Who are you listening to?

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Well it’s Thursday and with the writing challenge on Instagram and my little foray into the commitment to do a weekly Facebook Live…I am feeling a tad overexposed and vulnerable. 

So it is fitting that I find myself needing to get ready to go and sit on a panel for the MOPS group at our church this morning for the first time ever. 

I was honored to be asked a few weeks ago if I would do this and to be honest, it was sort of uplifting to the soul to think someone, somewhere in our church thought I might have something to add to any kind of panel…

but this morning I am full of doubts and insecurities because I have no idea what sitting on a MOPS panel means…I don’t know what the expectations are and what the topics will be and if I will even remember what it was like to navigate those preschool years with our own three. 

I fear I will apply the wisdom gained from thirty plus years of mothering and gloss over the reality of the inadequacies I felt as every phase of our children’s lives brought new strategies and lessons and joys and heartaches. 

And the three very different personalities in our children meant a brand new playing field…every single time…

My empty nest friends and I sometimes talk about how we remember some parts of those years and others are graciously erased by time. 

We also look at the culture our children are raising children and realize God put us in that phase in a very different world setting and while we still know how to lay down the law regarding sneaking snacks from the pantry or sass-talking…we have no foundation for issues facing young parents today. 

And as I try to figure out how to transition my attire from the summer clothes I sweated in yesterday when it was literally 90 degrees…to layers to get me through the cold front that is sweeping over the midwest…I feel like perhaps the sweet leaders of this ministry were scraping the bottom of the barrel when they asked me and I hope and pray I can come through for them. 

This week I had several exchanges on Marco Polo with two women who do what I do through writing, speaking and podcasting. 

We talked about how there is a voice in the back of our minds who is constantly reminding us why we probably have no business encouraging others, speaking hope and life, sharing teachings and insight because….look at the messier parts of our own stories and well…we need to just quiet down and realize who and what we are. 

Only guess what. 

We know who and what we are. 

We are women who love Jesus and know the difference He has made in our lives. 

We know what we are capable of without Him and we know that with Him we can do abundantly more than we could even think or dream or imagine. 

We know we are His and that He stands for us and intercedes for us. 

We know that we are sinners saved by grace and thus saints. 

We know our identity is found in our relationship with Him and we are not defined by either our failures or our successes. 

And we will silence the voice of the enemy of God and we will follow the voice of our Leader. 

And sometimes we will stumble…and sometimes we will put our foot in our mouth…and sometimes we will get it wrong and sometimes we will get it right…but all the time…is His time.

Who are you listening to?

What is God calling you to do that the devil is trying to say you have been disqualified to do?

God can do anything, you know – far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

Ephesians 3:20 The Message by Eugene Peterson

Meditate on THAT voice today <3

Wednesday check in <3

www.laurareimer.net

I didn’t show up here yesterday because I had an aggressive to do list and a lot of that Fall energy and adrenaline I spoke about on Monday. 

I managed to stay on task for two solid days and I am hoping to have a three-peat today. 

I’m telling you…Fall is my season. 

When Russ got home I made him walk around the house so I could show him all the things I accomplished…it’s like living with a kindergartner…bless him <3

I have so many thoughts bubbling around in my head so today I am just sharing a couple of them and then we can move on with our day <3

October is the anniversary month for starting this blog. In the summer of 2013 I attended a writer’s conference even though the only writing I did was in spiral notebooks like you buy at the start of the school year (wide rule please, to accommodate my messy handwriting.) I also sent out a newsletter to about a hundred people and had the audacity to schedule a meeting with a publisher who was so very kind, she looked at my material and smiled sweetly and said the most amazing thing. A hundred people is a good-sized church, you know. I have kept that in my heart. One person encouraged on a given day is enough in the Kingdom. One weary saint who feels understood. One person who doesn’t feel alone that can be reached through this…it’s amazing. 

I am getting so much out of the Kelly Minter study “Finding God Faithful” and one of the aha moments from this week came from a new look at 1 Peter 1:3-9. Looking at this passage through the lens of Joseph’s struggles and heartache when he was unjustly imprisoned gave me a new perspective. 

These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

1 Peter 3:7 NIV

It occurred to me as I read these passages that I have misconstrued this in my life.

I thought my trials were a pass/fail and after I go through them, God will look at my faith and see if it was the real deal and either give me a thumbs up or a thumbs down and the whole thing probably developed early in me from a works-based type of religion that I refuse to blame anyone for. 

The process of learning about Jesus and what He did is a lifelong process…and yesterday some more scales fell off these blind eyes. 

I realized that the “faith” that is in me is the faith given as a grace gift from God when I received Christ as my Lord and Savior. 

When I go through trials and testings, that faith IS gold. That faith makes it through because it is indestructible. And when I get to the other side, I can clearly see that the faith in me is the real deal.

So every time I endure a trial or a testing, as I lean hard into God and seek Him in the midst of it. As I struggle with my old fleshy-selfish-idolatrous nature and with His help overcome it….that faith that was given to me comes through unharmed. 

And the result of it is – beautiful and pure worship and praise of God because that faith was a GIFT from Him!!!

Something I cannot attain when I am full of myself and my worth. 

Here is what I wrote in my study page:

I am seeing this verse from a new perspective. Is it that the faith given me can only be shown its true value and character in times of suffering and trial – stripped bare of all that I thought was blessing and favor? In the heat of loss, betrayal, doubt – the faith that comes as a gift of grace its shown for what it is: an underserved, unearned gift. And then I see with clear eyes how great our God is. And my worship of Him grows more pure and deeper because of my own sin and self burned away in the fire of trial. This is why I rejoice greatly in my trials.

I am forging ahead today with another Facebook live and sharing some other things gleaned from the study. If you do Facebook – check it out. If you don’t, carry on with your day blissfully free of all that is social media.

I pray today in whatever you are facing, you can begin to see that the faith that is in you IS pure gold…you are not being tested to fail.

You are being tested to be proven genuine. There is a world of difference <3

When the month ends at the beginning of the work week <3

www.laurareimer.net

There is something just slightly skewed in my wiring, I think…but I am feeling like today is a holiday of some kind because the end of the month of September is falling on a Monday and this is energizing me in a strange and perplexing way. 

October is the anniversary month for this blog. September is one of my favorite months because I love routine even though we no longer technically have school children.

We do have access to some school children, they just live with their parents so we are spared the uglier parts of adjusting to back to school like bedtime panic, packing lunches, brushing teeth, homework, backpack nonsense and the endless stack of papers to go through….

every.

single.

day.

I find the heat and humidity less threatening to me than in August. Oh sure, we have some blazing hot days, but when the sun sets there is a chill in the air and the promise that we will not be wilting much longer. 

The flowers that we tended all summer are getting pulled out and being replaced with low maintenance mums and pumpkins. 

While some people get into Spring Cleaning, I am more inclined to do that before we gear up for the holiday rush. 

Fall food is my favorite and cinnamon apple and clove are my scents so I feel at home in this season. 

Over the weekend, I pulled out some new recipes to try and jotted down thoughts and ideas that flowed from our drives across all parts of this state. The harvest has begun. My adrenaline is kicking in and I actually have some white space on our calendar this week.

How does your week look like it will be shaping up? 

I hope it’s a good one. 

Stop back tomorrow with a cup of joe (or cinnamon tea) and a pumpkin muffin and let’s chat. 

Until then, I will be scurrying around attacking my to-do list and jotting down notes of things to share with you in the coming month <3

When we resist rest <3

www.laurareimer.net

I had a thought all ready, to end this week and then God scrapped it this morning and you can just stop and give Him a high-five because it was long and complicated and this one is just short and sweet. 

As you may know, most Tuesdays and Thursdays I get to go spend either a half or whole day with our four grandchildren while mom and dad are working.

Either way, I usually end up with the nap time routine.

Caroline never stops moving and talking from the moment she rolls out of bed in the morning, so she goes out pretty quickly.

Joel, however, is convinced he doesn’t need a nap but his behavior without one convinces us he does. 

We read a couple of stories and we turn out the light.

As he gathers his blankets and stuffed animals close, I tell him the longest, most boring story I can make up and then depending on how tired he is, he fights it or drops off to sleep. 

If you have ever spent two minutes with a preschooler it will come as no surprise that it is when he is MOST tired, that he fights sleep with the most wiggles and energy. 

Mildly tired Joel will gently drift off somewhere mid-story. 

Over tired Joel will use every last ounce of mental strength to force his body to remain in movement of some kind.

His feet keep inching to the edge of the bed, his droopy eyes are held open in a stubborn stare. His shoulders are tensely hunched and drawing tight as I rub his back, until finally I have to tell him he HAS to lay still. 

Perhaps because he is the third child, he doesn’t realize I have no power over him to actually stop him from wiggling and so eventually his still body no longer resists sleep and his breathing relaxes and he rests. 

I look at those lashes laying on chubby cheeks and watch his chest rise and fall so peacefully and wonder why he didn’t choose this path to begin with. 

I sense God often looks at me and wonders the same thing. 

Every invitation to encounter God through Christ involves a promise of peace and rest. 

Come to Me, all you who are heavy laden…weary….burdened…and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

Let the peace of Christ rule in you hearts…you were called to peace…be thankful. Colossians 3:15

Cast your anxieties on to Him…he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

Take my yoke upon you…learn from Me…for I am gentle and humble in heart…and you will find rest for your souls. 2 Corinthians 4:16

When we are resisting rest…when we are striving and pushing ourselves to the point of exhaustion…when we are tense and in constant motion…it is difficult to feel God’s love and peace and comfort and rest. 

Yes, we must work hard and put good effort into our tasks, but don’t forget to rest.

Everything that needs to be done will still be there after you are refreshed. 

Enjoy some rest this weekend. You and your loved ones will be so thankful if you do <3

Remembering again <3

www.laurareimer.net

I know I used this photo already this week, but the story behind it is one that is still tender to my heart. 

I have a lot of decorations around our house that were crafted by children we love. 

Painted paper pumpkins and thumbprints dipped in fall colors and dotting a bare tree…a coffee can painted black with a pumpkin and a green stem…all make me smile because I think of the sweet little hands of children and grandchildren.

But this slightly garish decoration tugs at a place in my heart where deep grooves were worn by the ravages of Alzheimers on my dad and the scars left on us as we walked a journey many people know all too well. 

I am no hero in this story. 

I did what I could and let nurses and aids deal with the worst of it on a daily basis as we continued to get kids to ball games and school and through college and weddings and life. 

I wrote this several years ago and have shared before but I share again today because on October 5th many local families will walk in honor of or in memory of loved ones. 

My father lived another three months after I wrote this one tired night when everything in me was raw.

It really is the end.

A wheelchair replaces the bow-legged walk down the hall. Sweat pants and sweat shirt replace the soiled pants and button down shirt with the inevitable pocket to keep his notebook and pens in.

He isn’t angry, but he isn’t really happy either. Just in a fog.

I think he knows me, but hard to tell.

Trying to make conversation, his words are nonsense. He is embarrassed because he couldn’t swallow his medicine and now it is a wet spot on his shirt.

He looks at me, but doesn’t see.

It isn’t like I wish he was the way he was before. That wasn’t any better. Just a different kind of awful.

I don’t feel sorry for me. It hurts more than anyone can know, but I don’t feel sorry for me.

I don’t feel sorry for him either. It’s just another part of life for both of us.Another part that is hard and seems cruel, but it’s just another part.

In it are sweet moments.

Things like a fall pumpkin he made in crafts. It’s obvious he had a lot of help, but still he thinks he made it. When I tell him it is beautiful, and I really mean it because it is, he thanks me in his own way. Though the words make no sense, I can tell by the way he moves his head what he is saying.

When I think of how my mom was spared the pain of this, I can’t stop thanking God.

I can’t think of anything but how thankful I am to Him that she never had to see this. I am thankful it is not my sister. I am thankful it is me.

When I told him I love him, he said “me too”. I asked him if he meant he loves me or he loves himself. He laughed.

I am going to believe he got the joke and it made him laugh.

The laugh and the pumpkin are enough for today.

God’s grace poured out for one more visit, tangible in a fall decoration on the seat next to me.

Tomorrow will bring another dose of grace for that day.

Tonight the tears flow from my tiredness.

Tomorrow will bring new mercies.

For those of you who are in this season still, may God hold your hearts together when you feel you can’t face another trip into that room.

For those of you remembering your own season, may He give you comfort and peace that you loved as well as you could each time. 

No guilt. 

No condemnation. 

God holds all the pieces when everything is falling apart. 

Rest in Him. 

Be thankful for His grace and mercies over you and in you. Over your loved ones or the memories of them that you carry <3