Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Still Breathing

Graul arrival. Check.
Faith Quest. Check.
Game Park Safari. Check.
Kyenjojo church visit. Check.
Alex's Birthday. Check.
Christmas. Check.
Rwebesengo/Ntoroko trip. Check.Check.

To briefly recap...these past few weeks have trillion referreed toy discussions ("mine!","no, mine!"), 65,000 choice statements ("Isaac, if you choose to hit Mali with the robot you are choosing a time out."), 450 sippy cups of juice, 150 bowls of cereal, 12 boxes of macaroni and cheese, 6 hacking coughs, 5 nights camping in tents(with 7 children under 7 yrs), 4 stomach bugs, two road trips ("Ms. Cheryl, can you PLEASE stop making it so bumpy!"), more fruit snacks than you can possibly imagine....and a partridge in a pear tree...

And we are all still breathing...

In the midst of all that...with remarkable conversational prowess..Kaelea (mama Graul) and I have managed to have several meaningful talks and sharing times. (God is good and gracious :-))

...we've listened to some really good music (which Ike loaded on my new MP3 player!)

...watched some really funny movies!

...shared the ups and downs of ministering here and there


...watched our children laugh, cry and love each other
(Alex said the other night at bedtime,"Mom, I'll be really sad when Isaiah has to go.")

...made memories we will treasure for years

We've got @ two weeks left with the Grauls. More fruit snacks, mac n cheese and, well, one or two more referreed toy discussions probably too...("Ike, its Jeff's turn now...")

But we will all keep breathing slowly in and out...praising God for the blessings He keeps bringing our way.

Thank you for your prayers. (and thank you PUMP friends for sharing the Grauls with us.)

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Perfect Gift

Christmas Eve was always my very favorite day of the year. Everyone was gathering. Family was coming. Gifts were wrapped and under the tree. Chicken spaghetti was cooking. The anticipation...the readiness...the expectancy...

My family opened gifts on Christmas Eve. And it was perfect.

We'd gather around 4 or 5 pm. My sister and I would volunteer to sort the gifts (I love to sort!). Everyone would have their pile of wrapped loot. We'd find our spot...and... then...the paper would fly!!! No waiting for one at a time in the Money household. Just pure, unhindered...digging in.
There would be exclaims...joyous laughs...expectant faces as someone opened the perfect gift...pleasure over seeing the joy the gift brings... FUN!

I guess its fitting that Christmas Eve is my favorite day. Because in 1999, Christmas Eve brought me a treasure unlike any I'd received before.

He was a surprise for us. Kinley was only one year old when he was conceived. That would make them 21 months apart. Yikes!

Jeff and I always knew what we would name a boy. Alexander Scott. It was a done deal...and despite my hormonally charged name hunts...Alexander Scott remained first on the list.

He was beautiful when he was born. Perfect really. What is it about a newborn that makes you just STARE at them for hours? During those first few days I stared and stared. God had given us a son.

We took him back to the guesthouse at the Schrage's house Christmas day. We were all in love with this boy. His grin stole my heart from the first day until, well, even now.

It was six years ago today. He is not a cuddly bundle in my arms anymore. I can barely pick that sturdy guy up at all.

He looks just like my Dad. Funny thing,that. You see...five months before Alex entered the world...Bryson entered the world. My baby sister had her first baby. And I wasn't there to see it. It was awful for me, on this side of the ocean. Still is one of the things about our life choice I grieve the most. I kept asking God to help me through. To comfort. And He did the most amazing thing. He gave me a boy too...that looks just like Bryson. Seriously.

I don't know what YOU think about providential planning...but everytime I see Bryson, Alex and my Dad together...I know God is watching and providing simple little gifts that often hold us together.

Alex is a delight in my life. He is his sister's best friend. Isaac's hero. Silas' champion. His Dad's first born Son.

He spends his days ripping through school (the boy is sharp!), building spaceships, listening to music, protecting mankind (and his sister) from all evil in the world...sometimes as a knight, sometimes as a cowboy, sometimes as a soldier and sometimes as a Super (you know, batman, spiderman, superman...etc.) And, he has a passion for...scotch tape. He asks me for about 20 pieces "just this big" every day. He is always creating with that tape.

I love when I tuck him in at night. His brain is in the slow down mode...but not quite there yet. He asks a million questions...tries the water request...tries to read a few more lines of his book...but just as I start to leave his bedside...those strong six-year old arms reach out, pull me into a hug and he whispers, "love you Mom." And the grin. Always the grin.....

Happy Birthday Alex! To date...and most definitely forever...the very best gift I ever got on Christmas Eve.....

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Circle of Chairs

They were camp chairs. Three of them. Sometimes four. We continuously had to re-situate the chairs to stay out of the equatorial sun.

Before us was a stack of requests. Prayer requests. From the Ugandan youth.

We read them, one by one. And prayed.

Some of the requests were fees, success with exams and further education, healing for physical problems...

Some of the requests stopped us in our tracks.

"Pray for my father to accept Jesus. Now he is not saved and he wants me to have sex with him in exchange for my school fees."

"Pray for me. I have a problem with looking at pornography."

"Pray for me...I have problems with lust."

"Pray for my family. They chased me away when I chose to follow Jesus. Now I have no where to go."

"Pray for me to have courage. I am attending an Islamic university and I am a Christian. I am treated badly. Pray that I will have courage to share my faith with the Muslims in my school."

Everyday, for three days, I was honored to sit around the throne of God, in His glorious presence, and interede for these precious Creations of His.
He already knew what we were going to talk about in these moments. His Perfect Heart has already broken over the atrocities these youth have faced in their young lives. And in the midst of governing the Universe...our amazing Creator allowed us access to...Himself. His Ear. His Heart. His Compassion. His Able-ness.

I was intereceding with powerful warrior friends. Mike. Judy. Phillip.

All believers. Witnesses to God's healing hand. God's presence in the midst of pain. God's victories. They are survivors of Satan's attacks and reign on this earth. And yet they remain, firmly in God's protective hand. It was an honor to stand with them in the battle.

Last week, many things happened. Many things worthy of Praise. But for me...the highlight of the week was the circle of chairs.

I was in the circle to lift up others. But in the process, I was brought before Him too. All my angst, joy, stress, blessing, victory, defeat...all is laid open before that Holy, safe throne.

His Throne. Our camp chairs. His availability and promise. Amazing.

"Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." Matt 18:19-20

Quest of Faith

The house is still relatively quiet this morning. Integrity's Christmas Cd is playing. Veggie Tales entertains the first children up. Silas has had his morning cereal...which actually means he has eaten two bites then spent 20 minutes pouring the milk, doing milk art and then rubbing it in his hair. I am too tired to worry about it. It's milk. And he was occupied for 30 minutes. Everyone else is still crashed....Graul's in the guest room, Cashes in their respective bedrooms, Samuel in the playroom. The living room and hall are littered with the after effects of a camping trip. The washing machine and dryer are working away already on a very large pile of laundry...

This week was spent camping out at Lake Saaka...with nearly 200 youth and counselors from all of the churches of Christ in Uganda.

The idea for this Quest was born in the Northwest. And created in the Northwest. (United States, that is.) Many lives are changed, convicted, refreshed, and renewed during one Labor Day weekend retreat at Camp Yamhill in Oregon.

Jeff wanted to bring this Quest into the lives of youth here in Uganda. Jeff's dreams are usually so big I can't get my emotions all the way around them in the beginning. And this was one of those dreams. But with his Vision, God has also granted Persistence. And Faith Quest Uganda has become a reality.

Every year gets better. The first year, the campers hardly had tents. They slept on the ground in the bush....and LOVED it. The meetings were held in a banana leaf/bamboo structure. About 100 youth attended. The topic, was appropriately...Faith. The campers departed asking for more. They loved the entire program. We were encouraged.

The second year, four Quest leaders from the Northwest came over to help lead. Most campers had tents. No one had toilets..."use the trees, my friend" and Prayer was the topic of discussion. Everyone was dramatically changed by the events of the Quest...and God was shown to have ALL power and authority again.

The third year, five Quest leaders from the Northwest came over to help. Everyone had tents...and ants. (Yikes!) Mark Long built us a make-shift toilet in the woods. We talked about Worship. And we did worship. Alot. The ampitheatre was cemented for the occasion and the gorgeous view across the crater lake inspired, motivated and charged the passion in the young people and older people too! :-)

This, the fourth year, five more Quest leaders have come. Two of them are adults. Three of them are children. Yes, you heard me right. Isaiah (5yrs), Mali and Michal (3 yr old twins) have made the very long trip across the ocean and are here. Handling it. (all you who have said you could never make the trip...I'll hear you no more! I, M and M have set a high standard, my friends!)
We all had tents. We staff had our own "village" and kitchen with a cook making omelets in the morning. (Yes, Steve, omelets). We had a bricked and plastered bath house with warm showers available if requested. AND...we had real sit-down toilets. Pretty nice.
The topic was Sharing the Love of Jesus. The worship times were more intense this year. The prayer times...amazing. Sins were confessed. God was sought. Burdens were laid down. It was BLESSED.

On the last night, as I sat in the ampitheatre and watched the emotions "wrapped around it all". Young people, from turmoil and stress beyond my comprehension, have gathered to learn how to Him. And there, on that last night, their worship together was inspiring. On the faces around me, I saw, peace. Joy. Sincerity. Need. Blessing. And I realized that this Quest of Faith CAN change not only these young lives...but also whole villages...and even this whole country. One desperate soul at a time.

The Quest is a worthy one. And it will continue in Uganda...hopefully, not just for four days in December. But every day.

God bless you as you Quest for Him wherever you are today...

Saturday, December 10, 2005

He Sees Me

I learned something from a friend today. Her story is pretty special. Let me tell you about her.

She is from Egypt. Not from a very wealthy family...if you could say she had family at all. When she was young she got a slave.

Must have been a bit frightening...being sold as a slave. Her master, though, turned out to be pretty nice. She helped his wife. The wife was quite pretty.

They traveled alot, her masters. So she saw alot of places. Even got to live in the Homeland for awhile.

All in all, not so bad.

This couple, they had no children. So the work load wasn't too terrible. But, even as old as they were, they kept talking about having a son. Oh really? They said their God had promised them.

She didn't know their God. But they sure seemed to like Him. Trust Him. Apparently they were traveling all over the place because He said to. was very interesting.

One day, the old missus, suggested that she (the maid) sleep with the master. Never had this entered the picture before. Why now? He didn't argue too much. So she was kind of weird. I mean, a girl dreams of her husband. But here, as a slave, she's given to her master. Not exactly dreamy...but certainly not the first time it ever happened. Besides, he WAS a good man. It would be okay.

She thought it was possible....but could she be sure? Pregnant? Yes. Just as her masters wished. She was pregnant.

But it sure wasn't easy...this being pregnant. She didn't feel so very good. And for what? For a baby that wouldn't be hers. It was her master's. She sure didn't feel good. What a mess. And who was to blame...Yep. The Missus. This was all her bright idea. Yuck.

It was hard to serve her now...carrying water, cooking, cleaning. She was heavy with a baby. Wasn't that enough already. Things were going allright until this.

To top it all off, the Missus turned mean. Really mean. She never did any of this before. My friend was a threat. The Missus could kill her. Now what?!?!?

In desperation, my friend fled. Into the desert. Alone.

... she came upon a Spring. And an Angel. He was looking for my friend. This slave from Egypt.

"Where have you come from, and where are you going?"

She spoke the truth. No sense in lying.

The angel said, "Go back. Submit." And he added, "...your descendants...they will be too numerous to count."

What? Was that a...blessing? She was a slave. She was a woman. But that IS what the Angel said. "HER descendants..."

The angel also said, her son (a BOY!) would be stubborn (oh good) and would "live in hostility." (Pause)

A warring son. A strong willed man. Born of her.

"...the Lord has heard your misery..." the angel had said.

The Lord?

She knew of many gods from her childhood. But this One was different. Here she was. Suffering. Alone. A woman. About to bear a fighting son. All perfect examples of the gods disapproval. But this God....

"Beer Lahai Roi," her desperate voice carried over the desert plain.

"You are the God who sees me."

And she added, "I have now seen the One who sees me."

When you know someone is can do admirable things...

Despite the struggle, she followed the One who sees and went back to the Missus. Submitted. Served. Labored and bore a son.

Her suffering continued though. The Missus did have a son. But she never warmed back up to my friend. The Master sure was kind. Tried to support my friend. But ultimately...she was just the slave and she got sent away.

Another desert, more desperation and then...another Spring. A drink of water. And a promise. The child would be a great nation. Warring. But great.

Problems with a promise. Encompassed by a God who sees.

I don't know what happened to my friend exactly. She raised her son. Found him a wife. He became the father of a great nation.

And her...well. One thing is for sure. She was never the same...this slave from Egypt. Used, rejected by men, forced into single motherhood....

And seen. Sought out. Found. Promised.

She knew His Name. And spoke it.

Yep. I'm absolutely sure. She was never the same.

And because of her am I.

"Beer Lahai Roi!" Praise be to Him!

(Story and quotes taken from Genesis 16:1-16 and Genesis 21:8-21)

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Take a Big, Deep Breath...

We are on the eve of some very big events...

--Graul family arrival Wed for five week stay
--Faith Quest
--Game Park Safari
--Rwebesengo Church Visit (two day trip to Congo border)
--Kagadi church Visit (two hour drive--one way)
--Kyenjojo church Visit
--Alex's birthday

It is hard for this task oriented, detail focussed lady to take in that ALL of those things take place within the next 3 weeks.

So tonight, I am sitting in the dark, staring at my Christmas lights...

Taking a big, deep breath...

Trusting in Him Who Gently Leads...

Knowing, from experience, there are many blessings ahead.

I've just got to keep breathing...:-)

Friday, December 02, 2005


I got a box today. Jana packed it. She is my "jump in the car-go to Canton" friend. :-)
The box had all our favorites. And now those precious treasures are carefully placed on our freezer so we can walk in the pantry and see the delightful items all laid out!

We got a box last week and four boxes the week before that.

This morning I put on lipgloss Kristen bought, mascara Dana bought and the same perfume that Trisha wears.

I read a magazine over lunch that Lynn and Marjorie sent, gave each child Tootsie Rolls from Tootsie, and let them listen to Odyssey tapes sent by Greta.

I have pictures on my email from Cathy, and I made a chocolate cobbler recipe from Thyme and Traditions cookbook.

I told a story about Alex's Rescue Hero Station that he got from Glenwood last Christmas.

I REVELED in the SHEER DELIGHT of driving that beautiful LANDCRUISER to a village outside of town.

My pantry is stocked with Rotel, Velveeta, microwave popcorn, chocolate chips and Goldfish crackers. (NOT items available in the local market :-)

...tonight, as I stood in my kitchen corner, with all the lights out, and had a quiet moment with Our God...I remembered that I shared this secret worship place with 35 of my closest friends :-) at ladies Bible class.... and all of a sudden I wasn't worshipping alone anymore...

I know, that somewhere in Tyler, someone is praying for our family, the church in Ft. Portal and God's Kingdom in Uganda.

Glenwood church building is thousands of miles away from where I sit right now. But they have dramatically impacted my day today in a million ways.

They are our church family. Our Support. God's Embrace.

Jack was right...

I love you Glenwood. The story of our coming to you fills me with joy, hope and faith everytime I remember it.

I'll say it again, God is good.

"May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones." 1 Thess 3:12-13

Thursday, December 01, 2005


We flew out twice to Tyler after the initial visit. And after two pretty incredible meetings...and oh, so many prayers...we were invited to stay in Tyler for several months to become Glenwood's missionaries.

On our first Sunday at Glenwood, the elders announced that we had been taken on as missionaries.Some folks in that generous congregation errupted in applause. Applause.
I cried. Besides being overly hormonal..(reminder...HUGELY pregnant) I felt so amazed... so...hopeful...

Over the next months, I learned this about Glenwood:

1. Everyone is related to someone else at Glenwood---truly!
2. Glenwood LOVES to feed its people!
3. Glenwood LOVES children and became Home to my little ones very quickly.
4. Glenwood SEEKS...God, Jesus,the Spirit's leading... and they seek PEOPLE who are broken...people who are hurting..
5. Glenwood LOVES to WORSHIP!!!!!
6. Glenwood was God's chosen place for the Cash family and the Ft. Portal work.

Tyler became a haven for us. A place to re-charge and regroup. A place to belong.

Our Isaac was born, loved on, prayed over and blessed.

Our support team came together in a beautiful way as 6 precious couples agreed to serve the Uganda work from the States.

We worshipped and prayed and shared and planned.

We experienced the Glenwood Generosity in spades. Cars, an apartment, food, baby stuff, cup did runneth over!

I was overwhelmed every day I was there. Glenwood was more than I ever dreamed possible. My faith was renewed. My hope restored.

We were home.