Category Archives: Empty Nest

One in a trabillionzillion <3

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I was trying to think what to send you and I keep pushing away this little story, but it persists in rising to the top and so I am going to share it. 

Do you ever have things happen that are just so sweet and tender that you almost want to hide them away in your heart? I do.

I never want to betray the sacred ground of our family life for a story and yet God seems to give me such moments to share with you – maybe something you can relate to…maybe He has a word of encouragement for you…maybe just to make you smile and think on good things in a world that is becoming increasingly hard and divided. 

So here is my little gift to you today from my heart.

A couple of months ago when I was spending the day with our crew, Graham took a super close zoom in on my face and very sweetly pointed out that I had something on one of my front teeth. 

I asked him if he was seeing a little divot near the bottom edge of the tooth and yes, that was it. 

I told him I have always had that. Some dentist along the way told me my permanent tooth had been delayed coming in and that caused this kind of chipped spot.

 I don’t know if he was correct in that diagnosis, but over the years various other dentists have offered to fill it in if I would like but I told them no. 

Graham seemed fascinated that I would pass on having this little mar fixed. 

I can understand why he would be surprised since I can’t bear having a spot on my clothes or a mascara smear at the corner of my eye and can waste a huge amount of time stressing over a chunk of hair that is stubbornly refusing to join ranks with the rest of my head. 

As he looked at me like I had suddenly grown a third eye in addition to my chipped tooth, I explained to him how I kind of love that little blemish for some reason.

 It is like a familiar friend to me and I always felt like it gave my ordinary features something special and unique. It was how God made my tooth and I actually love my little chip.

I totally forgot about the conversation and for story purposes, you need to as well….

Fast forward to a few weeks ago and another day with the band of brothers and Little Miss Thing. 

We were driving in the van and from the far recesses of the back, Graham asked me if I ever noticed he has a bald spot. 

Well, I did know that he has a tiny place on the side of his head near his temple where hair just never has grown. I noticed it first a few years ago and had asked Rachel if he or another Kindergartner had taken a scissor to it because he seemed self conscious about making sure it was covered. She told me he had always had it and yes, he was embarrassed when people noticed and commented.

So with this memory popping up, I immediately began to downplay any recollection of having noticed this on his precious head. 

Instantly he stopped me in my tracks. 

Oh no Lola!!! I do have a spot…it’s like the chip in your tooth. God made me that way. It makes me special and unique.

Even as I tell you this, I have a big lump in my throat and tears brimming thinking of the joy in his voice as he shared my own words right back to me. 

I took a peek in the rearview mirror at his beaming face as I asked him…Graham! Have you come to love your little bald spot the way I love my tooth? 

Nodding enthusiastically he replied with a happy….. Yes

Oh my word…such a moment. 

There are so many things about myself I wish were not so. 

Not just physical things, but ways I am wired and driven. 

And yes, God is in the business of transforming me more and more into the image of Christ. 

But how fun when He helps me see that some of my flaws and shortcomings (not my sins…just my human “stuff”)  are just the ways He has made me unique and different from everyone else so that we can all come together and add our flavor to the Body of Christ <3 

What’s your little imperfection or quirk that God has shown you makes you unique and uses to encourage all the other works-in-progress who share the journey each day?

Can we learn to love how we were fashioned because we love the One who made us this way? I hope so. 

You are unique and one of a kind beautiful and you are loved <3

#giving is #agoodideayearround

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Tuesday greetings!

I have as many thoughts swirling around as the snowflakes outside our windows. 

I wanted to take a movie and send it to the kids because it literally looked like our house was inside a snow globe and I consider that one of the most fun kinds of snow…but alas…my phone didn’t capture the effect so instead I decided to learn how to make a poached egg. 

Don’t ask.

This is the kind of mind we are dealing with here, people. 

And I am in full on scattered thinking mode as I pulled out all the green tubs and started putting up Christmas late yesterday afternoon. 

So far we have a miniature forest of small lighted trees taking up residence in the corner of the dining room and the first nativity and advent wreath stationed on the fireplace. But stay tuned…none of this is sealed in stone until I have pondered the dickens out of how much is too much and figure out where to begin and how to end the process.

And speaking of Dickens…tee hee….tell me you didn’t see that coming…

I told you Russ took me to see A Christmas Carol on Saturday and I may have mentioned it is such a favorite of mine. I was literally choking back sobs at some parts of it and it isn’t the parts you might think for one as sentimental as me might get weepy over. 

Oh sure…Tiny Tim is so sweet and the joy of the Cratchit family that supersedes their lack and poverty is touching…but it is Ebenezer himself who makes my throat tighten and tears like a fountain can’t be held back. 

It’s the complicated suggestion of various rejections and wrong choices made at strategic cross roads that constrict my heart into some strong emotions. 

It’s the disappointments and roadblocks to happiness that worked in cooperation with a natural bent toward a need to find security in something that wouldn’t let him down and then the unfolding of the hypocrisy of his idol as he becomes the spectator of his own life. 

It’s the way he can’t help but engage in the fun he has missed out on. 

It’s the way he is offered redemption and he takes it. 

Because I see Christ in everything, I see the Christ of Christmas in this story. 

I see the Spirit of Christmas as the Holy Spirit and I see the keeping of Christmas always as the keeping of Christ and His teachings in how we treat others throughout the year. 

This may or may not be what Dickens had in mind, but it is what I see every year in the story. 

I see how an encounter with the Christ of Christmas helps us see our past….our present…and our future…with truth and healing and hope. 

I see how an encounter with the Christ of Christmas and the Christ of eternity changes our perspective and our hearts…how Christ transforms us and renews us and brings us true Joy. 

Like Matthew the tax collector…Scrooge gives back and then some…he forgives debts and his actions reflect a changed heart. 

Ironically…

our John sent us this picture last night and asked us to share on social media so please indulge this mom as I encourage you to give generously on this #givingtuesday to any and all of the causes that the Lord would prompt you to support. 

John works for an agency in Texas that supports foster care, adoptions and also provides care for the children affected by immigration issues. 

So if you are inclined to donate to his organization….

Link is here….  https://www.upbring.org/giving-tuesday-2018/

However, there are many worthwhile places to drop some cash today so prayerfully consider where God might be leading you to give <3 

Friday thoughts <3

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Good morning to you and Happy Friday!

Yesterday I spent some much needed time going through several stacks of notes and paper around and on the desk Russ and I share. He got his stacks cleared this week and it inspired me to finish this dreaded task. 

Sometimes I wish I didn’t have the brain I have because ideas come to me at all times except when I am actually sitting in front of the computer, so I jot them down on any available piece of paper and then stash them in the office. 

There are times I can’t even read what I wrote…or piece together why I thought it was a good idea. 

But other phrases are gems to be mined on mornings like this, when I pray and ask God for a good word to share with you and He whispers … how about that one?

So today I bring you the phrase our dear realtor planted on me two years ago when we were scrambling to get our house on the market ASAP because, lo and behold, we had just finalized the purchase of a new one scheduled a few days before Christmas.  

We have owned two homes before so we didn’t need to go travel through that desert again.

I assured God we had learned all that could be taught the first go round, so I began to launch into high gear as we packed up boxes and parted with treasures like all the construction paper projects for elementary grades 1 – 6 times 3…yes…I am that mom. 

The agent we were working with happens to also be a good friend and so she looked at my sentimental self and our house that reflects all people loved by us and she sagely gave me this truth…

They’re not buying the HOME. They are buying the house. They are not buying your bathroom rugs or your stuff on the fridge. All these things are what make your house your home, but they are not looking for your home. They are looking for a house to make into their home. 

I could go so many directions with that this morning, but I am going to share just one thought and then leave that truth to speak to you as God would lead your understanding. 

I wrote down in my notes my own take for the season we were walking through and it was this. 

Sometimes my imperfections are ok for me, but not to show everyone. 

It is not false to withhold displaying all that is in my heart to strangers passing through. 

I am wired to be an open book. 

What I am thinking, feeling, going through is transparent to everyone from my closest confidants to the check out girl at Kroger. 

But not everyone is looking for my heart. Nor looking out for my heart. 

And it is ok to guard our hearts. 

Be safe with who you are today.

You…yes you…

with the refrigerator door full of hand drawn pictures and some old wedding invitations from summer….

you with the tears hovering a bit too close to spilling over and…

you who struggles to fight back inappropriate laughter in awkward situations…

or any other of the wildly unique and quirky ways that God has made YOU….

you are precious and loved and of great value to Him who gave His life for you <3 

The hostess with the mostest… right down to clean up detail <3

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As promised yesterday, I am sharing a suggestion from the first chapter of the book Get Yourself Organized for Christmas by Kathi Lipp. **

I actually marked the passage and then wrote “Genius!” out to the side. 

But let me forewarn all who venture here to journey with me on a daily basis. 

Some of you can totally relate to me and the way I am wired and some of you can at least hopefully glean some insight into your family and friends who drive you crazy. 

So as I share this EUREEKA!! moment of enlightenment today, I am picturing a few of my dear friends who struggle not at all with indecisiveness and hesitancy to complete tasks.

I can imagine you shaking your head and possibly dismissing this as nonsense….but for those who are like me and for those who are not…this is useful because people like me are not being difficult or stubborn…we just lack direction in how to direct others….let alone ourselves…

In the opening pages of the this book, Kathi writes about the scenario that invariably occurs in a kitchen when friends and family gather for holiday meals. 

I would add that this will apply to ANYTIME you have opened your home for entertaining guests throughout the year. 

She writes on page 17:

“Every year we have people over for our celebration, and the most common question is, ‘How can I help?’…In the heat of the moment…I’m almost always at a loss for how to direct people on how to assist.”*

Yes.

I so understand this. 

When I prepare a meal for guests, you will find stashed in a drawer a stack of the recipes, a timetable for preparation, oven settings, additions to be made to each dish and the time frame to make it happen and what to pull out of the fridge five minutes before they will arrive. 

But when the meal is over and one to nine women are gathered in the kitchen with me amidst stacks of dirty dishes and food that must be stored away, I become overwhelmed. 

Russ attempts to gently remind me before guests arrive that they will want to help clean up and to be nice when that happens…he truly is my better half. 

When I read Kathi’s words, I felt understood. 

It’s not that I don’t appreciate the help, it’s just that I find my head spinning as I am being asked a variety of questions and decision making is something that takes me quite some time to commit to…and if you don’t believe me, simply pull out that drawer I mentioned and look through all the recipes I weeded out…the adjustments to the schedule I made to tweak my timing…etc…etc….

So what is the solution to my dilemma? 

Kathi suggests pre-planning for those who will want to help. 

Take all that hyper-planning gift a step further so that I am prepared for the inevitable.

For me, this would mean having containers already in place for the leftovers, and Lord help me, room in the fridge for them to stash it! It involves knowing in advance what can go in dishwasher and what will need hand-washing and helping the helpers help.

It’s not cheating to have a list of ways people could help me with clean up so that I am not left offending my sweet friends and family because I can’t process all the questions and end up alienating the people I worked so hard to make at home in our house. 

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I am looking forward to applying this knowledge, not only for the holidays but for our get-togethers throughout the coming year. 

Such a simple concept, Kathi ends the chapter with the truth that a little planning in advance for how others can help will bring much relief to the hostess, her guests and her poor husband who loves her in spite of herself. 

Be blessed <3

If you are interested…here are the resources and information for the book <3

* Get Yourself Organized for Christmas, Kathi Lipp; Harvest House Publishers, 2015, p 17

**Information on how to order book:

https://www.kathilipp.com/get-yourself-organized-for-christmas/

Celebrating well…while we wait <3

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Last night I was able to attend a beautiful event sponsored by the women’s ministry at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. 

You all know I am a “decorate for Christmas after Thanksgiving” kind of girl, but oh… it gave me the fever for all things yuletide. 

Picture a room filled with tables all decorated creatively and lovingly with real life Pinterest holiday perfection and then gathering in the stillness of the sanctuary as a narrator walked us through the Advent wreath amidst the backdrop of a set right out of the best illustrated O Little Town of Bethlehem scene possible. 

We were asked to suspend the reality of being a group of women who had silenced our cell phones and all of our twenty-first century thoughts and were invited to pretend we were villagers hearing the joyous story of a young girl who had taken an extra cloak to her shepherd brother on a chilly evening that turned out to be the night that changed not only her, but everything. 

Forever. 

Oh, I hope I have transported you to the experience well enough for you to at least get a feel for not just me sharing an event I got to attend, but also I hope you are picking up on the tension we live in as we approach the Christmas holidays. 

We will be packing a lot of extras into already full schedules, just like we do every year at this time. 

We will face the urge to compare our preparations: not only with what we see, and or perceive (big difference) about how others are doing it all, but also our own reality versus what we hoped it would look like. 

We will be inundated with enticing visuals on television and social media.

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Holiday eye candy… as one of my dear friends calls all the shiny glitter that can make us giddy with anticipation and leave us empty with disappointment. 

We will try to balance this with the “reason for the season” and perhaps wear ourselves ragged making sure we attempt to juggle the fun of Santa with the importance of the Nativity…and all this to say…

I am checking out a new book to help me get this over thinking mind of mine into a more disciplined state before I drag out those tubs of decorations and launch into Christmas 2018. 

www.laurareimer.net

So far it has proven to be a sane voice and I hope to share some tidbits gleaned.

One of the things mentioned during the gathering last night was how the women of the village loved and cared and watched out for each other. 

This holiday season, let’s do that … men and women…let’s not fill up our lives and calendars with so much of our own celebration that we neglect to care well for those around us who are struggling. 

Let’s be intentional to leave room for interruptions and the unexpected and uninvited. 

We are not watching for the Messiah to come…we are celebrating the time He came. 

We are watching for His return. 

Let’s watch out for each other as we wait <3