Glimpses of Rest, week 5

Editor’s Note: We hope you’ve enjoyed this Friday Q & A feature as you’ve gotten to know a few of our UFC women just a bit better. As we shift to journeying through the Gospel of John next week, we plan to continue featuring our women but in a little different format. Watch for these special posts on Thursdays beginning next week! For today, it’s a privilege to introduce you to Lauren Carper and Gloria Ubel.

Lauren Carper

Lauren and her husband Jerell recently relocated from Bend to Eugene to join the UFC staff and community. They have one son named Logan (20 months) and another child on the way (due in August). Lauren stays busy with her job at Sheppard Wealth Management and taking care of her son. In her free time, Lauren likes to visit with friends and family, go on hikes and enjoy the outdoors.

What was the Sabbath like for you as a child?

The Sabbath for me as a child meant that each Sunday morning my siblings and I were begrudgingly woken up early, dressed up in nice clothes, and shuffled to church as a family. Beyond that, we didn’t implement any other rhythms of rest or sabbath in our lives. 

In what ways do you rest in your life today? 

I have to admit that rest is not one of my strengths. I am a working mom of a busy toddler and am a pastor’s wife. I’m wired to be a helper, and I carry that sense of responsibility as I encounter the world, often feeling like I can and should be doing more for others. I struggle with saying “no,” and all too often this has left me feeling exhausted. Something that has become extremely important in my life is being outside and experiencing God’s beautiful creation, whether I’m walking, hiking, camping, or simply sitting outside listening to the birds and breathing fresh air. I thank God for this restful space for my soul. 

Which one of the characteristics of God is especially encouraging to you in this season of your life and why is this? 

Near the end of 2020, my husband Jerell accepted a job at University Fellowship Church. We were excited about our new adventure and thrilled to be near family. To be honest, the reality of our move hadn’t fully hit me until the moment Jerell drove away in our moving truck. I stood alone in our empty house that I loved so much and wept. We moved to a new city, Jerell began his new job, we entered into a new church community, I began working remotely, and we found out that we have a new baby on the way. Although the change my family is experiencing is good, it has still been very taxing on us. As I look beyond my personal changes and ponder what the rest of the world has been through this past year, my heart breaks. We are all burdened by the weight of the chaos, dissension, and hardship that surrounds us. In this season, I have found so much peace in our God’s immutability. He is my rock in times of change, and I get to begin and end each day knowing that He loves me and He will forever remain the same. 

When do you find it particularly difficult to set your mind on the character of God? 

I find it difficult to set my mind on the character of God when I am busy, distracted and when I am feeling angry with the brokenness I see in the world around me.

What practices do you follow to reorient your mind on Jesus, your rest and peace?

God gives us His word and His creation to remind us of who He is. I find that in seasons of life when I dedicate time to meditate on Scripture, pray, and practice thankfulness for the beauty found in His creation, finding rest and peace comes naturally. 

Gloria Ubel

Gloria Ubel has been happily married to Rick since April 1974. They have two sons and are blessed to have both of them living within two miles of them. Justin is a pastor and is married to Jessica. They have three children: Brooklyn (13), Bailey (11), and Caedmon (8). Travis is currently a database developer and single. Gloria retired three years ago after a 45-year nursing career, 40 of those years as a NICU nurse, which she loved. She especially enjoys the time they get to spend with their grandchildren, who bring a lot of joy to their lives.

What was the Sabbath like for you as a child?

I grew up on a family farm in a small community in Minnesota. We raised cattle, pigs, chickens, and a variety of crops. There was always work to do, but apart from feeding the animals, Sunday was a day of rest. Every Sunday my parents, older brother, three younger sisters, and I would get dressed in our Sunday best and pile in the family sedan and head off to Sunday school and church services. After church we would go home to a special Sunday dinner, much of it prepared the day before. Sometimes, we would have invited a family or couple from church to join us. The afternoon was a time to nap, play games, or do other fun activities. I would often play hymns at the piano, and my siblings would gather around and sing along. During the summer months, we enjoyed outdoor games in our yard, such as softball, croquet, and whiffle ball. Occasionally, our family would take an afternoon drive to a neighboring town to visit our grandparents or other relatives. We always enjoyed the special times we would pack a picnic supper and take the 25-mile ride to the lake to go swimming. Sunday evenings were spent together in our living room watching The Wonderful World of Disney and Bonanza on our black-and-white TV.

In what ways do you rest in your life today? 

Being retired and restricted due to Covid, I have ample time to rest. I divide my household chores over the course of the week, which allows for times of rest each day. Rick and I spend about an hour each day having devotions, using several different resources, reading Scripture, and praying together. One of those resources this year is Morning and Evening Devotions by C.H. Spurgeon. We just started reading aloud together Living on the Ragged Edge, a book by Chuck Swindoll on Ecclesiastes as a supplement to Sean’s class on Ecclesiastes, which we are viewing via livestream on Sunday evenings. Sunday remains our Sabbath day in which we attend church (now via livestream), followed by fellowship time via Zoom with our small group. Travis comes over for lunch and board or card games. We often take a walk together and do whatever else is relaxing and enjoyable. A few of the things that I enjoy and find restful any day of the week are going out for brisk walks, playing solitary Scrabble, playing hymns on the piano, and spending time with family. I also enjoy cooking healthy meals.

Which one of the characteristics of God is especially encouraging to you in this season of your life and why is this?

It is very hard to narrow it down to just one, but I would have to say faithfulness. Rick was diagnosed with Stage IV malignant melanoma 21 months ago. He has responded so well to his immunotherapy treatments with minimal side effects that he is in remission with no evidence of cancer. Though he continues his treatments, life goes on pretty much as usual (except for COVID). Each new day is a gift, and we are so thankful to God for His faithfulness and mercy. We definitely rejoice and can say with the hymnwriter “Great is Thy faithfulness O God my Father. Morning by morning new mercies I see. All I have needed Thy hand hath provided. Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.”

When do you find it particularly difficult to set your mind on the character of God?

The turmoil, division, political rancor, moral decay, hatred, societal ills, injustice, and  COVID that we are bombarded with every day on all media sources can take its toll and cause me to ask “Where is God in all of this?”  My faith in God and His Word tells me He is sovereign, He is faithful, and He will never leave or forsake us. I look to Scripture for guidance, especially to verses I have memorized.  Philippians 4:4-9 directs me to rejoice in the Lord always, bring all of these anxieties to God in prayer while thanking Him for the abundant physical and spiritual blessings He has given me. Peace comes through keeping my heart and mind in Christ Jesus. Psalm 37 instructs me: “Do not to fret… Trust in the Lord and do good. Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness…Commit your way to the Lord…Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him.” These action verbs are calls to obedience, though I certainly do that imperfectly. Thank God for His grace and forgiveness.

What practices do you follow to reorient your mind on Jesus, your rest and peace?

Often times I will wake up during the night and my mind wants to focus on personal concerns or the negative things going on in our country and world. I have found that fixing my mind on the attributes of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit calms my mind and allows me to get back to sleep. I do it in a systematic way by using the alphabet and reviewing each attribute I can think of starting with A-Z.  For example, when I get the letter “R” these come to mind: Rest, Righteous, Redeemer, Resurrection, Rock, Refuge, Rescuer, Revealer, Restorer, Reigns, and Radiance. I keep a list in a notebook and jot down additional characteristics as I read them in Scripture or think of them. Then they come to mind more readily when I need that reorientation. Other practices during the day are to listen to worship music or play hymns on the piano, paying attention to the words that cause me to worship God. Looking to God’s promises in Scripture is also very helpful in bringing rest and peace.

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