Category Archives: Discipline

focuses on the spiritual disciplines

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 1 <3

For a number of years we have counted down to Christmas together here on the Journey.

As I pondered what our 25 day Count down would look like I imagined one of those fun Advent Calendars where you open a door each day and discover some kind of picture or chocolate treat. 

Instead of doing a devotional approach, I have been praying about how to offer you something that would be different.

YESSSSS!!!! Jesus is the reason for the season, but there are soooooo many people doing devotions that are very good and I want to read some of those myself. If I focus on trying to do any kind of study, I end up not being fed myself as much and you know what…I need to feed my soul and spirit this Christmas from some other teachers. 

So each day I hope you will come and “open the paper window” on a little vignette based on some special ornaments on our tree.

My prayer and the desire of my heart is that it will at least entertain you and at best stir up some of your memories as we sort out the journey to Christmas Day 2021 together. 

Let’s begin…

Day 1 

These two ornaments landed side by side on our tree this year and each has a story. 

The fancy Santa holding his tall tower of presents glitters with all the fun and joy of my collective childhood memories of the best of the traditions of Christmas. He was a gift from Russ’s Aunt Lucille and Uncle Bob one year. The only year I think they gave us such a gift as we usually got a calendar from his insurance agency. 

I love the details of Santa and each package; the colors..the way his hands are just so big and little elves are tucked into the packages and even his hat.

It is fun and joyous and reminds me of the generosity we associate with the better parts of this season.

Whether people are celebrating Jesus’ birth or just caught up in the doings of the holidays, there is a festive sense of good will and kindness on a grander scale than we feel the first eleven months each year. 

There is another memory you cannot see with your eyes. It’s a Christmas Eve gathering with the Reimer side of the family in some little hall in some little town in the middle of Iowa farm country.

A long table holds all manner of potluck dishes and other tables are set with paper plates and folding chairs. The room is filled with chatter as cousins and siblings reconnect. There is eating and coffee being consumed as laughter fills every paneled corner of this rented space.

Our Rachel is running around in the sweetest burgundy velvet dress with a perfect ecru lace collar that I splurged on at the local department store.

She is chasing her second cousin who is several years her senior and not quite as tickled at meeting up with the younger generation of this big family. She keeps calling out “Ewick”…as at three she has trouble with her R’s.

An irony for one who’s initials are R.R….but oh well. 

I also picture Aunt Lucille another earlier year holding this same little girl as an infant. She had been fussing something fierce but in Lucille’s warm arms she fell asleep and I can remember this sweet woman, with her distinctive and beautiful Reimer features, holding our girl with the same facial lines…and smiling into her sleeping face. 

So it’s more than a Santa I see.

I see the family I married into that loved me and I loved them and now so many are gone.

But the memories…they have not faded and those same features are etched into our grandchildren

<3

And then there is the simple nail hanging beside it. 

The nail is one of a set that was sent to us years ago by our Sonja. Married to Russ’s brother we insist on calling her our sister because she surpasses being only a legal relative.

Nine nails in a gift box, each with a red ribbon attached and a story of the Savior whose birth we celebrate.

Every year our kiddos would take three of the nails with their red ribbons and place on the tree. 

They are a reminder as we celebrate the birth of Christ; He was sent for a purpose.

He brought the Kingdom of God to earth and He suffered and then died for our sins and the sin of this fallen world. He was resurrected He ascended and He lives… and so we remember the gift of His salvation every day; and especially during this season. 

Now I place the nails on myself. 

And each year I think of how the years have passed so quickly. 

All the rush and hubbub of creating Christmas memories for our little ones has passed.

They will come at some point, hopefully, and we will enjoy their grown up selves, but the tree that stands and holds the same ornaments year after year speaks a lot of stories to a mom’s heart. 

I wonder if your tree tells some fine stories, too. 

I hope you will stand and gaze into the branches and allow yourself to remember season’s past.

You may need a tissue or four, I know I do…and you may laugh heartily or have a spark of a Christmas past that was kind of painful…but the stories are our journey and they are worth remembering and sharing and lifting up to God as a fragrant offering of thanksgiving. 

I also love that these two parts of Christmas landed next to each other without me even trying. I struggle bringing the Santa/tree/cookies/Miracle on 34th Street magic in line with the simple story of God sending His Son to a poor couple in a manger in Bethlehem.

But I don’t think God struggles.

I think Him coming to live amongst us in our every day lives was the point.

I think He is not threatened by the things that can distract me.

I think He is best found in families and in friends and in homes that are real and messy and trying to make sense of how His Kingdom has invaded our earth and yet we still wait for it’s fulfillment.

Blessings my friends.

See you tomorrow <3

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November book review to wrap up the month <3

As we end the month of November, I did read through and marked up this book by Anne Graham Lotz….some thoughts gleaned will be shared in a few lines down as I cover other books for the month.

This month I would like to say I completed the Jude study, but I still have a few sections to finish. It is in my stack and I definitely will complete it. It is one of the most powerful studies I have done.

I also skimmed a book I have read before called “Get Yourself Organized for Christmas” by Kathi Lipp available here https://www.amazon.com/Get-Yourself-Organized-Christmas-Enjoying/dp/0736959297

www.laurareimer.net

I like to skim through it every year about this time just to help me gain perspective on my essentials for the holidays – what really matters and how to cut down on the hype that drives some Christmas crazy that none of us need.

I also started a book written on the subject of being a watchman – it has a lot of prophetic language and as I read, I just sensed that this was not something I wanted to read. I am not sharing the title because it may be fine, but it also may not be so just know it is in a donate pile and I opted out of the investment of time at this time in my life.

Now for some thoughts on the book by Anne Graham Lotz.

First off, I was totally undone by some sides of her that I didn’t have a clue she had. She was honest about sharing her struggles with self and it made her relatable to me in a way I had not anticipated. I felt like she would understand my dark moments and would nod in agreement and yet encourage me to turn to Jesus to help me climb out of those seasons.

She’s a pretty spunky lady and she admits to some tendencies to be a bit rebellious. Not against God, mind you – but against religious hypocrisy and expectations that had nothing to do with God and every thing to do with man’s rules.

She is very frank about hurts she has received within the organized church and even to the point that she and her husband didn’t attend regular services for a year after one painful experience.

Please keep in mind, she never turned away from God but she admits that it was tempting during some hard seasons and she also offers some valuable insights into what it is like for those who do turn from God.

There was a lot about this book that gave me a different perspective and helped me develop compassion for those who have been wounded by those who are the ones who should be offering comfort. It also made me reflect on times I have hurt others.

The book parallels the experiences of Hagar with those of others, including Anne, who have felt abandoned by the faith they once followed. Sometimes I admit that for me this seemed thin as there were a few reaches to fit the story of Hagar to experiences people have with church hurts – but I realize she never uses her applications as if they are Scripture but more as if she is adding in some possibilities based on human nature.

The book also gave me a new perspective on Hagar, Sarah, Abraham, Isaac and Ishmael; as well as my own experiences when I have felt misunderstood by God’s people AND compassion for many I know who have scratched their heads and walked away.

Anne is very transparent in this book about her own struggles and hurts. Also she is honest about the times she has hurt others and how she handled that.

This definitely is a good read for all of us.

You can find it here https://www.annegrahamlotz.org/products/wounded-gods-people/

Tomorrow we will begin what I hope will be a unique approach to the annual countdown to Christmas. Would love to have you subscribe so you don’t miss a post <3

See you tomorrow!

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