Category Archives: Love Where You ARE <3

First day of fall done up right <3

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Good morning! 

I had so many things I could have done to catch up on the piles around the house yesterday but took advantage of a school holiday and beautiful weather and played hooky from my responsibilities so I could hang out at the pumpkin patch with this crew.

I have a sweet memento of the day to share with you at the end but here are a couple of things I am currently working on, and if any of them are mildly interesting please consider yourselves invited to check them out and if not…scroll down to the pic of Caroline. 

If you follow Instagram, I am doing a writing challenge by Hope Writers…I don’t subscribe to their community but the challenge is open and I love a good challenge so for ten days I will do a microblog post centered on a daily theme. Yesterday was “Start” and today is “Angle.” 

You can find my posts for the website at journey.onward … you have to request because as with all things social…I tend to be cautious.

Good news is, as long as you are not a creepy guy who claims to love Jesus, follows 10,000 people, has 15 followers and 2 pics of himself in military uniforms or a woman who claims to love Jesus but all posts are about the product you sell…I will probably accept the request <3 

Another thing I have in mind to do (and keep in mind, I do reserve the right to switch my mind and bail on the whole idea)…my cousin Kenny suggested I do more videos and since he is an unpaid consultant on my blogging career, I thought I would give Facebook live another try whilst doing the Joseph study. 

I briefly thought about doing a summary post of each week of the study, but have been praying about the possibility of doing the recap via Facebook live. 

The first one will be tomorrow morning unless I chicken out. 

Or my family bans me from it like they did the # debacles of my early Instagram years…turns out some #’s have double meanings…whoops…and I am somewhat gifted at finding the worst of them.

Ok. Enough announcements…

Here is Caroline’s pic and my cute story and then we can all go on our merry way. 

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I have mentioned before that Joel is my Achilles Heel and the child knows how to work it. 

Yesterday as we were making our way from the pumpkin donut/apple cider break towards the goat barn, he grabbed a hold of my leg and declared he was going to hug me. 

I stopped to receive it and he looked up at me with that one-tooth missing, red round cheeked, sweat dripping from his hair cuteness and thanked me for coming to the pumpkin patch. 

As my heart was dissolving into a complete puddle of mush he put the cherry on the sundae and told me he loved me. 

Worth every gallon of gas, load of laundry still sitting, paperwork piled on dusty counters and empty fridge that needs some TLC.

Is there someone who needs to know you love them to the moon and back today? 

If appropriate, grab them by the leg and make them stop long enough so you can tell them <3

What to put on when the cold winds blow <3

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The sun is shining here and it is a most welcome sight after several days of cold and rain and sleet and gray skies for miles. 

But I am not fooled. 

It is uncomfortably cold out and I will be donning my long black thermal coat in a half hour to head out to work. 

I bought this calf length garment a few years ago and then we have had fairly mild winters so it didn’t get used a lot. I am often moving so fast and am so highly caffeinated that some winters I barely grabbed a coat at all in my rush out the door. 

However, the Polar Vortex as we have dubbed this winter trend, has had me pulling that baby out on the daily. 

A couple of Saturday’s ago we were going to watch Graham play basketball and since the bleachers are rather crowded, I just grabbed my short jacket for the day. 

Every time I got out of the car, the wind and cold enveloped me and I regretted not grabbing that calf length protection I had become accustomed to. I felt the cold and realized how insulated I have become during this unusually harsh winter. 

My heart can get like that. 

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Commercials on TV, the evening “news”, Facebook rants.

Driving amongst cars who all seem to be in an incredible hurry and also feel they must share with the world all manner of disgusting decals.

Every one is offended and offensive and the issues are blurred and confusing. 

While politicians argue about their agendas, our interstates are crumbling and laws that are supposedly making life better are forcing us into a world that opposes everything I know that God has said to be truth. 

And I want to wrap something very protective around me so that I can stop feeling misunderstood, judged, marginalized and silenced. 

But God tells me to take off the protective layers of cynicism and bitterness, remove the self-righteousness that would make me feel buffered…and to put on the flimsy things that will make my heart seem exposed and vulnerable…

things like…

compassion

tenderness

humility

kindness

gentleness

patience

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As the signs point more towards the winding down of all things here on planet Earth, we know that people will go from bad to worse…and the hardest struggle the people of God will have is to remember that we do not conform to this world, but to the image of Christ who always was and always will be …

compassionate

tender

humble

kind

gentle

patient

This is how we love Him…by loving others well <3

So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It is your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. Colossians 3:12 – 14 The Message

Wide open spaces <3

One of the things I love about the Midwest is way the land spreads out wide and far.

Russ and I talk from time to time about what it would be like to live in other parts of the country and the other day he asked me if I would like to live in the mountains.

I told him I would probably enjoy living where I could see mountains…but in them…not so much.

I don’t like feeling crowded and closed in.

So today when I was working on my Psalm 34 material, I was delighted to hear in the video portion about how the word “troubles” has a meaning beyond what I would characterize the word to connote.

In verse 5 David describes a poor man who cries out to God and He listened to Him and delivered this one from all of his troubles.

Lisa Wagner explained in her video how this word troubles can mean situations and circumstances that are trials, but also means in a tight and narrow place.

Kind of like you are squeezed and confined.

Oh…I get that.

For me, I feel it mostly in my schedule.

I have way more ideas of things I want to do…tasks I need to do…and demands and requests and service to others…than an ordinary 24 hour day will accommodate.

I have a Disney World wish list of accomplishments and a trip to the grocery store amount of time to complete them.

On the daily.

And it hems me in and pinches me and makes me cranky.

Because no matter how much I get done, there was so much more I wanted to do.

Even as I type that, my throat is constricting like it does when I want to have a big old, melt down, ranting cry.

All the things I do are for the good of the Kingdom…but so were all the dreams I didn’t get to.

And in that tension of restricted time and space…I often err on the side of just crying…instead of crying out to God.

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I can’t say no to most of what I do.

I can’t add hours to my day.

But I can cry out to the God who both hears AND listens…and who has the power to deliver ME and my meltdown tendencies from going off on someone or self-talking myself into a state of depression or whatever else ungodly behaviors can crop up when I am stressed out…and He can deliver me through it to accomplish in peace and contentment whatever was the dream of His for my day…and then….

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He pours into me what I will need for tomorrow.

How about you?

What is your tight and narrow place today?

Will you cry out to your Abba Father and ask Him to help you get through it with grace and peace and fruit?

 

Commemoration Week 2018 Tuesday <3

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Our move up north of town has put us on the edge of the fields that surround our city and I don’t mind one little bit. 

I love watching the seasons change the landscape as we drive or walk or bike around the area. 

I also love the fact that the crops and the weather give me half a shot at making small talk because as many words as I manage to tap out on these keys or yak at family and close friends, I pretty much stink at small talk. 

So I can talk about the heat and humidity or the cold and humidity…and make some lame observation about the condition of the crops and I’m good for a few minutes of chit chat. 

Recently I was talking to a close friend who happens to also be a farmer and so even though I don’t struggle with small talk with him, I do try to mention something I have noticed about the corn and soy beans or harvest during those seasons because I know that is his passion.

I mentioned to him how we had been noticing the beans were crazy tall this year and I wondered if this was something new. 

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He said they do it some years, depending on the conditions and I asked if that was good and he responded not necessarily. 

And then he said this ….

We aren’t trying to grow leaves, we are trying to grow beans. 

He pointed out that sometimes the plants can put all their energy into the foliage and the beans suffer. 

Wow. 

I have mulled that over for a couple of weeks now because it preaches. 

It’s what Commemoration Week is all about. 

Because I can get pretty caught up in spending a fair amount of energy on stuff that boils down to producing a lot of green leaves…and neglect the nourishment needed for the beans..the fruit…the outcome…the whole point of why I follow Christ. 

He has called me out of the darkness and into His Light and sometimes I forget that all that I have is because of Him.

Last night I did my first deep read through of Exodus 12-14, just like I do every year at this time. 

I read it in my old pink flowered Women’s Devotional Bible that Russ gave me back on March 28, 1996.

The one that is marked up from front to back and stained with tears and coffee and notes and pictures of our three…and the children of two dear friends who prayed for ours as I prayed for theirs. 

Happens one of those families and one of those pictures is our son-in-law Zach’s. 

So today a prayer of gratitude for the remembrance of what God has given us over these years here in our community.

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Heavenly Father, as I read through the notes from sermons or things You showed me in my quiet time, I thank You for Your faithfulness.

All my childhood, I wanted roots that went deep. 

I wanted to know people for longer than a few years before we moved on. And here I hold in my hands the legacy of Your Word woven into the gift of longevity in our journey.

You have let us grow up and grow older with a group of people who love You and have shaped the story of our lives. 

I have learned (and I sense You may have chuckled a time or two over this) that there is a different kind of challenge that comes with lifelong friendships held fast by a shared community.

I have learned that some of those friendships don’t survive, because a distance can grow that doesn’t involve moving physically. 

And I have learned how painful that is. But I have also learned that You were serious about that pruning parable and You know best what is spent too much on leaves when You are in the business of helping us bear fruit.

So I thank You, Father God, for the history of love  and the gift of so many friends who are family and then family who are friends. 

You have done well for us and given us great joy and I am so thankful. 

Help us to live with wide-open hands and hearts as we move farther along. 

Your faithfulness and kindness are a testimony of Your goodness and love for us and we are so grateful. 

Amen <3

Day 4: Souvenirs from the Journey….Cuba 2018 <3

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Yesterday I ran errands, stopping at the grocery and Target to pick up a prescription and purchase some ingredients for a special birthday snack for Sweet Caroline’s party on Sunday. 

If you think that is all I walked out of the stores with, you would be sadly mistaken. 

I also picked up a patriotic romper set for little Miss Thing…in two sizes just to make sure.

Plus I got some Dove dark chocolate, several options for the snack, colorful plastic spoons for the guests to use, a new color of nail polish, some sunscreen and a little something for John’s birthday bag. 

And even as I did this pretty normal running of errands, I had another image of our time in Cuba superimposed on my life.

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Because daily life for our new friends…just like for the Maasai…and the people we met years ago outside Monterey, Mexico…is so very different from the paths I walk every day. 

And often in my every day, their shadows are cast across the places my well cared for feet take me.

With all that we vocally rant about that is wrong with this country we call home, we really have no idea how much freedom we have grown accustomed to. 

Freedom that fosters a sense of entitlement. 

Because you can pretty much believe if I couldn’t have found the miniature Swedish fish and blue raspberry jello I need to make my creations, I would have been extremely vexed. 

And I may as well confess, I was kind of bummed they didn’t have the large size boxes of jello and I had to buy four small. 

Because I am spoiled. 

I am privileged and I am rarely even aware of it.

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I take for granted that if I can’t find what I want in a store, I can order it online and have it here in a matter of days.

Without getting all political and showing my ignorance, I am going to make an observation of what I saw on our trip.

I saw that under the governing bodies of Cuba, no one goes without food…but choices are limited and sometimes unavailable or off limits. 

For instance, we were told that all cattle is government owned and the meat cannot be purchased or taken by citizens except when made available and served in the restaurants. 

Which are also government owned.

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And so I had a tactful conversation with one of our translators one day about acquiring food and such and he gave me an example of eggs. 

He said his three sons love eggs, but sometimes it is weeks before his wife is able to find a place that has them for sale. 

Yes, they have other things to eat. 

But imagine going to the store day after day to purchase something as basic as eggs and being told there are none. 

As God would have it to drive the point home for me, the morning we were scheduled for an early bus pickup to head to the beach…the kitchen at our bed and breakfast was running a little behind on getting the food out. 

She asked if we had time for them to scramble our eggs…which we had eaten every morning…and it was decided we would skip the eggs. 

Because we can eat eggs anytime, right?

My internal flesh nature may have died a slow and agonizing death as I thought of how much we have and of a family of boys who would have been in poultry heaven if they could have partaken of what we took a pass on that day. 

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And of course, us eating those eggs wouldn’t have helped them at all.

It is this helpless watching that pierces the heart.

With privilege comes responsibility. 

To use the spheres of influence and resources we have been given to be the hands and feet of Christ. 

It is our burden to remain unaffected by our plenty and to echo Paul…I have learned to be content … with much or little…whether hungry or well-fed.

It is only with Christ that we can know true contentment. 

It is only with Christ we can remain unspoiled by the excess we have available to us.

In plenty, in want.

Under whatever government system …

in persecution or in freedom…

under the thumb of a government or the stranglehold of a culture…

to know…

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That He alone is our all in all.