Category Archives: Healing & Forgiveness

The most beautiful thing…<3

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We are experiencing one of those rare summer mornings in the Midwest where there is no humidity, a light breeze, a clear sky and just the slightest chill in the air. 

For us it is like a day in February when the sun shines brightly and it warms enough that we can actually take a walk without danger of frostbite to the face and we are reminded that spring will come again. 

If your heart is oriented to this part of the country, these few days are hard-earned and pure delight and more than make up for the more brutal ends of the spectrum.

And I am one of those crazy people who say this is why I would never move to a more year- round temperate climate. I wouldn’t miss the Midwest for all the other choices in the world. 

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Sitting on our patio this morning, I had to slip my running jacket on… (and by running jacket I mean an athletic jacket that I wear to sit and sip coffee whilst I read on the patio or stand at a ball game in the spring and fall and watch younger people run)… as I worked my way through some of the most powerful and exciting pages of the book of Isaiah. 

As I read 53 through 58, I about ran out of ink with all my underlining, heart drawing and note making in this new Bible I have never used for a read-through. With having attended the Greenville College Messiah concerts a ton of Christmases over the years thanks to our violinist daughter, I actually sang some of these verses as I read them. 

Which can be somewhat annoying and distracting since Handel did that over-repetitious rendition and so sometimes I am hung up on a verse just having that play through my head in music -box fashion. But I digress…

digress…digress….yes, I surely digresseth. (that will make you laugh if you have ever listened to the Messiah…but if you haven’t just shake your head and move on)

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As I read the familiar and prophetic opening verses of Chapter 53, I was struck as I always am by the description of our Lord and Savior.

Isaiah had no idea who he was describing, but in obedience he wrote the description of the Messiah as He would appear to us. 

He grew up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Isaiah 53: 2-3 NKJV

I wrote in the margin of my bible this morning…

How contrary to our way of assessing success, power and majesty. 

I had to stop and just think on that description of Him. 

I am somewhat addicted to beauty.

I seek it in the natural world and I appreciate it greatly in the creative arts of humans.

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I always catch my breath and give God the glory for it because I know it is His hand behind both nature and the arts, but He chose to deliver His Son to us without the beauty I crave. 

Oh, He is beautiful…indeed He is the most beautiful…but if I were to see His incarnate self as a man here on earth, I would not have seen the perfection of form and loveliness of features that I tend to associate with the beautiful of this world. 

And I shudder to think that I would have looked on Him and not seen this Man of sorrows…acquainted with grief…as my Savior. My Lord. 

So I read on this morning and my foolish, often deceived heart, once again affirms the most beautiful Truth known to our human race. 

Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgression, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.

Isaiah 53: 4-5 NKJV

I fall humbled before Him and ironically, speaking of music, yesterday we heard a song on the radio as we were driving home that was somewhat Handel-like in its use of repetition. 

Four men singing the same line basically over and over…He was pierced for our transgression, crushed for our sins, the punishment that brought us peace was on Him and by His wounds we are healed. 

I heard the song over and over in my head as I read those lines this morning. There is nothing wrong with that playing on the repeat all day. 

Nothing at all. 

In this world, there is no better place to live out the Gospel than from my knees remembering that by His wounds, I have been healed and forgiven. And only by His wounds. 

Here is the link to the recording of By His Wounds recorded by Mac Powell, Stephen Curtis Chapman, Brian Littrell and Mark Hall.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdLT-vvheV4

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Critical Thinking <3

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Yesterday was interesting as I had my first post-pandemic-start-up hair appointment. 

In case you were wondering, we learned in the 15 week hair sabbatical that I actually only have a couple of little strands of gray on the sides, I definitely lean more towards brown and dishwater blonde without the benefit of highlights and my hair grows at a pace of about…

Not. At. All. 

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Since I was supposed to be with the littles all day long and given the facts I just shared above, Russ opted to take a day off and go up first thing in the morning until I could join him. In the three hours between his arrival and my joining up, they had donuts, several walks and a trip to the park. 

Then we piled them in the car and drove about 45 minutes to another city who has opened up part of their zoo. Between that and the Bass Pro Shop, we burned off some energy and headed her on home so Papi and Lola could return to their place and crash. 

Russ may have asked me a time or two how I do it by myself, to which I responded (as I always do when asked this)…not well, my friend…not well. 

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While I have gained some maturity and let go of some hyper-perfection when it comes to children, I continue to struggle with all the shortcomings I encountered as a mom. 

As in most of my life, there is a nagging critic running color commentary on my shoulder most of the hours of the day. 

So this morning, I was quite delighted to read for the umpteenth time these words from Oswald Chambers…and YES!! I do apply them…every year when I read them, I feel God shaving off some more layers of my dead self and breathing His thoughts, and words and life into my soul. 

Oswald reminds me that we are not to judge. 

He says:

Criticism is one of the ordinary activities of people, but in the spiritual realm nothing is accomplished by it. The effect of criticism is the dividing up of the strengths of the one being criticized. The Holy Spirit is the only one in the proper position to criticize, and He alone is able to show what is wrong without hurting or wounding. 

Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest; June 17 Updated edition edited by James Reimann; 1992 Oswald Chambers Publications Association, Ltd.

Besides the inner voice that is inbred in me to look for flaws and point them out – mine and everyone else’s, I live in a world where every thought, word and deed is being critiqued constantly. 

The devotion in My Utmost for His Highest reminds me that my noting of things that are not as they should be is something that I am to take to God in prayer.

The fact that I see them is part of my human nature,BUT what I do with this knowledge and information should be different from what the world does.

Chambers reminds us that we do not know the whole story on anyone and so we must trust God to work in those around us and to guide us as we search our own hearts and lives for places that need correction and repentance. 

I am regenerate – born again – and so when I become aware of imperfections in me or in others, that is my signal to pray and release them to the Holy Spirit, trusting in His work in me and in those around me, because…oh how I love this…He is able to show what is wrong without hurting or wounding. 

When it comes to the negative thoughts I assign myself, I need to ask…is it true? If it is, I need to do my part to change…if it is not…I need God’s help to replace lies with the truth. 

Do you need some growth and correction that doesn’t hurt or wound? 

I sure do. 

And I want to be an agent of change and growth in others WITHOUT hurting or wounding them! 

There is healing in turning to God for all of us. He is about the business of making us whole and healthy. We who follow Christ should be markedly different from the rest of the world in our thoughts, words and attitudes but we daily need His help to be transformed. 

Blessings on each of you this day as you turn to Him and allow His Spirit to work in you. Tomorrow I want to share some thoughts about what I find helpful to tame the voice of the critic inside me…

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check out the feet…just over the line…every time <3
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Checking in with a heart check today <3

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I am coming to you today with my real and transparent thoughts from the past week that has followed months of pandemic mayhem. 

On Monday, I watched the sun set on a day that was one of the most unproductive and pointless days I have had in a long while. I had scrolled through posts and video feeds of various news items and commentaries all day. 

I cried and prayed and cried and snacked and wandered aimlessly around our house, because I am overwhelmed feeling all the feelings around me right now.

I felt helpless and confused. 

Every so often I walked to the door of Russ’s home office and told him I was not accomplishing anything. He would nod his head and go back to work and I would repeat my spiral downward.

The arena of social media that exists outside of posts by friends of their family gatherings or favorite verses or blog posts shared to encourage is a new playing field that I was unaware of.

The freedom of people to blast negativity onto a live video from someone else was something I have never encountered. The downright rude and thoughtless and ignorant barrage of unchecked thoughts spewing from every angle took me into a world that cannot be ignored, but also cannot rule over me.

I have been sheltered from the raw ugly of hate that flies around out there and I have to admit I prefer polite conversations and quiet “agreeing to disagree” more than the confrontational arguments and outright vitriol of comments that people slam others with through what has become our “third place” …. the internet. 

My heart’s desire is to do what Scripture tells me which is to care for those who are oppressed and defend the fatherless and the widows, to use the blessings I have been given to bless others and to show justice and mercy to all. 

But the rapid-fire words of anger and hate and retaliation that bombard the atmosphere rendered me incapacitated as I tried to separate out truth in the midst of so many loud voices. 

So yesterday, I turned off social media and determined to live in the day and do what I could do right in front of me and ask God to remind me what only I can do and then give me strength and boldness to do THAT thing and not be anxious about how it is perceived or judged or received by anyone but Him. 

That is not to say I am ignoring the pain around me. That is not to say I am not going to do better to find answers to my questions about how I can make a difference. That is not to say that I will now go back to burying my head in the sand and ignore what I see and hear happening on so many levels.

It is to say that I have to choose God’s righteousness first and then let Him lead me to the places where I can minister out of that in ways that bring His Kingdom here.

  • His Kingdom is best for all of us.
  • He is all about the dignity and sanctity of every human life.
  • He is all about justice and He is all about mercy.
  • He is all about every human being treated as valuable and precious.
  • He is all about tearing down world systems that do not support His plan of redemption, wholeness and healing. 

This morning as I was doing my devotions, each one seemed tailor made for the current conditions of our world and my own struggle to stay focused on the tasks at hand. And so like God, they each supported one another and culminated in a time of prayer that was based on a prayer written by Stormie Omartian in one of her books that is so applicable for all of us. 

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I am sharing the prayer points and my thoughts here:

Show me how to express deep, unconditional love in a way that is clearly perceived and received.*

Lord, I confess that I tend to love conditionally. I don’t want to be that way, but I know that my love is more open and flowing towards others when they fulfill certain conditions. I tend to love people I like… people I prefer.

(I beg you…please readers, do not read race into this…we are walking on egg shells right now and I am compelled to say that I do not like and prefer based on anything except my gut response to human beings I encounter…they are all sizes, shapes, colors and backgrounds…it is an enigma to me what draws me to certain people and makes them easy to love when I struggle with loving others….)

Even worse, I often find I withdraw love from people I like and prefer when their behavior or attitudes or decisions hurt me or go against what I desire for them or for me. This is not right. This is not righteous. I need Your help to love unconditionally. I need Your love poured into my heart so that I can truly LOVE..even when I don’t agree…even when I don’t understand.

To love does not require me to approve or prefer or be okay with someone’s choices or behavior or attitudes. Help me to grow in my understanding of YOUR love so I can just love people.

I also pray that my love will be perceived and received. I understand that others may have preconceived notions about me. I need Your help to break down the barriers of misunderstanding on all sides so that Your love is poured out of me and onto my family and friends and acquaintances and even those who I do not know, but share the road with in this life. 

Laura Reimer

Remove any barriers that have been formed in me through disappointment and pain in my past* 

Lord, this struck me deep in my spirit and soul. As I sit and just hold my heart out to You, I am aware that I have carried and buried some disappointment and pain from the distant and recent past deep down.

Because I have not let You heal me of those things, I am weak and useless in helping others who are experiencing disappointment and pain. I need to understand that You heal in layers and I will continue to need to bring my heart before You to receive Your next level of healing until I stand perfected before You.

Their pain reminds me of my unresolved hurts and so I am handicapped to offer the kind of love and support that is needed. Rather than recount these things, I am just acknowledging to you that I am a broken person in need of Your love and Your peace and Your healing.

I receive the ministry of Your Spirit searching out those places in me and I open my own self up to be healed by You. You are the only one who can completely heal me and equip me to become a minister of Your healing and reconciliation. 

Laura Reimer

If there is a place in my heart where I feel rejected or unloved, I bring that to You for healing*

Lord, again I open up the deep places of my heart where I have experienced rejection and where I feel unloved. Search me and shine Your light into those hidden places that fuel my inability to hear the cry of others.

I cannot extend the fullness of Your bountiful love until I have allowed Your love to fill up the holes in my own heart.

I receive the ministry of the Holy Spirit again right now as You bind up my wounds so that I can extend that grace and mercy to others who expressing their pain and perceptions of being rejected and unloved. 

Laura Reimer

If there is any unforgiveness in me toward anyone, show me and I will confess it. I do not want to carry unforgiveness in my heart because it separates me from You and my prayers will not be heard*

Lord, as I offer up myself for examination, You bring names and faces to mind. Very few hurt me intentionally.

The offense was usually because of the human condition of the offenders heart…like me they were more concerned with self and I got wounded as a result. Often they have not even been aware of how they have hurt me and so an apology is never going to take place.

The work of forgiveness and reconciliation falls on me and then I think of how I have also offended and wounded with no idea…and I would want to be forgiven by the ones I hurt….so Lord, thank You that by the power and work of the Holy Spirit in me, I can forgive and let go and hold nothing against my offender.

If I have been intentionally and purposefully wounded by someone, You will be my example as You said of those who crucified You..forgive them. I will rest in Your healing in all cases.  

Laura Reimer

So there you have it…a little visit to my time with Jesus this morning.

I hope you are turning to Him first before you turn on the news, the social media feeds or your mouth.

I am doing better today at this then yesterday and the day before.

May He guide us through these times in ways that bring heaven to earth as we journey onward  <3

* Power of a Praying Grandparent; Stormie Omartian, Harvest House Publishers, pg. 26

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