Category Archives: Refined by the Word

Two thumbs up <3

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On Sunday afternoon Russ and I decided to take in a movie so we went to see Breakthrough

Many of our friends have recommended and we both enjoyed it. 

I am still mulling it over, of course, because..it’s what I do, as we all know.

So whether you have seen it or not, here are a few of my takeaway’s as a believer. 

#1. There were so many levels of relational issues with families and kiddos that were not glossed over. 

The tensions we dance through as our children begin to enter the teen years and that fine line between parenting well and keeping the lines of communication open were exemplified through the efforts of the mom to continue to show love and care as her son shut her out.

It also showed the learning process we go through as we know we have to let go of our “babies” and figure out how to move into the next phase of their lives.

Also through various scenes and dialogue, you could see the way this season can put strain on a marriage as each parent continues to grow in an autonomous relationship with the child while attempting to hold to the marriage covenant and have a unified front. 

There is a raw refining that takes place as a husband and wife find new levels of saying the hard things to their child and to each other. 

Not easy. 

#2. In the fellowship of believers, we sometimes ask one another how people go through difficult circumstances without the Lord. 

We usually say this when we, ourselves, are passing through a particularly painful trial.

We look around us at others we know who are going through things without the prayers, love and support of a church family and no hope of the tangible touch of Christ in a mind-numbing situation and we don’t mean it as holier than thou…we really are concerned for anyone who is facing troubles alone. 

Because truth is, even as we wade through deep waters and pass through fire, it is a breath by breath existence as we lean hard into God and ask Him why and cry and pray and dissolve and rise again.

Over and over.

The movie shows what should happen when we face the roughest of times by taking hold of God even when we don’t understand what He is up to.

One of my favorite scenes was both uncomfortably and poignantly familiar, regarding an aspect of faith-based living that might be overlooked by us and yet is probably our greatest testimony as to the power of God. 

Because while it was incredibly amazing that the mom prayed and the miracle happened and the music swelled and the medical team was stunned, there is something bigger that God does for believers when we go through trials.

It was on the roof when the broken down and weary woman came face to face with her pride that God did what He does best. 

Forgiveness.

Restoration.

Transformation. 

The characters portrayed all had flaws…just like every single person in the world does. 

Good traits, bad traits, strengths and weaknesses…just human beings making their way through the ordinary and extraordinary of life on planet earth. 

But yielded to God, we become different and better and more conformed to the image of His Son.

#3. Finally, I also appreciated the acknowledgment that as believers we struggle with rejoicing when God does a wonderful thing for someone else, but not us. 

Though I have not incurred the shocking and unexpected loss of life of one in my immediate family, I have suffered losses that I prayed would not happen. 

And I have watched as God seemed to answer quickly and miraculously for others what did not come to us. 

Watching the guilt and pain and mocking that comes from NOT rejoicing with others played out on the screen, was a stark reminder to me of why God asks me to have a big heart for everyone. 

To live humbly in the blessings that are more evident in my life…to surrender in the blessings that come in the form of trials…to comfort those who mourn and rejoice with those who celebrate. 

This is what sets us apart and makes us different. 

Our salvation was one and done. 

Our sanctification is a day by day…hour by hour…event by event…process as we yield to the work of the Holy Spirit in us. 

Friday thoughts <3

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Before I even jot down today’s little thought for you, I want to wish our Sarah a very happy birthday <3

I do not know where the years have gone, they have flown on wings to be sure. We miss being with our various people on their special days, don’t we? So hopes and prayers for all good things to come her way today as we celebrate long distance. 

Hmmm….no good way to jump from that little announcement to today’s thought so we will shift gears rapidly.

During our visits to St. Paul’s for the Lenten series, I picked up their version of Our Daily Bread type daily reading. It is called Portals to Prayer. 

I set it on my nightstand and have been enjoying a short reading at the end of the day. 

Yesterday’s writing was based on Titus 2: 11-12: 

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness, and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in the present age. 

The thing about ungodliness in our present age is that we can get lulled into observing such mammoth examples every single day in others, that we forget God is interested in doing things on a more focused and personal level in His children. 

The devotional writer defined “ungodliness” as living our lives without acknowledging God and pinpointed how easily this is done as we get caught up in the busy-ness of doing our daily business. 

Often in my sheltered and well-protected daily life, ungodliness can seem like something that is more of a problem for those clearly embracing sin or convinced there is no such thing as sin or who are deceived and deceiving others about sin.

Ungodliness is a term for those who mock God or disregard that He exists or those who are blatantly and outwardly opposed to any form of conforming to God’s word in Scripture. 

But the focus of this devotion was a revelation of simple ways I need to renounce ungodliness in my own life by:

<3 Taking time each day to think and pray for guidance 

<3 Trusting Jesus even when I hit a wall in the middle of the day

<3 Taking time to ask if my current efforts are in line with His will for me or motivated by my own selfish ways

As I read that list, I am convicted deeply.

Most days I do start with a quiet time that involves reading, study and prayer…but when I put the books back on the shelf and refill my coffee to head in and get ready for the activities of that day…I confess that I take over and either push forward or stall based on my own thoughts and preconceived plans. 

3:00 is usually when I hit my wall. Whatever I haven’t accomplished looms as an impossible to scale mountain and the stream of negativity is unleashed as I grouse, complain and berate myself.

And  yes…often this is the result of not checking in with God throughout the day nor making sure my choices were fueled by His will. 

And God calls THIS ‘ungodliness’

As we move from the season of Lent into the busy-ness of May and then summer activities, what a great reminder to continue to keep our eyes on Christ and His example all throughout each and every day. 

Simple prayers and dialogue with God as we move from morning to noon to evening will help to keep our hearts and minds aligned with Him. This discipline will do wonders to maintain that close relationship and fellowship gained for us by His sacrifice and resurrection. Living daily and hourly in His mercy and grace empowers us to be true sons and daughters. 

Our faith journey is a work in progress…step by step. 

So here is my takeaway – when I am confronted by glaring “ungodliness” in the world around me, I pray that will trigger in me a reminder of my own tendency to try and do life without God’s guidance and presence and will prompt me to pray for the ability to see and know the right choices for me.

I cannot do anything to change others, but I can open myself to be transformed and changed by the God who made me, knows me and loves me.

Be blessed today as you seek to draw nearer to Him <3

Outtakes from the Journey <3

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Do you love when movies or shows play the bloopers at the end? 

The imperfect flubs that happened in putting together the unflawed movie or show we just got so wrapped up in?

Those serious and talented actors messing up their lines and falling into fits of giggles?

It puts all the drama into perspective and helps us realize we are all playing on the level ground of humanity. 

Last week I really wanted to honor God in a non-distracted way for your visits to this little slice of the internet. 


I wanted to help you and me maintain our focus in a devotional way and reflect on Christ alone, but I today I wanted to share a couple of bloopers from the Journey.

One was last Thursday when I had all four kiddos for the entire rainy day and decided we needed to get out of the house since unbeknownst to them, they were arising before the crack of dawn to drive to an airport and fly to Austin for Easter. 

We loaded up and headed to the Children’s Museum.

As we pulled into the parking lot three school buses were dumping a bazillion kids out to line up and head on in to the same square footage. 

Lola switched her mind right quick and before we unbuckled, the van pulled out and headed to the library. 

My crew wasn’t too excited but I built it up pretty big and as we pulled into the parking lot, I decided to take advantage of an end spot to save at least one side of the car from door dings. 

I pulled Caroline out of her car seat and headed around to get the boys when I realized the rear tire was precariously perched somewhat on…somewhat off of a curb. 

A mom was getting ready to unload her kids one space over so I asked her if she could hold Caroline while I backed the van off the curb and parked better. 

I am not sure who’s face looked sicker…mine or hers as we heard the sound of the bottom side of the van hit the curb..but I am pretty sure it was mine. 

The van was stuck solidly on the concrete with the front tire one quarter down in the muddy muck just in front of the dang thing. 

I took Caroline, pulled three curious boys out onto the sidewalk, called the tow truck…FaceTimed Rachel on accident…she was at work…didn’t answer thankfully, snapped a pic and my phone died. 

So there we stood. 

Waiting in the drizzle. 

Afraid to get back in the van. 

Praying for the tow truck to come.

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Borrowing another woman’s phone to call mom as I knew by now she was worried as to why I would call her at work. 

Long story short – the truck came…they have towing insurance…the guy who pulled us out already knew who we were because Rachel used to work with his wife and the wife had warned him we were special customers and there was no damage to the van.

We were the heroes of the young moms in the library once we finally were able to go in and find a charging station. 

The mom who had held Caroline confessed she did the same thing a couple of week’s ago. These young gals gave me a huge pep talk about being willing to have all four out even if everything had gone well and one offered to go get me any beverage of my choice.

Hilarious.

There were plenty of other things that went down to keep us humble and remind us life is a marathon not a sprint, but I want to share with you that even as I wrote daily and sincerely about Jesus who has my whole heart…there were moments when my faith did not feel strong. 

Sometimes I doubt His power…sometimes I doubt His willingness…sometimes I doubt His goodness…sometimes I let all that I can see with my eyes be all that there is. 

Last night I had some extra drive time and I listened to a couple of Easter sermons from different churches. 

As I listened, my faith was built up, so after the amen I just rode in silence and I asked God why I can’t feel that faith-filled all the time. 

And in the dark amongst the headlights of fellow travelers, the truth of that statement we all like to make but struggle to understand anchored a little more solidly in my soul.

We walk by faith and not by sight. 

Truth is not changed by how I “feel.”

I have no more “faith” when I am feeling strong then I do when I am feeling weak.

My faith is not based on my feelings at any given moment. 

When we are all gathered in the fellowship of believers on a Sunday morning or standing alone in the market place of scoffers on Monday, our faith is unmoved by how we “feel.”

Maybe you need to hear that today. 

Your faith is not dependent on your current situation. 

If you have received Christ and have passed through the waters of His baptism…your condition is saved, your position is secured. 

You are a child of God. 

Saved.

Healed. 

Restored. 

Whole.

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Born again into an unshakable faith…even when your knees are shaking and your feelings are screaming anything but the truth. 

Easter Sunday <3

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Easter Sunday

We have arrived!

It has been forty days since Ash Wednesday.

We have chosen some fasts perhaps. Read a little more Scripture than we normally do. 

Offered our hearts to be cleansed more…opened our minds to be renewed more.

Contemplated the events of Holy Week from a new perspective, and now we celebrate. 

This year our family is doing something on Easter that we haven’t done in a very long time. 

We will all be together. 

For the past several years this has only happened one time every year. One short few hours on Christmas Eve when all the whole tribe is in one place together at the same time. 

I dare say as my tears flow every Easter and as they are surely spilling out even as I type those words, we do not stand a prayer of a dry Easter here in Austin. 

It has been a “pinch me I must be dreaming” day for this mom and I can say that we did not rest….not for a moment. 

And God willing and the creek don’t rise, we get to do it again in May for a wedding and June for a birthday. More than I could ask or imagine.

We packed all the life and fun and togetherness in that we could. 

But I want to end this journey through Lent as we began so I will turn the last few thoughts of this to the first Resurrection Sunday. 

All four Gospels spill out the details as if they were telling it for the very first time. 

To the hardened, cynical eye it may sound like they are telling conflicting stories, but this is not the case. 

Just as each one of us here in my family could give you the story of the events of today as we visited a zoo, children’s museum, ate various meals and hopped in and out of cars, our stories would be all true…but from different perspectives and angles. The details would be inconsistent from one to the next. 

The one thing we can definitely know is that the grave is empty.

Jesus is alive and he didn’t look like something that crawled off the set of the Night of the Living Dead. 

He still bore the marks of crucifixion in his hands, feet and side but He was healed from the other wounds inflicted on Him. 

No scars from the crown of thorns…no scabs from the scourging…no bruises from the beating.

Just Him…alive and triumphant, but always and forever bearing the proof that our sins were nailed to the cross forever. 

Paid in full.

Hallelujah! 

He is Risen….

He is Risen indeed <3

  • Scriptures:
  • Matthew 28: 1-15
  • Mark 16: 1-11
  • Luke 24:1-33
  • John 20: 1- 23

Saturday <3

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There is not much reading for today.

So little in fact, I decided to include the short portions of Scripture that tell how Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus got brave and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 

How they wrapped His broken and beaten frame in fine linen, layered and treated with myrrh and aloes…a hundred pounds, mind you…and then laid Him in a tomb just as the sun was slipping away so that they could be home for the Sabbath. 

I think about these two men gently and lovingly tending the remains of this man they had loved who had touched lepers and healed the blind, had welcomed the unlovely and the outcast and invited them into His family. 

I think of the physical labor involved in lifting the spices, carrying Him, wrapping Him and then lifting Him onto the place made for the corpse and the weight of the pain in their hearts and souls.

I think of Nicodemus and how he once snuck off in the dark of night to talk to Jesus full of fear to be associated with Him and now boldly going to Pilate and asking if he can give Him a proper Jewish burial. 

I think of the women and the disciples, raw with grief and lack of sleep.

In the first stages of shock and completely broken, they observed the Sabbath rest.

We have been there haven’t we all to a certain degree?

The day after the worst possible thing we could imagine happening and we wonder how we are still breathing as the crushing of immeasurable sorrow presses every ounce of joy and hope and life out of us. 

Activities and conversations that used to be normal and automatic now seem strained and pointless because we are sure our heart, soul and spirit have been irreparably shattered.

 But our mind won’t stop.

It keeps going over the details and the what if’s and what now’s.

It is like life has become a cruel joke as we go through the motions of regular routines knowing that everything has changed drastically and yet the world is moving along just as it did every day before we lost something dear to us.

We do not even know where to place our feet to move forward into what tomorrow will now look like for us. 

Surely it was like this for them.

And even more so.

But they rested. 

Because it was the Sabbath. 

Because they knew one thing…if He was still with them, He would have rested. 

And so in the familiar place of obedience and the resolve to follow Him they did nothing except rest and wait <3

  • Scriptures:
  • Matthew 27: 62-66
  • Mark 15:42-47
  • Luke 23:56