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....