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.

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.

Follow (February #OneWord365 Update)

I was a little hesitant when I chose, or rather when God impressed upon my heart (ahem, keep it spiritual :p), the word FOLLOW (and here) for 2014.   It felt a little cliché.  A bit kum-by-ya-ish. A little ordinary. But let me tell ya’, God has been In. Ma. Face. with tHis word (not a typo).  Some of us are, ok I’m a little slow… or a little hard-headed… or a bit distracted.   And it’s not what I thought, so far, it’s so much more.

We’re reading Matthew with our church’s one-year New Testament reading plan.   And, well, the follow theme is pretty prevalent here.

In chapter 4 v. 19-20, Jesus calls Simon (Peter) and Andrew and tells them to follow him.  And they did, immediately. When Jesus calls, follow.

In fact, a lot of what we read in Matthew can be summed up with the word follow – even if that word isn’t specified:

Follow Him in prayer. 6:9-13

Follow His example in forgiveness. 6:12

Follow instead of worrying. 6:25

Seek Him, keep asking, keep searching, keep knocking and you will find Him so you can follow. 6:33, 7:7-8

Matthew followed, will I? 9:9

And the humdinger… “Whoever doesn’t take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. 10:38 *Owie.

The story of Peter walking on the water – keep your EYES on Him to follow Him – 14:27-31

Humdinger’s cousin… “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me. 16:24

Follow in faith. 17:20-21

And if that wasn’t enough… Jesus Calling has also been relentless.  Getting a little too close for comfort really.

January 12th – “I will not show you what is on the road ahead, but I will thoroughly equip you for the journey.  My living Presence is your Companion each step of the way.  Stay in continual communication with Me, whispering My Name whenever you need to redirect your thoughts.  Thus, you can walk through this day with your focus on Me.  My abiding Presence is the best road map available.”  This has follow written all over it. In uncertainty, follow in His Name. Focus. 

January 18th“I am leading you along the high road, but there are descents as well as ascents.  In the distance you see snow-covered peaks glistening in brilliant sunlight. Your longing to reach those peaks is good, but you must not take shortcuts.  Your assignment is to follow Me, allowing Me to direct your path.  Let the heights beckon you onward, but stay close to Me.”   Yes.  This.

And if I wasn’t getting it the other days, Feb. 1st“Follow Me one step at a time.  That is all I require of you.  In fact, that is the only way to move through this space/time world.  You see huge mountains looming, and you start wondering how you’re going to scale those heights.  Meanwhile, because you’re not looking where you’re going, you stumble on the easy path where I am leading you now… You don’t know what will happen today, much less tomorrow. Our path may take an abrupt turn, leading you away from those mountains…” Follow in the here and now, one step at a time.

(Have you bought Jesus Calling yet?  What are you waiting for???  Get the app by clicking on the link or stop by the Christian Book Store in Findlay (if you’re local) or buy one on Amazon…  Do it.)

It’s almost obnoxious, at this point, but I’m studying Gideon, with teaching from the lovely Priscilla Shirer, in the Ladies’ Bible Study at church and yes – He’s nailing me here too.   For the sake of time and due to the length of my ramblings thus far, I’ll just share just two quotes.  First from Day 2 of Week 2: “Today’s tasks – even the most mundane of them – are often preparation for tomorrow’s calling… God is teaching you faithfulness, diligence and integrity through every task.”  And from Day 5 of week 2: “Wherever you are now is where you are meant to serve now.“  Follow in the ordinary and the mundane.  Follow faithfully and savor Him in the now. Follow today so you’ll be ready for tomorrow.

I don’t know what I expected when “follow” became my 2014 word, like some big follow calling?  Some giant mission? One great directive?  Nope, that’s not what He’s showing me so far.  It’s a lot less WA-BAM and whole lot more still small voice saying: I love you.  Follow close to me, I won’t steer you wrong.  Follow Me today. At home.  In the workplace. At church, at the kids’ sports games, in the neighborhood. Follow daily, moment by moment, breath by breath. Follow.

One Word 2013 Recap and 2014’s Word…

2013.  The word was “THRIVE.”  Maybe I was hoping for some sort of prosperity gospel, or a “believe it – speak it and it shall come to pass” theology.  No, of course I don’t believe or follow either of those (well, I do believe the Bible and speak its truth, but not in a “get-what-I-want” kind of way), but I was hopeful.  After a few years of struggling on many fronts, I was hopeful that 2013 would be the year that we would “THRIVE” in our church, in our finances, in our serving, in our giving, in our joy.  And what happened – our church closed; our finances – well without being a Senorita Whiney-Pants, it would be really helpful if Kevin and I were both employed at the same time – for REALLLZZZ 🙂 ; giving and serving – well, we spent some time regrouping and joy – yes, even in the midst of a lot of crap, because God is awesome and sovereign and amazing and loving – we even experienced JOY.  In 2013 we discovered Resilient Grace, saw Miracles in the Mess (when my uncle’s house blew up), saw Beauty from Ashes right before our eyes, continued taking baby steps in Faith and Trust, experienced some Defining Moments and even had/have Peace.  Would I call that thriving? Not really.  (I’m so spiritual :p). 

God was and is faithful to sustain us.  But in the ways I was looking for, I wouldn’t use the word “thrive” to categorize 2013… on one hand.  On another hand, sustaining in Christ is thriving, isn’t it?  Without Christ we would be desolate, without hope, destroyed.   But in Christ, we thrive because “ We are pressured in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed.”  2 Cor. 4:8-9.  Ahhhhh, thank You, Jesus.

So in pondering what would my “One Word” for 2014 be – based on all that unexpected stuff that happened in 2013 – all that comes to me is “I Don’t Freaking Know!”  Is that a word???   Because I have no idea what 2014 has in store.  We do have some direction and some plans in the works, but I’m reminded of two verses:

We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. Prov. 16:9

 Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.”  How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.  What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” James 4:13-15

So yeah, we have our plans and we’re continuing down a path (to be shared soon!), but it is completely dependent on the Lord’s will.  The Lord is the One who will determine our steps throughout 2014.  If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.  I don’t freaking know what that looks like… but in a “Jesus take the wheel” kind of way, I will follow.  He’s in control; I am not… no matter how much kicking and screaming, planning and organizing I do it’s all up to if the Lord wills.  My responsibility is to followGood thing we have a God that is faithful and trustworthy to be followed.  Have a blessed New Year!

~Kendra

PS – Some 2013 Highlights, Blessings and Fun Times

Kicked of 2013 in Connecticut

7th Grade Basketball – Emma

High School Softball – Julia

Fun with Friends

Another year with LifePoint

Michigan was in the Final Four!!

Florida for my 40th!!

Brian Regan with Joey!

Travel Softball – Julia/Emma

Weddings

Love our FaMiLiEs!

New Job! (contract)

BFF for the 4th of July!!

Joey to New Mexico

Closing LP – God is Sovereign

Football – Joey

Cedar Point!

New job!

Camp Storer

MiChIGaN Game!

National Honor Society – Emma

TSO

Talent Show WINNER! – Joey

New stuff on the horizon!!

Dang…. We’re blessed!