Category Archives: Encouragement

On the positive side…<3

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One of us got the bright idea that since we were going into at least two weeks of work-from-home, shelter-in-place, lock down; the other of us, named Russ, could paint the hall bathroom and back bedroom. 

We took a vote and it passed. 

He got right to it and since I have an aversion to pans of paint and roller brushes, he did that and I would come along behind with a small bowl and an artist brush to do the areas close to ceiling and edges. 

We are, and always have been, successful in marriage by staying in our lanes. 

So yesterday afternoon as he ran his work world from the end of our kitchen table, I donned my paint clothes and headed down the hall to put the finishing touches on Project #2. 

I was up on top of the ladder when I could hear sirens blaring in the distance. It was obviously several first responder vehicles and since the wail of the alarms were punctuated by horns honking, I assumed there had been a major accident on the highway a few blocks east of our house. 

It continued and my heart dipped low thinking about what kind of horrid thing had now occurred on top of what we already have going on.

I prayed and painted for a few minutes and then decided the whole dang world must be coming to an end and I wasn’t going out standing on a paint ladder.

Realizing I hadn’t heard anything from Russ and as the sound of sirens was now coming closer, fear gripped me that they were for him. 

I came out and the kitchen table was empty, I called for him and got no answer.

I now feared the Rapture had happened and somehow I missed it…as the sirens and honking were now clearly right on our street.

I noticed the front door was slightly open as I headed for the porch and there was my best friend out on the side walk, smiling and waving along with most of the neighbors as car after van after car drove by waving and smiling and making a joyful noise. 

He had called for me but I hadn’t heard him behind the closed door so he thought I had gone for a walk.

Out in front of our house was a sight that is being repeated across the country and let me tell you…what a sight!

The teachers from the local schools were driving through the neighborhoods led by the fire truck and police, with poster board signs on their vehicles announcing “We miss you!” and their names and all kinds of balloons and party stuff in the windows. 

There I stood in Rachel’s old too-tight clinical lab coat and my paint pants, brushes and bowl of grey paint in hand…waving like I was one of their school kids, or had some under our roof or whatever. 

I was doing that kind of laughing and crying thing we do when all the emotions are just exploding out of the deepest places of the heart.

And those sweet teachers did not discriminate this 60 plus couple…they waved right back at us like we were missed as much as any of the other little tykes.

Across the street, our neighbor who owns one of the local restaurants and is working hard at the new business model of take-out only, was smiling and waving with his wife and daughters. 

This parade was like a beacon of hope and the reminder we are a community and that this will pass. 

In the midst of this time when I know it is bad in places and people are facing such hard decisions in certain locations, I see God working good in so many. 

I see couples walking and talking together who used to be rushing off to the next thing or settling down in front of a ball game on TV. 

Families are sitting down to tables together and without the rush of having to fit all the practices and homework and chores into the few hours between school and bedtime, they are actually getting to know each other.

There are continuous opportunities for each of us to examine what used to take up our time and attention and evaluate our priorities. 

As we grieve the loss of certain freedoms and amenities we took for granted, we can do a heart check to see if we had set up idols of comfort and convenience. 

“Functional idols” is a theme in so many teachings I have heard leading up to this and God is now revealing to us, His people, where we had unconsciously erected a few or more of them in our hearts. 

I pray for myself, our family, our friends and community, the world at large to not only recognize the Hand of God at work in this time, but that we would seek His face. 

By that I mean, truly desire to simply know Him and to be in His presence as you sort through all the emotions and reactions that will arise throughout the day and night. 

May you be blessed to sense His nearness to you, for surely He is not far from any of us <3

Just checking in on a Monday <3

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I can’t remember if March roared in like a lion or pranced in like a lamb, but I can assure you we will not forget how it was lived out, day by day, around the world. 

Everything has changed and while, for the most part, I have kept a fairly even keel throughout; I have moments when it all starts to pile up and holding to positivity and faith is a bit of a challenge. 

There are the good moments like connecting with friends through car windows or from the front steps of the house, moments with our family and church on Zoom meetings and knowing we are watching the same church service as one or more of our loved ones at the same time.  Total gratitude I married my best friend and we actually enjoy hanging out together.

There are great moments like watching a hospital staff line the perimeter of the upper level of their building with hands raised singing “Waymaker” because some guy decided to take his speakers to the parking lot to pray for them and encourage them. Things like cities making all kinds of noise when nurses are changing shifts to thank them and every day people are finding out they weren’t as self-centered as they had feared as they share supplies and show kindness and sacrifice their own wants for the good of others. Celebrities offering concerts from the homes to bring encouragement. Churches of all sizes figuring out how to reach their people and the world from their own homes.

And there are sad moments. There are a lot of every day joys that have been swept away. There are weddings and funerals and births that are happening without the usual gathering of family and friends. There won’t be proms, or spring sports, or end of year preschool picnics. No meeting up with friends at a park after school and hitting up the local frozen yogurt place before scattering off to various ball practices. And people are dying. Every life that is represented in the daily count was loved and mattered to other lives.

There is fear of infection and death threatening to cast the darkest of shadows over a simple trip to the grocery store. There is fear of loss of income and jobs that have no guarantee of being restored once this passes. The unknowns are vast and global in size and are only added to the conditions in this world that were known and were terrible in their own right. Fear that has a very real motivator and yet can be carried to an unhealthy extreme. 

We remember a friend who has a child who lives somewhere that was just listed in the news as an area in crisis. We cringe when we hear of another case being diagnosed somewhere because the reality of the nature of this thing sneaks a little closer to home. Suddenly it seems we know and love and are connected to actual individuals in the health care system. We feel like we are doing pretty well and then a news report flashes across the screen that we are two weeks away from what could be the worst. 

So we teeter between walking by faith and freaking out. We read with disbelief the death toll in a country like Italy and we hope with all our hearts to not be next, while we grieve for the staggering losses these people are experiencing.

Last night as we ended the day looking at the faces of our family in four little squares on the computer screen, I kept going from one to the other. The love for them was so intense it overwhelmed me and I was just tired enough that I felt myself slipping from the present moment to the forecast for how things may transpire in the coming months and it wasn’t pretty.

There are some who seem to be so steady and continue to share only the positive and God love them, how we need those people. 

But for me it is a ten steps forward, two steps back process. I have to say with boasting in the Lord alone that I have graduated from the old two to one ratio. For the better part of the days, I am holding fast in faith that God is control. However; moments of fear or doubt come in little unexpected bursts and can leave me feeling wiped out. Only by His grace and Spirit in me do I find that these nose dives drive me to more intense prayers and praise.

How are you doing?

I hope you are holding up. I hope you are finding that God’s arms are catching you when you momentarily stumble over a pit of despair or hopelessness. I hope you are accessing His Power through the Holy Spirit as you pray and praise and encourage others. I hope you are not only speaking hope, but asking Him to give you ways to share that hope in tangible methods. 

One thing I have found helpful is to keep a little note pad on the counter and every time something good happens or there is something that is a grace gift in this time, I jot it down. When my own light seems to be going dim at the end of a long day, I look over that list and remind my soul of all the benefits God has given us. 

You would be on that list, my friend. 

This little place where we can meet, this is a gift of grace from Him to me.

So journey onward, soldiers…and I will see you tomorrow <3

For the birds <3

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I just came in from a walk. I am usually a fair weather walker, but these days it doesn’t seem to matter the temperature or moisture content of the air. I get out when I can and walk. Partly to reduce anxiety temptations, partly to clear my head and partly to walk off the effects of too much time spent too close to the pantry if you know what I mean <3

As I walk, I hear the birds singing.

I step over worms who are venturing out after yet another rainfall. Nature is going on about its business with no thought or concern. The soggy fields seem blissfully ignorant of the trouble all those pools of water will cause our farmers in a few weeks and do not frown as more grey clouds gather overhead. 

This week I listened to a teaching from Matthew 6 where Jesus reminds us to consider the birds and flowers and how they do not work or toil and yet the Father cares and provides for them. He encourages us with the words…how much more are you worth to the Father than these? 

We watch our bird feeder each morning and think how the Father has provided for their needs by prompting us to fill it each day. 

They give us so much joy in their feathered beauty. You all might notice a heart changed here, because birds are not my thing…but these little song birds have captured my attention these past winters and with all that is going on they are a delight to behold. 

The squirrel that tries to steal from the feeder, not so much…still some room for growth regarding those critters…

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So God uses the things of nature to remind us of His nature and then this morning I was reading in 1 Kings and just had to get my pen out and mark up some passages because God revealed something new about who He is in a story that is so familiar I could have been tempted to skim it. So thankful I didn’t. 

I have prepared many lessons around Elijah and his show down with the prophets of Baal. I have read through it numerous times. I would have thought I had wrung all out of it I could. 

But this morning; fresh off of filling the bird feeder and meditation on Matthew 6 for a good bit yesterday, I read with a new set of eyes these words of God to Elijah immediately after he was told to pronounce to the evil King Ahab the coming of an extensively long drought in judgment on him and his acts of disobedience:

“Then the word of the LORD came to him {Elijah}, saying, “Get away from here and turn eastward and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” So he went and did according to the word of the LORD, for he went and stayed by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook.”

1 Kings 17: 2-6 NKJV

It caught me by surprise to see that God was using these birds…that neither sow nor reap…the ones for whom He tends and feeds…to feed His servant Elijah. 

Now I am a picture person and the idea of a bunch of ravens swooping in and dropping off my meals from their yellow beaks is not evoking all kinds of tea party images, but think about it. 

Elijah was kept fed and watered in the most unusual of ways by the very creation that neither toils nor spins nor works nor worries. 

God used the most simple and helpless of means to provide for this man’s needs. 

A twist in the story that would not be expected. 

And humbling for the prophet to be provided for by a flock of birds and a stream kept filled in a drought by a God who was watching over him. 

I have been hearing of resources for hospitals being raised up from the most usual places. Donations of masks from the Morman church in one city. They had them stockpiled for some reason and decided to donate them to the local hospitals. 8,000 masks mind you, delivered to hospitals. 

 In another place, a private business in a small community donated masks to a hospital in a city far away that is in deep need. 

God raising up resources from unlikely places. 

As we are tempted to be worried, let’s look at the birds and follow their example.

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Perhaps if we do this, God will use us – through our prayers or through our activity – to care for and tend others who are in need at this time. Our prayers of faith avail much and move the hearts of leaders in industry, government and the Church to be open to the nudges of God. 

Let’s keep our ears tuned to hear how God is working behind the scenes in incredibly unusual ways and let’s share those stories to urge one another on in faith!

May God bless and watch over each of you during these times of great uncertainty.

May you be filled with the certain knowledge of His love and mercy, grace and salvation extended to all people. 

You are loved and prayed for and I hope you don’t have to wait for a raven to feed you, but if you do…wash your hands

Be blessed   <3

In honor of my mom <3

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one of my fav pics of my mom and dad <3

Today is the anniversary of my mom’s birth. She left us in December of 2008 and if you have or had a complicated relationship with your mom, let me tell you it is with great joy and deep gratitude to God’s healing and restoration of relationships that I can say, I miss her. 

I am so thankful for her and have grown to appreciate all of her as time has passed, and I know that throughout her whole life she loved and cared for my sister and me to the very best of her ability. 

We humans are fragile and we fight our demons and sometimes it interferes with relationships and I continue to grow in the understanding of this as the years pass. 

When we brought my parents to our area so we could help advocate the care of my father’s further descent into Alzheimers disease, my mom had to live on her own for the very first time in her entire life. 

In solitude she grew in her faith in incredible ways and she overcame some issues that had plagued her. She met Jesus in a personal and profound way and was in many ways transformed and yet in many ways remained her unique self. 

God gifted me and my family a relationship with her that we all treasure. Five years of return on the years the locusts had nibbled on and we are so grateful.

One of my most precious moments from this time with her was a day when I had been called to meet up with my aunt, her sister, who had severe dementia and had taken yet another spill in the nursing home. 

When the hospital called, I had asked if they would hold off on all tests until I could get there and help assess her mental state. She fell regularly and the care facility had to follow through with their end, but often there was a barrage of unnecessary scans and tests because she seemed “confused”. 

The tests and scans were invasive for her and as her advocate, I wanted to be able to speak up. Also if the tests were deemed necessary this time, she would need someone with her to help explain what was happening. Over and over and over… 

Well, the nurse I spoke with as I was scrambling to get out the door assumed I was Dr. Kevorkian’s friend because she lined me out on the phone like I was the cruelest person the planet. 

I called my mom to update and told her I was concerned about what would happen once I got there given the impression I had left with the staff and then I headed out to face the music. 

Of all our ER visit’s this one was the smoothest ever. 

The nurse greeted me warmly and said that after speaking with my aunt she certainly understood my call. They had checked her over and determined she just needed a little bandage. 

After a very short wait, she was attended to and dressed and carefully placed in my car to be returned to her facility. 

I considered having them check me out because I was entering into all the signs of shock. 

After I got her settled in her room, I called my mom. 

She was so relieved and shared that since she had hung up from me she had just sat in her chair holding her Bible in her lap and had prayed for me. The kicker is she didn’t even make her bed. 

This is important. 

I thank God for answering machines and house phones in that time because she had left a message reporting all of these details while I had been taking care of my aunt. Over the ensuing years, when I was tempted to forget how faithfully God works to transform us, I would replay that saved message. 

Because my mom could drive herself to medication with worry and anxiety. 

My mom never didn’t make her bed. 

My mom created worse case scenario’s that would make mine pale in comparison. 

But that day, she let that bed go unmade.

That day when her daughter needed someone to intercede for her, she took her bible and sat in her chair and read and prayed. 

That day she did not the only thing but the best thing she could do for me.

We have a world in great need of help right now and our words to each other about it and our worry over it and our keeping busy with our stuff won’t provide the help it needs. 

So people of faith, sons and daughters of the Most High God, open your Bible and pray.

Just some randoms for Wednesday from our shelter to yours <3

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This morning Russ asked me if it was hard to keep track of the days lately. 

I have to say to him a yes and a no.

My regular pre-Covid19 schedule was anything but static.

The three constants were to work at the shop Wednesdays and Fridays and go to church on Sunday. From there my hours were up for grabs as needed by family and home duties. 

I would lament many days that I didn’t have enough time at home. 

Be careful what you pray for, right? And no…not for one second do I believe God answered my prayer for a freer calendar by sending this to the world. 

PLEASE NOTE: I am assuming anyone reading this knows my heart better than that…but in case you don’t, I am aware of the heartache this is causing beyond just inconvenienced schedules of isolation.

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 I am using these lock-in days to get a lot of much needed home work done. The accountability of having my husband setting up his office at our kitchen table has truly helped keep this ADHD blonde brain on task and for that I am grateful…but I would never have dreamed the extent of devastation that would provide me with this time-standing-still break in our calendar. 

So since it’s Wednesday I figured it would be okay to just throw out some random observations from where I sit each day on this 25th day of March:

#1

Because telecommunication is happening from my normal command central of our kitchen, I have been working in other rooms of the house including this little space we call my desk. 

It actually has a surface that is not paper. 

I discovered this yesterday when I locked myself in here and began working through the piles of stuff that had accumulated. 

It has forced me to realize how I have viewed something God has laid on my heart to do through sharing encouragement via writing and socials media as a “hobby.” I see now I have despised, by belittling, the opportunity He has given me to use something I don’t understand or appreciate to exhort others in the faith.  

As I have been isolated from meeting face to face with real live people, I have begun to notice the way others are sharing their talents. 

Music, cooking, humor, fitness, art, words, teachings, encouragement, correction, wisdom, organization…all these things are being shared in abundance on social media and I am so thankful not one single person who has touched my life said, “Well, what I do isn’t very special. Nobody needs this today.” 

Whatever you are called to do – do it. 

Do it with your whole heart and do it as well as you can. 

Some of you are called to quiet ministries of prayer or one-on-one mentoring, care-giving or cheerleading. 

Do it as unto the LORD – now more than ever.

Don’t despise your calling because you are looking at it from your human perspective. 

Think about the one person that needed to hear or see or know what you have been given to share and do it for that one unknown face, with great joy and for the glory of God. 

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#2

It is still Lent. 

I am saying this as much for me as for anyone who needs reminding. 

While I have continued to do my devotions each morning and am keeping up with my Bible reading, I confess I have lost the thread of any kind of focus on the season of Lent. 

My main thoughts about the calendar leading up to Easter have been ….

  1. The growing realization that we may be sitting in front of our computer on Easter morning in our living room instead of being in our home church and trying to take that in.

 and

b.   There will come a day when we won’t celebrate Easter because there won’t be a reason to. The world as we know it will come to an end and our current setting is a vivid reminder of why we are supposed to, at all times, remember that this is not the final home for us and how this is not a doomsday or morbid thought for followers of Christ but a reason to celebrate and remember that we already died…and we live in Him now…and that we will stand perfected, finally, before the One who died for us and redeemed us. 

But I want to get re-focused on the season of Lent…so pray for me…because if I had a theme going it has vanished from my radar…sigh.

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#3

I believe because of something deep inside me that we will come out of this sooner than we feared. I believe with my whole heart that there will be positive, but sadly in some cases temporary, changes in the way things are done. I sense deep within my spirit that we are going to see God move in mighty ways. 

I believe some of us will be markedly different because of what we have been through. I believe as we recover as a nation and across the globe, there will be improvements from this time that benefit many. 

But I also believe others will return to old or worse ways based on the historical bent of human nature. I believe that there will be another event down the way that will shake us some more because this pattern marks the progression of the world wearing out…we have been given the warnings and signs in Scripture. 

<3 As timing would have it, and having extra time, I grabbed a book off the shelf designated for  “need to read these”.

It is about the Shemita and God’s command for rest. Sabbath rest…the rest for land every seven years…the canceling of debts…the whole thing. 

It is complicated and it was for Israel, but it makes me think of businesses I know that shut down on Sunday in the past and yet continued to do well. And how many of us have not rested who knew we should rest. 

I am not making judgments. I am not wise enough to do so. 

I am simply pondering how often I didn’t rest because there was too much to do…and now I find that we have all…the entire world…has come to a screeching halt in many ways.  

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#4

Even having said that, I know there are still others of us who are working tirelessly now more than ever. 

While I do sense a degree of political posturing regarding the health care crisis, I know for a fact from friends and family that there are medical servants who are being pushed to the limit who need our prayers right now. 

Given circumstances that are too complicated to share here on this little space: our physicians, nurses, hospitals, paramedics, first responders, CNA’s, hospice workers, social workers, pharmacists and techs…anyone who is used to providing well and acute care to our community are being affected with extreme challenges and exposure. 

As followers of Christ, we are called to be obedient to the mandates of our government and to faithfully pray and support those who are on the front lines. 

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I urge you to remain at home if at all possible to slow the advance of spreading the disease. 

I urge you to think carefully before you engage in inflammatory political arguments on social media. 

I urge you to extend grace to those who use humor to relieve stress and yet I caution you to be sensitive in the way you share your own humor at this time. We need to laugh and sharing laughter is good medicine, but also be people of sober judgment about what is above and what is below the line of decency. 

I urge you to apply the practices and disciplines of our faith in Christ by turning to Scripture and prayer in your closet. 

I urge you to respond to every nudge of the Spirit when He puts a friend or family member on your heart  – and then figure out a way to reach out to that one person…you can text, call, email, post…positive and life-giving words of hope and encouragement without breaking any of the shelter in place orders. You can provide a gift card to a local restaurant for a young family struggling with the new normal or drop a meal off on the porch of lonely single person who cannot get out. 

How blessed we are that in our afflictions, God gives us the comfort we need so we can comfort others. 2 Corinthians 1:4 

Be blessed today…and be a blessing as we journey onward.