Category Archives: Encouragement

If you struggle with analysis paralysis… <3

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I am in the holiday mood, how about you?

I love the Fourth of July for so many reasons and the fact that we had a son born on it may just be #1 on the list. 

We have big plans to paint our fence and then grill out because nothing says celebration quite like painting a fence, right?

So as long as I am asking questions this morning to an unknown group of people who will not even be answering me back…do you have trouble making decisions?

I do. 

My indecisiveness can be paralyzing. 

Choosing a restaurant, an entree, a paint color for the fence…these are not life and death decisions and yet I can stew over them for far longer than the results merit. 

Often I google a menu ahead so that I am prepared when we arrive at the table to just order the thing and be done with it. 

I defer to others when it is a group selection by saying I don’t care, because I really don’t.

Please remove the stress for me and just make the decision and let me know where and when. 

But some decisions in life are ones I must make for myself and they do change the trajectory I am on and have a ripple effect on the lives to those interconnected with me on the journey. 

Knowing which direction to go involves a process of prayer and pondering and more prayer and more pondering and in this I have found a little life hack, I guess you would call it, and so if you are like me…here is my helpful tip gleaned as I get a wee bit wiser in my latter years.

When I am trying to decide what to do in a situation that calls for action on my part…after I have overthought every possible aspect of every single option…I allow myself to pretend like I made a decision. 

I choose one option and then I let myself be in that choice for a bit…kind of like acting like I have made this be my choice for the situation.

If you are one who struggles with severe indecisiveness, this is something you will want to ease into the first few times.

But just for a little while, act like you are committing to one of the scenarios open to you. 

Try it on for size and see how it would feel if you made that choice. 

I am not speaking of moral things here…I am talking about things like taking or leaving a job or making a major purchase or renovation or expanding on something you are already doing…taking the next step in a ministry…that kind of decision.

I find that this exercise helps me move out of fear and into a place where I can more realistically view the consequences of a particular decision. As I try it on for size, I often find a hard no or a feeling of peace that this is the way to go even as the challenges are still clearly seen as possibilities.

For those of you who are shaking  your head wondering why I even need to practice this, thank the good Lord for wiring you to be a person who can make decisions quickly and efficiently. And please, for the love of all things good, use your talents and gifting in this area to make life better for people like me. 

If you are nodding your head in understanding, God bless you. 

I feel you.

Maybe we could meet for coffee sometime…but you would have to pick the location…and time…and maybe order for me…

Bless you! 

Have a great Fourth!!!! 

Of baby birds and empty nests and such <3

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We had a sweet weekend. Traveled to Des Moines for a wedding on Russ’s side. So fun to watch him reconnect with his cousins. 

In the midst of the reception, it was bittersweet as I realized we are the generation that is left standing. 

All of our parents are gone and it sure puts you in touch with how fragile life is when you realize you know how the game ends. 

This morning we got a picture on our family What’s App from John showing his ankle wrapped in a bandage. 

Turns out last night he had a spill on his bike and through texts conversations with his sister, who we all turn to for medical help, he ended up going to Urgent Care and got stitches. 

First I heard of it was the pic this morning. 

And it’s odd to know that all of this happened while I went about my business last night of pulling the house together to start a new week and brushing my teeth and doing my stretches, completely out of the loop. 

But isn’t that what we want as parents?

That our children can take care of themselves and that they have each other to reach out to when and if needed?

I don’t feel hurt or rejected or ignored. 

I feel grateful for how God gently pried my hands off of them over the years.

I feel thankful that He continues to teach me how be the parent of adults. 

I don’t always get it right. 

But neither do they. 

Nor does any of us. 

That’s what grace is for. 

Grace leaves plenty of room for us to err on the side of love and lots of space for growth. 

Happy Monday….what are you learning about grace this week?

Maybe if we would all just slow down….<3

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I know I am not alone in noticing something about our current culture because I have many conversations with people. People I know and total strangers because for some reason, I seem to be a magnet for people to tell me what is on their mind. 

There is a kind of accelerated pace in our world today and high levels of stress and frustration that are acted out in all manner of behaviors. 

And nowhere is this more evident than along the highways, interstates and even the streets we navigate to get across town. 

I spend a lot of time in the car, and more and more I am alarmed at the way cars, trucks, vans and motorcycles weave in and out of traffic and run red lights. 

It is nothing to see a light turn yellow a fair distance ahead and as cars slow to prepare to stop, another car coming from behind will gun it and pass under a fully red light. 

There are, I am sure, times in our lives that warrant speeding but I find it hard to believe so many people these days are experiencing increased urgency in situations to get to their destination.

On the interstate, cars appear out of nowhere and blow past us. God forbid we are only going the safe seven mph over the speed limit for they will ride our bumper in the passing lane until we can get around the car going fifteen under. 

So much anger and angst fueling vehicles that are propelling down roads at the endangerment of themselves and others. 

And it can make my blood pressure soar and my own heart constrict and yet, I know I appear the same to other more slow-moving vehicles at times. 

God calls us to be different and move through life in such a way that we stand out…not because we are faster and more powerful and wield the most intimidation. 

No. 

In the midst of all the forces that are exerting copious amounts of energy to be #1, we are to be quietly and purposefully exalting the Only One.

It is a temptation to try and beat, defeat, or at least compete with all those around us.

It is a grace gift to run the race at our own pace.

Take a deep breath. 

Live counterculture. 

Follow Christ with your whole heart <3

I have found the little g god and she looks familiar….

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Before we even start in today, as I sat down to an overflowing desk of neglected paperwork to open a computer where 742 UNREAD emails reside…to have my “quiet time”…I flipped the desk calendar over and find this…

“Ask where the good road is, the godly paths…Travel there, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Jeremiah 6:16 The Living Bible.

Thank you God.

Thank you whoever put this lovely little desk calendar in and prayerfully selected verses and quotes because so many times, it hits me right where I am. 

You are probably in a hurry today, just like me. 

But sit back, scroll back…take a deep breath and then a long drink of living water and read that passage again…

God is inviting us, you and me, to ask Him where the good road is…

inviting us to ask for directions that will take us on the godly paths…

inviting us to book our journey based on HIS divine road map and why?

Because it is there we will find rest for our souls. 

And that is why we want freedom from idols. 

Idols do not give us rest. 

Idols demand and oppress and crush our spirits and make us weary as we attempt to satisfy the capricious whims of something or someone who can never be what God desires to be for us. 

Yesterday we looked at some specific things from a quote by Richard Keyes that we can turn into idols:

a physical object

a property

a person

an activity

a role

an institution

a hope

an image

an idea

a pleasure

a hero

On page 25 of my study guide (remember I am using the original one!), there is a definition that enhances our understanding of how we can begin to identify what our idols might be:

“Most of us think of an idol as a statue of wood, stone or metal worshipped by pagan people..In biblical terms, it is SOMETHING OTHER THAN GOD THAT WE SET OUR HEARTS ON, THAT MOTIVATES US, THAT MASTERS AND RULES US, OR THAT WE TRUST, FEAR, OR SERVE…an idol can also be referred to as a ‘false god’ or a ‘functional god.’” Ken Sande

page 25, No Other Gods by Kelly Minter 2007 Lifeway Press

As I did yesterday, I will do again today because listing things is my jam…

An idol is something other than God that….

  • we set our heart on
  • motivates us
  • masters and rules us
  • we trust, fear or serve

I am an extremely private person about a lot of things and yet, God continues to pry my hands off of my “fear” of over-exposure and being judged and asks me be open and transparent about my own struggles so that perhaps someone else can learn and grow. 

I typed that more for me than for you because guess what one of my “idols” is.

I care very much about what others think of me. 

I care so much that I have imaginary conversations in my head in which others are vocally criticizing me, or correcting me, or comparing themselves to me and as I defend or justify or explain myself, I can get so beat down that I am ready to quit and the only real person who said all these negative things about me…was me. 

And culture might have me put up a meme that says some kind of cool, positive, empowering quote with a picture of a woman in her mid 30’s with long thick hair that I will never have and kind of a dewy background and some pretty flowers so that I can affirm myself of the value of being me…and you know what?

That’s not what I need. 

And God knows it.

What I need is to confront an idol I have handcrafted that is the image of me doing everything exceedingly well to the applause of many over my originality and creativity and I need to take a sledgehammer and knock that phony god down. 

Because one of my idols is the idea that I can do life well all by myself. It is an idol of an idea that somehow if I just do everything perfectly, I won’t have any struggles or trials or bad things happen.

The little god I have set up in my mind and heart is me not making mistakes and not having to back track to correct them. 

And the weight of catering to the whims of this idol can wear me out and keep me from living in the full freedom that says…

before I ever even thought to love God, He loved me. In spite of all that I am and all that I have done and every way I will mess up today and tomorrow and the next day until He comes and takes me home…He loves me. He doesn’t love me because I am perfect – He loves me because HE is perfect love.

Oh, I will be perfect one day, but it will be because of Jesus Christ, whose blood covers me now and it is by His perfection that I will one day be presented…faultless…before the Throne of God. 

So I can blame Satan or haters or whoever I want to for the angst I feel when I don’t measure up…but it’s my own little g, functional god of self that has displaced the Almighty God who made me, knows me, and is transforming me more and more into His image. 

It is for freedom that Christ has set me free…so anywhere I do not feel free…I have discovered the calling card of an idol. 

Oh Father, show these prone-to-wander feet the good road. Help this child of yours to journey onward along godly paths. 

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Weekend was so full…so fun…all the emojis <3

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#1

I didn’t write on Friday because I got to go to a Cub’s game.

My first one ever.

People ask me if I am a Cubs or Cards fan..well…we always gravitated to St Louis when the kids were little and then our daughter married a Cub fan and I grew up watching the Big Red Machine back in the days of Johnny Bench and Pete Rose so basically I am just a fan of baseball.

Mostly because it is a quiet game that moves at a pace and with a level of strategy that my mind can wrap around.

So whatever game I attend…the hometown of that team is my team for that day.

My motto is…buy the shirt…enjoy the people watching…eat some over-priced unhealthy food and embrace the moment.

And this beautiful stadium is incredible.

This one and Fenway have found a place in my heart <3

The Cubs lost, but we had a great time.

#2

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On Saturday we attended a birthday celebration for Caroline’s second…Graham’s eight…and Emmett’s sixth…

Since getting together has to be squeezed in between ball games, vacations and work they had a three-birds-with-one-stone party…no…that wasn’t the theme…

boys had dinosaurs and Caroline had her beloved Minnie Mouse <3

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and it was all hands on deck and still a few who couldn’t be there.

This little dude was a trooper and just celebrated everybody else with a smug smile knowing he shares his birthday with No. One.

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Tia made it so we got another pic of the ladies…

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and if you are curious if Caroline has managed to wrap her dad around her little finger…

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done and done…

#3

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This is genius.

#4

This is stuck on my desk next to my computer.

I have no idea why.

I have looked at all our calendars and nothing is written down on that day.

If I made an appointment with you, I have forgotten it.

I’m sorry.

#5

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Hebrews 3: 12&13

This is my “why” for getting on here as many of the five weekdays as I can.

It’s a way God has opened for me to make someone laugh or smile or think or feel like they are not alone.

It’s a way to remind us that life is hard, but God is always good…it is not a cliche or something to put on a bumper sticker or t-shirt and then forget.

Write it on your heart and engrave it in your mind … He is faithful.

We are flawed people and we live in a fallen world and in spite of it all, He loves us and provided a way for us to be in relationship with Him through His Son Jesus Christ.

Encourage someone … or at least yourself today…with the truth of that statement.

You are loved <3