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."