NOT EVERYTHING IS AS IT APPEARS

If you have ever judged a situation before you had all of the facts, then you are in good company.

I know I have been guilty of that very thing!

When hubby, Rick and I lived in Dallas, he was working a job at a very large church as the switchboard operator. This was perfect for a seminary student because he could study and answer phones at the same time.

One evening while Rick was working, a woman walked in with a gift and announced that it was something special for the pastor.

About that time, the lead pastor walked into the room, took one look at the woman and told her that under no uncertain terms was she welcome in the church and to take her gift and never return.

Rick was shocked at the pastor’s behavior and when he arrived at home and relayed the incident to me, I was as well!

We could not believe that this pastor would behave this way and we weren’t sure what we should do about it so we decided that Rick would write him a letter explaining how this had bothered him.

After receiving the letter, the pastor called Rick into his office and explained the circumstances that preceded this particular encounter.

Evidently, when the pastor was working at a church in Florida, this woman was a single mother attending the church with her son.

Since the boy had no father actively involved in his life, the pastor decided to invest time in coming alongside him and filling in some of the gaps.

Unbeknownst to the pastor, the mother of the boy was unfortunately, extremely mentally unstable and she developed a strong attraction to the pastor.

She began to stalk him at his office with gifts and peek in his windows at home. He could not escape her until finally he was able to secure this next pastorate in Dallas.

This did not stop her and she moved to Dallas and began to follow him there as well.

Steps had to be taken to get a restraining order against this woman, which is unfortunate but necessary for him, his family and the church.

Of course, Rick and I had been offended and he had written the letter without knowing the rest of the story. This information certainly cleared things up!

It is a sad commentary on human nature that we are too often too quick to weigh in on matters which we lack sufficient facts to earn the right to give input.

It would have been much wiser to handle our situation with a different approach. Rather than expressing shock towards the pastor’s behavior, Rick could have made an appointment and asked the pastor for a defense of his actions.

We learned from this that listening and asking questions is a far better approach than making a hasty judgment.

How often are we as people guilty of jumping to conclusions about individuals or situations of which we know very little about?

I see much of this on social media. Everyone seems to have opinions on tidbits of information without researching and informing themselves on what the issues really are. We love to be the advocate, the crusader and feel quite justified and proud of our proclamations.

It may seem innocent enough but our words and actions can result in making us look foolish or can create huger issues that may cost someone their job or reputation.

If we are wise, we will always learn that there is more than one side to a story and there is always more than one opinion on any given issue.

If we are observant, we will consider the source.

If we are an honest person, we will want truth and not hype. We will be humble to admit that though we would love the gossip to down our foe, or some morsel to support our opinion, it may be that we are the one to be addressed.

Proverbs is full of admonitions to be wise and honest, such as:

Proverbs 15:2 “The tongue of the wise commends knowledge,
    but the mouths of fools pour out folly.”

And these in chapter 10:

14 “Wise men store up knowledge,
But with the mouth of the foolish, ruin is at hand.”

18″ He who conceals hatred has lying lips,
And he who spreads slander is a fool.
19 When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable,
But he who restrains his lips is wise.”

21″ The lips of the righteous feed many,
But fools die for lack of understanding.”

If we seek truth, we will find it.  If we desire wisdom it can be obtained.

The honest question we must ask ourselves is whether that is what we really want or would we rather play the fool?

 

 

I REMEMBER! A Tribute to Rick on our 35th Anniversary

Funny the things you remember when you look back and reflect on years gone by.

I remember a guy who was a great friend, fellow intern on a street ministry and passionate Christ follower. I remember admiring that he had such a big heart for people. If someone needed a listening ear, he was usually sought out.

I remember long conversations about our faith, our families, our hopes and where we were heading in life.

I remember him asking me to a dinner where he played chef, waiter and date to win me over, which absolutely sealed the deal!

I remember a proposal and making plans. I remember him standing in line during a recession to get a job sacking groceries so he could save for our future.

I remember him moving to Dallas to find us an apartment while he worked for a church, looked for jobs for me and began to get ready for our wedding. I remember that since we would be moving to Texas we decided playfully to call each other ‘Darlin’!

I remember him coming back the day before our wedding and after the rehearsal declaring that we must run to Town West to pick up my wedding gift he had purchased. What a beautiful gold heart locket with our wedding date engraved on it!

I remember the rehearsal dinner and the beautiful song that he wrote and sang for me on the guitar.

I remember 35 years ago walking down the aisle to a handsome young man waiting for me at the front of the church. He was so nervous I could hardly make him smile.

I remember moving to Dallas in a U-Haul a week after our wedding, anticipating starting jobs, seminary and a new life in the big city with hand me down furniture, new gifts and hopes full of all that God had in store for us.

I remember that first cock roach infested apartment that resounded with my screams every time I opened a cupboard! I remember how grateful we were to be able to leave there to move into seminary housing!

I remember trying to find a store in Dallas to buy supplies to clean our new apartment only to get a speeding ticket in a school zone for deaf children. After arriving back to our apartment declaring to him that I had just received a $200 ticket (need I mention that we probably had less than $1,000 to our name?) he just said, “it will be o.k.”

I remember fixing a spinach/mozzarella pie with the anticipation of starting our marriage out with healthy cooking. I remember how he gagged it down and thanked me for the ‘good’ meal!

I remember on our limited budget buying an outfit at Target and bringing it home wondering if he would think that I should not have purchased it. I remember him smiling and saying, “that looks great!”

I remember what was probably our first argument because he wanted to hang a railroad crossing sign in our apartment living room! What?!

I remember going to visit a church and someone asking me, “how long have you been married?” I heard myself say: “Three weeks”.  For some reason that stuck in my brain and I thought to myself that I would never forget when I had only been married three weeks!

I remember baby #1 arriving on the scene and how enamored we were with her but how he bonded to her and carried her around on a front pack when he would clean apartments so that I could rest.

I remember how he adored being a dad to each child that arrived and he never once has griped that I or they were a financial burden to him.  What a great provider he has been for me and all of them! Even when our finances are tight, he can’t help but hand some bucks to his kids. When his schedule is hectic, he always take their phone calls. I knew he would be a great dad and I have not been disappointed!

I remember feeling spoiled and blessed because he worked hard so that I could be a stay at home mom. I remember his sacrifices for us, over and over.

I remember a Christmas that he gave me a gift and a note for 12 days representing the “Twelve Days of Christmas”. Each gift represented something that reminded him of me!

I remember a time that he was in great internal struggle and he was absolutely broken before God and I witnessed the genuine heart of a humble man who wanted more than anything to be a man after God’s own heart. I remember that I have always respected him for that.

I remember the hours of prayer we have spent together and his love and concern for the people God has entrusted to him.   I remember that I have married a man I can be on mission with.

I remember that he has seen me at my best but also at my worst. I remember that my secrets are safe with him. I remember that he has proven faithful to his vows and I have never been jealous or concerned that he would leave me for someone else.

So, I remember the times that he has asked me, “are you ever sorry you married me?”

Remember my answer today and for all the years to come: “Never and not ever. Not in 35 years or a thousand.”

Love always,  Your ‘Darlin’!

 

 

EVERYTHING I KNOW SO FAR AFTER 35 YEARS OF MARRIAGE WHICH IS WHY THIS BLOG WILL BE VERY SHORT! ;)

If you have ever watched the old television show, “Hogan’s Heroes”, you will remember Sargent Schwartz often declaring in his thick German accent: “I know nothing! Absolutely nothing!”

Sometimes, I can identify with him in that statement, especially in regards to marriage!

Just when I think I have all the answers for me, my hub and our marriage perfectly figured out, I am humbled to realize that I don’t. I am in a life long process of learning.

I think often of Ephesians chapter 5 and the mystery of marriage. I do believe that it is a union that is an unending journey of exploring and uncovering unchartered territory.

Although I would agree that many have paved the way, there are no two marriages that are exactly the same because there are no two people who are. We are fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps 139:14).

So here are a few things that I do know and I believe are the most important lessons I have learned about marriage.

Some friends recently stated that the verse that has carried their marriage through is “Love covers a multitude of sins”.  1 Peter 4:8 What a thought!

This doesn’t mean that we can deliberately go around sinning against each other and expect our spouse to look the other way. Obviously, we need to deal with our sins against each other.

However, because we are not perfect but struggle with sin, I can testify that daily, I am sinning against my spouse to one degree or the other and him against me.

Imagine then, if I dug them all up, keeping a constant list going. “He said that he would dump the trash before he left and he forgot. Wretched liar he is!” “He didn’t kiss me goodbye this morning. He is not loving”, etc. etc.

We can find many faults throughout the day if we choose to look for them.

By all means, if one’s spouse is abusive, unfaithful or any of these huge issues, then these hard things need confronted and help must be sought out! However, there are so many little things here and there that just do not matter.

A couple of scriptures come to mind but one is the simple golden rule:

“In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12.

I certainly would not want my husband to be keeping score of all the little things I do to wrong him throughout the day or week! I cannot imagine how exhausting that would be.

Despite the overplay and weariness of  hearing this song from the movie “Frozen”, Elsa singing “Let it go, let it go”, is not such a bad melody to keep in mind, is it?

As far as keeping lists goes, I would be totally amiss to not point out that 1 Corinthians 13, explicitly spells out that love does not keep a ‘record of wrongs.’ (vs. 5). We wouldn’t have enough paper for all of those little things anyway, would we?

I read an interesting article the other day that stated the number one destroyer of marriages is ‘hardness of heart.’

I had to think about that because I know people who loved their spouse but spouse had an affair, was abusive etc. However, yes, the spouse having an affair or being abusive, somewhere along the way hardened their heart to loving their spouse and it ended the marriage.

But even without the big issues, we can begin little by little to harden the heart towards one another. We begin with sighs, moving on to rolling our eyes, sarcastic remarks, little digs and then….boom! There we are with a hardened heart. Respect is gone, love is waning and without checking ourselves, we can find the heart of flesh has turned to a heart of stone.

What happened to that light hearted day when we chose to commit our lives to each other amidst friends, family and great hopes for the future? When did we exchange it for this heavy heap of baggage that we haul around too big for us to carry?

When I stood there on that covenant making day before God and man to recite vows, I needed to keep in mind that indeed one of us was God and two of us were human!

My husband and marriage fill many empty places in my life but neither one is a replacement for my own personal relationship with my Savior. Rick cannot fill them all, nor should he. Neither can I fill all of his empty places. We are life partners here, but my husband is not the life giver.

In being his partner, I am on mission with him to become all that our God has called us to be. Our marriage is not to be a constant enmeshment of romance with each other but is to be an outward giving of ourselves to others as well.

My desires and wishes as a wife do not automatically trump the needs of others. If I think that our marriage means my husband is to serve me above all others at all times or I him, I have missed that we are accountable to other relationships as well.

As a pastor, if there is a death in our congregation or a crisis, he needs to be there whether he and I have a date night scheduled or not.  In May, we had a family gathering scheduled with our kids but his father needed heart surgery and fun with our kids could not be a priority over being with his parents during this time. As well, He has often foregone time with me or even finances when he has seen that I needed to be elsewhere to help a kid, a parent or a friend.

We work together in prioritizing marriage, family, others in light of living out the gospel.

Marriage does not automatically insure that we see life the same way. I have learned that if two people are exactly alike then one of them is not needed, so this is a good thing.

I do not always agree with my husband, nor he I on many different issues. We can decide whether this will divide us or make us more balanced.

The fact however, that we don’t always agree does not undermine that we have each other’s back and we are safe with each other. I know my husbands greatest weaknesses and he knows mine. We will not use that knowledge to harm each other nor to share it with those who would use it as ammunition for their arsenal or any other attempt to tear one of us down.

We strive to work through our obstacles and problems on our knees and with clear communication. At times when we have been stuck on resolving an issue, we share with those trustworthy ones who know us the best and love us the most. Every married couple needs those sort of friends and we could not go through life without their support, prayers and wisdom.

As spouses we can get very controlling of one another because marriage is so intimate and personal. It is exceedingly freeing for me to know that I will stand alone before God and give an account for my life and not my husbands! I will answer for how I treated him and he will answer for how he treated me, yet I am not responsible for his actions nor is he for mine. (Romans 14:12)

I learned long ago that if people had a complaint about my husband that I didn’t have to own it but rather have them take it up with him. Whether this be family, friends or church, I am not his God, his conscience or his mother.  I am his helper and covenant partner not the one responsible to mediate all of the issues.

At times, we may need to mediate, especially with our children, depending on the situation but only as a helper and not a fixer.

To forget this can lead us to be like the speaker in the humorous video “The Cinderella Syndrome”. In it, the wife stated that when she got married and her husband was standing at the front by the altar, she walked towards him thinking smugly to herself, “I’ll alter you!”

It is truly a mystery that marriage makes us one, yet I am not him and he is not me. We are a reflection of Christ and the church and oh heavens, I have not the depth of understanding to even grasp all of what that means but I will encourage you to take a stab at studying it for yourself if you like!

Anyway, I have learned more than I thought, but less than I would like, and I continue on growing and learning with each new anniversary.

All I can say is that as the years have gone by, I know him more, know myself more and the love gets richer, deeper and more of a gift than I could ever have imagined.

And I guess, for now, that is all I need to know.

 

 

Kittens, Puppies and a God Who Cares

Words cannot express the horror on my face as I hurled down a busy highway and noticed a small yellow kitten in the middle of it!

Because I didn’t notice it was alive and trying to cross until I had just passed by it, there was no way to stop. Even if I had, I would have possibly caused a wreck slamming on my brakes or gotten hit myself trying to run to the middle of the highway to rescue it.

I would die trying to save a person but alas not a kitty. Hate me if you will.

I prayed hard that God, who knows every sparrow that falls, would have mercy on that little kitten and let it get to safety!

I was so stressed about the furry little critter that I drove a different route home just to avoid seeing it run over in the road in case that was the fate that awaited him.

However, there was a time when my youthful zeal took over and I actually did stop on one of the busiest roads in Wichita, KS to save a wounded puppy.

It would have been when I was a student at Friends University and heading down Kellogg/Hwy 54 to take a semester exam.

I came up over a bridge and there was a poor little puppy trying to walk with a bone protruding out of his leg!

I couldn’t stand to see it in such misery and quickly put on my hazard lights, stopping traffic behind me as I sized up the situation. Praise God, I didn’t cause a complete traffic pile up!

A woman behind me on the highway, stopped as well to offer assistance and we put the puppy on a blanket and loaded him into my car.

I rushed to the college, got permission to take the exam later and called my mom to meet me at the vet. (Doesn’t anyone know that college students are broke?!)

$100 later, the little dog had to be put down and mom and I walked sadly back to our cars knowing we had done our best.

After a week or so had passed, I was surprised to find a letter to the editor of the Wichita Eagle and Beacon that was submitted by the woman who had assisted me on the highway.

She praised me for caring enough to help the puppy, sacrificing my school exam to take it to the vet and then asked if the paper would donate $100 to the Humane Society, which was the offer the paper made if a person’s letter got published.

I still laugh when I remember the response from my Dad after reading the paper that morning: “Shelli gets the credit, the Humane Society gets the cash and I get to pick up the bill.”

Many years have passed since the puppy rescue and I have to wonder if I am wiser now or more calloused. Sometimes I miss those naïve, carefree days of my youth when I could so easily slip into super hero mode and try to save the world or at least a little piece of it.

Alas, I am now all too aware of my limitations. I have to look beyond the immediate and see the bigger picture of not just one kitty but other lives as well.

I wonder if this is a very small picture of what it looks like to be God. On the outside of our individual pain it often seems as if God is driving right by us totally unconcerned. We wonder if he has forgotten us or just doesn’t care.

However, His word tells us that He is good, He is kind, He is merciful and loving. He cares about every individual hurt and yet considers a thousand others at the same time. He is the God of the impossible, the great “I Am” and the one who sees a vastly bigger picture that reaches beyond this world and into the next.

It is more than my brain can fathom and it makes me grateful that the decisions of life and death are left to him and not to me.

I have tried to cover His bases at times and discovered I am not adequate for the task.

And that, above all I have learned, is the wisest place for me to be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DISCOVERING MOM

I don’t remember when I first thought she was amazing.

Maybe it was when she dressed up as a clown in the town parade and did handsprings down the street.

Perhaps it was when she ran a studio out of our house as she taught tap, ballet, gymnastics and baton.

Was it when I scavenged through Grandma’s attic and found the picture of her as a drum majorette and learned she was an acrobatic baton twirler?

Or possibly when she took up painting, and I observed her creativity.

When did I marvel at her bravery?

Was it the time that a large dog attacked me and she put her 90 lb. body between the dog and I, literally risking her life for mine?

It may very well have been when she dove into the water to save me when I slid off of the dam.

It could have been when I learned that her beloved father died when she was a young mother hundreds of miles from home.

I took notice that once again, she stood strong in the months she had to watch her mother die of cancer, all the while consoling me as I struggled with my own grief.

I never missed her willingness to pack up and follow my Dad with each new job to different towns and people, overlooking her own apprehensions in order to help us kids feel like we were on a grand new adventure.

When did I notice her sacrifices?

What about the hours she would spend sewing me a new outfit? The many times I was sick and she would make me soup and rub Vick’s on my congested chest?

Was it when she taught me to drive a stick shift in city traffic?

Was it her willingness to let us bring home countless pets, even lizards and snakes?

When did I first find out she was wise?

Was it when I was a pre-schooler and rubbed house paint in my hair and she knew how to get it out?

Could it have been the time that the neighbor mentioned someone was taking his Avon bottles out of his garage and she had the sneaking suspicion (plus the aroma of perfume emanating from a pot in our secret hideout!) that it was my friend and I?

Was it when I had my first boyfriend who asked me to go steady and instead of her scolding me for being too young, she asked me if I wanted to leave my carefree childhood years so early, reminding me that once you leave it behind, you can never return.

When did I decide that she was rare among women?

Was it when she encouraged me in my faith without trying to control it?

Was it when she didn’t try to manipulate me with guilt to get me to meet her needs?

Maybe it was the way she could demand respect from her kids without screaming and hysterics. She said what she meant and meant what she said.

Was it that she trusted me and expected me to make good decisions and that made me want to prove her right?

When did I learn that we shared the same sense of humor?

Was it when I tried on cowboy boots and put them on the wrong feet?

Could it have been when the filling station attendant came to our car and disappeared after slipping on ice?

It was probably the time I wanted a crate in Target and she practically pulled down an entire shelf, trying to get to it.

No doubt it was when a bird flew over Dad’s head and strategically left his mark!

When did I learn that I had been blessed with an exceptional mother and there would never be another one like her?

From the day I took my first breath, if not before and every day thereafter.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom. You are the best!

MY BEST MOTHER’S DAY GIFT OF ALL!

Tomorrow my fifth and final child graduates from college.

Jonathan David Rehmert landed in our world on May 12, 1995 and was brought home on Mother’s Day (sounds kind of like an obit doesn’t it?!) in the midst of our typical Rehmert craziness!

We had four other children, the oldest being 10 and lived in Salina, KS at the time.

My fourth baby was my smallest at barely over 6 pounds, but Jon followed 3 years later at an ounce under 10 pounds. He was our largest baby, with most of his weight carried in heighth. It still bothers his big brothers that the baby is taller than they are!

Out of all of my kids, he is probably the most laid back and our whole family would agree for sure, the most quick witted!

I remember so many times that a comment was made and at just the right moment of silence, Jon would interject something so hilarious that it would take us the rest of the day to recover!

Hands down, there is not a person on the planet who can duplicate Jon’s trademark laugh! He wins the prize for having the most unique and laughable laugh that I have ever heard! No man is left standing in the presence of Jon when something strikes him as funny!

He was my kid who would almost daily, spout off a “fun fact”.

These fun facts were  trivial pieces of information that could consist of anything from the first time that someone documented a solar eclipse to why an algebraic equation works a certain way (which of course, I would always smile and nod like that was interesting, all the while having no idea what he was talking about!)

No doubt, we have been proud of all our kids, and Jon has brought his special, unique gifts to contribute to our pride.

Being the baby of the family, he was usually out-voted on family activities. While the brothers loved soccer, frisbee, football and such, Jon loved board and card games. Thanks to him, he brought a much needed balance and to this day, the other kids have joined in on that interest as well.

If Jon was out late with friends, we never had to worry about what might be going on. More than likely it was a “Star Wars”, “Star Trek” or “Lord of the Rings” marathon taking place with a group of his friends.

Jon loved band and performed in musicals,  at one point he wrote a musical piece, especially for his band to perform. He was drum major, along with many other activities with speech being a hi-light of his high school years.

His senior year in high school, he won first place in the state of Nebraska in extemperaneous speech in his class division.

Last summer he completed an internship at the State University of New York in Potsdam. He worked in studying mathematics and specifically wrote a paper of integer theory with one of the professors there.

He and the professor were asked to present a workshop on it at the Joint Mathematics conference in Atlanta this past January.

Jon has been accepted into the Master’s Program and working towards  a Ph.D in mathematics at Kansas State University this fall.

Of course, we are proud of him for all these accomplishments but most of all for who he is and the joy he has brought to our family.

He is the best Mother’s Day Gift I ever received and I am blessed to be called his Mom!