Category Archives: Relationships

On the positive side…<3

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One of us got the bright idea that since we were going into at least two weeks of work-from-home, shelter-in-place, lock down; the other of us, named Russ, could paint the hall bathroom and back bedroom. 

We took a vote and it passed. 

He got right to it and since I have an aversion to pans of paint and roller brushes, he did that and I would come along behind with a small bowl and an artist brush to do the areas close to ceiling and edges. 

We are, and always have been, successful in marriage by staying in our lanes. 

So yesterday afternoon as he ran his work world from the end of our kitchen table, I donned my paint clothes and headed down the hall to put the finishing touches on Project #2. 

I was up on top of the ladder when I could hear sirens blaring in the distance. It was obviously several first responder vehicles and since the wail of the alarms were punctuated by horns honking, I assumed there had been a major accident on the highway a few blocks east of our house. 

It continued and my heart dipped low thinking about what kind of horrid thing had now occurred on top of what we already have going on.

I prayed and painted for a few minutes and then decided the whole dang world must be coming to an end and I wasn’t going out standing on a paint ladder.

Realizing I hadn’t heard anything from Russ and as the sound of sirens was now coming closer, fear gripped me that they were for him. 

I came out and the kitchen table was empty, I called for him and got no answer.

I now feared the Rapture had happened and somehow I missed it…as the sirens and honking were now clearly right on our street.

I noticed the front door was slightly open as I headed for the porch and there was my best friend out on the side walk, smiling and waving along with most of the neighbors as car after van after car drove by waving and smiling and making a joyful noise. 

He had called for me but I hadn’t heard him behind the closed door so he thought I had gone for a walk.

Out in front of our house was a sight that is being repeated across the country and let me tell you…what a sight!

The teachers from the local schools were driving through the neighborhoods led by the fire truck and police, with poster board signs on their vehicles announcing “We miss you!” and their names and all kinds of balloons and party stuff in the windows. 

There I stood in Rachel’s old too-tight clinical lab coat and my paint pants, brushes and bowl of grey paint in hand…waving like I was one of their school kids, or had some under our roof or whatever. 

I was doing that kind of laughing and crying thing we do when all the emotions are just exploding out of the deepest places of the heart.

And those sweet teachers did not discriminate this 60 plus couple…they waved right back at us like we were missed as much as any of the other little tykes.

Across the street, our neighbor who owns one of the local restaurants and is working hard at the new business model of take-out only, was smiling and waving with his wife and daughters. 

This parade was like a beacon of hope and the reminder we are a community and that this will pass. 

In the midst of this time when I know it is bad in places and people are facing such hard decisions in certain locations, I see God working good in so many. 

I see couples walking and talking together who used to be rushing off to the next thing or settling down in front of a ball game on TV. 

Families are sitting down to tables together and without the rush of having to fit all the practices and homework and chores into the few hours between school and bedtime, they are actually getting to know each other.

There are continuous opportunities for each of us to examine what used to take up our time and attention and evaluate our priorities. 

As we grieve the loss of certain freedoms and amenities we took for granted, we can do a heart check to see if we had set up idols of comfort and convenience. 

“Functional idols” is a theme in so many teachings I have heard leading up to this and God is now revealing to us, His people, where we had unconsciously erected a few or more of them in our hearts. 

I pray for myself, our family, our friends and community, the world at large to not only recognize the Hand of God at work in this time, but that we would seek His face. 

By that I mean, truly desire to simply know Him and to be in His presence as you sort through all the emotions and reactions that will arise throughout the day and night. 

May you be blessed to sense His nearness to you, for surely He is not far from any of us <3

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Perfect love casts out all fear <3

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One of the downsides of having an active imagination is the inevitability of over thinking in the midst of any kind of possible threat and carrying all the plot lines out as if they were actually happening. 

Add to that imagination an ability to embellish with vivid details and you have before you the battle of my mind these days. 

I listen to all the mix of reports on the virus, the economy and the uncertainty of decision being made and I find I am fighting the urge to work through all the potential scenarios as if they were actually happening. I am purposefully focusing my thoughts on what is real and present right at this moment.

Throughout the day I have to pray for a sound mind and readjust that helmet of salvation over this scattered and over-thinking brain of mine. 

As I have prayed, I was reminded of an experience with fear and health from my first visit to Kenya so I am sharing today. 

When our church decided to send a vision team to explore ministry opportunities in the region where our home missionaries were set up, I felt a tug in my heart to go to this area we had supported financially and with our prayers for so many years. 

But as the time drew closer for the actual trip, I realized that there was a fear in me regarding the inevitable exposure we would have to both HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis.

While I am not a germaphobe, I can easily become panicky about serious illnesses and conditions in a way that can border on irrational. 

I know me well enough to know that the fear of contracting any of those could cause me to completely withdraw in such a way that I would be crippled and ineffective in engaging socially with these people I had come to love already through prayer and photos from the teams serving them. 

So I asked some people to pray that I would not get weird and miss the whole experience because of my fears. 

Well, they prayed and I was able to meet and greet and talk with not a shadow of the grip of the fear I had feared; and then very near the end of our time there, God just had to look down on this child of His and decide to make one more good, faithful and strong answer of His power at work in me to be visible so I wouldn’t forget. 

The Maasai, I learned, have no concept of our social hula hoop/bubble. 

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I had been crammed into vehicles with far too many people, held hands or walked arm and arm with many young women and older women as is their charming custom to do with friends. 

I had sat in the close quarters of dormitories with the women’s ministry team from the area as they shared their desire to learn more and teach others about Jesus. 

And then we were hosted for a meal at the boma (home) of one of the Maasai families we were visiting. 

I was approached at one point by a very tall and very thin Kenyan man, who coughed consistently and had the haggard eyes that were a telltale sign of the disease that would eventually take his life. 

He told me his name and that he was dying of AIDS. His wife had died from same just recently and he was asking for prayer for their three young daughters who would be orphaned. He wanted me to pray over them and not forget them.  

Knowing the culture, I called for one of my friends to come and stand with us in prayer and she bowed her blonde head next to mine as we put our hands on these three young girls. 

Immediately their father stepped up to the tight circle and bowed his head over all of us. 

So there we were. 

Praying over these young lives as their father stood like an umbrella over our heads as we prayed.

And I had no fear. 

Because over the top of it all, I felt the Father of all mercies smiling the way He does when He answers my prayers in ways I could not have imagined. 

Instead of protecting me by keeping me clear of all my fears, He led me right into the thick of them and made His sweet Presence known. He showed me His heart and made mine a teeny bit more like His.

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I wrote their names down and carried them in my prayers for many years. 

Those girls are grown now and recently friends were able to snap a picture and send to me from their trip to Kenya. 

We have many real things that could produce fear in us right now. But we have been told to not be afraid.

It is easier said than done, but we know…

Love casts out all fear. Perfect love, that is.

And the only Perfect Love is from the Father <3 

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Now where do I know you from? <3

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Doing a little check in on the Bible read through this morning. 

I am almost through 1 Samuel, and even with the rather psycho moments of Saul (literally…insane) I am finding it somewhat a refreshing read after the total crazy train of Judges. 

Since this isn’t my first rodeo of reading through the Bible in a year, plus having used many of the passages in either study or teaching over the years, you would think I wouldn’t still be noticing things…but you would be wrong. 

This is why I encourage you and everyone to read through the Bible multiple times and use different translations. 

It’s like an onion (to borrow from Shrek’s quote about ogres)…

the Bible has layers and each time you read through, God peels off another thin slice to help open our eyes. 

This time I have marked several question marks.

 One is regarding 1 Samuel 16 and then Saul’s memory lapse that happens in the next chapter.

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In Chapter 16 we find the Holy Spirit has left Saul after he directly disobeys God and then lies about it.

David has already been covertly anointed by Samuel to take over the kingdom of Israel and is back tending his father’s sheep with oil still dripping from his hair. 

Saul is struggling with his own demons and someone recommends maybe music would help lift his mood. One of servants just happens to know a guy…named David…who tends sheep but plays a mean lyre. 

He is brought to the palace and according to verse 21, Saul “loved him very much” …. so much that not only does he become Saul’s personal Pandora station, but he also makes David his armor bearer. 

All I can surmise is that David is one of several armor bearers because a few short verses later, in Chapter 17, we find Saul and his army, which includes David’s older brothers, on the front lines of battle with the Philistines. 

David is back tending the sheep and his father sends him to take food to the brothers and see how they are doing.

This is the famous David and Goliath story, but it is intriguing to me that when David decides this foul-mouthed giant needs to go down, he is brought to Saul. 

Saul converses with him, offers David his own suit of armor…watches as David slays the enemy of Israel with a sling shot wearing only his shepherd’s garb and then asks…Whose son are you? 

What?

Wouldn’t you think Saul might recognize the guy who had been in his living room playing the lyre? The one who he loved and made an armor bearer?

Is this an inconsistency in Scripture?

I know it is not. 

It is an opportunity for me to ask God what He is trying to tell me in these passages and as I pray and think about it, I jot down my thoughts. 

One thought is that we are getting a glimpse into the unstable mind of Saul without the Holy Spirit. As I look at other passages about Saul, I can see a self-focused, egotistical man who put his own needs before everyone else including his family, his army, the nation of Israel and God. 

I also think of people I have met over the years who no matter how many times I am around them introduce themselves to me and are always glad to meet me.

Sometimes I threaten to eventually ask them if they are as glad to meet me this time as they were the last time or is this time better. 

But with that being said, I am guilty of forgetting I have met people too. 

I happen to be married to a man who rarely forgets a name and never forgets a face. 

I have sadly been known to forget both. 

He teaches me a lot, that husband of mine, about using people’s names when I meet them and asking questions to get to know who they are and then remembering them. It means being other-focused instead of self-focused. 

We are wired differently, he and I, and this comes more naturally to him. But I am not off the hook. 

People matter to God and so I have to make a concentrated effort to shift my myopic vision off of my little corner of the world and really see people…appreciate them as humans made in God’s image…and commit to remember names and some details for future meet-ups. 

So that is just one take-away from my daily reading this week.

How about you, my fellow sojourners?

Where are you in your read through?

Share something that is speaking to you with someone you meet today…spread the Word…it is so much more interesting than the current buzz of hand sanitizer shortages. Just sayin….

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