CHRISTMAS GREETINGS FROM TEAM REHMERT!

Twas  nine days before Christmas and all through my brain,

Are details and deadlines that make me insane!

With birthdays and parties to mention a few, add a wedding and Christmas and New Years day too!

But finally as some things are past on my list, I must write this update before I resist!

With a house to fix up and one to maintain, pastoring a church and some coaching leaves Rick circling the drain!

In spite of the busyness that envelopes my spouse, I have loved taking care of the Victorian house!

I work on my writing and a couple of studies with some awesome great women who have become lifetime buddies!

Nicki works at Parkside Homes and loves up on the aged, they praise her for her servants heart and compassion she displays.

Seth’s new job at Westside church keeps he and Nicole quite busy and settling into their first new home has added to the frenzy!

Lindsay works in Branson still and has quite a social life, new transitions head her way, but no, it won’t be ‘wife’! 😉

KC keeps Luke busy with church and seminary, he is dorm R.A. to some awesome young men giving counsel and making merry!

Jon and Alissa’s friendship has blossomed and grown into a wedding! We all head to Missouri on January first to partake of this beautiful blessing!

Above all the bustle, we stop and we hear the voice of our Savior who always is near, reminding us first, it is all about Him, so we pray a blessed Christmas to friends and to kin!

Emily Dickenson may not relate, but I hope you enjoyed our Team Rehmert update!

Merry, blessed Christmas to all and to all….aw…you know the rest! 😉

 

 

 

 

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THE CHRISTMAS LETTER WE ALL HATE TO READ AND THE BOAT OF DISCONTENT

You know what I’m talking about don’t you?

That dreaded Christmas letter from the perfect family right?

In my world, if I were writing one to you, it would be written like this:

“Hello dear friends, just dropping you a note from beautiful Honolulu where we are finishing up 20 years of successful and fruit bearing ministry at our church here, on the beach.

We have been so blessed to see 300 new members join the church this year with a passionate desire to forsake all and follow Christ 100% with their lives.

Oh and the kids? They are all fine! Each of them happily married and we now have a total of 25 grandkids! They love their jobs and continue to turn down other offers that pursue them because they are just content to be where they are at.

Our parents are the model of octogenarians in perfect health! We enjoy skiing with them when it works out to land at our cabin in Aspen. Of course, we make sure that this happens at least a few times each year!

Last summer, we forsook the skiing trip for a little jaunt to the Swiss Alps. So glad that Rick and I’s daily workout, running 10 miles a day and lifting our 100 and 200 lb weights have paid off! Keeps those flabby abs and grey hairs at bay you know! 😉

Love catching you up on a few little details of our crazy life! Merry Christmas from us!”

Did I just make you want to gag a maggot or what?!

The truth is that most of us are only half truthful about our circumstances.

Now, there is nothing wrong about being positive.

No one wants to hang around Eeyore for very long but after a while, we want to slap Tigger.

Can we please just have a bit of Pooh, Piglet or Owl. Maybe normal, like Christopher Robbin.

Nobody gets the perfect life and when it seems that they do, the rest of us don’t want to hear about it.

There is something about dealing with health issues, a child making bad grades, struggling marriages, difficult jobs, financial loss, that cause us to weary of the fantasy letters that land in our mail.

We begin to look at this letter, compare it to our own lives and decide that somehow, we have missed our ride on the boat of success. Instead of realizing that maybe these people don’t want to pour out all of their woes in a public letter and are leaving half of the story out, we find ourselves picturing that others have it better than we do.

Somehow, others are blessed. They are the chosen. They have got it made.

The saying, “comparison is the killer of contentment”, is very true because if we stay on this boat, it will shipwreck us on the island of despair.

Depression and suicide are at an all time high around the holidays for a reason. We look back on our lives, relationships and the past year and we compare with where others are at or what we think it should look like and we see we fall very short.

Maybe we need to change our thinking.

After all, success, failure, prosperity, struggles, good health, bad health, come to almost everyone at various seasons in life. The book of Ecclesiastes spells out very well, that this is the lot for all of mankind.

So what is the remedy, when the letter comes and we see the green eyed comparison attitude start to surface?

Maybe we can praise God for the blessings of others and also pray for those hard things they keep hidden.  If they are human, they are there.

What about remembering a scripture or two about contentment?

“Godliness with contentment is great gain”, comes to mind. 1 Timothy 6:6

And…

 “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength”  Philippians 4:11-12.

So, we may not be able to stop the mail from coming but we can have a lot of success in changing our attitude about the circumstances of life.

A dose of reality about others, ourselves and the God who is in it all is the safest place to land.

Merry Christmas!

 

FALLING

Before I had my babies, I would listen to these horrific first born birthing experiences where women were in labor for like, 3 days of excruciating pain and trauma and I would wonder, “good night, why did they ever go on to have another one?”

Then I had my first born in the midst of a lengthy, heavy back labor accompanied with a forceps delivery only to turn around and do it again less than two years later. And again. And again. And again.

I finally understood what the experienced mamma’s were talking about. They didn’t dwell on the pain because of the joy that was theirs as the end result.

The fleeting pain of contractions and trauma of birth cannot compare with all the hopes and dreams that  are wrapped up in that tiny bundle of new life.

So, I reflected on this as I watched a movie recently on the life of Billy Graham and his friend and fellow evangelist, Charles Templeton.

Templeton was thought to be the rising evangelist who would surpass Graham’s ministry back in the 40’s.

There came a point in Templeton’s life that he looked at the suffering people in the world and he began to doubt his faith and wonder if maybe God was not loving or maybe he didn’t exist at all.

He came to a place that he decided he would walk away from the whole faith thing. He fell into intellectualism and rationalism that led him to make plans to attend Princeton and leave this Christian philosophy behind. (Interesting that Princeton was founded as a Christian college.)

Billy Graham on the other hand was being challenged by his friend to come with him and unlearn these archaic notions of faith that only an ignorant people would follow. Come and be enlightened with me, he pleaded.

Billy stood strong and boldly on the fact that Christ’s death and resurrection could be proven, validated and trusted and that he was banking all of his faith on that and to this day at 99 years of age, he has not moved off of that position.

Two men, two paths and two decisions.

Templeton was not wrong to ponder suffering in the world. One would have to be cold hearted to overlook the fact that pain and loss are a part of life and we must all face it at many turns and seasons, even experiencing it personally in various levels and forms.

However, he stopped examining too soon. He stopped at the contractions and never got to the birth.

As humans, we are left with this fallen state. We had paradise and traded it in for the temptation of that which we were told not to taste.

This opened a Pandora’s box of consequence upon consequence and horror upon horror as sin was ‘hell-bent’ on destroying God’s greatest creation, man.

Sickness, suffering, death, hatred, all came flooding over mankind like a tsunami threatening to wipe out all that God had intended for good.

To stop and look at the fall is wise. To linger there is dangerous. To anchor there is fatal to our faith.

God wasn’t finished at the fall because He had the plan of redemption and resurrection of a new life through the atoning work of his son, Jesus Christ.

He knew we would fall and he had a plan all along to raise us up!

A baby was born. God came to earth. A Savior was hung on a cross to die for our sins and was raised up on the third day, offering us the same resurrected life if we believe in him.

This is “the rest of the story”, as Paul Harvey used to say.

Templeton went on to write the book “Farewell to God” and then died in 2001.

Graham went on to preach the gospel with an unwavering faith upholding the power of a resurrected Christ who can change the lives of all who believe, seeing thousands upon thousands profess faith in Christ over the years.

Templeton said of Graham:

“There is no feigning in him: he believes what he believes with an invincible innocence. He is the only mass evangelist I would trust” (Anecdotal Memoir).

 

 

SO YOU WANT TO BE A MILLIONAIRE?

I am always blown away by how rich some people are.

When we lived in New Jersey, we meandered down a beautiful back road that was near us and discovered ‘millionaire row’.

Picture gated castle entrances and sprawling mansions that could easily house a family of 50.

Once a week, Rick played basketball with a guy in our town who owned a business in the city. A couple of years ago, he invited us to his annual Christmas party. When we arrived at his house, I must confess that I was so overwhelmed by his beautiful abode that I struggled to even get out of the car!

I was dressed fairly decent but began to fear that I was probably way underdressed. I am typically not an insecure person socially, but I started to wonder what on earth would I talk about with people who ran in circles of such high places that I would look like a speck of dust floating into the abyss of nothingness in comparison.

So, today as I read an article about the super rich and their interests, it most definitely spiked mine.

It seems that the richest people on the planet are not satisfied to own the latest car model, but rather to own a submarine or a rocket. They don’t just want to buy an island, they want to own a planet and hire researchers and scientists who will find a way to set up colonies and communities there.

Most interesting of all is the fact that some of them have spent millions to try to extend life.  Google founder, Sergey Bin has sunk more than 1 billion into a “longevity lab”. He has scientists working feverishly to find a way to defeat death or at least extend life. (“Secrets of the super rich: Forget the toys, what the wealthy really crave is power” Financial Post).

Evidently Silicon Valley tech geeks are buying up abandoned farm land in New Zealand because of their fear of a nuclear attack.

All of this sounds wonderful until we realize that death more than likely cannot be stopped or prevented no matter how hard we try to control it.

Rather than spending millions to postpone or prevent death, why not acknowledge that it will happen and prepare for it?

This is where Jesus comes in and just another reason I love Him so much!

You don’t have to be a millionaire to gain access to an eternity of paradise.

We hear of pearly gates and streets of gold beyond the crystal sea, but that isn’t even what seals the deal for most of us.

As beautiful as it will be, nothing will compare to an eternal life in the presence of all that is good, all that is love and a world free of sin, suffering and sorrow.

The gift of eternal life is freely given to all who will receive by faith Christ’s work for them on the cross. Because he plays no favorites, the millionaires and destitute together, have the opportunity to the free gift of salvation. (Ephesians 2:8-9)(John 3:16)

When Philippians 4:19 tells us, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus”, I can land on the fact that he has all the riches I need.

So, who wants to be a millionaire?

Only those who don’t understand what it truly means to be rich.

 

 

 

 

 

WHY I CAN STILL HONOR OUR VETERANS AND OUR COUNTRY

When I was a little girl, I loved Halloween.

I loved Halloween because I could dress up and run around town and get candy.

I was afraid of witches and nasty monsters, but I wanted to be a princess or a ballerina or even a cowgirl, depending on my mood.

However, as the years went by, there became more and more hoopla about the evils of Halloween and how demonic it was and I had to decide where I would land with the whole thing.

My kids loved the Ninja Turtles and I have no idea why. We didn’t watch them nor did I buy them. There were warnings about the rat mentor in the cartoon who taught transcendental meditation, so I was not on board.

However, every time a Ninja Turtle character was present at a garage sale, my kids were hollering for one.

I finally realized that they neither knew nor cared about the rat or his TM belief system, they just wanted to play with those cool characters that had great ninja moves!

I caved in and for years bought them Ninja Turtles and have yet to see any of my adult kids trade in their faith to sit on a mountain in the wilderness, emptying their brains while chanting, “ommmm”.

I can remember a couple meeting with us one time and telling us how satanic Christmas trees were. When I asked them why they would think so, they responded that ancient druids or celts or whoever, danced around them as some ritualistic pagan ceremony.

O.k.? I told them that I actually put one up because they are beautiful, traditional and full of light and since Jesus was the light of the world, maybe this could be a good thing to remind us of Him.

The bottom line is that I have had to learn and continue to learn how to live in this world and not be of it. How to redeem that which is good and leave behind the bad.

What is the heart issue behind our actions, our spending, our celebrations? Isn’t that what Jesus told us mattered?

All that being said, I move on to Veterans Day, the American flag and America itself.

I get that there have been slaves in America and so the land of the ‘free’ was not all inclusive for some.

However, not every founding father was a slave owner and not every American stood for owning them. Many fought hard and long to set slaves free. Some of my ancestors included.

This however, did not discredit the words “all men are created equal” no matter who wasn’t upholding them.

I acknowledge that there are those who would disallow and persecute those who want freedom to worship in their own way.

This doesn’t undo the fact at all that our country was founded by those who came here to have the freedom from a tyrannical king and those who opposed their right to freedom to worship in their own way.

I get that there are racists and some are in positions of power. Some are even cops.

However, we still have due process and checks and balances in place to prosecute those who treat others unjustly.

But despite the fact that there will always be those who abuse power, those who will oppress others, etc., we still have a Constitution and a Declaration of Independence that stands for freedom and equal rights for all humans.

People misusing or refusing to abide by either one, is not a reflection on the principles that were laid out in them but on the people who do not abide by them.

I can love and follow the Bible despite the fact that there are those who will use it to control, hate and abuse others all the while doing it in the “name of the Lord.”

That doesn’t make the Bible wrong, but the people who misuse it.

So, what is good and what can I honor about our country and the veterans who have defended it?

Why can I stand for the flag that represents them?

In America this is what I have:

I have freedom to worship and meet with fellow believers without fear of being thrown in jail.

I have freedom to vote.

I have freedom to a fair trial and am not guilty until it is proven.

I have worked alongside and under people of all races because of equal opportunity.

I have had a president who was half black and his wife who was fully black. I have seen a woman run for president and almost get elected.

I have seen minorities in sports, entertainment and careers that make more money than I will ever see in my lifetime.

I have seen people in poverty be given the chance for an education and rise to the top in fields that few of us will ever see.

I have seen our military defend our freedoms throughout our history.

I have seen our military defend other countries as well.

I lived in the east for a time and saw the encampments of our soldiers in the Revolutionary war. Imagine in the dead of winter, marching until your worn boots fell off in brutal cold and the frostbite froze your feet so bad they turned black? Bloody, starving and sick, they marched so that you and I would not be controlled by  a king who was going to tax us into poverty and force us to go to his church.

We all may gripe about presidents we have or have had but let me tell you, being subject to the rule of Hitler, Hirohito or Mussolini would have been no walk in the park for any of us.

Think about boys barely out of high school, signing on to take on those monsters when most of them had been raised in rural America minding the family farm. They went to foreign countries to fight an enemy that not only wanted total control of them and their families but would delight in torturing them as well.

I live in a community that took in prisoners of war and they were fed, clothed and treated with dignity. If you want to know how our soldiers who defended us were treated, read “Unbroken” about Olympic competitor and soldier, Louis Zamperini and you will get a small taste.

We can thank our soldiers for having our back on those and many other fronts.

It is funny that many complain about America but people still want to come here and few want to leave despite their threats.

I was a student at KSU, when Iran had taken American hostages and was parading them nightly on television to humiliate them and terrorize us.

During my time there, Iranians on campus were getting an education in our school as they set up booths in our student union decrying their hatred against cruel America.

Because we are America, they had the freedom to do that.

My room mate at the time was half Iranian and her father had come to America to get educated as a brain surgeon. She was embarrassed and offended by the actions of her father’s people since her family was so grateful to be in this land of opportunity.

So, all this to say, I am a Christian first and I will always stand for Jesus. I am not ashamed of the gospel, the cross and my Savior. He alone is faultless and flawless.

I will stand for my national anthem and the flag, not because it is flawless but out of respect for those things which it stands for and has stood for that are good, right and just.

Happy Veterans Day and inasmuch as we honor Him, may God bless America and any other nations that choose to do the same.

 

 

 

 

 

OPINIONS, BILLY GRAHAM AND MUST WE DIE ON EVERY HILL?

When did the world get so crazy and when did everyone think their opinion must be aired? (Says the woman beginning to venture in on some of her own!)

I used to tell my kids, “not everything you think needs to come out of your mouth”.

In other words, don’t speak unless you know what you are talking about or have something worthwhile to say.

That may sound rude and snarkity, (is that a even a word?) but in our age of instant news, blogs and twitter, there is no ‘safe’ place to hide from everyone’s expressed ‘individuality’.

I miss the days when I shopped at a store and I had no idea what the owner believed or didn’t believe. I didn’t know who or what he or she slept with, I just liked their product and wanted to purchase it.

What happened to entertainers who performed and we all left feeling good without having to wade through a myriad of  political opinions or off handed remarks? We didn’t know who they voted for or what political party they were with. Nor did we care! We just came to enjoy the music!

I noticed this week that Billy Graham turned 99 years old.

Here is a man who had strong beliefs, yet I can’t think of a time that if he was invited to pray at the White House, that he didn’t show up. He did not endorse or vote for every president, yet out of respect for the office and the belief that God would honor prayer and maybe he could make a difference by going, he went.

He had a strong faith and many forums to share it, yet he seemed to understand how to share that faith full of grace and hope without compromising truth and conviction.

He is a rare man in an age of ‘rugged’ individualism.

I don’t disagree that there are times to stand and stand alone if you will. There are times to find ones voice and speak up. However, remember that if every issue sets you off, no one will take you seriously about anything. Choose your battles and what hills to die on and know why you have gone there.

And by all means, speak from personal experience without creating straw men, or honest and extensive research based on actual truth, or you may find yourself eating crow at the hands of someone who has all the above mentioned in place and more.

If we don’t watch ourselves, we will find that we are becoming offended about everything and knowledgeable about nothing.

Too much reaction without reflection may not bring about a revolution that so many desire, but anarchy instead.

That is not a place where anyone wants to go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

MY PICTURE PERFECT HOLIDAYS

If only life would cooperate with me.

I have a picture perfect holiday season ready to hang. It is already there, nailed securely in the corner of my mind.

Picture it with me, if you will.

Those serene farm scenes aren’t too far off base.

The carolers bundled in wraps, strolling the neighborhoods come close.

The blazing fireplace, spreading warmth, as snow quietly falls outside a paned glass window is present.

The tree is lit, candles aglow and the scent of cinnamon and pine mix together with sounds of Christmas music playing softly in the background.

But most of all, it would be a picture of peace. No rushing, no schedules. Just celebration and community.

Call it a Norman Rockwell or Currier and Ives scene if you like, but whatever it is, the sum of it would be that everything would stop from Thanksgiving until New Years Day ended.

No one would go to work.

We would snuggle into our homes as families and communities, sharing goodies and meals as we sang songs, played games and built memories.

No bills would be allowed to be sent until after New Years and bad or negative attitudes would be banished.

We would watch happy movies and read inspiring books.

I would get up in the morning and read my Bible in a cozy big chair by a blazing fire and a lit tree, taking all the time I wanted to let every thought sink in.

Good friends would stop by and share a hot mug as we sampled Christmas goodies and exchanged gifts and the joy of the season.

There would be an absence of stress. No conflict, sorrow or anxiety.

Total peace and serenity would reign in those weeks and just the thought of it would carry us through the year until it would come again.

I wonder if this isn’t a very small glimpse of heaven?

Oh to have a week, even a day of this scene would be exhilarating to say the least!

It is coming someday and so much more than we could ever imagine!

What a thought of an eternity of peaceful, joy-filled celebration every moment, filled with all that is good and all that is love!

We will have it someday, in that  beautiful, picture perfect world.