Category Archives: Encouragement

Tuesday…Tuesday…<3

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So scheduling the carpet cleaners on the Monday following Birthday-Palooza seemed like a good idea.

Until I lived the entire day with the moveable contents of three bedrooms, the living room and an office stacked in the kitchen, two bathrooms and on top of large pieces of furniture…ie…our upright piano which is covered in baskets of music, a file box and eight manilla folders of uber important papers I haven’t looked at for years, some assorted books and a small waste basket. 

I ran two box fans on high all day which ramped up all the chaos and disorder of a home that looked like we were having an indoor garage sale with items staged on any hardwood or tiled surface. 

Either that, or like we were fleeing a flood…or the country….which I may have considered doing at various points of the day.

If you haven’t noticed, my mind spends a lot of time on the spin cycle as it is…so I crave order and quiet in my environment as much as I do coffee and dark chocolate. 

Yes…completely turning our house upside down and into a wind tunnel the day after a weekend of mucho socializing and intake of sugar … not one of my brighter moves.

However on an up note, I do believe the Lord has given me a level of maturity and grounding, because I actually managed to talk myself down from blowing off the whole day (no pun intended) and successfully convinced myself that I could function purposefully in the midst of the mess.

I even found it possible to ignore the constant hum of the fans and the annoying whoosh of air around me…

ok…

I never did get quite used to that because I was pretty eager to click everything off the minute Russ asked if maybe we could watch the Home Run Derby without having to anchor ourselves to heavy pieces of furniture. 

I exaggerate. 

But only slightly. 

All in all, it was a good day…carpets are clean, I got some things checked off to do list and went to bed without needing therapy. 

Maybe I am maturing…it’s probably about time. 

I know I am setting the bar kind of high, but I am going to attempt to carry on this pattern today…without the fans…stay tuned and I’ll see you tomorrow <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

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. 

The Fourth Quarter

Well welcome to Monday and the week where I bid farewell to the decade that was my 50’s.

Whoa.

As one of our dear football-loving friends likes to point out….

Laura, we’re in the fourth quarter.

How did that happen?

I am not quite certain, except to say it was spent in moments and some of them were pretty amazing and some I wasted terribly.

Some were so rough, there is no way I would press rewind because I simply have no desire to ever walk through the landmines again.

And some were so precious that the joy of them literally burst my heart so wide that it is painful.

Anyone?

That kind of happy that becomes physical to the point you think maybe you might be having a coronary situation because you heart is doing that Grinch-growth thing and busting out of your rib cage?

And a lot of it was just ordinary moments of doing what needs to be done…with people I love in a community I am blessed to call my earthly home.

I used to love my birthday and looked forward to it with eager anticipation and much chatter.

I always had great celebrations because I shared the excitement of my upcoming special day with anyone who would stand still long enough.

And then I hit an age where getting older lost its charm and my exuberance over the day waned…

to the point that I focused more on the part of the hourglass where the grains of sand are rocking low to the bottom of that inevitable hole.

An attitude that is depressing and pointless and so very wrong.

So it has been my goal to enter the last part of this run with joy and determination to end well.

Fourth quarter in a good game is the best part of the game.

It’s where teams knuckle down and get serious.

It’s where players decide how much they want to walk way knowing each one left it all on the field.

I have been thinking about how best to honor God with the journey so far and so this week I will just have some observations on life gleaned to this point.

No great words of wisdom, but just some of the thoughts and pondering made as I have lived through the past fifty years of life on planet earth.

Hopefully a mix of some fun and insight and doses of my heart.

I hope you will join me for the party as we continue this journey…onward <3

 

 

 

Sometimes it is what you say AND the way you say it <3

Good morning and Happy Friday to you!

Rumor has it we are in for mild temps, low humidity and sunshine for the weekend. That is my weather love language. A rare treat here in the Midwest for sure! 

Yesterday was my day with the kiddo’s and since their schedule was free of commitments, we came down here. 

We took an outing to the playground and library nearby.

 As we unloaded from the car, Emmett and Graham headed to the sidewalk where they were actually getting along and being safe. 

I had Caroline on one hip and Joel was allowing me to unbuckle his seat belt without insisting he can do it.

Oh, no he can’t.

But he still wants to try.

So: “Help me, but don’t.”

Everybody had kept their shoes on. No one suddenly needed a drink or to go potty. I had my purse with the keys and my phone in it plus three drawstring bags for books. 

It was one of my finer moments. 

Just as Joel was ready to slip out, a car pulled into the space next to us and the driver eagerly rolled down her window and loudly and laughingly proclaimed, “You sure have your hands full.” 

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Wow. 

I have heard younger moms express frustration at this, but now I was the recipient. 

While I am pretty sure the lady didn’t mean it in a negative way, somehow I was not encouraged or edified or lifted up. 

Instead I felt like I was an oddity…somewhat like I was spinning plates in a circus act. 

I had no idea how to respond so I just kind of smiled that stiff smile I have when my social skills completely vanish and steered my tribe over to the playground area. 

A little while later we headed back to enter the library and encountered another fellow patron coming up the sidewalk.

This one was a man who appeared to be maybe twenty years my senior. 

Hot from the park and full of energy, we were rather noticeable. 

I was still carrying Caroline, Emmet had already shot through the door and was holding it wide open, Graham was basically scaling the wall around the fountain asking if he could put his hands in the water…no…and Joel was weaving zig zag fashion back and forth trying to decide if he wanted to join Graham for a dip or help Emmett hold the door.

As I attempted to get everyone corralled and let the gentleman go in front of us, he laughed gently and said he had raised five of those himself and gave me a thumbs up smile and nod of the head to let me know I was doing fine.

First off.

The fact that he actually thought they were mine earned him a forever spot in my 2018 Hall of Fame. 

But that aside…what a difference the effect of his words had on me. 

Suddenly we were on the same team. 

I wasn’t a spectacle.

I was a human being tending smaller human beings.

And I was succeeding at it. 

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So if you see a young mom or dad or parents …

or an older Lola-type…

herding tots today…

give them a smile…tell them how beautiful their family is…hold the door…let them hold the door for you as you carefully step over little feet…ride the crazy train of it all a few miles with them…gesture a thumb’s up…and make their load a little lighter <3