Birthday Blessings Bring Reminders to take into the New Year

Celebrating birthdays overseas requires early morning Facetime calls complete with birthday hats on both ends. My mom is great about sending a “birthday in a box” which includes decorations, cakes, and gifts for the birthday boy or girl.

While it is not typical or traditional, this time is treasured. It is special in its own way. The extra planning, financial sacrifice, and intentionality required of the whole thing speaks to my heart in a way that a Wal-mart spree or a more convenient birthday party ever could.

I’m thankful my son’s birthday falls before Christmas, and I got this reminder right as the memories of holidays at home began to weigh heavy on my heart. We do what we can. We make the most of each opportunity to spread cheer across oceans or across the street. And the time is sweet.

We intentionally plan how we might steward this time to reach out to those who are lost and hurting. There are so many without hope. THIS is why we are here. THIS is why we feel worlds away on special days. This work is worthy because our King is worthy.

Whatever God calls us to this year, I pray we would steward it for His glory by His grace. If trial trumps tradition, may He carry us through these days with His mighty love. Whether we are pouring ourselves our for others or find ourselves on the receiving end of acts of service, may we know that we know that we know we are treasured by the Lord.

More photos from Sheppie’s big day

Different for the Right Reasons this Season

Five Minute Friday: DIFFERENT

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When I walk around this city, I carry with me an unrelenting awareness that I am different. Even though I’ve learned this language and have adapted to the culture in many ways, I still speak differently and do a million and one things differently from the way I dress or wear my hair, relate to my husband, and raise my kids. With the Christmas season upon us, that awareness has become stark and severe.

I don’t want to be different, but since that is inescapable I will say this: I don’t want to be different because of my skin or my hair, the way I celebrate holidays, or make my home. I want to be different because I am a woman that loves and fears God. I want to be different because His name is continually on my lips, sharing what He has done for me and that His love is big enough for the whole lot of us. I want to be different because the focus of my life is Jesus Christ.

But I don’t want to remain different for long. I long to see God change this country and change the people I love and live each day with. Not to be more like me but to be more like Him.

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Merry Christmas from the Taube Family

 

Eliminating the Enduring Excuse of Insecurity in Ministry

Five Minute Friday: EXCUSE

Earlier this week, I ran out of money after helping a friend out at the airport. Unfortunately, taxi drivers in Kathmandu don’t take Visa. I had a taxi take me from the airport to my husband’s office at the church, so he could bail me out of my predicament. He willingly obliged and didn’t seem terribly put off by me hanging around for the afternoon. He and ‘his guys’ (men training in ministry) spun a bizarre story about something I needed to see in the back room. One of them even took a video as I stretched out one leg to open the door and  kept my eyes half-shut. I almost believed their story of a caged rat the size of a dog, and I wasn’t sure what I was going to see in there.

Instead of a scary beast, I saw a great gift my husband had been hiding away for me. They had been working on remodeling my Sunday school “room” which wasn’t really a room at all but was more like a giant storage space with all kinds of things little ones should not get into. Tears welled up in my eyes because I’m an emotional lady these days and because I was just so relieved. We aren’t big on romantic gestures and gifts on holidays, but this made me know I had been heard by my husband and he cares about my needs as I labor with him in ministry.

I said to him, “You know this won’t make me a better Sunday school teacher.” In a snap, my insecurities crept in to steal the goodness from this moment. I am not a natural-born teacher. I’m not even really great with kids outside of my own family. It is a challenge for me every week to get up there and teach — and in my second language, no less.

But my insecurities are not and cannot be an excuse to not do my best. Even if I think my best may not be good enough, my best can meet these kids where they are with hugs and candy, names-remembered and simple-truths taught. I may not create killer lessons that others would copy, but I can create opportunities to influence little lives. I can spur smiles and laughs and teaching moments — even if I’m not the best teacher.

My other excuse, my lame Sunday school room is history. May my enduring excuse of insecurity finally be history, too.

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And…here’s some pictures of “my babies.” I really do love these kids.

Looking into the Light during the Darkest Times of Missional Living [day 22: light]

I smell burning incense in the air, hear rhythmic chanting and ringing bells, and step over shrines set out for the goddess of wealth. Our people miss services to visit family and not one visitor darkens the doors of our church plant. We have to have conversations with our oldest about religion and culture — things I truly haven’t wrapped my head all the way around yet. For those who don’t celebrate like Hindus, this festival season can be a very discouraging or depressing time. The darkness is real and overwhelming.

It’s so easy to dwell on the darkness, but God calls me to look into the Light. In the book of John, Jesus is called the Light. When it seems darkness is all around me, I have to remain focused on Jesus and let His light shine into my life.  It shows me all the graces of God and the good that is present among the darkness. Yes, it’s a difficult time in this country for believers. But when I choose to celebrate small, I see how God has changed people from this time last year until this year’s festival. I see boldness and beauty and opportunity. I see a nation lost in darkness but loved by God. When I see the Light, I see all these good things.

I think of times as a child when I would deny myself water or a bathroom break because I feared the dark. I thought something would snatch me from under my bed if my feet touched the floor! In the same way, fear of the darkness of the world can render me useless as I hide from it.  I can stock up on our necessities, and shut our doors and windows, and play Christian hymns at eardrum-busting volumes to drown out the happenings outside….

OR I can remember that God is Light, and He lives in me. What good is the light in me if I’m not shining it into dark places? Of course, this doesn’t mean I am joining the Hindus in idol worship, but it does mean I’m not afraid to walk around my neighborhood and enjoy the sight of hanging lights. It means I sit with a friend and eat the traditional meal as she teaches me about the history and customs that make this time of year special for her. It means obedience to share my light.

Now more than ever, my fear of God has to outweigh my fear of darkness. My praise must outdo my pity. My trust must surpass my trepidation. And how can any of this be? Because my Light outshines the darkness.

How can you let your Light shine in the darkness around you?

Talk to me in the comment section below!

 

 

When Life Demands I Pour from My Empty Cup [day 21:give]

Affection and time-I-don’t-have to my husband.
Sippies and snacks, hugs and kisses to my kids.
Surprise visits, small gifts, and gospel tracts to my unbelieving friends.

 

In marriage, motherhood, and missional living — at times– it can seem like I just give and give and give. If I allow my focus to turn inwardly, I can start to see myself as saintly and others as soul suckers emptying me of my energy and taking advantage of my efforts to serve. This is not a true heart of service nor is it honoring to the God who calls me to give myself to these people each day.

There is no doubt that I will fall short of the big dreams to love and serve others like Jesus would. As I wrote in “31 Days Living the Golden Rule” during Write 31 Days last year,

We will let people down. We won’t be able to fulfill what we promise. We won’t find the strength to love like Jesus. We occupy bodies broken by the Fall and are unable to live perfectly and honorably at all times (or most of the time!). We trust God to work on our behalf, to communicate the words we fail to speak, and to show the love we fail to display.

 

We will strive and struggle. It’s all part of this thing called sanctification. We need heaping spoonfuls of grace and answered prayers for the strength to do more. We make right the things we can make right, and we ask God to take care of the rest. Sometimes that’s all we can do.

Heaping Spoonfuls of Grace for When We Goof it All Up, October 2016

In all of this, sensitivity to the working of the Holy Spirit is of utmost importance. At times, I clearly sense that the Lord is telling me to give myself a break, to rest in His promises, and take time to recover and refuel. A burned-out missionary isn’t of much more use than one who stayed at home, and a checked-out mom and wife does not supply a firm foundation for family. But there are other times, I feel the stirring in my soul to look beyond my own borders and give a little more. Often in these instances, I sit with gaping mouth because I’m certain I have no more to give.

God reminds me then of the widow in 1 Kings 17 who ministered to the needs of Elijah. Even though what she had to offer did not seem to match the need at hand, God honored her willingness to serve others and never let her supply run out. In the same way, I can follow the Spirit’s leading to continue to serve when I feel like my cup is just about empty. I can trust He will give me a little more strength and encourage my heart as the service is carried out for Him — because ultimately my service to literally anyone is service to Him (Matthew 25:40).

Like the last sip of a hot mocha, I savor the emptying cup. When I celebrate small, at the bottom of the frothy glass I see evidence of a life poured out in service to others. I see an opportunity to fill up on the truths of God’s word and sit close to Him in hopes that some of His strength may spill over into me. I pray and trust that He will fill me up again each time I give the last bit to another. I give with a heart wide open, aware of the possibility of my cup going dry but so sure of His care for me when that time comes.

When I celebrate small, I don’t live in fear of an empty cup. I savor service to others and a sweet relationship with the supplier of my every need. When He says “rest,” I rest in Him, knowing He is multiplying the moments I’ve given. When He says, “give,” I surrender my need to know I have what it takes because I know He will do what He does best — He will fill up my cup,

How have you seen God fill your empty cup?

Talk to me in the comment section below!