Category Archives: Encouragement

It’s that day again <3

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So it’s my birthday and I don’t mind a bit. 

Thankfully as I approached my 50th year and was making all kinds of negative comments about it, God did that thing He does with me and spoke rather succinctly that perhaps since I had two daughters coming along behind me I might want to change my tone and embrace each year as a beautiful gift so that they would not dread getting older in a culture that deifies youth. 

I am so thankful He doesn’t beat around the bush with me because I can be dull and slow to catch on and His way of speaking in brief sentences helps me very much. I began to say I was excited about turning 50 and before long, I actually was excited about it.

While there are times I see my neck and whatever the heck is going on there or the patchwork wrinkles that are forming on the outside of my eyes and I am not a fan of aging; for the most part I am continuing to be postive about my age and thankful for the life I have been given. 

It has its perks, like early shopping hours during Covid and young people no longer treat me like a potential threat because I am an “older lady” so they open doors for me and call me “sweetie” and ask if I need help with carrying my groceries…sigh..whatev

Russ asked me last night if I had any favorite birthday memories and I would have to say all of them. I always loved my birthday and would tell everyone in my sphere of contact when it was coming up or happening so they would remember. I am sitting laughing at myself..but it is so true. 

There were the years he would have the kids make a big deal of it for me and the surprise parties he threw on my 30th and 40th that made me cry. There was the one I asked for on my 60th where we gathered a group of friends who have walked through so much of our adult life together and I was able to tell them how much they mean to me.

I shared a handful of ones from my younger years with him in answer to his question and as in all things he just shook his head at what this brain holds onto in the file cabinets of life lived. 

There was the year my dad set up a movie projector in some garage captured in a black and white photo where a group of little girls sat in their Sunday best on folding chairs watching cartoons played on the wall and munching popcorn.

There was the year in junior high when my mom felt bad that my birthdays were always spent in a travel trailer with people their age so she threw me a slumber party in the fall after a football game. She bought a cake from the bakery that was iced in psychedelic colors and had a plastic record player and records scattered over the top. 

Did I just date myself? If anyone doesn’t know what a record player is it was what we used before 8 tracks…never mind. 

Those travel trailer birthdays were fun, too. One year we had cake in a parking lot somewhere out west with the twenty plus fellow families from around the world as my dad was leading a Caravan America for ambassadors of other countries and their  families. 

There was the year she bought a half a watermelon and stuck a candle in it because I loved watermelon more than cake that summer. I have since recovered and they hold a solid tie in my heart. 

One glorious summer I was staying several weeks with my aunt and uncle in Washington and had real live cousins around my age to celebrate with me. They gifted me an insulated Schlitz mug for drinking my soda as we watched game shows….they all had one and wanted me to be part of the team with my own mug. 

Belonging. 

Isn’t that what we all long for? 

Isn’t that why we celebrate our birthdays with friends and family and why we reach out and send greetings to others we love to say we are glad they were born?

It’s why I made a big fuss over each member of our family on their day and why I go out and hand select gifts and a card for friends on the anniversary of their births. 

We are born into a time and setting for purposes beyond our understanding and we touch the lives of those who travel with us. 

We should celebrate the gift of life given to us and we should celebrate the lives of those around us. Each one is so precious to God. Each one is assigned a time and space and it is sacred. What a marvelous thing that we are surrounded with the people of this time and place, hand picked to be here and to journey alongside others who were also handpicked <3

His breath sustains us. His wisdom guides us. He loves us and in return we love Him and each other. 

Such a gift. 

Such a cause of celebration. 

I hope you have a very happy day wherever you are. Whatever your circumstances are today, you are loved and you are designed for a purpose that is beautiful and specific and holy. 

Thank you for stopping by and sharing this day with me, today and any days you choose to visit. You are a gift to me <3

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The most beautiful thing…<3

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We are experiencing one of those rare summer mornings in the Midwest where there is no humidity, a light breeze, a clear sky and just the slightest chill in the air. 

For us it is like a day in February when the sun shines brightly and it warms enough that we can actually take a walk without danger of frostbite to the face and we are reminded that spring will come again. 

If your heart is oriented to this part of the country, these few days are hard-earned and pure delight and more than make up for the more brutal ends of the spectrum.

And I am one of those crazy people who say this is why I would never move to a more year- round temperate climate. I wouldn’t miss the Midwest for all the other choices in the world. 

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Sitting on our patio this morning, I had to slip my running jacket on… (and by running jacket I mean an athletic jacket that I wear to sit and sip coffee whilst I read on the patio or stand at a ball game in the spring and fall and watch younger people run)… as I worked my way through some of the most powerful and exciting pages of the book of Isaiah. 

As I read 53 through 58, I about ran out of ink with all my underlining, heart drawing and note making in this new Bible I have never used for a read-through. With having attended the Greenville College Messiah concerts a ton of Christmases over the years thanks to our violinist daughter, I actually sang some of these verses as I read them. 

Which can be somewhat annoying and distracting since Handel did that over-repetitious rendition and so sometimes I am hung up on a verse just having that play through my head in music -box fashion. But I digress…

digress…digress….yes, I surely digresseth. (that will make you laugh if you have ever listened to the Messiah…but if you haven’t just shake your head and move on)

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As I read the familiar and prophetic opening verses of Chapter 53, I was struck as I always am by the description of our Lord and Savior.

Isaiah had no idea who he was describing, but in obedience he wrote the description of the Messiah as He would appear to us. 

He grew up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Isaiah 53: 2-3 NKJV

I wrote in the margin of my bible this morning…

How contrary to our way of assessing success, power and majesty. 

I had to stop and just think on that description of Him. 

I am somewhat addicted to beauty.

I seek it in the natural world and I appreciate it greatly in the creative arts of humans.

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I always catch my breath and give God the glory for it because I know it is His hand behind both nature and the arts, but He chose to deliver His Son to us without the beauty I crave. 

Oh, He is beautiful…indeed He is the most beautiful…but if I were to see His incarnate self as a man here on earth, I would not have seen the perfection of form and loveliness of features that I tend to associate with the beautiful of this world. 

And I shudder to think that I would have looked on Him and not seen this Man of sorrows…acquainted with grief…as my Savior. My Lord. 

So I read on this morning and my foolish, often deceived heart, once again affirms the most beautiful Truth known to our human race. 

Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgression, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.

Isaiah 53: 4-5 NKJV

I fall humbled before Him and ironically, speaking of music, yesterday we heard a song on the radio as we were driving home that was somewhat Handel-like in its use of repetition. 

Four men singing the same line basically over and over…He was pierced for our transgression, crushed for our sins, the punishment that brought us peace was on Him and by His wounds we are healed. 

I heard the song over and over in my head as I read those lines this morning. There is nothing wrong with that playing on the repeat all day. 

Nothing at all. 

In this world, there is no better place to live out the Gospel than from my knees remembering that by His wounds, I have been healed and forgiven. And only by His wounds. 

Here is the link to the recording of By His Wounds recorded by Mac Powell, Stephen Curtis Chapman, Brian Littrell and Mark Hall.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdLT-vvheV4

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One of my favorite basic principles about God’s love <3

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Hi and happy Friday!

I didn’t write last week because I was busy enjoying a day off with Russ and waiting for our John to arrive home to celebrate his birthday on Saturday.

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He wanted a “throw back” birthday for his 30th so we did a pickup softball game at the park and yes, he got to be a team captain.

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We grilled out burgers and brats and had watermelon and basically nothing healthy besides that. He asked for the old favorite from by-gone years, the DQ ice cream log cake which we all had forgotten about and is as surprisingly delicious as ever. 

It was a great time and went too fast and now we are a week into looking back and we are still smiling Except for the part where we miss everyone. 

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My thought today is nothing new or original but one God proves to me time and time again and it is this…you simply cannot out give God. 

We know it and yet every time some new encounter brings that truth to the forefront, I am once again in awe of how generous He is when I unpry my greedy little fingers off of earthly treasures and release them into His big unknown plans. Then before I can barely stuff them back into my pockets and turn to survey what I think has depleted my stock, He pours out blessings that exceed what I thought I gave up. 

On the north side of our house (I had to close my eyes and picture our house and then mentally walk around it and determine what each side faces to come up with that…and I went around the whole thing just to make sure I did it right. Twice) we have a patch of area that the builder of the home filled with ferns and hostas. The rabbits like to make their home in the ferns and dine on the big leaves of the hostas. Also because that patch gets direct sunlight for most of the day, these shade loving plants look pretty fried by mid to late June. 

I have longed to replace the whole area with sun loving, pollinator-attracting perfect for cutting a little vase or four of fresh flowers, perennial garden. Last year I pulled up a few ferns and planted two potentials and the rabbits muttered thank you as they licked their chops and hopped off after leveling both of them the first day. 

This year I pulled up a couple more ferns and planted 6 different plants and the rabbits got a bit of a start on them so we encased them in wire and they survived the initial attack. They are blooming and making me smile and I was well on my way to making the complete transition to this vision in my head. 

On Wednesday I got ambitious and dug up the entire fern population. As I looked at the stack on our wagon, it dawned on me that these were rather healthy root systems and maybe someone would like to have them. Plants are expensive and this would save someone a bunch of money. So I posted a “free to a good home” post and one of our friends responded quickly that he would take some or all. 

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We put them in buckets to soak and I mildly thought – wow …. Those probably cost the original home owner a chunk of change. I thought a bit about the investment yet to be made to fill in with more flowers but was relieved I wasn’t just throwing them in the garbage. 

Our friend later posted that he had some cone flowers and would bring and leave me some in exchange. I figured he was going to go dig up some of his extras and stick in water and leave on our porch, but no. He owns a landscaping business and when I got home last night, Russ showed me two beautiful commercially potted cone flower plants ready to plant as soon as we get more protective wire purchased, of course…or a dog who hunts rabbits…or both. 

And this morning I looked at them again and thought…just the picture of God. 

We give up some kind of something that we have on hand…some time, some money, some love…and we think we have donated some wonderful thing and aren’t we good? And He turns right around and just pours out something even better. 

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He is kind and He is generous. Full of grace and mercy. I think of the rich young ruler and how Jesus just asked Him to give up the ferns and the man couldn’t. And how when he walked away, thinking what he had was worth so much and not even knowing all that Jesus would have given him, it says….and Jesus watched him, and He loved him. 

He didn’t chase him down and he didn’t write him off. He loved him even when the man couldn’t release his earthly treasures for the untold riches of following Jesus. 

We are so blessed to become a blessing to others….and then He goes and blesses us back. How beautiful <3

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