Category Archives: Musings of a blonde brain

Doing a new thing – monthly resolution report July <3

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Kaloupek Counseling LLC

My intention in January of 2020 was to try something new each month and report on it at the end of the month. 

However the entire landscape of 2020 has been trying new things but hardly what I had put down on my list as I brainstormed how I wanted to learn and grow this year and work on developing some disciplines. 

Well, I have learned a lot of new things and added some disciplines like always making sure I have a mask with me when I leave the house and checking the floor when shopping in a store so I know which direction I am supposed to be traveling in. 

But in a more fun vein, I did attempt a “new thing” in July by taking advantage of a service called “Hello Fresh” where you order a certain number of meals a week. The ingredients and recipes are delivered to your door on the day of your choosing. It seemed like a bit of a luxury but there was a significant coupon that came through an email so I figured I would try it for a month. 

We loved it. 

We chose the dinner for two option with three meals a week and I used the Low Calorie menu for our selections. When our first box arrived, I thought they had forgotten to put all the chicken in for the meals we had ordered. Turns out, the portions are geared for the amount we are SUPPOSED to be eating and we don’t need as much meat as I had thought. 

Almost all of the ingredients are provided, including a cute little two pack carton of eggs for one of our dinners.

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You do have to use some oil for sautéing and your own seasoning of salt and pepper but all the other seasonings and sauces, sour cream, specialty oils — whatever, are included and in just the right amount for your meal. 

The portions were perfect and we found they satisfied with no desire for snacking before bed. The price was like a moderate dinner at a local place, but the quality was like a really nice meal you would pay much more for. 

It was fun to try the different recipes and I learned some techniques along the way. The food was fresh and healthy. I had our box delivered on Wednesdays so we would usually eat one that night and then one Thursday and have one for a meal on the weekend. Everything arrived in perfect condition and stayed fresh until used. 

The only down side is – no leftovers and you have to be home for the delivery. They are packed well with a lot of frozen packs, but in the summer sun I would not want to let them sit out for very long.

The site is easy to use. You can skip weeks, and then reschedule and you can change the day of delivery week to week. Three menus were selected for us, but it was simple to substitute if one was not appealing. The meals included a main dish and sides, but we also had a mushroom flatbread that was delicious and a Korean bowl that was so good. 

There are several services like this available and during Covid it seemed a good time to try one, and this was a fun way to make our meals more interesting. I learned a lot about portion control and I feel I really saved money because I didn’t have to buy larger portions of specialty seasonings and ingredients since they are pre-packaged in the exact amount. 

It was the combination of a quality restaurant meal with the outlet of satisfaction in preparing it myself. If we were having a coffee together I would want to know if you have tried any of these meal subscriptions and what your thoughts are…sigh…if only…

So that’s my July thing. 

And now it’s on to August <3

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It is for freedom that we are set free <3

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I am well aware of the stress and anxiety that is making itself available to us as July winds down and we check off another month of a year that has been fraught with chaos and unrest and ugly surprises. I have started this email so many times and I keep deleting it because you don’t need me to remind you of all that is presenting itself. My goal in sending these is to always offer you hope and truth and an opportunity to choose to live differently than the world. 

After numerous starts and rewrites, here is what is on my heart: 

One summer when Russ’s parents were definitely slowing down, but still living in their own home and maintaining independent living, his mom did something that was so out of her normal personality it kind of took me aback. She basically mandated a family reunion with as many of us as we could snag for a weekend. Our collective children, among Russ’s siblings, ranged from elementary to young marrieds. I have to say that at the time and even as I look back, I marveled that she was so adamant we do this. It was so unlike her and it was a bit of an inconvenience to all of us to make it happen and I couldn’t possibly be more thankful that she did. It is one of my most treasured memories of her. 

It was the last time outside of a nursing home setting or funeral home that we were all together. The memories made still make us laugh and smile. And I learned so much about the history of the area that Russ’s family settled in and called home that I am richer for it. 

One of the things she arranged for us to do was visit an old farm house out in the middle of nowhere, Iowa that was on the Underground Railroad. We traveled caravan fashion out through parts of the countryside  that had not been introduced to cell phone service nor paved roads. Our car was so thick with dust, I can still remember laughing with our sides held as Zach scooped layers off of the INSIDE of the car doors when we opened them. 

But my heart still burns and the hot tears still fall when I recall the tour of this home and the sacrifice of this family in a time in American history that marks our country to this day. 

The home was built with a full basement but designed in a way to conceal half of it. An elaborate system of walls and furniture made it appear to be a partial basement for food storage, but if you slid a heavy cabinet aside the other half was a place where runaway slaves could hide until it was safe to make the next part of their journey to freedom. As we stood in that basement I could hear the echoes of hushed voices, mommas trying to keep children quiet, fathers who prayed against the odds for when that ferry would be able to run and hoping against hope that no betrayer was going to interfere along the way. They had selected this plot of land because it was in close proximity to a landing for a ferry across a nearby river. 

The house was purchased along with a large plot of farmland. The owners had bought it fully with the intent to build this basement. They hid their work of a full basement as they made a home in the community and farmed the land and made a life there. The whole project involved a huge investment of money, resources, time and taking on the role of a farm family so that they could be a part of doing the right thing. They researched, planned and executed a way to help their fellow man. 

I don’t know the name of this family, but their story inspires me to this day to be wiling to use all that I have been given for the purposes for which God has given me to make a difference in the lives of others. God is all about setting captives free. As we look around us today, what can each one of us do…not demand others to do…but we ourselves, with the resources and opportunities we have been given…what can we do to set up a stop along the way for someone else to journey to freedom? 

God bless you as you sort through that question. May we each rise to the occasion to serve faithfully in the time and season of our own lives <3

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The angst that comes as we walk the byways <3

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Yesterday I had to make a quick grocery run and a couple of errands. It was hotter than the face of the sun and I had already run into some snags. As I was rolling up the hill to a light that was turning red, I could see a young man in the median setting his backpack down and pulling out a cardboard sign. 

Perfect. 

As my car eased to the stop, his sign was up and the stress that was already stirring in me ramped up as a stream of thoughts ran through my mind. The light lasted a mere minute but I processed an hour’s worth of dialogue in my head and heart.

I have the mixed blessing of being able to think multiple thoughts at the same time. I know you are jealous. I thought perhaps in sharing them, you might be able to recognize your own conflict in similar situations for whatever good that might accomplish. And then I do have a point at the end. 

* Since I was right next to him as in I could see him out of my peripheral vision, I felt slightly threatened because he was close to my window, young and apparently has been able to have access to a gym because he looked pretty strong. 

This led me to think about how, even though I have never been accosted physically by a man, I carry a real live fear in me that the possibility always exists that I could be 

Which carried over into how people might have a fear of someone or something even though they have never personally experienced it, just because there is convincing evidence it could happen. I thought about how we need to acknowledge that as legitimate and not dismiss because they have no actual part of it happening in their story.

  • This stream of thought was followed by the consideration of the age old question, WWJD. 

If Jesus were in this setting in my skin, would he reach over in our wallet and pull out some money and roll down the window?

What if I did that and he used the money for something harmful and what if he is one of those guys who is making a nice tidy sum and gets dropped off at his day job that he doesn’t have to file a tax return for? Would He have me say “sliver and gold I have not…(even though I did have silver and paper with me)…but I give you…and then share the gospel?

  • Should I even be asking those questions? Is that judgmental of me? Am I judging this stranger as being unsaved and unscrupulous? Who do I think I am? 
  • At this point the Matthew West song about If not me than who-ooo-ooo-oooo? Started running through my head. Along with a panicky feeling of what if I did try to give him money and just as he was walking over the light changed and the driver behind me laid on the horn. Because the thought of someone honking angrily at me sent my blood pressure dangerously high and then…

Thankfully the light did change and I proceeded on down the road, where I began the process of evaluating my decision not to give him money and yes, heaped all manner of guilt on myself for loving money more than people. Sort of. 

Because I still wondered how the people who are asking for money at corners always have access to nice squares of cardboard and a big marker and have better handwriting than a Kindergarten teacher. 

And by this point, I was sweating profusely and exhausted from all the thoughts and emotions that happened in the 60 seconds of waiting for a green light.

Which brings me to my point. 

While I would like to be like Jesus and show His love and grace and mercy all day, every day; I encounter a lot of situations and circumstances out and about and in my interactions with friends, family and strangers that are not clear cut. 

I don’t always have all the facts and truth and wisdom needed to make 100% perfectly godly decisions. I get tired and hungry, I get anxious and fearful. Sometimes the things that sound right and true turn out to be deception. 

And in the midst of all the overthinking, I can forget that Jesus must have been a pretty easy guy to walk with back when He was putting foot to sod here on planet earth. I rather doubt the people who traveled with Him on the daily and those who drug their families around lakes with nary a snack to munch on would have done so if He were not kind and funny and compassionate and patient. 

So when I am getting all twisted up inside with my own spinning thoughts, I find it best to take a deep breath and then another one. I can talk to Him and trust that He still has things to teach me and I can know that He would understand that even if my actions sometimes get off, my heart is set on following Him. 

We are a mixed bag of thoughts, experiences and feelings. It’s okay. He knows what we are made of. He came to save the likes of us. Praise Him <3

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