Confessions of a Missionary Hoarder

During my 30 Day Blogging Challenge I shared with you the temptation for missionaries to become materialistic on the mission field. I am following up that post, where I shared all that I am learning through that struggle, with a closer, more humorous look at my hoarding habits.

I’ve always considered myself a minimalist, though maybe more in theory than in practice. My husband, who finds joy in throwing things away , turned me into the puzzled person standing in her closet saying, “Where’s the shirt I bought to match this skirt? Oh yeah…I took it to Goodwill.”

But the mission field has changed me. While I don’t think I could qualify to be featured on the disturbing reality show, I think it is safe to say I am a hoarder. But I fall into a whole other category…

My name is Amber Taube, and I am a missionary hoarder.

I buy clothes and shoes 2 years ahead of time, and panic when my kids grow faster than expected. In case you were wondering, yes, we are expecting a flood.

I currently have 8 bags of chocolate chips in my pantry. The Nestle Toll House morsels only get used on occasions deemed special enough for these tiny pieces of gold. I used the bag my mom brought in July on the 1st of December, if that tells you anything. I don’t plan on using the bag of marshmallows until I hear the trumpet sound…or I get another bag, whichever comes first.

We have a goodie cabinet on lock and key. And when some careless soul leaves it vulnerable, and my vulture toddler finds her way into the stash, I nearly shed a tear to see the evidence of THREE opened packages of graham crackers on the floor. Doesn’t she know I was saving those!? …For…something…I’m not sure what.

And when my 1-year-old mess machine dumped the entire bag of decaf coffee on the floor, I grounded him until his third birthday and returned all of his Christmas presents. I didn’t really do that, but I may have if they had more than a 2 day return policy here… Have I shocked you yet?

I probably have enough baby food to feed that monster baby for a few weeks should we completely run out of food. But I’d rather feed him a piece of old bread off of the floor (or ALL that decaf) than crack one open in haste.

I have at least 6 Bath & Body foaming hand soaps resting in my bathroom cabinet. And us adults are the only ones allowed to use it. The rosewater anti-bacterial stuff is better for the kids, right? That’s what I keep telling myself anyway when I think about how much fun my kids would have with the foam. Probably too much. My daughter is obsessed with “making her hair pretty” these days with whatever she can get her hands on, including ALL of the detangling spray I’ve been saving since her baby shower anxiously anticipating the arrival of her gorgeous locks.

Have you contacted the Hoarders casting agent, yet? Maybe they can fund our first church plant!

Of course, I am exaggerating…a bit. And if we had cooking gas right now I would have made a few batches of cookies and sometimes I nearly bathe in the foaming hand soap.

I am really so thankful for the sacrifices made of those who support us, fund my hoarding habits, and enable me by sending me great stuff worth hanging onto until the moment I can truly savor the sentiment. Now, does anyone know a good therapist in Kathmandu?

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An Open Letter to the Baby I was Scared to Love

Little One,

You’re not so little anymore. You’re finding your way around this house, running into everything, and filling the air with the funniest little growl sounds.

You’re constantly covered in bumps and bruises, smiles and kisses. You are so loved.

But, I’ll be honest, I was afraid to love you. When I learned of your presence in the womb that held your brother Ezra, I was flooded with conflicting emotions of joy, grief, and fear. We were moving on from our loss, accepting the void in our family but asking God to fill it with another pair of precious wrinkly feet.

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I never felt sure that you’d find your way into my arms. I took medicine, I rested, I prayed like I’ve never prayed before. And I trusted…with bated breath and a heart that could barely stand it…I trusted.

“God, make him kick.” I pleaded on many desperate nights after a day or two of you taking a vacation from assuring me of your thriving inside of me. And you would give the teensiest little punch and go back to your unsurpassed laziness lounging in the comfort of your mommy. Growing into a world-ready babe is hard work.

The doctor gave your big body the boot on December 5, 2014. I told your daddy he could go get some pizza while we waited for you to get ready. But you decided you were finally gonna get a move on, and I had to call him to come back before his first bite.

At 12:30 pm, I felt like I finally breathed as they put you in my arms and I heard the sweetest cry I’ve ever heard. As soon as they put you on my chest, you grabbed my finger. “Wow! Look how big his hands are,” Daddy and I exclaimed in near-perfect unison.

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Though you’re the tangible source of my healing, I can’t give you all the credit. Because the God who gives every perfect gift gave me you. And long before you were waking me up night after night, He had made room in my heart for the little guy with the giant hands which were used to play with my hair while taking his feeds.

You won’t reach for Christ with those hands, but I hope that you will embrace His when He reaches down for you. I want nothing more than for you to experience the love and kindness that I can’t give you this side of heaven. I will never be everything you need, but I will strive to point you to the One that is.

And when our family is whole again, we will sing His praises for all He has done for all eternity!

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Dream big, love big, little one. Thanks for filling my arms and mending my heart. I love chasing you around our home but am seriously considering making you wear a helmet from now on.

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With more love than you’ll ever know,
Mommy

 

 

 

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!

 

 

Materialism on the Mission Field?

I have found that materialism is a real temptation to a missionary on the foreign field.

What I have seen as tempting is not necessarily stockpiling goods (though I did a bit of that today in preparation for the coming holiday). Rather, it is a focus on the presence or absence of material things.

It is tempting to find comfort in goods both vital and superfluous to a typical American’s existence. Chocolate chips and marshmallows might not seem like a big deal to you, but I can’t deny that there was a HUGE smile on my face when I opened a care package containing these precious ingredients just in time for a Thanksgiving feast.

The problem does not lie in my love of these sweet morsels. I cross into dangerous territory, however, when I allow my happiness to rise and fall with what is on the supermarket shelf or waiting at the post-office for my prompt pick-up.

If there is any seed of discontentment inside, it will be well-watered with the steady-flow of complaint when faced with a lack of some item I’ve dubbed necessary.

While it is not wrong to desire things that make me feel just a little bit more at home, when they cease to fill my cupboards, I am forced to face myself.

Am I the puddle who cries over spilled milk and empty boxes of fruit snacks? Or am I the glue that holds my family together, shoots for two into the dustbin and says, “Well, that was fun!”

I want to be like Paul who finds his happy place despite a time of going without.

But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Here, Paul expresses gratitude for the gift of love provided by the church of Philippi. He notes that he had not received such care for some time, but not to send them on a guilt trip. Rather, he wants them to know that he wasn’t hurting or pining for this gift that didn’t come. Though it may not have been an easy lesson, he had learned to be content. He had even learned to suffer with grace and contentment.

But how did he do it? Through Christ-supplied strength! When the support came, and when it didn’t, he knew he would be okay.

When the supermarket shelves are fresh out of whatever it is I think I really need at the moment, so will I. When the comforts of home just don’t find their way to my mailbox, I can be content.

But not because I am some super-human missionary woman that doesn’t have natural feelings. But because I can learn through Christ-supplied strength to face the day with the things I think I need to face it…or without.

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Have you found contentment in Christ despite the familiar pull of materialism?
I would love to hear your experiences in the comment section below!

 

 

Always the Foreigner, Never the Friend

I have feared that no matter how much time we spend in this country, how fluent I become in the language, or how comfortable I become with my surroundings, that I will always be viewed as the foreigner and never truly be “in” and considered a friend to any person outside of the expat community.

I’ll never speak like a native. I’ll never have dark skin. I’ll never look good in traditional dress. I won’t get the inside jokes or know the little songs and stories that children grow up with. Culturally, I am coming from a totally different planet. No matter how much I adapt and adjust, I will never truly belong.

I desire and ask God for a close friend of national ethnicity. I know that I can learn and grow so much in this context if I develop deep and meaningful friendships in the midst of the enigma that is culture and language adaptation.

But will this person ever look at me in the same way I look at them? Will I be their friend…or just a foreigner with new and fun things with which to introduce them…just the person who tries really hard but will never really get where they are coming from?

Can I find common ground with someone whose life resembles mine in so few ways? Is it possible to bridge the gaps between our worlds and create an atmosphere where a budding relationship can thrive? 

For this reason, I love what the Word says about friendship.

Friends…

  • are friendly (Prov. 18:24)
  • love at all times (Prov. 17:17)
  • comfort and edify (1 Thess. 5:11)
  • encourage to love and live better (Heb. 10:24-25)
  • live selflessly and sacrificially (John 15:13)

So we don’t have to have the same skin tone and cultural background? Phew! That’s a relief! I don’t have to get all their jokes? Well that makes sense because, well, let’s be honest, I don’t always get my husband’s.

And the biggest-and maybe the hardest- thing I am learning is that I can be a friend without being a friend. Someone doesn’t have to welcome me into their inner circle for me to be friendly and to love, comfort, edify and encourage them. I can live selflessly and sacrificially to their benefit without them inviting me into the intimate parts of their life.

I have never really felt as though I had to try to make friends because I could always find someone like me, who appreciated me and understood where I was coming from amid the plethora of potential pals I had to choose from.

That will never be my reality here. But that doesn’t mean that the months and years of sowing seeds of friendship won’t eventually pay off. And I hope that when they do, I will have everlasting fruit in the form of new sisters in Christ for the time and heart invested.

It’s certainly not an easy or rewarding task investing in people who don’t want much to do with you or only want what they can get from you…which is basically the reason I don’t like Twitter, but that’s besides the point…really.

So I’ll never be a Nepali… but I can be a friend to many, and maybe a few will be my friends too!

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Have you ever been put into a situation where you had to bridge cultural or social gaps to be a friend?
I would love to hear your experiences in the comment section below!