Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Things Were Not As I Expected

(No journal of Mary's thoughts exists. But I would so love to know all that passed through her mind and heart as she awaited Jesus' arrival. I have recorded my own guess at her experience here. The retelling of Christ's birth and early life can be found in Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2 )

Things were not exactly as I expected. From the moment that angel told me God’s plan and I accepted His will, shame and fear occupied my mind more often than not.
Immediately following the angels terrifying declaration, I felt the most euphoric blessing of God’s spirit fall on me. What a remarkable, unfathomable gift. I could not describe the experience to my pragmatic family or the traditional community around me. I silently experienced the promise unsure of my sanity every now and again.

I expected God to pave my way. Surely, if an angel had appeared to me, if I was chosen, then wouldn’t God tell everyone else too? And I hoped he would start with my Mother.

He didn’t.

He did not tell Abba or the Rabbis in our village. They knew the prophecies of our Messiah. But the reality of Him growing in Abba’s young daughter’s womb was more scandalous than could be tolerated in such a holy gift.

The angel did tell my betrothed. Praise Yahweh.

Joseph could have had me killed and many other men would have done just that to save their own name and honor. When Joseph took me into his home I was amazed.

He had a dream and the Lord told him too. And he believed the Lord.

I am so thankful for his obedience. Being taken into his home has not stopped the wagging tongues. But the pierce of their words was softened by the protectiveness of our marriage.
When I learned of our trip to Bethlehem I was at once relieved and afraid. I was eager to escape the doubting glances of my family…

But I was afraid that our baby would arrive in that far away village.

The trip was terribly long and miserable, only to reach Bethlehem and have no place to stay. We ended up sleeping in a stable. The smell was putrid to my sensitive nose and the ground was very cold and hard underneath my heavy body.

When my pains began I became terribly afraid. I was going to deliver this child in this distant place with no mother or sister or aunt to hold my hand, coach my process and mop my brow. Joseph’s eyes darted side to side to avoid mine. He was very uncomfortable in the moment but could obviously think of no where else to be. Was he remembering your words to him in the dream? Wondering if he had heard correctly? Sorry he was here now?

The pain was excruciating.

God, was that really you all those months ago?!? Was Elizabeth speaking from you when she prophesied this child’s future? Did Joseph see an angel too?

Because if you are so very involved, why in the world does it hurt this much?!?

I thought I had died. My body was ripping apart.
Beyond my control, I felt my body pushing. Every single portion of my body hurt. One push. Two pushes. Exhaustion. More work.

And then when I thought I could take no more--- A cry. A wail. And the most amazing sweet relief of my life. Praise Jehovah. He was there.
Time seemed to stop. In that stable. On that cold floor. The only sounds were my heaving breaths, Joseph’s scurrying to care for us and Yeshua’s cries.

Joseph’s eyes were awash with amazement. He was drawn into those precious eyes and the miracle of the tiny hands and feet. I could not stop looking at each part of our miracle.

Lord have mercy, I was in love.

A son!!! Yeshua. Jesus.

He was crying. And I was crying. And Joseph was crying.

At once comprehending my complete lack of comprehension! Unfathomable greatness.

All of heaven seemed to sing. And yet only silence sounded around us. The three of us. Alone.
I held our boy drinking in his scent and hanging on each tiny breath. He slept and I stared. I was unable to look anywhere else. We were all exhausted. All amazed.

Our tiny trio was interrupted by the sound of scurrying men. Joseph went to see who was calling on this stable so late in the night. Maybe weary travelers, come to sleep on this ground with us.

Joseph led the scraggly crew into our scene. The men were shepherds. And they smelled of work and pasture and sheep. Their eyes held amazement and wonder and they knelt before Jesus and worshiped him. Angels had told them to come.

Of course.

Angels continued to proclaim Him.

But who would have ever imagined to whom they would proclaim.

A poor carpenter, shamed by the expanding middle of his betrothed. A barren elderly couple. Shepherds.


Who am I?!?!

Will I ever completely understand?

All I know is that I am in love. With my Yeshua. He has my heart and, in ponderings and piercings, I will never have it back.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Light and Momentary

Four long hours. I had to try. Something in my idealistic nature still alive after years of brusque reality.

Our bill is wrong. It has been wrong for too many years to divulge. We have written letters, requested technicians and endured mocking disdain from the officials who refuse to correct their mistakes.

Most simplistically, we have been robbed.

And we may not be able to prove it.

So. Yesterday. After much prayer and confidence gathering, I slipped into the office to plead our case. Again.

Four hours left us with no resolution. Only deeper frustration. And red puffy eyes. My tears were cleansing and healthy and private. But proved nothing.

This morning, a daily reading from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young:
"When you are plagued by a persistent problem---one that goes on and on---view it as a rich opportunity. An ongoing problem is like a tutor that is always by your side. The learning possibilities are limited only by your willingness to be teachable. In faith, thank me for your problem. Ask me to open your eyes and your heart to all that I am accomplishing through this difficulty. Once you have become grateful for a problem, it loses it's power to drag you down."

An idea I've heard before.

"Consider it pure joy my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." James 1: 2-3

And again:

"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Cor 4:17-18

Heading into this day, thanking God for the robbery and all He can teach me through it. Asking for courage to maintain that posture even when the going feels tough.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Counting FIsh

(excerpts from a letter of thanks sent at the end of our furlough)

“I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.”
So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
“No,” they answered.
He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.”
When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord!” he wrapped his outer garment around him…and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish….
Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord.”
John 21:1-12

“Well, there’s the fact He asks us to trust him when it feels like we’ve been in a long night and caught nothing and will we hear His voice, trust him, do what He says when He asks the unconventional of us: “Throw your net on the right side of the boat”…. And there’s this: … the wild love waiting for us at the end of dark, empty nights of the soul — the kind of love that has breakfast waiting for us on the beach, the fish and bread all ready for us… but really… and this is what I keep coming back to…. “Someone had counted the fish!” Ann Voskamp from www.aholyexperience.com

Dear Friends,
Another year is drawing to a close, as is another furlough for the Cash family. We will gather around a Thanksgiving table with loved ones this week and pause to remember and give thanks for all the “fish in our nets”. God’s kingdom growth in Uganda feels like this story of the disciples fishing. Some moments feel as if we have caught nothing. Other times, we can barely tow in the nets.

We reflect on a furlough that has offered us some precious breakfast on the shore with Jesus. Times of nurture and restoration from the Lord.

“You pull in your life and you see that though you felt ripped open —- the net actually didn’t tear. That there’s much in your net. And you actually count them. You make sure you count the fish. So you don’t have to ask because you know. You know it is the Lord.”
Ann Voskamp

We humbly reflect:
Healthy children, 17 year marriage, safe travels, memories with cousins, hugs from Grandparents, laughter with family, trips to Dallas, waterfalls and mountains, the Oregon Coast, fabulous food, new clothes, a living and active Word, a message to proclaim, a growing church family, forgiveness, people to serve among, redemption.
And you. Supporters and friends who pray, and give, and partner with us to share Christ with the Ugandan people.

We are thankful for you and your faithful support and prayers for God’s work in Ft Portal, Uganda.

Thank you for loving our family and serving our God together with us.

When we “count our fish” we count you!

God’s blessings and peace on you and yours.

In Christ Alone,
the Cashes

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Our children are giddy. Ecstatic.

“I’m so happy to be back, Mom!”

The congested streets and red-dirt-covered scenes around us flood us with familiarity. Knowing the schedules and the shops and how to make a plan. Jostling crowds at check outs. No queues, only clumps. My elbows popping out to stake our claim in the semblance of a line.

Greetings from the ARA staff we have known since our beginnings here. Richard, Mary, George, Robert --all friends for nearly 15 years.

Early rising, long breakfasts, leisurely coffee and strong equatorial sun that warms me to my soul.

Roosters crowing, children crying, horns honking, stereos blaring.


Tomorrow we travel the last stretch of road taking us back to our house. We can’t wait to hug our dogs and unpack our bags and put up our Christmas tree. We can’t wait to back cookies and make coffee and settle back into our family schedule.

Our life of the last 17 years has had many departures. And I survive each one by thinking of the return at the end of the journey. Return to the States. Return to our Africa home.

I prefer the end of the trip to the actual journey. I’m trying to learn how to experience the journey better. But the truth is, I like the completion of just about anything above the process itself. Lord have mercy. I still have so much to learn.

The “processes” and journey of the last several years have rendered me silent in this corner of cyber space. I return today not because anything has been completed. I return to practice, in the scratching of words, joy in the journey. Celebration of the process. Where is God filling and saving and healing in this broken life?

With dogs barking, and unpacked bags beckoning, I return.

It is good to be back.