Category Archives: Encouragement

Monday reflections <3

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This weekend our women’s ministry team hosted the first ever retreat in a local setting. 

We kept it in house, with speakers from our own church and the whole theme was about pausing from our busy-ness to connect and refresh and get closer to God and each other. 

It was lovely. 

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Let’s just say when you bring 80 plus females together on a beautiful outdoor campus in perfect fall weather…there will be a lot of personalities, sharing, talking, eating, laughing, crying and all the feels.

Our three teachings centered on removing distractions so we can fully worship God, coming to terms with repentance from ways we have walked away or refused to obey and then just being still and knowing His voice. 

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I was made aware of some heavy needs and longings that have been added to my prayer list and I feel like I know some of the women who attend our church in a deeper and better way. 

Yesterday as we sat in service and I saw several new friends and old friends and pondered what it means to be in community with the Body of Christ, there was a point where the children were brought from their classrooms and led up on the platforms of both meeting places so that our pastor could pray a blessing over them. 

We watched them in all their wiggly cuteness as they climbed up on the stage and as always, I loved watching them as their eyes scanned the many faces out in front of them.

As one by one they recognized a parent or grandparent, a huge smile and wave would indicate they had found them. 

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I was reminded of a time when Sarah was in high school and I attended a huge concert at one of the local school auditoriums. I had gotten there early and found a seat near the front. 

The rows filled up quickly all the way to the back and there was a large number of students who had attended as well as families. 

As the orchestra eventually came in, Sarah was seated in the front row and I watched her as her eyes scanned the rows above me. She was looking for someone and I wondered if she had some special friends who were attending or perhaps a fellow who had caught her eye at school and she was interested in seeing if he came. 

I could tell she was searching and then lo and behold her eyes rested in front of her own chair and she saw me and her smile brightened and chased away the furtive searching look. To this day I am humbled to tears that it was me she had been looking for. 

Notoriously late, she would have assumed I had to sit way up at the back…so she had been looking to see if I was there. 

I have always been reminded of the joy that swelled in my heart when she found who she was looking for and it was me. 

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I think how God, our Father, must sit at times waiting for our eyes to finally search Him out of the crowd of options and faces and what sweet communion it is for Him and for us when finally we focus solely on Him and we cease all striving and just take Him in. 

Be blessed today on your journey. 

You will find what you seek. 

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Seek Him with all your heart. 

He is right in front of you <3

Good morning campers <3

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Well, we handed out candy to a bazillion little kids who braved the cold and yes, snow, to trick or treat last night. 

This morning I am trying to get ready for work whilst packing my bag and loading the car with things for the women’s retreat and I am reminded of the one and only time my parents sent me to camp as a child. 

I tell often of how my summers were spent in the back seat of their car as they pulled an Airstream trailer all over the country. But when I was in Junior High I begged them to go to Girl Scout Camp and they made it happen. 

The camp was located on the “Kentucky Wilderness Trails” in the Daniel Boone National Forest. 

Have mercy…just typing that brings back memories. 

In the 14 days I was there I learned to swim the right way, hiked trails that made me wonder if I would ever see civilization again. I was bit up by mosquitos, sunburned, homesick, up late…up early…showered in my swim suit even though we were told not to, swam in mountain streams with rocks and snakes and a rope that you swung from and then jumped in. I made the best friends ever who I promptly lost contact with by October and had the time of my life. 

I am not what you would call out-doorsy, but being immersed in that environment forced me to adapt to it and as I make my stack of “camp gear” for this weekend, I can’t help but smile deep and be grateful for the way my parents let me do that. It was so far out of my comfort zone and theirs as well, but it is a treasured experience for me. 

It is amazing what humans can learn to adapt to. That camp became my home as day after day my tent mates and I navigated meals and free time in between all the scheduled and optional activities. Camp life became our normal and it was like that was all we knew anymore. Until our parents came and gathered our tired, stinky twelve-year old bodies into their cars and took us home. 

It’s good that we can fit in at times. We need to do this in order to not only survive, but also to be salt and light in this world.

But God urges us always throughout Scripture to remember…this is not our home. This is not our final place of rest and eternity. We get reminded of this when someone leaves us before what we consider to be a right amount of time. All of a sudden someone our age or younger is gone and the reality of this temporal life strikes us hard. 

We get comfortable with the way things are and the people we have around us and we can begin to conform to this world as the ultimate goal. 

But it is not. 

We are only here for a short time. 

So let’s enjoy and learn and love and live like we are only passing through. 

Let’s ask God to help us live well in this temporary tent as we look forward to going home <3

After I wrote this post this morning and wondered why I was led to this topic, I flipped the desk calendar over and found these words…

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I think God has a word for us this weekend…dwell but don’t conform, my friends.

Journey Onward <3

Just a quick hello…because you matter to me <3

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I am rushing around and hoping I can get the hair and face pulled together and out the door in record time so that I don’t spend the entire drive up north fussing at myself for being late again…

but we shall see.

It was not on my radar to drop a post here today, but lately I have been letting it slide a little more and to be honest…it’s because I am in a season of several transitions and readjustments.

And we all know who well I handle change.

But there have been a series of changes that have happened in rapid succession.

And I just want to remind you and me both that God is Sovereign and God’s plan is not interrupted by our interruptions.

I also want to say that it has been a fabulous opportunity to do a heart check and find that I have, indeed, been slowly but surely growing and maturing in my faith, so there is that, too.

How about you?

I hope you are holding steady in whatever is coming your way.

I am lifting a prayer for anyone who might happen along and read this today and I am rooting for you to soldier on and know that you are loved and held <3

Peace out, and I will chat with you tomorrow <3

Saturday night live <3

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It’s a foggy and overcast Monday here in the Midwest. Yesterday was an absolutely perfect fall day and Saturday was a super-soaker. 

It was raining when we woke up and I don’t think it stopped the entire day. 

I worked downtown and listened to it hitting the back door and watched it splatter on the sidewalk out front and conversed with customers about how miserably wet and cold it was from 10-4. 

Russ was up north since Zach was working as well on Saturday.

I knew I wouldn’t be able to attend services Sunday morning due to travel so the plan was that I would go the 5:00 on my way home and we would meet up after that to eat leftovers together.

Thankfully the typical gale force winds did not accompany this day of showers and so I was able to use my umbrella to get safely to the truck two blocks away. 

But as I unloaded my bag in the back and climbed up in the front seat, I felt the chill of dampness down in my bones. I turned on the wipers and engine and turned the heat up high as I navigated away from downtown. 

Every ounce of me wanted to just head right on past the puddled parking lot as people were making their way into our church. 

I was alone…it was dark and soggy…and I had worked all day.

Besides, we have a live feed of the service now and I could just sit in the comfort and warmth of our home and watch that while I waited for Russ. 

But I felt drawn to go to real live church and so I told my flesh to hush and I pulled into a space. Before I could change my mind, I grabbed my dripping umbrella and headed in. 

Not seeing anyone I knew, I took a seat by myself down front but then I saw someone across the way I have been trying to track down.

I went over and chatted with him. One of the couples I know well were sitting in a pew right in front of that conversation. They spoke and the husband greeted me and as he shook my hand, he slipped me two little Hershey’s Pot-of-Gold bars. 

They laughed at my surprise. 

I went back over to my lone seat just as another friend and her husband came down the aisle. I asked if they had room and moved my stuff to sit by her.

I don’t get to see this friend as much these days and my heart filled to the brim to be able to just stand shoulder to shoulder with her and sing words of praise to our God. 

We know quite a bit of each other’s stories. We know the deep cries of each other’s hearts and we also know some of the incredibly amazing ways God has done the impossible. 

Behind me was another family of friends. They were celebrating their son’s birthday, just as we were celebrating Joely’s fourth on the same day. 

Again, my heart was filled with gratitude for the lives and ways God has worked in that friendship. The way He weaves our stories together.

And I would have missed it if I had just driven on and tuned in on my computer while I sipped a hot tea. 

I am thankful for the technology our church has been able to acquire so that when we are sick or traveling we can “attend” church. 

Last Sunday Russ and I listened to the service as we got ready in a hotel in Austin. 

But an online church will never take the place of the living Church – the Body of Christ. 

Flawed, yes.

Made up an odd mix of people? 

You betcha. 

Imperfect men and women and children, seeking to know and serve our Perfect God. 

Being perfected and transformed more and more into the image of His Son. 

This is the Body of Christ.

And it is too beautiful to miss for any reason <3

So much in my heart but only one thing matters <3

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Thank you Auntie Lisa for telling us about this find at TJ Maxx…huge hit!

I am writing to you this morning raw from the start of my day because I pray and ask God what to say, and this morning I am led to just share straight from the reality of what living in 2019 can look like for one like me. 

As I was measuring beans into the coffee grinder, Russ and I listened in horror as the news told of the tragic death of a 19 month old, apparently at the hands of his mother. I can’t imagine what desperate state of mind she was in and how little we regard the sanctity of life in increasing measures. 

On the counter is a stack of pictures of our little bundle of energy and love and enthusiasm rolled into a three year old who I knew was waking up extra early. Today is his preschool birthday celebration. He will get to bring a special snack and be the line leader and his “Show and Share bag” has been packed since Tuesday. He has carried it with him everywhere and I know the contents represent the love of his Tia and his Uncle John. And even though you are only allowed one item, his mommy has figured out a way to attach the Longhorn hat to the stuffed monster and make it work.

Two ends of the spectrum of emotion filled me as I stood in our kitchen and poured my coffee while Russ did what he has done every work day morning for 38 plus years and the tears came with no hope of holding them back. 

My heart is full. 

Full of grief for this little life that has ended so abruptly and in such a cruel way. 

Full of love for our family. 

Full of gratitude to God that He would allow me live the life I live. 

Full of sorrow for mothers and fathers and siblings who are without one or more of their precious ones. 

Full of joy at the thought of that one-tooth-missing boy who gives hugs away as freely as he takes in and breathes out oxygen. 

Full of disbelief that we can see how wrong killing a child is but have no problem killing an embryo. 

Full of compassion for children and adults who do not know how much they are valued by God. 

Full of wonder at the patience of God with the likes of us all. 

I don’t know where you are on the fullness scale. 

We can become overwhelmed at times by too much grief, but we can also become overwhelmed by too much happiness. Both extremes can harden us to the full range of what life is like on planet earth for our fellow humans.

Our cups can be so full of the earthly rewards that we forget to empathize with others or so drained that we are unable to lift our heads from the pit…and that is why it is so important to stay in God’s Word. 

It is in the Scriptures that we encounter who God is and He is the only one who can help us balance the joys and sorrows of experiences. 

I am sharing a passage I found strength in this morning to raise my perspective to His thinking and ways:

Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have also obtained access through him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us because God’s LOVE HAS BEEN POURED OUT IN OUR HEARTS through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.  Romans 5:1-5 CSB

Whatever state your heart is in today – too empty…too full….too worried…too preoccupied….let His love be poured into your heart. It is the only filling that matters <3