3

An encounter of the most precious kind <3

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And while we were still sinners…Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

I am fresh off of a particularly sweet morning time with a close encounter of the most precious kind.

In a daily devotional collection I have been reading out of this year, I read my story.

Oh, it was penned by someone else…her name is Alia Joy and her testimony is recorded in a book I received for Christmas last year from my dear friend Lisa who has supplied my morning devotional for more years than I can even stop and recount. 

She prays every year before she purchases and every year…it’s just what I need. Right when I need it. 

This one is called “A Moment to Breathe” and is from the (in)Courage Community of writers. 

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Today’s spoke to my heart because it is my testimony. 

I highlighted and summarized her thoughts in my journal like this:

  • Going forward to receive Christ as a child….over and over and over again … “…and hope that this time it took.”
  • In human moments of failing, in rebellious moments of putting my hand up to God…picturing Him angrily watching and waiting to administer my punishment.
  • Somehow thinking my performance was tied to His willingness to go to the Cross on my behalf.
  • One day realizing all of the above was my distorted view of God and who He is and what GRACE is about.
  • How sometimes I still slip back into that old rut and think that I could ever earn it OR ever lose it.
  • That this abundant, amazing love of God was once and for all demonstrated on the Cross and never was initiated by me.
  • While I was STILL….YET…a sinner…Christ died for me. 

As I wrote all these things out in my journal, the song that bubbled up from my memory was the 2013 Hillsong offering…Christ is enough for me. 

Sometimes the title phrase has sounded wrong to me. 

It has a connotation that could be misconstrued in a culture (even a Christian culture) that focuses on me, myself and I. 

It can come across to the untrained ear if you just focus on that one phrase like and seem like a sort of self-focused statement…

Yeah. There is enough of what I need in Christ. 

But a deeper look at the lyrics clears all of that up.

Give it a fresh listen today <3

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6MzgVsP2uE

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The lyrics point to a decision to set the face like flint…to turn my back on this world and all that it offers as peace, contentment, prosperity, success, happiness, motivation…and steadfastly walk toward the Cross of Jesus Christ. 

Not because I loved Him first. 

But because while I was …and when I forget even now…He loves me perfectly. 

And so my story has become…

I have decided to follow Jesus.

No turning back.

No turning back. 

In His timing <3

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Happy Monday!

I put a load of laundry in this morning and it was a mixture of shorts and turtlenecks because the weather has been a mix of summer, fall and winter all rolled into one wild and crazy week. 

I want to catch my breath and process all the wondrous notes I have scratched down from the Declare Conference…before I can’t remember what I wrote. 

Because even I can’t decipher my handwriting after too much time passes. 

I have a note on our calendar for today that says “Did you send your _________?”

and honestly…

the word looks like chuus….

Since I can’t even come up with something I should have sent that remotely looks like that, I am going to have to assume I sent them…or I will just sit in the kitchen puzzling my puzzler all day and accomplish nothing.

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October is half over and if anyone can tell me how that happened, please…please…let me know. 

Thankfully the weeding that never got done is about to die off under the first frost of the year so I can check that off the To Do list. 

Life is busy and every single season is jam-packed. 

Recently I was laughing remembering a time when our three were in multiple sports and activities, choir, band, church…you name it…we did it.

Those were the days when I needed a spread sheet just to map out the car pools I was a part of.

One night, I grabbed what was left of my uneaten dinner and set it on the console of our van as I piled kids in the car. We were picking up a neighbor girl and headed to some kind of practice. 

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As she climbed in she glanced at the plate perched next to my elbow…my plan was to use stoplights and the inevitable blocked train crossing to try and consume the remainders of my meal. 

Her eyes were wide as saucers and I realized her mom was one of those who planned ahead…fed kids early on nights like this…didn’t hurtle through life with a flurry of papers and laundry following close behind her as she went. 

I believe it was in that moment that I decided…perhaps we have overcommitted. 

Perhaps it is time to reevaluate our quality of life and learn the importance of the word “No”

We have a million and one choices today for how we can spend our time. 

Only God knows the things He had planned for our day though. 

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Take time.

Seek Him first.

Write down all the ideas and the schedule and the plans.

But then lift them up to Him for clarity and purpose and direction.

Last week, I set out with my list of errands but I asked God to order them according to His plan for my day. 

As I worked through the list, there were several times I ended up in an unexpected place able to help someone else with their interrupted schedule. 

I managed to get all my tasks done, but even if I hadn’t …I would have been on His schedule. 

So much better. 

Always.

Be blessed as you start out your week. 

Seek Him…adjust…be flexible. 

It is the people along the way that matter most and yes, we have to balance maintenance of home and errands and practical things…

But check out what God’s mission was for you today and do it.

Do it as well as you can with the strength you have and by the way…

Come back tomorrow…

Please? 

<3

 

Look! There He is…<3

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Good morning!

Here in the Midwest the forecasters are using the S word…S.N.O.W.

It’s the second week of October and on Monday I was wearing shorts to walk around the block. What in the world?

The weather patterns are crazy and as Christians, we are called to pray for those who are weathering horrific results of tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis and earthquakes…as well as the spiritual storms that are raging through homes and families and countries. 

We are told to heed the signs of the times and to speak boldly of what we know and believe. 

This morning I am on a portion of the opening of the New Testament accounts in the Chronological Bible and I stopped on this phrase with an Aha! moment. 

John 1: 35 & 36…The next day John (the Baptizer) was there again with two of his disciples.

When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”

When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus.

Wow. 

Two things jumped out at me. 

The first one is the impact John had on his followers. 

He had to have lived out his daily life, done his ministry, spoken, acted, reacted in ways that had built a high degree of trust in his followers. 

When he said…

Hey guys, there He is.

That right there is the Lamb of God…

Messiah..

the One we have been waiting for….

they didn’t hesitate.

They took him at his word because he had not led them astray before. 

What he said could be taken at face value. 

What a powerful word for us today.

If you are a follower of Christ, all that you do and say matters to people you influence. 

It is not your perfection or impression or worldly success that matters. 

It is …

Your integrity. 

Your honesty.

Your consistency. 

In your walk with the Lord.

It’s your transparency and acknowledgment of your own humanity. 

It’s knowing you are not anyone’s savior…but you know the One who is.

And when you bring that one who has been “following” you to the place where you can say….hey…look…there HE is….

that you gladly and joyously allow yourself to become less…

so He can become more. 

So I ask myself today..

Who is “following me?”

And…

How am I leading them to Jesus?

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Good question to ponder…if you are looking for a place to start…join one of the area churches involved in the Tell Me More series or check firstdecatur.org sermon series <3

Go out and be transformed more into His image today …be blessed and I will see you next week <3

Just a prayer for those in the path of the storm <3

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Do you know what that is?

That’s the imprint of a butterfly wing on my Gdawg’s bug hunting finger.

He loves to catch them and whether he uses a net…

or his sweet little hands…

he gets the job done.

And don’t worry…

the butterfly lived because he’s just that good…

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pc/Rachel <3

I snapped the picture because I couldn’t believe the perfect imprint of the wings left such an impression on his skin.

I understand about imprints and the way living things can be impressed on us.

We have been to the places impacted by storms being reported in the news today.

Cuba…

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Florida…

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there are people all in the path of that storm who have left an imprint on our hearts.

There are people we have never met whose lives and home and stories are shattered by water and wind.

And those people have left an imprint on God’s heart.

And in the midst of it all we turn to Him because we know He could still any storm.

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Yet sometimes He doesn’t.

And we can ask why…but whether He answers or not…and how could we even understand if He did…

He is still God

He is still Sovereign

And even when we cannot understand, we can know…

He is good…

He is faithful…

and so…

like Job, I bow my head and lift up weak hands.

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And I pray….

Heavenly Father,

We asked you to calm the storm, yet it rages on. Homes are destroyed. Schools no longer stand. Businesses are devastated.

Not just in our own country but along small islands where they already had so little.

Our son-in-law just returned fresh from Haiti with pictures of a man smiling as he was handed keys to his brand new home.

And we hear of the island that is so very poor is now rocked with earthquakes.

We wonder…is the work that was done, now undone?

This world is wearing out Lord.

You said it would.

We see the signs and still think we can manage it with politics and technology and enough forecasting by meterologists and scientists and ideology.

But we can’t.

So we spread out our fallen and broken selves before you.

We ask for mercy Lord.

Mercy for ourselves.

Mercy for those who are walking amongst the rubble of what used to be the place of their existence.

And we pray God for eyes to see beyond the temporal of this world.

We have hearts and minds and souls that long for eternity.

In the pain and sorrow and fallen condition of this world, we pray.

Lead us to Your heart.

Amen <3