Earth-shaken, Fire-forged Love

Is it too late for a mushy-gushy post? It’s my blog and I do what I want to.

Valentine’s Day has had me reflecting on the love the Lord has so generously blessed me with. First and foremost the unmatched love of Christ in my life is beyond compare to any temporal love that could be shown to me this side of heaven. That, in and of itself, is a totally and completely WORLD-ROCKING concept when I consider how abundantly full my life is in the L-O-V-E department.

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See what I mean?

The mission field has changed me. It has changed my husband. It has changed our marriage. It has changed our love. Our love may not of the Hallmark red-pink splattered fuzzy hearted type, but it is a lot of things less glamorous…but better.

Our love is shoulder-to-shoulder language learning, one of the hardest and most humbling experiences of our lives to date.

It is waking up to an earthquake and falling asleep again feeling safe in his arms.

Long walks stumbling around fallen bricks and our fears for our children growing up in this strange place.

Being led across the busy streets of Kathmandu in complete trust of the man that guides me.

It is sitting at our farmhouse table morning after morning, sipping our hot water (yeah, we quit coffee…and I don’t want to talk about it) and reading the word of God in a language that lights it all up for us.

Our love is my man sneaking out to the laundry room to start a load in the middle of the night while we are graced with power.

Snuggles that start solely for warmth. Cooking love-laced goodies on hot plates. Falling asleep on his shoulder on our millionth taxi ride. Walks with our daughter showing us her “secret places” she is unaware are public knowledge. Sharing our bed with a handsome little man who refused to sleep for the first year of his life. Rushing around in supermarket sweep style a few times a month. Squeezed-in cheesecake dates into our busting-at-the-seams schedule. Crashing into our bed at 8 o’clock after long days and waking up in groans and shared contempt for mornings.

It is joys, hardships, and countless stolen moments of peace among the crazy. The hug that chauffeurs me somewhere else. The kiss that takes away the stress if only for a moment. Romance is something I don’t remember much. But that’s not to say I don’t know love. I know it well. Maybe better than most.

  

I know our love. And I wouldn’t trade it for the love that storybooks and movies are made of. It has been forged in an on-going war to win the world. And it sure sounds romantic when you put it that way, doesn’t it?

And to think…Christ loves me MORE. And this ain’t a fairytale! It’s good and TRUE news our love weathers this place to share.

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Tell me about your earth-shaken, fire-forged love!
I would love to hear your experiences in the comment section below!

 

 

 

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!

 

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!

The gift of a ministry

I’ve always been a dreamer, and I’ve long dreamed of serving God in BIG ways. I’ve specifically asked that God would use my passion for writing in HIs kingdom work. The answer to that plea, however, was not even close to what I had envisioned or ever would have dreamt up myself.

Though I wouldn’t realize it until a few days later, the answer came on the morning of May 14, as I lay heartbroken in an ultrasound room having received the news that the precious boy I had been carrying for 21 weeks was no longer thriving inside me. We shared the news with family but didn’t let it go much further for a little under 24 hours. I wanted my secret pain to be just that- secret.

I posted a status update on Wednesday morning, 8 hours after Ezra had been delivered and about 5 since we said our final goodbyes: I delivered our precious baby BOY (approximately 17 weeks gestational age) at 12:35 this morning. Sweet Ezra Coleman weighed 5.8 oz and was 7 in. long. We thank God for the gift of life, no matter how short, and we rejoice knowing our son is safe and whole in the arms of Jesus.

It was short and to the point. It communicated my heart at that time, but it didn’t express how painful the experience was. I wasn’t ready to make that public knowledge. Maybe I was putting up a strong front as I had done for my family. I spent much of my time making sure no one was uncomfortable, which, of course,in hindsight, I know was pointless. We were all hurting.

The next morning, when I woke up, along with tears came an idea that seemed like it had been planted in my head: I couldn’t keep this story of grace to myself. I had to write the ways that God was working as He was doing it or else He would never receive the glory that He deserves for sustaining us the way He did during this excruciating time in our lives.

So I wrote. Through tears, through doubts, and devastating grief. I wrote with family next to me, trying to comfort me, but nothing was as therapeutic as putting it down. Writing has always been a release for me. It made me recognize His hand in it all, put into words those He spoke to me, and accept what He had allowed in our life.

But that was not all I hoped for it. I wanted it to, first, bless the name of the Lord, who gives and takes away. I also wanted it to speak to those who had suffered loss or who were experiencing difficulty in their lives. I wanted it to say, “God is good. He knows our pain, and He will carry us.” Finally, I wanted it to speak to those who grieve that have no hope, that I have it only because I have Jesus Christ.

It was hard to do, but I wrote. And people read. People from many cultural, family, and religious backgrounds. I heard from many people whom I had never met who wrote to tell me they were touched by Ezra’s three part story. When Ezra was born, my ministry was born. And though, like his life, it may have been short lived, I am thankful it had its moment.

I will likely never have as many readers as I had those first few days after his birthday. I will probably never have the opportunity to influence like I did during that time, but I do know that I can minister to the heart of each mommy that suffers this kind of loss one heartbreaking case at a time. While my ministry was once many words in the public sphere, the words that mean the most will be the ones silently uttered to my Heavenly Father. I can pray for these women in a way that most people can’t. It may sound strange, but my loss paved the way to a dream come true!

If I had known that being used in a BIG way would mean MAJOR loss in my life, would I dare to dream? I’m afraid I would not. I’m just glad that God is the author of my story, and all He asks of me is to tell it!

 

All Things Added

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (Matt. 6:33).

At times, I have felt a little silly about how much I don’t know about India, the country to which our family feels lead. For months, we prayed that the Lord would send laborers to India to fill the great need for the gospel among its millions of inhabitants. I don’t think I ever really thought the family to be sent would be the Taube family. However, when it came down to make a decision and begin raising our support, it was a no-brainer. God had put India on our hearts, and it was there to stay! Here is an excerpt from my blog the morning after announcing our plans to begin deputation to reach the country of India:

Last night, during the teachers/workers meeting at Vision Baptist Church, my dear husband wrote me a little note. This is not an unusual occurrence in any given church service or meeting, but this was a very special note.

It read,”Pastor asked me if we wanted to announce that we are going to India tonight.”

replied, “Up to you, babe.”

“Are you 100% in?” Quite a weighty question for note-passing, wouldn’t you say?

After a shorter pause than I would have anticipated, I quickly scrawled, “YES!”

I have to be honest, at this point I knew little to nothing about this country to which we had dedicated our future. In fact, I just about Googled myself to death the night before our first meeting because I was nervous that someone would ask me a question I couldn’t answer and my cover would be blown. I had just about blindly surrendered to serve in a country I was totally clueless about, and I was a little embarrassed about it.

But I felt a peace I couldn’t begin to describe, and aside from the self-consciousness of my ignorance, I really didn’t care that I was so clueless. I had surrendered my life to Christ, and I had submitted myself to my husband. When I told God I would follow Him anywhere I meant it, and I told my husband the same! A few days ago, we returned from our survey trip to New Delhi. I am overwhelmed just thinking about how God answered many questions and provided peace for many concerns during the short time we were able to spend in the country.

Despite my ignorance I have found the promise in Matthew 6:33 to be absolutely true! I’m thankful for my husband’s wisdom as he lead me to seek God’s plan for our lives and trust Him to take care of our needs as we did.

It’s not perfect, of course, and it would have never been my first choice based on the few things I had heard about it in the States. Maybe it’s the comforting peace of knowing we are following the Lord in our lives or maybe it really is just because many things about India really “rock”, but I am feeling great about moving here in the near future! It could also be that the Roberts are doing an awesome job and making it look easy, but I guess we will find out soon enough and have a great example to follow when we do!

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