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.

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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)

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.

Driving in the DR

IMG_3313Many of you have been to the DR so you know what I’m talking about when I say the driving down here is a bit “loco” (crazy!!). I must admit, things have greatly improved since we were here last in that (most) people now actually follow the traffic lights (actually stopping if the light is red), yield to other traffic and drive in the correct direction. Like I said, most. The unwritten rule of thumb is “the bigger the vehicle, the bigger the right of way.”  Especially in the capital, There are traffic jams like nobody’s business and if you want out of it, you have to be bold and maneuver your way through it around semi trucks, buses and the motorcycle! Oh, the motorcycles!
I actually prefer to drive in the DR than be a passenger. When I’m driving I feel some semblance of control. I can scan the crossroads for motos, navigate around trucks and buses and wiggle my way into parking spaces… like a boss :). Ha!
Maybe part of liking to drive in the DR has more to do with just being “in control” while driving. Maybe I would like to be in control over a LOT of things in my life right now that are not in control…
Like our house.  It has sold (well it is under contract), but there are a few things the buyers want done before we close. Those things were supposed to be done by the appraisal (today) but weren’t. We lined up someone to do it, but that fell through.  In that moment there is absolutely nothing we could do to “control” the situation. The work wasn’t done.  The appraisal was today.
And, with the house being sold(ish), we need to secure housing for when we return to Findlay (two weeks from MONDAY!). As of today, we have no idea where we will be living.  We will not be homeless as we have friends who have offered us to stay, but for the long term, we don’t know of we’ll rent a house/apartment, buy a camper :))), or stay at the city mission. (Hey, it’s a nice place!).
And schooling ~ this fall and when we get to the DR. And where we’ll live when we get here. And when we’ll get here. And when we’ll have our support. And when we’ll have our debt paid off. And what exactly will be be doing when we DO get here.  And what that all looks like. And…
Completely out of our control in this moment.
But, like a passenger in a Dominican guagua (bus), we are not in control. The Driver sees in front and behind. He scans the next corner before we can even see it. He knows the bumps and potholes of the road and navigates them perfectly. He rides out the traffic jams and the narrow stretches of road in the remotest of places. We just have to trust. Go along for the ride in anticipation of each next destination and the view of the journey.  Just like we have to trust our loving and sovereign God ~ who is already around whatever corners/potholes/traffic jams are in our near (and distant) future.
Well known verses, but full of powerful truths that I am holding on today.  Maybe they will be an encouragement to you also!
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths. (‭Proverbs‬ ‭3‬:‭5-6‬ HCSB)
“For I know the plans I have for you” — this is the Lord’s declaration — “plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (‭Jeremiah‬ ‭29‬:‭11‬ HCSB)
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. (‭Matthew‬ ‭6‬:‭33‬ HCSB)
Do you feel like some things are out of your control in your life?
Trust. Believe. Seek.  God is in control. 

When You Can’t Hear His Voice

If you’re a believer, you’ve probably had times where you hear a slight whisper in your spirit and you know that was God. Or every message you hear, every song on the radio, every circumstance in your life and/or every time you open your Bible God is SHOUTING something to you or pointing you to something. Or maybe you’re worshiping Him (privately or in Church) and you just feel His comfort. His presence. His peace.

But what happens when you don’t? When His presence seems a million miles away. When you’re desperate for answers but you don’t hear His voice. His whisper.

First of all, know that you. are. not. alone. Yes, God is always with you, but that is not what I’m talking about. You are not alone in feeling this way.

I have felt this way. Other Christians I know have felt this way at one time or another. David felt this way (recorded many times throughout scripture). Yes, King David. Check out his plea in Psalm 13:

O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever?

How long will you look the other way?

How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul,

With sorrow in my heart every day?

How long will my enemy have the upper hand?

Turn and answer me, O Lord my God!

Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die.

Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!”

Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall.

But I trust in your unfailing love.

I will rejoice because you have rescued me.

I will sing to the Lord
because he is good to me.

~ David

There are many reasons we may not be hearing from God.  It could be because of sin in our lives, a busy schedule and no time to be still, chaotic circumstances or times of crisis. But sometimes, there’s no particular reason. So what do you do when you can’t hear Him?

Trust His Word: Even if we don’t hear God’s whispers or clear SHOUTS in our lives, we can trust His Word. It is His unfailing, continual and everlasting message. It is the MAIN way that He speaks regardless if we can feel Him or not.  His word is TRUTH. He is faithful and trustworthy so His word is faithful and trustworthy. Make a list of some promises of God you know off the top of your head. Memorize (keep 3×5 cards of) scripture with the TRUTH of God’s Word for this season of your life. This IS Him speaking to you. The word of the Lord holds true. Psalm 33:4

Pray His Word: The same truths from scripture that you are trusting, pray them. Put them in 1st person and cry out to God with His word. Write them. Speak them. Pray them.

Praise Him Anyway: The last line in Psalm 13 is David declaring He will continue to sing to the Lord because He is good. Praise Him. Praising God takes the focus off of us (our problems, our lack of hearing from him, our whatever) and puts it on Him ~ His love, His faithfulness, His righteousness, His greatness.

When you can’t hear His voice, Trust His word, Pray His word and Praise Him anyway.

10 Scriptures that will STRENGTHEN your Marriage.

Tomorrow is my and Kevin’s 20th wedding anniversary (cue FiReWoRkS). In preparation for that here’s one more Marriage Post. I actually meant for there to be a few more of these (marriage posts) before tomorrow, but life happens. In case you missed it, here is the post from my parent’s 50th anniversary and a little ditty about being and being married to a “fixer upper” :).   Today we’re going to share 10 verses that will strengthen your marriage. Here we goooooooooo.

strengthenmarriage10. Husbands, love your wivesEph. 5 Oh, come on. You knew it was coming :). But seriously, though. Why do you think this is spelled out in God’s Word? Because it’s not something that comes naturally. It’s something you have to focus on, be intentional with. Guys, we need to know you love us. Aside from God, you are our protector, the love our lives. We need you to show us. Kevin has worked at this over the past 20 years. He is intentional about showing love to me through his love language (acts of service) and mine (quality time). Paul instructs you to love her as Christ loved the church and gave His life for her. He goes on to say to wash her in the word. Guys, we ladies are hungry for you to love us and lead us.

9. Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord. Fair play, I suppose :). As a young, independent, strong woman when we got married, this was not something I was thrilled about. However, after the Holy Spirit began showing me what this means and I saw this lived out in godly, older women, I began to understand WHY God laid this out for us ladies. It doesn’t mean you are a doormat, but the final decision (after discussions in which you both have input) rest with our guys. And with that decision lies that responsibility. The hubs is responsible for us as the leader and is responsible for us (and our kiddos if applicable). Ladies crave and need love; guys crave and need respect.   Respect your hubs as the leader of your home. God planned it this way because He knows best. Trust God and pray for Him to lead your hubs as he leads you, and submit to that leadership.

8. Pray constantly. 1 Thes 5:17 I mean seriously. Marriage is HARD. The odds are against us, people. Pray. Pray and pray and then pray some more. Satan wants nothing more than to destroy families and marriages, but WE ARE MORE THAN CONQUERES, more than victorious through Him who loved us. (Rom. 8:37) Pray for your own heart. Pray for your spouse’s heart. Pray for unity, for LOVE, for strength.

7. Do everything without grumbling and arguing/complaining. Phil. 2:14 I never said we had it all together ;). Ouch. But one of the main things we can do is not only not grumble/argue/complain to them, but also don’t grumble/argue/complain about them. Don’t talk bad about your spouse, friends. Especially in public. Talk candidly with a trusted friend in confidence, or discuss an issue with a pastor/leader etc. when necessary, but never in public. And for the love… not on social media.

6. On the contrary (to number 7), outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:10. If you have to do something publicly, honor your spouse. (Of course, don’t honor them publicly if you’re not honoring them privately… just sayin’.) Honor them. If you have something nice to say, say it. For example: “You’re the bomb!” “No, YOU’RE the BOMB!” “No, really! YOU ARE THEEEEE BBBOOOMMMMBBBB!!!” 🙂 You get the point. Honor your spouse in your words, your actions and your with your life.

5. Do all that you can to live in peace. Rom. 12:18 Whatever you can do on your part to promote peace, do it. It may take biting your tongue or a bit of compromising, but it will be worth it. Did I mention before that MARRIAGE IS HARD? It is. We are cantankerous little human beings, aren’t we? Ask for the Holy Spirit to help in keeping the peace. He will.

4. Remember, love covers a multitude of sins. 1 Pet. 4:8 The line right before that is show deep love for each other. What if you’re not feeling it? I’ve been there.  Pray for God to help you to love; love deeply and love consistently. The Trolls in Frozen have it right when they say, “Throw a little love their way… and you’ll bring out their best!”

3. And a close theme with #4, forgive a lot. Something about 70x7ish. Matt. 18:22 Love and forgive. Show mercy. Again, not an easy thing.   We are told to forgive others as He has forgiven us. Nobody’s perfect (duh!). I know I want to be forgiven when I’m a schmuck, so I must also forgive.

2. Love (your spouse) as yourself. Mark 12 I love the YMCA Camp Storer phase, “I’m Third.” God first. Others second. I’m third. If we would truly live this way, we would see revivals in marriages all across America. All across the WORLD! Put his/ her interests, preferences, desires before your own. Again, this is NOT natural. It’s just not. But look out for your spouse. That is counter-cultural since the world tells us to look out for #1 (AKA yourself).

1. And finally, the number one thing you can do to strengthen your marriage is keep God first, personally and as a couple. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. Mark 12 Love God. Seek Him and your relationship with Him. The best thing you can do to have a better marriage is to have a relationship with Jesus. You can’t spend time with Christ and not become more like Him. More loving. More patient. More considerate. More peaceful. More kind. I cannot imagine what a wreck I would be individually and as a wife without Jesus – cuz Jesus already has His work cut out for him with me :).

I don’t do any of these near enough. I sure hope we get another 20/40/60 years together to get some of these better than we do today. God’s grace is amazing. Hope you are challenged by these verses as we have been. Feel free to share scripture below that would also help to strengthen marriages. Be blessed!

Like God

Faith and Trust.  Kindred cousins.

Without faith it is impossible to please God… Heb. 11:6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart… Prov. 3:5

The problem is that we often don’t have faith.  And we often don’t trust. So we plan and organize and worry and fret.  We may even manipulate and stress and coordinate and try to figure things out.  I will this.  I will that.

Someone else did that too.  Lucifer.  Satan.  The Devil.  (Ouch!)

He said to himself, “I will ascend to the heavens;
I will set up my throne 
above the stars of God.
 I will sit on the mount of the gods’ assembly, 
in the remotest parts of the North. I will ascend above the highest clouds; 
I will make myself like the Most High…” Isaiah 14:13-14   I’ll do this.  I’ll do that. He was planning.  He was manipulating.  He was coordinating.  He was fretting, because he wasn’t God, but he wanted to be LIKE God.  Well, he wanted TO BE GOD. He wanted to be in control, numero uno, Top Dog.  And that didn’t end well…

So we’re at a crossroads… in times of uncertainty or anxiety.  In times of trial or difficulty.  It times of fear and disappointment. Will we hang out with our cousins, faith and trust?  Or will we try to be like God?  Be the one in control?  Call the shots?  When we try to figure all the “stuff” out on our own, we are trying to be like God.  There can only be one Top Dog – who would you rather have in that spot, you or God?

There is a better way.

Faithfaith

That your faith might not be based on men’s wisdom (our own wisdom), but on God’s power. 1 Cor. 2:5

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water. Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. Heb. 10:22-23

TrusttruststoneThose who know Your name trust in You
because You have not abandoned
 those who seek You, Yahweh. Psalm 9:10

Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust… Psalm 40:4

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him and I am helped. Psalm 28:7

What this looks like:

Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Rom 10:17  Increase your faith by spending time in His word.  Learn it. Memorize it. Meditate on it so when “stuff” comes up, His word will come to mind, encouraging you to let God be God.  To trust.  To have faith.  Because He is Faithful and Trustworthy!