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!

Fight or Flight

I have found that fight or flight, in some seasons of our lives, is a daily choice.

Because of the petrol shortage, we must walk to school every day. We could drive our car if we wanted to wait in line with the thousands of cars in Kathmandu with no promise of receiving our small ration. Ain’t nobody got time fo’ that!

The first couple weeks, it was kind of fun. Some sort of new adventure. After all, we kinda thrive on crazy around here. But after a holiday break, returning to an hour and a half of walking the hills of Nepal was hard to face. By Friday, I was thinking, “This lifestyle is just not sustainable.” But given the option between riding on TOP of a bus (a common sighting these days, though previously illegal), I guess I’ll take the sore feet and sunburn. Fight.

Not many Americans, would argue that this life of walking to school and cooking for our family on a hot plate (there is also a propane shortage) in between power cuts is challenging. Soon, it will become very cold, and without propane, it will be nearly impossible to warm our home.

My kids already look like eskimos going to bed! My poor daughter won’t be able to take a bathroom break for all the layers. We will be getting creative with hot water bottles and whatever else we can get our hands on…or over. I’ve warmed my hands over the toaster. I am not ashamed. Fight.

Though, at times, everything inside of me says, “This is too hard. Give up.” I can’t. This wild place has my heart. I know only God could do that. When faced with the possibility of having to leave due to the difficulties, I am heartbroken. I want to fight.

In natural disasters. Fight.
In political upheaval. Fight.
In shortages. Fight.
In family trials. Fight.

And if I fly, I pray I fly only to the feet of Jesus. Only He can give me the power and grace to stay in the fight. To drag my feet up the steep hill home. Because Lord knows I’m about to fall flat.

But I will fight…

…That “I” might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;
Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made “me” meet to be partaker(s) of the inheritance of the saints in light: (Col. 1:10-12).
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Have you faced similar seasons where you have had to choose to fight or fly?
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

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

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!

Seeing the Bigger Picture

I have failed to see the bigger picture of all that God is doing here beyond our day to day battle of language learning in spite of the many obstacles thrown our way.

Perhaps, God is using these times to prepare Nepali hearts for the gospel that will come to them through our ministry. Possibly, He is strengthening our marriage to withstand the strain that cross-cultural ministry will put it under in the years to come. Potentially, He is breaking down barriers to the gospel in this country that despises Him and His followers.

There is no way I could know or understand the reasons God has made our first months here so…interesting. But I can trust that the Lord who let us experience the disappointment of a visa denial crushing our hopes to enter the country of India and sent us here to Nepal just a little over a month later was not surprised by any of that. He has a plan and purpose for our time here, and we must be sure not to waste it wishing for something that could have been or wishing this or that hadn’t happened.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Why do I become frustrated when the Lord changes my plans? Certainly He has something better. Why do I spend time questioning what He is doing in my life and in the world around me? Certainly the Creator God who set the world in motion knows how to manage the affairs of human life better than this flawed creation does.

He’s always doing something. He is never idle. When I can’t see or understand, I can rest assured He is at work. Everything works according to His will. He is good and gracious, and He orders my steps! The bigger picture, which I may not see this side of eternity, will be more beautiful than I can ever imagine!

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Have you been given the privilege of seeing the bigger picture after a trial in your life?
I would love to hear your experiences in the comment section below!