What Motivates Me Most

“It is only an appreciation of His love that can motivate genuine obedience.” -Elyse Fitzpatrick

I was teaching my Sunday school babies this past weekend our first lesson in the series, “What’s in the Bible?” I did an overview of what the Bible is, who wrote it, how many books and chapters it contains, etc. The pre-teen boys in my class snickered and elbowed one another when I compared God’s word written for us to a letter penned by a husband living in a faraway country — a well-understood concept here — to his great love back home.

In this letter, He explains His love for us in great detail. He shows us through the acts of love He recounts to us. He tells us He will be coming back to take us home with Him so we can live out our heavenly ever after with Him for all eternity. He tells us who He is and what He is like. We gain confidence as we learn more of His great love for us, and we are inspired to faithfulness and to obedience. We are motivated to move towards Him in love and towards others in showing His love.

 

But the greatest part? He’s not far away. He’s right here with us as we wait for Him to sweep us up to spend our days praising Him for all the goodness He embodies. He is love, and He is with us every day and every step of the way. We love Him because He loves us so well, and He empowers and enables us to obey Him as we respond to Him. His perfect love obliterates our fear to live a life loving Him back.

I hope my babies at home and in my Sunday school class — which strangely enough is on Saturdays — will understand it. I wish with all my heart they will open up the letter and read it for themselves. That they will see the heart of our personal God who desires to have an intimate relationship with each one of us, wretched as we may be.

Until then, I’ll keep telling them. And I better keep telling myself, too. I want to obey Him with all my heart, and that starts in within my heart where I’m instructed to dwell in His love.

And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us. (John 4:16-19).

Linking up with Kate at the gang at Five Minute Friday

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

 

I Don’t Need to Write Anymore

After I finished language school, I filled my time with writing. I connected with a writer online who encouraged me and showed me some ways to get started with writing for websites and other publications. It was thrilling. I was in over my head, but I was learning each day.

I didn’t recognize this endeavor for what it was at the time. It was an effort to validate me. My formal language training had ended, and while I did spend time chatting with my friends and neighbors, it all felt sort of empty.

I had employed a nanny while I was studying language, and I did not feel right about sending her back home without a job. So I spent a couple hours each day out of her hair while she played with my baby boy, dressed him, and put him down for a nap. By this time, he seemed to prefer her over me when she was there, so I would hide out in my bedroom and write for a little bit of time each day. I didn’t know what else to do.

I felt unneeded, unnecessary, and generally lonely and isolated. Writing helped. I needed it.

I’m thankful for the friend that writing was to me during that time in my life, but I am also thankful that God has abundantly blessed me with various ministry opportunities since that time. I spend a few days each week with unbelievers in my neighborhood, and I spend the other days catching up on the cleaning, cooking, and shopping I’ve neglected. We are busy with our church plant and spending time with those that God has graciously brought into our congregation.

When my kids get home from school, I am not distracted by the urge to write. I’m ready to be with them. I don’t feel bogged down by play time. I welcome it at the end of the day when my babies have been away from me all day. When they give in to slumber, I am available to my husband untethered to deadlines or schedules. The desire to write is ever present, but it feels less and less like a need as time goes on. My goals have not changed, but my priorities have.

All the things God has given me to do for His glory don’t whisper worth to my soul anymore like writing once did. I’m certain Christ is pleased with me because I am his child and he is my ABBA FATHER — My daddy. While I’ll never truly be worthy of the sacrifice He has made for me, I find great comfort in His great love for me.

He is my closest friend, generous in giving good things. Writing is one of them, but it does not define me anymore. It adds value to my life, but it does not give me value. When weeks pass without writing, I am not a dusty, unused vessel, I am a cherished treasure of God.

I’m not done writing. Not even close, but I am done needing to do it.

A Personal Pep-Talk from the Pages of my Journal

I had to give myself a pep-talk yesterday. In a matter of days, I had gone from a moment of great victory to the depths of defeat — but only in my mind. I was certain that I had no one who cared for me and no purpose in my life in this country. Saying it now, it feels so silly.

Tears stung my eyes as I walked home from dropping my son off at pre-school. I already feel like the crazy foreigner when I’m not balling my eyes out while walking down the road, so I tried to keep my composure until I reached my gate.  I retreated to my room with my Bible, notebook, and pen. I picked up where I left off in Philippians, and I came to chapter 4. I’ve read it countless times, but I knew I needed its truth in a new way. I paraphrased it into a motivational speech for myself.

I imagine I’m not the only one who needs to hear it today, so I share it with you now — prayerfully, as it feels so raw and personal. I trust this vulnerability is not in vain, and this message will reach someone who will benefit from it today.

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 

First of all, God grabbed me with this — God is all about granting me His peace, but I have a part in maintaining it with prayer, supplication, and thanksgiving. I have to hold onto Him with all I’ve got when the darkness creeps in and the enemy claims territory in my mind. My focus must remain on Christ as I trust Him to transform my thinking.

I ask Him to change things according to His will, but first I ask Him to change me. In order to facilitate this change, I must order my thoughts according to the truths of Scripture. Guidance for this step of this transformative process comes in the next verse:

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.


6 Things to Think about when I Need God’s Peace

When I need God’s peace, I think on things that are…
True

Think about God (duh!). Think on the precious truths of His Word which say you are loved and accepted in spite of you. Your God is good and loves you perfectly. Absolutely nothing changes that.

Honest

Think about the brevity of life in a way that frees you from bondage to the present. Live in light of eternity, saying “no” to the things that feed your flesh and “yes” to the things that build the kingdom of God.

Just

Think of your holy, perfect God and how He empowers you to be like Him on a small scale. Surely, this is an enormous gift. Steward it by striving to be like Him in every way you can.

Pure

Think of how you have been made pure, and live like the righteous being you have been made to be. Refuse to let the world mar our muddy your re-made reputation.

Lovely

Think always on Jesus and on His sacrifice at Calvary. Dwell on the precious gifts He gives each day.

Good Report

Think about what’s good about this day and this moment. Choose to see it in every situation and believe the best about others. 

Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

Finally…

Do what you know to do and leave the rest in the capable hands of Christ. Let His peace rule in your heart and dictate your steps. Change your stinking thinking and be conformed to the image of Christ. It’s all good.


And that was it. Simple enough but stirring, too. It wasn’t an immediate fix but rather a goal for which I must keep striving. The tears continued to fall, and I cried out to the Lord who knows and understands my heart better than I do. I asked Him to change things, but even more, I asked Him to change me.

Today, I am running my thoughts through the Scriptural filter of Philippians 4 and recognizing these unwelcome words for what they are — lies. Today, I am certain I am cared for, and my purpose is renewed.

All thanks to a little pep-talk I didn’t want to hear but knew I needed. Sure beats a pity-party.