Category Archives: Healing & Forgiveness

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

Friday thoughts <3

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Time seems to be accelerating and I am feeling it was only moments ago we were looking at 2018 and wondering what it held in store. Now we are days away from ringing in 2019 and I am full of all the emotions as we wind down our holiday events, reminisce about what the past year taught and look forward to getting some goals in place for the coming year.

A day before the first wave of our family was to arrive, I began to experience a tenderness in the thumb on my right hand.

By the end of Sunday evening, it was definitely swollen around the tip of the fingernail and the upper region of my thumb.

We were meeting up with Zach and Rachel for an escape room so I took full advantage of her medical degree and had her do a quick diagnosis in the the waiting area before we began the adventure.

She said it was definitely inflamed and possibly infected and recommended some treatments and things to watch for. 

I couldn’t think what I did to cause it to be so sore, but eventually as a deep bruise developed under the tip of the nail bed I vaguely remembered earlier in the week I had poked something into the tip of my thumb although for the life of me I can’t recall the exact circumstances or what the object was. I just remembered hoping I had not split my fragile nail yet again..but it seemed to remain in tact so I had gone on. Because I wear polish on a regular basis, it had gone undetected until the pain manifested the problem. 

Even now it remains swollen and at times the throbbing renders me unable to focus on anything except how much I wish it would heal soon. I don’t think I realized how much I use my thumb until every movement causes me discomfort at best, and deep aching at its worst. 

And I actually found myself thanking God for it.

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Because it was a constant reminder to me of some dear friends who limped through the past month of Christmas festivities with gaping wounds of loss.

Every twinkling light and every card that arrived or post of an intact family was a sharp reminder of the changes this year brought. 

Unwelcome and unwanted changes that mean things will never completely heal or return to normal.

Because what was normal has been forever erased. 

So we pray for a gentle transition to a new kind of normal and we trust and believe always in the promise that there is a peace that transcends our earthly pain. 

There is a mercy gift to us when we are deep in the heaviness of loss.

Because grief comes like waves at unexpected times and each one of us processes it differently…so even as we mourn the one who is no longer with us…we must learn to make room for our own broken hearts and the hearts of those we love who grieve differently. 

And we know the One who calms waves with His voice.

He commands all kinds of waves to be still. 

Our God is a God of comfort and love, mercy and grace.

He knows what we are made of…flesh and blood that easily bruises and ages and gets tired.

Flesh and blood that is temporal and hardwired to rebel…and yet…He so loved us that He sent His only Son…to be one of us…so that whosoever would believe in Him will never die…but will have eternal life. 

Hold fast to that promise today and every day. 

May God bless and comfort those who are mourning and who are in pain.

May you know HIs Presence in real and powerful ways even as He holds you tight <3

Making a list and checking it twice…

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I don’t know about you, but I love lists.

I make them all the time and sometimes I have spin-off lists of my main lists. 

It’s like my lists have offspring and we are truly multiplying and filling the whole earth.

I am one of those who will write down something I did that wasn’t on the list, just so I can check it off. 

This year I found a notepad that makes me laugh the way it is set up.

It has the words Reality Checklist in bold across the top and then at the bottom it says…

 “My reality check has bounced”.

There are blocks set up with titles and these increase in space as you go down the page:

Tasks I Will Accomplish

Things I Hope I can Finish

Items I May as Well Write off as Never

Snowball’s Chance in…you know…

These categories give me a new way to prioritize and I have been using them this week to motivate me to get our trim up, the fall decor put away and the house cleaned. 

Each page has a square on every line so I can make a check mark upon completion of an item. 

But you know what…that is not enough for me. 

I find the need to mark completely through the details of each job. 

I realized just making a check wasn’t enough to make me feel I had really completed something that needed to be done. 

As I was praying last night about what I could send you as encouragement today, it occurred to me why words like these are so reassuring to one like me….

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave all your sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; He took it away, nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2: 13-14

I love that.

He didn’t just check off a task…He canceled out a debt. 

The Law is good but it cannot save us. 

We have a snowball’s chance in Hades (as my mom would have worded it) of meeting the requirements of God’s perfect Law.

But in Christ, our sins and shortcomings and old nature are CANCELED OUT…not checked off…

but erased…obliterated…eternally nailed to the cross of Jesus Christ.

That is good news, isn’t it? 

We can live now in the joy of obedience because we are truly living free…

not so we can check things off but because it was written off forever <3

Alzheimer Awareness – Forgiveness

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Thank you for sharing some memories this week.

I hope if you are or have been a care giver for someone with Alzheimer, you have found some comfort and hope and a safe place to process some of your own moments here on the Journey. 

While our family  didn’t do it perfectly, we did the best we could at the time and the years we spent being the caregivers to my parents and aunt are a blessing and a gift from God. 

One of the greatest treasures from those years happened fairly early on and sustained me.

It also taught me the power of forgiveness. 

After an eight week roller coaster of bringing them here, seeking the right facilities and medications that included having to visit my father in the Psychiatric unit of our local hospital in what was the absolute lowest point of the entire seven years; I finally got my dad settled into a nursing care facility under a director who loved him and advocated for him. 

My mother was still recuperating, so I visited alone at the start of his stay there. 

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The weather was warm and we would go sit out in the courtyard. I always let him lead the conversation. And I was comfortable when we just sat in silence.

One day, as we sat together,  he told me he remembered things in spots. I asked him what he meant and he pointed at me and said he remembered me and he pointed to a statue and a bench and said he remembered those.

Then he waved his hand vaguely around to some other parts of the enclosed area and said how he didn’t remember there…or there….or over there. 

I said that must be frustrating and confusing and he agreed and then he said he also felt like he may have said something to hurt me but he couldn’t remember what it was. 

My dad had what we call a “German temper” my whole life and when he got mad, he said a lot of things. But he never said he was sorry. 

He showed me he was sorry with his life. 

But he never said the words.

Until that day. 

That day when Alzheimer appeared to have stolen all that was good in him, my dad looked at me and told me he just knew he had said something to hurt me and he didn’t know what it was but he sure was sorry because he would never do anything that would harm me. 

When I say we took care of my father for seven years, I can tell you that the one moment on a bench in a sun drenched courtyard was worth every second. 

Years of hurt washed away that day. 

I learned the power of asking and receiving forgiveness. 

I learned that even when a disease as ugly as Alzheimer steals, we have a God who gives back more than we could ask or imagine. 

My prayer for you today…

whoever you are…

whatever pain you have endured at the hands of a person or because of a situation or circumstance…

whether it be Alzheimer or cancer or abuse or desertion or betrayal or anything that was meant to tear you away from God…is that you know the love of God, who redeems and restores and rescues and renews. 

The thief comes only to kill, to steal and to destroy….but Christ has come to give life, to restore, to build up. 

He is faithful <3

Only God!!! At this conference and I always pray where to sit. Today I sat by a young woman who writes a blog for guess what?????? Caregivers!!! Here is her site:

http://lifesferriswheel.com

You are very welcome!

Alzheimer Awareness – Humor

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We have covered a couple of rough days this week as I have shared some of my experiences with Alzheimer care.

We looked at fear and guilt, so today I want to lighten it a little and share another aspect of our journey that I believe is essential to your survival. 

Humor

My father’s father most likely had Alzheimer, but it wasn’t identified back then. 

I remember my aunt sharing stories about how, even though she lived next door and had been in their house a zillion times over the years, her dad would refer to her as “that lady you had over.”

My aunt had dancing eyes and a laugh that I would give a small fortune just to hear again…she had a rich voice like our Sarah girl and she would tell those stories and chuckle deep…she said you have to laugh or you will cry. 

Oh you will still cry…but you have to laugh.

You have to laugh til you cry and cry til you laugh and you have to do it with people you love. 

And we did laugh. 

There was the time we were standing in the lobby of the nursing home and Rachel said, as only she can…Uh…mom….look at that….

There was a list of phone numbers posted in big marker on a huge white piece of paper with numbers of calls made. 

Ours was up there in bold black at the top of the list with a ridiculous amount of calls. 

Apparently the nursing home had to pay for outside calls and some people were abusing the system. 

Yep. 

My dad, who couldn’t remember my name … who called our children his “nieces” (yes, even John was included in that) and had to be introduced to my husband on occasion…had managed to figure out the access code to the nurses station phone and made several hundred calls to our house that month. 

Which explained all the hangups on our answering machine. 

There was the time I tried to get him new shoes and after bringing three possibles in and struggling to get them on his feet and zero worked…I put his old pair back on him in exasperation, knowing I now had to return all three to different stores and start over. 

As I crammed them in their boxes, he held up his feet and wiggled them around in those filthy, worn out, old shoes.

He smiled at me with great joy and said…

“Well, these fit perfectly! Thank you!”

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So today my prayer is for laughter…for joy…for a lighter spirit and a garment of praise.

Heavenly Father, in our weariness we can lose our ability to laugh.

I think of Jesus and I think he must have had a wonderful sense of humor for a flock of fisherman to tag along with Him and enjoy His company on the daily. 

I picture how He is not worried about things and how His humor is good-natured because He is good.

And so I pray today for light moments each day for care givers. 

I pray they will give themselves permission to laugh and smile and find humor in some of the moments. 

I pray for those times when tears are so heavy that You would lead them to those who can cry with them but can also then help them laugh again…smile again…find joy in living again. 

Father, I know you have a sense of humor…You made me.

In laughter I find I can take myself less seriously and I can sense Your love and healing in those moments. 

As surely as You sing over us, You must also laugh and cry with us, and in this Holy Communion may we grow closer to Your heart. 

I ask in Jesus’ Name <3