Category Archives: Empty Nest

Speaking of sky-writing <3

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Yesterday was spent up north tending the fab four and their new puppy. 

After school, we were scheduled to go to a local pumpkin patch/play area and so we navigated the car pool lane and survived and made our way out into the country. 

As we were driving, the clouds in the sky were so incredibly beautiful I was marveling at God’s handiwork and thought I would attempt to draw my passengers into my love of our creative Creator. 

I started to make a comment that sounded almost like a Sunday School cliche and so rather than go with my first observation, I simply told them to be sure and look past the video screen production of Veggie Tales and observe how the clouds appeared to be almost like a water color painting across the blue sky.

Behind me came the voice of that firstborn boy who has been penetrating my eyes, thoughts and heart for over eight years now. 

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In the softest voice he said, “Lola, can you believe God painted that with His own hand?”

My thoughts exactly.

Coming out of the mouth of the offspring of our offspring. 

I could only manage to whisper…yes Graham. Yes I can believe He did that. 

And then I just let my heart bow in worship to the One who paints such beautiful pictures in the sky and over mankind. 

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Best. Day. Ever. 

<3

And when I say random…I mean random….<3

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We are experiencing a run of beautiful weather here in God’s country and I have a day at home to accomplish a list of tasks that are penned on the calendar and high hopes to actually finish most of them so it is a good morning for some randoms…in no particular order, of course….

#1

I am starting to put out the Fall decorations and an assortment of mums are beginning to gather on the front porch. 

They are staring down the summer flowers and the fern and it’s a little uncomfortable out there as we wait for the annuals I planted in the spring to depart from amongst us so we can make a nice backdrop for the pumpkins. 

Transition is hard and moving from one season to the next always means some things have to go.

Timing is crucial and being in God’s timing is always best. He never seems in a hurry or rushed so I rather like His rhythm…how about you?

#2

In my devotions this morning, I had several passages about work and how all the “work” we do is as unto the Lord. 

The concept is that we serve God by doing for others because He really doesn’t need us to do anything for Him. 

This is something I tend to forget.

I start my days with a list in my head or on paper or both and sometimes on several pieces of paper and I get so caught up in the list that I forget the reason for the things I do. 

The list becomes my task master and if anything comes along to interrupt my progress in completing the list, I get frustrated and snarky and peevish and all this yuk starts pouring out of me. 

It is a struggle to remember that I started out giving all my efforts and plans to the Lord and my hope was to serve Him in whatever way He deemed fit. 

I try to remember that Jesus wasn’t running around with His nose in a planner.

I rather doubt He was overly concerned about completing a checklist but instead kept His focus on being tuned in to what God’s plan was for each day. 

Yes, sometimes that means staying on task and sometimes it means setting aside the plan and being where I need to be for someone else. 

The only way I know how to live that way is to be in constant, open communication with God and in that choice I have found a more restful and peaceful and productive way of living. 

#3

And when I forget everything I just said in the last paragraph and resort to snarky…I am so thankful for His grace. 

#4

Am I the only one who associates seasonal changes with food?

As surely as summer makes me think of grilled food and salads…fall has me craving pumpkin bread, baked apple anything and savory dishes. 

I’m digging out the cookbooks again and starting to figure out when our schedule will allow for some baking. 

#5

My least favorite housecleaning chore is dusting. 

My most favorite is cleaning the bathrooms. 

Why?

Because cleaning a bathroom lasts at least for a half a day or so…dusting mocks me. 

I no sooner lift the dust cloth away from the table top and in the faint rays of sunlight I can see it all just dancing around and making its way back to the surface of whatever table or shelf I just cleaned. 

And that’s my five randoms…I’m outta here and on to the next thing! 

Have a beautiful Thursday and I will check in with you tomorrow <3

When experiencing technical difficulties, there really is only one place to turn <3

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Well I feel I have lived a much longer period of my life than 24 hours since we last visited. 

If you read yesterday’s post, I asked for prayer for me as I tackled an issue with the website and have mercy…the Lord answered but not in the ways you may have expected nor did I hope. 

Because my idea of the answers would have been smooth sailing and a quick fix and on we go, but instead the whole operation was filled with my heart racing, my mind spinning, tears, angst, a message that said “This website is experiencing technical difficulties.” in tiny, plain type with nary a beautiful photograph to be seen and a final act of surrender where I basically came to terms with the realization that it was time to yet again to lay this little slice of the world wide web at the feet of the King of the World. 

And there is a whole lot of beautiful things that happened where four little pairs of eyes took in their Lola’s meltdown and rallied around her in ways that are too precious to even begin to expose to you…and the love of my husband and friends who dropped to their knees and prayed me through…and a song by Hillsong about New Wine that led me to the place where I was able to say…this whole blog thing…it’s Yours, God…and yes, you can take it or give it back…but it’s Yours. 

So this morning as I opened up my plethora of devotionals and such and began to pour out all the thoughts and such in my journal, I ended up with a Psalm of praise that God penned through me and that is what I will share with you today:

Lord, I worship You for who You are. 

As I drove through the fields of corn and beans and sunset last night to get home, the song playing was about how everything belongs to You. 

It doesn’t belong to You because, as a believer I say it does. 

And it doesn’t not belong to You when the world laughs at the whole concept. 

It just does. 

Whether we believe it or not, the world belongs to You and all that is in it is made by Your Hand. 

Period. 

End of story. 

This is Your world. 

And in that realization, Lord, I drove and took in the fields so wide and full of crops and the endless blue sky with the sun setting and yet rising again somewhere in the distance for other people…and I thought about all the current situations including a website experiencing technical difficulties and what that might mean for me..and a pile of merchandise that needs processing and a house that needs a good cleaning…and zero time to get it all done…and I worshipped. 

Because it’s all Yours. 

All of it.

And so am I.

What confounds me and frustrates me and overwhelms me doesn’t phase You in the least.

I do not need to apprise you of the situation, yet You lean forward and listen to me much in the same way we lean forward and listen to a child telling us in choking sobs about what happened on the playground. 

You already know the end from the beginning, yet You listen to me and hold me in the middle. 

I praise You, not for what You will do, but for who You are and who You are is what makes me who I am <3 

Thank you <3

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We finished well yesterday a journey that started 22 years ago when someone asked me at our church would I teach an adult Sunday School class and I definitely did not want to and yet I felt my head nodding yes and I heard come out of my mouth, sure…I would like to do that.

I remember vividly having a heart to heart with God as I walked away where I basically asked Him…What in the heck just happened there???? 

And thus began the thing, besides my marriage and parenting, that has been the longest straight-running and consistent commitment of my adult life. 

It couldn’t have been a more perfect ending. 

I decided to share my three favorite sections of Scripture that are my go-to’s for life strategy. Then my number one student and supporter and encourager for all those  weeks that added up to years shared some letters from former people who had been involved in our class over time and finished with his own kind words. 

We gathered last night for a potluck and the weather was even perfect so we could actually have some people sit out on the patio…this never happens when we plan a function where we have more people than tables and chairs inside. 

God is good. 

Because I know some of you who read this were once in our class, I am including a letter I wrote to share but I wanted to add a couple of thoughts before I close with that. 

Just things on my heart about this opportunity I was given and what it has meant to us. 

<3 People are so sweet and keep encouraging me that God has something for this new season, but I think it is important to remember…it’s okay if what I have is just more time to devote to the other things I am already doing. Or maybe my assignment was finished. And there really isn’t a reason beyond that. And that’s okay.

<3 One of the things that I always questioned was the Scripture that says in 1 Timothy 2:11-12 that Paul did not allow a woman to teach or have authority over a man. I questioned all of my pastors at various times regarding this and each time I was told I was under their authority and that of my husband. I taught what God laid on my heart and it humbled me that both men and women got something out of it. I am thankful to God for the opportunity He gave me and the wisdom and discernment to serve the Body of Christ and I am thankful for the love and support of my husband and the pastors of our church. 

<3 I am deeply thankful for the friendships gained through a weekly commitment to show up and be the constant for a group of people. It wasn’t always easy but God gave me strength every single time. It is so cliche, but it is the absolute truth…He doesn’t call the equipped…He equips the called. 

<3 I am thankful for Russ who scheduled vacations and activities around the class as much as possible because he believed what I was doing was important for others. I am thankful for the Sundays he got me there and dropped me off and walked in late because of my tardiness…and I am thankful for his grace toward me when I felt like I had said too much or shared too much or was too transparent. I am thankful for the times he took a pass on doing some kind of something on Saturday so I could work on the lesson some more. I am thankful for the times he took over the prayer because I was a mess and couldn’t do it and the ways he would give me advice and counsel when I needed guidance.

and with that…here is the letter…and I used twenty years because I am terrible at math so here is the edited version of the one I handed out yesterday <3

Dear class of friends who are part of our family <3

In some ways, I want to reminisce and so I hope you will indulge me. 

Twenty-two years is a lot of life we have lived together. Your stories are part of our story and we have walked through much of life together. 

Twenty-two years ago John was 7, Sarah 9 and Rachel 12. 

In that time we have, among other things and in no particular order:

Brought my aunt and parents here and walked through dementia, Alzheimers, strokes and three deaths and funerals, made multiple trips to Iowa as Russ’s parents health failed and then said goodbye to them. Got three Reimer’s through Jr. High, High school sports, show choir, choir, band, orchestra, youth group, proms, homecomings and drama. Obtained and then said good-bye to our Mitzi. Had three high school graduations, went through college applications and graduated three from Millikin, Greenville and ORU. Two weddings, one divorce, four grand babies, two surgeries, two bouts with depression. Moved us to a new house. Started the newsletter and then the blog. Added substitute teacher, classroom teacher, cheerleading coach, gift wrapper at Von Maur, assistant manager at Talbots, Tournesol and Sensory Panel at ADM to my resume. We visited each other in hospitals and attended funerals for parents, spouses and sadly, children of class mates. 

Subs I can remember: Chris Peterson, Tom Howard, Tom Pistorius, Russ, Tabitha Bilyeu, Dave Campbell, Jonathan Grunden, Ron Black and even Jimmy Peck, bless his heart <3

Lessons I can remember: Ruth, Jonah, David, Job, Psalms, Minor Prophets, Celebration of Discipline several times! Harmony of the Gospels, Fruit of the Spirit, Traveling Light by Max Lucado, Pottery Class, Prayer – multiple times, Spiritual Warfare, Parables, Sermon on the Mount, Random rabbit trails from my journal, Nehemiah, 2 Chronicles 20, Moses, Exodus, Passover, Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, Prayer of Jabez book, Easter, Old Testament Feasts, Isaiah, Christmas stories, Bible Stories for grown ups with Jon Keck one summer, Current events, Studies based on sermon series, Small group studies we were given, Islam/Qureshi, 1 Thessalonians, Names of God, multiple walks through books of Bible that took forever. 

I have quit at least fifty times in the wee hours of the morning on our living room couch and still well remember working on lessons as I waited up for a teen to hopefully make curfew. I walked away from watching a movie in the family room some nights and wrote some in the car as we drove. 

I never ever felt I really put the time into them you deserved and I always struggled with wanting to convey every single thing God showed me so you could have the full experience.

 I am forever grateful for the pastors who helped me not quit, learn and mentored me in the pitfalls of teaching: Wayne Kent, Darren Embree, Brian Talty, Tom Sager, Jon Keck and Jonathan Grunden. 

Looking at your faces on Sunday morning has been one of the greatest joys of my adult life and the fact that you all would come back Sunday after Sunday blew me away. The words of love and encouragement you have given to me and to our family – the prayers you have prayed over us – the acts of kindness you have extended to us – the relationships from this class that have been the friendships of our past twenty plus years…these are treasures stored up in heaven for sure. 

Moth and Rust cannot destroy what God has given to someone like me and it literally takes my breath away sometimes that He has allowed me to do this for Him. 

I can assure you, I gained far more than I ever gave. The way you all love each other has been icing on the cake. You are the beautiful Body of Christ and we love you and thank you for being part of our lives and family <3

Randoms for a Tuesday <3

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It seems to be a good day for some randoms…so here we go in no particular order:

#1.

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You may know I have a thing about Jeremiah 33:3 and how 3:33 is a time or $3.33 for a price happens that pops up frequently in my life to remind me of the verse God kind of laid on my heart to be a life verse.

Friends and family frequently text me when it pops up in their experience and recently our sister-in-law Sonja sent me a little card she received somewhere…

it is taped to our computer and says…

God will give you good ideas.

Call to Me and I will answer you. I’ll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own. Jeremiah 33:3 The Message

Love it <3

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#2.

I asked John to do a gratitude challenge with me for the month of August. 

I set my alarm for 7:51 each day (please do not ask me why I selected that time. I can only surmise that was when I decided I would need an alarm set) and then I sit and think about something I am genuinely thankful for that I have failed to express to God. 

It’s been good for me and proven true that if we practice gratitude it actually does enhance our attitude to be more positive and also flourishes into more gratitude. 

Which is quite possibly why we are told in Scripture to be anxious for nothing, but in everything, with prayer AND THANKSGIVING make our requests known…

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#3.

I wasn’t too excited about this Back-to-School thing happening so early in August and I still think we short-change summer these days…but I must admit…my love for all things Fall is getting stirred up. 

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#4.

Our family, thanks to John, did our Fantasy Football league the other night. 

While I have absolutely no idea who the players are and had to ask Russ what a WR is (and he told me, but for the life of me, I can’t remember what he said), we had much laughter as John hosted a wide range of family members on a conference call that spanned seven homes located in Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska and Texas. 

We don’t always have the most traditional family reunions, but we sure do enjoy what we can get.

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#5.

In line with the gratitude thing, I surely am thankful for the variety of skills and trades of people who can do the things we don’t know how to do. 

And I am also mightily grateful for the ones God has given us to use to help others. 

What’s your skill set like? 

Take some time to write it down and then ask God to show you where He is calling you to serve <3