Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A New Blog - A New Chapter

Well... this is quite the turning of a page for me. Tyson and I have started a new blog. Crazy as it may seem my current URL will sit on the internets as a record of past learning as one individual.

God has, is and will do so much in my life. I am thankful for the past 3 1/2 years with this blog. Starting in Africa and continuing on in Indy and then onto Chicago. God is good indeed and it has been a blessing to walk this road, through this blog, with you.

I am marrying Tyson Aschliman on November 14, 2009. That is the blessed day. And seeing as though we'll be learning, living and growing together we thought a blog together would be a good start to this "new chapter" in our lives together. Or rather the first "official" chapter as Mr and Mrs.

God has been teaching me a lot about identity, and finding my identity in God and not my singlehood, career or my "woman equality" kick. God is God no matter my marital status, job status, motherhood status - I am His kid and valued. This is simply a new chapter in my life. A good transition. And something God prepared me to do. I have been humbled to realize that in my singlehood, trying so hard to be content, I ended up finding pride instead of contentment in some ways. So now, I'm back tracking. I'm finding it ok to say "yes- my singlehood was awesome. God did so much and I totally enjoyed it. And now its a new chapter in my life, where God is the same God and is continuing to teach me. And the difference is in this chapter I won't be in an apartment by myself but a house with a guy named Tyson and a boy named TJ. And God has deemed this good."

Hopefully this makes sense. I'm so excited about the upcoming marriage and adoption. And as I close up this blog I just wanted to tell you a little bit about what I have learned about being single and now what I'm learning about being in relationship. Ah man... one thing I know, lessons on God and godliness will never end. But I intend to keep on learning, absorbing, being humbled, and falling to my knees before the throne of grace time and time again.

So please, as I close up this singlness chapter of my life move on with me to the "Katie and Tyson" chapter. Visit our blog ( starting with our engagement story, and look for our seperate posts. I promise, I'll let him write.

With love, thanksgiving, and humilty...


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Alas... a blog

And as usual... these blogs get delayed. The blog below was written a month ago and another section was written about 3 weeks ago. The total blog was edited again recently. I share that friends because you are reading the blog of a scatter-brained gal who desperately desires to share truth and walk in the light. So, even though these particular words were written a while back, these lessons are ever present and continue to refresh and restore my heart back to the Lord. Enjoy the inner-workings of my crazy heart.
Hey there blog. Gosh its been a while. I'm writing because I feel like I need my heart to speak but it doesn't have words. So... I will just start writing and see what it says.

Today I was brought, once again, to that humble place of recognition that God is God and I am not. That might sound silly, like "right Kate... He has never changed." But this recognition is not because I have tried to control my own life (although tempted and perhaps given in at times). Recognizing God for who God is, or as much as I can fathom today, has entirely to do with the fact that I need Him. Desperately.

Chicago has been good. Trying but good. God is teaching me a lot about being in relationship. Not only with Tyson, but friends and family long distance, co-workers and specifically Him.

A friend had asked a few weeks ago if I had blogged lately. I had but truthfully it was lacking this awe inspiring, life changing truth I feel like I had come to realize (through the power of the Holy Spirit) in the past. What had changed? What made my words come out softer?

The answer was clear. Time with Him.


So... I wrote that section, and when I came to the realization that I needed time with Him, I put down the lap top and began to pray. Here is the newer section written over July 4th weekend.


God is in the business of making beauty from ashes. And I have found myself to be in humble acceptance of that beauty.

To all who mourn in Israel,
he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

This past weekend a few friends of mine came in from Indiana and from Georgia. It has been a blast. Last night the whole group stayed at Tyson's. As friends get to hang out with Tyson and TJ, questions abound regarding life and follow up conversations are had with me.

"So Katie... what is it like?" "How has it been?" "How are you doing?" "How are they doing?" There are usually questions regarding the redemption and restoration that continues to take place in Tyson's life. Anyway, as Tyson converses with my friends he'll end up talking about life in Indy, life here, and just in general we find ourselves talking about his house with Leslie in Fishers, times when TJ was little, and even end up discussing the battles with cancer. (Leslie's and Sarah's)

Tyson put TJ down for his nap today and went to sleep with him. My friend just left for a cousin's to say hi for a bit. And I found myself in the basement, looking at a blank sheet of paper knowing it was time to pour out my heart to God. I began to release my heart to God in questions, thanksgiving and wonderment. As of late my heart is taking in the "lessons" of God, has almost felt paralyzed; not from fear just from shock at His hand and how it has moved and is moving.

In tears I began to ask..."How am I here?" "God... how can my heart ache so much for the pain that everyone went through in Leslie's going to heaven and yet stand here and be so thankful for the life you are giving me?" And the answer I heard was "I MAKE BEAUTY FROM ASHES".

A good reminder and yet not answering my question directly, but shifting the focus to Him. The glory of His Name. And ultimately God's story. Stay with me as I unveil my heart in its fragile state.

Friends, I cannot describe the compassion and sadness and the gut-wrenching pain I felt when Leslie died, and the ache I still feel every time I see her face in TJ's, hear stories of her from Anna, see her family and talk to Tyson about the hard times and the good. My heart aches for the pain that God is bringing them through and has brought them through. I am certainly in an odd position. So often I wonder how I am here, and yet...I able to rejoice in the healing that is now taking place. Surely the healing will continue, but just as sure as the tears are that fall from my eyes, there is hope in today. I just can't believe that God would have it so that I might be a part of the beauty from the ashes of cancer.

What is crazy, or rather not so crazy, is that Tyson and TJ are also apart of the beauty from my ashes. So often I discount the struggle I've been through, the sin that is within me, and the hope He has given me. All the stuff that has brought hurt in my life, including my own sin, is a part of those ashes that have formed the broken mess, the ashes, I find myself to have. But, when we see the soot on our knees, and smell the remnants of the fire, we must remember that God is in the business of making beauty from ashes.

Hardship, sin, pain and suffering are a part of this man-centric life on earth. But when lived for God there is something else to be had. There is hope to find. A lightness to feel. And a joy to live into. As my heart continues to ache for friends with cancer, 5 year old girls with brain tumors, a boyfriend who lost his beautiful wife and an incredible 3 year old who lost his mommy, I choose to go back to God and I remember the truth of WHO He is.

He takes my sin and washes it clean. He takes my tears and puts them in a bottle. He takes death and conquers it. He takes sickness and heals it. He takes the lost and finds them. He takes the hopeless and restores them. He takes my pride and He humbles it. He takes my ashes and He makes them beautiful.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
for the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.

He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
and to proclaim that captives will be released
and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent me to tell those who mourn
that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,
and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.

To all who mourn in Israel,
he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
that the Lord has planted for his own glory.

They will rebuild the ancient ruins,
repairing cities destroyed long ago.
They will revive them,
though they have been deserted for many generations.

So although I do not feel like I should be able to participate in such a beautiful redemption story, I am humbled truly that I am God's at all. For I know that the good work God has begun on earth, He will see it to completion...and use me when necessary. :)


Well, that about sums up what I've been learning. Thankfully God gave me sweet time with Him and although my stubbornness almost didn't take the time this morning, finally I stopped, listened and worshiped. Truly the lesson this morning for me was "It is about Me. Don't lose your focus in yourself, your life.... I will take care of those details. I am Alpha and Omega. I am the Redeemer..." Anyway, you get the point. God continues to refine me and remake me on this journey. And looking at today, I stand to tell you friends, it is a joy to be His!

Joyfully humbled today,

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Wind blowing home

Hi friends. I have accidentally neglected you. That was unintentional. Because of my accidental neglect I would ask as you read this post, to just hang with me as my fingers work out the crossroads of thoughts in my head.

Well, when I said the winds were blowing they did indeed blow. I ended up settling in by Friday May 8th. I guess settled isn't the right word but rather present. I am still settling into the life I have found myself living.

I have had weekends booked with fun activities for the past month and they will continue on for a while. Mom and Dad came the first weekend I was officially here. (played at the zoo, ate great food, etc.) Then we headed to the lake for Umbaugh family vacation over Memorial day weekend. Following that weekend (just 2 days ago) I had my first official "friend" visit. I am starting to feel "local".

This past weekend took the train from Naperville into the city. On our search for Michigan Avenue we ran into a family friend of mine from Indy. We were casually walking down Michigan and I just looked to my left and said "shut up". She followed it with "I have seen you more in the last three weeks than I have in a year and you live here now." God's blessings of making me feel comfortable in a sea of unfamiliar faces. After an exhaustively fun day of zero purchases for me (except for coffee and food) Saturday night we found a great local Chinese restaurant which I will continue to get take-out from. That is always a necessity wherever you live.

Sunday I got to see another friend from Indy who was here for her cousins wedding! We got to find a cute little restaurant in Batavia, sat outside, and enjoyed catching up on the last month or so of our lives. So this weekend was filled with comforts from home and old friends.

Life is interesting as it takes this new turn. I think about where this blog started... obviously Kenya; and where it is currently. I never would have imagined 3 years ago I would end up where I am. But that is the beauty of life. The beauty of following an unpredictable, larger-than-life, God. He isn't always comfortable. As Mr. Beaver said in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe:

"Safe? … Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he is good. He’s the King, I tell you.”’

These days I am filled with joy and thankfulness for this next step. There is no denying that there were frequent thoughts that I would never find "love". And I was right in a sense. I didn't find it. God is my "cupid". (as we say) There are days where I wonder "am I really here... did you call me to this man, this boy, this place?" and God's gentle voice of peace sings over me reminding me "Yes Katie you are; and I brought you here". Praise God. There are hard days when I am reminded that I am not "home" anymore or rather that Indy is no longer "home". Perhaps its redefining what home means. Not a place but a people. Not a house but God. God is my home and wherever we go I am home. I just happen to be residing in Aurora, IL.

As alluded to there are days that are hard. As previously stated we had Umbaugh family vacation over memorial day weekend. Sadly, Lydia and Bob couldn't join us due to exciting craziness in their lives. The rest of us headed down to Lake Cumberland and stayed in a house. We had an awesome time fishing, swimming, eating and playing games. The boys learned how to gut a catfish while Laura and Anna cut Will's hair. On Tuesday morning as Tyson and I drove away from the house and my family, and I was once again reminded "home" is being redefined for me. (with tears of course) I just miss them... but this is good my friends.

I won't give you all the juicy details but for an update... Tyson and I are doing well. We are learning a lot and totally enjoying the 15 minute drive between us. It no longer limits us to weekends but dinners and breakfasts and lunches are options. Its a crazy new blessing that we are very thankful for. For the other Aschliman boy...God is doing a lot with my relationship with TJ. I attribute it to God and His miraculous ways. I love him and his love for me seems to grow as well. Check out Tyson's blog.

So, to change gears a bit here, Sunday at church we talked about how great, huge and powerful our God is. He is a God who makes other gods bow down to Him. Ronn used the same quote from Mr. Beaver that I used. That is OUR GOD! He is worthy of praise ... when we praise Him and when we don't. It never changes WHO He is or His holiness and especially His character.

We were reminded that often in our "comfort" of our relationships with God (however long those relationships have been) we forget just WHO our God is! Truly we will never know the fullness of who our God is but we have eternity to figure it out.

Onto the the issue of "comfort". As I was talking with my friend Saturday on the train, comfort is not always a good thing. I've noticed that often in my life I seek the next phase of life and then finally its like my will just "gives up" or FINALLY surrenders to the Lord's. It is then that life is changed and the comfort I had fallen into gets switched up. (hence the wind blowing)

When the winds blow, when life changes, it doesn't change God, His goodness, His love, His sacrifice, or His holiness. But what it does change is my perspective, my heart, my mind... and (Lord willing) by surrendering I am changed. By whom? The Almighty Hand of God. How beautiful is that? It just hit me as I am writing this. He didn't just form me in my mother's womb. But He is forming me now into who He desires me to be on our wedding day. When the bride, His church, will be reunited with Him.

So these winds that blow, these life changes however hard they may seem, even how joyful they may be, the winds are blowing me home. Heaven forbid, though, that I not enjoy the wind... or even the times that it settles for a bit.

With a joyful heart,


ps- keep your prayers up. life is not always "hunky-dory" as my mom would say. But it is good and with fear and trembling I thank my God for it and will enjoy the good gifts He is giving me.

I am a happy girl.

Tyson and Me on the boat after a beautiful rainy afternoon…

My mom and TJ at the zoo when they came to visit

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The wind is blowing...

The wind is blowing. Changes are coming and indeed have come. As I looked out the window driving home from Chicago last Sunday morning, the sun was just peeking over the horizon. It was incredible. The previous day I signed a lease for an apartment in Aurora, IL. My heart weighed back and forth as I knew I was embarking upon God's adventure for me, but there were also small pockets of fleshly fear as I make a big life change. His sweet voice reminded me of scripture I've been praying for months now...

When You said, "Seek My face," my heart said to You,
"Your face, O LORD, I shall seek."

In regards the the wind blowing? Well, God swung a door open (perhaps it was His wind) at Martopia in St.Charles (west-suburban Chicago) and I am walking through it. MediaSauce knows of my departure and this Friday is my last day at an office I've come to know very well, a business I've learned in, and a people I've come to know as some of my best friends. Life is a series of whirlwinds and if we're only paying attention we can see God's hand. I promise you, when I stop and watch the sunrise, when I soak in all that He is doing in this "whirlwind", I can attest it is indeed God's hand that is moving and it is more than ok by me.

The word I continue to use on my aim status is "bittersweet". Bridgette, my roommie, tells me that there is no "bittersweet" in Italian. She speaks fluently in Italian and that happens to be her favorite word. So when she lived in Italy she always struggled not being able to accurately describe "bittersweet" moments of life. It would seem these moments are all around me; not just in my life but in the lives of many.

Last Saturday I signed a lease for an apartment in Aurora, IL. It is close to my new job (starting May 11th) and even closer to Tyson and TJ. I'm psyched. Of course the transition is bittersweet as I let go of commitments here, groups I've joined, and say a temporary "see you later" to my friends and family. This Sunday I will pack a trailer and drive up to my new home.

How consistent the story goes with me... I ask and I ask and I ask. Just waiting for God's answer about the next phase of life's journey. Then when He does make the path clear, swings open those somewhat scary doors, I'm like "WHOA GOD. I'm not ready!" "Knock and the door will be opened. Seek and you shall find." I have sought His face and He has answered. Alas, He is faithful and knows when I am ready. He knew that it wasn't time to leave for California last September. He knew that it wasn't time for me to go to Kenya in 2005 but rather in 2006. His plan is GOOD, PLEASING, and PERFECT; not only to HIM... but because His best for me is better than my best for me, His plan is indeed good, pleasing and perfect for me too.

Bittersweet.... this week has been a series of events, saying goodbye, enjoying "last meals" with friends and co-workers, preparing for the mini-marathon in Indy (or wishing I could), packing things here and there, and wrapping up at work. Then my heart shattered on Monday around 2pm.

The McCrackens posted a blog that still brings tears to my eyes at the mention of it. Susie McCracken has now flown home to Jesus. She rests in the company of the angels, my sister, and most importantly the Almighty God... her papa. Her father. She is no longer in pain. But as she is basking in the glory of the Lord, there are family and friends left aching, and it is with those that I ache. Bittersweet is best described knowing someone so deeply, seeing the hurt so intensely, saying goodbye until you reunite in Heaven, knowing that because they are away from you in Heaven they are happier, healthier, and made whole.

Please be praying for them as they walk through these days, weeks, months, and years. Realizing that it won't feel normal, but they will be able to adjust to a "new normal" as dad affectionately calls it.

And so the war continues to rage. The winds of life swirl about me. I am moving to be with Tyson. Can you believe it? God has brought me him; without any help from me. As more and more people find out about this miraculous relationship I continue to say "yeah... its full of redemption, restoration, and God's hand." And so it is again with me moving. A miracle.

Please pray for us. As God gave us Psalm 55 & Zeph 3:17.... we rest in the fact that God is our defender. With a waging war against a relationship that desires to please and glorify God we find ourselves at odds with each other for no (really) good reason.

The war is evident and it never ends. My heart is heavy for the body of Christ today in thinking of war, disease, and sickness. A friend of mine from Common Ground, about my age, has been diagnosed with breast cancer. My heart is aching for her as she was preparing to serve Christ over seas. She is a gift with incredible vision and passion, and certainly this will not squelch this but as she says it is simply a "detour".

The Strands
are faithful in updating us on how they are doing. I am so encouraged by this family, Laurie & Greg's marriage, and the family's faith. Please continue to pray for them.

And yet... in the midst of all that is going on our God is good. He is sovereign. And indeed He is hope. I remembered that, watching that sunrise at 6am. My heart was able to rest amidst the blowing winds of life and I will continue to remain in this...

When You said, "Seek My face," my heart said to You,
"Your face, O LORD, I shall seek."

ps- we need someone to fill my spot in an awesome house in Broadripple (Indianapolis). Let me know if you know anyone! :)

Friday, April 10, 2009

4 years on a Good Friday

Today, four years ago, my big sister flew home to Jesus; almost at the exact time I'm writing this. (8:30pm) It just so happens that thousands of years ago today Jesus flew home to His Father. There is no coincidence in what I, we, might take away from today.

A lot of you are probably familiar with last year's post on this day. "3 Years Ago". Although it has indeed been 4 years ago today that I have seen my sister alive, seen her heart beating, hear her voice, felt her hand, and kissed her warm cheek, I still miss her. It is a quiet ache that exists in my heart; as if she was and is a part of me and forever will be. Sisters have an tendency to "stick" no matter the length of time you haven't seen them.

She has a grave stone now. Her empty body lay under the ground while her soul is in heaven. Over the past four years, today marked (I think) my third day to visit the site. Her grave stone is light pink. It says her name, and the day she was born on earth and the day she was re-born in heaven.

"Sarah Jane Umbaugh January 21, 1979 - April 10, 2005. Always in Our Hearts"

How true that statement is. On the back of the gravestone these words are there:

"For God So Loved the Word - John 3:16" and under a picture of a dove says this " When you come to die fly to Jesus and live."

Its perfectly "Sarah". My parents did a great job. Around her gravestone are trinkets from those who came by to show their love for her. "She was loved", Anna put it just two days ago.

I suppose I don't have an eloquent order of words to say like last year. If you want to walk down the scariest 24 hours of my life, visit last year's blog on this day. Today, I want to remain hopeful. After all, Jesus died for me thousands of years ago today, and because of that death I have hope in my sister's death just four years ago.

Wow the symbolism. I am so thankful for Jesus. As we sang at church today "Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe; sin had left a crimson stain He washed it white as snow." PRAISE GOD! This week, these past weeks, I have been slipping. I have been slipping into the excuse of "busy-ness" and "exhaustion". While we were worshiping tonight, God slipped me a memo. "Jesus died that You may have life." And as we prepared for communion, with a repentant heart, I asked for His strength to help me live that life. What freedom we have in Jesus! What hope we have to live for... and dare I say, what hope we have to die for.

"To live is Christ, and to die is gain." "Pick up your cross and follow Me." Life, as we know it (or rather don't know it), is about Jesus. Oh how often I make it about myself. Just goes to show you how human I am; how finite, how small, and how in need I am of a BIG God.

This morning I read Jesus' road to the crucifixion as told in Matthew, and then I read these words in Isaiah 40 and peace inevitably followed:

"To whom will you compare me?
Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One.

26 Lift your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one,
and calls them each by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.

27 Why do you say, O Jacob,
and complain, O Israel,
"My way is hidden from the LORD;
my cause is disregarded by my God"?

28 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.

29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.

30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;

31 but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

That is the God we serve! I was filled up, encouraged, and ready to remain in Jesus today.

Then of course, as my sinful heart forgets the truth God just spoke into it, the day wore on and my heart became weary; missing Sarah, wishing I was curled up in bed. I then remembered what this day is. I took a moment to breath in deep April 10th, Good Friday. I remembered the symbolism. I remembered that the road Jesus walked to His death greatly surpasses anything I endure on earth. And so it is with hope that I post this. It is with hope that I remember my sister and how she has spent 4 solid years playing with Jesus. And it is with hope and humility that I remember Jesus, His sacrifice for mankind, and His saving grace in my life.

Rest assured, my heart will be filled with abundant praise on Sunday. I plan on leaving everything at the alter and worshipping my guts out. He deserves it. He deserves so much more than I could ever give. I am thankful for the 21 years I got have with my amazing sister Sarah Jane. I miss her. But I know that she is in "better hands now", and I am in those same hands until we are together again.

Still reflecting... still processing... ever thankful...


Our last Easter together:
(Liza, Me, Sarah, Anna, Laura, Lydia)

A healthier Easter one year prior:
(Dad, Rob, Sarah, Anna, Me, Mom, Lydia, Laura, Brayden)

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Tears in a bottle...

As I sit in almost uncontrollable tears, I'm examining my heart. Why am I crying so hard and so much? I can't explain it. I share a similar experience to the McCrackens and the Stands but it runs deeper than that. There is this ache in my heart that goes beyond words or explanation. I almost "feel bad" for feeling their pain so deeply in my own heart.

I am NOT making myself out to be some saint. I guess as I sat here, read the blogs, my heart was torn open and tears, like a flood, began to fall out.

I praise God that He does indeed (as pointed out in a comment on the McCracken's blog) collect tears. My dear friend Amanda gave me one of the most beautiful gifts I have ever received. A bottle. Its a little glass bottle, with a ton of colorful beads it in. On this bottle it has this verse:

You have taken account of my wanderings; Put my tears in Your bottle; Are they not in Your book? (Psalm 56:8)

I never used to be a crier. I was kind of an "internal processor", and because of this in my high school days, and early college, anger inevitably followed. It would take me hours of crying to figure out the "source" of this frustration, anger, and sadness I was feeling. When Sarah was diagnosed with cancer somehow God released me. He released my tear ducts, my anger, my fear of being real and vulnerable (not completely... but I'm working on it), and because of the immense pain I felt with her, along side of her suffering, my tears were released.

Since then, I'm a "hot mess". Tears come really easily and often. I wear my "heart on my sleeve". And so it is today.

It struck me today how upset I am for my friends. How my heart physically aches with them, and how if I let it I could cry for hours for their pain. Perhaps all those tears I never released, up until (almost ... on 4/10) 4 years ago, that my sister went to Heaven, He is now letting me use them for others.

I used them on Leslie and Tyson. I used them on my Grandpa and Grandma. I used them for my parents. I use them now for the McCrackens and for the Strands.

Really, this is a call to prayer. Please pray for my beautiful friends as they walk the road of suffering. Tears and prayer are the only response I bring to the table. I remember when Sarah went home to Jesus. Some tried to encouraged. Others just said "I don't know what to say". All I needed to know is that I was loved; because certainly I didn't know what to say and I still don't. But here is what is on my heart for each family....

Susie & family... I love you. I love you deeply. I have ALWAYS been so encouraged by you, and your family. The life and energy that radiates from every member of your family is encouraging. I'll never forget the moment at Molly's wedding when all of the sisters sang a beautiful hymn of praise to the God we worship. Thank you for living your lives boldly for Christ, from the time I met you all in junior high until now. I pray that peace will fall on your lives like a warm blanket and that you may find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

Laurie & family.... same goes for you. Laurie thank you for your post about peace and entrusting your family into God's hands. How beautiful are the hands that crafted you together in your mother's womb. He is certainly with you, abiding in this moment, with you. I pray for more peace that passes all understanding, and that it will continue to guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. I love you.

To all families, in every walk of life, I believe in the God who split the Red Sea. I believe in the God who walked on water. I believe in the God who turned water into wine. I believe in the God who sent His Son to die for us and then raised Him from the dead. I believe He is with you all. In this moment. Crying with me. I am praying for you and available to you in every possible way.

With a humble heart loving you all...


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Readying and a Run

Hi there. I know it has been a little bit since I've posted, but as always, God's story and teachings continue on.

First, I want to thank you for reading my blog. Its not that you have to, not that you read every post, but I have received a lot of encouragement in the recent weeks that have lifted my heart and encouraged me to continue to write; and so I will.

Since telling the "world" about Tyson it continues to be a Katie-humbling, God-honoring, story. As I visited his church for the first time I was welcome with love and support. As I live in Indy I continue to meet people who have known and loved Leslie and Tyson, wrap their arms around me and give me encouragement. I've met people who have known us all seperately but can see our stories being intertwined together. Thank you. Thank you for welcoming me, in a sense, into Tyson and TJ's life. It means a great deal to me.

Ok - onto what I've been learning. As you read in my last post on "clouded vision", I wouldn't say that I have a clearer picture of what tomorrow brings, but I have a clearer picture about how to handle it today. Life has certainly been shaking it up a bit. God continues to try and help my heart and mind grasp "ABIDE". Man am I stubborn!

Yesterday I was running, and I haven't been feeling well. I thought it was warmer than it actually was, so a t-shirt and running pants didn't quite cut it. I was running on a trail close to my house and when I reached the 2 mile marker I turned around. I was cold, feeling sick, and I thought "If I book it home, I'll get there sooner and this will all be over with". Generally I like running, but yesterday it took a lot of energy to do it. Soon after my brilliant idea to run faster my shoelace came undone. Having to pause, kneel down, think for a second, and tie my shoe, I slowed down my pace.

My earlier pace was pretty fast, causing me to gag (sorry for the detail), I had a really painful cramp in my right rib, all of which was taking away any pleasure I had during the run just to gain the victory of being home. Then, a spiritual shift happened and God began revealing some serious truth into my heart.

"Enjoy the journey." I'm sure you understand this feeling. I'm a sucker for the "end". There is always something more, something next, something better. But God is giving me joy right where I am. (If I take Him up on it) Beyond just gleaning joy where you are, He is actually preparing you for what is next.

When I went to Kenya, I couldn't have gone the day I decided to go; there was preparation that needed to happen. Prayers to be prayed. Money to raise. Clothes to pack. And just physically and spiritually God was building a temple that could withstand what it was going to face when I got there. He was "readying" me. And so too - when I was running, He was readying me for the Mini Marathon in May, and my night of rest last night.

When I finally slowed down, I enjoyed my run. I got there in a time that I was happy with.

I was relaying my annoyance with not knowing answers to life's "tomorrow" to Tyson, and he questioned me saying "Katie- aren't there always going to be questions?" "Yes" I humbly admitted, and then began to ask myself about enjoying God and all He has for me today; exactly where I am.

To continue the beautiful lessons God is teaching me with "Abide" and "Take joy", we were talking, at church, again in Revelation today. Its been a really good journey for our church to go through together, as we see and learn truth through that book. Well today, toward the end of the sermon (Revelation 19) there was a parallel truth revealed once again for my aching heart.

Another "readying" parable you could draw would be the bride and bridegroom; even the engagement period. Some are longer than others. Others need more time to prepare. Anyway- if you're familiar with word of God, the "church" the body of believers, are indeed Christ's bride. He is our bridegroom; and He is engaged to us. He (as pointed out in today's sermon) has sent His Spirit as a "wedding gift" of sorts, a way to help us prepare. A seal. A commitment to our wedding day. And in Revelation it talks of the war being over.. Babylon falling. And us, God's bride, finally being with our groom.

For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and be glad
and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and his bride has made herself ready.
Fine linen, bright and clean,
was given her to wear."

So, not only is God wanting me to take joy in today, He is preparing me for something. And He isn't just preparing me for tomorrow, He is preparing me for Himself. I am His bride. So whatever happens, where ever God takes me, I am being prepared to reunite with Him; on our wedding day.

It, life, is about Jesus. As often as my heart and mind try to forget, the Spirit gently calls me back to the place my heart longs to rest. In Him.

I hope this made sense. I hope that your heart is encouraged to know that whatever you are facing, tomorrow might be better... but for sure, your groom, God, is coming back for you. He sent His Spirit to remind us of that, and to help us abide in Him in the mean time.

ps- some pictures below from last week's 4 day trip to Florida. (with the Witzigs)

Monday, March 02, 2009

Clouded Vision

How do you move, take a step forward, when you can't see in front of you? How to do you walk, or even sit, when you're not sure where to? When your vision is clouded, when you can't see, how do you know if you're in the right place? How do you just have peace with where you are, in every aspect of your life... when the future is a big question mark?

I know. These questions are big, and easily solvable. But when you're in that place of uncertainty, when anxiousness and sin wags its weary head, when you feel unstable on all sides, its easy to "say" but much harder to "do" or live into the truth that you have come to know.

I spent some Jesus time on Sunday night. I just needed it. I wrote in my journal a ton. I listened. God sings words over me, literally, and a sort of uneasy calm rests on my soul. As I was pouring out my heart to Him, here are the words He gave me...

"The LORD your God is in your midst,
A victorious warrior
He will exult over you with joy,
He will be quiet in His love,
He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy."

Just to dissect this a little bit (and make it fresh on my heart to remind myself of these truths today) let me take it line by line.

"The Lord your God is in your midst" - this might be an easy one for you, but for me I had to take a deep breath and breathe this truth in. The God who created the heavens and the earth is in my midst; is with ME. That is incredible. To remember in the times where I feel like I'm running, he is there. Almost as if I'm on a treadmill, and he is sitting beside me but I keep looking ahead and don't notice him beside me; with me where I am. Not sure that was a good analogy, but you get the picture.

"A victorious warrior" You may be wondering why I didn't include this on the above line. Well I believe this particular description of God needs its own line, and in my heart brings a different meaning, hope, and freedom to the verse. God is a victorious warrior & He is in my midst. That is OUR God! Amen? So as the flaming arrows of the evil one, or my sin and flesh drag me down, all I need to do is call on Jesus, and He will go to war for me. In fact - He already has. He is victorious, over all my sin. Hallelujah! So He is big enough, and able, and willing and ready to get me out of this cloud I'm in. To sit me down. Help me abide. See that there is a future, but I just need to grab His hand and walk.

"He will exult over you with joy"
Wow. This drops me to my knees. I don't have a reason for Him do that. The fact is though that He loves me. Of all people. He died on the Cross for my sins. He is with me, conquered death, and loves me. I give Him joy. I pray that as I learn to abide, trust, and have faith that this statement will be true of me.

"He will be quiet in His love" I pulled these verses from the NASB version because that is what I study in. Other versions might say "He will quiet you with His love". Which to me feels different. His love will quiet you. And in this one, it says He will be quiet in His love. Looking at it through the eyes of the NASB it isn't forced. He will be quiet in His love my friends; knowing that it is available, it offers peace, and that His love will transform your life. He is quiet with it. I read again this morning in Matthew 11, and it reminds me of taking his love "on".

"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 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."

Take His quiet love on you, His yoke, and you will find rest for your souls. He is gentle and humble in heart. That is what I think can correlate to this passage.

"He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy" More of that undeserved goodness. There is rejoicing in heaven over sinners who come to know the truth. I think there is a whole lot of praise for the saved sinner, who continues their walk with Jesus, admitting their sin, and coming back in repentance. In essence "walking in humility and recognition of our need for God". In that recognition and being filled once again we are restored, renewed, refreshed, and made whole once again by His goodness and grace.

I pray that you are encouraged by my meditations on this scripture. I didn't expect it to take this turn, but as I began to write this is where the Spirit led me. If for nothing else, perhaps just to get me on track, with peace, to rest in Him.

God gave it to me last night, and is continuing to feed my soul by it today. If only I would walk in its truth. Submit to God's way. Hear His voice calling me... "Trust me Katie. Abide in Me. I love you. I am in your midst. YOUR victorious warrior."

love your not so faithful blog writer,

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Freely give...

Hi there. Thank you everyone for your support, prayers, and encouragement that I have received over the past week or so. God is certainly doing a good work. As always, the really good stuff doesn't come without some hard stuff too. But all in all, we're doing well and enjoying the gifts that God has given us.

That really doesn't have too much to do with what I'm about to say here, but it will kick start this idea of "giving". Prepare yourself, because sometimes my random thought flow may only make sense in my head. But please know as I worked out this post in trying to explain what God is teaching me, He continued to reveal more and more truth, and wrap it around my heart. I pray He does the same for you!

At house church on Wednesday we were walking through Revelation. (I know right?) But we're studying it on Sundays and God has really anointed the leaders of my church to speak relevance to us through scripture. Yes - even creatures with eyes all over them. Did you know they were given eyes to gaze upon our creator sitting on His thrown? Everything is to worship God and glorify Him. Its pretty awesome.

Ok, back at the ranch... the question as posed was my friend Amanda has some free flow "facilitating" going on. "Is there a difference between compassion and evangelism?" Deep right? Right before this question we were talking about losing our compassion for "the lost". In my younger days (i.e. 10 years ago) I was very "religious". I was kind of caught in my box of religiosity, rules, standards, etc. I didn't bask in the freedom of Christ. I set up bounds. Sure we need them, and many times kept me from things that could have gotten me into trouble. If you are a friend from high school, and you're reading this, thanks for still being my friend.

Moving along, I have since changed. God has just given me a passion to love people well. Showing them Jesus instead of just claiming Him. And not in a way that my only aim is to do good works, but that they would see an authentic relationship with Christ, see how God changes my life and how there is a good desperation for Him, and that they would desire the same. I am not claiming to be an expert, or even "good" at this little mission statement, but my conversations have strayed much farther away from 4 spiritual laws, into just knowing and loving people where I am and where they are.

Thus, I am back to house church. I think the two (evangelism and compassion) can go hand in hand depending on your definition (as some at HC pointed out), but I would really like to where my compassion has been. Passion, yes. But compassion paints a different picture.

Here is the definition my faithful friend ( gives:
a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.

My heart is feeling the "...a strong desire to alleviate the suffering". I am talking about the agony of suffering spiritually in this case. YES to alleviating physical suffering. But "compassion for the lost", looks different. I want to alleviate the suffering that people experience by NOT knowing God. The deprivation that exists without Jesus can be intolerable, and unbearable. I want to alleviate that. I can say that isn't something I think about very often, and truly haven't for a while (maybe never in that way) until this past week.

Two things to follow this random thought flow:

1. Never worry about what you are going to actually say. Don't worry about the words that will be coming out of your mouth. Here is the truth that hit me in my time in the Word last week. Reading in Matthew 10: " not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you."

2. It is a gift you are giving to speak truth into their lives. No this does not mean to go on a street corner and yell out truths (reference Preacher Dan if you went to IU, or other campus' that proclaim eternal damnation one every corner. To me this isn't love... but that is another topic for another day) But consider in the moment when the Spirit is prompting you to speak, or not speak, to listen, or to hug, to cry, or to laugh... whatever He is, do it in the truth of Jesus. That is a gift. You are showing compassion by speaking into their lives as God asks. [even christian to christian ok? Lets love each other continually in truth]

In Matthew 10 verse 8 says, as Jesus is telling the disciples to go out and live out the Kingdom of Heaven that is available on earth (making disciples of all nations): Freely you received, freely give.

God has freely given us His Spirit, and freely gave us salvation. We must offer up the same opportunity for those that God places in our paths. Don't hold back out of fear. Again out of Matthew 10: "Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known."

Walk in truth and love. Please hold me to the same standard.

I pray that you are encouraged. As my friend called last night, had me pray with her before church tomorrow knowing 3-4 friends might come who don't know Jesus, we prayed that God would move. We prayed that she would hold no expectation, but just that their hearts would be led to Jesus. It will never be out of anything of ourselves. Salvation, grace, love, mercy, redemption, restoration, are acts of the one true, Holy, Sovereign, God. All praise to Him.

Still processing I think... but my heart is encouraged by the boldness of His message in my life this past week.

Love in Jesus as always.


Friday, February 13, 2009

A Change in the course...

Man where do I begin? It seems I have come to a point where there is something I want to share with you, and the words seem to be fleeting. However, it all began with my blog, my words, to you. So first of all, thank you. Thank you for reading, being interested in my life, and my internal processing. It is truly a blessing to not just write, but to be heard. Thank you.

God has richly blessed me with a friendship or rather a “relationship”, that I now find myself in. In all the blogs I’ve ever posted, to me, this feels the most vulnerable. I’m not sure why exactly… perhaps its because as far as “relationships” go, not many happen to me. I typically don’t find myself in them. I don’t usually feel a need to post a blog about anything of the sort either. And usually when I meet a guy, I give them to Jesus, and Jesus usually keeps them.

All that to say, right now, it is the opposite. I have found that God has worked in my life in this male relationship for the good, continuously. With that said, I’m not really sure how to begin to tell you about it… still… I guess I could start with a name. His name is Tyson. Hold on to your hats, because as I divulged this story to my closest friends and family, I usually would preface it with that. I’m about to take you on a crazy ride.

What better way to tell my friends about him, then this venue; where it all began.

I blog. Its what I do. Outside of everything else, when there is a moment to breathe, a “fresh word” as I affectionately call it, I spew out the very words that reel in my head. Thought after thought… until it comes out sometimes in a manner in which one might actually understand. A few months ago, my blog was found, and it was understood fully. That is the craziest part. (or not so crazy.. unless you think God is crazy… in which case it is indeed crazy.)

Tyson lost his wife, Leslie, in July from cancer. Leslie was Anna’s (my big sister’s) best friend. I linked to their blog continuously throughout Leslie’s illness and afterward. Through prayer God grew my heart for their family. Leslie and I had hung out quite a few times, and TJ was really the first baby I felt comfortable with. I actually WANTED to babysit him. That was a pretty big deal. Then when Leslie got cancer, I watched it affect Anna, and God grew my heart and my prayer life around them. I asked for prayer quite a few times, and I’m sure you sensed my deep longing for healing over her, and peace for the family. God took her home in July, and since then God has been taking Tyson (and Anna, and her family, and her friends) on a miraculous healing journey.

We “lost” our sister Sarah almost 4 years ago to cancer. She had it for 9 months, and it was an uphill battle until the end. She is sweetly home, with Jesus, and Leslie. God has done some miraculous things in Anna, in me, in Tyson, in TJ… and the stories could go on and on. We have received confirmation after confirmation that this new relationship is God’s desire right now. For today.

Back to the blogging – Tyson found this blog because he saw (through Google analytics) that my blog was linking to his. He talked to Anna about it… how similar our writing was, our hearts for God, and just how we process life, death, scripture, God, etc. Anna said in response “Finally… someone gets Katie.” How true that is.

Every day since Tyson found my blog and felt led by the Spirit to email me, it has been a day to abide, to surrender, and allow God to do what He wills. (not what I will)

There have been times I’ve wanted to run, but God sweetly sings over me “remai

n in Me, abide in Me, trust Me…” And the song of peace rests on my soul, and I again remain. That doesn’t mean I’m not happy, joyful, and extremely thankful for the man I now do life with; I just don’t want you to think its infatuation or that my head is in the clouds…perhaps it is on occasion, but God does ground me.

It is indeed a relationship; full of all the fun discussions, “DTR’s”, emotions, feelings, etc. It’s quite a humbling experience for me. God is giving me large doses of joy through this man – and for that I am thankful. God is working in us, and through us, for one another. We “do life” together, and it is great to walk with a man like him.

I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but I do know that this is where God has me… has us. Tomorrow is another day to surrender to Him, but with the confidence of commitment to one another. I seriously have never had God say “stay”…. And it’s almost as hard as Him saying, “go”. It is an interesti

ngly beautiful place, where I find myself.

So – Tyson is his name. Get to know him. Here is his blog:

Now – a lot of you may be new to my blog. Thank you for coming as I know Tyson is anxious for you to know me; as am I. My life is an “open book” of sorts. (as you can tell) I started my blog when God called me to Nairobi, Kenya for 4.5 months in 2006. He opened a side of me spiritually that began to pour out my heart in this venue, and I just can’t stop. It’s good for my soul.

Things you may want to know…hmmm….

  1. I love Jesus (if you couldn’t tell)
  2. my favorite color is green (TJ knows this and I think Tyson finally has it down)
  3. I have 4 sisters
    1. Sarah- in heaven. Would have just turned 30 on January 21st
    2. Anna – 27. Married to Rob. They have my one and only beautiful nephew Will (aka Nugget) And a cat, who they wish they could get rid of. (he is really cute, jus t high maintenance)
    3. Lydia – 26 “adopted” otherwise known as my BFF. I’ve been friends with her since the 6th grade, and she is just a part of the family. Wife to Bob. Mom of Benson (a very large labra-doodle)
    4. Laura – 22. Married to Brandt. She is my baby sister and I have always been over protective. Just got married in August. Mom to a dog & cat. (they are busy “newly” weds)
  4. I have two awesome parents. They are amazing…truly. Talk about overcoming adversity and staying the course in the midst of suffering and immense pain. They are an inspiration.
  5. I love running even though I have really bad knees. Its something I’m working through.
  6. I love movies and movie popcorn (much like my dad)
  7. I am a “cat” person. I don’t want 50 – just one good one.
  8. I played softball for 10 years, but never tried out for my high school team. Just too afraid to not make it.
  9. I am passionate about other countries, and cross cultural story telling
  10. I appreciate when someone can look at every human being as a person… as created in God’s own image. (I’m not that great at it- I aspire to be though)
  11. I love to love… to love people well. It’s like my mission statement.
  12. I love to dance and sing whenever I get the chance.
  13. I love my church… not because of the walls, but because of the community I’ve found there. I see Jesus in the eyes of my friends.
  14. The kind of music I listen to affects my mood. There are days when I know I just need to listen to some worship – to remember my place, the God who saved me, and worship my creator. Let’s be honest – He is the only one worth of it.
  15. Family is (obviously) of the utmost importance. Not to be exclusive, but inclusive of all who want to be there. The more the merrier.
  16. I love where I live – with Bridgette and Deb. In Broadripple (Indianapolis). It’s seriously the perfect spot – walk to restaurants and coffee shops. It’s great.

There is, obviously, a lot more to me than what you see here. If you read any of my previous blogs I’m sure you’ll begin to get a glimpse of my heart. If you have questions you can ask me. I am just following what I know to be God’s desire for me right now.

I want you to know, as friends and family of Tyson and TJ, that I adore them both. I would not be here (neither would Tyson) if we didn’t know that God desired this, and is indeed blessing it. Just when I think there will be a mountain we can’t climb, we get to the top of it better than we were before. I am excited and completely thankful to be a part of their lives… the lives that Leslie left them with, or “gave” them. I loved Leslie, and I love the parts of her that are in Tyson and TJ. I will, and do, honor her in every way.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for taking the time to invest in me, my heart, my relationship with God and others… and to pray with me. Because that is what I need most!

I look forward to getting to know the new readers and continuing to embrace the “old”.



Ps- this will not become a “relationship” based blog. However, I felt the need for my readers to understand this relationship as the course of life, and what I’m learning, can sometimes include Tyson and TJ. “Deep thoughts by Katie Umbaugh” will continue. Brace yourselves.

Picture: Compliments of Lydia and her new hobby

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Identity Redefined... Constantly

So, last night I was able to participate in a panel at Grace Community Church. I grew up going to Grace, and in the Sr. High youth group (now named "Merge") is where the foundations of my faith were built.

They had a panel of 5 people on the stage there. We each talked about our time in the youth group, how our view of God has changed since, things we took away from it, and then any advice we could offer. Each of us had different angles but were all supportive of the others points. It was great for me to be there, in that place, pray and speak to the kids who sit int he proverbial seat that I did just 8 years ago.

It was really cool to hear their perspectives, and to really express my own. To see Rob Yonan, "Mighty" Mike Chandler, Phil Bender, and Debbie Schaffer in the room, really kept it in perspective. To see their committed faces, still there, years later, and years before me, I was encouraged.

Anyway, onto identity. The other night I was talking with Tyson (story to come later), and we were talking about the idea of moving, etc. I was having an extremely bad day - for no apparent reason other than I was walking in selfishness and sin. I was freaking out at the idea, really grasping what it would mean. (and you know I'm a "moving" junkie) I began to explain how I would "lose myself".... "I would leave my job, my family, my friends, my roommates, my house, my church, my community, etc." I continued to complain until the point of tears. Gosh I was a mess.

Then, we began to pray at the end of the phone call. God brought some heavy truth to my earlier complaint. "Where is your identity?" "Who are you to be found in?" The answer is obvious, or maybe not so. But earlier in the conversation it would seem as if I was finding my identity in the things I did, the people I knew, the community I was in, the job I had. That night was a fresh Spirit reminder that my identity needs to be found in Christ.

To wrap this story back to the beginning, the students were able to ask questions after the panel. There was one girl, toward the end, who asked (something along this line...) "How did you just be yourself, and not be influenced by others?" Or... "how did you figure out who you are?" They were good at asking questions, and often times "the panel" would look from side to side kind of like..'Ummm...." However, I tried to answer and had nothing. I ended up saying "Just be yourself" not really knowing how to actually accomplish that.

With so much around you, so many different styles, likes, dislikes, personalities, religions, clothing stores, hair colors, cars, incomes, book bags, classes to take, cliques to hang with... how do you just be you? In that sea of endless possibilities and judgements?

In humility at the generic "non-answer" I gave, I handed the mic to Maven, who was sitting next to me. While she was giving a good explanation of how you kind of learn from each other in high school; pulling from different styles and tastes and "discovering" who you are, I remembered my moment of humility the night before. "CHRIST"

Maven handed the mic back as I told this awesome high school student, that just last night, at age 25, I realize (once again) that my identity needs to be found in Christ. Yes, you will discover what you like and don't like. In my previous answer I had said "try new things and find out what interests you and what you are good at doing at do it". Then it comes full circle. God gave you talents and gifts, and ultimately to live those out in Christ is your identity. First, and always, you are a child of God. Live into that. Grow into that, and the rest will come together as it may.

So it doesn't matter if I live here, Chicago, Kenya, California, or where ever God may take me. It doesn't matter what church I attend, how far away my family is, or who I love. [I thought I had learned this in Kenya]

I am a child of God.

Mulling over this beautiful realization with Lydia over dinner (before youth group) she reminded me of a JJ Heller song which I love. It goes like this...

True Things

I am not the clothes I’m wearing

I am not a photograph
I am not the car I drive

I am not the money I make
I am not the things I lack
I am not the songs I write

I am… who I am
I am who I am

There are true things inside of me
I have been afraid to see
I believe, help my unbelief
Would you say again what you said to me
I am loved
I am free
I believe, help my unbelief

I am not the house I live in
I am not the man I love
I am not the mistakes that I carry

I am not the food that I don’t eat
I am not what I’m above
I am not my scars and my history
To your love
I’m waking up
In your love
I’m waking up

Be encouraged. Live into Jesus, and who He created you to be. As Maven said "There has never been anything to prove."


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Stirring of love

What a week it has been. One of ups and downs. Fear and hope. Sorrow and joy.

My father has sleep apnea. After 3 days in the heart hospital his lungs and heart "check out" ok, and then it what was up to sleep apnea for causing weight gain (due to excessive fluid in his body), the lack of sleep, the shortness of breath, and general "weariness" of my father. Praise God they found it now - and praise God they have answers for that sort of thing.

The doctor said it would be a miracle to get the sleep test on Thursday night. But as we know of our God, He is a miracle doer. My dad got in on Thursday, was tested, and came out with all sorts of results that I couldn't re-iterate if I tried. Basically it was really bad. His oxygen was in the low 70s from the time he fell asleep until 1am - from there they put the "machine" on to give him oxygen and regulate his breathing, and he was "ok". Hopefully the machine and diuretics will help the fluid weight shed off and the breathing to become better.

Thank you for your prayers for him, for us, this week. They were certainly answered. I am looking forward to some healing here after!

There was fear and hope in those times with dad. More friends underwent sorrow and loss these past couple weeks. My friend's grandfather died this week and another friend's grandmother died last week. My friend whose grandmother passed away, said this after learning of the next death in "the group": adulthood sucks sometimes Amen. I am seeing death, suffering, and just the "hardships" of life are more frequent and personal as I gain years. But in that my recognition of God's love extends and grows even more so than the last time.

God has been showing me what His loves means in new ways. I was talking to a friend about "For God so loved the world..." We were talking about how we so often focus on the "that He gave His only son that who so ever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life". So, take it apart and really allow God's love to show. Allow the "bigness" the "grandness" the incredible love that God showed us by sending His ONLY son for US. Mankind. You. Me. And every face you see. That is who He loves. [hang on now.. I'm switching to a new point, but it will connect. God's love in sending this Son - that sacrifice ... ]

So reading in Exodus God stirred hearts to bring things for a "freewill offering". "The Israelites, all the men and women, whose heart moved them to bring material for all the work, which the LORD had commanded through Moses to be done, brought a freewill offering to the LORD " Man- even God's heart was stirred... "Everyone whose heart stirred him and everyone whose spirit moved him came and brought the LORD'S contribution for the work of the tent of meeting and for all its service and for the holy garments. "

It is beautiful to imagine that God gave us all gifts to contribute - some monetarily, some by physical ability, some by the ability of our hearts or minds. There is something for all people to give... to "offer" that contributes to the full beauty of God - the body of Christ! How awesome that as parts we are just an ear, or just a hand... but together we make up the body and can glorify God together. I love that. Harmony. Oneness. Sacrifice - ours and His - for the glory of God.

Anyway - bringing it together (if I can possibly attempt to do so) - out of God's "freewill" offering, He so loved us. [I.e. He sent His Son, as an offering, a sacrifice for OUR sin. That is amazing. Let that resonate. The God of the universe, the maker of you and me, who created all things, including light, day, night, animals, earth, planets, sun, moon, stars... HE sent HIS son for US. Wow. He sacrificed so that we might have life. He loves us that much. Praise God!!! And all God's people said....]

So lets "so love Him". Lets offer our lives as living sacrifices to Him.
(from Romans 12:1 The Message)

So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.

He loved us. Embrace it. "Your kindness Lord leads us to repentance". Life, new life, will continue to come through repentance and we can get there through His kindness. What a gracious and merciful God! What would our lives look like if we gave back to Him, or began to, all that He has given for us? And you know what - I'm not talking about "sell all your possessions and give to the poor" (although it isn't a bad idea and its an idea that is certainly not out of what God might be calling for any one person to) However, just a daily surrender to His will and His way. Recognizing His love for us - not so that we sin more, but simply that we pick up our cross - however heavy it may be, it may make us sweat, we may not like, it could bring tears and even physical pain - but we pick it up because we know it is the best and we follow Him.

That, my friends, is true life. That is following the Lord. God is breathing new life into me on a daily basis. Through His Spirit, through the freshness of His words, through relationships. I am thankful for new life and His love which he "freely" gave. (freewill offering)

We have a choice in life. Who will you choose to follow? Who will I choose? Its not just when I wake, but every minute of every day. Yeah I'll fall. But He is surely there when I rise; and He may just send angels to pick me up.

May we be stirred to love others, out of a stirring to love God. "Because He first loved us."

Choose Jesus with me...


As we depart from this blog, remember the words in Romans 8 regarding God's love for you:

38For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,

39nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Prayer request... vent... waiting... praise!

So - I just got word Dad has sleep apnea. His heart is ok. His lungs are ok. Praise God, amen?

This day has been one of intentional prayer, for him, and other stuff... and I praise God for answering my prayers about my dad.

He is going to be in the hospital tonight. He is going to be released tomorrow (as of right now), and they are trying to schedule a sleep study on him to make sure they set the "machine" to the correct amount of oxygen he will need through the night.

I am awe inspired by God's working in my heart. I am awed by the response of His people - YOU. Thank you for speaking into my life. My heart is 180 degrees from where it was last night. God would get glory either way. Just like our friends who were thrown into the fire in the book of Daniel... "Throw us in there. Burn us up. Our God can save. But even if He doesn't... we will never bow to your god." However, He heard, He answered, and made clear that its sleep apnea.

Thank you all for your prayers, your notes, your encouragement. I've been brought to tears at your response, and I want you to know you've made a difference in my life.

Thank you.

Yours truly,

Still waiting...

After my vent session last night and my day of prayer today, I wanted to update you quickly. (as I need to remain, or gain, focus at work)

My dad and I chatted this morning. The cardiologist came in after his echo and didn't find anything with his heart. This is good news... praise God!

The "arg" news is that we still don't know whats up. The diagnosis of heart failure was really giving us a clearer picture of could be happening and has been happening. And so, we wait. God is here though, amen? I'm trying to remain in His presence as He remains in mine.

He said to me "Seek my face", and my heart continually says to Him "Your face I will seek". And so it is today... still waiting, still anxious, but seeking His face in decisions, in the health of my earthly father, and gaining strength from my eternal one.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, read the previous post!

love and peace will always come...


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Prayer request turns to a vent...

Well friends, there have been a few times I've tried to begin to write you. I wanted to begin to describe the sweetness that is my time in Exodus these days. Yes there are some days where I've been more "into it", but all together God is teaching me a lot about Himself; even showing me the consistencies of His personality (however debated it may be between the new and old Testament)

For example... here is a snippet of what I began 2 weeks ago:
My time in Exodus has been so sweet lately. Just a side note as God told Moses who He was this morning. As I look at the sun out the window I remember His words... (and Moses' immediate response... He "made haste"...)

Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth;

who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin'; ... Moses made haste to bow low toward the earth and worship."

Moses made haste to bow low toward the earth and worship. My friend has imparted to me her desire in the urgency of living for Christ. What are we waiting for?

Anyway, so you see where I was going with that one. I guess I wanted to bring something before you, yet again. Amidst the praises and sorrows of 2008, hopes are high for 2009. God is doing a lot in my heart and life (which I will divulge in future posts) but for now I will tell you about my dad.

Surely it will end up being "nothing" as they say, or at least "treatable". However, even in the optimism of those around me, and even the optimism in my dad, my spirits just kind of "sunk" today as I went and hung out with him in the hospital room at lunch.

We watched the inauguration together. Certainly a moment in history that will not be forgotten. I don't care if you are a democrat or a republican; a conservative or a liberal; or a little bit of both. (frankly I don't care what I am either) What I appreciated today was the redemption I saw in America. This is a post for another time... but seriously, equality for all mankind... the symbolism was quite beautiful.

Moving along with my dad...We had a big family lunch on Sunday. Kind of a last minute thing at my parents, and Dad didn't seem to be doing well. I think he was discouraged by the lack of wellness he is experiencing, even though he has been working his butt off to change the course his body was taking. (reference last November) Anyway, he is undergoing a lot of tests right now. They have gone back and forth with the diagnosis; certainly God is in the waiting. Its something with his heart. There is a mass amount of fluid in his legs. He is just not that well & has quite a few symptoms. So they need to find the original issue and that would (ideally) solve the rest.

Frankly, I'm just discouraged. Truly shouldn't be. I need to be trusting in the Almighty. I can feel myself crawling into that cave I've mentioned before... and what I told myself, and you (my blog), is this...

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.

Guys, my cave is seeming more appealing. I am hating the fact my dad is in the hospital. And I don't want to hear it will be ok, and I don't want to hear that they don't know... I want him to be better. And that is the fact. It makes it hard to work. It makes it hard to carry on conversations. This amidst a lot of other things going on. There are decisions to be made. There are answers to seek. And its as if crisis comes in my path every time I'm faced with decisions.

I apologize for the vent session. I prayed this morning as I spent time in the word that I would be a joy giver, not a joy taker.

Moses' face shone among the Israelites because of His time with God. Seriously! What a testimony. It shown so brightly that he had to veil it until he went to meet with God the next time. That is what I wanted to be today to the world, to my family, to my friends.

I fear that I have taken joy today. I desire to love others so well; granted I wasn't awful to any one, I'm not writhing in guilt tonight. However, in the midst of my dad's suffering, our waiting, I'm sure I could have been more kind, loving, patient, and gentle.

Even as I write this my heart is feeling a little more convicted about it, and God is speaking words of love over me.

"Katie... I love you. I know you. I created you. I fashioned you together for My purposes. I will never leave you nor forsake you. You are Mine."

These are words of truth... God hear my plea... break the glass, the ice, that is laid on my heart tonight. I pray the tears that so desperately want to pour out of my soul would come like a flood and land at your feet... or rather in your jar. If it is strength and not pride or sin that is holding me together like this, may I feel like, recognize it, and give you praise for it. But God - if it is sin in me, break me. Break my heart.

That is me in the flesh my friends. That is me tonight. I guess I would ask for prayer for my dad, and his health and spirits. My mom in her trust in God and her spirits. My sisters. My brothers. And me. I would ask for your prayer as I desire to seek God's face, God's will, and God's desire for me. I desire His rest. It is so obvious that God is tying together His truths in Exodus for my weary heart today:

MOSES - "Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight. Consider too, that this nation is Your people."

GOD- "My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest."

"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

That truth is available to all... for dad, for me, for you.

A friend gave me this today... praying these words sink into my heart with more truth than they did today. I pray that I wake up with these sung over me and that it would change the way I live my day, the way my heart feels, and the focus I have... may these words ring true for me:

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscruitable. He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks strength, He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait on the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary. (Isaiah 40:28-31)

So this was more of a vent session. Thank you for walking along side me in this journey. In my ups, and my downs. I pray that you find rest in God tonight. May His song of peace sing over you.

In Christ I find my rest,

PS- thank you for being here. I considered editing this blog post because by the time I got to the end of it, my spirit was lifted. God uses my times here to bring me before the cross again and rest. I am there once again. But it doesn't do any good for you to read a dishonest post. This is me tonight. These were my emotions and feelings as I processed. And I ended up on the side of God's grace once again. Praise God for that. I would hate to remain where I was....

Friday, January 02, 2009

Abiding... a year in review

God is good.

I guess I felt like I needed to post and didn't know what to tell you. I suppose I could begin to relive what 2008 was like for me, for those I know, and knew, and what I hope 2009 unfolds. But there is just no telling what is on its way for us.

I do think its appropriate for me, and my heart, to make sure I receive what I learned last year and continue on in that learning with whatever God allows or brings my way in 2009.

First things first:

To abide. There has not been a word that has been so freshly laid on my heart as this one. As I recount the wars, the trials, the questions gone unanswered, the victories, the fears, the abide rings more true in my heart than ever. offers opinions on the matter and so perfectly coincide with my heart through out 2008. (and scripture that God taught me)

To abide is to remain. Crazy right? Or maybe not. But consider scripture that you probably have heard many times "remain in Me..." In the NASB the word the used is abide.

"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me." John 15:4

Another transforming idea of abiding is to abide in His love. What does that mean for you? For me, to abide in God's love, to remain there, means that I won't live into the fear, guilt, and shame that I have from my sin. It means choosing God before self. It means a constant surrender to the ONE who can do abundantly more than I could ask or imagine. Who wouldn't want to remain in that love? Even on those days when you question His presence, abide in His love, trust His presence. He is with you.

Other awe striking definitions of abiding are: "to have one's abode: to dwell", "to wait", "to accept without opposition or question".

Wow. God is dwelling with us friends. His dwelling place (His tabernacle) is us.

To wait. Do I need to explain this at all? Waiting is the name of the game. We are ultimately waiting for redemption and restoration of ourselves and mankind - however - we are actively waiting as in every moment God is calling us to love the world as He did. Abide in Him. He will enable you to accomplish all things in Him. "Wait for the Lord. Be strong. Let your heart take courage. Yes wait for the Lord."

To accept without opposition or question. If you didn't read the post 2 times ago, on Mary, please do because for me God is wrapping more and more truth around what I've learned recently in these definitions of abiding. Mary did question - I will give you that. But it wasn't with opposition, or a lack of trust, just kind of "are you serious God? I'm going to have Jesus, but really?" And then Mary was accepting it, she embraced it, and began the process of abiding in a new circumstance. Oh how I need to learn from her. God has put me in circumstances this year where I did not believe it. He has put people in my path where I felt inadequate to help, love appropriately, or be used by Him - but abiding did conquer. God conquered. I accepted the positions He put me in, and I have seen beautiful transformation in me and in the lives around me. How beautiful abiding is. To accept without opposition. Just trust Him. wow.

So those are my reflections on abiding.

The rest of year... I am in shock as I just went back through my blog from 2008, seeing what I've asked for prayer over. I guess I can update you on the fact that I can now take my coffee with just cream (cut out the sugar), and A LOT less cream than I was drinking last year. Baby steps to black.

My blog in 2008 began (after reflecting on Sarah) with crisis in Kenya, which is has now subsided. I believe there is still a little unrest, but God in His grace brought peace, and now Kenya is working on building their economy again. By His grace I might return this year. Now that would be incredible.

I asked for prayer for my friend (Anna's best friend) Leslie. We joined in the war, together, as a body of Christ, praying fervently for healing, but also for God's will. God, in His infinite and unfathomable love, understanding, and justice, took her home. I don't understand why God answers certain things the way He does. How do we learn to abide with answers we didn't prefer? We trust (in the midst of the agony) that God is sovereign. I do know that God has continued to pour out love and healing on the family she left behind. Please continue to pray for them. Her fight is over, but God still has a plan and a desire for Tyson and TJ.

I have asked for prayer for my dad. He is on the road to health. Having the understanding that dad has anemia, he is now taking a lot more iron, and eating iron rich foods. No internal bleeding. Praise God! Answered prayers... miracles. Thank you for walking along side us in that. Continue to pray for improved health.

There were some funny times certainly - with my family. Here are two blogs that I think are worth highlighting from the past year: (they aren't long, but I think they'll make you laugh. Especially if you know them)

DAD story about mothers day

Lets not forget how my mom began to use email. :)
MOM story about emailing

Also in 2008, my grandfather was very sick. In October he went home to Jesus. I praise God for the uniquely beautiful goodbyes I had with him. I will never forget how he loved me with his last breaths. I will never forget how he called me "a sweetie". I will never forget seeing his eyes for the last time. I will never forget his laugh, his smile, his kisses, his hugs. I will never forget him. I am thankful for him, his life, and even his death and all he taught me about being a fighter and a lover. Please continue to pray for my grandma, my dad, my uncles, and our family as we learn what life can look like without him. To live into the plan God has for us now, as Grandpa completed the task that God set before him. We've still got work to do my friends!

I have asked for prayer for the McCrackens. They still need your prayers friends. I just read an update on the possibility of surgery (they are pretty sure) on her liver to remove more cancer; and it looks like she will also be receiving radiation treatment. Pray for the family. Pray for Susie McCracken. Praise God for their time of "rest" over the holidays- no surgery, no radiation, just family time. But we need to join this family again in prayer. Thank you for your faithfulness family.

My baby sister got married in August. Brandt (her hubby) and her are learning a lot and growing together beautifully. There are a lot of raw truths that are discovered in marriage (not that I know from experience... but I've walked with a lot of friends through it), and they seem to be taking them one day at a time. Putting one foot in front of another. Her wedding was incredible and beautiful, and its a great thing to watch as they learn and grow and love each other more daily.

Ahhh... what a year huh? I know I've learned more, studied more, blogged more, than I put here but to just recap what God is doing, how He is active in my life and the lives around me is healthy for my heart. I am thankful that I was able to look at Him at the end of 2008 and say ...

"Thank you God. Thank you for your faithfulness, your goodness, your provision, your love this year. May I come to know you more intimately in the days, months, and year to follow. Thank you for new relationships, thank you for those I've temporarily said goodbye to, thank you for being present in the joy and sorrow. For the year to come... May I praise you more. May I come to you more. May I love you more. May I surrender more. Oh God ... that I would abide more. I offer you my life, my year, my all."

So - I guess I went into details of events over the past year, but it is just interesting to look at it over a year. I pray that we will all grow and learn and love more in 2009.

Thanks for sticking with me the past year. I look forward to living life on here with you in the year to come.

Cheers to 2009!