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.

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Follow ~ a #OneWord365 October Update

Follow. That’s my 2014 #OneWord365.   Seemed easy enough ~ we had recently decided to rejoin a mission organization that we worked with.   Woohoo! We’ll sell everything. Head back to the overseas Mission Field.

We finally got notice that we were approved (by said Mission Organization) in February and shortly after that were asked to go down to the DR for the summer to help with the busy months with lots of short-term mission teams! God worked that out and we followed Him down there.

Not all went as planned while we were there, but regardless, we returned to the States ready to make preparations to get back ASAP. While we were gone the house sold. Our cars sold. Other than paying off some previous debt and raising support we were ready to go. Ready to follow Him anywhere He would lead.

And then the pause button was hit. When we got back to Ohio in early August, we had about 30-35% of promised support raised. Two months later, we have about 41%. Yes, praise the Lord for that ~ but we really thought we’d be further along by now. See, we planned on attending Language School in January for about 2 tri-mesters and then be ready to head back to the DR late 2015.

And here we are. Anything can happen between now and December, but if we keep rolling at this pace, we’re not going anywhere in January.   And the question becomes:

Are we wiling to FOLLOW, even if it doesn’t mean going (for now)?

Am I willing? Are we willing? Are our kids? We’ve made some drastic life changes to accommodate leaving ~ moved out of the school district, the kids started online school (to provide schooling continuity for the anticipated upcoming location changes), they have pulled out of sports/activities they enjoyed, we didn’t rent a new house, still selling e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g., I’m working full-time to get ahead financially, Kevin’s working (almost full-time) AND having support meetings… and on and on. We’re doing what needs to be done on our end according to the plan.

We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” Prov. 16:9 Yes – yes He does.

Are we willing to trust that “As heaven is higher than earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts”? (Isaiah 55:8)

James packs a punch at the end chapter 4: “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will travel to such and such a city and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.” You don’t even know what tomorrow will bring — what your life will be! For you are like smoke that appears for a little while, then vanishes. Instead, you should say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.“ So if we say/”boast” that we’re heading to Costa Rica in January for Language School and then the Dominican after that…we are boasting in our arrogance? Yikes! The truth is we don’t know what’s up. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring. And so we’re left with if the Lord wills…   Which, of course, is a fabulous place to start.

We will follow.  In the word of Chris Tomlin:

Where you go, I’ll go

Where you stay, I’ll stay

When you move, I’ll move

I will follow…

Follow seemed like a great word. Totally doable. Follow Christ’s lead to the ends of the earth. Yes! Here we are, send US! But what about when follow means stay.  When follow doesn’t go according to ‘plan’. When follow takes longer than you thought. When follow isn’t clear… It is not so cut and dry. Not so black and white. Not so easy.

Jen Hatmaker knew this struggle well when God had her and her husband leave the church they were serving in without a plan of what was next. In her book, “Interrupted”, when faced with questions of who, what, where, when, WHY ~ she says, “Why does it matter? It is not your responsibility to explain what God is doing with your life. He has not provided enough information to figure it out. Instead, you are asked to turn loose and LET GOD BE GOD. Therein lies the secret to the ‘peace that transcends understanding.’”

Right now follow means trust. Trust today. Follow today. He determines our steps. His ways are higher than ours. His timing, sovereign. And as the Lord wills, we will follow Him through it all.

The Hard Stuff

Sugar-coating is not my thing… especially when it comes to my kiddos and teaching them about some of the “hard” realities of life. For example, when they were toddlers and prone to wander off at the grocery store, I would tell them in a firm voice that if they wander, someone (who even looks nice) could “steal you away and you would never see Mama or Daddy again and they could hurt you and give you “boo boos”.   Or when they were given some freedom to ride their bikes throughout the neighborhood, if they didn’t look both ways when crossing the street a car could come and “squish. you. like. a. bug.”

Now they’re older (almost all teenagers) and the hard stuff has changed due to their ages and what’s happening around the world… This weekend, after several recent ISIS beheadings in the Middle East and the beheading that happened in Oklahoma on Thursday, our “hard stuff” conversation with our kiddos shifted to what would you do if you were threatened with death over your faith? If there was a gun to your head or a knife to your throat? What would you do? Would you deny Christ and live, or would you stand firm in Christ Jesus (and LIVE!)?

Interestingly this Sunday at church, the message was on RESOLVE and the message opened with a clip from the movie “God’s Not Dead” where the Muslim father finds out his daughter is a Christian, listens to Christian teaching etc. and proceeds to throw her out of his house.  This happens across the world every day. And in America, where the word “persecution” has meant getting mocked/made fun of/discriminated against, we may be about to find out what persecution really means.

Have you thought about what you would do? Have you thought about what your kids would do? Do they have a personal relationship with Christ that they would stand up and say, “Jesus is my Lord and Savior and I will NOT deny Him”? Do they know why they believe what they believe? What your family believes? Do you?

The scariness is not that we could be entering a season where we may begin to see real persecution. The scariness is that we’ve brought our kiddos to church on Sunday and feel that we’ve done our job to “get them to be Christians”. We say a quick prayer before dinner and consider that leading our families. We spend hours and hours and hundreds (thousands) of dollars to make sure our kids get the best lessons to improve their swing, strength training to be stronger than the next kid, have practice several times a week, join the best travel teams and inundate them with activities that they are busy every. single. minute. of their lives. We involve them in the arts, music, youth group, school activities etc. so they will be well rounded. And with all of that ~ how can we possibly prepare our children for the question, “What would you do if…”? There are only 24 hours in a day… How can we expect them to have any resolve if time has not been taken to teach them the bible, disciple them in the word and show them how to go to the Father in prayer?

Listen, we are just as guilty as the next family in all of this. Because our lives are in transition, we are not over-committed right now with all sorts of kids’ activities and it has given me a glimpse that we may have had it all wrong. Well, maybe not all, but what if we had been more diligent to protect family bible time as we did the sports schedule on the fridge?   What if we would spend hours teaching the Bible to our children, or better yet, teaching our children to read and hear from God’s word for themselves? What if we discipled our kids to know why they believe what they believe (if they believe)?   What if we were as disciplined about discipleship as we were about producing the world’s next Michael Jordan, Jenny Finch, MichaelAngelo or Liberace?

We must prepare this next generation with the word of God and the shield of faith. Parents, we must disciple our children and it must take precedence over all the other stuff. CHURCH, we must be intentional about discipling new or young or never-been-taught believers to prepare them for battle on a one-on-one or very small group oriented basis. We must TEACH, not only the word of GOD, but HOW to study the WORD OF GOD on your own, not just in a “Bible Study.”

This post is breaking all the rules (word count, not touchy feely), but this is a message burning in my spirit. We have only scratched the surface of what persecution could look like in the United States of America, but the Bible is clear that it’s-a-coming.  If you’re a believer, and you can’t answer why you believe what you believe or why someone should be a Christian and not another religion – then you need to be discipled. Seek someone out, an older (in the faith) believer. Shoot, if you’re local, message me. I’d love to meet with you regularly. Double shoot, if you’re not local, we can meet with technology. Find a church leader to point you in the right direction. Ask your neighbor who’s always sharing wisdom from God’s word if they would meet with you.   And believer, if you know why you believe what you believe and could disciple someone ~ pray for God to show you who and then do it. We are called/commanded to. Let’s link arm and arm in this battle strengthened in FAITH, prepared through the WORD and filled with RESOLVE from the Holy Spirit.

That is all. Amen.

Happy SWEET 16 ~ JULIA!!

10:45pm – just chilling on the couch, watching “Dateline”. It had been a long day. My grandpa’s funeral was that morning, followed by the lunch… you know the drill. Emotionally draining. It was a full circle-of-life day knowing that my baby girl was due to arrive in just over 3 weeks. After the funeral, I spent some time snuggling my 2 1/2 year old niece, Lauren. It was precious, snuggling Lauren and feeling little Julia in my belly. But now we were back in Findlay, the day was wrapping up and I was relaxing before getting back at it at school the next day. I had told my students on Monday, “Guys, I’m NOT having the baby. My Grandpa passed away and tomorrow (that Tuesday) is the funeral. I WILL BE BACK WEDNESDAY.”

Then I felt something. Kind of like that feeling when start your period, or pee your pants or… what was happening?!? I jolted to the bathroom (as quick as a 9 month pregnant lady can “jolt”). My. Water. Had. Broke.

What the wha??? I wasn’t due for three more weeks. I told my students I would be back on Wednesday. I told my student teacher I would be back on Wednesday! Um, I hadn’t fully prepared for maternity leave yet! Yikes!

I called the Dr. He assured me that I didn’t need to go to the hospital until the contractions started. So we waited. And at 11:15pm I called my stoic, authoritative boss (my principal ~ that was a fun call 🙂 ) and let him know I wouldn’t be in the next day. Eeeeeek! What was happening???

A little while later I had a contraction. After a few of those, I did what every new mom would do… pack up and head to the hospital! 😀 Once at the hospital, my contractions were registering irregularly on the monitor, and the precious nurse, ahem, and by precious I mean #$@#%@, told me my water hadn’t broke. (Oh really, what exactly was that liquid coming out of me few hours ago? It certainly wasn’t pee!) They sent me home. Gahhhh!

We rested a bit but at 7am my contractions did start and were regular. By 11am I called the Dr (my doctor was out of town, sadly, so I called his back-up) and since the contractors were about 7-8 minutes apart, he wanted me to come in to the office to be checked. When he checked me, he said, “Your baby has a full head of hair! Time to head over to the hospital!”

After a very manageable labor and an hour of pushing… shortly after 7pm, Julia Lee Grubinski entered the world.   3 years of trying, 6 months of infertility treatments, almost nine months of waiting, 12 hours of labor. She was here! And we became parents! A 6 lbs 9oz bundle of Grubbie love, Grubbie nose and all!

FullSizeRender-1 FullSizeRenderAnd now she’s 16. Sweet 16! 16 years of giggles and grins. Energy and exploration. Curiosity and some craziness. Maybe even a little drama…. He he! She IS a girl, after all! She has always been strong-willed, which when channeled she achieves what she puts her mind to. She sets goals and reaches them. She loves God and is passionate about serving Him.

Happy birthday, JujuBee! I cannot imagine life without you. You make me laugh. Your love of life is contagious. You’re sensitive. You’re sweet. God began a good work in you and it is our blessing to watch as He continues to complete it.

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Joey’s “Belt” Prayer

beltWhen our cute, little, 4-year-old-preschooler needed a belt, he mentioned it to us a few times over the course of a few days. He did need a belt. His pants were falling down his skinny little frame. However, being the stellar parents that we are ~ we pretty much never remembered it while we were at the store. Until one night he prayed. He prayed with the sweetest intensity, taking his ‘need of a new belt’ to the Father in heaven who lovingly hears our prayers. My ears perked and I knew in my heart what I needed to do. 9pm Walmart run.

The next morning, as Joey foggily woke up, rubbing his eyes, he noticed something on his bed. Not a toy he had left out or yesterday’s clothes, something different. Something new.   A belt. The belt he had prayed for.

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! Matt. 7:11

“Mom! Did you see this?!?” he asked excitedly! “GOD ANSWERED MY PRAYER! He gave me a BELT!”

I didn’t disagree with him. God had provided the belt for him. Our girlies, being a little bit older (and a bit more skeptical) asked quietly away from their brother, “Mom, did you get the belt?!? How did this belt get here? You got this for him, didn’t you?” I simply replied that God had provided the belt for him.

It was true. God provided the belt for Joey that night, but He used his people to do it. No, God doesn’t answer every request in a Santa Claus like response, but He does often use His children to meet those needs, answer those requests.

In July, we arrived in Tampa, FL after being in the Dominican Republic for 6/8 weeks. After we landed, we had to print our closing papers, sign them, get them notarized and overnighted by 5pm. That was a little crazy, but we got ‘er done!   Then, the next morning we got an email with instructions on how to wire the money due at closing. Wait, what? We weren’t supposed to owe anything at closing, but with how the timing of insurance/tax/escrows worked out, we ended up owing at closing. And we just finished up 2 months of mission work, NOT working, no income outside of the support to get us to the DR. So we gathered as a family and we prayed. And God used one of His kiddos to help us with that need at the time.

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:19

Once we got back to Ohio and had to pack up our house in two days after being gone for two months, we had a last minute change to our living arrangements… and we were to move out the next day. So we gathered as a family to pray. And God used one of His kiddos to meet that need.

I called to the Lord in my distress, and I cried to my God for help. From His temple He heard my voice, and my cry to Him reached His ears. Psalm 18:6

After a few weeks in our new place, I had some really bad Chikungunya days (ongoing joint pain). I cried out to the Lord, “I don’t know if I can do this.” And by cried out I mean crying… real tears. Although very thankful for the Lord providing this place for us to stay, we were living in a basement and everything else in the house was upstairs (bathroom, kitchen…), and stairs can be a challenge when your joints (knees, ankles, wrists, elbows, fingers) hurt :(.  A few days later we got a phone call. One of God’s kiddos had been praying and the Lord impressed on her heart to offer their house for us to use until we go to Language School. Wait, what? We had prayed, and He used His children to answer that prayer.

Even before they call, I will answer; while they are still speaking, I will hear. Isaiah 65:24

These examples are all of prayers we’ve prayed and how God used His children to meet a need in our lives, and that is amazing. But it is also incredible when God impresses something on our hearts and used us to meet a need/provide encouragement/answer a prayer in someone else’s life.

As a missionary, it is humbling and an honor when people “show faithfulness” to the Lord by letting Him use them to be a blessing. The housing, the “loan”, the missionary vehicle, the prayers, the support… John summed it up best:

Dear friend, you are showing faithfulness by whatever you do for the brothers, especially when they are strangers. They have testified to your love in front of the church. You will do well to send them on their journey in a manner worthy of God, since they set out for the sake of the Name, accepting nothing from pagans. Therefore, we ought to support such men so that we can be coworkers with the truth. 3 John 5-8

Broken Surrender

I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Gal. 2:19-20

Have you ever faced any resistance when taking a step to do something in obedience to the Lord? Maybe when you committed to be baptized, to join a Bible study group to grow in your relationship with Christ, or even to begin tithing? Ever experience any opposition when you are preparing to take a mission trip/planning an outreach event/or committing to disciple someone?

Any time we step out in faith to do what God has called us to, there is sacrifice. There is inconvenience. There is opposition. There is heartache, pain, blood/sweat/tears. Anytime you invest in the kingdom, there is a juxtaposition (one comes with the other) of Gal. 2:19-20 in our lives. Anything we surrender comes at a cost ~ just like Christ’s sacrifice for our redemption came at a cost. He was crucified so we could live, so we could have a bridge to the Father, so we could be saved. So we would have hope.

And it is worth it.

Something beautiful is born because of something being broken.

In Jen Hatmaker’s book, “Interrupted,” she put it this way: “Mercy has a cost: someone must be broken for someone else to be fed. The sermon that changed your life? That messenger was poured out so you could hear it. The friends who stood in the gap during your crisis? They embraced some sacrifice of brokenness for your healing. Anytime you say, “That fed me, that nourished me,” someone was the broken bread for your fulfillment.”

Funny, the same day our fam read/studied Galatians 2, I read this section from Jen’s book… and this quote from my YouVersion devotional plan, “My Utmost For His Highest” based on Gal. 2:19-20: “If you are faced with the question of whether or not to surrender, make a determination to go on through the crisis, surrendering all that you have and all that you are to Him. And God will then equip you to do all that He requires of you.

Surrender. Be broken. See Christ alive and working (in you, in others, for His kingdom, for His glory).

I can honestly tell you that over the 13 years of full-time ministry, I have repeatedly cried out to the Lord and asked if it was worth it.   And every time, in His precious mercy, He faithfully showed me how He was working ~ through the brokenness, through the heartache, through the difficulties, through the inconveniences, through the impossibilities.  That somehow through surrender and brokenness, Christ’s mission is accomplished. Someone comes to know Him. Someone is encouraged and strengthened by His word. Someone moves from darkness into the light. Someone is physically helped or blessed. Someone surrenders his or her life to Him.  Someone has hope. 

And that’s what it’s all about. And that’s what keeps us going.   And that’s what makes it worth it.

Crucified with Christ, so that I no longer live, but Christ lives in/through me. Christ’s sacrifice/brokenness for my redemption. My surrender for Christ’s purpose/mission.   God will equip. He gives the strength. He will bless.

I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Gal. 2:19-20

Introducing me!

Julia is starting to blog. My heart may just burst. 🙂

My Walk with jesus

Hi my name is Julia Grubinski and I am 15 years old! My family and I are missionaries in the Dominican Republic! In my family I have my dad Kevin, my mom Kendra, my sister Emma and my brother Joey. We are a normal family. We all share many things in common. But only one of them is important, having Jesus Christ as our savior! Thats what makes us special!

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Yesterday my mom asked my siblings and I to type out our testimony. I have never written it down nor typed it. I am really bad at talking in front of people so I have not done it verbally either. So I guess I do not know what it is because I have never talked about it…

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