Hope Full or Hope Empty?

Back when my husband was in seminary, I worked at Baylor Medical Center as a secretary to the chaplain, nurse, social worker and nutritionist of the Sammons Cancer Center.

We put together support groups for cancer patients and offered counseling and information for those in need.

Quite frequently, my co-workers would come in and download about specific uplifting encounters with patients and sometimes, extremely difficult ones as well.

One particular day, our nurse came in somewhat shaken by an incident that had occurred in one of the patient’s rooms and she needed a chance to process what had happened.

A loved one was dying and as the family stood around crying, they began to shout, “Satan, leave! You have no place here!” Our nurse was trying to do her job to help ease the patient in their passing only to be told that she was the one who was keeping the healing from taking place and  that her presence brought the devil into the room!

They insisted she leave and she did so in tears.

She came back to our office needing to process why, when she was trying to serve as an angel of mercy so to speak, was she being accused of being the devil himself!

I have no doubt that the family was grieving deeply, gripped by fear of losing their loved one and in a world of hurt and pain.

But, had anyone ever told them that death would come to them and their loved ones at some point?

Were they not prepared for this day so that whenever it came, it would not catch them spiraling out of control?

Maybe they wanted a repeat of the Bible story of when Jesus raised his friend, Lazarus from the grave?

Did they not know though, that at some point, later on, Lazarus died again and this time was raised to heaven and not again to earth?

I think of my dear friends who are preparing to send their loved one off to heaven soon.

Everything that could be done on this earth and all the prayers lifted up seem to point to the fact, that she will be leaving here sooner than any of us would like.

Yet in the midst of this terminal prognosis, there has been a sweetness in the journey as I have watched them prepare for that which they cannot stop.

Oh, this has not been an easy road for any of them and there have been many tears shed, questions asked and fears expressed.

But there has been a preparation and a solid decision that the patient and the family would accept the inevitable and instead of fight it, work with the process and channel their energy into making memories and loving each other well.

They have leaned heavily on the Savior who has promised to carry them here and free them from the sting of death for all eternity to come.

As I have watched this family lean into the pain, I realize that death and dying is a great sorrow, and that is why Jesus came to defeat it once and for all on the cross.

I realize too, that although we can’t stop death in this world, we can choose how we will face it when it knocks at our door.

I remember when I was in Junior High and came home one day to be told by my parents that a dear family friend who was a young wife and mother had just passed away.

I ran to my room in tears and opened my Bible for comfort and found a passage that I love to this day:

“But we do not want you to be uninformed brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.

For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.

For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God.

And the dead in Christ will rise first.

Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.

Therefore encourage one another with these words.”

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Death will come.

Grieving will happen.

It will either occur with hope or without it.

That is a decision only we can make.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Corona Craziness

The Corona virus is among us and there are a myriad of emotions spreading along with it.

Some blow it off as nothing, others preparing as if it is the Bubonic plague.

Somewhere there is a middle ground of sanity that all of us must land at.

It should cost few lives, however for those who are elderly, have a compromised immune system or other health problems, we must take precautions to prevent them from getting something that for them, could be very serious.

All that being said, I want to pose a question to us.

What if this were truly a widespread plague that would take hundreds of thousands of lives?

Although we may not have that concern in this case, this could be a good test run in preparedness in case that scenario should ever come into play.

So, fear and anxiety can be real because we all know that bad things happen in an imperfect world!

Before Corona was overwhelming our news feeds, I have been working on a talk for a women’s retreat that may or may not be happening this next weekend.

With the theme being “having the eyes of our hearts enlightened” out of Ephesians 1:18, I have spent a lot of time in that book, looking at the context and blown away by the 3 truths that Paul is praying the Ephesians would be enlightened to:

 “For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”

Breaking it down, this is Paul’s prayer for their enlightenment (and actually, ours as well!)

#1 – Paul prays that they would know the “hope” to which he has called them!

This “hope” is knowing that He is presently with us in this world where we do suffer the effects of a fallen nature. Evil, sickness and death may be ours for a season, but our hope is in a Savior who conquered it all, will get us through it here and promises us eternal life where we are free from sin within, sin without and all the effects of it when we enter into His glorious presence in heaven.

#2 – Paul prays that they would be ‘enlightened’ to understand what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints!

These are not saints such as the statues that grace so many cathedrals, but real living, breathing followers of Jesus Christ, which by the way, includes you and I, if indeed we are believers and follow Him! He wants us to grasp that we are joint heirs with Christ in eternal life. We will be resurrected from the dead, just as he was and will inherit heaven as our home. We will be his sons and daughters, adopted into His name and will share in the joys of heaven. Hope is our call, inheritance is our reward! He has deposited his Holy Spirit as a guarantee of this inheritance (Eph 1:11-14) and at salvation, our names are written in the “Lambs Book of Life!” (Luke 10:20, Daniel 12:1, Phil 4:3)

#3 –  Paul prays that they would be ‘enlightened’ to understand what is the immeasurable greatness of his power towards those who believe!!

Oh, heavens, I feel Paul is just getting started!  Paul knows that we as Christians will at times feel powerless, due to the great forces of darkness that seem to press in on us at all sides. We will withdraw from the battle, become numb to the pain and hunker down.

Dear Saints, this is not a time to withdraw! We have a hope, an inheritance and a resurrection power at work within us!

This power of Christ is described in detail in Colossians 1: 15-20:

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”

Read it again…observe how many times you see the word “all”. Circle anything that says ‘above’, ‘over’, ‘everything’ etc.

If you don’t think you have gotten it yet, look back at Ephesians 1:19-23 and mark any of those similar words as well.

Read it again. And again. Memorize it. Seal it in your hearts. Be ‘enlightened’!

His name is truly above all other names!  If you caught how many times these passages declare the supremacy of Christ then you will understand that there is no one or no thing who is above him.

Not sickness, death, Satan and all his demons, any person whether powerful or not, any kingdom, anything….. period…..Amen and amen!

Corona Virus has nothing on Him! 

Or us! Why? Because this power over all is at work towards us who believe.

So, dear friends, you are covered.

Whether, Corona, cancer, whatever.

You have a hope, an inheritance and an all surpassing, powerful Savior at work within you.

Jesus told us that in this world, we would have trouble.

John 16:33:

 “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

If you are struggling with fear.  Pray for peace and that God will enlighten your heart to understand these powerful truths.

He has got this.

All of it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Could Have Been A Russian Spy!

I had a couple of students recently that I was supervising  in the library for “In-school-suspension” having done something that, let us just say, they shouldn’t have!

Anyway, they asked me if I had ever done anything stupid when I was their age.

Well, of course I had!

Not to mention, I still do from time to time although not so much in the same context as it would have been as a naive teen!

One particular incident came to mind and I decided to share with them what had taken place.

So, when my friends, Sarah, Debbie and I were 16 years old, we had this thought that we should find this new guy named “Lee” that Sarah had met and wanted to get to know better.

The only problem was that he was stationed at McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita, the city where we lived and it would not be easy to get an entry pass.

Did I mention that Sarah didn’t know Lee’s last name?

Well, we drove to the base and went straight to the guard entrance and inquired as to whether they knew any guy on base named “Lee”.

They warned us that they couldn’t let us in without a pass but all Debbie had to do was flash her white tooth, dimpled smile and flutter her long dark eyelashes that outlined her sparkly blue eyes, to convince them otherwise.

They told us that maybe they could get us in after all and drove us to the barracks where they thought there might be a guy named Lee.

Not knowing exactly where to go, we wandered into the barracks (now do you understand why I used the word “stupid”, in this story?) and started calling out for “Lee” to see if he would miraculously appear and visit with us.

After several young men came out into the hallway, all declaring that they were “Lee”, did we suddenly realize that maybe this WAS NOT such a good idea!

We found our way out of the barracks and wandered into another building still trying to find Lee.

We never found him but instead ran smack dab into an officer who took one look at us and demanded to know what we were doing in this particular building.

Well, we responded that were just looking for Lee!

I don’t know if he must have had some teenage daughters at home himself but he informed us that this was not a place for us to be and we needed to scoot out of there ‘muy pronto’!

He escorted us to the main gate where I am sure the two guards had a lot of explaining to do and some “extra duties” to serve as well!

I got home, went to bed, only to be confronted the next morning by my Dad asking what I had been doing the night before. (How is it that parents intuitively know when something is up?)

I must have had the deer in the headlights look going on because when I replied, “Hanging out with Sarah and Debbie”, he looked at me like he wasn’t born yesterday.

I ended up eventually telling my Dad and to this day, he does not find this story very humorous!

I am so thankful that God watched over some silly, naive girls that day and also that I gained some wisdom without having to learn the hard way.

Of course my ISS students thought this was a great story and wondered why I didn’t just tell the officer that we were Russian Spies!

I guess I hadn’t thought of that!

 

Be kind to animals…but please don’t lose sight of people!

When I was young, I worked as a volunteer at the Humane Society, my brother and I formed a neighborhood animal lovers group and I have owned about every pet that it was legal to own.

To this day, I intervene if someone is cruel to an animal, even if I see children smashing toads on the road for sport. It makes no sense to me whatsoever to kill a living creature unless it is harmful or people depend on it for food.

Living in rural areas, I have appreciated the care and attention that farmer’s and ranchers give to their livestock that goes beyond their personal dependence on them for income. They truly show concern about the creatures that they are responsible for.

As much as I enjoy animals though, may the good Lord help me, if I ever place more compassion and mercy on an animal than a fellow human being.

In reading Luke 13:10-17, I was struck by the impact of Jesus’ words to the Pharisees regarding the issue of keeping the Sabbath as he used an example of a woman in need.

“Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11 And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” 13 And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. 14 But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, “There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” 15 Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? 16 And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” 17 As he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him.”

The Pharisee’s had great rules about following the Sabbath but were well aware that they owned animals that depended on them for care every single day. This meant that they needed food and water even on the Sabbath. The original intent of the Sabbath was that God knew that man needed to take a day to rest from work. It never was an excuse to neglect the care of those who needed assistance.  The Pharisees understood this when it came to their animals but not when it came to the needs of humans.

I tell you, for people who are suffering like this woman did for 18 years, one more day of pain is one day too many! Yet to the Pharisees, she needed a scheduled appointment on one of the other 6 days of the week!

We think we are not hypocrites like these Pharisees, however, are we not?

Denver recently overturned a law banning the ownership of Pit Bulls, yet Colorado is still wrangling over partial birth abortion! This is just one state that comes to mind on the issues involving the dismembering and suffering of the most innocent of human beings.

When people are more angered and defensive for their right to own a certain breed of dog than they are about the tragedy of abortion, where are we headed as a civilization? Are we even civil at all or are we becoming barbaric?

There are many questions we need to be asking ourselves.

I had an interesting discussion with a student recently regarding animals and humans.

I asked the student a question: “When you are driving down the highway and see road kill, what do you do?”

The student replied “I keep driving.”

“O.K.”, I replied. “What if you were driving down the highway and saw a mangled, dead person on the side of the road.”

We both agreed that they, I and almost anyone would stop, call the police and probably be traumatized for years to come.

Why is that? Because human life is of great value and is created in the image of God.

Genesis 1:26, 27:

“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

27 So God created man in his own image,
    in the image of God he created him;
    male and female he created them.”

We were created to reflect a loving, caring and compassionate God. We have the privilege to care for animals and especially our fellow human beings who are created in His image.

May we not forget that the Sabbath is a day for rest unless someone needs help.

May we also take note that it wasn’t animals who were created in God’s image but rather man and to care more about them than human life would be a tragic misplacement of priorities.

Jesus had this amazing way of getting these priorities right. Every….single….time…

 

 

 

 

 

“You Will Love it When It’s Finished”

I truly wish that I was better at persevering than I am.

How I long for the patience to take on detailed and tedious tasks like some of my friends who quilt, paint,  painstakingly strip and refinish furniture, etc.

Not me.

When I took Home Economics, in Jr. High, we were taught how to sew a skirt.

This was all fine and dandy until the teacher kept making us rip out seams that weren’t sewn straight.

What she didn’t understand was that I put that seam in there to stay and if I was going to go to all of that work only to have to rip the whole thing out, well so would it be for my hair as well!

I look at what I can accomplish in one day and I am all in.

Give me some plants I can stick in the ground, water and let the sun do the rest.

If I can’t figure something out in a short amount of time, I am very resourceful. I find someone who knows how to do it and ask them for help.

I will find a way one way or another to get the job done quickly!

So, it only makes sense that God would decide this girl needs to learn to wait.

She needs to sit and be still.

She needs to learn that perseverance builds character and patience is a virtue.

So, he gave me Rick.

Rick who will not do a project unless he can do it well.

Rick who will rip out all the work he has done if he feels it doesn’t look right and start all over again as his wife stands horrified in the corner declaring, “it is fine, just fine, can we please get it done?”

Rick, who with a sly smile answers: “Trust me.  You will love it when it is finished.”

I know I will, I just have a really hard time waiting for the end results.

It is very much like my relationship with Christ.

Sometimes life is very tedious and nothing is falling into place as quickly as I want it to. I am impatient with circumstances, others or myself, wondering why things are taking so long, and I cry out, “Lord, do something! Anything! Can you just change my circumstances or me or something?”

I want the mountain top without the steep climb. I want the answers without wrestling with the questions.

I want Christ to be the genie in the lamp who makes my wish his command at the rub of a bottle.

My impatience forgets that He doesn’t work that way.

The Jews were slaves in Egypt for 500 years before God delivered them. They wandered in the desert for 40 years before they reached the promised land.

Abraham and Sarah were promised an heir and didn’t receive one until they were in their old age.

Some of our greatest leaders  and heroes had multiple tragedies and failures in life before they finally saw success.

It was in perseverance through the hard times, the difficult ones and the uneventful, that God was developing the character for the good results that were to come.

So, I suppose the rest of my days, he will need to help me yield to the steady gait of perseverance and patience.

I am a work in progress and I wonder if I will ever get to where I need to be in this lesson of perseverance. Will there be any lasting change?

And then I remember Rick’s words and somehow  they take on a whole new meaning: “Trust me.  You will love it when it’s finished.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tales of Team Rehmert 2019!

Twas the day after Christmas and all through the house, all the Rehmert’s were present including their spouse!

A cabin we found in the woody flint hills with hopes that connecting would bring us all thrills.

We had Rehmert’s and Brouks with snackage galore, bringing presents and games to this place to explore.

We caught up on life and the year that would pass, laughing at memories we built that would last.

Rick works on our home and continues to pastor but wishes the projects would get done a bit faster!

As if school librarian wasn’t enough, Shelli added class sponsor to even things up!

Matthew and Nicki exchanged more than a look when in August, her name changed from Rehmert to Brouk! (Brook)

Home is Missouri where both have their jobs, they love their new house and their neighbors aren’t snobs!

Fremont, Nebraska was the place to be, where Seth moved in June with his family of three.

Nicole helps with ministry, Russel and more but is excited in May, they’ll be a family of four!

With Lindsay in Branson, working at Chic-fil-A, her life is quite busy but she still got away!

Luke married Abi in July of this year, living in Idaho has not kept them near!

But they do love the mountains, and with jobs and Luke’s classes find time for some fun before it all passes!

Jon and Alissa both attend KSU, Alissa working library and Jon at the zoo! (just kidding, but hey, it rhymed!)

Alissa, earned honors, Jon passed huge exam, made both of them ready for this getaway plan!

The greatest news we have this year is to reflect on our family and all they hold dear.

Their many accomplishments make us so proud but not nearly as much as their faith they live out.

May the love of a Savior be your shining light as you enter this New Year, to all a good night!

 

When the Picture Perfect Christmas isn’t

I love the Christmas season.

The lights, decorations, music and focus on Christ is a celebration to my soul that lasts from the day after Thanksgiving until the New Year.

I get up in the mornings, turn on soft Christmas music, sit by the light of the tree and with only a glow from the lamp, spend time reading scripture as I try to catch a breather from the parties, decorating and shopping to take time to be still and reflect.

This year, it means sitting in an unfinished downstairs with sawdust, tools and disarray in my view.

Another year it meant stopping the celebration to bury and grieve a beloved family member.

I recall more than a few Christmases when there was no extended family around at all to celebrate with.

Those are the times when the Christmas card scenes are far from view and I am reminded that there is no set rule for what Christmas should look like.

No matter how hard I try, perfect is not going to happen at Christmas, so to enjoy it, I must learn to adjust.

Over the years , I have come to see that life doesn’t stop just because Christmas is here but neither does Christmas have to stop when life doesn’t cooperate with the picture in my mind.

I fondly remember a Christmas when we lived in Salina, Ks and once again we were in a house remodel (did I mention that my husband should have his own HGTV special?)

Anyway, this particular Christmas season, we were restoring an old house that had been built in 1884.

It was a sweet Queen Anne with all the feels and we were on a mission to transform her into the beauty that she deserved to be.

The problem was that like all of our housing projects, this house remodel had to fit in around jobs, people and other higher priorities.  Let’s just say it wasn’t getting finished in stellar time.

Being new to the neighborhood and wanting to be hospitable, we decided on this particular year to go for it anyway and do just that!

We made up cards and promptly invited our neighbors to an open house. We announced that everyone could drop in and stop by for a little Christmas cheer, get acquainted with one another, enjoy a short sip of cider, hot chocolate and some homemade goodies.

Up until the very day of the event, I put myself full force into spiffing up the house in some sort of cross between shabby chic, industrial and “Little House on the Prairie”.

What else can one do when the dining walls have been taken down to the studs?

The day came for the party and surprisingly, almost all of our neighbors on the block showed up!

Not only did they show up, they got babysitters, stayed and visited for the whole time!

This was no drop in, open house, but clearly a group of people enjoying each other despite the fact that I had not an ounce of alcohol or “House Beautiful” to offer them!

As the evening wore on, there was no shortage of laughter, joy and conversation mingling into the various backgrounds and diversity of people who had accumulated in our seriously, very humble home.

After they had left, Rick and I marveled at the turnout, the fun and the fact that we had nothing more to provide them with other than good old hospitality and an open door.

Is this not what the whole Christmas story is about?

Imperfect circumstances.

Jesus, the perfect, born to a human.

A virgin. In a stable with smelly animals. With a humble carpenter as a father.

This is what I love about Him.

He is hospitable and His door is open to everyone.

He understands that we are imperfect people living in an imperfect world and yet He loves us.

Because He entered this imperfect world and made an eternal impact, I somehow can find a way to work with it too, albeit on a much smaller scale.

Christmas has and always will be, not about what surrounds us but about what lives within us or for that matter who lives within us.

It never has been about the image we want to portray but rather His image being displayed alive and well in this world and most importantly in our very own lives.

And  it just doesn’t get any more perfect than that.