Thursday, November 13, 2008

The House With the Shiny Sink

I was six months old when it was purchased. Mom says we went to Sears and Roebuck the day of the big move and a Winnie the Pooh stuffed animal was purchased for me. I, apparently, chewed the nose off on the way home from the store.

Our family moved alot through my younger years. I lived in several different houses. But Mam-ma's and Granddaddy's house was always the same.

It was home. For all of us.

I don't know if you've ever had a place of unconditional acceptance and favor. For me, it was 3005 Byron. The door was always open, or I could use the secret key. My favorite ice cream was waiting in the fridge and the remote control was available to command!

Mam-ma and Granddaddy always had time. Time to visit. Time to laugh. Time to re-tell our stories and listen to our tales.

To capture my experiences in their home would take a lifetime of words.

Heritage, I guess. My faith, my confidence, my understanding of family and forgiveness and God...much of it was nurtured and shaped in those walls.

Also, my love of a clean kitchen.

Precious Mam-ma. She LOVED clean. When I was in elementary school, they built on to the house. I remember well all the many discussions of dimensions, and rocks for the fireplace and kitchen cabinet colors (orangey-red!). Mam-ma was thrilled with the outcome and bragged on Granddaddy's generosity.

She was also very happy about the stainless steel sink. I remember her choosing it. It was much better than the off-white enamel of the original kitchen, she said. She oohed and ahhed over the stainless steel and how shiny it was. So CLEAN!

I stood over that sink many, many times. Washing dishes, rinsing dishes, "helping" Mam-ma cook. I loved it when the dishes were done and she would wipe the sink down with the towel. It seems, the stainless steel sink salesman had mentioned that drying the sink would make it last longer. So Mam-ma faithfully dried, daily.

After it shone, she would sigh and say how happy a clean kitchen made her feel. I equated, in my young mind, a shiny sink with happiness and contentment.

She would then, pick up her glass of iced tea, wrap a napkin around the bottom of it and play cards with me at the bar. (NOT a drinking bar, mind you, a BREAKFAST bar!)

Mam-ma would comment on everything. She was funny. Hilarious really. And she was thrilled when we, the grandkids, were around. I felt like that house was for us, somehow. That's how she and Granddaddy made everything feel.

On our furlough, I stayed at Mam-ma and Granddaddy's house for the last time. My family and I slept there. My kids ate at the bar, lounged in the den and looked at all the old pictures with me.

As I loaded up card tables with sale items and tearfully removed photos from the walls, my mind was awash with every comment Mam-ma made about the things around me.

"Come in this house!"
"Come look at these new curtains, Cheryl!"
"Your Granddaddy loves to buy things for me! Isn't that grand?!?"
"I baked a good 'ole cake today! Have a piece!"
"Your ice cream is in the fridge."
"Wash your hands before you cook in my kitchen. My friend wipes her nose with her hands while she cooks. Isn't that awful?!?!"
"Want to play cards?"
"Let me tell Granddaddy you're here. It's hot outside and he needs a break!"
"Will you get that phone for me?"
"Dry the sink up. I want that stainless steel to last!"
"Don't rush off!"


Words that became like breath to me. So secure. So safe.

Mam-ma went Home some years back. Granddaddy struggles through pneumonia as I type. That house, those words...the life of that place will never be the same.

And neither will I.

I don't know if they could ever understand how important they are to me. What a treasure their life and story is to mine. How very effected I am today by these memories.

How very much I want to be holding Granddaddy's hand.

Leaving the house was painful for me, last August. Just like the day we lost Mam-ma, it was the kitchen that drew me in.

I cleaned as Jeff loaded the car. The kids had already left with Nana and Papa and I was thankful for the moment alone. Jeff finished his tasks and seemed a little confused at my time and attention to every detail of a kitchen soon to be renovated or sold.

It felt methodical to me. The washing of the cabinet. It was not my hands I saw. But hers. Granddaddy's generosity. Mam-ma's cooking. The warmth of a home I'll never forget. The place on the cabinet where the cake always sat. The shadowed imprints where the plaques hung abover the sink. The smell of the towel drawer.

The sink.

It was the last thing I had to do. But my tears were pouring on it.

Jeff gently suggested we get on the road. And with grieving determination I breathed in each scent of that precious place. Each sight and memory and word...

I tucked them away.

Dried the sink.

And quietly said goodbye.

The ice cream bowls are in my cabinet now. The ice cream scoop, I now see everyday. The kitchen plaques hang in East Africa on my rented walls.

Just things.

Reminding me, that some of the greatest gifts I've received in this life are not things at all.

Unconditional favor, acceptance, adoration and love...from Mam-ma and Granddaddy. As Grace from God.

And, just as they would expect and be proud of...that is what I have to pour out too.

An open door. Joy. Laughter. Welcome. Funny comments. Great food.

And always, always...

A shiny sink.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I am slowly emerging.

Exhaustion? Yes. It's here.

Culture stress? Yes. Even after 13 years, the subtle nuances and stark contrasts of our culture of origin and the culture we reside in can overpower and fatigue.

Broken hearts over goodbyes?

Joy of hellos?

It all intermingles into something called "Re-entry".

We most often use the term to refer to returning to our original home. But I also think it applies to "re-entering" the third world we reside in for this season of life.

We step from the carpeted passageways of American airports with Starbucks in hand and within 24 hours step out into an entirely different world. No carpet. No Starbucks. But a whole lot of reality.

We have had limited power and very, very weak internet since our return. Our home was overcome with mildew, dust and mold requiring the laundring of every single thing in closets and every piece of linen.
CD and DVD cases that were stored inside wood cupboards were covered with a layer of green mold. Dishes and utensils also had to be scrubbed to remove the layer of mold taking residence on their exterior.
Cobwebs, grime, dust, and the bold scent of mildew permeates the place we need as a haven.

And so I dive in. With rubber gloves. Bleach. White vinegar. Pledge. And my vacuum cleaner (when the power is on). I sweep, mop, dust and clean.

I retire old curtains. Buy new mattresses. Wash and wash and wash sheets and blankets and towels...

Downpouring rains and stifled power supply try to thwart my efforts to reclaim our home...but I labor on.

In the midst of it all...we have to eat. And Taco Bell is VERY FAR AWAY.

My dear teammate and our loving missionary community kept our tummies filled for a full week which saved us all. We've picked up meals on our own now and I'm reminded of how much time must be spent on our food each day in order to have meals and snacks for my children's cavernous tummies.

School must begin. Bags must be unpacked. Ministry demands our constant energy and attention.

And here sits the computer. My link to you.

As always, I have much to share.

Even from furlough...there remains much to say.

And as we have been thrown headlong back into the fray here, I have many thoughts.

Much grace from God to share with you.

But getting all this technology to work takes hours sometimes.
(I am noticing even now that our internet is off before I've published.) And I often cannot take the time to tackle this mountain of technological obstacles in order to publish the thoughts bouncing around in my brain.

Nonetheless, I am emerging. From the goodbyes. From the pain. From the warmth of good memories. From the fog of jet lag. From the life lessons. From the scent of mildew. (smile) From the reality of rotten technology.

Emerging a woman with a clearer understanding of my deep need for Jehovah God.

A daughter who more deeply trusts the Faithful Father who Never Quits.

A warrior wounded yet refined from fiery battle.

I am emerging to continue on.

And do the next thing.

I'm back friends.

And we have so much to talk about!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Early Furlough Impressions

This is an excerpt from my musings during our first weeks of furlough travel. Enjoy!

"Mom, Have You Seen My...?"

Our vagabond days have begun. We missionaries pack up a four bags of clothes and African do-dads, secure tickets and visas and passports and the appropriate immigration stamps. And we fly.

Then we land and can’t sleep well. Children who normally sleep for hours through the night wake up at odd times. And ask for food.

We haul our bodies and bags over time zones and through airports. We hug necks and eat yummy, yummy food. We re-establish connections, hear news we’ve missed, listen with astonishment as newscasters talk and talk and talk and talk and talk…about nothing and everything and opinions and elections…

We are at once blessed and overwhelmed by choices and options. We fight the battle within us that Ice Cream is just there on the corner in that 7 Eleven so why aren’t we eating as much as possible right now. Because it will be there tomorrow. It will be there tomorrow. It will be there tomorrow.

We rejoice at ever Target and savor our first sips of Starbucks. We giggle through chips and queso and delight in daily phone calls to family and friends with good connections.

Jeff says the soft carpet hugs our feet. Water can be taken straight from the tap. Power supply is sure and food is easy.

Time is important. Church is fast. Freeways are huge, well lit and signs direct you everywhere.

People smile when they serve you food. Everyone is doing something most of the time.

Commercials are funny.

And no one in my family can find their underwear without asking Mom first.

I know Mom is the Great Holder of Knowledge. But this is amplified when we start living out of bags.

Vagabonds. And loving most of it.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

"No Hill For a Stepper"

Today’s furlough recap begins with a brief reminder of a story that I have yet to re-tell in its entirety: the Airplane Journey. For this post’s purposes however, I’m going to skip to the end of that story which involves a Cesna 206 that will soon be needing a protective home. My husband has been searching for several years now for a solution to that particular dilemma.

Some months ago, Jeff happened on an airplane hangar for sale on ebay. He began communicating with the seller who turned out to be a Christian very interested in foreign missions. After some amazing and very encouraging interaction, the man decided to donate the hangar to the mission in Ft Portal.

The only issue was how to get a huge double wide hangar across a nation and an ocean.
And then across two more nations.

I guess you could say we had a "mountain to be moved".

“No hill for a stepper,” as my dad used to say.

We started asking for help.

A friend of a friend of a friend….maybe you know this drill. In the church network, it is really incredible who you can find once you start looking. We connected with a gentleman living near (several hours) to where the hangar was located and he agreed to rally the troops at his congregation to get the job done.

When he asked for help at his church, the men there stepped up. Good grief did they ever!

A group of guys, whom we had never met accepted a very difficult challenge. Over a period of two or three weeks, men drove several hours into a desert to measure, clean, power wash, prime, cut, disassemble, label, load and secure a large metal building.

Why?

Because they love Jesus.

The reason was simple. The task was not.

The building was well packed, trucked across the country to Texas and now awaits other items to fill the box before it ships.

Unbelievable. Really.

Free stuff on Ebay.

A team of guys working very hard under difficult circumstances for strangers.

All to the Glory of God.

We honor and appreciate that service and will do all we can to use these offerings for the good of His Kingdom and for His purposes.

You never know how God is going to call you to serve. Or what hill will rise up in front of you.

Many, many thanks to these incredible guys for their labor and service!


We so appreciate you!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

It's a Snazzy New Do!

Check it out guys! Finally, after a long design journey I found Lara and she made my blog beautiful! I love the design and hope you do to.

Thanks Lara! I loved working with you and appreciate your persistence even through the midst of a hurricane.

Blessings everyone!

(To see Lara's other work and check out her site click on her button in my side bar.)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Breathing In

Because we found gas so cheap in America (wink, wink) we decided to do some driving while in California. You know. Economics.

We headed south towards a certain Hilltop. There were some unbelievable servants there who we needed to speak with in person.

As we waited for Sunday to roll around, we sauntered and strolled the boulevards and lanes of the Happiest Place on Earth.

Which, unfortunately, became the Rainiest place on Earth and stayed that way for the duration of our visit. But we are Cashes. When the weather turns sour, you pull out the appropriate gear (which you always have with you because one of you is in fact an Eagle Scout and Always Prepared, ahem,) and press forward. No turning back.

(I am hearing the song “Aint No Stopping Us Now” in my head).

We walked and waited in lines and enjoyed our time at the Happy Kingdom. We paid. We played. Rain or no rain!

We did have fun. The only sad issue proved to be the elusive Jedi Show. When we pulled out the maps on day one our boys immediately pointed the Jedi Show. It was, as they say, “A Must See!” for our family.

We dutifully arrived early, chose seats, waited for instructions and anticipated the great battle with Darth Vader…three times. Three times we sat in the rain and waited for a Star Wars voice to announce to all the children that the Jedi Show was cancelled due to rain for safety issues.

They are announcing this, I might add, to a bunch of parents who are allowing their children to ride roller coasters and swings and race cars in a torrential downpour. But the Happy Kingdom deems waving a light sabre on a damp floor “unsafe”. Makes you stop and think doesn’t it? It should anyway.

We did get to meet Darth Vader in person. He is lovely. A real charmer.

So is this guy.

Who scared me.

We saw some old friends who were delightful as always.





And we enjoyed being together.


A good deep breath. With a few giggles thrown in.


One brief side note...
Of all the amazing-ness that is the Happy Kingdom, you might be surprised at the things that impressed foreign missionaries the most. The ground for instance.

We sat on the ground for parades and fireworks shows. Ground that many, many feet had walked on.

And, here’s the thing…

It was so CLEAN!

In our homeplace on the Dark Continent, there is not one stretch of footpath that you can sit on without becoming filthy. Jeff and I obsessed for a solid 20 minutes on the cleanliness around us despite the masses walking,eating, drinking and celebrating on the paths.

Unbelievable.

And the electricity and lights we witnessed there. Always on.

Shocking.

As I said, our time in Anaheim was not just to see Mickey.

There were some crazy souls over on the Hilltop that we needed to hug and thank for a task that will most certainly blow your mind.

It blew ours.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

California


We dreamed of this moment for many reasons.

First this:




Then this:


Then this:


Our missionary community in Uganda is a blessing to us. As we share meals made from scratch and wade through struggles in a foreign place together we often dream of what it would be like to grab a quick meal at a fast food restaurant or shop in an American store!

We were so thrilled to meet up with the Calhoon family (from our Uganda missionary community) in Sacramento for a few days and enjoy some of the amenities of the US. We delighted in our first In&Out burgers, shopped at REI (but of course!) and relaxed with Destiny's family on a Sunday afternoon.



We also held that new baby as much as possible!!!

We loved being able to see our friends and connect in person for a brief visit before going our separate ways again. Many thanks to their family for graciously sharing their last day together with us.
We parted, with prayers for safe travels and hopes of seeing them soon on the flip side, at home again in Uganda.

Next on the Cash Family agenda...

Destroy the agenda.

No schedule. No plan. Just our family. Our kids. Some laughing. Some games. Some fun. Hopefully some rest.

The responsibilities of Home Ministry Assignment were right around the corner. But we had a few breaths to take first.

Monday, August 04, 2008

American Soil



Our flight from Dubai took a mere 16 hours.

Let me just say that again for emphasis.

Sixteen hours.

Only if you are a parent of a very active preschooler can you understand the depths of fear such a time frame can instill.

We discussed our plans long and hard before buying the tickets.

Would we survive a 16 hour flight with four kids?

The answer was a very blessed "Yes!" But we do not boast arrogantly. We know it was a gift from God.

I also thank the airline personnel who arranged our seating.

Flying with four kids is pretty easy when you aren't seated by any of them. :-)

Poor Jeff. (Can you hear the depths of my compassion?)

He was on the row of seats with our three boys. Kinley was across the aisle from him. And I was seated across the aisle on the other side.

It was an innocent situation, I promise. I did nothing but walk in and take the first seat given to us.

(FYI...when you put that headset on and turn on a movie, its like no one else is around. And my arm was well out of tapping range if I leaned over to my right far enough...)

The kids did handle the flight very well. Our airline had an amazing entertainment system that kept us all occupied for a huge chunk of the time.

Nonetheless, we were thrilled to feel the plane touch down. And I was awash with emotion over the cowboy hats and Texas accents that greeted us at immigration and customs.

It was Texas, Y'all. And it felt good to be there.

We gathered bags, secured luggage and rolled our belongings through the doors to find Nana and Papa waiting. We shared weepy hugs and laughs and smiles and made our way to the hotel.

The next few days were spent recuperating from the 16 hours and the jet lag. We ate yummy food. Celebrated a birthday and Mother's Day belatedly.




We went shopping (Target!!!) and pierced some ears.






And we slept. As much as possible. Our bodies were worn out and we needed to rest.

Those first few days on American soil with Nana and Papa as back ups for child wrangling helped us get our feet back under us before we began more travels.




It was hard to hug them goodbye after only a few short days, but with the promise of a longer visit in our near future, we prepared ourselves for the West Coast.

First stop...California!

Dubai

Our physical journey began in May.

Our battle weary souls were prayed over and hugged away from our foreign home by the Longs and Martins. We checked in at the airport with blessed little fanfare. Even the expected immigration issues, (Silas passport stamp was held up and delayed) went smoothly and easily.

After months of planning and preparing we found our travel experienced selves seated on the eve of yet another furlough.

Six well packed carryons were before us and not one of them contained diapers or baby food. When our flight was called, every individual person carried their own bag to the airplane. There were no strollers and everyone would sit in their own seat. It was a moment I halted our entire family on the way to the airplane to commemorate. My children and husband smiled at Mom’s Moment, but none appreciated it as I did.

We have crossed a threshold. And I am pleased about that.

Our first flight was relatively short. Eight hours. We landed on a hot peninsula in the Middle East. Dubai.

It was a new place for us. A new experience. We were longing for the chance to just blend in with the tourist crowd for awhile. Turn off our brains and recuperate from the churning previous months.

We needed an Oasis. We looked for one in this desert.

Here is what we found:

And this:



Our oasis even had snow:




My photography skills (or lack thereof) do not do the ski resort justice. A ski resort people. In a mall. In the desert.

Pretty crazy stuff, Dubai.

One morning as the children and I slowly started the day, Jeff set out to find us some food. He began to walk across the hot dusty lot across from our hotel. The wind was whipping the sand in his face and the desert heat was bearing down on his head. He was just thinking how thirsty he felt and how hard desert life was, when he looked up through squinted eyes to see:

The Golden Arches.

Oasis indeed. His desert travails led him to the best french fries ever made. There was much rejoicing when he returned with two large bags of food from McDonalds!

Our American restaurant wonderment was not over. On an outing the next day, our family headed off to the beach. We expected it to be warm, but I was shocked at the intensity of the heat. In a word…fire. That beach was the hottest place on the planet. Seriously. I thought I would fry. My attitude went from happy, delightful tourist to cranky, grumpy white girl in about 2.2 seconds. Jeff and the kids quickly jumped into the water and cooled off while I grumbled around the beach chairs wondering why on earth I had married a camel impervious to high temperatures. I pouted on the chairs for awhile wondering how guilty my family would feel if the heat did in fact kill me on that Jumeriah Beach. Eventually, I gave up my scowl and shuffled down to the water to find such sweet, sweet relief. The water cooled me off quickly and made my attitude way more tolerable. We (meaning, me) lasted about two hours on the beach adventure. We decided to drag our overheated selves across the flaming sands in search of airconditioning. Somewhere, there had to be relief! I enticed my beach loving family with ice cream and food.

We changed into our clothes and washed sand off our shoes about 700 times with scalding hot water, then began to look for a taxi. As we stood on the street, Jeff pointed out a welcome sign across the street.

Chili’s.

I had never been so happy to see that big red chili pepper in my life! What a delightful meal. While on our little desert vacation we also enjoyed the delights of Little Caesars and Johnny Rockets.

We ordered Chinese take out. Swam. Sweltered on the beach (which I think I might have already mentioned :-). We enjoyed a water park that had eleven huge water slides that were all interconnected. You had to wait in line for quite a while to get started. But once you were on the slide it was a thrilling and long ride. Jeff ranked it as the coolest water park he had ever been to.

We shopped in a souk and bought beautiful textiles and clothes.

We learned many things about the ancient Bedouins in the Dubai museum.

And we enjoyed fresh squeezed apple juice overlooking the Dubai Creek.


We took our time and began to breathe deep again.

Dubai, is a land of contrasts. Women in full burka strolling alongside Europeans in micro mini skirts. Burning desert sands alongside indoor ski resorts where it snows every night.

A land of intrigue.

A land of welcome.

We were thankful for its open arms and very much enjoyed our sojourn there.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Home Ministry Assignment

For many years overseas missionaries have been known to take a "furlough". This is commonly understood as a time to visit one's home country, visit family, report to sending churches and perhaps rest from the strain of overseas life.

Recently, I heard "furlough" being referred to as "Home Ministry Assignment", the current mission-speak for home leave.

I appreciate what this term conveys.

We are on a break from potholed roads and bland food. I have been on a break from planning meals and cooking. We are on a break from homeschooling.

Rather than thinking of this time away from Uganda as a "break" though, it is more accurate to think of it as simply, another type of assignment. "Rest" is as allusive as it is when we are serving in Uganda. We must be deliberate about our resting and breathing deeply and stepping away from work.

I will confess to you, this is not our strength. We tend to eat, sleep and breath our occupation.

But, through our years of furloughs we have tried to create moments for our family that lend themselves to rest and regrouping.

I type today from my parents dining room. Their dining room in small town USA. I have spent the last few days/weeks visiting with family, perusing old family pictures, scrapbooking said pictures and remembering. All those little and big moments that God orchestrated to shape and form me. I'm sure that will be a blog post in itself eventually, but before we get there...

I want to go back to the start of this Home Ministry Assignment. God has granted us mercies at every turn...sometimes He has just graciously heard our cries. We have certainly offered HIm many praises. He has astounded us over and over again with His Creation and reminded us of the goodness of His Spirit at work in His people. We've been loved on, encouraged and prayed over in exact moments to reveal God's timing and continuous activity in our lives.

We've needed that and praised Him for that Grace.

Over the next few weeks, travel with me as I remember some stellar moments in a physical journey over many miles.

We will begin in a desert....

Monday, July 14, 2008

More Thanks



61. Time to "get away from it all".
62. Johnny Rockets chocolate milkshakes
63. Cool water on a hot day
64. Airconditioning
65. Organized taxi systems
66. Chinese take out
67. Naps
68. Mom and Dad waiting at the airport
69. The safe ending of a long flight
70. Blue bell ice cream
71. Blue bell ice cream
72. Blue bell ice cream :-)
73. Shopping with my Mom and my daughter
74. My boys trailing after Papa
75. My dad laughing with my boys
76. A whole night's sleep
77. Someone else making breakfast for me
78. A really good pair of jeans
79. The perfect pair of shoes
80. Playing Apples to Apples with our kiddos

Monday, June 30, 2008

One Incredible Journey

"The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made..." Psalm 145: 8

What a journey we are on.

And I don't mean the one with suitcases and different beds and borrowed cars and hotels and church reporting...

I mean The Journey.

The One with Him. Our Lord.

I have visited this Create Post screen in the last month and after some minutes of head scratching and brain searching, the screen remained blank. But recently, I was given the honor of standing before His People in a small suburb in Washington State and share of the Lord's faithfulness in our lives. As I shared with those sweet souls, I realized exactly what I needed to say here.

Look with me at some verses that are challenging my heart right now.

"Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saing "Lord save us! We're going to drown!" He replied, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm." Matt 8: 24-26

Jesus was sleeping. What an interesting thing. Has Jesus ever been sleeping through a storm in your life?
With waves rolling and fear rising, the disciples woke Jesus up and his response to them was, "Why are you so afraid?"

Waves have been rolling around us lately. And as I've clung to the side of the boat and screamed for Someone to "wake up and do something!" the waves have kept rolling. I have longed for the Masterful Rebuke and the "completely calm"...but I'm still gasping under the waves.

One recent Sunday afternoon, following worship and lunch, our family settled in for a rest. I was exhausted and promptly fell into a deep sleep. Throughout my nap I was aware of the children shaking me on the shoulder requesting food or judgment for an erring brother :-), but Jeff valiantly deterred their requests so I could stay asleep. My body was resting. I chose not to wake up completely because their Daddy was on the scene and had things under control.

Maybe Jesus slept through the storm for the same reason. He knew Who was in control and that eventually there would be peace. Either now or later. The storm would not effect the outcome.

The squall would only serve to measure faith. "You of little faith!"

Sigh. It is my deepest heart's desire, that as waves wash over my boat, my faith will be found to be strong.

And what exactly does that look like?

Not quitting?

Not despairing?

Confident, in even a resting Savior.

He will wake up. And His Voice alone can still the storm.

"While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." Then he fell on his knees and cried out, "Lord do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he fell asleep.
And Saul was there giving approval to his death." Acts 7:59- 8:1

The stones were hitting that innocent man in the head and he spoke... forgiveness.

Just as our Lord, in the middle of deep humilation, unjust claims, and death proclaimed forgiveness, not judgment.

At the moment of attack. While feeling the pain.

In the most excruciating times of life, human nature longs to call fire down on the offender's head not speak words of mercy.

But these men, Jesus and Stephen...

Their forgiveness, their mercy coincided with their greatest physical and emotional pain.

And, friends, as if that wasn't challenging enough, the last sentence gives me much pause.

Saul was giving approval to this brutal killing.

Those who attack you or stand by in approval as others attack, may be God's next miracle. God's chosen one to carry His message far and wide. The person whose faith and submission to God will effect others for generations.

What in the world are we supposed to do with that tidbit?! Does God expect us to remember this when we are angry?

This man who vehemently opposed Christ's Beloved was pursued by Christ Himself and redeemed.

It is not difficult to think of my offenders as being pursued :-)...

But for redemption?

Forgive. God is all about that word. We cannot do any less than our Master and expect the storm to ever cease.

"But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him." 2 Cor 2:14


We walk with the winner. Even "as we walk thtrough the valley of the shadow of death..." Triumph. Confident. Heads held high. He has won. Therefore, we, who are His, always have won. We are a part of the triumphal procession. Whether or not the world around us recognizes Him directly, they will not escape His Aroma.

"Were not the Cushites and Libyans a mighty army with great numbers of chariots and horsemen? Yet when you relied on the Lord he delivered them into your hand. For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him." 2 Chron 16:8-9

And finally, brought to this. No matter how big the "army", God is looking at the heart. My heart. Isn't that really all we have to choose about. Other peoples' actions, words or choices are far from our control or even our influence sometimes. But our own hearts. That's where we choose. His way or ours. Submitted or personally controlled and filled. Full or empty. Living for Forever or grabbing what we want for now.

As His Knowing Eyes search through the earth, what does He find here? In me.

Fear? Forgiveness? Triumph?

Himself?

Oh Father, the storms rage in our lives on many fronts. But You Never Fail.

God prevails.

Where waves often roll over our boats and stones sometimes fly at our heads and Righteous Men stand in approval of our "deaths"and armies seem mighty and overwhelming.

God calls us to rest, trust, forgive, guard our own hearts...

And believe.

Because...

He. Has. It. All. Under. Control.

He even steps up to fill us and accomplish these ongoing tasks for us when we cannot.

Father, how can You be So Good? So patient.

Receive Your Glory Mighty Jehovah.

The darkness that threatens us only serves to more fully contrast All the Goodness You are. I am so amazed by You.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Oh, So Very...


Thankful.

And here is a list to prove it...

31. Hot fudge cake.
32.Ty's visit
33. Silas singing "Lord I Lift Your Name on High"
34. The first cup of steaming coffee in the morning.
35. Help with the dishes.
36. Isaac's laugh
37. Cuddling with Anaiah
38. Prayer time with the team
39. Sleep
40. A definite plan
41. Hope
42. Cool weather and a hot cup of tea
43. Pale pink nail polish
44. Iced sugar cookies
45. Respite at the close of the day
46. Checking on our sleeping children
47. Listening to Isaac read
48. Reading Kinley's creative writing
49. Alex's love of cardboard boxes
50. Silas opening his birthday presents
51. Succesful potty training
52. Jotham's voice on the phone
53. Furlough plans
54. Paper plates
55. The day after a migraine headache
56. Jeff and the kids doing the dishes
57. New bed linens
58. Baxter
59. An organized pantry
60. Support and love from family

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

God's Perfect Gifts

Something I have learned on this foreign field adventure is that God will not fail.

In mid 1999, Jeff and I had hit a stride. We were four years on the Uganda mission field. We had weathered the initial waves of culture stress. We had endured the rebel crisis. And we were parents of an adorable baby girl. Our first furlough had been a blessing and upon arrival back in Uganda, I felt at home. It was a milestone.

Following our annual ladies retreat for East African Missionaries, I had committed to praying for a friend who was hoping to become pregnant with her first. As I committed to pray, I was unkowningly pregnant with our second. I began to suspect my situation and the nausea overcame me. Only this time around, I had a toddler to chase. It was a tough time.

One afternoon, Jeff came home from town and informed me that he had met a German girl who was in Ft Portal for a year to work at the Babies Home. He said she was eager to fellowship with Christians and that he had invited her for dinner.

Our first dinner with Caroline was great, but the conversation was a bit difficult. Caroline’s English was limited and my German was non-existent. Except for asking for a Diet Coke, I don’t speak much of the language of Germany.

Thankfully, Caroline excelled at language skills. Her English improved incredibly (really, how do you do that?!?) and over the next year, she became a soulmate. She supported me through the pregnancy and loved on Alex when he was born. She met with our church weekly. Her bright spirit and encouraging disposition lit up our lives and pushed us on.

She and I met weekly to pray and visit. The gift she was to me really defies the words on this blog.

Women need women to sound off to. To dream with. To share. To drink coffee with and share stories...

She watched movies with me, went on road trips to keep me company. She and I joked about interesting cultural issues we met and shared sarcasm over life in the third world.

I needed this fun friendship so much. She was a gift to me. Saving me from the mundane insanity of daily childcare and home management in a far off place with few or little distractions.

I was sad to see her go when her time in Ft Portal ended. But God had things for her to do. She moved back to Germany, married her prince and God has blessed her with two lovely little ones. I know she is serving Him well.

Her precious ones allowed her to come back and visit us recently. She arrived into our container chaos. But as I came to expect, she jumped right in, served and blessed.

How sweet the fellowship of those who love Him.



I can’t wait until Heaven--- no language barriers!

Ich liebe dich, darling Calo!

Come back anytime…but bring those precious ones too!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Blessing of Fellowship



We were so delighted to welcome Brian, Kristin and Grace Robinson for a visit during March. The Robinsons are members of our overseeing congregation and dear friends. They brought with them loads of goodies and tons of love from our Glenwood family. As usual, when we welcome Glenwood-ites here, it made us long for our Tyler home.

Brian and Kristin are fellow sojourners in our parenting journey. They have four offspring all around the ages of our own. I find an understanding ear in Kristin. She supports, encourages and believes in me. All Mommies need that.

On furlough, we always enjoy sharing a meal with the Robinsons in their home. Our conversation usually turns to missions and the Robinson’s desire to participate personally in foreign work. We’ve prayed for them and loved sharing “the call” with them.

How delighted we were to hear that God’s call was reeling them in. Not just whispering to them anymore! We pray for them as they take on a huge endeavor…moving four kids and a life across an ocean. Let me just say, this is not something for the faint of heart.

But, also, let me say, “Brian & Kristin, you can do this! Because YOU will never walk this path alone. He doesn’t call you down a path and then abandon you. He will never fail.”

Thank you for doing all those dishes, folding my laundry (we are soul mates now!) and unloading (Brian) so much stuff without a break. Chaos of the container overtook us at the end, but your bright spirits and willingness to jump in and help saved my sanity. Truly. I hope you found the blessings you needed for this time as well. We love you and are so proud of you for your choices and your courage.

We are also VERY thrilled that you will be on our side of the ocean! Come see us anytime. I promise I won’t always make you do the dishes! 

Many thanks to Madeline, Samuel, Aaron and all the Grandparents who made this trip possible. Thank you for sending your precious Mom, Dad and sister to us. We pray they carried blessing and encouragement back to you.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A Big Metal Box--Conclusion






It arrived.

After much angst, much waiting and many, many months,that big metal box finally rolled into our compound. I could hardly believe it.



A frantic afternoon, evening, night and early morning ensued. Just as we opened the doors, God opened His clouds. The rain poured and poured. But we couldn't stop. The truck driver wanted to go home and the box had to be emptied in order for him to do that. So we worked. And carried. And hauled.

And got very, very wet. The Martin's goods were to be kept in our car port which very quickly became The Muddy River of Destruction. Jeff rallied the troops and laid metal trusses on the ground to stack the Martin's treasures on. Our goods were hauled to our veranda and inside our living room. Kristin (visiting from Tyler) cooked food, pointed people to the bottled water and managed to keep a path cleared through our overflowing home. She also, very capably, held our dirty dishes at bay. No small feat my friends. No small feat.

I walked miles in and around our home as did every member of the Unloading Posse. Every box...every item...was rejoiced over and admired. Comfy furniture, camping gear, home organization items, a real American mattress...all bring pure joy! Even the drum set that somehow made it's home in the corner of my living room, was welcomed with much rejoicing! (Don't be surprised Jana dear, when Em receives Bagpipes for Christmas from Auntie Cheryl this year!:-)) Each box was like Christmas. My kitchen and pantry were filled to overflowing. MacnCheese, Dr Pepper, canned spaghetti sauce and pie fillings...

It was 2AM when the last crate came off the truck. A very tired team of men succeeded in emptying our big metal box. We would have high-fived if anyone had one ounce of energy left. :-)

There are no words to adequately thank all who worked to make this shipment a reality. Charles and Joan Colwell, who served us over and above. Jana, Kristin and Lori for shopping and buying so very well! For all our Glenwood family who gave so generously to purchase the church tent and chairs. Also our loved ones in Tyler who snuck on goodies and helped pack. For Andrew, Jeff and Ryan and their exhaustive efforts on both sides of the ocean. And finally for the team of guys (Brian, Bob, Peter, Jeff, Andrew, Derrick and co.) who unloaded and unloaded and unloaded that wet, rainy Saturday.



We love and thank you all.

May God use these tools to rejuvenate us, further His kingdom growth and bring honor to His Name.

Praise!!!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A Big Metal Box--Part Two

About 5 years and an Airplane Saga later (Airplane Saga to be shared at a later date:-))another container became a reality for the Ft Portal mission.

Through a "Master-full" feat of endurance, my "never say die" hubby had a repaired airplane engine that had to be shipped. In the same months, the Martin family had made their commitment to serve in Ft Portal and needed to get their household items here.

The shipment took shape.

All the logistics are daunting for such a shipment. The cost of the container itself and the fees for moving it hither and yon are expensive, so it is inherent in every missionary heart that each tiny bit of space be used effectively. We are paying dearly for it...we should fill it well.

On our last furlough, we worked with the Martins on preliminary plans. We discussed companies and costs. We made lists and shared ideas. Then we began to budget.

We enlisted a wonderful couple to gather our items in Tyler, TX. Charlie and Joan offered their time, know how and storage space to help us with the container. We flew back to Uganda thankful for their willingness to help.

As the months drew near for the actual packing of the container, we began to discuss our being present for the daunting task. We felt that Jeff would be a blessing to completing the process, so we bought one ticket and sent Jeff back to the States.

He, Andrew and Andrew's cousin spent three sleepless days and nights shopping, filling, building, organizing and securing a world of physical blessings into one big metal box. As the box rolled down to the nearest sea port, the guys crashed hard, weary to the bone. Their efforts were successful and the box set sail for our foreign homes.

Within six weeks we received word that the box was on African soil. We all rejoiced, but Jeff and I set our minds to wait. We knew, now would be the hardest part.

The container moved somewhat smoothly through Mombasa clearing and customs. We received regular updates (which impressed us considerably) of the clearing process. By early November, the container had reached Kampala.

And then the real fun began. We were optimistically hopeful that we could get the box by Christmas. There were some treasures for the kiddos that would look lovely under the tree. So we hoped and set our hands to the task.

It is indescribable what took place next. Derrick and his uncle and Jeff began to go from office to office to office to office.... from desk to desk to desk...from person to person to person. We would be told The Process. We would set out to complete The Process. Upon reaching completion we would told that we must begin again. On another Process.

After several rounds of The Process Shuffle we were informed that we owed alot of money for taxes. Alot.

Gulp.

We've been living in this foreign land for awhile now and have well honed our reactions to such atrocious bits of news.

We simply inquired of The Next Process. The Process for People Who Cannot Afford Alot of Money for Taxes.

We were respectful. We were resolute. And we began to follow still more procedures.

Month after month passed. Reams of paper were filled with letters and rubber stamps, then carried from one official to another. Derrick basically moved to Kampala for awhile. And Jeff wisely navigated us all through a maze that could have very easily had no end. We had no idea, really, where the maze would take us. We just continued turning the corners, overcoming the obstacles and asking for direction.

In mid March, just a flow of visitors began to grace our home, we received word that we had, in fact, reached the end of the Process line.

The final papers were signed. We could bring the box home.

Friday, May 16, 2008

A Big Metal Box--Part One

When we first moved to Uganda, most living supplies were not easily available in this land locked country. In the capital city (about 7 hours drive from us at the time) we shopped at two smallish "supermarkets" that carried Kenya made items and we bought our meat from one of two nice butchers in the capital city. Here in our own town, meat could be purchased live and butchered yourself or bought in the fly-infested meat markets of our local shops.

Larger items like refrigerators, stoves, living room chairs, beds, dressers...all were either not available, very used and broken or super expensive.

We were advised, as we planned to move our life across the ocean, to purchase some goods and send them on a sea container. A sea container is virtually a big metal box. It is filled at your home in America, trucked to the nearest sea port and then shipped to Mombasa, Kenya. Where it is then loaded on a truck or a train and brought across Kenya and Uganda into Kampala where it is stored.

In Kampala, you must clear the container with 500,000 different people. (oh, I kid) After the final person signs the final document, you can load the box back onto a truck and have it driven to your home for unloading.

In 1995, we shared a 20 ft container with another family. We had 10 ft of space. We brought our wedding gifts, a propane stove, a propane refrigerator, and a propane chest freezer. We also brought a couch, loveseat and an old recliner that was my Grandpa's. Jeff had two motorcycles and my sweet Granddaddy had fixed us up with every lawn and small engine article available to man (chainsaw, weedeater, lawnmower, tiller, generator).

We did not receive our container on this side until 9 months after our arrival. Nine months of sleeping on the floor, sitting on the floor and struggling through meal prep from scratch with only two burners to work with.

Our landlord loaned us an electric refrigerator for those nine months, but after our first trip to the capital to stock up on meat, we returned home to 5 days of absolutely NO POWER...which translated to $50 of precious meat, spoiled and ruined.

Jeff and I became vegetarians at that time. Not by choice really. Just by necessity. We ate alot of soups. And we longed for fajitas from home. As we enjoyed our vegetable soup, Jeff and I would talk about American food. For hours. Then we would cry. (Or I would cry. Jeff would just look sad and hungry. :-))

We made it, though. And when that shipment arrived we rejoiced. Jeff and his Dad (who was visiting us at the time) drove across Uganda twice with loads of our treasures. We began the agonizing work of setting everything up. Propane tanks had to be secured and fittings reworked with no stocked hardware store to help out.

Over the years of adjusting, settling in and having a family we were blessed by the items from that first shipment. We did need to purchase locally made items, as well as using what we brought from the States. We purchased beds with foam mattresses and had shelves and dressers made by carpenters in the area. The shelves and cabinets proved to be difficult endeavors. Wet wood became our nemesis, warping furniture beyond recognition. We borrowed some furniture items for our babies and scoured the Sale Lists posted in Kampala by departing expats for other items we needed.

Every missionary or expatriot that would move back to the their homeland would put out a sale list. Such sale lists were gold. From the departing missionaries one could score American bath mats, transformers, baby furniture, TVs and other treasures. Granted, the items would be well used and worn...but gold, nonetheless.

Always, in the back of our mind, a "if we had access to a container" list grew.

When the Lord led us to Glenwood church of Christ this mental wish list had grown long. In one of our first meetings with Glenwood's mission committee, they asked about helping us with a container. The idea was suggested that they buy the container, park it in their parking lot and fill it over a period of time. A list of desired goods was requested of us. We were stunned. We eventually did make a list and continued to dream of another shipment.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Hoping

It is amazing to me how very much I can miss this piece of cyberspace.

I have had posts sitting in "edit" for some weeks now. But I have not been able to sit down and get them posted.

Tonight, as the clock nears midnight, I am finally getting back to this place I love.

Blogland.

Rumor has it that Wireless World is in my future. More frequent posting could be anticipated.

I hope.

It's hard to dive back in to a journal when I haven't been posting regularly. Lots of thoughts, struggles, obstacles and victories have happened in the meantime and all those events change me a little. Stretch me. Pain me. Make me grow.

I would love to share more about this season of ministry in our lives and I do believe that someday this time of struggle will become blessing to others who are striving in a similar environment.

I hope.

But for now, just for a time, all the ponderings must simmer a bit. Some seasonings of life are bitter, but if they stew long enough, their flavor together with others enhance a dish to sublime.

I hope.

I've been clinging to this verse for the last few weeks. A good inspiration for a very tired heart.

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13


I'm anticipating the "overflow" as I learn, still, to put my trust in him.

Joy and peace to you!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Prayers on the Bathroom Floor

Some months ago, on the floor of Destiny's bathroom, I asked God for this moment.



Destiny was struggling through the excruciating pain of a kidney infection that had started pre term labor. I did as any stable, supportive friend would do...I sat on the floor and cried with her.

And I prayed. I asked God to protect and save the life she carried in her womb. We asked God to make little Audrey move and live and thrive.

There are no emergency rooms in Ft Portal. No 911 services. When medical emergencies arise, the only place to go is to your knees. The Great Physician hears us, each and every time. But, we never know with our limited understanding what sovereign choice He will make.

On that overwhelming day last December, God stopped the contracting and carried Destiny through the sickness. In a grace filled moment, Audrey started moving in the womb again.



And just a few days ago, on April 10, Audrey arrived into this world.

Safe and healthy.

Glory to God!

Precious Audrey, may your heart submit to Your Creator. And may your spirit THRIVE in the joy of His every gift to you! When I look at you (and your brother,for that matter!) I am reminded of His Faithfulness and His Healing Mercies. You are a testimony. Even now.



Congratulations friends! Your lives and faith proclaim the Goodness of our God! We love you.

PRAISE!!!!

(Many thanks to Gramma Kyle for sharing these pictures with me!)