How Hospitality Saved my Christmas and Changed my Heart — December 28, 2015

How Hospitality Saved my Christmas and Changed my Heart

Showing up unannounced at someone’s house on Christmas…GASP!

This would be a shocking act in American culture on this holiday and, really, on any day on the calendar. Typically, we aren’t fond of visitors finding their way to our doorstep without a serious heads up.

With some hesitation, we committed this heinous crime on Christmas Day here in Nepal. We gave a friend and his daughter a ride home from church and declared that we would come in and say hello to his wife who was hindered by a headache from attending the special Christmas service that day.

From the backseat, I heard the warning call, “Paul and Amber are coming over. Put some tea on.” Or something like that. It was in my second language, ya know.

And that was it. I didn’t hear on the other end if she became frazzled and rushed, overloaded by the stress of unforetold company. I worried if we had somehow overstepped our bounds. I know she loves our kids and would want to see them but does that still stand on Christmas Day with a headache?

Thankfully, it did. I pushed my worries aside as we shoved our American-size selves into her tiny apartment. We joined her on the balcony where she was  bent over a fire, cooking sel roti, a traditional sweet snack prepared on special days, and she greeted us with HUGE hugs, smiles, and squeals. What was I worried about anyway?

She shared with us the meal (complete with meat!) that she had prepared for her little family. We felt a guilty but thankful that they would welcome us into their family on this special day. Though we were absolutely full to the brim from the feast at church, we found room somewhere for the smaller feast they offered.

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We stayed and chatted an hour without a word of English and went home satisfied on sweetness and with smiles that just wouldn’t subside. This precious family had saved my Christmas.

I so enjoyed our Christmas celebration at church and just adored how Christ-centered that week had been. Though, I would be lying if I tried to make you believe that this was the state of my heart throughout the week in its entirety.

I had a wandering eye to Christmas celebrations happening Stateside. I longed to be with my family in the house I grew up in taking in the sights sounds, and smells of familiar holiday tradition.

But while everyone was knee-deep in pre-planned Christmas festivities, I was being loved on by precious people whose language I don’t yet fluently speak and enjoying treats they had set aside for their own family…all during my spontaneous stop-over.

I had been residing in the selfish hole where I had surrounded myself with all my wishes and wants that blocked my view of the blessings around me. This family’s gracious hospitality had pulled me out, embraced me, and opened my eyes to the amazing things God has done here and the wonderful people He has put in my life.

I have a new family here. And while they don’t resemble mine in any way and their traditions are much more reserved, I realized the basis of their treatment of us has the same underlying cause of the most precious moments Stateside.

They love Jesus. They have servant-hearts. They love us and they love our kids. Not because we don’t butcher their language on the daily (we do) and not because we don’t make silly cultural offenses (we do). But because they realize the big thing that happened on Christmas, and it changed them.

They live in a culture that doesn’t see what Christ has done. They walk in a world that doesn’t give Him a thought. They realize the weight of what has been done in their lives, and they aren’t afraid to pass it along.

I have seen this family love and serve believers and unbelievers alike. They have learned hospitality from this culture where it plays a big role in daily life and relationships, but theirs has a special touch. It has a touch of Jesus. And I really believe that his open home, open door policy plus a touch of Jesus can really bring a wonderful change to this world that has long forgotten or never known the Christ who came so many years ago.

Perhaps those who wouldn’t look for Him could stumble upon Him over a cup of coffee at my table, sitting on my couch playing Uno, or sharing freshly popped popcorn on the front-porch.

Maybe after casual chit-chat about the latest movies and where I bought the kids shoes, I could tell them what brought us to this wild and wonderful place and the amazing plan we have lived out in light of the gospel.

Maybe the greatest, most life changing moments don’t ALWAYS happen at the altar. Maybe they happen in our homes. So maybe it really wouldn’t hurt to invite someone into the tornado debris and toddler tantrums. Maybe here is where they could meet Jesus.

Announced or not, I can welcome visitors in and introduce them to the greatest friend I’ve ever known.

This year, I resolve to keep my door open a little more often, linger a little longer, and tell my frazzled spazzy self to take a hike in the name of Christ-honoring hospitality. To find the heart inside that loves the people Jesus does. Which is, uh, everyone.

Christ-centered hospitality saved my Christmas. Maybe it could save someone’s life. Jesus takes our measly offerings and does pretty awesome things like that.

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What do you resolve to improve in the New Year for the sake of the gospel?
I would love to hear from you in the comment section below!

 

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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!

 

 

 

 

Where has July gone? — July 30, 2013

Where has July gone?

July has not been a good blogging month which is both a good and a bad thing. Good because we have been busy with meetings and bad because I feel like there has been so much on my mind I would love to share but haven’t had the time to sit down at the computer!

I have time now because my husband is mowing the lawn at 11 p.m. Yes, our life is CRAZY, but I wouldn’t want it any other way! Not that I wouldn’t rather have my hubby in the bed with me at this late hour! Our neighbors would probably prefer that, too. I think they are probably just happy our lawn is finally being mowed after a month away! It must just be the grace of God that they don’t call the city on us!

We have had some wonderful time with family, encouraging meetings, a couple of date nights, and restful times here and there. We have also had all-night drives, grief-induced tension, daunting home repairs, and a pitifully sick baby. God has lead us all the way, and we’ve made it through a month away from home we thought would never end! It feels just so wonderful to be back in our home, in our own beds, and with our little nuclear family. Looking forward to the night-night snuggles, tickle-fights, and giggle-fests to come! 

Also, a new box of prayer cards greeted us upon arrival at the Spot Road Spot. Please let me know if you would like an updated prayer card. I would be more than happy to send one your way!

Here is the picture we chose. I’d say it’s an improvement on Jo’s 4-month-mean-muggin’ picture, wouldn’t you?

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Salt Run Bible Camp — July 16, 2013

Salt Run Bible Camp

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Last week, Paul and I were given the wonderful opportunity to spend a week at Salt Run Bible camp in Brilliant, OH! It was a small camp, comprised of what was once a school house, two concrete cabins, a living space for youth workers, a large field, and outhouses. The youth workers lovingly referred to the lifestyle of Salt Run Bible Camp as “rustic.” We had a BLAST right along with the campers, and while Salt Run may not have the amenities of The Wilds, Fort Bluff, or other more modern camps, it had things that are truly the heart of a successful Bible camp.

1. Passionate Youth Workers
Those responsible for running this camp were in love with Jesus and in love with these kids. This could be seen through their hard work, attention to detail, interaction with the kids, well-prepared lessons, and obvious concern for the spiritual condition of their teenagers.
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2. Great students
It was definitely an interesting mix of kids from every kind of background, lifestyle, and spiritual state. Though there were many differences that could have posed a challenge to the daily activities and overall spirit of the camp, I saw very little of the things that are common in a group of teenagers. There was little, if any, drama, “camp dating,” cliques, complaining, gossip, or name-calling. Nearly all of the students had great attitudes and participated in all activities enthusiastically, having good, clean fun together, engaging in worship, and listening intently to the preaching of God’s Word.
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3. Awesome Preaching
I know, he is my husband, and I have a biased opinion, but my husband is a fantastic preacher! I heard him preach 12 times throughout the week and just stood amazed at the content he draws from the Word of God and his ability to make it interesting and applicable to any group of people. Not only did he preach wonderful messages, but he also spent time with the kids, participating in their group activities, and talking with many of them one-on-one.DSC_0373

4. Decisions for the Lord
Faithful workers, tender hearts, and challenging preaching led to many decisions for Christ. Many were challenged to “put God back on the throne,” giving Him the glory and honor He deserves and allowing Him to use their lives in any way He chooses. Additionally, Paul challenged the teenagers of the great need of the gospel around the world and the impact we can have on it if we submit our lives and plans to him. He had a Volunteer pledge (the same one Paul signed at OG camp 10 years ago) available to those students who desired to make a commitment to pursue full-time missions, and we were thrilled to see 7 students take and sign this pledge. We are praying that God would hold them to their commitments and find them faithfully serving on the foreign field years from now but ministering and living for Him each day until then.

I learned a lot, too, from the workers, students, and handsome preacher and was so blessed to be used where we are right now. Sometimes, it feels like we are waiting to get to India to “do something” for Him, but I know that as we fully submit to Him and trust Him to get us there, He will use us where we’re at.

I believe our time at Salt Run was truly a divine appointment. We are not veteran missionaries, and my husband is not an evangelist, but for some reason, God allowed Salt Run Bible camp to invite us to share our hearts with them, and we couldn’t be more thankful that He did!

Filling in the Cracks — May 28, 2013

Filling in the Cracks

A date night, a pedicure, and a new hairstyle
(all provided by sweet missionary friends). 

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Family time at home and friend-made meals/”fat week.”

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Boating in Tennessee, and now camp at Fort Bluff.

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ImageHealing looks a lot different than I thought it would.

While I am painfully aware that none of these things can bring back my boy, I am pleasantly surprised how they have helped bring ME back little by little (and trust me, there’s a long way to go!). I should also mention that this version of myself I sense rising to the surface is not the same as the girl that walked into the ultrasound room on May 14; it’s a different “me,” forever changed, but, thankfully, not a finished product.

The Lord has shown Himself to me in BIG, incredible ways through my time with Him, and I am not discrediting that in ANY way. I praise Him for His faithfulness to speak to me through His Word and the Holy Spirit; I guess I just kind of figured that would happen! 

But He has also whispered His love to me through fuzzy feelings, comforting conversations, and summer sunsets. Perhaps, I have just become more sensitive to His hand in my life, more aware of His constant, comforting presence, and more in awe of the beauty that He surrounds me with to the point that EVERYTHING seems like a hand-crafted gift of love from my Father. I feel like a dried up sponge soaking up every drop of His goodness, and though my arms are empty, my heart feels full. Naturally, it remains, for the moment, broken, but I trust Him to continue to fill all the space the cracks provide with MORE of His overwhelming, perfect love and MORE of His boundless, infinite goodness.

He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds (Psalm 147:3).

 

May may be crazy! — May 1, 2013

May may be crazy!

…And it just may be the best month of all!

It’s May already? Wait, what? Well, I believe my calendar, my phone, and my computer, I guess, but I’m still finding it hard to fathom that it could possibly be May 1!

May will be an exciting month for us! For starters, we are spending this weekend with my grandparents and aunt and uncle in Ooletewah, TN. The weather sounds like it is not going to cooperate with all of our plans, but I am looking forward to some R&R with family!

Next week, we have Vision Baptist Missions Orientation! This will be our third awesome week spent just with our missionary friends/family learning and growing together as we talk about missions, marriage, family, etc. and get to know each other a little bit better while we’re at it!

On Tuesday, the 14th we will find out if our next baby is a little boy or another little girl! Paul is hoping for another girl, but I am secretly pulling for a boy! Whatever it is has already been decided, and we will be thrilled either way! Last time, I had the mother’s intuition about what gender my baby would be, but this time I have no clue! What do you think?

After a trip to Ohio for some meetings and family time, we will head to Fort Bluff, TN for the Our Generation Camp! This is such an exciting week of sharing our love for the Word and the world with teens and college students with an interest in missions! Not to mention, the camp is BEAUTIFUL, and we have lots of fun!

Here there, and everywhere, we will find time for Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night meetings (with the exception of orientation and camp week)! Needless to say, it is going to be a busy, tiring, EXCITING month! We will have 4…MAYBE 5 days home this month. Sound crazy? It is! But, this month, at least, I wouldn’t have it any other way! Can’t wait to update on all the awesome things God has for us this crazy month of May!

Too Blessed to be Stressed — April 22, 2013

Too Blessed to be Stressed

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My mother-in-law’s coffee mug sums up my current state perfectly: “Too blessed to be stressed!”

I was so happy to be able to resume traveling with Paul to our meetings yesterday! I had so much fun, I didn’t even have time to be paranoid! We were in Ringgold, GA in the morning where we had a meeting at Pleasant Valley Baptist Church with our friends the Vances, missionaries to Colombia, South America! Paul and I had a bit of time to kill before we had to leave, so we stopped at O’Charley’s (where they now have fried pickles-amazing!) to split a lunch. After a wonderful meal, we headed on to Hope Baptist Church in Winder. We sat in some traffic, and I longed for our air conditioning to be fixed, but mostly I just enjoyed the beautiful day and my singing baby in the backseat! The people at HBC were so welcoming and loved on Jolynn so much! We hung around a while chatting to some of the sweet families and loving on the Pastor’s son who was just a week old! It’s a good thing I’m pregnant, because I got baby fever quick! On our way home, as we were pulling off the Buford exit, we noticed that our friends Kyle and Hannah Shreve, missionaries to Peru, were right in front of us! Paul tailed and taunted them a bit, and since they weren’t familiar with our Ion, I called Hannah before Kyle got too road-raged! We stopped at Waffle House and had a fun, spontaneous late-night dinner with our friends! So fun!

The Lord always knows just what we need to lift our spirits and remind us that He cares! What a perfect day to encourage me to persevere on this deputation journey! He is so good, and we truly are so blessed!

I’ve been so amazed at the little ways the Lord has encouraged us and spoken to our hearts through old and new friends alike during this quite stressful time in our lives. We have received so many messages, e-mails, Skype “dates”, calls, cards, and even a package just to encourage us and remind us that we are loved and prayed for daily. I feel like my last post was all facts, and I did not truly express just how grateful I am for all of you who have been lifting us up in prayer to the Lord. We are so incredibly thankful for our friends, family, supporting churches, and VBM team members who constantly show us the love of Christ!

It just tickles me how the Lord can use a smashed car and failing insurance claims to show His power and grace in our lives! Falling more in love with my Savior each day as He reveals Himself to me; I’ll take this opportunity to be encouraged and loved on by my Jesus!

An Update for Praying Friends — March 29, 2013

An Update for Praying Friends

I touched on my pregnancy sickness a bit in my last post, but I felt that I should update on how things are going. My very concerned mother started a prayer chain in the Middletown-Franklin OH area, so I know that more people than I realize have been praying for me. I also am aware that my friends here in Georgia (and our missionaries around the world) ask frequently how I have been feeling as they know that I had the lovely never-ending all-day, every-day sickness last time around with Jolynn. Even friends we have met along the way on deputation have continued to pray for me. I want to, first, tell you all, THANK YOU SO MUCH! It is very humbling to think that something small, yet uncomfortable, like my nausea would be a concern for so many. I am overwhelmed by the love Jesus puts in hearts around the world for our family.

My doctor calls my sickness “hyperemesis gravidarum,” but I think doctors just like to name things. Based on Web MD, I don’t have it that bad off since I did not lose 5% of my body weight (Thank you, Lord!). Throughout the first few months, I have experienced severe nausea and frequent vomiting (often 6 or more x/day) and would go days without keeping a meal down. I began to take a prescription, and this lessened to 2-3x, but still made traveling very difficult. I felt sick all day long, and I’m pretty sure my husband and daughter could vouch that I was miserable to be around at that time.

I am now 14 weeks, out of my first trimester, and PRAISING THE LORD that I am feeling MUCH better! I still have moments…I still have days, but for the most part, I am well! I have been going a couple days without getting sick, and most mornings I can get up with Jolynn and make myself breakfast, tasks which I used to have to delegate to my husband! I still have to take it relatively easy and baby myself a bit, so my housework still suffers, but I am thankful to be able to do a lot more things for myself!

I wouldn’t say this is all over and done with, but it is tolerable! I have so much sympathy for those who have it even worse than I do with dehydration, weight loss, and hospital stays. I praise the Lord for his grace and goodness to me, and that I have so many praying friends around the world. I know it will all be worth it, when I see my sweet baby’s face. Even now, as I feel the little kicks, a reminder that there is a tiny God-created life inside of me, I rejoice in the wonderful responsibility of carrying this special gift.

Thanks again, my praying friends. It is very comforting to know that all those who lift my name up to the Lord will soon be lifting a new name to the Lord ________ _________ Taube 🙂 Don’t feel left out; we don’t know this baby’s name either, but we will find out the gender in 6 weeks!

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I love Him more — January 17, 2013

I love Him more

On Tuesday, we traveled to Greenville, South Carolina to say goodbye to our dear friends, Jim and Autumn Roberts. Jim and Autumn are the first members of the Come and See India team to leave for New Delhi! We are so thrilled for them to start this exciting journey and begin this work we are confident God will do great and mighty things through. We are also thankful they are going ahead and figuring it all out for us first! 🙂 We just love our “test dummies!”

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Autumn has been such an encouragement to me with her sweet spirit and attitude about their departure. She has had to give away most of her earthly possessions, pack what was left, say goodbye to her family and friends, and board a flight to a destination that is mostly unknown. I think it is safe to imagine that she was (and is) scared, heartbroken, and hurting. But the thing she continued to say both audibly in her words and silently through her gentle, quiet spirit was, “I love HIM more!”

More than her earthly possessions, than her family, her friends, her security, her stability, her comfort. More than her own life! Can I say this? Can I honestly say, “I love Him more” than all of these things I believe are inherently mine? I can sing, “He is ALL I need” till I am blue in the face, but does my heart believe it? Wait a minute…Does Autumn know something I don’t know?

No, the Bible tell us all that He is good, that He is faithful, that He is our comfort and our joy. Will I claim His promises and accept His grace today? Tomorrow? When my plane leaves the ground headed for the unknown? I must. If I want my life to mean anything for the Lord, I must love Him more.

I can love Him more because He IS more! He offers more wealth than any amount of worldly possessions, more love than all my friends and family, more comfort and security than my safe-guarded life, and more stability than my immaculate schedule. He really is ALL I NEED! I can truly say, “I love Him more.” I can live solely dependent on His grace and goodness. I am looking forward to the opportunity on its grandest scale, but I can live in light of its truth today. When we don’t get home until 2:30 a.m., when the love offering doesn’t meet our needs, when we are away for weeks at time. I love my comfort zone in the realm of the known, but I love Him more!

This attitude will not only be beneficial to me and a blessing to those around me, it will be an act of obedience to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Jesus said to him, “‘you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment.” (Matthew 22:37-38)

He sure does have my best interest in mind when He asks me to obey, and He gives me great reason to love Him more! Thankful for His sufficient grace, and that He truly is ALL I NEED!

A Year in Review — January 5, 2013

A Year in Review

Well, I’m a little behind, but our year ended just as crazy as it does every year with Christmas and the Summit. I thought it would be fun to look back at all the blessings of 2012 and then anticipate what’s coming in the next year! I planned to write all this in one post, but after reviewing the year, I realized I needed to split them up! For now, we will just think back on how good the Lord has been to us in 2012!

We continued to serve as leaders for the youth group through 2012. We loved spending time with the teens as they kept us feeling young! The Lord continued to bless and grow the youth group and gave us some faithful teens to keep the fire a live in our absence. Please be in prayer for a new couple to lead the teens.

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At the end of January, the family for which I had babysat moved to Virginia, and I was left jobless. I was a little panicky as the plan was to take Jolynn along with me so that I could work but also be with her, but we prayed that the Lord would work things out so that I could still be with my girl.

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February 21 we welcomed our sweet baby, Jolynn Elyse, into the world. Everything with the labor and delivery did not go as planned as I was induced due to high blood pressure, and Jo was “sunny side up” with the cord wrapped around her neck. She did not immediately cry, and we worried for her life, but the Lord had my little girl in his hands and He breathed life into her little lungs! We know that He has a special plan for our little miracle!

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Paul was offered a job in addition to his part-time work at Wendy’s doing commercial landscaping for Big Daddy Mulch. He mostly worked on Wendy’s restaurants throughout the Atlanta area, but he also did a lot of work at his boss Julio’s home in Ellijay. This was a huge blessing as it was an increase in pay and a schedule that allowed for much more family time! Because of God’s provision (and a lot of penny pinching), I was able to stay home with Jolynn as Paul worked to provide for his girls!

Paul began to make phone calls to pastors to set up meetings over the summer. He only had an hour here and an hour there, but he was able to book 9 meetings for our first month out before we would officially start on September 1! What a blessing! I am so proud of my hard-working man!

In May, we attended the VBM missions orientation and learned VERY much there! In June, we attended the OG camp where we were able to meet many youth interested in missions!

At the end of August, Paul quit his jobs, and we stepped out on faith to begin raising our support for India. We were anxious and nervous as we began this journey we had been dreaming about for years!

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The Lord has been so faithful to provide through the giving of his people, and we have never missed a rent payment or lacked in any way! We have had so much fun traveling and meeting all kinds of people who just love Jesus and learned to love us, too! We have been in about 35 churches and driven more than 7000 miles to far! We have gone for a few months without seeing support come in, but just as we began to get nervous, HE touched the hearts of a few churches to begin to support us monthly beginning in the month of December!

We were blessed to be able to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with our families, as well as an unexpected trip to NY with the Taube family to attend Paul’s grandmother’s funeral at the beginning of December. We welcomed the extra time spent with family, and we were so excited to be able to get to know the newest member of the Taube family- Galilee Grace whom Jake and Steph adopted in October! We also found out at Thanksgiving Rebel and Will will be giving us a niece/nephew in June 2013!

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To round out the year, we attended the OG Summit in Pigeon Forge Tennessee. It was my 5th and Paul’s 6th Summit! We look forward to this event EVERY year, but this year was definitely the most anticipated. It was our first year as official VBM missionaries, and there were more than 25 of our missionaries in attendance this year! While having a baby there complicated things a bit, I was able to catch almost everything and learned SO much from these awesome people who I get to call MY friends!

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We watched the ball drop from our room at the Music Road Hotel and were asleep by 12:02!

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