It’s Whatever, Man

December 31, 2015.  The years just move along a little faster with each passing one. Gracious!  It’s always a day of at least some reflection.

I never declared “One Word” for 2015.  In fact, if I would have it probably would’ve been “It’s Whatever Man”.  Ok – that’s not a word, it’s a phrase so it wouldn’t even be a “One Word”, it would be a “One Phrase” (because just “Whatever” doesn’t quite encompass it all). Ha!

I mean – look at this blog.  This is only the 4th post in 2015!  It’s whatever, man.

At the end of 2014 we made a difficult decision to stay in the States as God began to show us it wasn’t His timing for another overseas ministry appointment. It’s whatever, man.

We began 2015 still picking up the financial pieces of the previous years where Kevin and I took turns being unemployed or going without a paycheck.  Starting over in your early 40s is not exactly delightful and we’re not where we want to be… but it’s whatever, man. 

On one hand it’s whatever, man, can be a cynical place, a white flag or a time to just go through the motions.  And there has definitely been some of that in 2015.  But it can also be a quiet surrender; trusting a Sovereign God in His timing, in doors that He opens and shuts and a season of patience and waiting and healing and refueling.

As I glance back over 2015 with some of the hindsight the Lord gives us, I can see some of the whatevers as blessings.  I only wrote three other blogs posts because I was so busy GOING BACK TO SCHOOL to renew my license for my NEW TEACHING JOB!  God has opened doors for each of us Grubbies for new opportunities and different communities to be a part of – strategic placements for His glory, we pray.  We still have a long way to go but Kevin and I are both EMPLOYED, have steady incomes and are on a financial plan.

In Job 2:10, Job asks, “Should we only accept good from God and not adversity?”  Great question. Sometimes the challenges that come along life’s path are just whatever to us, but maybe, just maybe, they are a part of His greater plan, a part of His refining work IN us and stuff He will use for His glory.

It’s all about PERSPECTIVE.

Perspective can mean the difference in wallowing in self-pity and trusting in a Sovereign God.  Perspective can mean the difference in fear (of the future, of the unknown, of failure, of lack, of __________) and walking by faith.  Perspective can mean the difference in despair and hope.

With 2016 just hours away, that’s my word for this year:

PERSPECTIVE

Will I fix my eyes on my circumstances or will I keep my “eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our (my) faith?” Heb. 12:2

Will I freak out at the not so wonderful things that will happen this year or will I “hold on to the confession of our (my) hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”  Heb. 10:23

Will my life answer the question that the enemy posed to God regarding Job (Job 1:9) – “Does Kendra fear God for nothing?”  Which is basically asking will Kendra be devoted to God only throughout good things in life? Or will she, will I, be devoted and bless God through EVERYTHING that comes across my path in 2016?

It’s all about perspective.

Vitamins… For Your Soul :)

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Screen Shot 2015-04-11 at 10.14.14 AMVitamins. I’ve been a regular vitamin taker since 2011. I take a good quality, effective vitamin pack that includes a multi-vitamin with maximum mineral absorption (so much better than over-the-counter brands – and no this isn’t a commercial😉 ), antioxidant support to fight off free-radicals, probiotic with 10 billion colonies of flora to fight off the bad bacteria and enhance overall digestive health and Omega 3 fish oils to support cardiovascular health and decrease inflammation. The great thing about these vitamins, is when I’m consistent with taking them daily, I. Do. Not. Get. Sick. I really don’t. I have energy. I feel GOOD! However when I don’t take them, I can feel myself start to get run down (life is busy!), start the beginnings of a cold or sore throat, and feel really tired (and with tired comes cranky, moody, irritable – you get the point). When that happens I get back on track and take my vitamins. I try to encourage my family to take them… but they don’t… and they get sick. I try to get my friends to take them but they insist on the over-the-counter stuff or other natural remedies… and still get sick.

This is the same thing that happens in my spiritual life, my relationship with God. To be healthy spiritually there’s things we can do – draw near to Him and He draws near to you (us) James 4:8. Just like my vitamins, it’s the basics… spend time in the Word (sword of the Spirit Eph. 6:17), pray and talk with (and listen to) my Savior (fervent prayer of a righteous person has great power James 5:16), fellowship with other believers (not staying away from worship meetings... Heb. 10:25) and pray for faith (take the shield of faith, and with it you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one Eph. 6:16). And just like when I don’t take my physical vitamins, when I don’t take my spiritual vitamins I get grouchy, edgy and irritable. I may have a lack of faith or be anxious. Again, I try to encourage family and friends (and you reading this) to take their spiritual vitamins as well – so they won’t get sick. Taking these spiritual vitamins make us better equipped to fight off the bad bacteria, attack the free radicals that invade our lives, reduce the inflammations that rise up and encourage overall spiritual health.

Are you off track like I’ve been before in both my physical and spiritual vitamin routine? Are you worn down, on the verge or within the throws of sickness and germs? Start today. Take those vitamins. Not only will you be healthier spiritually, but the goal is to know Him (God)… (Phil 3:10) and glorify Him. These vitamins get you on that right track to know Him, for your spiritual health, for your relationship with God and equip you to walk in the purposes He has for your life.

Tear That Baby Down!

God is gracious to reveal idols to us. What is any idol?  “A picture or object that is worshipped as a god,” anything that takes priority before God.  It can be anything from food to work, your kids, entertainment, your hobbies (music, sports, hunting, fitness…), your new puppy (wait what?), politics, even serving, status or recognition.  Maybe for you it’s money, success, things?  Or contrarily it could be our struggles?  Maybe it’s social media, electronics, gadgets, gizmos and more? Could it even be your friends?

For me, God shows me when something is creeping into idolatry when:

  • It gets me all worked up
  • It is my main topic of conversation
  • It’s the first thing I think about when I wake up or keeps me up at night
  • It lures me from my quiet time with the Lord
  • I get all obsessed with it
When God shows us idols in our lives, our response should be:
Thankfulness – that He cares enough to show us when/if we have something that comes before Him because He desires an intimate, personal relationship with us – let that sink in… the Creator of the Universe wants a personal relationship with us! Wow.
Repentance – an urgency to tear down any idols and turn to God.  Confess what has been taking His place and ask for forgiveness and for Him to work in your life and heart to tear that baby down.
Renewal – that He will again be your first love. Spend time in worship and adoration of our loving Father and His Precious Son. Hold that idol in the light of a Holy God and focus on what really matters in this life. Place your attention and your energy into your relationship with the Lord, replacing the energy and attention that was put on the idol.
Nothing on that list above is bad in and of itself, but only one thing can have first place. What (or who) do you want to have first place in your life?
Nothing satisfies like a personal relationship with God.
For further study:
1 John 5:20-21
2 Kings 17:15
Isaiah 45:5
Matt. 6:33
Deut. 12:32-13:18

Photocred: klove

Delayed Gifts

Excitement was in the air.  A new Christmas “schedule” was in place this year for the Grubbies – as Kevin is a staff member at church and would be at Gateway all day on Christmas Eve.  The kiddos and I attended the later services and afterward we. were. hungry!  I had prepared a few Christmas Eve snacks and we picked up some boneless wings on the way home to round out our Christmas Dinner. Doesn’t everyone eat wings for Christmas dinner??🙂

After dinner we got into “gift mode.”  Starting with stockings we each opened our decorative “sock” filled with goodies, gift cards, and other fun stuff… Then, it was PRESENT time.  I mean, who doesn’t love presents???  Julia opened her gift and although she knew what it was, she was thrilled and started digging in to the box so she could start using it.  Joey, who didn’t know what he was getting, opened his gift and squealed with gratitude, thankful to receive what he asked for.  Then, it was Emma’s turn.  There was a wrapped box and it was rather light.  She hurriedly opened it only to find there was not a gift inside.  There was a paper with a picture, drawn by her no-so-artist-mama, of her gift.  It hadn’t arrived yet – so all she had to hold onto was this paper.

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Her delayed gift arrived yesterday and it was even more wonderful than the amateur artist drawing foreshadowed😉. Emma was gracious throughout the delay, waiting in “faith” of the gift that was promised.

And it made me think.  We have the hope of a delayed gift.  We have the written promise(s) in the Bible.  Of course we know it’s not just a paper (or booklet of papers), it is the Word of Life and we have the Holy Spirit with us as we journey through this lifetime – but it is just a foretaste of what is to come.

Psalm 16:11You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.”

Titus 2:13We look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.” 

Romans 8:23And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering.  We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us.” 

This paper, this book, holds the HOPE of the PROMISE. The promise of an eternity in heaven, with Jesus, in paradise. Even though the Word of God is beautiful and full and WONDERFUL – it will seem an amateur drawing compared to the GIFT that awaits those of us who have trusted in Him.  Christmas excitement doesn’t hold a candle my anticipation and excitement of the hope of heaven. Glorious Day!

That Wasn’t In The Plan

That wasn’t in the plan. She had her eye on Joseph for a while, and well, he had his eye on her. Next thing they knew, things were coming together for the BIG DAY. The engagement was progressing right along and anticipation was building. Soon they would be husband and wife. I mean, it was almost as if they were married already, except for, well, you know. Engagement was a pretty big deal back then. Then the angel showed up. What the wha? That was freaky. And unexpected. And a little inconvenient. It could mess everything up. What would Joseph think?

That wasn’t in the plan. Things have finally settled down after the pregnancy scandal. Joseph was a rock for her – after the angel cleared things up for him. Ha! The “big day” took a back burner and baby-prep was in full swing. She was having a baby. Not just any baby, God’s Son. Jesus. Savior of the world. That was a lot to take in. But God’s Spirit gave her peace. And THEN they got the call. They had to go to Bethlehem! What the wha? Um, this wasn’t exactly very good timing!! Didn’t they know she was about to pop any day?!?

That wasn’t in the plan. Rolling with the punches, they finally made it to Bethlehem when she felt something. No. Certainly not what she thought it was. Yup, there was another one. Um, Joseph, “It’s time.” What the wha? The place was a madhouse, like New York City on New Year’s Eve! You couldn’t even book a room through Priceline if you wanted to. In desperation, Joseph relentlessly asked around for a place to stay. A place for his wife to rest… er, uh, give birth.

That wasn’t in the plan. Jesus was born. Such a sweet, perfect baby boy. They had lots of visitors. It all felt a little surreal. Time passed and word on the street, (or in dreams…) was it was time to hightail it outta there. Jesus was in danger. What the wha? Wasn’t He the King? Savior of the world? So off they went. To Egypt of all places. And finally back to Nazareth. What a ride!

Individually each circumstance seemed like it was throwing things off course, messing things up… that it wasn’t in the plan, or was it? Before He was ever born… This was all part of the plan.

*He was supposed to be born of a virgin. Isaiah 7:14

*He was supposed to be born in Bethlehem. Micah 5:1-2

*He was supposed to go to Egypt. Hosea 11:1

*He was supposed to be a Nazarene. Isaiah 11:1

Have you ever thought, “This wasn’t in the plan!”? Things were progressing along and then you got the call. Lost your job. A relationship went sour. Lost a child. An illness. An accident. Relocation. Major financial disruption. Fill in the blank. What the wha? It just doesn’t seem right. The Grubbies certainly thought that before… This wasn’t in the plan, or was it? Could what seems like bumps in the road, two steps back, hard blows actually be a part of a greater plan? Mary certainly didn’t anticipate the twists and turns her life took, but it was a part of the great plan. The redemptive plan. For His glory.  While it seems wrong at the time, so often you can look back and see, OH YEAH! God was up to something there!

When God says “all things work together for the good of those who love God,” (Rom. 8:28) we can trust that He has a plan. Just like Mary’s life was a part of the great redemptive plan since the beginning of the world. God has a plan and a purpose for where you are, your circumstances and life’s twists and turns. Trust. Have hope. Believe.

Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens. For He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will, to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored us with in the Beloved. We have redemption in Him through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure that He planned in Him for the administration of the days of fulfillment — to bring everything together in the Messiah, both things in heaven and things on earth in Him. We have also received an inheritance in Him, predestined according to the purpose of the One who works out everything in agreement with the decision of His will, so that we who had already put our hope in the Messiah might bring praise to His glory. When you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed in Him, you were also sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. He is the down payment of our inheritance, for the redemption of the possession, to the praise of His glory. (Ephesians 1:3-14 HCSB)

“In-Between” Cookie Palooza


Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 9.16.43 AMOh! Life of the “in-between”… Keeping up with Grubbie Christmas traditions is proving to be somewhat challenging, because we’re half living in a temporary house, half living out of storage. We have to plan timing, location, vehicles etc. to get stuff out of storage (ie. Christmas Decorations). We finally jollied things up around here, but some things are still in storage (wrapping paper, cookie cutters).   So my PLAN was to KISS (keep it simple stu… uh, er, silly). I was going to make MOST of our regular cookies/treats for Christmas but I was going to skip the cut-outs. When I made this grand announcement, to my surprise I was greeted with disappointment. And shouts of protest! And eye-darts that made me feel like the GRINCH! Really? Because on a normal year I say, “it’s cookie night,” and I RELUCTANTLY got some helpers. But cancel one aspect of the “cookie-palooza” and we’re suddenly scarring one’s childhood😉. Ha! That tells me that yes, even though they’re getting older, and they have to put the device down to mix, roll, cut, bake and frost – they still enjoy it. And for me, the best part of “Cookie-Palooza” is doing it together. Family Time.  Oh, and my sugar-cookie-that-melts-in-your-mouth recipe is to. die. for.

Just another reminder that little things do matter. Home is wherever we all are together. Life may be in the “in-between” but family is forever (and apparently so are cookie traditions🙂 ).

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The Truth Is…

People are sometimes shocked at honesty.   For example, on my recent trip to Haiti, it was a medical trip and um, I’m not medical. Sure, I’ve worked several medical mission clinics over the years and am willing to do whatever, however my main job was keeping the (people) traffic moving, praying with people and sharing the gospel. But on Thursday, I was needed to be the “p-p nurse.” What is a p-p nurse, you ask? Well, it is the person who takes the PP, ahem urine, from the patients, dips the diagnostic stick into said PP and then reads and records the results. Let me reiterate, I will do anything that needed done, but I do not like PP. I was sure I would spill someone’s urine all.over.me. Yuck!   So when the actual nurse stopped by to see how it was going and asked, “Do you like being the ‘p-p nurse?’” I exclaimed, “NO!” Ha ha. No, I did not like being the p-p nurse. I think she was a little shocked that I was so honest. She quickly replied that she would find me a replacement which I told her wasn’t necessary. I would be the p-p nurse and I was fine with it, but it never was going to be my favorite thing to do.😉

Another example is in our LifeGroup. At the first LG of the year, we were filling out informational forms (name/address…) and apparently while I was engrossed in filling out my papers, we were given instructions for the next “get to know you” activity. The leader asked, “What would you like to get out of this group?” What I didn’t know was the instructions were to write down your answers. However since I missed the initial instructions, I blurted out, “Ok, I’ll start. I don’t know about anybody else, but I’m looking to make new friendships. More than just LG, I’d love new friends to be social with. I looking for a group where we can grow together, be there for each other, rejoice together, bear each other’s burdens…” At the end of my needy dissertation, I felt like I was receiving a bunch of blank stares… The silence was broken when the leader thanked me for sharing, and that we were supposed to write down our answers🙂. But people nodded in agreement. I think there was some shock at my honesty and transparency. But I wasn’t alone. Others were looking for the same thing. I broke the ice, with a jack-hammer, HA!

It’s weird when I meet people now for the first time and they just know the “Kendra of now”. However the “Kendra of now” has dealt with and experienced a lot, especially over the past three years. The negative things, the hard things are part of my story… part of who I am. And throughout it all, when “stuff” comes up, I pray I am communicating God’s faithfulness throughout it all. However, I can’t help but notice the awkwardness or surprise when I answer honestly simple questions about what I “do” for a living, or where we live, or future plans. Because our story is complicated it doesn’t take too long into the story that some of the back-story comes into play. Nobody wants to hear your non-warm-fuzzy-peach-keen stuff.   Somewhere along the line, it’s become awkward and unexpected to be real, authentic or honest.

My friends, it shouldn’t be this way. No, we don’t have to unload all of life’s baggage into one introductory conversation, but life is hard. And God is faithful. We don’t have to gloss over the hard stuff.  2 Corinthians 1:4 says, “He comforts us in all of our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves received from God.” If we never honestly share some of the hard stuff, then we won’t have the opportunity to share how God was faithful and got us through the hard stuff.   God works all things for GOOD, so even in the hard stuff, God can be glorified. Our rough patches are not for nothing. God desires us to rely on Him, depend on Him and know that He is faithful in good and bad times.

Instead of honesty, authenticity or transparency, we throw out, “Oh, I’m fine” – in a martyr-like sigh.   Why do we do that? When our two-year-olds are having a tantrum, we talk to them gently and tell them to “use your words.” Why? Because it is important to communicate what is bothering you, what you want, what you’re feeling. Let’s take a step towards honesty, authenticity and transparency – even in the hard times. Use your words:

I’m struggling with anger lately.

My debt is strangling me.

I’ve been having impure thoughts.

I’m really missing my mom.

I’m not bonding with my baby.

My marriage is not what it should be.

I feel stuck in my job.

My teenager hates me.

I feel like a failure.

Life feels unfair.

Honesty opens the door for others to bear your burdens and bridges your heart to others where you find out you’re not alone. Honesty brings LIGHT to stuff the enemy would rather you stew on in the dark. Honesty brings glory to God when we can say, “This is hard. God is faithful.”

Next time a fork in the road comes up in a conversation where you have to choose, do I want to get into this or not, trust God and be honest. He is faithful and may just use what you’ve been through to encourage someone else.