Category Archives: Encouragement

Love is….day 1 <3

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Happy Valentine’s week!

Full confession, this and St. Patrick’s Day are so fun for me. 

Both are so low pressure and happy holidays to just help lift our spirits when Winter is starting to get just a tad long. 

This week I am dedicating the Journey to exploring an idea I read this morning. 

Yes… these posts really are often birthed around 6:30 AM over coffee and my pile of books. 

As I was praying from Stormie Omartian’s guide The Power of a Praying Grandparent (all details at end of post), I came across what she calls some “obvious signs of love” and I thought how perfect that would be for Valentine’s Day 2020 series. 

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Obviously, this will not be an in-depth study each day, so I am hoping you are piqued enough to explore a little more on your own <3

Feel free to use dictionaries, google, Bible apps, concordances, commentaries and/or the index for words in the back of a reference Bible.

Pray and see where God leads you to learn more about the word each day. 

I know He has something specifically for each of us as we delve into learning. 

Today’s sign of love in us is Mercy

I love how God weaves ideas together as I read and pray and sip coffee at our kitchen table each morning. 

I had jotted down this post idea as I worked through the morning prayer for our family and then I moved on to ponder my daily devotion and finished with my five pages of Bible reading for the year. 

And there, smack dab in the middle of the passages in Numbers, I read about Moses going in to inquire before the Lord in the Tent of Meeting and how their conference table was always the Mercy Seat

Sorry. 

I may be having a moment. 

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My hope and prayer as I got the idea for our Valentine week look at love was to focus on how we see that quality in God and then how we can strive to live as He would lead us to love well. 

Is there any more beautiful picture of God’s heart than the center of the Holy of Holies and seeing that it was the Mercy Seat?

Ok …. quick disclaimer because I just googled the Mercy Seat and the first thing that pops up is a 1988 song recorded by someone named Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. I cannot make this stuff up. I do not know that we want to go down that rabbit trail!!!!

This is the world we live in, people….so let’s strive to focus on the beauty of God’s MERCY SEAT being the center of the Tabernacle!

SO….going to a reliable resource called blueletterbible.org…

we find that the Mercy-Seat is kapporeth in Hebrew and hilasterion in Greek.

It is the name of the lid or covering of the ark of the covenant (the place of remembrance of God’s covenant made with Israel).

In the Old Testament it means “covering” and in the New Testament it means “propitiatory” and so the idea is to cover guilt or to make atonement. 

Think…two people exiting the Garden of Eden, now knowing fully what “shame” feels like and knowing that this was the “knowledge” they were rewarded by thinking God was holding out on them.

Think of their newly enlightened understanding of the shame that they should never have had to know had they obeyed, being fully covered in the skins of animals tailored by the God who created all of these and then killed to provide protection and dignity for His children.

In the ark were the two stone tablets with God’s laws on them which would be used to measure the obedience of God’s people. Laws are either kept or broken. When broken, we are “guilty” and since we are basically unable to “keep” 100% the laws…we are guilty. 

On the Day of Atonement each year, the blood of a sacrifice was sprinkled on the Mercy Seat to intercept for the guilty. An animal. Killed to cover the shame.

Sound familiar?

We who follow Christ are covered by His Blood as He intercedes for our guilt. 

Mercy. 

Undeserved. 

Unearned.

Because God so loved the world that He sent His only Son.

That whosoever would believe in Him…whoever would acknowledge his or her sin and inability to ever fully and perfectly live a good and holy life and would accept the sacrifice of the only One who could…would have eternal life…eternal MERCY. 

Covered.

Mercy is God’s perfect love poured out on us. 

He is just and He is righteous and He will not ignore sin, but praise Him….in our sin…He provides the way to Mercy. 

Perhaps the red hearts we see popping up this week will remind us in our moments of weakness and distress of the characteristic of His love expressed through the Mercy of His salvation <3 

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“Give them obvious signs of love — such as mercy, forgiveness, patience, generosity of heart, acceptance, and encouragement…” page 36; Stormie Omartian, Power of a Praying Grandparent. Harvest House Publishers, 2016. 

Did you select a word or phrase for focus this year?

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This week I came across a journal from 2018 and discovered that I had chosen a “word” for the year. 

I vaguely remember this. Just kidding. I remember it well. 

My word was “simplify” and as I read through the pages, I realized how I actually did become aware of my tendency to overcomplicate E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G.

While I can’t say I think about the whole process I worked through that year, I can see today where the effort to focus on the concept of what it means to simplify has impacted me with some changes that are positive. 

A couple of examples are:

 I know I have become far less annoying placing my order at a restaurant because I forced myself to simply read the choices and remind myself this is not my last meal on earth and even if it is, so what?

I find myself more frequently recognizing when I hit a stall in my daily tasks and I can self-talk to my inner child with a firm “Just do the thing that needs to be done and quit procrastinating.” I realize that as a result of my 2018 effort I have improved skills in parenting myself. 

I have become less attached to holding on to things just because we might need them some day…including thoughts and memories that are not helpful or productive. 

I wouldn’t have attributed growth in these areas to this one word focus experiment if I had not captured the process in a notebook. 

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In the same way, this morning I was reminded of another year when I decided to start every morning’s journal entry for my quiet time by writing these words right after recording the date. 

“The love of Christ compels me”

I realized this morning where I got the idea when I read Oswald Chambers’ writing in My Utmost for His Highest. 

He talks about this verse from 2 Corinthians 5:14 in his devotional writing for February 4.

Using the life and ministry of Paul, he points out that Paul cared not what others thought of his words and actions because his motivation was always from the perspective of God’s love for him. 

I remember how writing the verse every day helped me remember that my self-centered DNA can mix this up and cause me to derail in every attempt to serve well the God who saved me. 

Because my human nature wants to twist that and derive all motivation for honoring God by transposing the Scripture to read…

“My love of Christ compel’s me”

But the verse reads…“

The love of Christ ….Christ’s love… compels me

The pressing forward that drives me needs to be the knowledge of the love of Jesus Christ. 

HIS love.

His love for me.

His love for others. 

His love for God. 

The love that belongs to Him.

The love of Jesus Christ produces the drive and motivation in me that propels me forward throughout each and every day. 

That is what I desperately wanted to engrave on my mind and heart that year. 

And to do so means that I have to listen to one voice and one voice only. 

I am thankful God gives me the power of His Spirit in me to stay focused. 

Oh sure, I get distracted and I get off track. 

I make mistakes and blatantly rebel or childishly argue with the Spirit. 

But my heart is set on being compelled…forced to act…based on the love of Christ and so I thank Him for grace and mercy…for do-overs and repentance when I mess it up and get it backwards. 

My one desire is that the things I do are done in compulsion; as in “I can’t NOT do them”…because I am so aware of the love of Christ.

In this, I have to understand and accept that my actions will not always please others.

So I also have to pray that if I offend, it is only because the work of love on the Cross of Christ is so evidently displayed in me that the offense is His. 

And if I realize that my offense was because I got off track, then I need to apologize and seek forgiveness and work toward healing and restoring relationship with the offended party.

I am a sinner, saved by grace, compelled by the love of Christ and empowered by His Spirit to bring glory and honor to His Name wherever He places me today. I don’t know how to do that and so I ask for help and guidance; fully relying on the God who called me, to show me the way. 

I pray you are seeking Him each and every day and that you know deep in your soul how much He loves you <3

Wait a minute….did I read that right?

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Several of you have let me know that you are either reading through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation or using a reading plan. I am delighted to hear any and all reports! 

I am guessing whatever method you are using, it most likely did not begin in Leviticus; which is where I am right now and where many a goal to read through the Bible has probably died a slow, pathetic death for none too few of us. 

Today’s readings focused on the various laws concerning the diagnosis and cleansing of skin diseases and I am once again affirmed in my decision many moons ago to avoid any kind of work in the medical field. 

As I try not to gag (picture person here, so always trying to conjure a visual for what I am reading…yuk….) and process all the various possibilities of how a sore on the skin might progress for the Israelites, I finally moved on the the laws concerning mold and mildew in houses and on fabric and such. 

Which is moderately better, but tedious and this is where I encourage you to NOT skip reading passages or slip into autopilot because if I had done that I would have missed this intriguing  bit of information. 

In Leviticus 14: 33-34 Scripture records this:

The LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron: “When you enter the land of Canaan that I am giving you as a possession, and I place a mildew contamination in a house in the land you possess…”

CSB

Ok. You may have closed one eye to read that because you thought it would be gross so I am going to restate that and ask you to read it the way I re-read it and went to numerous translations to be sure this wasn’t a glitch in the one I use to read each morning….

The LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron:

WHEN you enter the land of Canaan that I am giving you as a possession (the Promised Land…the land flowing with milk and honey…the land where I will be blessing the socks off of you. The land where you will able to settle and build houses and prosper and be victorious and have all the stuff you are missing as you travel through this desert with a bunch of griping and ungrateful people) …

AND….

I (I, God Almighty, Yahweh… Jehovah…I AM who has been with you this whole time)…

PLACE (put, allow, strategically let happen)…

a mildew contamination in a house in the land you posess…

Can you let that sink in for a minute?

I have all kinds of thoughts and questions. 

Because I assume that when I finally get to whatever “place” I think is the end goal of what I thought God was doing, everything is going to be peachy-keen unless the devil throws a wrench into it or somebody messes up.

I can be completely guilty of forgetting to transfer a load of wash to the dryer, so I understand how I could be the cause of mildew in our home…

But evidently…God sometimes places mildew in the middle of my Promised Land. 

And I need to deal with it. 

I need to come to terms with His Sovereignty and my humanity and reconcile that while His ways are higher than mine, sometimes they look unkind and unfair. 

I am reminded of something Jesus said to His disciples when one of His teachings seemed gross and uncivilized and people began to say thanks, but no thanks.

The band of followers who had left everything swallowed hard and mentioned that even they were finding His words difficult to process in light of their hopes and dreams and understanding of Him to that point. 

He asked them if they would also like to turn back and their response is precious and has become something I have committed my own heart and mind and life to echo no matter what….

Therefore, when many of his disciples heard this, they said, “This teaching is hard. Who can accept it?” Jesus, knowing in Himself that His disciples were complaining about this, asked them, “Does this offend you?” …. From that moment, many of his disciples turned back and no longer accompanied Him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “You don’t want to go away too, do you?” Simon Peter answered, “Lord, to whom will we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that You are the Holy One of God.”

John 6: 61-69 CSB

We will come to passages that are difficult and we will be called to make some choices. 

To quit, to turn back, to look away, to pretend we didn’t see it, or hope that’s not what He said…or to face what we are reading and realize we lack understanding. Through prayer and listening and studying, only then will we be able to see what God is revealing about Himself and about us in His word. 

Bless you as you continue your journey in His word <3

Doing a new thing…monthly resolution report <3

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Here I sit…shaking my head and wondering where January went. Anybody else?

At the start of the new decade, year, month I was loving seeing all the posts on social media regarding resolutions and different ways people handle these.

I love to try new ways to set goals and motivate myself to be and do better. Hearing what others are doing to make positive changes in life is inspiring to me.

One that I liked in particular was posted by a friend who owns a counseling practice and her suggestion was doing one week resolutions. 

She posted a variety of ideas of challenging yourself to make a healthy change for one week at a time. 

Here is a screen shot to give you an idea:

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Kaloupek Counseling LLC

While I liked the concept, I decided to tweak it for myself and come up with something to try for a month. 

Because you know…

Go big or go home. 

I started brain storming new things I would be interested in trying that I am okay with just devoting a month to and see how it goes. So far I have ten written down so if you have an idea…send it my way <3

My first experiment was with the idea of using a “capsule wardrobe.” 

This concept both fascinates and produces extreme anxiety. 

If you are not familiar with it, google them on Pinterest. 

The photographs of 20-30 pieces of clothing and then the mix and match options are like a modern day Sears catalog for this child of the 60’s so if you didn’t love thumbing through the pages and picking out your favorite outfit you probably won’t get why I was intrigued by the challenge. 

The idea behind capsule wardrobes is to simplify the process of getting ready in the morning, and since I am less than punctual on just about every day of my life, I was hoping to instill better habits through the process.

The anxiety part came in because I am a mood dresser and also do not have 20-30 basic pieces of clothing like the examples shown, so I modified the whole thing to make it work for me without having to purge my closet and start over from scratch. 

I decided a workable concept was to make myself put together a week’s worth of outfits and hang them in a row in my closet. I checked forecasts and calendar commitments and refused to allow myself to overthink. 

In order to make sure I am actually WEARING the items that are crammed in my closet, I contracted with myself to only wear each item one time in that month and if I felt uncomfortable in anything at the end of the day I would put it in the give-away bag. (after washing of course!)

One last addendum to the experiment was to not be legalistic about it.

If I had to add a change to a day or didn’t get to it until Monday or Tuesday…there was grace. 

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Here is what I learned:

I found it incredibly freeing to not have to figure out what I was going to wear each morning. 

Since I forced myself to detach from over-thinking on Sunday, the process went quickly as I checked off each day’s needs and selected clothes that would work. 

I got rid of some things that I love but really don’t wear anymore. 

I felt more efficient with the rest of my day with one less decision already made at the start. 

I became aware of how much time I waste thinking about something that really isn’t that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things and for a procrastinator can be an excuse to waste time!

Will I continue this habit? 

I think I am going to attempt to make it a part of Sunday. It speaks to my inner need for organization and efficiency and helps me focus on more important things plus it DID help me get ready faster! 

So now I need to find my wish list for the year and figure out what my February discipline will be….and I am sure you will be on the edge of your seat waiting for the end of next month to hear what it was….

Ha! 

How are your “resolutions” going? 

Did you make them, keep them, come up with a new way to challenge yourself to grow?

Share it with someone …. it’s a fun conversation to have and you may inspire someone or learn something new <3

Exodus Part 2…Just like asking for a snack <3

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I am reading through Exodus this week and I mean deep in Exodus. The past few days have been the details of the sacrifices and the Ten Commandments and then the plans and directions and patterns for the Tabernacle. 

It is incredible to me to read the intricate instructions and to think about the craftsmanship required for the metal work, hardware, curtains, coverings and garments for the priests. There are recipes for incense and directions for embroidery along with specific gem stones to be cut, engraved and placed in filigree settings of gold. Quite honestly, it makes my head spin. 

I am such a blend of learning styles I want to grab a ruler and pencil and chart out the dimensions and I have googled the colors and various items that would make up the patterns in fabric and such. 

It is stretching me to visualize this nation of people, fresh from escaping slavery and in the middle of nowhere, making all of these items that would take one of us years and years to learn the art. 

How on earth? 

They made bricks and tended animals and were oppressed for a long time. And here they were weaving pomegranates and almond blossoms into curtains and hems. 

The secret of their ability is given in Exodus 28:3 and 31: 1-11. God filled certain people with the wisdom and skills to be able to do this magnificent and highly technical work. He filled them with His Spirit to do these things. 

It makes me think about how much we need God’s Spirit in us to fill us so we are equipped to do the things He has purposed us to do with excellence. 

In Matthew 7:9-12 God compares asking Him for His Spirit to fill us to a child asking for food. 

We know how this works. 

Around 3:00 on days I watch our four grandchildren, I can guarantee you all four of them are going to ask for a snack.

Their lunch was digested long ago and they are hungry. Dinner is a long way off in their minds and so they do what kids have done since there were kids under adults feet. They lobby for something to fill their tummies before they head off to play. 

When I am watching them I am careful to give them something with a little protein and not much carbs or sugar so they have energy to get them through til dinner without ruining their appetites. And I certainly wouldn’t give them something harmful. 

And that is how God tells us to ask for His Spirit. The kids ask for a snack because they have a need and they know I can fill it AND they know I won’t give them a rock or a snake…or something that is bad for them. 

In the same way, God hopes we realize our lack and emptiness and call out to Him for what we need. 

He instructs us to acknowledge our need and to recognize He is the only one who has the resources to meet and exceed our expectations. 

We are to simply ask God for His Spirit because we need it and want it…we are lacking something that is necessary for us to live and do what needs to be done…and we can trust He will give it to us and it will be good for us and will not harm us. 

Why do we overcomplicate it?

Imagine what we could be doing with excellence if we would just ask God to fill us with His Spirit and make us fit to do the things He has put on our hearts to do. 

Try it. 

Ask earnestly for the filling of His Spirit into you. 

I can’t wait to see what happens <3