Category Archives: Healing & Forgiveness

The real reason misery loves company <3

Well, we  had a wedding this weekend and also managed to cram in a whole bunch of life and love and family and such in around it.

It is way more than I could possibly put into words worth reading on this second “Monday” of the last week of May, so here is us, cleaned up and looking our bestest and then I am going to kick off this short week with a story of how last Thursday went down. 

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Because we had a rough start, to say the least. 

I was up north for the day and Joel seemed particularly sad that his mommy had headed off to work. 

He went and got a blanket and pillow and all the stuffed animals he could haul in one trip and set up camp on the family room floor. 

I just assumed he was tired and extra sad because his daddy was out of town and mom had worked a full day Tuesday as well, so I just gave him his space. 

A short time later, he produced evidence….literally…that he was not just missing his parents but was also harboring a virus. 

A virus that he released on the carpet just a few feet from the tile floor….so I cleaned up the first of several messes and set about tending our little guy whilst keeping his sister from bodily injury as she seems to climb on everything and is attracted to all things potentially dangerous. 

It was a long day, and the poor little guy was just miserable. 

After the boys got home from school, I sent them outside to play and hopefully avoid whatever Joel was sharing with Caroline who would.not.stay.out.of.his.face. 

I would run to the door to check on them between hugs for Joel, switching loads laundry and pulling Caroline off of tall furniture and away from her beloved JoJo. 

At one point, Graham called in from the garage to let me know a school friend had ridden his bike down to shoot baskets. 

I went out to confirm with his buddy that mom was aware of his visit, when Joel appeared at the door calling for us. 

I found him sitting on the step, asking if I could get Landon’s attention so he could tell him he was sick. 

Have I mentioned before that Joel is my Achilles’ Heel?

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I don’t know what it is about the combination of his face and personality, but the little guy melts me to putty. 

I was not sure how much sympathy this second grader was going to be able to muster, but I asked him if he could come see Joel and God bless him, he did. 

With raw tears forcing him to strain to get the words out, Joel spouted out in two short sentences the account of his battle with the flu that day. 

I held my breath to see what kind of response he would get, and thanked God with my whole heart when Graham’s friend listened sweetly, nodded his head and agreed that is not fun and hoped he felt better. 

The two older boys went off to play as I scooped our little wounded soldier back up and carried him to the couch for more cartoons. 

And I learned two things about us humans from that. 

There is a need in us to tell our painful stories to someone. 

And there is a grace gift when that someone just listens. 

Not trying to fix or analyze or compare their own woundings…just a quiet presence to stand willingly in the face of someone else’s misery and receive it with kindness. 

There is a whole lot of pain out there around us and a whole lot of pain inside us at times. 

Finding the right balance of sharing our woes and receiving that of others is an effort we might prayerfully seek to maintain in the midst of a loud and antagonistic world. 

Blessed, truly, are the peacemakers <3 

Easy come, easy go <3

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Friday has rolled around again and let me tell you the past seven days have hurtled past in a blur of activity and responsibilities. 

I knew my time at home would be shortened this week as I only had Monday to accomplish any necessary tasks and we are headed to our nephew’s wedding this weekend.

One of the things I wanted to get done was plant flowers outside. 

I made two trips to the garden center and stayed on task, completing my project as the sun began to set Monday night.

True to my nature, I moved planters around multiple times and debated on what to put in which one with an incredible amount of overthinking. I finally got them the way I thought they looked best and when I opened the back shades on Tuesday morning I almost wept at how beautiful they looked. 

After being gone to either work or helping with the Fab Four up north the next three days, imagine please the utter despair I felt last night when I returned home after being gone 24 hours and looked out at empty planters save a couple of sprigs of ivy and one lone begonia looking back at me forlornly from the corner of our patio.

It seems our little rabbit family had a smorgasbord while I was away. Thankfully the pots off to the sides had flowers that were unappealing to these fellows…but they certainly gorged themselves down to the roots on the petunias I had placed to be my view during morning quiet time.

If you know me at all, you know I love the animal kingdom in a very conditional way. 

As long as critters behave, keep to their boundaries and do not damage or infringe on my space…great. I am all for them.

But when they dig up things, leave their waste matter scattered hither and yon on our property, and act like…well…animals…I get a little annoyed. 

The bunnies have been an exception. 

There is something about their soft fur and sweet little ears and faces that has softened me. 

So I didn’t feel angry at them. 

I just felt incredibly sad and defeated because I had worked so hard and it was like a slap in the face that these fuzzy critters that I have grown quite fond of decided to feast on the fruits of my labor. 

My investment of time, creativity and money was devoured and I was deeply disheartened at the loss. 

Maybe someone or something you love and care for has suddenly munched your petunias down to the roots recently. 

Maybe like me, you feel a sadness that does nothing to diminish your love. 

You aren’t angry. You aren’t feeling betrayed really. 

It’s just the nature of life and the course it has taken today leaves you feeling like the thing you thought you had accomplished just vanished into thin air. 

Your labor appears to have been in vain. 

I hope you know you are not alone. 

I hope you know that the God who made the petunias and the rabbits that love them and made them fluffy with  brown fur and big eyes that make me smile every morning as I watch them scamper around our yard is the same God who made me and knows the odd sadness I feel looking out at what is no more. 

I hope you know He will give us strength to go find some new plants, so to speak…geraniums I hear are not appealing to rabbits…He will give us wisdom to fill the empty places with something new that is good for us without harming the ones who, just because that’s what they are…petunia eating critters…did what they do. 

I hope you know that your efforts are not wasted and I hope you receive back more than you gave away. 

God bless you today. 

You are loved greatly <3

Reflections from Ash Wednesday <3

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I am writing this at the end of the day … unusual for me but will be out the door early tomorrow morning and my heart is full. 

We found an Ash Wednesday service being held at a Lutheran Church not far from our home so we headed over after dinner. 

It was somber and reflective and it focused around an old forgotten hymn of their church. 

Stricken, Smitten and Afflicted

Yeah.

Not exactly what the praise team usually starts out with on a Sunday morning. 

The lyrics are heavy. 

But that is what Lent calls us to. 

It calls it to put a pause on the spinning days of our lives and it reminds us that one day it will all end.

It will end for us individually and there will be a final end of all things. 

All the seasons and lives and culture shifts and governments that were destined to be will be finished and we will stand in judgment. 

Everything and everyone who seemed to important won’t really matter so much after all.

We went down for communion and before we ate the bread and drank and cup and remembered what has been done for us, we were looked in the eye as ashes were brushed on our foreheads. 

From dust you came. To dust you will return.

It’s not the message I get on my social media feeds and from magazine covers. 

It’s not what people tell me when I tell them I’m 60 and they exclaim that I sure don’t look it. (Hopefully)

It’s not what I tell myself when I make plans for tomorrow and next week and ten years from now and try to do all the right things to slow the aging that is inevitably progressing despite my best efforts. 

But I know it. 

I’ve stood by enough graves now to know. 

Young, old…ready or not…to dust we will return. 

I will return to dust…

I will go the way of all men and women born on planet earth…

and I will stand in judgement for every thing…

good, bad…intentional, accidental…

thought and word and deed…

the bad I did, the good I failed to do…

the wasted time and errant wanderings…

all of it…

along with the good I managed to do and the evil I avoided…

and the heart that motivated every single moment. 

The ashes on my forehead, like the ashes of all those around me mark me for what I am.

But Christ. 

He finishes my story as only He can.

Because I am also marked as His. 

I bear His grace and He bears my scars.

His blood bought my forgiveness. 

His death bought my life. 

That is how we do Lent, my friends.

We remember <3


Happy Valentine’s Day <3

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Busy day here as I am spending the morning with two little sweethearts. 

The two brothers tumbled out the door with bags of Valentines to deliver and party treats and it is a grand day for sure. 

And in a perfect world, I would have gotten this typed yesterday…but as we know…far from perfect is where we live.

So we are going candid and I am sharing another thing about love.

Love covers.

In Genesis 3 Love covered sin and shame and a couple who were deeply regretting playing at being God.

It clothed them and set up boundaries that would give them the ten billionth and then some chances we have all partaken in. 

On Calvary God covered Himself in all our sin and all sin and then He covered us. 

Forever.

Happy Valentine, beloved <3

The weighty things <3

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It is my experience in my journey of faith that God always gives back way more than I think I am giving Him.

Sign up to go help people halfway around the world who have so little and find out how poor your land of plenty really is…and how much you can learn from people who have nothing and give everything.

Volunteer and give up a week of your summer to serve in Vacation Bible School so the neighborhood kids can learn about Jesus and as you sit and listen to the teachings, you find truth nuggets for your child-size brain.

Load up your car with stuff you had trouble parting with and find  yourself knocked to your knees by the sweet lady with scars on her face who helps you unload it all and thanks you so much and do you want a receipt for taxes…no thank you…this one is going unrecorded.

So last night we drug ourselves off the couch and out from under blankets to answer the call for prayer from our pastors and leaders. 

We drove on slick roads and navigated the parking lot, cautioning each other to be careful because we have heard the horror stories of people who weren’t and we don’t want to add that to our deductible this winter.

And as we approached the doors of the prayer meeting, we were told to select a rock from a basket.

I did what I always cringe doing…I made a quip about it…perhaps involving a reference to stoning people…and found out that I was one of many who had said the same thing. 

Dang I hate being a cliche sometimes.

Anywho…back to the prayer meeting…

We found some seats and gathered with others who just can’t resist when they open the doors of our church for any kind of service…and the prayers and praise commenced.

And God showed up.

Just like He always does when two or more gather.

It was old school church with a guitar and one person leading songs and I kind of loved it. 

We were led through various prayers, and for whatever reason I never put my rock down. 

I held it all the way through the whole event. 

To be honest, it felt comfortable in my hand and I often found myself just holding it to my heart. 

I guess since our sermon that morning had referenced 1 Samuel 7: 10-12, I was still associating the “Ebenezer…thus far” reference. 

But then one of our leaders took her turn in the service. Turns out the rocks were meant to remind us not of how far God has brought us, but how much we weigh our own selves down at times.

She talked about sin. 

Our sin and the sins of others against us. 

The weight of them.

Oh, I get it about my sin.

I carry it like a chain at times. 

And not like a martyr.

 No.

Like a woman who has underestimated the power of her God and overestimated the stain of her sin.

But as she led us through the prayer exercise, and she talked about the weight of the sins we have had against us…the hurt and the pain…and the way it has distorted us…hardened us…wounded us…that rock in my hand started getting pretty heavy. 

I thought back over the previous portions of the service and how at times I had held it to my heart as I participated in worship.

I remembered how I had to hold on to it with one hand which only allowed me the freedom to raise the empty one in a kind of affirmation. It had limited me from full on, both hands and arms raised in surrender praise. 

As she reminded us to forgive as Christ has forgiven us, I had to recognize that while I have forgiven the ones who this tangible weight in my hand represented…I still carry the pain of it because, in truth, I don’t know what to do with it. 

It has changed and colored both our past, our present and our future. 

I don’t know what to do with the memories that now look different because of other’s choices. 

It has stolen my joy many times and it has clouded and crowded out my joy for others who are experiencing what I would love to have.

It permeates so much more than I could have imagined and even as life goes on, I am left at times grappling to just stay afloat amidst the changes brought on by a fallen world and my own fallen nature that continues to rise up unbidden, even as I know and believe and declare that in Christ I am a new creation.

As we finished the exercise, we were given instruction to ask God to forgive us the weight of our sin and to ask Him for His help and assistance to forgive…let go…release…the pain and hurt of the sins against us. 

The service had come to an end and we were invited to share in one more song of worship and praise. 

We were invited to sit or stand.

Whatever posture seemed to express our heart to God for what He had done and our hope for what He will yet do.

In the fellowship of believers, sitting there with people I have known and shared so much of this faith journey with for so many years, I stood…still hanging on to that rock that fit so comfortably in my fist. 

And as we sang, I realized that somewhere along the way the pain has become such a part of me that I just assumed I had to hold on to it. 

I set the rock down on the pew and raised both my arms. 

I will have a choice to make in the days ahead when a photograph or a comment from someone triggers the feel of the weight of it once again, for most assuredly that temptation will always be there. 

I will have to choose if I will draw it close to my chest and hold on to it or lay it down. 

I pray I will remember His faithfulness.

The stone I laid down will be a reminder of the Rock I lean on. 

That all stones…all sins…those against me and those I have made against others… are laid down at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ…

Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shem, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.”   1 Samuel 7:12  <3