Category Archives: Encouragement

Good day for a group hug <3

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Just some gentle words for you today because the start of 2020 has been a bit of a challenge here and I would suppose I am not alone in this. 

First of all, the world is just upside down. It really always has been, we just are noticing it more and more. 

Politics are a mess…people who were supposed to be doing what they said they would do, haven’t and everyone is clamoring to be heard. The news is more like a bunch of posturing and opinionated celebrities who would be sent to their rooms in a decent home for talking the way talk and interrupting one another. 

The weather is wild. Right now the sun is shining in through our rain-spattered, tiny-finger-print smeared windows but I know for a fact it is quite cold out there. 

Yesterday was so gloomy and gray and humid and just a tad too warm for January. 

We are not sure what tomorrow will bring on this roller coaster of climate change. 

And I am recovering from yet another virus thing. 

Tuesday was a great day of healing and yesterday I nose-dived again into complete exhaustion. My sweet husband has been so patient with me as I go from feeling better to not in a vicious cycle the past few weeks.

Today is better so far…so I am alternating working productively with sitting and resting. 

I don’t rest well when I have been resting for long enough that the piles on the counter and tables are causing me anxiety attacks. 

So how about you?

How has 2020 been treating you these first 16 days?

I hope if it is sapping you that you have people to love you through. I hope if you are sensing the turmoil out there that you are finding safe harbors to rest and refresh and renew your soul and your spirit. 

I pray for you warm bowls of soup and cups of coffee or tea or cocoa…or whatever you sip while you study and read and rest. 

I urge you to set a time to stop at the end of the day and read something or knit something or draw or watch a game (but please…mute and look away on the commercials because, have mercy…those can be rather unsettling.)

If you don’t have someone reaching out to comfort you, think of someone you can do that for because maybe God is getting your attention to be His hands and feet. 

I pray right now for you – YOU…if you stopped by here and made it this far, I pray for peace in your heart and assurance that God is in control. No matter what the world, the weather, your health or the kitchen counter looks like right now – He is sovereign. He will give you the strength to heal. to serve, to grow, to thrive…and to rest when you need to. 

blessings…and I will catch you tomorrow…same place…maybe same time? We shall see <3


Truth and fiction can both be pretty strange <3

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My morning readings this week have been in Exodus and if you are about my age you know that we grew up with this story imprinted on our little minds and hearts through the magic of Cecil B. DeMille, Hollywood and  VistaVision by Technicolor. 

I looked forward to this epic event every Easter season and would sit in rapt attention in front of our TV.

I knew everyone’s lines by heart and in my later years when I read the accounts of the Exodus in the book of Exodus, I took exception at times that the book didn’t follow the movie very well.

Silly me. 

You know I jest, right? 

The book is the true story and the movie took license liberally to fill in the details and attempt to make it even more entertaining, but honestly…it’s an amazing read all by itself in the black and white pages of my bible. 

While there are additions that may or may not be true involving relationships and such, there is one part of the movie that did depict quite well the part where people like me get the willies because it involves snakes. 

For reasons that I probably should study to learn more about God and who He is, but that for now just blow my mind; God had Moses use his shepherd’s staff in a rather unusual way. 

As a sign of His divine power being vested into Moses, He has Moses throw the staff down and it turns into a snake. 

Then He commands Moses to pick it up by the tail and (I’m sorry…just a second while I breathe slowly into a paper bag just thinking of this…) and it turns back into his staff. 

Very cool.

Very convincing.

Until Moses is actually standing in front of Pharaoh and does this thing and the magicians around Pharaoh throw staffs down and voila….more snakes. 

Ok, I may need another minute to gather my wits here…in case you haven’t figured it out…I get the heebie jeebies just saying or typing the word snake. 

So anywho…as you know if you watched the movie and/or read the book…this is a bit alarming (and weird and odd and we might want to think twice about poo-poohing the powers of darkness, people) when Moses’ snake/staff slithers over and devours the fake/snake/staff’s and then Moses…oh my dear…my heart…bends down and picks this thing up by the tail and it is his staff again. 

Whew…glad I am not having my blood pressure checked today. 

As an added touch, in the movie version, the staff is also much bigger now. And I kind of like that and why not…it is now full of the other material it ate, so sure it would be bigger. 

And in the following verse and throughout the rest of the plagues and such, Moses is always carrying that staff and using it to accomplish things and I wonder if the magicians were reminded every time they saw him coming that he had a power superior to theirs. 

Interesting. 

You know there is saying about walking softly and carrying a big stick. 

You and I who have Christ in us, we have a big stick. We have a staff that has conquered death and overcome sin. 

Just something to think about today <3

Being in the right place <3

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Do you ever run into themes in your days? 

If it was all based on current sermon series and articles going around, I could blame it on some kind of “trending” thing within the church culture, but currently I am reading a book written in 2016, listened to teaching from a seminar held in 2012, heard a couple of podcast sermons from this summer, the sermon at our own church last Sunday and have been hit numerous times with the same message from devotionals that were gleaned from the writings of people long gone and all of them are referring to “rhythms of grace.”

And all of these use the example of Jesus, who moved continuously between opportunities of intense hands on ministry and quiet places of solitude. 

The teaching pastor last Sunday was Brian Talty and he talked about how Jesus left places of successful preaching, teaching and healing because of obedience. He referenced it as the “I must…” and it resonates with other things I am reading and ways God has spoken to me in my own life. 

Though people begged Him to stay in places, He would move according to the direction of His Father saying, “I must….”

During a season when I was pulled between the care of elderly parents and children still at home, I would often feel torn as there seemed to be many places where I was needed. 

I developed a simple test to determine which place I was supposed to be that day or time. 

I would remind myself that I can only be in one place at one time, so what was the ONE place and ONE task only I could fill?

Sometimes I was the only parent available for some event where we had determined as a family a parent needed to be. This would mean someone else took another child to a practice and nurses attended to the needs of my parents so I could be the present parent for someone. 

Other times, I was the only child my father had for the Father’s Day breakfast at the nursing home or the Christmas party with the Elvis impersonator, sugar cookies and 7Up with a maraschino cherry in it. 

So I missed the concert that Russ could attend and I went and sat next to my dad, praying fervently the guy with wavy black hair and sequins galore would NOT come and kneel down in front of me and sing “I’ll have a blue Christmas without you” in my face. 

It meant I had to face some humbling…sometimes I need to be needed more than I need to fill the needs of someone else.

Sometimes I serve selfishly…choosing the ways I serve because of how they make me feel and look. 

Sometimes the best way to serve the people who need me is to rest and get some refreshing so I am not serving out of depletion. 

We live in a hectic world and we probably all want to do the best and the most we can for the people we love. 

What a great reminder that Jesus only served in obedience to His Father by taking time, frequently, to check in and pray and seek guidance and direction. 

Be blessed today as you seek wise counsel from the One who made you and all those people you are trying so hard to love and serve. 

I pray we all have obedient hearts to hear and offer our gifts, talents and resources in the way God intended and trust Him to cover the other needs of our loved ones through others who also desire to serve well <3

A post on a post-it note…kind of <3

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I have been gifted a lot of really nice bookmarks over the years, but typically my pages are kept for my next reading with some scrap of paper or note I have written. 

I have one of my morning devotions bookmarked with a page torn off of a St. Jude’s notepad with these words written on it:

“Sat – Monday would work – she can make reservation if you would prefer – she doesn’t mind odd hours + will work to make arrangements or you can” 

I also have another note, also in my handwriting but different mood with an arrow pointing to the memo above and it says:

“I have no idea what this note means”

I hang on to it in case, some day, I am asked about what time frame would work for some unknown woman’s schedule so I can let her know if we found odd or regular hours for the reservation to whatever event and then we can determine who will be making the arrangements. 

Sometimes I wonder how Russ lives with me and doesn’t lose his sanity. 

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But on a more serious level, I have another page marker (also on a St. Jude’s notepad sheet….what would I do without all the free notepads and address labels?) in a different devotion and I read this one and pray it every morning. 

On this paper I have jotted a prayer. 

I don’t remember if I wrote this particular prayer, and since I haven’t given any credit to anyone as a quote, I am assuming I did…but then again…I can’t remember why I wrote the other note and if some female friend or relative is sitting by her phone waiting for me to text back with the plan for making reservations…so maybe I did read it somewhere.

If so – many thanks to whoever wrote it originally – it sounds better than what I could write so I must have gotten it somewhere.… and if you know who wrote it, let me know so I can give him/her credit…or make a reservation Saturday – Monday, even if it’s odd hours…

The words I wrote on down are:

“Prayer for us when we are hurt:

God, keep my anger from becoming meaness.

Keep my sorrow from collapsing into self-pity.

Keep my heart soft enough to keep breaking.

Keep my anger turned towards justice, not cruelty.

Remind me that all of this, every bit of it is for love.

Keep me fiercely kind. Amen”

I love that prayer even though it means a lot of surrender each and every day. 

Fiercely kind is something that takes guts in this day and age. 

I have always been hyper-sensitive; which is great when compassion is needed and well-received, but it means a lot of bumps and bruises when you are out there in the trenches and dealing with people who like to play rough. 

It means learning how to put up healthy boundaries without building walls. 

It involves a determined effort to let God heal and console when knocked down and then sucking it up and getting back in the game. 

It requires an understanding that God wired me to notice things others don’t, not so I can be in the know but so I can be on my knees. 

It asks me to be vulnerable enough let my heart get broken, but to never give up on making it available to help others.

It remembers the example of Christ who extended forgiveness to those who didn’t even know to ask for it.

It means feeling alone a lot, and odd, and misunderstood; so that God can work empathy into my interactions with others who seem so different from me, but are really just trying to make it through the stuff of life on planet earth

How about you? 

I hope you are doing well at getting up when you are knocked down.

I hope you are developing some healthy boundaries so you can operate well in the gifts and callings God has given you. 

I hope your heart is staying soft and your anger is turned to justice and that you are remembering that it is love that covers over a multitude of sin.

God’s love, on the Cross…where Christ forgave us and died for us, who didn’t deserve it one little bit…that kind of love…covers over a multitude of sins and it is available to those who have received His salvation…so that we can be….fiercely kind <3

A late start…but it is Monday <3

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I am moving a bit slow this morning due to a new kind of head cold that seems to have snuck up on the scene where I thought I was turning the corner on a cough that has persisted through the holidays. 

It is discouraging to say the least. I was hoping to attack today with renewed energy. Instead, I have lingered over my quiet time and even taken a nap. 

So in my foggy state, I am sharing two separate thoughts that I hope somehow tie together in your mind as well as they do mine. 

Because one of the things I find every time I do a complete read-through of the Bible is that I discover some new things about God and His character that call me to live differently in this world.

Invariably, I am also given an even deeper understanding of how I am called to be a follower by dying to myself and living for God’s purposes in ways that stretch me as layers of selfishness continue to be peeled away. 

My Genesis reading this morning covered chapters 22-25 and my first thought is from the account of Abraham’s servant traveling back to his home land to find a wife for his son Isaac from among his family who remained back there. 

The servant takes an oath to find a wife for Isaac and bring her back with him. He would only be free to go if she refused to leave that land and come with him. 

Here are the aspects of this story that particularly touched my heart this morning as they have in past reading. 

The servant prays a pray asking for God to act in a clear and miraculous way, but it is not out of selfish motives. 

The prayer is not a prayer for HIM to succeed, but for God to show kindness “to my master Abraham.” (vv. 12 and 27)

This morning, it occurs to me that this servant’s testimony and joy regarding God’s faithfulness and kindness was in what He did for someone else. 

Think about that while I share my second thought. 

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In a book I am reading entitled Your Best Life in Jesus’ Easy Yoke by Bill Gaultiere, the author shares a story he heard once of a Quaker named John Woolman who worked as a tailor many centuries ago.

Because of his hard work and skill at his craft, he developed a good reputation and a growing list of clients and prosperous shop.  

But he realized that to continue to take on more clients and have to hire workers and expand his business would mean less and less time to also develop his relationship with Christ. 

He did the unthinkable in a capitalist world…he did not worry about losing money or work and instead he accepted the work he could manage and sent the overflow to other tailors who also needed business. 

 How different are these two mind-sets to us, even us who walk with Christ and seek to learn His ways? 

As I read Scripture, I am reminded how much of my thinking is shaped and etched with the culture I live in and the mindset of my here and now, of my own experiences and my own perspectives. 

It is refreshing to me to let God speak to me about the better way as I meditate on His Word and the examples of those, both in Scripture and through the generations, who have chosen to walk in step with Jesus instead of the world. 

What if the joy of my testimony was about how God showed faithfulness and kindness to those He calls me to serve?

What if I had the courage to turn down any good thing that keeps me from the best thing

Interesting thoughts to ponder, right? 

Have a good Monday and I will check in with you tomorrow…hopefully rested and on the mend!