Christmas Countdown 2021 Day 6 <3

As I think back over our first week of stories, some seemed a bit on the heavy side and our tree certainly sports its share of silly and fun stories, too. 

There is a collection working for this week in my brain and when I saw the squirrel perched right by today’s #6 window on the Advent calendar, I knew what today’s feature would be. 

One of the most rewarding endeavors I have given my time to, beyond being Russ’s wife, mom to three and grandma to four, was teaching an adult Sunday school class at our church for about 20 years.  

I loved our class and they loved me back in ways that no words nor ornaments could ever express.

While my prayer is that some of the lessons I prepared drew them closer to Jesus, one illustration I gave stuck with them to a level that has brought me fits of laughter and bonded us in a way that I hope makes Jesus throw His royal head back and laugh over from time to time. 

In an exhortation I was giving them about being firm in their faith one day, I pointed out that we do not want to be spiritual squirrels.

I expounded on the way a squirrel will start to cross the road way up ahead of an oncoming car and then about two inches passed the center lane will pause, rethink, start to retreat back in front of the approaching vehicle, pause again, look around and then it’s anybody’s guess which direction it will take from there. 

My point was that when we waffle in our beliefs, we are human squirrels and will be dangerous at best, dead in the road at worst and annoying for sure.

I also may have commented that I am not a fan of squirrels. Ever. Even if they are just sitting up in the trees stalking me. 

Well, we all laughed…I hoped they got the point and from there began a life time of me receiving all manner of squirrel merchandise. 

And so we have….

Day 6

I have been given a variety of holiday squirrelyness and this one was probably a gift tag at some point.

We also have this guy…

and his brother….

At least one of these came from the couple who freaked me out one year with a squirrel of the month anonymous mail campaign that I shared a post on here…

chttps://www.laurareimer.net/christmas-countdown-2020-day-12/

when these two crazies revealed themselves as the the culprits…

www.laurareimer.net

Which brings me to this year.

That squirrel magnet under the two squirrels in the picture came from another of my squirrely friends…

who is responsible for at least a few of my collection and added this shirt and a tea towel to add to our holiday decor this year …

Our squirrels tucked here and there never fail to make me laugh.

I have all kinds of them including a subdued little magnet from a couple of friends who came across a town on their fall getaway that is known for its white squirrels and had to bring this little souvenir back for me…

So our tree has some laughter tucked in those branches…reminders of the incredibly fun and funny people God has blessed us to share this journey with.

If you gave me a squirrel at any point and I didn’t mention it, believe me…I know who you are and I laugh every time I see your gift and I thank God for your humor and your love <3

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Christmas Countdown 2021 Day 5 <3

This morning I lit our second Advent Candle for Faith…last Sunday was Hope. 

Since we hadn’t started the countdown, I saved this ornament for today. 

So here we go…

Day 5

The story behind this ornament started many years before at a baby shower for our first grandchild. Since the gender was not known til his birth, the shower was held after he was born. 

The host home for the shower was the incredibly beautiful and welcoming home of the amazing doctor who delivered Graham and the next three of our babies. His legacy of faith and love and care for us personally and so many women through the years would be a book in itself. 

And since the clock is ticking and I have not showered, we will focus on the ornament and its story. 

The cupcakes at the shower were magnificent and I learned they were made by one of the single moms at the church both our daughter’s family and this doctor and his family attended. Dr. Nord and his wife supported a wonderful single mom’s ministry there and it piqued something in me. 

I wondered if there was a need in our church for some kind of ministry for single moms. Thus began a few years of prayer and then steps that were given to me as I listened to what God’s heart might be. 

Pastor’s were approached, more prayer was applied, other women in the church were invited to a brainstorming meeting and out of that rose a few women like me who felt called to help in some way. 

I partnered with one of our single moms and thus was born the ministry we called “Moms mentoring Moms”. 

We had only met a few times when our first December meeting was on the calendar. Our tender hearted “Ma Lamb”…wife of our lead pastor and lover of all the flock under his watch, was our speaker. 

Tables were decorated, kind words were spoken over the meal we prepared for them and I had a basket filled with these simple ornaments.

While my plan had been to make something Pinterest worthy, in the time and talent I was given, it ended up being a marker and my slightly grade-schoolish penmanship that fashioned the words….

Hope is…

We had slips of paper and some Scriptures and some honest conversation and then each wrote what Hope looked like that Christmas on a piece of paper and slipped it in the ornament before tying a ribbon on it. 

The ministry lasted several years and had its own bumps and hiccups, but as in all things with ministry…I got far more than I gave. 

I learned that these precious women often felt a stigma when they walked into group settings at church. While I could reassure them that no one was looking at them and their children as if they didn’t belong, they shared that what they see are couples and complete families and it was hard to engage. 

They struggled with child care to attend events, they had holidays and weekends that inevitably meant sharing children that left them all alone. 

They opened my eyes to the fact that while a father may share the expenses of child care, they are still responsible for their homes, the other half of the care and any expenses that dad didn’t think were necessary. 

Many worked long hours and the challenges they faced, the hurt that was buried deep…was humbling. 

I had nothing to give except a listening ear and hugs and snacks and the realization that all of these women started out their young lives just like I had. 

Only by God’s grace, I was still married to my best friend and they were not. 

It was incredibly humbling and I never left our meetings patting myself on the back for getting it “right”. I crawled out of the meetings on my knees, thanking God for giving me what I didn’t deserve. 

These beautiful women remain in my heart. The ornament on our tree is a reminder each Christmas of all that they taught me. I see their faces gathered around the table and I think of some wonderful women who had been through divorces and were able to mentor them as I sat helplessly around that table.

Some of our moms have remarried and I pray for those marriages and celebrate when I see their joy. But I also remember they still share children and families and there are still hurts and fears and so I pray for them as women. 

I hold them as some of the bravest soldiers in the Kingdom and love them dearly. 

It is not only moms who are hurting and I am aware of many fathers who ache for what they thought their marriage would look like. 

Prayer covering them and a willing heart to reach out to them is so important for all of us to remember, at Christmas and throughout every day of the year. 

I wonder what HOPE looks like to you this year?

To be honest, I can not even remember what is on the slip of paper I put in my ornament and sometimes I can’t even voice in words what HOPE means to me. But what I hope for is inconsequential. It is where my hope has been placed that matters <3

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Christmas Countdown 2021 Day 4 <3

Back in the day, I looked forward with anticipation for the arrival of the ornament display at the local Hallmark store. I am a sucker for anything miniature in scale so the scenes and figures with small details added to tell a story were right up my alley. 

Spending much time looking over the offerings for that year, I would carefully select just the right one to represent each member of our family. 

I have to be honest. I don’t know if I bought this one for Russ or he bought it for me or I bought it for myself, but it is the story of our public life. 

A routine trip through the check out lane, purchasing stamps at the post office window, standing in the church lobby on Sunday morning, scanning a menu in a restaurant – we are a magnet for people’s stories. 

Complete strangers – clerks, wait staff, random people just walking past us and others who are only barely acquaintances seem to freely share what’s on the mind and heart with both of us.  

Our eldest, who also has inherited the “a penny for your thoughts” gene says it is because we make eye contact. I can’t see where that is the case as I have had people approach my back and begin chatting with me like I know them. 

Russ used to comment that my shingle must be out again after we would walk away from some outpouring of far too much information and we would marvel that someone felt safe to unload on us. 

The thing is, we really do care.

We do listen and commiserate and step into the story being shared. It isn’t always convenient and while I am not punctual on my best uninterrupted-by-others days, I am often even later because of divine appointments. 

I often try to think how Jesus would live in the times in which I was placed and I think that is how He would move through the day.

I don’t do it well but I think engaging with people, even just briefly and letting them know they were seen and heard for a few minutes is a ministry. 

It isn’t one I would seek based on my introvert tendencies and social awkwardness but it has become one that I thank God for as He has caused it to happen over and over again. 

It starts with a simple prayer:

God help me to see others today with Your eyes and help them to see You in me. 

Blessings and happy Saturday, my friends <3

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