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!

Flexibility and Feelings of Children

I have found that kids are flexible, but they have feelings. Most days, my daughter doesn’t know where we are and doesn’t care. She plays with her Nepali nanny, watches her shows, and terrorizes her brother. From any perspective, she has adjusted well.  While she doesn’t often mention missing her grandparents or friends in America, she hasn’t been unaffected by boredom and loneliness. She even worries about everyone hating her, noting how the few kids she knows shoo her away with stuck out tongues.

We can’t make kids her age materialize out of thin air. Should we get her a dog (something we swore we would NEVER do)? Send her to school? Put her in an extra-curricular class? There is no obvious solution, and due to the blockade, doing any of these things at the moment is impossible.

We can’t protect her from all the hurt in this world. While it is difficult, she needs to learn that people can be mean, but we need to love them like Jesus. “Not everyone will like you, baby, and that’s ok. We are different here. We are here to tell people about Jesus, and some people don’t like that.” She nods like she understands.

It is hard not to feel like we have stripped her of her friends and all the fun experiences in America. I flash back to weeping on the plane looking at my sweet sleeping babe. “She doesn’t even know that her little world is about to turn upside down.”

I am thankful for her flexibility, and praise God for the good days. On the trying days, I beg Him for wisdom. These missionary and mommy worlds often collide, and my daughter is found in the debris. I can shield and protect her, keep her to myself, and never let her experience this country. Or I can allow these experiences, however painful, to shape and mold her into who God wants her to be.

I pray that we can point her to Christ, and that she will trust Him with her life. For then, she will have a friend that sticks closer than a brother. For now, I pray that He will make me a good steward of her sometimes fragile feelings. To use her flexibility to her advantage to fall in love with this country and these wonderful people. To teach her to use her feelings to sympathize with the hurting and lead others to the great Comforter. I can already tell I’m gonna be on my knees a lot over this girl!

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Have you dealt with loneliness with your children?
I would love to hear your experiences in the comment section below!

I Choose My Family

I have feared the deterioration and  loss of long-distance relationships. Maintaining these can be difficult and draining. Throw in a 10:45 minute time difference (weird, right?), and it seems next to impossible. God has given me the greatest friends all over the world. it is so much easier to work on maintaining these relationships than in times past. However, I can’t ignore what’s right in front of me, and God has given me the amazing gift of a family in its formative years! I can pine for my lost friendships or I can pleasure in the family I share my home with.

I don’t want my kids to remember mom as the lady who just talked to her bestie on FaceTime or watched cartoons with them iPhone ever ready while not out of the house studying language or doing ministry. My time with them is little and precious.

Sometimes, I need the encouragement that only a girlfriend in the Lord can give me. For this reason, I am so grateful for those that have made efforts to invest in our friendships. I just want to be careful to not invest in these at the expense of my family. My babies are growing so quickly. If I don’t teach them to love and serve the Lord, who will? If I don’t work hard to keep my marriage strong in the Lord, how can we ever have a fruitful ministry?

My long distance friends encourage me, and help quell the first-term loneliness while urging me to focus on the Lord. But I can’t be dependent on them to fill the emptiness. After all, they are asleep for the majority of my waking hours!

I can’t feed my family’s spiritual and emotional needs without filling myself first. Thankfully I have a Friend who doesn’t sleep (Not you, Natasha)! He speaks to me through His word and through the Holy Spirit night and day! When I am full of Him, I can better care for my family. I can see needs that only the Holy Spirit can make me aware of. If I distract myself by stretching to maintain relationships with people that are just as busy as I am, neglecting my time with the Lord and the needs in my home, I am doing a disservice to myself and the people I love most.

Some days I might use messenger all day if I didn’t have two kids climbing on my head and shoulders. Maybe I should take that as a hint. One day, I pray, Christ will fill all their emptiness, but right now they need mom spilling the love He has given her over into their tiny, precious lives.

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Have you faced the struggle between maintaining friendships and caring for your family?
I would love to hear your experiences in the comment section below!