Sunday, December 31, 2006

On the Market

Twenty-six years of living, laughing, crying and loving. Together. In one place.

2712 Englewood.

The front door. My Mom loved the front door on this house when we looked at it for the first time. So I loved it too. She has now painted it red. I think we love it more.
I’ve been brought back from many dates to that front door. It witnessed my first kiss. It also was audience to several awkward moments with boys I was just getting to know as well as the more relaxed good nights with those I knew well.
I have forgotten my keys more times than I can count…and left my keys in the door all night…I even had my keys stolen at school leading to the purchase of a new lock for that door. The deadbolt makes a certain sound when it is locked. I heard it every night when Dad or Mom was securing things for the evening. It was a comforting sound.

The entry room is painted a salmon color. For years it had a mural, wallpapered on the wall. The mural was one of the last bits of “green splendor” that we removed from the home’s décor. I remember Mom and Dad on the ladder as I went out with Kay, Paige and Mary. Mom and Dad were painting the room. My friends and I were cruising in Kay’s new car. I think of that moment with my friends every time I see that front room.
This is the room of reunion. Where we welcome each other from a day of work or school…or from two year terms in Africa.
It is also the place where we hug goodbye. And grieve the separation that is ahead of us.

The large family room with its mammoth fireplace. The fireplace has brought Santa to our tree for many, many years! He never failed to find us. One year he even dropped my sisters gifts outside the chimney (we “found” them on the grass ☺). This big room was the reason we purchased the house. We’ve had Christmases, birthdays, New Years Eve parties, Youth group devotionals, movie nights, and many long heart to heart chats here. The couches have been the convalescing center for stomach bugs, the flu, colds, strep, and wisdom teeth surgery. We’ve sung songs, laughed at jokes, and welcomed friends into the warmth of these walls. My parents have counseled youth and adults through crisis and life struggles. My sister and I have memorized our favorite movies in this setting. We watched them over and over until Mom and Dad were going nuts!
This is the room where Jeff first said he loved me. The room where we prayed over Cherise the night before she married Wade. The room where we’ve watched our children toddle, fuss and play.

The large walk in closet. This closet holds some of our memories. Old school annuals. Toys. It also holds extra blankets and everyone’s coats. If you look closely you can see the patch in the ceiling where Dad fell through while storing the Christmas tree in the attic. A memory best kept in the closet. ☺

Laundry room: Somewhere in this nook is an unbelievably large stash of missing socks. This is the place where our family pets have dined. First, Ginger then Katy. And Outlaw and CJ on occasion. Also home to the computer desk. A computer that began as a TINY Apple word processor when I was in high school, but grew to the wonderful piece of equipment my parents use now. Since we moved to Africa this tiny cubicle has become our link to my family. Where we share good news, heartache and, most importantly… pictures of the grandkids!

The kitchen: When we bought the house it was green with brown cabinets but has morphed into a lovely haven with white cabinets and Tuscan décor. Home to many wonderful meals: baked chicken, swiss steak, spaghetti, stew, Spaghetti-Oh’s, …and take out meals from our favorite places! I made my first efforts at baking in this kitchen. I learned how to mix, clean and season--all tasks that I have depended on in this far off place.

The dining room: I told my Mom & Dad I wanted to be baptized in this room. And planned my wedding around the table. I debriefed high school and college drama, elders meetings, and heartbreaks here. We’ve fed friends, welcomed our brothers from Africa and served every grandchild in the same high chair that was mine and my sister’s.

The hallway records our history. Each wall is loaded with the pictures of our heritage. Grandparents… Mom and Dad as children… My sister and myself through the years…Our husbands and our children.

The master bedroom with walk in closet: The closet that housed 1/3 of my wardrobe and shoe collection. (“Mom can I borrow your shoes?”-- The price she pays for having a marvelous sense of style!) The full length mirror that was the scene of many indecisive moments…”Do I look okay?”. “What should I wear?!?!?” “Do these shoes match?”

This is the room where we went when we were afraid at night. It is the place where Mom and Dad have communicated and shared for years to build the marriage that is the foundation of our home…of our lives. I’m not aware of all the struggles, but I know that whatever challenged the sanctity of their marriage, it was conquered within the walls of this room. Our parents are still loving and living life together…encouraging us to do the same.

Small bedroom: the home to another 1/3 of my wardrobe. Reese’s room… Packed full of purses and dolls… My sister’s treasures… Also where my sister played and shared with her friends for years. Many Cabbage Patch dolls where fed, nurtured and blessed in the room where Cherise was in charge!
It became my room during summer breaks from college. (Cherise moved to my original room.) And now, it’s the grandkids’ room. Where my children find rest and peace during the frantic days of furlough.

Hall bathroom: My Mom, my sister and I have had amazing discussions here, while getting ready for school and work. Chats about school, people, issues, church and God… Mom taught us a lot in front of that huge mirror. Also the room where we….ahem…learned to do our own hair. Which is monumental in the life of a girl. Seriously.

My bedroom: I have prayed, dreamed,rejoiced, grieved, cried, rested & recuperated within those walls. I have hung billions of posters…first of puppies and kittens, then Ralph Macchio (remember Karate Kid?) In ninth grade, I ditched the posters and we chose soft green wallpaper that made me feel more refined. ☺ I have shared secrets with my friends, talked for hours on the phone and remarkably stuffed more into one closet than should be humanly possible. So much of who I am and what I believe, processed in that room.

Twenty-six years of life…flourishing in the space of this abode.

This week, the house goes up for sale. The memories…the home…will move with my parents.

2712 Englewood. We have loved inhabiting you these 26 years. Thank you for sheltering us. Protecting us. Being a refuge.

There really is no market value for that, now is there?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Gifts of Christmas

How long can I play Christmas music without driving everyone crazy? :-)

The days immediately after Christmas are always a little bit sad. The days preceding Christmas are so busy with preparations and plans that they fly by in a blur. Christmas day arrives with great joy and celebration...and then the next morning... Reality. PIles of dishes. More toys to sort. And the ready knowledge that our families in America DID have the holiday without us, again.

As I worked my way through the dishes yesterday morning, I cried a little. Jim Brinkman played in the background. My Christmas lights twinkled merrily. And my heart was full to bursting.

Full of thanks....for our children and their joy; for the friends who shared the Christmas meal with us: the laughter, the sweet fellowship, the brotherhood; for family memories and tradititons from childhood that bless me even now; for Jesus...

Full of that certain feeling you get when the time has been REALLY good, but now its over.
And you feel such LOVE for friends and family...but you can't quite reach them because they don't live down the street.
And your thankful for the memories made for your children...but your so tired you can hardly stand :-).

Contrasts that bring such bittersweet pain...

Contrasts that make the sweet...sweeter.

The feelings...more deep.

My Christmas music will play for awhile longer. My "revelry" is not yet complete. The memories, the magic, the traditions, the joy....they are what Christmas gives to me. And I'm not quite finished enjoying those gifts.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Alex's Day


Seven. He rides his bike without training wheels. Reads everything he gets his hands on. Loves to watch movies almost as much as he loves RE-TELLING the movie to me after he has seen it. Has become Cub Scout Extroidinaire. Still believes he COULD turn into Shark Boy. And remains the hero and best friend of his sister and brothers.

All boy---with a deeply sensitive soul to boot. We wouldn't be the same without him. I thank God for him everyday.

Here are some pictures from the celebration and festivities. Thanks family for sending him fun stuff...he felt your love across the miles...





Saturday, December 16, 2006

In a Quiet Moment in Nazareth...

"Greetings! You who are highly favored! The Lord is with you!"

A troubled heart.

"Do not be afraid."

I don't understand.

"You have found favor with God."

Really?

"You will be with child and give birth to a son."

I am still a virgin.

"The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you..."

Will my parents...or my fiancee understand that?

"Even Elizabeth, your relative, ...who was said to be barren is in her sixth month."

I could be killed if I am pregnant before my marriage night.

"For nothing is impossible with God."

Deep breath. (and all of Creation waits...with anticipation...for her repsonse...)

I am the Lord's servant.

May it be to me as you have said.


One Quiet Moment.
Fear. Confusion.
An unbelievable call.

Yes.

It was really a decision...
She had made a long time before...

"I am the Lord's servant"
"May it be to me as you have said."


(complete story found in Luke 1:26-38

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Getting into the Spirit of Things...


This is a fun Meme I picked up from several friends. After I perused their delightful comments AND looked up the word Meme in my dictionary (pronounced Meem..."to imitate"...my paraphrase...)
I decided to participate...

1. Egg nog or hot chocolate?
Hot chocolate...definitely.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just set them under the tree?
Sets them under the tree. Until I married my husband. Who knew a different Santa. Who was a glutton for punishment. And wrapped every gift. So we compromise. Santa sets some gifts out unwrapped. And some wrapped. There you go.

3. Colored lights or white?
Oh man~I love them all. If they are on. Because that means there is power. We typically put colored lights on the tree and decorate windows, greenery and doors with white lights. White lights are classy and romantic. Colored lights are festive and fun.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?
Nope. Because we don't have any. And public displays of affection are...ahem...frowned upon in this culture. So we would have to participate in the mistletoe tradition on the sly. Which we have become pretty adept at anyway...I must say.


5. When do you decorate for Christmas? The day after Thanksgiving. I LOVE it. And the kids do too. For us it is a day of memories, good feelings and...
Oh who am I kidding?... It is a day of MOSTLY good feelings accompanied by a few stressful cries of "Silas Ryan! If you touch that I'm gonna spank your bottom!" and "Quit asking me when you can hang your ornament...I have to string these stinkin' lights!" Good times...good times. Despite all the fuss...I still love the decorating day.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish, excluding dessert? This is a very tough one. I'll go with corn bread dressing and cranberry sauce. MUST have them together. (A VERY strong second would be turkey,bacon and cranberry sauce sandwiches on Christmas night at the Cashes. Scrumdillyumpcious!)

7. Favorite holiday memory as a child? The games. I loved it when the formal meals were done, dishes were done, presents were done, and everyone was relaxed. And out came the games. Skip bo. Nertz. Chicken foot. Dominos. Boggle. It didn't matter...It was fun. Everyone laughed...Mam-ma complained that she never won...she very often did...

8. When and how, did you learn the truth about Santa? Shelli Braddock told me. In the second grade. It made me cry. Which wasn't he first time Shelli and I made each other cry. Girls! We do the silliest things. I didn't ask Mom about it until the third grade. At which time Mom verified Shelli's information, MUCH to my dismay.
(FYI...Shelli grew up to be an AMAZING woman who I love and adore... I've always loved her...And I'm not just saying that because I know her Mom and sister-in-law read my blog!) :-)

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? This is in fact a very touchy issue. My husband and I are from different camps. My family always opened gifts on Christmas Eve. His family always opened gifts on Christmas Day.
We battled it out for years...me whining until we actually opened some gifts on the Eve...ignoring his strong protests that we were dangling dangerously over a very dark chasm of evil because we did so. :-)

Everything changed in 1999. I "opened" a present on Christmas Eve for the last time. I delivered a son on December 24th. Making it for always and forever...Alex's day. He opens presents alone as we celebrate his life. Christmas gifts wait for Christmas morning. My husband was victorious afterall. I don't mind though. The gift of our precious boy would be impossible to top.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? With many different types of ornaments...all with memories or occasions to remember. Some of my Best Friends gave me a Christmas ornament shower in Germany. We were there to lead a camp for youth and to tour around to different churches. While in Germany we visited an adorable village with the most amazing Christmas market. (The town's name has left me...) My friends each bought me an ornament for a wedding gift. It was such a great idea and to this day, I can remember who gave me what...which is a Christmas miracle considering my muddled, tired Mommy brain! We have ornaments from parents, grandparents, friends, from vacations. our states and Africa. There is no rhyme or reason...just wonderful memories of wonderful moments. All deposited on our tree.

11. Snow. Love it or hate it? Love it. Miss it.

12. Can you ice skate? I'm no Kristi Yamaguchi but I pretend to be as I stumble and slip over the icy surfaces. I can do it. But it isn't always pretty. Unless you can see the images in my head. Where I look like a pro! Wearing a gorgeous sequined outfit. And I'm skinny.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? Alex. Hands down. Best Christmas gift.

Other favorites would include: my Baby Alive Doll (age 3), my kickin' stereo with huge speakers (8th grade!) Love knot earrings from Jeff...(on Christmas Eve!)...the day Alex was born.

14. What is the most important thing about the holidays to you? Jesus. Family. Singing. Laughter.

15. What is your favorite holiday dessert? Pumpkin anything---pie, muffins, bread, cookies. Mam-ma's German Chocolate Cake. Iced Christmas sugar cookies.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Caroling. I just love that! Christmas Eve festivities. Decorating the Christmas tree with Alvin and the Chipmunks singing in the background. Watching the Sound of Music. Quoting funny lines from Christmas Vacation. Decorating cookies.

17. What tops your tree? A Santa Clause that moves...or used to. Now he just sits there and looks cute. Jeff and I bought him together for our very first Christmas.

18. Which do you prefer, giving or receiving? I LOVE giving the perfect gift. LOVE IT! (I won't mention in much detail how very stressful it is to shop in this land we live in. Jeff's gifts are...sad...which makes me sad...Thankfully, I bought him a video ipod on furlough this summer so I'm hoping the joy of that will carry over for a few occasions!)

19. What is your favorite Christmas song? "The Hat I Got for Christmas is Too Big". :-) At least, that is one that always makes me laugh!
Seriously, I don't think I could pick a favorite song. Oh Holy Night, Oh Come All Ye Faithful, Winter Wonderland...
I LOVE them all. ALL!

20. Candy canes. Yuck or yum? Definitely YUM!!! I love candy canes. Something I really miss over here.

Happy Holidays, dear friends! Feel free to grab this meme for your blog...(or put your answers in my comments). Let me know if you do...so I can visit and read your memories!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Wishin'

A white Christmas.

An electrician that can repair one thing without breaking another.

A bowl of Blue Bell Ice Cream.

Cheese.

A Barn Door Prime Rib.

Birthday gathering at Granddaddy's for cake and presents.

MANY,MANY more years for Mom.


Happiest of birthdays Mom! WISH we could be together! So THANKFUL for every year He's given you so far. I love you!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Sousa and the Bride

Last Saturday, we attended a wedding in town. Jeff was the minister, I was the "send 'em down the aisle" lady and Kinley and Alex were the CUTEST members of the wedding party!



There are many interesting tid-bits about a Ugandan wedding...

1. Weddings are expected to last up to 4 hours---the church ceremony folks. Exactly what is there to say in 4 hours that you can't say in 30 minutes? I do not know. Jeff's ceremony on Saturday lasted one hour and a half. Everyone was amazed and said it was the best wedding EVER!

2. The bride gets her hair done in a Saloon. That's how they pronounce it. Saloon. I wonder if they drink out of shot glasses and play poker while their hair is done?

3. The bride is, on average, over an hour late for the wedding ceremony. At least.

4. Everything and everyone MUST move SLOOOOWWWWLLLLYYYY. There is no real way to give you a clear picture. It almost defies nature. The flower girls were going so slow down the aisle...they almost weren't going. The bride walked in slow military fashion ALL DAY. When she went down the aisle, when she entered the photo shoot, when she entered the reception, when she walked to the bathroom... SLOW.

5. The music for the wedding was Pachebel Cannon off of one of our CD's AND various selections played by the St Leo's Secondary School Marching Band. Yep. You heard me. Marching Band. Complete with bass drums. Cymbals. And a brass section that would send Charles Nail's moustache into MANY convulsive twitches. (FYI Mr Nail was my beloved band director at Permian High School. We didn't only do football, ya'll.)

The most amazing moment of a very full cultural experience of a day...was the MOMENT when I thought..."Wow. This marching band is a nice touch."

Culture stress can send your brain into upside down logic. Even after 11 years.

Friday, December 01, 2006

To Your Corners!

Okay. I’ll admit it. (again)

I do not know what to do.

The fighting will not cease. “He has my toy.” “I had that first.” “He hit me again.” “MOMMMMM!!!!”

The wailing begins. And my kids cry too.

There are clever ideas. Wise advice. I listen and I seek.

But in the midst of the chaos…my mind blanks.

And I get sucked in. I begin asking myself, “Who DID have that first?” “Why did you let him have it?” “Didn’t we JUST have this conversation?” “Who won last time?”

My closet isn’t full of black and white striped shirts. And I do not even own a whistle. But I would surely benefit from a rule book and instant replay. (“Rule #22 –He who has the toy IN HIS HAND is in possession of the toy. If the toy is on the carpet, table or any surface other than the HAND…possession is up for grabs…literally.”)
(“Mom has called for an instant reply…please pause in your family life while we cue the tape to replay the fight in the toy room.”)

What has worked for you in staving off or halting sibling fusses? Or do you have any stories that would make us laugh? ☺

Do share, friends… you may bless many folks in Blogland with your wit and wisdom…and you may pull me back from toppling over the brink of insanity...which I hear is a quiet place ☺….

Friday, November 24, 2006

Thriving

This Thanksgiving, my friend Destiny made TWO pumpkin pies from SCRATCH (real pumpkin..cooked and pureed!) WITH delicately designed pie crusts. (she cuts out leaf shapes from the crust...colors them green, yellow and orange and gently overlaps them around the crust...AWE INSPIRING...:-))
AND...here's the truly amazing part...she does all this "Martha Stewart-ing" without being "Martha Stewart-y". You know what I mean.

Now, why am I blogging about these lovely pies? Here's why...

Moving to this little far off land isn't easy. Carving out a home, a life and a ministry requires more stamina than I could have ever imagined. Creating trust and relationships...can be excruciating.

Dealing with the betrayal factor of life here has been one of the hardest things for both Jeff and me. We American types base most of our relationship standards on Trust. And developing that trust across cultural boundaries and cultural misunderstandings can be a harrowing emotional experience.

Destiny and Doug took a hit in this area recently. One of their close Ugandan friends betrayed them. We feel their pain. Pray them through it. And cringe that IT has happened again.

We see them rising to the challenge. Focusing on their King. Resolved to stay in the fight.

He that is in them is greater than he who is in the world.

They know that and it gives them hope.

Unfortunately, it doesn't erase the pain.

And that is why Destiny's holiday baking is amazing...

It is one thing to come.. Another to stay...And yet another ALL TOGETHER to stay and make pies with delicately overlapping leaf shape crust!

THAT, my friends, is called THRIVING. :-)

Blessings, Doug and Destiny.

To God be the Glory. He shines brightly in you!

Thanksgivings: Past and Present

We've had about nine Thanksgivings in Uganda. And sometimes I forget what is interesting about that. Thanksgiving outside of America...
Here are some remembrances from Uganda Thanksgivings past...that I think are pretty interesting...

**Jeff and I had fish fillet for our first Thanksgiving here. It was at the LakeView Hotel in Mbarara.

**Our second thanksgiving was also in Mbarara...this time I baked pies and took them with us to the LakeView.

**Our first actual turkey to cook in Uganda had such tough meat...we could not even carve it. We both knawed on a hard fought slice for Thanksgiving sake...then gave up and ate pie.

**We watched the same football game on Thanksgiving...three years in a row.

**I finally mastered corn bread stuffing about year 6.

**Our friends, the Chedesters, began hosting Thanksgiving some years back and inviting all the Americans from around.

**We now share the Turkey meal with between 8 and 20 people...some of whom we meet on the day and never see again.


Yesterday's celebration had all the important ingredients...friends, laughter, yummy food, really good coffee and LEFTOVERS!!!
We missed our families in the US, Macy's parade and a current football game...
Nonetheless, our list of Thanks grows longer every year...

I hope your Thanksgiving week is progressing nicely and that the spirit of gratitude remains with us WAY longer than the calories from the pies! :-)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Shhhhh....Mommy's Baking...

I just spent a SILENT hour in the kitchen...

I was alone...

Rolling out pie crusts, mixing up fillings, baking...

Overcome with thoughts of Mam-ma and family...

...Christmas music playing gently in the background.

(deep sigh)

It was divine!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Rejoice!

The Quest is coming!

Faith Quest Uganda has become one of the high points of our year and one of our biggest projects.

This camp for 200 youth from towns all over Uganda requires many ''ducks" to be "in a row". And Uganda "ducks" can be cantakerous sometimes. :-) Sleeping quarters, tents, food, water supply, latrines and covered meeting areas are some of the details to be dealt with over the next weeks.

Our team is up for the challenge and excited about the outcome.

The theme is Rejoice in the Lord. And that is what we plan to do.

Already brilliant things are happening. Two of which are:

Jamie Swift and Ben Wall!

We are thrilled beyond words that these two warriors for God will be leading the Quest with us this year.

We can't wait to see all that God will bring about.

Please pray for these men as they prepare to serve the youth here.

Please pray for safety for all participants: good health, safe travel and NO SNAKES!

Pray for this Faith Quest to bring the youth into a closer relationship with Christ than they have ever experienced before.

Pray for ease of journey through the logistical mire...

Pray for energy, stamina and

His Presence...which we surely don't deserve...but so desperately need.

Here's to the Quest! May our Rejoicing glorify Him and increase the Faith of all!

(PS Many thanks Trisha and Ginger...for sharing your warriors with us...you are champions to me...I wish you were coming too!)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Time for a Plug

The first time I sat in front of the google search page and typed,”Christian Homeschool Curriculum”, I was completely unprepared for the barrage of information to flood across the screen. I read for hours…until the screen blurred and my eyes crossed (not pretty!). I did this research each evening for several days. To no avail really. There were so many ideas and study plans and methodologies and catalogues and opinions. I had no experience with which to filter through or narrow down. I ended my internet search more overwhelmed than when I started. In the years that have followed, I have learned to depend on the recommendations of friends who are also homeschooling.

On our last furlough, my wise, brilliant, stunning friend Jana (☺ you are SO welcome!) recommended a new curriculum many of her friends were using.

It is called My Father’s World and I LOVE IT!!!!

I choose to plug it here, because, while I have enjoyed many of the aspects of programs and curriculums we have used over the years I have never found THE one that fits our family perfectly. Until now.

You see, I am a task oriented list maker. Most curriculum packages are, in essence, really LONG lists. Most curriculum writers include the “disclaimer” which says, “Do NOT expect yourself to complete every activity, blah,blah,blah, choose what is best for your family, blah,blah,blah, no one can complete everything, blah.”
Truth--I’m really not good at the filtering. Despite the writer’s warnings I see before me a list. I start at the top and begin checking stuff off. At the end of the day when the list isn’t complete, I begin gathering discouragement.

Well, that has all changed with this curriculum written by a woman who understands me.

Okay, I know, its not ALL about me. ☺

This curriculum has basically 4 full days of activities--a good combination of read alouds and hands on activities and discussion.

Many of the books are the same as other popular and strong curriculums but they are served in smaller bites.

It is very easy to use for more than one age student.

My kids LOVE the program and the books!

A large majority of our science projects have actually worked!

It was HALF the cost of the previous curriculum we were using.

And at the end of every day there are more checks on the list than not!

Everybody wins.

Check it out at www.mfwbooks.com

Tell them Cheryl sent you. ☺

Monday, November 13, 2006

Smooth Sailing

Tarmac.

Black,sticky tar. Crushed gravel.

I just plain love it.

For nine of our years in this country, the road to medical care, fellowship, groceries, pizza and ice cream wasn’t even paved with good intentions…

It was dirt. Rutted. Pitted. Narrow. And dusty.

Unless it was raining. And then it was muddy. Rutted. Pitted. Narrow. And slick.

Our trips to the capital city from our small town took 5 and ½ to 6 hours, then. Hard hours. That left us utterly spent, covered in dust and exhausted.

Not so, anymore.

Trips to Kampala take three and a half hours. On smooth tarmac road.

Delightful.

I haven’t ridden the road once without an overwhelming sense of amazement. Covering ground minus the bone jarring bumps and dangerous curves.

It is a gift.

As with most good things in the third world…they are temporary. The heroic men who laid the road have gone. And will not be maintaining it. The huge overstuffed lorries will continue to roll. And eventually, the potholes will develop.

But, in this moment…the road to good things is a smooth one. And that is a precious blessing.

Three things (of a very long list) that I will never take for granted after this jaunt into the third world:

1. Time with family
2. Hot baths
3. Paved roads

Catching Up

My feet are up. I’ve just enjoyed a late afternoon cup of coffee. The warm brew has cut the chill in me. It has rained hard again.

We returned from our trip to the capital of Uganda, yesterday. The effects of our trip were deposited in our entry hall and have just been put into their places. All groceries have been unloaded. And three loads of laundry are in process...

I neglected to take the correct adaptor for my power cord on our journey, so spent FIVE days fasting from the internet. FIVE.

I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. But I read some books. Took some naps.

I have to say it. I am better for it.

But now I am back. And happy to be so.

I’ve missed you.

Hope your week was a great one!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Complaining Grace

Grace: "The free and unmerited favor of God as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings."

A week ago I read a devotional from Elisabeth Elliott who had taken on a great challenge. She, following the example of a friend, had committed to NOT COMPLAINING for 14 days.
(long pause)
My. My.
I pondered this inspirational and holy ideal. I pondered complaints.

There IS that scripture over in Phillipians that always makes me squirm.
"Do everything without complaining or arguing..."
True Confession...when I read this verse I think.."EVERYTHING? Really?!?!?!"
(Hmmmm...I must make God so HAPPY sometimes.)

I began to pay attention. To the complaints that I commonly utter. The statements. The grumbles. The huffs. (Oh man! Surely those don't count?!?!)
It seems...this complaining thing...is a pretty large chunk of my coversational repetoire.
What's up with that?
I typed up a commitment statement for a 14 day fast from complaints.

And then...I chickened out. Totally. I was sure that removing the complaints would be...impossible. Or, at the very least...extremely difficult.

Here are the circumstances that immediately followed the chickening out:
*our two year old had a mysterious random fever that kept us awake for many nights on end;
* I suffered from a doozy of a migraine that landed me in bed for a whole day;
*I had a bundt cake disaster that ruined a special birthday surprise for a friend;
*the two youngest Cashes were afflicted with the WCIAAM (whining, crying, "It's all about me!") virus;
*I was run off the road three times by a huge bus on a very narrow passage in Ft Portal town;
* and a sudden discovery of completely bone dry,empty water tanks, that upon examination, received a "can't be fixed for a few months" diagnosis.

At every painful moment...that verse played LOUDLY in my head..."Do EVERYTHING without complaining...."

And I submissively replied, "REALLY?!?!"

Complaints were popping up everywhere. My speech. My thoughts. My prayers.

I recalled my thwarted commitment with a furtive glance. And a twinge of guilt. Can I live in this third world full of inconsistencies and irritating surprises and...not complain?

Here is what happened...

*Our two year old benefitted tremendously from much alone time with Mom;
*I became very aware of how INCREDIBLE my head feels...I never think about that until the days after a migraine when the pain and fog have disappeared;
*my generous friend delighted in my crumbly cake and loved me anyway;
*kids are still whining...but maybe if I stick with this committment...they'll quit modeling MY complaining...
*that Kalita bus full of people got prayed for alot
* our water pipes were repaired in record time (two hours!). Our tanks are filled again.

Now, most of those are good things. Undeserved things.

And with a sheepish duck of the head and deeply guttural sigh I realize--

Grace. Pure and simple.

How does He do this?! So often. For me. In these minute aspects of my vapor of a life.

His Goodness...amidst all my...ummm...not-so-goodness.

(very long pause)

So considering all the complaint uttering and grace outpouring going on around here... I would like to ammend my previous commitment with a repentant heart and deep desire to redirect this complaining energy:

"I, Complainer Extroidainaire, do hearby, kneel before my Maker and ask for Your Holy Spirit to go to work on me. In this dark corner...where I complain. I ask, that You, with unbelievable patience and consistency will remove my tendency to complain. And replace it with a tendency to bless. To pray for. To forgive. To give thanks.

I openly acknowledge the enormity of Your task. And apologize sincerely for my obstinance and inability to... well...get this right.

Forgive me already...and help me be willing to offer the same..."

Amazing Grace. I need it every day.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Warm and Cozy




It’s THAT time of year again!!!! I broke out the décor yesterday and it looks lovely. Fall. I know it is happening in yonder parts. And it warms my heart like a hot mug of apple cider warms the body.

I love this time of year in the US. The sweaters, the boots, the jackets. Football games, stew and cornbread, holidays.

We miss all that here. Outside, it is equator warm. Eighty degrees or so. There are no changing leaves. No American football. And turkeys are weird animals no one would dream of eating.

But inside these walls, there are fall leaves sprinkled on our tables, a cornucopia on the buffet and pumpkins (fake ones) adorning shelves, nooks and crannies. You could even watch a football game--all-be-it a video from 1989!

We, the Missionary Family, have feet planted here, minds remembering there. No matter where we are. A part of us will always be somewhere else too.

It’s not a burden. It’s a blessing. A life rich with diversity and new ideas. New experiences. Old traditions. All interweaving into an existence more unique than I ever dreamed.

Happy Fall! May it bring you many warm and delightful memories wherever you are!

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Sweet Moments

I was laying in bed this morning trying to decide how long I could linger under my cozy blankets, when I heard the pattering of footsteps and giggly whispers outside my door.

In marched my young ones with a tray of breakfast for Mom.

Warm baked oatmeal, hot cinnamon milk and a glass of juice. Served on a fish tray.

The food was delicious. The juice was delightful. The presentation was priceless.

My cup truly overflows.

Back on Track

Comments are up and running on my side! Many thanks Nameless Blogger Engineers!

And as to my blogging faux paus. I used the word "missionary" in a comment. (My ONE moment of rebellious offense...the word "missionary.") It is a sensitive word in some parts of the globe. I was commenting to a person who lives in such parts.
I thought I used it in reference to myself...but I can't remember. Anyway...OOPS! The comment has been deleted, so I think all is well in my corner of Blogworld again.

Hope all is well in yours....

Saturday, October 28, 2006

No Comment

Comments and I aren't tracking today.

I've been trying to read your responses to my blogs...and an error page emerges instead of your smiling faces and words of wit and wisdom.

Apparently my blog has a "comment issue" that unnamed "blogger engineers" are working to resolve.

Hmmmm....

All happening on the day I received my first comment reprimand. It was kind. But, it seems, I wrote offensive material in a comment on someone's blog...

Well....you KNOW how I can be....:-)

I think, for now, I will go and soothe my comment woes with an icy coke from my freezer.

Sigh...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Bless You

I've been reading some meanderings from New Babyville...several of my friends are currently maneuvering through those early months of infant care...and it has spurred many thoughts.

The most predominant of which is..."We need to speak blessings...."

Those first few months of caring for a newborn are...monstrous. Every time. And to be honest...we DO forget. We move on through toddlerhood, potty training and school days and we forget those first early months. Once our turn has passed...we view our friends and their new teeny ones with awe and radiance:
"Babies are sooo cute!!"
"She is so blessed to be able to cuddle with that newborn!"
"These days pass all too quickly!"

And while Mom of New Baby agrees with the blessing of the bundle in her arms... the actual reality of her current circumstance is...the days of caring for infants can seem to drag unendingly...(and a chorus of tired AMENS echo across blogland...)

So, dear sisters...staying at home...nursing in the wee hours of the morning...staring at piles of laundry...wondering where the day went and what exactly you have accomplished...

I am amazed by you and all those who have gone before you. The diapering, nursing, bottles, sleepless nights, hall walking, rocking, tummy soothing, schedule keeping, fever checking, laundry doing folks.

You are amazing. The job you are doing astounds.

And in case you haven't heard it today...Thank you. For doing all you do and for forgiving yourself for all that you can't quite get to today.

You are effecting the world...by loving on that little one. He/she will be better able to cope, thrive and change their world because of the daily care you give them. Even when no one else sees.

Be sure...He sees. And He smiles on you. The tasks that receive no laud or attention...are honored by Him.

His Hands applaud you mightily.

...He does also see our mistakes. But don't fear. He has gentleness for you. (Sigh)

In a world full of unbelievable expectations and demands...Your Father offers His gentleness.

Accept it and rest in it...when you are exhausted...and past your limits...

Know that He waits to draw you in...to rest. He knows you need it. You are His child. Forever and for always.

So today...in prayer... I bless you with laughter to get you through those moments no one should realistically be able to get through...
I bless you with a nap...be it ever so short or blissfully long...be it your own or that two year old adjust ing to a new baby in the house
I bless you with satisfaction in a truly difficult and strenuous job
I bless you with rest...in your spirit as you hold that little miracle.

Blessings upon blessings friends....I am proud of you!

Missing Peace

I've been struggling with worry the last few days. There is an issue I just haven't been able to let go of.

Funny thing about worry...it makes you lose your mind. No solutions. Just a fire hydrant spray of problems.

Here's what I've just been challenged with:

"He will keep in perfect peace
He whose mind is steadfast
Because his trust is in you." Isaiah 26:3

I long for perfect peace.
But forget to keep my mind steadfast...
Where is my trust?

I have to be proactive...in this battle of the mind.

And set it somewhere sure. Trustworthy. Right.

Then I'll always know where to find it.

"Since then you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." Colossians 3: 1-2

Help me, Father to set my mind (and heart) with You. Every morning. Every night. And all those hours in between. I've practiced another way. And need to change that habit. Forgive me for not obeying your command to not worry and to cast my cares on You. Thank you for being willing and so very Able to carry all that rattles unnecessarily in my brain. Thank you for showing me a better way.
I need you Lord. Every day. All the time.
In Jesus I pray...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

On Radiators...Fish Eyes...and the Internet

Hitting the Highlights:

3. Our internet quit last week just as our power became more reliable...bummer. But as we returned from our Game Park excursion today...we found the interent working well again.
I have just spent some delightful hours perusing blogs...and now have a brain full of thoughts to mull over and enjoy.

2.Fish eyes...our dear four year old...amazed,astounded and somewhat disgusted our visiting companions by eating the fish eyes out of Jeff's lunch today. Isaac's analysis, "Yummy!....But now they can't ever SEE anything again!"

1. Radiators...The one on our Hilux pickup died today. Unfortunately, well before we reached our gate. Jeff and Billy waited with the vehicle on the side of a dirt road...(and by waiting I mean...pulled the broken radiator--way to go boys!) while Ronald scurried about Ft Portal gathering mechanics, tools and a working radiator. Ronald managed to rent...(read: talk one of his friends with a matching Hilux to pull his properly functioning radiator from his properly functioning car and RENT it to us for one day) a radiator and rushed it with our mechanic to Jeff and Billy who watched as our mechanic tied in the radiator with Sisal rope :-)

It worked. Remarkably. And everyone is now home. .J and B are tired...Brenda and I are too (at one point I think we had decided fixing the radiator would have been the sweeter deal...we ended up driving home with all the kids in one car...)
The scrambled eggs,waffles and smoothies have been consumed...the kids are finally quiet and our pillows are calling us.

The rented radiator...to be returned tomorrow.

Unbelievable!

Monday, October 09, 2006

I Married Courage

We met by mistake. A guy he had just met...mistook me for another girl. And in the embarrassing moment that followed...Jeff Cash entered my world for the first time.

We talked for 30 minutes tops. And then we walked away. This is what I thought:

1. That guy LOVES Africa.

2. I'm not interested in dating him.

3. He has a very unique faith.

4. He has guts.

Well. It is now 14 years later. I've been Mrs. Cash for 13 of those years. Somewhere along the way...I changed my mind about #2. But all the other first impressions still stand.

When you live with someone for awhile...you begin to see all that they aren't and all that they are.

And one thing my husband is...is Courage.

I have never met anyone that can rival the guts that exist in this man. Trips to the Congo, ferry flights across continents, relief work in the rebel crisis, walking away from salary, walking up to strangers and talking about his God, challenging crowds and mobs,standing by his dreams and convictions even when the outcomes seem bleak ...His courage has and continues to... significantly rock my world.

I sit where I sit tonight...serve where I serve today...know and experience the nation around me....

Because Jeff didn't fear. Or quit. Its just not in him to do so.

Happy Birthday Fearless One.

Just what does God have in store for you next?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Name Them One By One...

Milano Cookies.

A trunk full of easy American meals.

Jacob's cute-isms (Kobe! Kobe!)

A working generator.

Safe travels all around.

Hannah's story in 1 Samuel.

The word "benign".

A "flood-less" week. :-)

Anticipating a long Birthday chat with my sister. (Happy Birthday Reeser!)

I'm filled with thanks for these...

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Let the Games Begin

Saturday morning Kinley ran into our bedroom to announce that "there is water EVERYWHERE in the kitchen!" Now in Kinley language that could mean "spilled on the table". I didn't feel very concerned. Just irritated that the first thing I would do for the morning would be mop up a spill.

As I staggered, bleary eyed into the kitchen I discovered that "everywhere" in fact meant "EVERYWHERE!"

Seems our industrious two year old plugged up both sinks, turned on the water and skidaddled...for quite awhile. There was one inch of water covering the entire kitchen floor and one drawer (the one nearest the sinks) was FULL of water.

Lake Silas was not to be constrained to the kitchen, however. A tributary found its way to Daddy's office....one lovely little stream running through every briefcase, backpack and stack of papers to the....power strip, transformer and electrical wires. All plugged in. Oh. My. Goodness.

I LOVE to wake up and panic. It really gets those juices flowing.

I gingerly unplugged and mopped...salvaged and dried.

With many little moppers on hand...we had the kitchen dried after about an hour. An hour.

Whew.

Apparently this was only the beginning. Since the Kitchen Flood, Silas has been keeping busy. He has dumped and trailed a box of Rice Krispies from the kitchen cabinet to the floor of the living room, poured a full pitcher of lemonade on the table and filled several cups with juice and restacked them into the cupboard (only discovered when a trail of ants led the way). He has gorged on Tootsie Rolls (3 or 4 in his mouth at once)...dropped almost every AA battery we had BEHIND the freezer, and harrassed his siblings mercilessly. This morning during Bible class I discovered the smiles and giggles were not results of my delightful story telling...but instead were directed at Silas...emptying the diaper bag out behind me, throwing each item into the air.

Don't even get me started on naps and bedtimes.

It seems we are passing through another phase...one that demands Mom's keenest wit and sharpest thought.( Any idea where I could pick those up? I've misplaced what used to be mine...)

We are working our way through the discipline genre...timeouts, priveleges taken away, toys taken away and even swats. Nothing is getting his attention though...

So I resort to the ever satisfying...never effective method of...

Shouting his name...

"SILAS RYAN!!!"

My wits may have gone the way of my pre-pregnancy jeans...but I will never lose the Motherly gift of double naming my children...

For some reason...it grabs at least one moment of attention...and at this point in the game...I'll take whatever I can get.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Reality

Have you ever had a gun held to your chest? Or soldiers mad at you, following you....calling for your death?
Have your children hid under their beds...in dead electricity transformers...or in ceilings... to escape the AK-47's and pangas (machetes) brandished by those who hate them....simply because of their tribe?
Have you ever moved three times in a year in order to evade and avoid slaughter?

Kibi has. All of the above.

Life in Eastern Congo is quite beyond my understanding. Extreme Anger. Evil Unchecked. Death.

Today we reunited with Kibi and his wife.They arrived in Ft. Portal after two days of travel. She is suffering from what sounds like ulcers and gall stones. She has been in physical distress for a long time. And has one more day of travel to get to a hospital that can help her. She fears the surgery, but can no longer abide the pain.

Kibi, Angelika and their children were faithful members of the church here for several years. They were refugees from Congo and together we dreamed of furthering His Kingdom in their home place. For about two years Angelika and I would meet to study. Kibi had to translate for us. And over time our study grew to include other Congo refugees and all of Angelika's children. I would share a lesson. Then we would sing.

The glorious sound of Congolese voices. Those folks can lift the rafters (or mabati roof as the case may be!) They revolutionized our worship as a church. And the Swahili and Lingala songs they taught us are still favorites.

That was two babies ago for me. And, what probably seems like a lifetime, of fear, panic, physical suffering and loss for her.

Yet, today, again, we sat in a living room here in Ft Portal...listened to promises of hope and faithfulness from our King and sang... of our need, our love...His Ableness.
We also shared in prayer. Derrick, Jeff and I prayed for her. She prayed for us.

She and Kibi shared of their horrors. And God's Hand...protecting them even up to now.
They spoke of their Savior. The prayers that have protected and prolonged their lives. And His sustaining embrace.

Nothing like a huge dose of real world to set my attitude in place. When I came home...I held my children tighter. Praised God for the security of our last few years. And decided that power outs and the complications those involve...really don't matter at all.

Angelika would be blessed by your prayers. Please pray for her physical healing. Pray for her children waiting for her in Congo. And pray for courage.

Please also pray for Eastern Congo. We have an Enemy, friends. And he isn't Congolese.
He is Hate. And Lies.
Love and Truth...destroy all he sets about to do.
Our true reality is that Our Hero stands ready. To redeem whatever crisis or evil we choose or fall victim too. He is always watching...always caring...always there.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Fixin' Up

We are feeling quite accomplished. In the last week we've (and by we, I mean Jeff) repaired three generators...our television...and set up inverters to run a few lights and electronics.

In the amazing spirit of all Americans...we've given ourselves OPTIONS! Choices!

At least, for the time being.

We haven't nailed the internet yet. It clicks off and on over and over as we blog and email...making for many happy moments.

We discovered the source of the problem though. Seems 7 spans of phone wire were stolen between here and Kampala. That's alot of wire. And makes connecting...ummm...impossible. It seems the phone fairies have been at work...because we have the connection back.

I love it when something broken gets fixed. I think I have a running repair list in my head. I don't even realize its there until I can remove something from it. I feel a definitive release of burden.

So the generators are running, the inverters are set up, the television works again....and the internet is surfable for the moment.

We've done great with the electronics.

Now, can someone tell me how to keep a two year old in his bed?

Sunday, September 24, 2006

A Moment to Praise

The dirt on the floor rises in puffs under the shoes of every person who passes.

The wooden shutters slam randomly in the wind.

The Rutooro praise song sounds above the chickens calling to each other outside.

In the air are the scents of curry and onions being cooked nearby, dirt, and unwashed bodies.

The songs flow one after another. Rutooro, Runyankore, English, Swahili.

"Hakuna Mungu kama wewe."

Ugandan voices sound loudly next to me. Accompanied by the sweet voice of my six year old.

"Tunasema Asante. Tunasema Asante. Tunasema Asante. Wewe Mungu Wangu."

Someimes, even after these many years, a moment hits me.

I am in Africa.

And it feels like home.

The adjustment here is continual.

And often excruciating.

But, today I gave deep thanks.

Praising Him Who brought us here... keeps us here... works despite us, here.

Asante.

Webale.

Thank you.

You Are My God.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Monday, September 18, 2006

Contented Sigh...

The power is on today...and it makes me so happy.

Just thought I'd share.

Anything making you happy right now?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

I'll Play!

Book Tag...

BOOK THAT CHANGED MY LIFE (BESIDES THE BIBLE):
The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom (Faith at work when it was really, really HARD!)
The Savage my Kinsman by Elizabeth Elliott

BOOK I'VE READ MORE THAN ONCE
Talking Dirty with the Queen of Clean by Linda Cobb
(I have taken Sharpie black ink of my walls thanks to this dear woman!)
and everything by Dr. Suess

BOOK I WOULD TAKE WITH ME IF I WERE STUCK ON A DESERT ISLAND
Surviving on a Desert Island by Jeff Cash (yet to be written!)

BOOK THAT MADE ME LAUGH
I'm a Stranger Here Myself by Bill Bryson

BOOK THAT MADE ME CRY
Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
and everything by Nicholas Sparks

A BOOK I WISH I HAD WRITTEN
How to Repair Power Lines in Third World Nations

A BOOK I WISH HAD NEVER BEEN WRITTEN
Stephen King novels...TOO SCARY!!!

BOOK I'VE BEEN MEANING TO READ
Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster
Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller
anything by CS Lewis

BOOKS I'M CURRENTLY READING
Authentic Faith by Gary Thomas
Creative Correction by Lisa Welchel (great ideas! and funny!)

OTHER FAVORITES
Black, White, Red series by Ted Dekker
Wisdom Hunter Randall Arthur
Brotherhood of Betrayal Randall Arthur
Mark of the Lion Series Francine Rivers
Strong Women Soft Hearts Paula Rinehart

If your name starts with Lori Clark (this is the third time you've been tagged...come on...play!!!) Patty, Jeff, Lulabelle or Homer....Your It!

Can You Hear the Trumpets?

Trumpets are fantastic instruments. Some of my best friends in High School played the trumpet.
And they played them well!
Trumpets can be jazzy, melodic, mournful, powerful and LOUD!

From my friend Kristine, I read this on trumpets today:
"I love the story in Nehemiah about the Jews rebuilding the wall in Jerusalem. ...Nehemiah told them, 'The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there. Our God will fight for us!' Neh. 4:19-20
You are standing along the wall in Uganda, and we are manning our post here in Tyler, TX. Even though we are widely separated along the wall, we are always listening for the sound of your trumpet, and we join you there in prayer. Our God will fight for us!..."

Today I sound the trumpet--a call to prayer for:

Three plots of land.

And the dreams of a small town church.

In Tooro culture, the purchase of land and any construction...are accompanied with an Expectation.

Many Batooro people believe that land is controlled by spirits.

Spirits of ancestors who are buried there.

Spirits the owners and previous owners have appeased and called on for generations to allow the construction and inhabiting of the property.

This belief, while foreign to most Western mindsets, is a core belief for the people to whom we minister and serve with.

Early this week, Jeff, Ronald and Dick gathered in Advocate Chambers with lawyers to finalize the purchase of three plots of land.

The day after the purchase Jeff, Ronald and Dick along other leaders of our church gathered on the land to celebrate the conclusion of a very complicated purchasing process...

And to enter a Throne Room.

To ask our King. The One true God. The Lord of Lords. To reign supreme.

In our hearts, our World View, and our church family.

In an overt act of Faith, these 12 Ugandan men praised the One Who continues to challenge and transform their lives.

Not the spirits they have been taught to appease.

Will you pray with us?

That on this land a tabernacle will exist. A place to honor our King.

That no Golden Calf will misdirect our attention.

But that our worship and communion will honor HIm Who is Worthy.

Both now, and forevermore.

Please praise HIm too!

He has given us a great gift with this land.

We are so thankful!

To God be the Glory!

Monday, September 11, 2006

We Remember



God Bless America.

Dear Father,

We need You Oh so Much.

Deserve You Oh so Little.

Seek You, Anyway.

Because You are our Hope.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Something to make you smile...

In school today, Isaac and I were learning about and discussing the color red.

As we colored his red apples...I asked, "What else is there that is red?"

He immediately replied, "Target!"

:-)

That's my boy!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Tent Dwellers

I was never a camping kind of gal.
I did it.
Knew what it was about.
But it never was my thing.

So, when it came time to marry, I choose an Oregonian Eagle Scout who thinks, no, BELIEVES...camping is synonomous with living. The outdoors-the only real place to be. Tents-the best things in the world. (sigh)

When his brothers asked us what we wanted for a wedding gift, Jeff chose a tent. An REI dome tent (now lovingly referred to in our family as" The Kickin' Tent".)
And though I am not the tent connoisseur like my hubby, I have to agree that our tent is cool.

Much to my surprise (and my husbands!) I have become quite a great camper. I can sleep on the ground, pee in the bushes, cook over a fire and set up a tent!

It's funny.

At one point in my life, I actually agreed to be a Full-Time Tent Dweller.
When we moved to Uganda we brought a three room tent. We were going to live in it while we bought land and built a house.
We never ended up living in the tent though.


I've been thinking about all this tent stuff because of a recent Bible study.
Our Biblical predecessors, the Old Testament ones, were well aquainted with tents.

Sarah. All the Israelites traveling with Moses. Jael.

Jael.

Jael's isn't a very popular story.
For obvious reasons.

We teach on Sarah-and we focus on her willingness to follow her husband. (and to live in a tent!)
We teach on Rahab-we focus on her declaration that God is God.
We teach on Mary-and we focus on her submission to God's difficult and BLESSED call on her young life.

But what in the world do we focus on in Jael's story?


Jael married into a family that had a history with Moses. They were in-laws. Distantly.

Jael was married to Heber. Heber was a descendent of Hobab. Hobab was Moses brother-in-law. (Hobab was a guide for the Israelites in the desert. You know. The wanderings and grumblings.)

So, Jael probably heard many stories around the campfire.

At the time of Jael's story the Israelites had ticked God off yet again. And they were currently sold into the hands of King Jabin and his "cruelly oppressive' army commander Sisera.

Jael's husband, Mr Heber, had pitched his tents in an area where the Israelites were living,but was buddy-buddy with King Jabin, and still had distant connections to the late Moses.

It's a messed up world.

If you don't believe that. Ask Deborah.

She was The Judge. The Go To Lady. All the Israelites brought their problems to her and she heard their cases and made decisions. Sound like a fun job?

She apparently did it very well. And was very wise.

You gotta know she heard stories about Sisera.

Deborah wrote a song, later on, and she describes how Sisera's Mom expected and accepted Sisera's behaviors.

"Where is my son?"
"Are they not dividing the spoils?....a girl or two for each man...colorful garments for Sisera...colorful garments embroidered...for my neck...?"

Sisera is known as a warrior who ravages, kills, takes the loot and the women.

Fast forward through history and you see this story repeated.
Currently it is the excruciating truth of Congo. Sudan. Northern Uganda.
Warriors who take women as "the spoils".
This behavior creates many problems.
For everybody.


Deborah had received a command from the Lord that Barak (Israelite Army commander) was to attack Sisera. And that the Israelites would win. Finally.

Sweet relief. Salvation. Praises?

Not exactly.

Barak balked. "I will NOT go, if you don't go with me!"

Deborah scolded and said, "Okay. I'll go with you. But because of the way you are handling this, Sisera will be given to the hands of a woman."

Hmmmm...

So the battle ensues. The Israelites led by belligerant Barak are in fact wiping out the bad guys.

Sisera's men were suffering and falling to the sword.

Men who had obeyed Sisera's ruthless commands. Carried out his oppressive orders. Fought for him for years.

And brave warrior, honorable soldier and loyal brother that he was...

Sisera ran. Abandoned his chariot and ran.

He found a tent, got a drink and went to sleep.

His men were dying.

Sisera snoozed. Exhausted.

But not before he told a woman to stand guard for him. A woman.

Maybe not a wise choice.

Jael was the hostess.

She, of course, knew who Sisera was. And what he was about.

Remember, Jael's hubby was King Jabin's buddy. (King Jabin=Sisera's boss)

Sisera thought Heber's tent would be a safe place.

I don't think Jael was happy to see him coming.

I know if Mr. Cruel was loping towards my tent flap me and my "woman-ness" would find a place to hide.

Not Jael. She went out to meet him and welcomed him in.

It was obvious he had been in battle.

And obvious that he was running.

He asked for water. She gave him milk.

Showed him where to rest.

Tucked him in.

And drove a tent peg through his temple. Pinning him to the ground. Dead.

It was God's will that Sisera and his army be destroyed that day. Not Jael's will. Or Deborah's.

God's.

Now, I know Deborah knew that.

But, who told Jael?

I don't know.

She is honored as a hero none-the-less.

Deborah calls her "Most blessed of women...most blessed of tent dwelling women."

This phrase, "most blessed of women..." is repeated later to describe Mary the mom of Jesus.

No small praise, this phrase.


Did Jael know Sisera's army was destroyed?
Did she kill him because he was obviously deserting?
What would her husband say?
King Jabin?
Was she afraid for herself and the other women in her camp?
Had Sisera hurt her before?

The answer?  We don't know.

It doesn't say.

Just tells us the story and says Jael is blessed.

Maybe, Jael isn't the main point.

Evil men. Rebellious people. Brutal murder.

God. The Holy Contradiction in a very, very dark place.

God. Still watching in the days of intense rebellion.

Take a stroll through the book of Judges someday. If you can stomach it. NOT a pretty Bible story here. Just grief. And hurt. And ugliness.

And God.

Still watching. And acting. And hearing the cries of His children.

There are some common messages in my processing throught these Old Testament women studies.

1.God ALWAYS sees. And when He acts, it is deliberate and decisive.

2.Don't mess with God's people. (not just the Israelites anymore....) Even when they are being stupid. They are God's. And He is watching.

3.God adores women. And chooses, throughout the Old Testament, to REDEEM the lives of those who are not worthy(according to His own law). Rahab, Tamar, Bathsheeba, now Jael (she is called Blessed!) As if to show us,"THIS is what I have in mind, folks. Redemption. Not perfection.

4. God, so often, chooses surprising vessels to fulfill His purpose, here, a non-Israelite woman.

I'm left with this:

God's faithfulness is Amazing. His compassion and desire to be good to us, unfathomable.
He keeps His promises, even when He is mad.

And.

Be Nice.

You may need to rest in someone's tent someday. Be sure your kindness precedes you. Or else keep an eye on their tent pegs.

And what we have seen on this Earth does not compare to what awaits.

Mercy beyond comprehension. Justice for those who've chosen their own way.

God help us all!

(Bible story taken from Judges 4-5)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Passages...

Today, we took down the bed.

The baby crib.

For the first time in 8 years....it isn't being used.

I thought it might be emotional.

But, I had alot of helpers on hand...and I spent most of the memorable moment trying to keep Silas' fingers from being pinched.

So, its gone now. The bed I prayed over so often. Prayers for healing from fevers...prayers for comfort in teething...prayers for protection and safety...prayers for Faith and submissive hearts...FERVENT prayers for more sleep :-)...

And I don't feel sad.

I've LOVED our babies. Having them and cuddling them. Changing them and singing to them. Teaching them and watching them. LIving through, surviving and thriving through their "baby-ness" has been the fulfillment of one of my deepest dreams.

I am so thankful for the generosity with which God gave these into our home.

And for the years God has given us to continue knowing them more.

Passage...

On to the next!!!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Superheroes



I don't know what I ever did without them. My Superheroes.

They can:
climb walls
destroy evil
see through concrete
breath under water
sword fight like Knights
box like Ali
protect their Beauty


and they are even sprouting fins :-)



They are Shark Boy. Lava Girl. Spiderman. Superman. Cowboys. Knights.

Good Guys.

Always.

They are brave. And inspiring.

"Mom, today we are Supers who fly around the world to tell people about God."

Yep.

Brave. And inspiring.

My Heroes.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Scintillating...

"Brilliantly and excitingly clever or skillful;"

It is dinner time. Mom has the day's finish line in her sights. Soapy, wet kids are at various stages of the prep for bed ritual. Voices, speaking all at once...shout through the house....then congregate at the table...

Mom: "Dinner's ready!"

"I'm still in the bath!"
"Silas keeps taking my pajamas-"
"I'm getting my clothes on..."
Shreek....squeel...."Siiiiiiillllllaaaaasssss!!!!"

Mom:"Come to the table!"

"Siiiiilllllaaassssss!!!!"

Mom:"DINNER! NOW!"

"sit down Silas"
"I want apple juice!"
"Mom, I don't really like chicken."
"Oh yeah...I forgot...Thanks Mom for the chicken."
"Can we have coke?"
"How about Sprite?"
"where's my appah joos?"
"I don't like 'chini"
"It's zuchini."
"Yeah. Dat. I don't like it."

Mom: "who wants to pray?"
Silas: "MEEEEEEE!!!!"

"sear God...tank oo food...tank oo fwogs...Mom, Dad. Kinney. Ahex.Isaac. (pause) AAAAAMMMMEEENNNN!!!!"

"You get me cake!"
"sit down."
"how many chairs are in this room?"
"1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,....6,7,8."
"Yeah....8."
"More than 2."
(Silas singing) "Haaappyyy Birthday dear Mommmy....now bwow da canduls!"
"Kinley has more"
"who can finish first?
"ready...go"
silence
"Gold!"
"Silver!"
"what's the third one Mom?"
"Metal?"
"Bronze."
"Isaac's bronze."
"I WANT to be gold."
"Kinley's gold...she was first."
"I WANT TO BE GOLD!"
"you are bronze."
"Bronze is good Isaac."
"okay."
"my hand is sticky."
"done, Mom"
"can I be excused."
"can I have chocolate?"
"do we HAVE to take medicine tonight?"
"Chocolate? Mom?"
'This chicken is good!"
"Why can't we have chocolate?"
"Silas, sit down."
'Done MOMMM!!!!"
"Thanks Mom"
"You are the best cooker ever!"


(smile)
What did you talk about at dinner last night?

100 and counting...

By my count, this is post number 100. I was trying to think of some great thing to write about for number 100.

Like...

100 things I like to eat

or

100 people I love and adore (Of course YOU would be on the list!)

100 reasons I'll not fly British Airways :-)

100 ways to cook a a chicken

100 reasons why I should never sew

100 of my favorite recipes

or my top 100 favorite songs

But,that's alot of things to think of and read.

100---is a big number.


I wasn't very sure about the whole blog scene in the beginning. That vague, elusive INTERNET thing was pretty far removed from our Africa oasis here.
But blogging has become a haven. A resting place. A joy.

Thanks, blog friends, for reading these 100 thoughts, stories, rantings and happenings.

Your encouragement and sharing mean the world to me.


Here's to a hundred more....

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Fiona, Olivia and Asher....

I've just spent half an hour pouring over pictures. New, precious babies. Healthy. Gorgeous. and Finally Here!

One niece.

One friend that feels like family.

And one fellow Uganda MK (missionary kid).

All born to God followers. Into homes where they will know His names. Learn His stories. Hear Him praised.

May the faith of each of your parents be planted firmly into your hearts until the day when you choose for yourself that He Who has always known your name is Everything and Above All.

Welcome new ones! We are so thankful you are here!

And thank you Father. Your Creation is astounding.

"For you created my inmost being;you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;your works are wonderful, I know that full well. " Psalm 139:13-14

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Check Us Out....

Starbucks. Dairy Queen in Tyler. McAllisters. Most Hotel Chains. Airports.

AND......DRUMROLL please......

The Cash House in Fort Portal!


Wireless.

I can't believe it but we are.

Jeff worked very hard to set it up and here I sit. In MY chair. In MY bedroom. In the middle of nowhere Africa. With a wireless connection.

Astounding. It truly is.

Of course it will all be contingent on power supply and the dial up connection we are connected through.

But those details will occupy our minds on another day.

For now we will bask in the thrill of working technology.

It is grand.

Monday, August 14, 2006

WARNING: This blog may contain mild ranting

In light of the current ruckus at airports around the world my recounting below may seem a tad unimportant.

But I have a bone to pick.

And since I am in charge of this portion of web space, I choose to pick that bone here and now.

We have been flying internationally for over 14 years. For the last 11 we have flown British Airways, as a family, 6 times.

On three different occassions we have been chosen as we stand in line at passport checks at Gatwick and Heathrow airports. (On the other three occassions we avoided leaving the secured area so we wouldn't have to face the passport line again!)

You see, BA prints luggage requirements and restrictions on their tickets. (all airlines do)

And in case you were unaware the BA employees in England delight in following those requirements to the letter (or number as the case may be.)

On one of our first trips, before we understood the restrictions, Jeff's carry-on that held his Bible Study books was chosen randomly to be weighed. We were told he would have to check the bag and that we would be required to pay 1500 British pounds for this "assistance". (that's nearly $3000 folks!)
Jeff congratulated the man on being the new owner of a Bible Study library.
The man, apparently not a fan of Bible study, asked us to wait a bit while he could see what he could do to help us. In all of about, um, 5 seconds the helpful friend had decided that we should only pay 50 pounds ($100) for the checked bag.
So after 45 minutes of angst, embarrassment and stress we paid our $100 and boarded the flight.

Fast forward 5 years.

We are traveling back from America with a two yr. old and an infant. I have one diaper bag and a carry on (which, by the by, measured according to regulations.)As we lined up at the passport check we were "chosen" yet again by another helpful BA public servant.
He said that my diaper bag "looked" as if it weighed too much.
"Excuse me?" I said.
He asked to see my ticket and with much joy pointed out in the tiniest of print, that there was a new weight restriction on carry-on baggage.
I think it was 6 ounces.

He gleefully directed me, with my 25 pound one year old wriggling in my arms and my two year old crying in the stroller, to the last aisle of check in counters where I should take care of my "untidy" luggage.

At the counter I became aquainted with Ms. "I'm having a rotten day and I'm going to take it out on you." Another helpful BA employee.
She quickly informed me that I was not only a problem but an annoyance. And that I should learn to pack my bags better. "Don't you read the restrictions on your ticket, dear?"

I emptied my bags of everything of weight (into another bag they just happened to have for sale next to the "your bag is too heavy" racketing counter) until the only things remaining were changes of clothes for the children, diapers, wipes and baby food.
I was still .5 ounces (or something like that:-)) over weight. And my helpful BA friend would NOT budge.

I cried. Threatened breakdown. Had breakdown. Ranted a tad. And spoke with the manager.

Who apologized for the unkind woman. But held stoutly that I remove the .5 ounces.
Out went some baby food with their strong insistence that food for my young ones would be available on the flight.

Too bad my children aren't fans of kidney pie and prune pudding.

Now fast forward 5 more years.

We are traveling with four children. We each have one carry on and Jeff and I have our laptops in backpacks.
We have read the fine print. Measured our bags. Weighed our bags. And stand before the passport check with confidence that we are indeed playing by the rules.
Our passports are cleared and we begin to pass through the narrow door to security.

"Excuse me, Ma'm. May I just check that bag's dimensions?"

Sure! I knew I was okay. No problem. No worries.

Except.

New requirements.

Bags can't measure the numbers in the fine print. They have to fit well INSIDE the numbers in the fine print.

My $300 bag from REI...1 cm too long.

Now in some places there is mercy for Moms.

Not at BA counters.

Moms are synonomous with meat.

The kind BA public servant in my face this time, said I could remove anything from my 1 cm too long bag and put in my backpack. As long as it only weighed 6 ozs. :-)

The line behind me was long at this point and the passport man (also intent on being helpful) begins to point out that over 30 people are waiting on me.

"Open your bag." "What do you need?" "Hurry ma'm!" " Everyone's waiting on you!"

I was feeling the love.

Jeff carried the bag to the check in. I cried. Kinley cried. We cleared security and went to wait at our gate. Every second bringing a new reminder of one more thing I should have grabbed from the bag before we checked it.

I ran out of diapers on the flight. And as I stood washing out Silas' soiled pants in the tiny airplane lavatory (extra clothes in checked bag) I reiterated in my mind again all the reasons I should fly Sabena.

So, faithful blog readers, there you are.

My ranting will now conclude.

I'll end by saying I'm ALL FOR security and following rules. Which is the real rub. I THINK I am following the rules. I TRY to follow the rules. And my bag gets taken anyway leaving me with the embarassment of the "scene".

Ah well....

It looks like my carry on woes may be over.

I sure hope they print those plastic bag dimensions clearly on my tickets.

The Finish Line

We're home. In our house. All thirteen boxes, 6 carry-ons and 6 weary travelers.

We arrived in Ft Portal on Wednesday.

And found things as normal.

Road blocked.

Rat invaded.

Water leak.

Power off.

No phone or internet.

Home sweet home.

(smile)

There is alot of work to be done between now and the official "we're settled" declaration.

But for now I'm just going to catch my breath. Walk off the sprint. And enjoy the Finish Line.

I am glad to be here.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

One Last Time...

We are one hour from our departure to the airport. Today has been our "one last time" day.

We had a bout 3 hours this afternoon and a delightful chauffeur. (Yeah Blake!!!)

Guess where we headed?

Target.

and Taco Bell.

But of course.

Visiting Target was rather emotional for me :-) but we made it through.

With a huge cart full of goodies.

I have now stuffed and packed one last time.

Walked the hallowed aisles of my beloved store one last time.

Eaten Nachos Bel Grande one last time.

Driven on organized paved roads one last time.

And now the only thing left--Starbucks, one last time.

Many, many thanks to Blake P. for graciously being available to us. He made our joy today possible!

Farewell blog friends from this side of the pond. Will connect again when we reach Uganda.

Treasures

I love the silence around me. It is punctuated by the long deep breaths of my sleeping children.

There are towers of black trunks lined along the walls.

My stiff back will not cooperate with my need for sleep, so I sit in this office chair and type willing my shoulders to loosen and my brain to slow down.

I have spent the better part of one week stuffing, folding, compressing, consolidating and arranging.

Stuff. Stuff. and more Stuff.

And now I am tired.

Furlough is over.

I've been trying to put into words the emotions that swirl around me and in me.

The heartbreak of goodbye. The exhaustion of preparing. The joy and praise of the moments I've had. The richness of the memories made. The stress of the process. The anticipation of being back home.

On this eve of our trip back across the ocean I'm reminded--these heavy, stuffed to the brim, boxes and bags do not hold the real treasures I am taking back.

Thank you friends and family for sharing time with us again. You mean the world to us. The lunches, laughs, prayers, dreams, struggles and even the heartbreak point me to my Father. Who can never Quit. Always Sees. And waits longing to be gracious to us.

He is so very good.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Embraced...again

I don't really understand it.

It's not normal, actually.

And its regularity astounds me.

At first, I eyed it with suspicion.

I analyzed it and pondered it's implications.

I investigated agendas and motives.

And...then...I cautiously accepted it.

Hesitantly...on my guard.

Overwhelmed by the obvious authenicity...unsure of its reality.

But now...I'll openly confess....

I've come to depend on it.

Lean on it.

Need it.

Miss it desperately when we are gone.


Our Glenwood church family.

Their love. Their support.

The gazillion hugs and smiles.

The gazillion offers to help...

Food, invitations, gifts....

Prayers.

Precious Glenwood,

Your interest and passion for our friends in Uganda amazes me. Your abounding love for me, Jeff and our kids bolls me over.

I don't know how we ever did this without you.

You are, over and over again, God's sustaining embrace on our family.

Love each other. Passionately. And never, never quit.

I need you now. His work through you continues to hold me up and press me on.

...to the goal...for the prize...

I'm exceedingly grateful to run this race with you.

Who's in Charge Here?

I awoke to Silas' foot in my ribs. (He slept with us AGAIN.) I gazed valiantly at the clock but my bleary eyes would not adjust.

After searching for and finding my glasses, I read "7:30am".

My foggy brain began immediately clicking through the details.

"Jeff--meeting at 10am...Kaylin watching the kids...clothes for the kids downstairs....must be brought up to their rooms...what items to add to the toy bag for the day...remember nap paraphenalia for Silas...forgot to buy lunchables...Whataburger for lunch...order things online...new homeschool curriculum or old?...lists for Alicia...article for bulletin...thank you notes...schedule for evening meal...Jeff should take the van..."

And on my brain tumbled.

Through my coffee, bagel, driving, errands, lunch and phone calls.
Projects, lists and priorities demanding to be processed and attended to.

4:00pm---I sat down to catch my breath, picked up His Message and found myself at these words whispering boldly into my busyness.

"In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,"

"...but you would have none of it."

Um. Ouch.

"...Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion...."

"...Blessed are all who wait for him."

The tender boldness I've come to love and depend on. His Truth. Calling me to be still. Quiet. At rest.

As I slam on the brakes of my day I am reminded that it is,in fact, not all up to me.

I don't have to do it all. I just have to keep the list :-).

And daily offer that list up to the One, Who with one glance, sets every priority into place.

"Be still and know that I am God."

Oh. Yeah. That.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."

Okay.

"And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

So, I face the evening ahead. Guarded. By his peace. Which at last quiets my mind and declares in the silence...

"I am God, precious one. I am God."

(scripture references from Isaiah 30:15,18 and Philippians 4:6-7)

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Hello Out There

My dear blog friends...I miss you.

Our current place of residence is without internet service (but has so many other plusses we can NOT complain!)

We daily enjoy the gorgeous view of a lake. The quiet and stillness of country living. And the blessed joy of having our own place.

So it is NOT all bad.

I have many delightful things to share. I THINK blogs all the time. And sometime soon I hope to have more than five minutes to record my thoughts and ponderings on my little space on the web.

Until then...I think of you often. And look forward to being with you again...

Friday, June 23, 2006

Sweet Time in the Desert

"How can going to the desert quench your thirst in so many ways???" Jana Miller

This sums up my time in Odessa for these 6 weeks. Thirst quenching.

I have loved it.

Every minute.


West Texas gets criticized sometimes. Even by our own.

I am really sorry for that. It makes me sad and I wish it wouldn't happen.

But for the record and in case my last reminiscent posts haven't clued you in :-), I love this place. And it is my prayer that "springs" will continue to rise up from this desert land.

Springs of Living Water to quench the thirst of those desperate for its reviving power.


Thanks Family and Friends for welcoming us and loving us these six weeks. It has been a sweet blessing.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Packing...again

The life of a nomad. Sigh.

It is currently 2 AM. The house is silent except for the clock ticking. My husband, sick with tonsilitis, retired several hours ago.

Our time in Odessa is up. The boxes are out. The U-haul awaits.

I have one whole day ahead of me to gather, find, clean, pack, and shut.

My brain spins madly--details, laundry, space. Where will it all go?

So now, I write this blog and try to train my tumbling thoughts into peaceful silence.

Amidst the brouhaha of lists, plans, cases and stuff I need to sit at His feet. Hear His voice. Rest my head on His knee.

And be reminded. Of why we do all this packing and moving around. (pause)

His compelling gift.

Our extreme gratitude for it. Our desire to tell someone else. Our longing, that is His, for all to accept it.

Can packing be that noble? :-)

Nope.

But He is.

Our "worth it all" King.

Who now calls me to rest for awhile...

Friday, June 16, 2006

Call to Prayer

We received sad news today regarding Richard and Cyndi Chowning missionaries in Benin, West Africa. Cyndi was hit by a moped/motorcycle while in the village, and was thrown against her car. While being treated and stabilized she passed away.

Richard and Cyndi worked in Kenya,East Africa, taught missions at ACU and have served in Benin for the last several years. They are a part of our African missionary heritage and we,as well as all the others who have known them, been encouraged by them or served with them...are deeply feeling this loss.

Please pray for Richard as he makes many hard decisions over the next hours...
Please pray for the missionaries and friends he has in Benin that are ministering to him and serving him during this time...
Pray for Cyndi and Richard's children (they have three) and their grandchildren...
Pray for the churches they minister to in Benin....pray that Cyndi's physical death will bring Glory to her King...
Pray for those you know and the many you don't...who serve on the foreign field...

Mostly, please pray that our Enemy who delights in discouraging will be silenced....and that we will instead be drawn firmly into the comforting embrace of our Hero..where Cyndi also rests now...

I echo my sweet sister Patty..."Maranatha"..."Come Lord Jesus"...
(www.clayinkpot.blogspot.com)

Thank you for praying...

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

R n R

"Recreation and Recovery" :-)







We vacationed in San Antonio with my family last week. It was Seaworld for two days,the Alamo and Riverwalk for one day and a whole lot of good steak, mexican food, and ice cream interspersed throughout.





The kids made MANY great memories.


The adults, now four days later, are mostly recovered from all the fun! :-)



It was really warm (read:stinkin' hot) and we walked alot. Seaworld had great shows and a fun water park. And alot of fish. Big ones that do cool tricks.

After a rather unfortunate experience with Travelodge we landed at a beautiful Holiday Inn with giant rooms and we felt very proud of ourselves for keeping up with my family on the San Antonio freeways that were fraught with construction issues and fast lane changes. We only followed the wrong car once. We were trying to figure out why Wade was headed to Lousiana after a long day at Seaworld but we were dutifully following until a phone call alerted us we were behind the wrong vehicle :-)

It was an adventure capped off at the end with sweet fellowship in San Angelo.

We are left now with the satisfying vacation stories we will repeat for many holidays to come. It's all good!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Amy

It was Day Two of Seaworld.

We had made the steamy hike from the parking lot (if I could only transfer one quarter of that tarmac to Uganda...) and were putting our shoes back on after a run through the water play place--

When I felt someone staring at me.

Oh. My. Goodness.

The shrieks and squeals reverberated through the park!

Amy.

Unbelievable.

My Amy and her boys at Seaworld. At the exact same time as me.

Well. It was only fitting.

We survived summer camp, boyfriends, breakups, trials, heartbreak, finals, chorus tours, college commutes, engagements, weddings, marriages, and pregnancies together.

It was hightime we faced Seaworld! :-)

Amazing how things work out isn't it?

My boys LOVED the sharks. Kinley LOVED the Log Ride and the Water Slides. Silas LOVED the squishy ball Jeff bought him in the gift shop.

I LOVED seeing Amy. What a gift.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Taco Villa

Bean b-e-a-n burrito. Nachos--no peppers. Medium coke with a shot of cherry flavor.

Delicious.

I have had so many meals at Taco Villa in my life. I can't even count them. It was the regular for our youth group. If I thought long enough I could even think of what everyone else used to order.

I love to go there.

I shared alot of secrets, dreams, laughs, moments over beans and nacho cheese.

The arched entry ways. The red bricked countertops. The unmistakeable scent of refried beans, nacho cheese and jalapeno peppers.

Crushes, first love, warm summer nights, dollar movies...

Friends.

It's funny how a place and its scents can take you back.

the Game

In alot of places its just another thing that happens on the weekend. You only go if your kids are actually involved.

And in some places it isn't really very fun. (gasp!)

My first participation was a long time ago. 1970 something.

I remember the lights. The voices around me. The wooden planks we sat on. And the way the black and white looked against the green.

It was pretty impressive. Even to a 5 yr old.

Holding hands. Taking a knee. Prayer. They were in it together.

Young men. Learning how to stand for each other and with each other.

Just kids. Sometimes making mistakes. Sometimes getting it right. But never quitting.


It was (and is) a community gathering.

An event that brings people together.

All cultures have them.


I grew up loving it so much.

In my humble opinion the moment that illustrates all the best of this event took place in Dallas.

The Arlington Game.

We were outsized. We were not expected to succeed.

The odds...the reality...the logic...

All were against us.

But our guys showed up. And we did too. About 22,000 of us.

It was an amazing phenomenon.

The other guys steamrolled our crew. They had it in the bag.

Our young men were tired, beaten, worn down and determined.

34-14 at the end of the third quarter.

34-34 at the end.

We won on penetrations.

It was amazing.


Some folks wonder why the whole town shows up. Why everyone talks about it. Why everyone knows.

Many have evaluated it. A book was written. Opinions abound.

The answer?

Passion? For some.

Love of the game? For most.

Supporting kids? Almost always.

Community? Most definitely.

Black and white against the green.

It is an impressive sight. And still, thirty something years later, it makes my heart pound with excitement.

Something GREAT could happen here. In an unexpected place. In an unexpected way.

Hard work. Determination. Team.

A definitive event for my home culture.

I love it still.

(Go Mojo!)