What I’ve Learned in 30 Days of Blogging — November 30, 2015

What I’ve Learned in 30 Days of Blogging

I have learned many things in this month I’ve dedicated to blogging. And now, because I’ve somehow lured you here again, I am going to share a few of these things with you!

I have learned that blogging is a DISCIPLINE! I can see that those who run great blogs really have to make a full-time job out of it! Thankfully, I have a better job and this is just fun for me (is that weird? maybe it’s weird…). A commitment to blogging every day was intense and was quickly a source of regret. Daily blogging will not be a regular thing for me!

Sharing on a blog often puts me in a vulnerable position. Sometimes it was so hard to put myself out there. The posts I struggled to share the most were: We’re not in Kansas Anymore and Flexibility and Feelings of Children. But there were many I almost took down immediately!

I have realized that I have more time on my hands than I thought. What was I doing with it before? I enjoyed fewer moments on social media which can be a source of discouragement for me, and I also let some things slide that I thought were important that I realized I held too high and enjoyed a break from!

Facing my thoughts and feelings head on and confronting them with the Word has been a challenging, therapeutic, and transformative process.

God showed his goodness to me in an all new way in that He would use something He was teaching me to influence another person’s life through written word.

I have incredibly supportive friends, family, supporting church staff and members, and husband. I had some friends who read every day! My mom was “that mom” who made sure her friends were reading daily along with her. I heard many an encouraging word from pastors wives and had a couple posts read in church services or printed in a bulletin. Finally, my husband reminded me to write, helped with kids and housework to give me writing time, and patiently waited for me to finish up posts when he wanted to watch a movie or head on to bed. All of this support encourages me to carry on with my real job…missionary mom…and do my best for the glory of God in this country.

To sum it up…blogging every day has been challenging, rewarding, fun, and terrible all at the same time! Thanks for following me on this weird and wild journey of sharing the crazy thoughts that go through my head as I live my life in this strangely amazing place! I’m so thankful for all that the Lord has taught me through it, and I look forward to continuing to share what He continues to do in and through me, my family, and the Lord’s ministry here.

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Have you tried to start or maintain a blog?
I would love to hear your experiences in the comment section below!

 

 

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Maintaining a Heart of Thanksgiving in Circumstances I Can’t Change — November 26, 2015

Maintaining a Heart of Thanksgiving in Circumstances I Can’t Change

I have failed to always maintain a heart of thanksgiving when I am in the midst of circumstances I wish I could change.

When the windows of heaven are open, and the blessings are heaping upon my lap, it is natural to have joy and to be thankful. But my flesh fights thankfulness when my world unravels and my meticulous schedule is thrown through the shredder. When my plans don’t come to fruition and the peace in my heart begins to dissipate, the anxious thoughts and relentless questions threaten to drown out His voice that offers to fill me again.

The following command sure seems impossible in the midst of these all too familiar feelings…

Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. (Philippians 4:4-6)

God expects me to REJOICE when my life is turned upside down? I’m supposed to pray away these terrorizing thoughts and be thankful instead? Nope. Can’t do it.

But… Something inside of me tells me God doesn’t ask the impossible. It sounds like a Sunday school answer but sometimes the most profound things are the most simple. God doesn’t ask the impossible…because He makes everything possible. He doesn’t require of me anything I can’t do in His power.

He wants me to bring my cares and concerns to Him in the circumstances I cannot change. He wants me to cry out to Him and beg Him to extend His grace and mercy into my life, to give me wisdom, patience, and peace. 

But He wants me to do so with a thankful heart. A heart that says, You brought me to this hard place, but You have never left me. Thank you for giving me a reason to know you more and fall into a deeper trust of You. I ask you to change my circumstances, but thank You for working in my life according to Your will.

This year, much like a few years ago, I have to choose thankfulness in the midst of less than desirable situations. But the choice is easy when I follow the instructions that come with the command and tap into His limitless grace.

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. (7)

So thankful my heart is in his hands! That’s one thing in my life I can’t change and wouldn’t want to if I could! And upon closer inspection, along with his limitless grace comes limitless gifts, and I have SO much to be thankful for!

[I’ve enjoyed gathering around the table with my friends in the Lord and in ministry and dwelling on the many blessings we enjoy.]

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Have you had to choose thankfulness in some seasons of life?
I would love to hear your experiences in the comment section below!

 

 

My Struggle with Honesty — November 23, 2015

My Struggle with Honesty

I have failed to find the balance between honestly sharing my heart and being just a little too real.

Do my friends really want to know the answer to the question, “How are you?” and “How’s it going?” Do they want to know that we had the 201st earthquake in a few short months? Do they want to know that the blockade continues and the grocery stores are out of milk?

Or does it just sound like I am complaining?

Would inquiring minds rather hear that we are healthy, fine, and happy and everything is great? That the mission field is everything we dreamed it would be…

We are healthy, fine, and happy which is an amazing testimony of His abundant grace in our lives.

But should I only share about the date nights, baptism services, language victories, and funny things my children do?

Surely my faithful friends can handle me sharing even the less than perfect parts of my life. But who are they again? It is no one’s particular fault that the challenge of schedules and time differences has shaken the foundations of even the strongest relationships.

Even if they can handle it, are they interested? Can they relate or understand in any way? If I try to tell the truth but point out God’s graces in my life will I seem like a phony trying too hard to seem super spiritual? These are the questions that keep me from opening up. From trusting trustworthy friends with the feelings I don’t always understand myself.

I’m thankful for my husband who always has a listening ear and tries to empathize. He does a pretty good job, but there’s One who does better. I never have to worry about what God thinks of my thoughts and fears. If I don’t tell Him, He knows them anyway!

I confess to Him, cry to Him, confide in Him. He is completely trustworthy, faithful, and kind. He brought me to this place with all these problems, knowing we would face what we have, prepared to give me just what I need.

I’m not sure I ever valued the friendship I have with the Lord until I longed so for a friend that always understood and always loved. One with whom I have a concrete contract..He will NEVER leave me. Never forsake me.

And when the enemy tries to get me to believe that no one cares or understands, He sends some imploring soul my way to minister to my heart who asks questions and wants real answers. Who takes my concerns to the Lord on my behalf. These people are tangible reminders of His constant providence and presence in my life. Friends in the flesh. And I feel silly for ever fearing these things at all. Thank you to so many of you that have ministered His grace to me in this way.

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Has fear kept you from confiding in your close friends?
I would love to hear your experiences in the comment section below!

 

 

 

 

How I’ve Found Freedom in My Loss of Independence — November 20, 2015

How I’ve Found Freedom in My Loss of Independence

I have found that a loss of independence can lead to new freedoms.

I can’t drive here. Well, I guess I could if I took the time to learn how to drive a stick-shift. We have practiced around our neighborhood, but I haven’t worked up the nerve to brave the busy streets of Kathmandu where traffic laws cease to exist.

My husband refuses to allow me to drive a scooter. Though I selfishly fight him on this, he clings to his premise that he would like the mother of his children to live to see them grow up. Seems like a reasonable plea.

Though I have grieved it, I am realizing that my loss of independence provides freedoms in many ways.

I am free from the pressure of perfect meal-planning and execution. Paul does our grocery runs out of necessity, and if we don’t have it I just have to work with what we’ve got. I don’t often serve up something pinworthy, that’s for certain. At least once I week I find myself uttering, “Well, looks like fried rice again.” Thankfully, we are all fans.

Since, I am rarely able to shop, I am free from worrying about what I wear. If it’s clean and somewhat fashionable, I wear it. No shopping around for the perfect outfit-completing accessory or that sweater that fits me like a glove. If I like it I better get it now because it will be 6 weeks before I find myself near a decent clothing store again. Now that I think about it, I better get out and get a coat soon before winter is over.

I am free from the pressure of entertaining my children outside of the home. We don’t have the luxuries of a library or a park. Playdates are a thing of the past. We find our fun at home. My kids don’t seem to mind.

I am free from feeling like I have to find this or that around the city. Many people get meat one place, produce at another, bread somewhere else, and so on. I can’t do this. It is not an option. It’s a one stop shop for us. No running around for me, and I really should be happy about that. More time with these cute little squishies I call my children.

I am free from all kinds of things pulling me in every which direction. I can say “no” to a lot of things because I’m really not lying when I say I can’t do it.

My loss of independence has forced me to lighten up…and let me tell you, freedom feels good.

Have you had a loss of independence that led to newfound freedoms?
I would love to hear your experiences in the comment section below!

 

Not Enough? Too Much? — November 16, 2015

Not Enough? Too Much?

I have feared that I am not enough.

Strong enough.
Spiritual enough.
Faithful enough.

And that I am too much.

Too fearful.
Too selfish.
Too needy.

I worry how my involvement will taint the ministry that could be done here. But I comfort myself that, aside from and because of Christ and His work on the cross, God has never required perfect specimens to carry out His mission. In fact, He is often brought glory by showing Himself mighty in the fragile pictures of imperfection rather than in the most qualified characters.

I doubt that Mary felt qualified to mother the most High God. She had no marriage or parenting experience. There is no indication that she was some spiritual giant. She was fearful of this unexpected pregnancy and the repercussions it created in her community.

She was overwhelmed at the thought of this immense responsibility. Like me, she was not enough in many ways, and too much in others. But there’s something so beautiful about how the angel exhorts her.

Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with GodAnd, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JesusHe shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end (Luke 1:30-33).

She wasn’t chosen because she was the prime example of a virtuous woman. For reasons not disclosed, the Lord favored her. He entrusted her with this great responsibility because He would bestow upon her all the grace and gifts necessary to bring it to pass.

I can’t imagine all of the fear she must have had watching this boy grow. Thinking she would, perhaps, mess up God’s great plan. No doubt she wept and worried over her role therein. But she never stopped receiving favor from the Lord.

As she was reminded, “With God nothing shall be impossible” (v38). He assured her that His will would come to pass despite her disbelief. God was not and is not limited by human imperfection. He delights in using His creation to carry out His will.

Like Mary, I must only have a submissive spirit. I must say, as she did, “Be it unto me according to thy word.” I must have a heart of surrender and hard-working hands. Fruitful unto good works but dependent on Him to help me bear them.

Like Mary, I can have joy as I see the Lord work His will in my life and in the world around me through my trust of and obedience to Him.

And Mary said, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed” (v42).

Like Mary, I can see God glorified in my life and will, therefore, be blessed.

Have you dealt with this fear of not being enough or being too much?
I would love to hear your experiences in the comment section below!

The Myth of “Me” Time — November 15, 2015

The Myth of “Me” Time

I have found that “me” time, deemed necessary by some, is most often unattainable.

Read any mommy blog (except the ones suggesting swaddling and smelling your babies at all times), and you’ll see this concept. But in reality…

My day starts with a 3 year old smacking me or “whispering”. “Mom, is it 6 time yet?” It never is. After several attempts at getting this early bird to stay in her room until the appointed time, I drag myself out of bed regretting that I didn’t shower before she got up, as I promised myself I would.

Breakfast or toast. The propane crisis has made me lazy in terms of food preparation. We coax our feisty gal to eat before bouncing off to the next activity.

The morning goes on much like this with a near-1-year-old thrown in about an hour later. Feeding, bathing, bed-making,.. The nanny comes, and my kids are so excited. I feel a little jealous but thankful that we have found someone so wonderful.

We walk a mile, get a taxi, and I fall asleep on the way to meet our tutor at a coffee shop where we study for 3 hours before walking home. At the door I am greeted by Paul’s evening tutor, a reminder that it’s me and the kids from here on out. I visualize myself putting my “game face” on, whatever that is.

The nanny asks if she can leave. Can I say no? She gives the kids hugs and kisses, and I reluctantly let her go.

Keep the kids busy. Limit screen time. Prepare and serve dinner. Get the kids to bed at a decent hour. Keep the peace.

I collapse on the couch at 7:15. A little behind schedule but feeling pretty proud to have pulled it off myself without having to send out an SOS. Paul takes his tutor home while I clean up the kitchen. He returns, ready for a snack.

For a second I thought I might have a minute to myself. Maybe finish that cold cup of coffee and that blog post I started reading 4 days ago.

Snack fixed. Blankets pulled out. Date night on the couch has commenced. This only lasts for a half hour until we can’t keep our eyes open a moment longer.

I lament that I didn’t have the instagram worthy Bible study/coffee time that seems like it would be so refreshing. Listening to the audio Bible in the shower was nice. Maybe tomorrow I will at least get to read at the breakfast table.

Another day in the books. Another day closer to beginning our ministry here. As the selfish ache reminds me it’s there, I remind myself…

My heart isn’t knit closer to my husband in “me” moments. My children don’t feel my love surround them in “me’ moments. Memories and ministries are not composed of “me” moments. Some day, I will have lots of “me” moments and I will long for the days I had so many things keeping me from them. 

IMG_0717Have you felt dissatisfied by your lack of personal time?
I would love to hear your experiences in the comment section below!

Fleeting, Flying Time — November 14, 2015

Fleeting, Flying Time

I have found that TIME FLIES on the mission field.

I know that time passes at the same speed in all parts of the world, but it sure does feel like that clock ticks a little more quickly here! Sometimes the days feel so long but by Wednesday, it seems like my week is over and Saturday church rolls around before “Sunday” school is over. We arrived in March. I blinked and now it’s November! And I kind of speak Nepali which is pretty mind-boggling! I remember struggling to say my name and now I’m telling stringing stories together and making sense… most of the time.

I’m a stick-figure version of my former self and if I don’t have gray hair yet, I’m sure it’s on the horizon. How did my daughter’s hair get so long and when did my teensy babe start climbing up our front door? I can’t quite put my finger on it, but my husband has changed too. He is totally in his element. He’ll be nearly Nepali soon.

It’s been 4 months since my parents were here? That mirror we said we were going to fix before they got here is still hanging…still broken. I miss them like crazy, of course, and I know they’d think I’m losing it, but it honestly feels like they were just here. At least I can still ride that high.

Friends in America are having babies I didn’t even know were on the way when we left. People have gotten engaged and married. Others have been diagnosed and gone home to heaven.

The furlough that once seemed so far away now seems right around the corner. I need to get a move on learning this language. It’s about time to start a church!

If I’ve never acknowledged how short life is, and how we aren’t promised tomorrow, after 6 months on the field and some crazy close calls, I’m facing the facts now. The lives of the lost are passing just as quickly without anything to show for it. Am I going to make use of the time God has given me to change the course of someone’s life towards eternity?

Or will I just let the days slip by without much more to show? I remember feeling anxious as a child watching the sand spill quickly into the bottom of the hourglass. Time is just about up. I can’t wait until tomorrow to get serious about the things that matter: filling myself with Christ, reaching the lost, training my children, helping my husband fulfill his God-given calling.

The broken mirror will just have to wait.

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Have you had times in your life or ministry that just seemed to fly by?
I would love to hear your experiences in the comment section below!

We’re not in Kansas Anymore — November 13, 2015

We’re not in Kansas Anymore

I have feared the inability to understand my own emotions. One experience in particular stands out among these puzzling periods. One day, we quickly drove past a man walking who from behind appeared to be naked from the waist down. “Surely he just has brown pants on,” I thought, however naively. Before I knew what I was doing, I glanced in the rearview mirror to confirm my assumption. I was wrong.

I quickly averted my eyes and made a half Nepali joke. “That’s a naked manchhe” I said, with an uncomfortable laugh. From afar, we saw people pass him nonchalantly. Later, my husband asked his friend what the police do about this behavior. He shrugged, “Maybe just tell him to button up his shirt.” Sure enough, Paul passed the naked manchhe along the road again and a couple buttons were fastened but he wasn’t in a much more appropriate state.

At home, I carried on my responsibilities but the sick feeling in my stomach lingered. I felt irritable, distracted, and on the verge of tears. Perhaps this was my first major culture shock moment, though we had been here for a few months already.

Later that night I felt like I should explain to Paul why I had been acting so strangely. Though he had seen it too, I assumed he wasn’t feeling quite as “icky” as I was. Reluctantly and a little ashamedly, I told how my stomach felt queazy, my head felt cloudy, and I just couldn’t shake this near-tears feeling.

Thankfully, my sweet man affirmed my feelings. That this reality flies in the face of everything we know to be right and decent culturally and spiritually. Like me, that day, he wanted to scream “What is wrong with you people? Does anyone see this? Why isn’t anyone doing anything?”

For me, it was, possibly, the first time I came to grips with the darkness within which I raise my family, kind of like my “We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto” moment. This is the world I have to wake up to every day. A new dependency on the Lord was awakened in my heart. After a good night sleep and much prayer, the heaviness lifted.  Though I pray that I or my family never have to witness such things again, I am thankful we have been brought here to be a light in this dark place.

I know that these times of not understanding my emotions will come again as I am faced with realities of life in this country. While my husband may not always be able to affirm my feelings as he did in this scenario, I know that the God who made me and knows all my inner-workings is not shocked by my thoughts. Though they may manifest from a heart of sin and doubt, He can turn them into something beautiful through His Holy Spirit’s work in my life. Something that can change lives and enlist workers for His kingdom.

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Have you ever come to grips with your confusing emotions with the Lord’s help?
I would love to hear your experiences in the comment section below!

From High-school Hallways to the Front-lines of Missions: A Love Story of Sorts — November 11, 2015

From High-school Hallways to the Front-lines of Missions: A Love Story of Sorts

I have found that my husband is everything I thought he would be when we got to the mission field.

He is a fierce picture of perseverance and God’s grace to me and my family. Every day, I see him pore over his Nepali Bible, searching for truths in a strange text. He prepares for sermons he is not yet required to preach. He begs God for opportunities to preach in Nepali and for unbelievers with listening ears. He is not deterred by language goof-ups or unkind words hurled by ill-meaning passers by. He never forgets why we are here, and when I start to lose my focus, he is quick to remind me.

While this man is certainly not without fault, I see God’s grace all over him. God plucked up a 14 year old boy, saved him, and placed a big dream in his heart many years ago. A couple years after, He sparked a friendship with a red-headed young girl. She wanted to serve God too but wasn’t sure what that meant for her. But the Lord knew.

He knew that these two kids would grow into a love that made no sense in the context of high-school. We both loved God more. We were ready to part ways if our relationship did not align with His will for our lives. Thankfully, God allowed us to see the potential of our partnership together, remain pure in our pursuits, and follow the path God had laid out for us.

In our 10 years together, I have watched this boy grow into an amazing man of God. I see God working in his life as he passionately pursues Him which is so comforting to see this in the man that leads my family. Stronger and more enduring than his love for me, his zeal for Christ has stood the test of time and trial. His love for the Lord compels Him to deeply love our family while taking us to the regions beyond to declare His Great Love among the nations.

To me, He will always be my best friend with big dreams, and I’ll always be his lovestruck girlfriend cheering him on. What a privilege I have to help make these dreams a reality and watch them unfold before his wonder-filled eyes!

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand (Psalm 37:23-24).

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Does your love story and marriage show evidence of God’s grace in your life?
I would love to hear your experiences in the comment section below!

First Term Fatigue — November 10, 2015

First Term Fatigue

I have found that there is no exhaustion quite like first-term, language school with two small children exhaustion. It may be matched by second-term church-planting, but I’ll let you know when we get there.

Post-jet lag, setting up our home and surviving countless earthquakes, we found ourselves struggling to make it to 8:30 each night, the time we perceived to be acceptable without being considered prematurely old. Since arriving in Nepal, our children had decided they didn’t like sleep anymore. My son woke up several times a night, and our 3 year old rarely slept until 5:30.

I have struggled with many physical symptoms none of which are extremely burdensome but enough to make me wonder what is going on. After some significant weight loss and headaches that visited more days than they didn’t, I spoke with a doctor. After talking about the timeline of events and the beginning of my symptoms, it was concluded that stress+sleep deprivation was more than likely the culprit here. In my pride, I fought this diagnosis, feeling that I had done something wrong- not trusted the Lord enough or not maintained a God-honoring attitude.

But the exhaustion-inducing stressful events are still present even if I refuse to wallow in the weird and wildness that has been my life lately. The adrenaline rushes have come, my heart has pounded in my chest, and despite my best efforts, I have worried about the health and safety of my family (not to mention sleep training has been a bust!). While I don’t always dwell on this, as I shouldn’t, the difficulty of fully resting in a place where you don’t belong is real. It is a daily, constant battle in the mind, a struggle to plow on to learn the language in the midst of a country in political and economical turmoil, and it is tiresome.

These days, we burn the midnight oil…until 9 o’clock! I suppose, at least until we get this language learned, we will always have to fight the fatigue. Coffee is on IV drip and Jesus is constantly on-call, and that moment I slip into bed next to my likely already snoozing husband…GLORIOUS. And when I’ve finished the hard fought battle of the day, having done all I can to quiet the mind as I fill it with a strange language…”Thank you, Lord” on my lips, I can, FINALLY rest…for a few hours, at least, until my son wakes up! I know in the morning that I won’t be completely rested and must rely on the Lord to give me the “mmph” I need to press forward…eyes half-shut. And when I. just. can’t. He will provide me with the rest I need. One way or another.

Lord, here I am collapsing in Your arms. Carry me.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Matt. 11:28).

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Have you had to cope with exhaustion brought on by the stresses of life?
I would love to hear your experiences in the comment section below!

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