Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My Tabernacle

So I wrote this post before Christmas, but I thought the message of Mary should remain until after the big day. As a side note, the idea of Mary's desire turning into the desire of God that already exists is beautiful to me. She accepts it, desires it, but it doesn't take away from how hard it is and will be. Keep that in mind as you allow God to mold your desires into what He desires. Its cool... but in ain't easy.

Anyway, along with the post. I am past this now in my current study of Exodus, but I hope this raises questions and thoughts from you. Thanks for reading and participating with me as I grow in the knowledge and understanding of God through His word (even in the OT).

my tabernacle

So… as you may know, and if not you’re just now finding out, I have been studying the Old Testament. For words I don’t understand I look at my thick concordance. But generally things make sense when taken in smaller chunks. Sure I could use a little history lesson, but it beautiful coincides with some of the study I’m doing in Revelation at Common Ground and Acts that I am doing with a friend.

I’m not sure if you’re familiar with Exodus, but for a while its been mainly about Moses; the journey out of Egpyt, through the sea, into the wilderness, etc. I just finished the laws, and have entered into the building of the tabernacle.

Its taken days on days to get through it, and I’m still reading about curtains, pillars, linens, the alter, etc. It is filled with intricate details, none of which I will begin to share with you lest I lose the small amount of interest that I have thankfully peaked. Just know that it is very detailed. As the sizes are determined, the materials choses (gold, silver, bronze, acacia wood, etc.), and colors picked (purple linen for example) I was amazed for the first couple chapters of such detail; pulling some verses to which I can squeeze a drop of “word” into my soul for that day’s “daily bread”.

Well, a couple days ago, I continued on this journey of reading how God was describing that the Israelites build His tabernacle. Then I noticed a baby “a” right by the word “tabernacle”. (this signals me to go down to the bottom of the page and see what reference its talking about) It translated the word “tabernacle” to “dwelling place”. For a minute I began to think “cool. Yeah. Where God dwells…like His church”.

Although that may be true, and Exodus is speaking of a physical place that is being built, the Holy Spirit led me to consider my body as the temple, or “dwelling place” of the Lord. You have heard it said, or read, that our bodies are God’s temples. From that you can draw ideas as to how to eat, work out, drink, etc; just the general upkeep of our bodies. Well, consider with me for a moment that through out Exodus as God describes how He desires the temple to be built not just maintained, how then are we building our temple?

What kinds of things are we allow ourselves to be built with? I’m not suggesting we hide from the world, and to be honest, I haven’t gotten much beyond the question to myself, but something to consider and really something I’m looking for feedback on.

We are tabernacles. We are dwellings places for the most High God! That in and of itself is powerful…and then how is God telling us to build it?

Maybe the dwelling place is the collective church/tabernacle of the body of Christ. In which case God specifically outlines how we are to “build one another up” and to operate as Christ to the world, and to each other. To mourn with those who mourn. To be joyful with those who are joyful. “There is a time for everything under the sun…” and to be fully with God and each other in those times.

Just a thought…

Sunday, December 21, 2008

There is more depth in Christmas...

I have been challenged with some thoughts regarding Christmas and I thought it would be good for me to dig deeper into them in this venue.

The first being the idea of saying "Welcome to the world baby Jesus!" My friend was struggling with the idea of saying this knowing the purpose and intent of God coming down in the form of man to suffer, be persecuted, and ultimately killed for His people - us! How can you say lightly "Welcome!" ? I think there are some things to keep in mind in regards to that idea. Absolutely it is with humble gratitude that we thank God for coming to save us from the destruction that we ask for, the wrath we deserve... knowing He offers life apart from that.

God decided long before we began to say "welcome" that He would send His only son, to come, live this life, die for us, and then be raised from the dead. He crafted His plan so that all mankind would have the opportunity to come and know Him. We rejoice with who He is. We hurt because we see our God take on our punishment on the cross. And we rejoice when He is raised from the dead because that is what gives us life.

So he came, he lived, he died, and now lives again.

"...And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you." (John 14: 15-17)

PRAISE GOD! When I take communion, some times my mind is coherent and alert enough as I come before the throne of God, my creator, my savior, my redeemer, my restorer, my King, I imagine the nails going into Jesus' hands. I picture the blood pouring out of them. I imagine the Father on the throne allowing this to take place so that He would see me not only in Heaven, but living this life for Him.

I imagine my greed nailed on Jesus. I imagine my selfishness pouring from his forehead. I imagine my lust nailing his feet. I weep in raw humility of what my God has done for me. I weep knowing He CHOSE to give me the option at life, and He died so that I may also die to myself.

Three days later my God rose again. He rose so that I may have life. He sent the counselor. He sent the Spirit. He was not just offering life in Heaven, but on earth. Life to the fullest in both places.

"You heard me say, 'I am going away and I am coming back to you.' If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe. I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me, but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me." (John 14: 28)

That is Jesus speaking to His disciples. The world MUST KNOW. Who is going to tell them? Who is going to communicate the gospel in love to the people who haven't a clue? Its not about the 4 spiritual laws. Jesus loved. Follow His example. He was in relationship. Follow that too. Trust Him.

So when I say "Welcome to the world baby Jesus"... may my heart be rendered humbly and eternally thankful for the sacrifice and choice that God made to save a wretch like me.

Point Number 2 (keeping in mind point number one and even the previous blogs on redemption):

Mary was first told by an angel that she was going to give birth to Jesus. She was engaged, not married. She was a virgin. So obviously there were a lot of questions. She was not afraid to ask the angel...

"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"

And as angels do, they provide clarity and reassurance of God...

"The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God."

Any well minded teenager I am sure would have many more questions... wondering what people would think of her, of Joseph, how they would provide for this baby; and so it is with the call of God on our lives so often.

"God seriously? Keeping me in Indiana? How will I do the things I'm passionate about in this state?"

" Um... so Africa... money... language... culture... how God?"

"Sarah has cancer. If she dies Lord, how will I live? How will I breath? How will I go on?"

After each question I ask, He continually answers "Trust Me."

Anyway, so, Mary doesn't ask a second round. The angel affirms her, and puts her in her place, so to speak. "Nothing is impossible with God."

Well ok then. She says..."I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her."

What was so astounding to me today, was after the revelation from the angel, telling Mary what was about to happen, was her reaction. Its ok to wonder, its ok to ask a question, but sooner rather than later you need to accept that this is God's will. Mary did that so beautifully.

"I am the Lord's servant. May it be as you have said."

Yes its scary. The will of God isn't always easy or predictable, but if He has called you to it, you must trust Him that it is better than what YOU could have conjured up yourself. That, to me my friends, is incredible faith. If you notice it is not just "yes God I'll do what you say", but it is "May it be as you have said." Her desire for her life then became what God's desire is.

May my will conform to what God's will is. May my desire for my life be what God's desire is for it.

"Not my will, but Your's be done."

Jesus said that (to bring back point 1). He chose God's will, and essentially His, to be crucified, taking on the wrath of the world, and to be raised 3 days later and then ascend into Heaven. WOW. So that we, all mankind, might be saved. That is the most beautiful love story of all. That is the greatest unfolding of God's will I've known.

There are so many things to learn. There is so much transformation of my heart that needs to happen. May we be presently aware of the inter workings of the miracle of Jesus' birth, and the characters and stories that God worked together for one pregnancy.

The birth of our savior is something to be trembled.

I pray that this season, these days, we would focus on GOD. Not just the story. Not the days and years that followed, but praising God today, 2008, for how He continues to unfold the story of redemption in our lives.

Joyfully & Humbly His today,

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Part 2: Redemption in the Inbetween

I don't believe I've ever written a "part 2" on my blog before. If you're finding this just read the previous post about redemption. I'm sure I will begin to repeat myself, for which I apologize, but I am praying that God gives me the words that He wants me to share here; as I process what redemption looks like in my own life.

Ironically (or not so because of God), today at church we talked about redemption. I'm sure many churches across the US, or perhaps the world, did as well. Why you ask? Because Common Ground has decided to walk through the liturgy of the advent season. Today's verses were found in Isaiah 61, mainly.

So, as I'm sitting there astonished after reading Isaiah 61 and the first thing the pastor says is "You know what this story is? REDEMPTION." Ok Jesus, let the lessons begin. I just re-read Isaiah 61, and tears welled up in my eyes over the story of redemption. So much so that I'm not sure where to begin with the processes as I sat in church.

Lets start at the beginning. Restoration. "Restoration Katie? I thought we were talking about redemption?" We are, but as I sat there and the pastor almost used the two interchangeably I was challenge by the possible integration of the two.

So... I looked them up. Definition time. If you read my blog a lot you know how much I love getting to the definitions. It makes it all the more clear in my heart as I understand what is being said.

#1: Redemption:
  • deliverance; rescue
  • atonement for guilt
  • theology: deliverance from sin, salvation

#2: Restoration:
  • the act of restoring; renewal, revival, or reestablishment.
  • restitution of something taken away or lost
  • a return of something to a former, original, normal, or unimpaired condition
Friends, is the truth of this unveiling itself in your heart?

To me it would seem, (feel free to send me emails and comments about how I'm wrong. I certainly don't stand to be the expert on any subject. I write what I'm learning, and its open for discussion) that redemption is part of the bigger story of restoration. I have heard restoration a lot in the church and in the word. "Restoration of all things" Taking this into our context, not just of the Israelites which I mentioned in the blog post below, or the passage that is going through it in Isaiah 61, but in our lives.

God is the one who is restoring all mankind back until itself. He is returning something former. He is in the process of restitution... something that was lost or stolen. I venture to guess what was lost or stolen was our perfection in Him. Our sin was the thief. His desire is for us to return to the original state of being.

We cannot be restored without redemption. He has delivered us from our sin. He has rescued us from lives filled with it and living in emptiness. He has, and is, redeeming us.

The reason I believe its continual acts of redemption leading to our restoration is because we are not perfect until we go home. Its small victories won, with Jesus. Its us admitting ourselves to be transformed into His likeness. Its the body of Christ committing to participate in His kingdom come on earth.

"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. " James 1:2-3

Trials suck. Earth can often suck. Joy doesn't mean happiness. But my prayer is that we would "keep the faith". That we would run with perseverance the race marked for us; whatever befall us.

So on this grander story of restoration, through God's redemption in us and around us (through the cross of Christ), we can partake also in His joy. Knowing He is the only One who can bring about healing, redemption, and restoration... let us hold tight to His promises. "I will never leave you nor forsake you." "I am with you always. Even to the end of the age." "I am not slow concerning my promises... but not willing that any should perish." (these might not be direct, but they're in my heart)

Friends, if you're still with me, thank you. I know its this massive "revelation" if you will in my heart, I just hope it translates to someone. One person. Continuing on...

After our suffering, even if it is one trial to the next, God will redeem us, restore us, and put us "back together" in a newer, probably better, version of ourselves. "To grant those who mourn in Zion. Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified." (Isaiah 61:3)

That is where I started to cry when I re-read it. Those are the promises. That is what he is doing after, and through, each trial. That is what He is doing in all mankind. He is restoring us to be better version of ourselves that we didn't know could come, or exist, unless there was suffering.

It doesn't mean live is easier, or happier, but to grasp how wide and deep is the love of God, to know His promises of Heaven by watching a dearly loved one go there, changes your life. It transforms the way you live, the way you think, the way you breath, the way you live.

In this beautiful body of Christ, I also believe God did not intend to allow our experiences with Him to only be for ourselves, but each other. Here is a nugget of truth expressed in Isaiah and in church today.

"The recipients of redemption then become the administers of it." In God's stories of redemption He uses people, each other. I posted a blog about this Every Good and Perfect Gift", the idea being that it is always God weaving this story, but He might use others to do it.

Be encouraged family. When I was 20 I would not have chosen to lose my big sister at age 21. I would not have picked this road for myself. But I know that it has brought blessings into my life that I would not have otherwise had.

I lost my sister, but I lost her to Jesus. I ache for her. I miss her like crazy. But in the same breath I am SO thankful that God uses tragedy, or suffering, in the lives of others. If I knew what the outcome was, and continues to be, and how God uses it, honestly not sure if I would choose it still. But, that doesn't matter. This is the story being written on my heart. God is using my story of redemption in the lives of others. He is using Sarah's story of redemption in the lives of others. And I know He will use your's too.

Why? For the greater restoration of all things. If you continue to read the rest of Isaiah 61 - you will see how obvious it is that God is using the people He is redeeming, to be a part of other redemption stories in the greater story of Restoration.

The beginning of ALL this, and the foundation of ALL restoration and redemption, is the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I NEVER want to discount that. It is because of that that I write these words, and know the Lord that I know.

I pray that you find these words encouraging your heart today as you go through what life has dropped on your lap.

Take heart...


Friday, December 12, 2008

Redemption in the inbetween

Do you know any really good stories of redemption? Immediately perhaps your mind goes to the redemption of mankind; Jesus coming, living, dying, and then raising again. That is part of God's redemption story. I suppose in a nutshell (if you can put God, or His redemption story in a "nutshell") that might be it.

But as I read in Exodus these days I am blown away at God's desire for the people of Israel to remember where they've been redeemed from. Chapter after Chapter, trial after trial, "Israel, remember what I've redeemed you from!" They were in bondage in Egypt, and now they're free. They were slaves, and now they're free. God provided for them in their captivity and He continued to in their freedom. Did they complain? Yes. They would say things like "Why did you bring us into the wilderness to die? We would rather be back in Egypt. At least we ate there." WHAT? The people of Israel are requesting to be set back in the chains that God freed them from.

I dare to compare us to them. I don't believe things have changed. God did amazing things to set the Israelites free from Pharaoh and his armies. The parting of the red sea. Providing manna. The plagues. Even in love he sent the plagues so that ALL MEN (the Egyptians too) would know that He is God. After all of that, they still said "we want our chains back". You can't be serious. I split a sea, you walked on the ocean floor, I provided manna - this crazy food from heaven, I made water pour out from a rock, and I began this redemption story as I came to this dude named Moses in a burning bush, and you still don't trust Me?"

Wow. How silly, close minded, and near sighted individuals we can be. "Remember from what I've redeemed you." Friends, my admission is that as God weaves His story of redemption within my life, I get caught up in myself. I lose a thankful heart that should constantly be there if I remembered what He has redeemed me from. He freed me from bondage of sin, guilt, shame. He set me free from a life of death and self distruction. I was walking toward death, and he plucked me up, and put me on the road to life. Narrow as it may be, a road nonetheless. Now I have to walk on it.

What has He brought me to on this road? A life lived for Him; ultimately satisfying; even if it doesn't feel that way sometimes. That is my sin keeping me from experiencing the freedom right? Its me saying "God. I don't know about this. Its getting awfully hard. I kind of liked where I was a month ago." But to keep growing into this freedom, to dig deeper in my relationship wtih God, to truly be redeemed, the road I walk is narrow and hard. Not that many are on it. But oh the life it brings. Beautifully fulfilling even in the midst of suffering. Hopeful? Nothing but.

He is redeeming His people. Please... lets not forget from whence we came. He is a gracious God. He is pouring His love into you through every bite you eat, through ever friendship you have, through every gift you receive. He is telling His story of love. He did it on the cross. Even as I write that new truth hits me to share with you.

He showed His redemptive love through the cross. The cross was the very wrath of God, that we deserve - STILL, taken on by God Himself. If that isn't love, if that isn't redemption, then we have no hope of ever experiencing it. Redemption will never be without suffering. Nor will life. (really life should be the redemption) Redemption will never come without an admission that we were wrong. That we have sinned. And that we are, indeed, in need of it.

May our hearts be humbled, and our mouths rejoice, for He is, was, and will redeem us from ourselves and welcome us home one day into His eternal glorious home. I await that day my friends. But in the mean time, I will abide in the inbetween. I will rejoice in Him. He has not called me home yet, but He has called me here. To abide in God. So many are often on either side of Heaven... caught up here and not wanting to think of it OR caught up in it and not wanting to be here.

But I suggest to my often heaven-longing heart - I will allow Him to pour out His love and write a small chapter of His greater story of redemption, in me, that He is working out through all mankind.

That includes you.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

A broken heart for another...

I don't have much to say as I am caught up on the lives in the McCracken household. (their blog) My heart is overflowing with a deep sense of the weight that exists. Tears well up in my eyes over them.

Suffering... certainly not something we wish and hope for. Certainly something that isn't easy. However, I trust that God is in the midst of it. He is loving them through it. And that the best thing for me to do is bring them before His thrown.

McCrackens... if you read this, my heart is ever with you. It is breaking for you. I will do my part in bringing you before the thrown of our Savior. May the peace of God that passes all understanding guard your hearts in minds in Christ Jesus.


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

A lift in the downpour...

Today there has been a lift in spirits.

In the waiting much prayer took place. My dad was supposed to go into his tests today at 12:45. I called my mom every 20 or so minutes to check in. I was planning on going to hospital once my mom said he was "in", because 45 minutes later we would know the answer.

So around 1:45 he went in, and at 1:55 I headed for Noblesville's Riverview Hospital. I arrived seeing my down the hall. "They found nothing". "What?" I exclaimed. "I'll tell you in a minute."

So she got her cheeseburger and we sat down. Basically they didn't find anything. What the ER doctor thought was internal bleeding wasn't. My dad has had two bleeding ulcers in the past, and now he is battling anemia and pneumonia. So they, the new set of doctors, believe this is the reasoning for the symptoms that brought him into the ER twice in the past two weeks.

Alas, he is on a new eating regimen and iron pills for the anemia. If after the pneumonia is gone, and the anemia gets better, they'll reassess. I'm praying the reason they didn't find what they expected to is because God healed my dad. There is no doubt in my mind that is possible, and I give Him complete glory for the lift in the storm.

I raise my hands and bow my head to the Peace giver and lover of my soul. He sang a beautiful lullaby over my heart today and called me to rest there.

Thank you body of Christ for being a part of my life. Thank you for joining with me in this fight. There is no doubt there are more mountains to climb, but I am also confident of God's presence in the midst of them.

Thank you for your notes, words of encouragement, and love poured out. You are a faithful family, and for you I give Gods thanks today.


ps- don't crawl in caves. That may sound silly but yesterday I shut down. I hibernated. I went into my "cave" of processing and it made things worse. I would let no one in and I certainly wasn't coming out. God was with me, but my heart was so unbearably hard I'm not even sure I was listening to the One person who was trying to get me out of there.

I am thankful for God's presence with me. I am thankful that He yanked me out of there today. Note to self: do not crawl into a cave unless you plan on bringing someone out.

Monday, December 01, 2008

A storm...

Batten down the hatches. Put up the storm windows. Another blizzard is coming in. Snow piled in feet at our door. Not sure we packed enough for this one.

Yesterday my family had our Thanksgiving. [Thursday we got together. It was pretty ok. Nice to be at Annas. I ran a race that morning which was fun & wicked cold. But that is a different blog for another time]

As we watched the Colts barely win, and then the Hoosiers struggle for a victory, the mood at my parents was mediocre. Laura brought up how cute it would be for all of us to wear our Colts jerseys for a Christmas card. Quickly a response comes, “what would we say?”, and in that Umbaugh sarcasm, “We are having the happiest of holidays.” Anna chimes in “Pray for us!” I mention creating something like a prayer card… (Jokingly) “Here is a list of things you can pray for us about.”

This isn’t a “poor us” email, or a request or plea for you to feel bad for us. It is simply recognition of the storm that isn’t coming, but has arrived. The storm began in 2004 when my sister was diagnosed with cancer and the hits just haven’t stopped coming. Mixed in the last 4 years have been times of immense pain and extreme joy. Currently we are in one of the more painful times of life as God works His plans in and through us.

My family is one of faith, but we are never void of emotion. My grandpa, my dad’s dad, went to Heaven in October of this year. If you’re new to this blog, which is doubtful, there is a post or two about him back in October. Check it out.

Anyway, three weeks prior it was a waiting game of ups and downs. My dad stayed in Plymouth (Indiana, not Rock) the majority of the time. His time consisted of sleeping on the floor of the nursing home, with his dad in bed and my grandma in the recliner. He didn’t get much sleep those three weeks, and as always in death, it often doesn’t hit you until after the fact. It has been hitting my dad for weeks now. Along with his heart and blood flow. My dad is having tests tomorrow, Tuesday, to see whats going on in him. We know there is internal bleeding, but the cause is uncertain. I know I just wrote about this but frankly its hitting me harder than I’ve recognized.

We could find out a lot or a little. It could be anywhere from cancer to an ulcer. We are hoping for the later, but certainly won’t know until tomorrow. If there is a “cancer possibility” there will be more tests to be had.

As with anything, this does not just wear on the person going through it, but it wears on those they love and who love them. This is certainly wearing on my family, and more specifically my mom. I did not get permission to post this blog, or write about them, but I trust the eyes that fall on this blog will lift them up in prayer. I trust that those of who you stumbled on my blog will be challenged to pray. (even if you aren’t used to it)

My mom has shown more bravery and strength in the last 2 months than I have ever seen in her. It has been a beautiful experience for me to watch as she would “rise to the challenge” to take care of my dad the way she is. For my parents…each individual is in desperate need of strength and peace. They are both squeezed to the pulp. Tuesday could mean a lot of things, and I pray out of God’s grace that it would mean a quick fix, health for my dad, and ultimately joy for my family.

But alas, if it does mean more testing, if it does mean cancer, we will stare at it straight in the face and say “we will not let you take us down. God has the victory be it in this life or the next.” My family knows that truth, and we will rest in that truth once again. (if that is indeed where this is going) We will take life one day at a time as we’ve done for the last 4 years.

I am not ignoring God’s graces in storms, or His immense love for me. Job poured out his heart in his angst and heartache, and I am doing the same. I will remain faithful to my God, for His love for me, and my family, stretches beyond my comprehension.

He is faithful, even in sickness, and even in my sin. And so I will be faithful to Him, even in the face of trials, and my parents suffering. I don’t discount this is “my suffering” too, but I wish I could take it from them; the hurt, the grief, the pain, the illness. However, that is my Dad’s cross to bear, and my mom’s cross to bear. My cross is suffering along side them. I will pick it up, and I will follow Him.

There are other things that are happening in my life as an individual that aren’t cultivating peace. However, the One who offers me peace is always with me.

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me," even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.”

I am challenged to seek Him first. It makes sense why the word says “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Oddly enough, it comes from Matthew 6, in the ever famous passage of scripture about not worrying.

I do think, beyond food and clothing, God promises something else. I never thought that the things that would be “added” are peace, joy, comfort, wisdom… I just HAVE to put my trust, and turn my outcries to God before others. I must seek first His kingdom. My desire must be His. “God, to YOU be the glory in this seeming mess … and whatever that means it means.” “God YOUR will be done.”

As my eyes grow weary of watching my family’s suffering, as I grow tired of seeing my Daddy, the man in my life, hurt so deeply, I cry out to God for healing. I ask that you would please join with me in this.

I thank God for the words of wisdom my beautiful friend Amanda, out poured to me last night in a text message. As I reflect on her words, as I read again her love expressed here, it hits me “This is the body. This is the community I long for and am now experiencing. Praise God!” These words brought tears to my eyes…

“The word compassion comes from the roots that mean literally to ‘suffer with’; to show compassion means sharing in the suffering ‘passion’ of another. To live with compassion means to enter others dark moments. It is to walk into places of pain, not to flinch or look away when another agonizes. It means to stay where people suffer. You, my friend, are compassionate to me and to your friends you mentioned on your blog. I am honored to call you friend. I promise to be that for you as I pray for you and all of the things that make your heart heavy right now. Love you lots.”

She also gave me this verse on Sunday: (James 5:16b-18)

“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.”

You are the righteous ones. Thank you for being a part of my life by reading this blog. Even if this is your first time or your last, thank you for being faithful in reading, keeping up, and praying for my friends and family that I mention. Thank you for praying for me.

As I sit here, reflecting on what my heart has poured out to you, Sara Groves song “What I thought I wanted” popped on, and these words sang over my agitation.

I keep wanting you to be fair

But that’s not what you said

I want certain answers to these prayers

But that’s not what you said

When I get to heaven I’m gonna go find Job

I want to ask a few hard questions, I want to know what he knows

About what it is he wanted and what he got instead

How to be broken and faithful

What I thought I wanted...

Staring in the water like Esops foolish dog

I can’t help but reflect on what it was I almost lost

What it was I wanted, what I got instead

Leaves me broken and grateful

I’m broken and grateful

I want to be broken and grateful

I want to be broken, peaceful, faithful, grateful, grateful

I stand (or rather sit) here broken and praying. I am grateful for God, His sovereignty, His goodness, His faithfulness, and His love bestowed on my family and me…just needing the prayers of the saints.

Thank you.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tongue Tied and Heart Broken

I didn’t notice that I hadn’t posted a blog in a while, until my friend (some of us call her Muffin Manda – maybe just me) reminded me that it had been a hot minute. Alas, I am now writing you.

As I began to pray for the words to speak to you here, lyrics from a Christian song popped into my head. “Give me words to speak. Don’t let my spirit sleep. I can’t think of anything worth saying but I know that I owe you my life.”

These past few weeks that I have ignored you, the few the proud the brave blog readers of mine, my spirit has not slept. I assure you. Over the past few weeks I have come to realize, as if I didn’t already know, that life is a series of “ups” and “downs”. I put those in quotes because what we define as ups are typically the easier times of life, and the “downs” are the suffering. However, “count it as pure joy my brothers when you face trials of many kinds…” Joy doesn’t always mean happiness, but joy, hope, peace, can exist in suffering, or in trials. Counting it joy, and abiding in the love of God. “Abide in my love”. That is my aim lately.

Two weeks ago, it was determined that my dad has an enlarged heart, possibly caused by pneumonia. He was put on meds and told to “take it easy”. The loss of his father was already weighing heavy on his heart and mind. His suffering became an insurmountable hill where he lacked the strength to climb. [Insert the strength of the Lord] When finding out the news of the enlarged heart (making it hard for Dad to breath or be active), my family was, obviously, affected deeply.

Almost a week ago, he went into the ER after having trouble breathing. It was determined that he is anemic, and there could be other things to follow. Somewhere in my dad’s lovable 6 foot 3 inch body, there is internal bleeding going on. Next week’s tests will begin and we will find out the “source” of this. Alas, another journey, another “down”, and all the more reason for me to turn my eyes toward Jesus.

Last week my heart sank as I heard of another profound goings on within the body of Christ. I won’t go into details, for they are not mine to share, but a friend of mine, her mother, is battling cancer. I knew of the cancer, but the incline of the mountain they are climbing increased significantly. I do not say “battle” lightly, knowing the hills, mountains rather, that she and her family are climbing. Here is another beautiful God loving family who is facing suffering… enduring suffering… seeking Jesus in the middle of their trials. There is a very serious surgery that is coming up on the 3rd of December. She is challenging us, in her words, to be thankful for how God has blessed us with those sitting around that Thanksgiving table. After “losing” Sarah, my sensitivity to those around me, how much I love them, and how thankful I am was there. It still is, but it takes times like watching my friend endure her mothers battle with cancer, that I remember how painful, how gut wrenching the tears are, how you fight any fear that is there, and how you put your mind on the hope that is in Christ and prayers on healing. Tears welled up in my eyes reading Susie’s words on her blog today…

“As you sit down to your Thanksgiving dinner this year look around at the people you love and tell them all how much they mean to you. You never know what tomorrow will bring.”

Now you’ve seen why my heart is breaking, and now for the tongue tied. I lost my big sister to cancer, 3.5 years ago. (can you believe its been that long? I can’t.) I walked a steep mountain with her for the 9 months of the fight. There were victories along the way, and the ultimate victory which God gave through Jesus to Sarah. She did indeed enter into eternal glory with our savior. My sister was a beautiful 26 year old, who loved children, loved to cook, love her family, loved Jesus… and was an absolute joy to those she met. Her smile contagious, her laugh addicting. Some days you just couldn’t soak up enough of Sarah.

Mollys mom, Susie, who is a bubble of joy every time I see her, is now facing “trials of many kinds”, and suffering that makes you want to say “take this cup from me” (or her, or them). I prayed for Sarah for 9 months for healing, knowing God’s will is good pleasing and perfect whatever the end of this particular story was. In light of my ending, or rather Sarah’s beginning in Heaven, how do I respond to someone like the McCrackens? How do I love them in the midst of this knowing the outcome of my story? I am tongue tied. All I can say is that I am on my knees, before Jesus, for you. I am with you in this, as I know so many are.

For a long time I asked that you join with me in prayer for the Aschliman family. Tyson and Tj are now living with out Leslie (in a physical sense). God is sustaining them and healing them. Tyson just posted a blog in regards to prayer and suffering that speaks to this very thing. Good to hear and keep in sight as I pray for the McCrackens, as I pray for my dad, and as dearly loved people, part of the family of God, face suffering.

I would ask that you join me again, as the body of Christ, before the throne of grace abundant, for the McCrackens. Follow their blog. Be faithful in prayer for them. The greatest gift we can give is to love them as Jesus does. To acknowledge that Jesus loves them, has not left them, nor will He ever, and to be present with them in their suffering. Lets BE the body. Mourn with those who mourn, laugh with those who laugh, rejoice with those who rejoice, and suffer with those who suffer.

Read their blog (http://ohhowhelovesq.blogspot.com) and put them on your prayer list. Let’s get on our knees for and with them before the God who created them. Lets love as Christ asks us to.

I am tongue tied and heart broken. I am more aware of His grace every day. I am more aware of His love for me. I am thankful that my hope is in Heaven, and that this present suffering only compares to the glory on the other side. To GOD be the glory on this earth, and that I would live my life as an offering to Him.

Full of His love and grace...


Sunday, November 09, 2008

Persecuted church... here am I

Today, worldwide, is the day of prayer for the persecuted church. Did you know that? Thankfully our church did, and we focused on it.

I prayed this morning, prior to going, that the Holy Spirit would pour into me while in service. Pour He certainly did. He did not only pour a little, but so much that within the first 5 minutes my heart overflowed and tears ran down my cheeks.

The first thing I saw when service began were stories of people around the world being persecuted for following God. I read and saw faces, story after story, of those who will not renounce their faith.

We began to worship. The first song was so packed with the Spirit, more arms were raised than I have seen in weeks, and hearts were knelt down to our Maker. Hearing stories of people hiding in basements, countries where we don't know how many Christians are there because it is illegal to follow the Lord; men, women, and children killed for loving our God. Humble hearts of our congregation entered into a time of proclamation, with freedom, that our God is NAME above ALL Names. How great is our God. In hearing this I didn't think about my situation and how great God is in that (however He is). I didn't think about the clothes on my back, the car I drive. I didn't think about my family, friends or house church. I thought - how great is our God. He is savior and Lord of the universe. If the people hiding in other countries in basements worship Him today, quietly and peacefully so as not to be killed, I must sing even louder so that we together can proclaim His name.

We have so much freedom here, in the United States. We can worship who we want... we have the freedom to raise our hands, and shout as loud as our lungs will carry... but do we? I am challenged to know that God has put me in this place where there is freedom to proclaim his name, without torture to follow.

"Blessed are those who are persecuted..." Do we believe that? Do we believe that, even to our death?

A couple years ago, three christian men were tortured and killed because they would not renounce the name of Christ. The beauty of their faith brings tears to my eyes. Oh how I long to have faith like that. They had an option. Men broke into their place of worship, threatened saying that all of this, this torture, this punishment, will go away if you call out another name. They chose to say...God is Name above all names. Jesus is my Lord.

We are not put in situations like that every day here, but others are. We do live in a place of freedom from religious persecution. So, what are we doing with our freedom? I bet millions of people crowd into churches on Sunday morning, but outside of that proclamation, what are we doing on a daily basis to proclaim God's glory to the whole earth? Lets exercise our freedom to love our God out loud. Lets be changed by the Holy Spirit on a daily basis, so that others will get to know God. Its not about numbers of "conversion", or the numbers filling the pews. Its about our relationship with the Maker of Heaven and earth. Its allowing ourselves to be so filled with Him that is spills onto others, and they can't help but surrender out of love for Him.

Knowing Him has changed the lives of 3000 believers in this specific country. They are willing to be claimed as such in a land that is not safe for them to claim God. Do we love Him that much? Are we changed by faith to proclaim it until death?

My heart is heavy today for the persecuted church, and the church in the US. My heart is heavy to make known the mystery of the gospel. My heart longs to be counted as faithful through persecution.

God will not keep us from going through persecution, trials will happen due to the fall of man - but He WILL sustain us and bring us through. I was watching a movie last night that said this:

"People always say that change is a good thing, but what it really means is that something that you didn't want to happen, has happened"

That may be true- but let us count what God does in that change as good; knowing that He is refining us and bringing Himself glory.

And so, as the same verse always tugs at the very core of my being, they said this in church today (Isaiah 6:8):

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?"
And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"

I sat there in church, and they said this before worship, and tears rolled down. This is my constant prayer. "God, Here am I. SEND ME!" I am willing to go to the ends of the earth. Take me where you want me to be. I will to go Turkey, I will go to China, I will go to Kenya, I will go... send me please."

I don't know what this means, but to have a ready heart to be sent [even if the sending is staying right here] it was refreshing for me to be in this place once again.

I wanted to share as God spilled His Spirit all over me today, and I believe our congregation, and prayerfully the entire Body of Christ, WORLD WIDE.

Today, with you, and millions of others, I lift up the persecuted church. I lift up their families. I pray God for a renewal of heart and mind for them. I am thankful that they made the decision to follow you, knowing that could lead them, even their families, to their deaths; but counting you as more gain that anything else in the entire world. Knowing that to follow Christ is the ultimate aim. I pray God that they will see you in fresh ways today. I pray that they would be encouraged, as "the blood of Christians is seed to the world." Nothing will stop Your name from being spread through out the earth. I pray, Lord, that we would not hold that up. May we, the body of Christ, proclaim boldly the mystery of the Gospel that has been made known to us through the Holy Spirit, and without shame.

Be made known, and praised through out the whole earth today.

In Jesus Name we claim victory,

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

2 Thoughts

So typically when I post a blog I have a profound comment, or some huge moment of inspiration to share. Tonight, I am just me. Not really relaxed, not really happy... praying that I am in a place of just being still. My heart is on the verge of entering into the weight that existed over it today. However, I am taking this time as I eat vegetable soup, with a candle lit beside me, to enjoy just being here for the moment.

I had the option of going to bed on an empty stomach or writing small number of you who read my blog.

2 things I want to share with you.

Thought #1:
First things first, my Grandfather has been home with Jesus, Sarah, and others, for almost a month now. Crazy to think like that knowing how long those 3 weeks were prior to his death. My family is doing ok.

Last night on my way to the gym I stopped by mom and dad's. William (aka Nugget) was there, and as I ran toward him to say goodbye his giggles didn't stop. Dad was talking with my Grandma, and handed me the phone. Will and I giggled with Grandma on speaker and then I shared some deeper thoughts with her.

Gma: "Katie, you'll have to come up here and get a table cloth"

KT: "Grandma, I wish I had a table to put it on" - I do have a table which was cleared up, but we laughed talking about the "single life" that I lead. Not too many needs for a tablecloth except to throw baby and wedding showers

Gma: "You know what? I'm learning to let go of a lot more material things. You know they just don't matter all that much."

KT: "You're right Grandma. Thats why we need to live with open hands."

Gma: "Yep. Eventually I'll be where Grandma Mannan (my other gma in a nursing home) is and I won't be able to take all this with me. And I won't have a trailer full of my stuff behind my grave, so I might as well get rid of it now."

For me this is such a good image. Its sobering to think if my Grandma leaving earth, entering into Heaven with her earthly husband but as the bride of Christ. There is hope in that, and reminds me that life on earth is short. Almost too short to think, question, and to avoid truly living. Materials are here today and gone tomorrow. They are a gift, thats to be sure, but lets hang out hats on the eternal. I just really liked our conversation and I pray that it blesses you as you think about living with open hands; allowing the Lord to give and take away. Enjoying each action knowing His will is good, pleasing, and perfect.

Thought #2:

I will share with you, my dear companions, what I have been learning. I guess I have been learning to abide. That idea is not an easy one to take in... it encompasses everything and nothing all at the same time. Part of that is to see how the vision of the promise (land) helped the guys in the OT (Old Testament) to abide in the Lord & follow Him daily. I would say about 6 months ago I embarked upon reading Genesis. I would not read whole chapters at a time, but just 8 or so verses. That way I could digest what was happening. I am now into Exodus and loving knowing God in those contexts and how that relates and He works in my every day.

Lets take a side step and talk about Moses. He has been the focus on these first 13 chapters of Exodus, so to use him as an example is fitting. He, often with fear, surrendered to the Lord. He was brought up in a palace, and when he knew his true heritage, given the option he left. He "lowered" himself in the eyes of the world to join his people- the Isrealites. God had a hand on them since Abraham, through Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. God was ready to set his people free. So Moses, by faith hearing God's desire for him, when to Pharaoh 12 times. He asked him each time to let his people go, and if not God would bring a plague. Each time God answered, the magicians tried to answer, Pharaoh said he would let them go, then immediately when there was relief he took it back. "His heart was hardened". Why? To make God's glory known.

Here is what shook me up as I read through all 12 plagues - "God why would you harden Pharaoh's heart 11 times?" To make His glory known among both peoples. For the Israelites they wanted to believe that God was setting them free. I would imagine after 12 plagues of efforts they were discouraged, but how could they also not be in awe when the God who is fighting for their freedom has such power? And loves other (their enemies none-the-less) to make His glory known? Because that is the flip side I kept forgetting about. God loved the Egyptians too. He wanted them to see His glory. He wanted them to be saved, to know the glorious riches that are found in Christ. Ahh... God is good friends. Even to our enemies.

So with that I bid you goodnight. I pray that this somehow brought encouragement to your hearts. I knew that I needed to write you. I miss you. I miss processing on here with you. Thank you for allowing me to do so. Thank you blogger for giving me this forum to express myself and my thoughts of an eternal holy God.

God is rich in every capacity- rich in love, rich in kindness, rich in grace, rich in His presence, rich in goodness, rich in mercy... and those are what He is pouring out over us tonight. Soak Him up. Soak in the blessing. Know that God loves you.

Somber but peaceful,

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A community lived out

Well - I know this is rare - two blogs in two days, but a "fresh word" was given to me at house church. What would it look like if we lived out the call to be the "church"? To be in community? I know that often we have what we call "community groups", "house churches", "small groups"... but I'm talking about a group of people, who recognize our constant need for the grace of God and of others. I'm talking about a group of people who worship their creator, and out of that, there is a love that transcends understanding which overflows, or gets pointed to, others on earth.

I don't know friends... often times I think we're settling. Out of fear, lack of understanding, or knowledge, we settle for a complacency. We allow ourselves to be in the same place for years - in ourselves and with each other. God is callings us to more. He requests more of us. Some say, "If I could just be Jesus to one person, that is worth it." Lets do it.

Tonight, as we were in our community, I was so blessed to look around the circle and see those who are diligent about "doing life" with me. They don't leave. They stay. The follow up. They pray. They support. Awestruck really, and entirely grateful. Sure this isn't yet lived out in the group setting, but there are some individual relationships that bless me so richly.

So, with that said, reading in Romans 12 - hear this "church":

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

What does it look like for us to live this out? To be the church. To be "Jesus" to others. It takes intentionality. It takes us being committed to living this out. Just like our relationship with God, is our relationships with others. But I am ready to be a part of a people that is transforms.

So, thank you all for supporting me. I know that many of you didn't mourn as though my Grandpa was your own, but you were there. I know that not everyone could make it to Sarah's "Celebration" but you prayed, called, and sent cards. Lets continue to transform the world, through God's love and grace for one another. I think it begins with surrender. Recognizing that we are NOT able to do this on our own- but God will surely lead us. He is blessing me, even today, with friends who He has brought us together through the leading of His Spirit- by which we are mutually encouraged in the word. Its beautiful.

I'm certainly not anywhere close to "living up" to this- but I know God will transform my heart as I surrender to Him, and He will give me the "ability" to live out these truths that will rock this world for Jesus. One hug at a time.

May we have dreams and visions of who God is and what He is capable of through us - if we would only make ourselves available to Him.

Amen and amen.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Thoughts of weariness and life

So many thoughts flood my mind tonight that it is hard to sort out or know what to say or how to begin. This weekend was a desert. How does God satisfy in a dry and weary land where there is no food?

He provides. He doesn't move. He doesn't leave you. He remains. He is present in those moments.

This weekend was hard for many reason, but the key factor is that I was to mourn my grandpa's death... and celebrate his life. Thankfully we did both of those. My grandpa was an amazing man and I am thankful for his life here on earth. My prayers are now with my Grandma - for her husband of 62 years has been set free.

My heart is weary, as I'm coming to find this a regular feeling. Not that I enjoy it or am choosing to wallow in it, but as I came before the throne of the Almighty tonight, I confessed to Him I don't know why I am like this. Yes my grandfather entered eternal glory, but it runs deeper. And He said "Just be." "Be present as I am present with you." As tears well up in my eyes over this realization, and I am thankful that its ok to be weary (once again).

I am thankful for the many blessings of this past weekend. The phone calls, the prayers, the emails...thank you for thinking of my family and me. Thank you for pleeding for strength and peace on our behalf. Peace there is, and I am thankful. But that leaves a tired crew who are coming back to re-integrate into "normal life". In this life I know that hope exists. I know that tomorrow will be a day that the Lord has made, just as today was. But today acknowledgment by my Grandfather's gravesite, that life is fleeting, how do I take that and live it out where I am?

More and more pictures of what I thought life would look like fade, and reality sets in. I do have to say it is somewhat less exciting, however, not at all less able to love God and love others. I was telling Anna tonight that life no longer feels like an "adventure". But rather a story, messy at times, and most days I probably wouldn't want to read, but God is unfolding something bigger than myself in it. As long as I am living in surrender to His will, His ways, and recognizing that I am creation worshiping the Creator, I'm good.

I guess I had words to say, things to process, but no real stories to tell. Just my thoughts and heart on the table. Take them for what they are.

So, now, I bid you goodnight. As I turn off my computer, roll into "sleeping position", I will rest hopeful in this weak body of mine because I know that Grandpa, Sarah, and someday myself, will dance on Glory's side. For that day, for what God can do in tomorrow, I sleep, wake up, and do it again.

Resting in His grace that defines me,

This is what my heart feels tonight...

A song by JJ Hellers. If you don't know her - get to. She is amazing.

I have unanswered prayers, I have trouble I wish wasn't there
and I have asked a thousand ways that you would take my pain away
you would take my pain away.

I am trying to understand, how to walk this weary land
make straight the paths that crooked light,
Oh, lord before these feet of mine
oh lord before these feet of mine

when my world is shaking, heaven stands.
when my heart is breaking I never leave your hands.

when you walked upon the earth
you healed the broken the lost and hurt
I know you hate to see me cry
one day you will set all things right
yeah one day you will set all things right

when my world is shaking heaven stands
when my heart is breaking i never leave your hands.
your hands, your hands that shaped the world.
are holding me, they hold me still
your hands that shaped the world,
are holding me, they hold me still.

when my world is shaking heaven stands.
when my heart is breaking I never leave you,
when my world is shaking heaven stands
when my heart is breaking I never leave
I never leave your hands.

Friday, October 10, 2008

He's Home... Grandpa Umbaugh is Home

<--My Dad & His Dad - in 2004 - at a cousins wedding

Hello blog readers. It is with sadness for the now, and hope for the eternal, that I write to you. My Grandfather, Arnold Umbaugh, died this morning at 12:36am. I thought when I began to write to you that I had more words to say, but I guess its seemingly slim.

Your first statement I’m sure is “I’m so sorry. You’re in my thoughts and prayers.” Thank you, first of all. Second, please just keep me in your prayers. I am thankful that I am in your head, but throw us up to Jesus. He is exactly what we need right now.

Grieving will begin probably on Sunday. Tears have been shed, and even now as I begin to think about my grandpa, what I’ll say at his “celebration” service on Tuesday, tears well up from my soul in memory of him. My mom’s dad passed away when I was 9, so Grandpa Umbaugh is my main memory of a Grandpa. One word you might use to describe him is jovial and passionate. He was passionate about loving my grandma, and loving God. He was jovial in that there is no doubt he would make you laugh within 30 seconds of talking with him.

He told me stories of when he was working in the hospital and Grandma was a nurse there, how he would paint her shoes! What a silly man! He won the love of his life by playing pranks on her, and she fell for it hook, line, and sinker. What a lucky lucky woman. I haven’t gotten to talk to my Grandma yet to see how she is, but I am sure she is heart broken. The love of her life, for the past 65ish years, was ushered into Heaven this morning. 65 years is a long time to remain with the same companion. You have never seen two more faithful “lovers” in all your life. They have been a beautiful image of what marriage can be. Through thick, through thin, through tough times, and good… through broken hips, through surgeries, through the Navy, through grandchildren dying, through Alzheimer’s, and until death. Thank you Jesus for my grandparents; for meeting their needs through each other. Through growing their love old together and for showing me what real love looks like in the face of very hard times.

Anyway, so that’s the update friends. I’m exhausted and am headed to the batting cages tonight to hit the crap out of some fast pitch softballs. Until then… look below & you’ll see my beautiful grandparents. (Sprinkled with sisters & parents)

Thank you for reading. Thank you for praying.

<-- Grandma and Grandpa

Laura and Grandpa at cousin's wedding ---->

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Every good and perfect gift...

Well, life is funny huh? You can hear things three thousand times, try and take it as your own, recognize it for what it is, and then only in precious moments of revelation you finally "get it". (or at least as much as you will at that time)

I'm probably not making a whole lot of sense, but I'm going to make efforts to explain. So you always hear (I think because its in the Bible) that "every good and perfect gift is from above". We hear that and know "yes- we must thank God for everything". But it goes WAY deeper than that.

Today I was thinking about certain things, "good things", undeserved blessings, and how that changes my life. Be it people, situations, things, etc. I thought "I wonder why xyz" And then you think "OH - its b/c of that or this".

So, if we walk in that direction we are recognizing that thing, or person, or situation as being what alleviates a problem, or helps in a circumstance. Although money bails you out of jail who provided the money? Are you following me yet? :) I know this is a small nugget of truth God gave me last night and reminded me again through a few different circumstances the truth of this.

God provided that money to bail you out; that car to get you to work; that roof over your house. So although the roof kept the rain out- don't praise the roof. Praise God for giving you the roof. Although the friend was there so that you could cry on their shoulder - don't praise the friend (I mean thank them, but don't worship them). Worship God who gave you that marvelous gift.

Anyway, this profound truth (perhaps just to me) really struck me. So although I am thankful for all these people and things, and I would say so to them - ultimately "every good and perfect gift is from above" - so it was God who bailed me out, it was God's shoulder that I cried on.

I know its 1am. I know I'm tired. But it made sense in my head and I hope it struck a chord with you.

Thanking Jehovah-Jireh, my provider....


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Heavy laden & Sweet goodbyes


As I sat down to write my chest felt like it was sinking in. I starting to say "I don't know where to start", and then I was going to describe how I felt. Weary would work, but not it. Scared too, but still not hitting the mark. And then finally, I noticed the pain in my chest. I was going to say "It feels like that dentist vest you have to wear when getting x-rays."

"Heavy"... "Heavy Laden." When those two words in combination hit my lips, tears began to roll down my face. It then went from quiet tears close to a sob. "Why Jesus? Why I am heavy laden? What does that mean?" I still don't have the answers... I just realized this. But what I can tell you is what I discovered through dictionary.com.

Laden means: burdened; loaded down
Lade means:
1.to put (something) on or in, as a burden, load, or cargo
2.to load oppressively;

Looking at those descriptions I see two things.

One being that I am loaded down... not necessarily by choice, but circumstances around me have "laden" me. The other being that I have done it to myself. "To put something, a burden or load on myself". I would venture a guess, and say that all lades are oppressively loaded. In addition, I would say that part of this laden, is inflicted by me, and part by circumstances uncontrollable.

If you're still with me, good for you, if not- sorry but I'm going to keep going so I can process.

I am heavy laden. I think thats ok. God allows for the weary and the heavy laden to exist. He mentions those are who are just that.... "Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest." If you read my previous blog you would see that God had given me the word "Rest" to soak in on Friday. Perhaps he was preparing me for this moment. So that I would know, to wait silently on God, and I will find rest. He is coming, and has come. He is with me. Emmanuel. He offers me peace. I just need Him to take off this dentist vest.

What is so amazing, as I continually point out as God pulls things together, is that He works all things together for the good & He is never without a teachable moment. (as we called them at KAA)

As I looked up Matthew 11:28, the verse mentioned above, I realized what comes next. "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

I have been praying through this scripture for at least a year now- to learn what it means to take His yoke upon me & learn from Him. Praise Jesus that His yoke is easy and that His burden is light.

Obviously there is a lot brewing in my heart, all of which I won't divulge in such a "public" place, but I am thankful that He offers me that peace. We got home from Plymouth (story below) last night at midnight. I stayed at my parents, and drove up to my friend Heather's this morning to drive down to our "Unity service" for Common Ground. We have two locations- one on the west side, and midtown. So every once and a while we'll all gather as one community. It was B-E-A-UTIFUL today friends. I worshiped my socks off with "Great is thy faithfulness" "Jesus Lord of Heaven" "How Great is Our God" "Majesty" "God of this city" and more. It was restoring me to a place where I was remembering who my God is. (Like I should EVER forget right?)

Then today wrapped up the 4 week series about "church". Not just CG, but church in general. Jeff talked about Jesus, His ministry, and what it looked like for the disciples to leave all their fish, trust Jesus, and follow Him. (I would imagine they had to "take His yoke upon them, and learn the new way of life - with Jesus). So... what does that look like for me, right now, where I am? What am I not willing to leave behind to follow Him and enter into this way of life fully? Thats for God to say and by His grace for me to hear.

Anyway, so much just flooded my heart. Onto this weekend...


Yesterday I was at Indiana Sports Corp, Corporate Challenge. They happen to be my client, and our team, MediaSauce, always wins the spirit award. (thats just a side note b/c we don't win anything else) So needless to say, I was enjoying myself yesterday. I had the best run of my life. I won a bet with my boss. I was flying high.

And then I checked my phone. As you may know we've been "in the waiting" with Grandpa Umbaugh. I received calls and texts (yes texts- but from my dad) yesterday morning asking that we go up to see Grandpa again. So, Anna, Lydia, and myself left late yesterday afternoon. (Laura went up today)

When we arrived we saw relatives we hadn't seen in years, which was a blessing. But that was not the most significant part. When I walked in the room at the nursing home my sweet Grandfather was lying in his bed, with Grandma in a chair beside him, holding his hand and rubbing his arm. My grandpa doesn't open his eyes much, and things are slowly shutting down. However, God had a nugget of surprise.

I sat there and held his hand, spoke closely in his ear memories of times past; Laura running around in a diaper, fishing in Wisconsin, nicknames of the four of us. He remembered. He smiled. He laughed. He called "Goatie" (Anna) a poop. At one point the bed shook from someone getting up from sitting on it & his eyes opened. In that moment our eyes met- and I said "HI GRANDPA!" He responded "Hi sweetie. You're such a sweetheart." As as we left, we hugged him goodbye. We gave him kisses. We told him we loved him, and said he said to me "I love you too sweetheart. Take care of yourself."

I'll never forget what a wise soul once said ... "Tears are a gift". I love that. And God seemed to have blessed me with extra. And so, today, I am heavy laden. Not just because of Grandpa, but he has a lot to do with it. I am being formed, and it hurts. I want to follow, and I'm not sure I am. I want to be used, so I need to surrender.

A friend keeps reminding me (whether he means to or not) that praise brings it all back. It did for me today. It takes the "I" out of those statements, and things happen because God wants them too. Praise reminded me of the power of my God. It reminded me that His ways are better than mine. It reminded me that He loves me deeply.

Anyway, thanks for reading ... and allowing this to be a place where I can tell you about Jesus.

Joyfully HIS,

Thursday, September 25, 2008

God is in the waiting...

Oh waiting. Its one of my least favorite things, and yet, God continues to impress upon my heart that He is there, in the waiting.

I guess if you're waiting you have to ask for what, right? You're waiting for the car in front of you to go the speed limit. You're waiting for a sign or an answer or direction. You're waiting for God to heal, or for God to take someone home.

Today I was waiting in all of those circumstances. I don't know about this whole patience thing- I mean I know its a virtue, but really... come on...

My Grandfather, my dads dad, was recently taken off his pace maker and his defibrillator. His heart was being "shocked" a couple times a day and it seemed best for his health to take them off. So Grandpa is going "all natural". He is the Grandfather that we got to see just a couple weeks ago. (see last blog) Apparently that was his last "good day". He played the sax, ate fried chicken, and remembered us. I am so thankful to have that memory of my Grandpa. I love him and already miss him.

Really its pretty cool. His memory was gone, and came back a little for a few precious moments. My father has been sleeping on the floor in the nursing home, with my Grandma in a recliner next to my Grandfather in his bed. They took those things off on Monday.

They anticipated Grandpa going "home" on Monday night. However, here we are, Thursday night at 10:45, and he is still here. I do not believe this is a coincidence or really if those exist. God, in His grace, perfect timing, and His mercy has kept Grandpa with us. He has graciously given us these days for a good reason. So, as I get ready for bed tonight, not knowing if my Grandpa will make it through, I rest assured knowing that God will take Him home in His good timing.

And so, we wait...

Oddly enough I am seeking some direction in areas of my life. (go figure right? The ever restless heart of mine) After I read about Moses killing an Egyptian, and marrying someone... and God taking what was meant for evil and using it for good... I made efforts to allow God to speak. As I felt the word "rest" fall on me, Psalm 62 came to mind. I remember this used to be my favorite Pslam because of the "rest" factor.

However, the word "wait" is what was more prominent today. Why? Because I read out of a NASB now instead of an NIV. NIV is covered with the word rest, and NASB talks of waiting. For me, that paints such a different picture. I suppose you should rest in the waiting- so you're not anxious about anything. Anyway, here is what God spoke to me today (keep in mind the blog theme)

Psalm 62:1-8

My soul waits in silence for God only;
From Him is my salvation.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken.
How long will you assail a man,
That you may murder him, all of you,
Like a leaning wall, like a tottering fence?
They have counseled only to thrust him down from his high position;
They delight in falsehood;
They bless with their mouth,
But inwardly they curse. Selah.
My soul,wait in silence for God only,
For my hope is from Him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
My stronghold; I shall not be shaken.
On God my salvation and my glory rest;
The rock of my strength, my refuge is in God.
Trust in Him at all times, O people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah.

Anyway, I guess God gave me that word on waiting for Him today & I wanted to share it with you. Know that He is there, and that often times it takes faith to wait, to listen, and be patient. He is not slow concerning His promise, but not willing that any should perish.

Be encouraged. He hears your cry. He loves you deeply, tenderly, and more than life itself. He is on your side, don't fight against Him. Fight for Him and with Him. Help me love Him. Point me to Him.

Sleepily your's,

[again, if we listen, He is speaking and provides our daily bread - I'm not good at this. Listening requirings waiting and waiting requires patience.]

Grandpa and Me 2006 Thanksgiving

Monday, September 08, 2008

A sobering, humbling weekend

God's grace is enough. It is enough to hold us. To get us through. It is enough for us to walk through the fire and not be burned, but come out more pure and ready to serve Him. His grace is enough.

Let me just run through the past weekend with you. This is not to feel bad for me in any way. I am thankful for the time I had this weekend, seeing the pain of others...allowing me, or reminding me, to be thankful for where I am; who is in my life; and the life that God has graciously given me.

Even as I think about it now my life comes with much responsibility."To whom much is given much is expected". Perhaps I'm not rich in the eyes of NFL players, politicians, "stars"... but those on the street, in the slum, or at the orphanage I have much. With that said...

On Friday night I had the privilege to volunteer for a benefit concert, hosted at Common Ground. (my place of worship) It was free, but there were t-shirts, and bands playing, to raise awareness and couple bucks for the worthy cause. "Whats the cause Katie?" You ask. Its Love146. I'm not sure if you're familiar with what is happening in the world today with sex slavery but it is outrageous. My eyes are being opened to this wretched situation that exists around the world, and has for decades, maybe even centuries. My heart breaks for those existing in it- for it is a life, at 8 years old I can't imagine.

The good news is Love 146 is doing something about it. Please check them out. Become aware. The shear fact of you just knowing about it is helping.

This is something I hadn't prepared myself for. If you read a few blogs ago, I mention Leslie, Tyson, and Tj. Leslie is one of Anna's best friends, who recently, went home to Jesus. Cancer was the assassin, but Jesus is her savior.

Anyway, the fam went up to Bolingbrook, IL for it. Lyd unfortunately couldn't make it. But Laura and I left saturday morning. On the way up we shared our hearts, we shared laughter, and hours later we shared tears. As I sat in the auditorium of the high school, listened to my sister sing "In Better Hands Now", grasping the finality of that, the victory of that, I was humbled.

Following her song, Tyson (Leslie's husband), took the stage with his church's worship band. We praised God together. We praised Him in the storm. We thanked Him and recognized Him for who He is. All led by a broken and hurting man. It was the most beautiful picture of God's redemption. He is redeeming Tyson. He HAS redeemed Leslie- she is home. She crossed the finish line. And I can't begin to tell you the lives that this warrior family has touched.

They said that their blog was read in over 70 countries. Over 100,000 readers have seen it. By their blog alone, by one families trial, by one family's faith & willingness to share, God has opened the eyes of thousands.

Tyson continues a blog here. Please pray for them. Now that the memorial services are over, a deeper sorrow will probably set it. The finality of her being gone. The truth that he won't get to see hundreds of people every weekend to talk about his wife. Please pray for Him.

Following the events in Illinois, we had one more stop to make. With continuous laughter from Laura and myself we journeyed on to Plymouth, Indiana. A place filled with so many memories. We ate, of course, at the local Pizza Hut.

Now, this trip wasn't to just see the Grandparents. We received a warning last week that my grandfather isn't well. He is my Father's dad. He is awesome you guys. If you met him you would love him instantly. He is JUST like my dad, only a little taller. He was in the navy. He loves Jesus. And he loves my Grandma.

He was doing ok when we saw him. I am thankful we made the trip. We also got to see my mom's mom. But really, as I watched my grandma lean on my grandpa. As I watched her say goodbye because they can't live together anymore (after over 60 or 70 years) my heart broke. This is life. All roads lead here. Or the lead to leaving earlier. But they do end eventually.

I told Laura she should have brought Brandt to the nursing home so that he would get a picture of what long lasting, steadfast, love looks like in the face of Alzheimer's, broken hips, and memory loss.

And so I return. I return to Broadipple. I return to my singlehood. I return to my 25 year old, relatively healthy, body. I don't have cancer. I am free from sex slavery. I'm not in a wheel chair. I am thankful for the breath I am breathing now.

It is important now that I take what I saw this weekend to my heart, but also use it to change my days. To keep perspective. To change who I live for. They live for God. Leslie lived & died for her savior, and mine, Jesus Christ. Why would I not do the same? For this life is but a breath. I pray as I exhale one day I will see the faces of those I've loved, those who have loved me, and the moments when I obeyed, followed, and loved my Jesus well. And through that- lived my life to the fullest.