Category Archives: Refined by the Word

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

What kind of love is this?(best love ever)


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I have had on my heart…

no pun intended…

for quite some time to use this week to talk a little about love because…Valentines…

but it is also tempting to not be one more place you hear about it.

So I have prayed and jotted notes and even did a “brain dump” where I wrote down all the ideas that were flying around.

As you might expect, if you have followed these posts for any length of time…it looks like it’s going to be a mixed bag of things. 

God loves us so big that I could never capture it in an entire library of words.

I could never run out of ways to tell you all the large and small things He has done in my life. 

But if you think that intimidates me, think again Cupid…I will just come up with something every day and on Friday we will pack it up and move onto something new.

Because this is how we roll here on the Journey <3

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As I drove and ran errands and worked around the house on Monday, I kept thinking about how we often attach to our expectations about our efforts to “love well” the idea it is our job to make everything as easy and beautiful and perfect for the object of our feelings as we could possibly do. 

Until we have children. 

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And then we learn that to smooth out every bump and give in to every whim and fix every problem and navigate them to avoid every discouraging circumstance is not only impossible, it would be a living hell for the parent and would produce the most shallow, needy, selfish of human beings. 

Because it is in the very midst of the trials and the hard things, the being picked on and left out, the stubbed toes and scraped up knees…the tears and fears and falling downs…that is where we develop character, muscle, compassion and the grit to get up and move on. 

And as a loving parent, we come alongside them and guide, correct, console and encourage so the child hopefully emerges stronger, better, kinder and wiser.

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God loves us with this kind of love. 

He wipes tears and takes a firm hand when we are going down in the muck. 

He binds our wounds and disciplines us when we stray. 

He takes on in a personal way the ways we are attacked. 

But He lets us do it all. 

He lets us try and fail, love and lose, feel abandoned when He is really right there, He lets us tough it out and feel the heat…He lets us because He loves us. 

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One of my favorite and most reassuring verses is one that speaks of this kind of love 

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned; nor shall the flame scorch you.  Isaiah 43:2

Think about it. 

Have you ever waded in a river? 

I picture my dad fly fishing up to his waist in a river in Montana. In chest-high waders he battled the current around him as he firmly held onto the rod while balancing on the unsteady river rocks under his feet. 

He felt the waters as he passed through. 

It was a struggle.

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Have you gotten too near to the campfire or opened the oven door and were leaning too close when the blast of 375 degrees hit your face and made your eyes burn?

You feel the power of that flame. 

God is telling us right up front.

Just like Jesus said. 

In this world, you will have trouble. 

In this world, you will feel the icy waters creeping up and the tug of the current threatening to pull you under.

You will feel the pressure cooker of trials. 

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But in the middle of them all, take heart.

I AM is with you. 

He will hold you and your soul and your spirit…they will make it through. 

This is the love He gives His children. 

Lean into it today <3

A quick hello on a Monday <3

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Good morning to you!

We had such a full and fun weekend and while it would be great to give you a recap, I have a mission this morning. 

Joel started a gymnastics class a few week’s ago and asks his mom every Monday morning if any of “his people” are going to come watch him. 

I can’t stand it. 

He calls us “his people.” 

The cuteness of that undoes me.

Thus I am getting ready very quickly this morning and braving winter to get up there and watch that little tumbler for a half hour and then drive home and do Monday stuff. 

But I wanted to leave you a little something to encourage you in your walk today so here is my current pep talk to myself penned in black sharpie on a big post it note. 

It’s far easier to read it then do it, but I am determined to ask God to help me with this and I will do better today than yesterday in His strength:

DO NOT:

  •  complain or argue

DO NOT:

  • SINK into complacency
  • COMPARE your circumstances
  • COMPLAIN about situations

DO everything:

  • WITHOUT complaining or arguing Philippians 2:14

Be:

  • surrendered
  • praising
  • cordial
  • benevolent
  • peaceable

Wish me luck, my people, and I will see you tomorrow.

<3


What’s up Doc?

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Happy Friday! 

We are making our way through February so if you are not a fan of winter, spring is just a hop, skip and a jump from Valentine’s Day. 

Oh sure…we will have cold weather and no signs of green for several months but once the calendar says March, we will embrace Spring or at least the promise of it. 

The last few days I have had a weird pain in my knee. I kind of tweaked it a couple of times and then on one of my longer drives i realized I had held it in the same position for the whole time so I chalked it up to that. Until it woke me (and my patient and kind husband) up on Wednesday night. 

We got through it and it seems better today, but of course I googled the symptoms and came up with a ton of possible diagnoses. 

I contemplated calling our daughter who was the Nurse Practitioner for an orthopedic surgeon for a number of years to get her input. 

I have several other nurse friends and I considered checking in with them as well. I also have some friends who do a lot of research on their own with holistic health measures and they would be my next go to for medical concerns. 

*if you are a medical person or have an ounce of common sense, please hold tight…there is a point being made here….ok…back to the story…***

This is my typical method of dealing with questions regarding the various aches and pains and such that tend to crop up. 

The last thing on my radar is usually the first thing my, as formerly mentioned, patient and kind husband suggests…and repeats. Frequently.

Why don’t I go see a doctor? …he will ask and I have as many excuses as searches on my computer. 

They are stacked up in my head and here are just a few:

I don’t have the time (yes, I know…I invest large chunks of time chasing web diagnosis…don’t lecture me. I am aware of my problem)

  • I am afraid of what they will tell me
  • It’s probably nothing
  • It might be something awful
  • It will probably cost a bunch of money
  • If they tell me to do this or that unpleasant thing, I won’t want to do it.

It’s embarrassing since most of the doctors and nurses in this small town are people I pass in the lobby at church, sit next to the table of when dining out, wait on them and/or their spouses at the store…you name it – they are too close to my daily life to be that intimate with what’s wrong with me. 

There you have just a few and as I ticked them off in my head today as I, yes…made my way to a doctor for not my knee, but my nose…

don’t ask…

it occurred to me that I can do the same thing with my spiritual health. 

I will have some kind of conviction about behavior that I know doesn’t line up with God’s Word. Something is amiss in my spirit and soul. 

But I don’t go to God. 

I read about it from a topical “Christian” book or article. 

I google the issue and see what advice is out there. 

I talk to friends. 

I self-talk about it trying to work it through. 

I make excuses.

Why don’t I go to God?

Well…perhaps…it’s ….

  •  an investment of time I think I don’t have
  • a fear of what He is going to tell me
  • maybe it really isn’t that big of deal..lots of other people have the same issue and they are ok
  • maybe it is way bigger than I even thought possible and I don’t want to open up the mess
  • it may cost me something I don’t want to give up
  • it may involve some unpleasant refining
  • it’s embarrassing to be humbled ….

which is, after all the whole point right? 

I can’t get healed if I won’t take it to the Healer. 

What’s bugging you these days? 

Take time to get face to face with God and work it out with Him <3 

Isaiah 1:18-20 The Message (MSG)
Let’s Argue This Out
18-20 “Come. Sit down. Let’s argue this out.”
    This is God’s Message:
“If your sins are blood-red,
    they’ll be snow-white.
If they’re red like crimson,
    they’ll be like wool.
If you’ll willingly obey,
    you’ll feast like kings.
But if you’re willful and stubborn,
    you’ll die like dogs.”
That’s right. God says so.
The Message (MSG)Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Back to Ezekiel <3

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I kind of checked out of sharing about the Ezekiel study this week. 

Partly because I didn’t get to hear the sermon until Monday and also the material is as graphic and rough as the first week was fantastical and other-worldly. 

But I would be remiss to skip the more unpleasant aspects of how doing this study with our church family has been working on me. 

So welcome to a glimpse into my journal entries from Monday this week.

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The passage was Ezekiel 4 and the first question from the study guide asked about an area where God might be calling me to repentance. 

I was slightly offended at how little time it took God to help me fill in the answer. 

Just kidding. 

He is God after all and it is His way to be direct with me so here was my fairly immediate response:

Two things come to mind this morning that I have recently been strongly convicted about

1. The “sin of prayerlessness” as Andrew Murray calls it in several of his books

and

2. The sin of slander

First off: Regarding #1… yes, I lead three prayer teams at our church and yes, you would think I pray all the time.

And while I do pray, the reality is that my prayer life has become weak, powerless and dead of late. 

And when I look critically at the reason for this I see clearly the sin of unbelief. 

I could blame that on a lot of different things but in the end it comes down to the fact that I have let my doubt become bigger than our God.

As for the sin of slander: for way too long my thoughts and my mouth tend to lean toward words that do not edify or build up but rather take swipes…sometimes out loud… but more often in my inner conversations. 

Both are equal in the eyes of God – the seen and heard and the ones buried deep inside of me. He knows the heart and what doesn’t get said matters as much as what does.

When I lay that out for consideration I can see the root of bitterness has fueled this sin. 

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The next question in the study asked me what it would look like to turn from my sin and turn toward God. 

So as I examined my sinful bent and the roots that were behind them, I came up with this;

Acknowledging that my unbelief and bitterness ARE Sin – and thus as disgusting to God as cooking my evening meal over a pile of human excrement

Gross?

Very….

(look up the passage and read Ezekiel 4)….

To OWN this as my own sin and to confess and agree with God that this IS indeed SIN

and then to ask for forgiveness and to REPENT

to make every effort to walk away from both of these sins and choose to live in complete contrast to them…that is what is called for in response to the work of God in me through the series we have been looking at the past two Sundays.

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And here is the prayer I wrote in conclusion:

Heavenly Father, I am confessing to you how I have let hopelessness and unbelief take precedence over faith and the Hope that is in me through the work of Jesus Christ alone. 

I also confess my sin of bitterness and envy and a critical spirit that have found a greater place in my heart than the love I should have in You. 

I have not followed Your command to rid myself of doubt, envy, wrath, anger and malice but have let my own pride and sense of self-righteousness to rule my thoughts and words and actions. 

I have spoken ill of people to make me feel better about my circumstances.

When I envy others in what they have been given or for what they have accomplished – in Your sight this is the same as if I  hoped for them to fail.

This is sinful and as disgusting to you as human excrement. 

Father, I confess this has been my heart attitude.

I ask you to forgive me LORD and I know that I am forgiven in Christ – my LORD and Savior. 

I do repent but also fear the depth of sin in me – I ask You to help me LORD to turn from this and to choose Your way only. I ask in Jesus’ Name. 


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The final question was what action steps I can take to show my repentance. 

Here are the conclusions I came to after my time in prayer:

<3 Just like the suggestions gleaned from reading “Adorned” by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth; aggressively resist mean, jealous and unloving thoughts when they crop up – GET. RID. OF. THEM. 

<3 Pray – start somewhere. Probably for me right now it is best to just open up my Bible and pray directly from Scripture. Ephesians 1 – 3 has always been a good place for me to pray through, so I can start there. Also to use the Scripture prayers provided in several prayer books to get my mind and heart back in the language of prayer. 

There are times when we feel God does not hear or answer our prayers because we do not see anything changing in situations that have made us desperate for His involvement. 

However; the above prayers are something He very quickly has answered…prayer for conviction of my particular sins…prayer for forgiveness…prayer for repentance…prayer for actions steps I can begin to take and prayer for obedience to follow through. 

As I have taken these steps, I have found He has heard and answered with abundant mercy and grace. 

No matter how far we move away from Him, the moment we turn back He is already there to meet us and help us. 

There is only ONE God, three in One, and He is full of mercy and kindness and grace for all who will return to Him <3