Thursday, December 13, 2012

Rains


The drenching rain pours. We sit sheltered, today, from its harshest effects.

We are in an RV on the Oregon Coast for a two night repose.

Kinley reads. The boys watch cartoons. Isaac plays games on an iphone.

I peruse the internet and Jeff sneaks in a much deserved nap.

He has driven many, many miles. There are more ahead.

Breakfast settles into our stomachs and the smell of bacon and coffee remain comforting and warm.

This motor home is our very first home. The only one we have ever fully owned.

We sleep, lined up like matchsticks, cozy and ordered.

In the midst of furlough that disperses our family into larger family systems we claim two nights and some hours as just Us.

We get this gift often as we serve in Uganda. The isolation we feel anchors us to each other and shapes our family. We anticipate outlets and opportunities to venture outside of our family for moments and respites, but find ourselves resting and resolving best when we get back face to face and shoulder to shoulder with this, Our Team.

Amazing the ‘able-ness’ of our God. How He fills and inspires and motivates right where He calls.

I sip another cup of coffee. Stare at these God has allowed me for now. And continue in a season of Thanksgiving. Prolong the acknowledgement of harvest.

It aches. A place setting for each of mine. While others, those dear to me, acutely feel the empty space. The one who met Jesus ahead of us.

I strive to welcome this awareness. This loss that does not relent even as cheery music wafts and lights twinkle. I want to honor the road my warrior friends are navigating.

I want the courage to be Real. Lord, make me able to accept and make a secure place for Authentic. For the painful inexpressible. For the need to be silent. For the ache to wail. For the blessing of remembering. For the completely unpredictable process of a healing wound.

I have time today to sit and think. To remember. To pray.  To cry. To thank. To learn.

All as the drenching rain pours.

Into the storms around me, with humble courage-seeking voice, I speak to believe. I speak to choose.

“Blessed be the name of the Lord.”




Saturday, October 27, 2012

Today, My Heart


Today my heart is at Rondo Retreat Center in Western Kenya. On the expansive lawn. Laughing and learning in the living room. Worshiping in the chapel. Having long heart to heart talks with sisters I dearly esteem and love.

Today my heart is in any number of  living rooms in Nairobi, Kenya. Tuesday night potluck. Ladies Bible study. Planning ladies retreat. CDT is cross-stitching a million notebook covers. Seasoned missionaries sharing life. Teaching me how to survive. How to thrive.

Today my heart is at a dinner table. Turtle Bay Resort. Rondo, again. The Reppart’s home. Laura and I are reconnecting. Pictures of grandchildren. Memories with her children. The conversation circles and meanders but always points to God. Laura sat right up next to her King. Leaned into Him. Sought after Him. I learned from her, every time we spoke.

Today my heart is on a mountain top. Jeff has led amazing young ladies on a senior year adventure.  I tagged along and summited with them. One deliberate, difficult step at a time. Laughter. Success. Brutal chill. And communion.

Today my heart is in our second house in Fort Portal. Dear friends, the Browns, are with us. They are newly weds and we are newly parents. Two year old Kinley beebops around us and Alex is three months from arrival. We are sharing the stories of our hearts and lives. Until the wee hours of the morning. And it is good.

Today my heart is in Fort Worth with dear missionary community gathered to honor, to remember and to say goodbye.

Today my heart is in West Texas. With my enduring man who continues to recover. With the Cashlings enjoying the delights of America.  With my parents who are so good to me and mine. And with my sister and her amazing family who welcome us into their lives. Their activities. Their world.

My scattered heart, all broken and mended.

Gathered and strewn.

Full.

Today every piece of my heart finds welcome in His.

Pressing into His Knowing is Glorious. Familiar. Safe.

Intimate.

Connected.

Whole.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted…” Psalm 34:18


 Laura Reppart, beloved wife, mother, Shosho, and friend passed from this life early this week. She is Home. And Healed. But we will all miss her here. 
Come, Lord Jesus, Come.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Home


Four AM.

Jeff is moving quietly, allowing me to sleep as long as possible.

I release to the awakening around 4:30. Sleep will be elusive now.

We talk quietly. Our difficult flight experiences yesterday. Travel.

Arrival in my dear Texas.

We are thankful to have traveled safely.

Thankful for our amazing children.

Thankful for each other.

I walk silently into the kitchen to make tea and I’m greeted by waves from the Cashlings. All awake soundlessly in the dark room.

“My body thinks it’s daytime, Mama,” Silas whispers.

Accurate.

We begin to move slowly in the morning dark. Enjoying the stretching of our legs. The comfort of a bed. Being safe, together, here.

We are cycling a travel cold. Stuffed noses and raw throats. Warm tea soothes and Tylenol eases.

Jeff has taken the sickness hardest. Any virus deeply affecting his weakened body.

He endured much yesterday. Thankful for his strength.

I sip my second cup of coffee. The caffeine does little to push back the weariness of jet lag. We must feel this until we don’t. There is no way around the tired. Just through it.

My brain seeks. Searches. Works through this transition.

Through the wardrobe.

Shifting of gears.

How to describe?

When we first moved to Uganda, seventeen years ago, someone mailed us the VHS tape of the movie Twister and I watched it over and over again. The movie was good, but it was the scenery that called me back. The camera shots of a wide, open sky. Tarmac roads. Scenes that reminded me of home. A place I understood.

Watching those landscapes soothed me then.

I remembered this feeling yesterday as I watched another movie on the airplane. There was a scene of arrival in an African airport.

And that same soothing, familiar feeling washed over me.

Africa. The Third World. Now the place I can negotiate and understand.

I am still shocked by this.

This being an alien.

Landing in Texas bears a deep familiarity. Volume and accent and a warmth of welcome. A manner of conversation and joking that I recognize and remember.

Football games. Church. Restaurants.

Kindness of strangers.

We have met such kindness in every culture we have passed through.

But when the kindness reaches you in a familiar accent it touches uniquely.

We have two nights, cozy in our hotel room, to sip hot tea. Rest our weary bodies.

And allow our brains to shift.

Tomorrow, we make one more flight.

To family. Hugs. Connection. Conversation.

Another home.

This life is good. Rich. Full.

Even from weariness. Especially from weariness.

His Strength sustains. And He is ever, more real. Always Present.

“…And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.”

“…they were longing for a better country---a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”

Hebrews 11:13b;16

Monday, October 08, 2012

The Gift of October 8th


It's a Rerun! Which, if you know me and my sister, is entirely appropriate :) This a post from one year ago today. Happy birthday Cherise!  

The suitcase made a tap-tapping sound as I bounced on it’s hard case. I stood on my tip-toes on the wobbly case, peering out the bedroom window. Mam-ma had just announced their arrival and I was eager for a glimpse.

I could see the car. And Daddy. But Mom was still sitting in the car, and she was in her pajamas and robe.

My hair was combed and tidied in barrettes. My clothes were clean and fresh. This moment was important and the joy of the impending introduction was reverberating through my tiny frame and making me jump and wriggle and hop.

I bounced down the hall and out the front door, with Mam-ma holding my hand. Warnings to be careful and quiet played in my ears.

Mom was just sitting and holding and I was curious about that. I pulled up on Daddy’s car door as he unloaded things from the trunk.

Mom smiled at me as I strained to see the bundle everyone was making such a fuss over.

“Come around over here, Cheryl. Quietly.”

I stood at the opened passenger door, relieved that Mom seemed to be just fine.

She pushed back the blanket with these words, “It’s YOUR baby, Cheryl! She’s here!”

It was... A Sister!

From moment one, I was enthralled.

She wriggled and stretched. I gasped, wide eyed.

My VERY OWN baby?!?!

I could hardly contain my joy.

I was called back to Mam-ma’s hand as Dad helped Mom inside. Everyone paraded down the hall to Mom and Dad’s room where Mom lay the tiny baby in the middle of their bed.

I was bounding with excitement.

Mom nodded at me and I (oh so carefully) climbed up beside the waking bundle.

The blanket was falling back and her legs and arms were squirming. She was tiny. And she didn’t have ANY hair. I smiled down at her and our eyes met for the first time.

She reached out towards me and grabbed a handful of my hair. And tugged. I startled with the sudden pain of a hair pull. Everyone laughed and calmed me, assuring me Sweet Sister meant no harm.

Despite the adult take on the situation, I was pretty sure I had seen the first smirk pass across that sweet baby face. (smile) I , to this day, adore that smirk.

It was the first of many moments that would be for us alone. Instantaneously, an understanding. We would know each other in a way no one else ever would.

Sisters.

My world changed forever on that day.

And I am so glad it did.

Happy Birthday, Cherise.

I am forever thankful for you.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Malaria


Jeff began to feel badly Wednesday night. We had worked through an emotionally exhausting day of counseling with those we love here. We wondered if his weariness was tied to the day’s events. But in the early dark, his discomfort turned an ugly corner and became severe. We both suspected malaria. (Jeff has had malaria seven times; I have had it four.)

After a sleepless night for both of us, we decided to use a malaria self test but the results were inconclusive. We tried a second test with much prayer that God would give us a clear answer. He did. The test was definitively positive. We began treatment immediately.

We are so thankful for the convenience of the malaria self tests. We were able to diagnose and treat from the comfort of our own bedroom, instead of facing a difficult clinic experience in town.

For those who are interested in specifics, malaria is spread through the bite of the female Anopheles mosquito. Mosquitoes bite an infected person then transfer the illness when they bite the next person. Malaria manifests in a cyclical fever. Your fever raises, then drops (producing chills), then levels before raising again. Through each cycle one maintains a very unique brand of headache and joint and body aches. Malaria is mean and it hurts in a very distinct way.

Malaria is common in this land. Many people suffer with it every day.

Malaria can be deadly if not treated. You don’t ever want to wait malaria out. When you know you have it, treatment should begin immediately.

We are blessed to have access to education, information and medicines to help our bodies fight this sickness. We are overwhelmingly grateful for our Lord, the Healer, who is at work on our behalf even before we know the disease is coursing in our blood.

Please pray for: 
*the meds to remove the parasites from Jeff’s body
*Jeff’s energy and strength to renew miraculously and quickly; malaria leaves a body anemic and weak
*wisdom as we prepare for furlough departure—so much to be done but with one player out we need clarity to choose where to put our limited energy
*Cheryl’s health to remain strong
 *the Cashlings to be well

We are so very thankful for: 
*the ability to buy medication
*medical professionals who research and study sicknesses like malaria so that the disease can be treated
*our home to convalesce in
 *every single prayer and pray-er who labors on behalf of our family 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Communing


Communing in the sacred space of grief is tender and soul affecting.
This poem by Shawn Brown speaks artistically poignant to the experience of grief. I am thankful for Shawn's heart and his willingness for me to share his writing here. 
Be blessed-

at a deep silent lake of grief

3 adult children sit on a low dock

dangling their feet in the water

it is dark and the dark is cold and clear

though a grey mist is forming

a fog that becomes more dense with distance

no way to make sense of the vague shapelessness there

a man stands waist deep in the utterly still water

hands at his sides

shoulders drooping

also seeking somewhere to focus his eyes

the stars have been coming out

one by one and in groups

to shine their light on the people

so many that it is remarkable

reflecting off the smooth lake

steady through the ripples

everyone is grateful for their light

and there are others at the shore

on the dock

toes in the water

arms open

children splashing lightly

playing around their legs

feeling the weight of the water

quietly understanding what their age allows

someone skips a stone

and all wonder when it will stop skipping

slide into the silent water and fall to the bottom

all the while the ripples spread, more stars come out, the stillness grows

no one tries to deny that soon they will be completely submerged

and that when they emerge

the water of that lake will never completely dry from their skin

and that they will return to the lake

often at first and always for the rest of their lives

and though grief is lonely

they will never be alone in their remembering

the ripples of this life will never stop spreading


(Shawn’s mother-in-law, Laura Reppart, is currently undergoing radiation treatments for a brain tumor. For prayer news and updates on the Reppart family you can go here. To see more of Shawn’s writings please visit his blog Circumstantially Wonderful .)


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Remembering


“Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the people of the world revere him.
For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.

From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth—he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.
No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.

We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.”

Psalm 33: 8-11 & 13-22


These last weeks have been full of remembering.

Childhood memories with life long friends.  Delightful reunions over burgers in Kampala. International, world changing events.  Rebecca. Airplane ferry flights. Friends who have relocated.

Some seasons are just like this, aren’t they? Heavy with memory. Deep with meaning.

Psalm 33 and 34 have poured into these deep recollections in my heart. And actively breathed life, repeatedly.

Today, with world news swirling and dear friends grieving and travel logistics pressing I read David’s words, out loud.

And it helps me to remember.

God.

Is.

Delivering.

Keeping.

Shielding.

Purposing.

Planning.

Foiling.

Thwarting.

Watching.

Considering.

Loving.

He is.

We wait in hope. 

We rejoice and trust.

And His unfailing love settles all over us.

Monday, August 27, 2012

On Women and Valor

Her name was Rebecca and I have been given the honor of sharing a part of her story over here

Please join me as Rachel Held Evans hosts a week of essays honoring valor in the hearts and lives of women. 

I'm thankful to be a part of honoring the courage of amazing sisters. 

Come join us! 

Eshet chayil!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Veranda Prayers

The transience is pressing in today. We walk alongside others in this international existence knowing change is just around the next corner. But despite the coming and the going a community is formed, through shared experience and treasured moments. A community that does hold. My thoughts this morning are with friends who are hurting many miles from where I sit.  My heart turns to these and other memories as we feel and love and experience, from a distance. 


Our conversation started over lunch. Our annual ladies retreat chattering, ministering around us. There were pictures. Funny stories of the grandkids. I was hearing of their reunion, all together in Kenya. And we were celebrating the miracle of that.

Then the tears.

There had been a loss. And a barrenness. And my heart broke too.

We made our way to a veranda, and tucked ourselves away. To pray.

To battle.

I treasure this. Anointing tears.

As we sat together, we were strengthened from the past experience.

Her first born and I consecrated the lawn of this retreat center one year long past. Annointed with our tears. And our frustrations. And our fears. Two very inward souls, trusting from some of our deepest places on that day. A rarity. And a treasure.

Her second born and I shared some tears too. From laughter. Soul renewing hilarity over mountain climbs and British soldiers and exhilarating exhaustion.

We had all shared a meal, some time later, and sat together in their living room in Nairobi. Broken shards of loss all in the middle of us. Sacred space. Painful space.

We didn’t know the outcome that evening as we sat with the fractured realities. Only faith. And hope. And surrender.

It hurt.

From those memories and many others, birthed communion. And trust. The familiarity of joining our hands and hearts in prayer.

On the retreat veranda, those years later, we could see the expanse of gorgeous rain forest just in front of us. Full of life. Full of renewal. Full of funny monkeys.

We believed and prayed. We asked God for New Life. We asked for Favor and for Grace. On that veranda, through some tears.

Right on the edge of all the glorious beauty.

This morning, some years later still, I sit on a veranda again.  Reading black and white words.

‘Inoperable tumor.’ ‘Aggressive cancer.’

And I am remembering. I am communing.

Many of my memories with these friends were moments when we spoke to each other, “You are not alone.”

Today, I pray That.

This scattered community that we are.  Defying the physical separation of miles and life circumstance and oceans. Reconvening around one Throne.

To be heard.

Tears. And Hope. Feeling all on the edge of the glorious beauty ahead.

Surrender.

It still hurts.

Here on this veranda, I join with the community of other believers in the beseeching and yielding of prayer.

And we are not alone.

(Updates and prayer news for the Reppart Family can be found here.)





Thursday, August 09, 2012

Extravagantly Affordable


There are things, important things, that money cannot buy. But most everything has a cost anyway. Time. Energy. Control. We ‘pay’ and ‘spend’ something as we choose throughout our days.

I am blessed when I deliberately considering my ‘spending habits’ and how I speak about them.

“I feel like I accomplished NOTHING today.”

“Where did the time go?”

“That (moment, conversation, trip to town) felt like such a WASTE.”

“I wish I had done (fill in the blank) INSTEAD OF (fill in the blank).”

I am defining my circumstances from the standpoint of Me. 

My choices and my strength.

And I realize, I am depleting a shallow fund.

Not only that. 

But I am paying for something already purchased. Spending from a savings that is not mine.

Instead.

“…You are not your own; you were bought at a price….” 1Corinthians 6:19b-20a

I belong to Him.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

He has PLANS.

“But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.” Psalm 33:11

Plans that are not currently, nor will they ever be, failing.

Plans that are good.

And the most amazing thing. The most astounding truth.

His benefits arrive in the PIT. In the MUCK. Where we are DISEASED.

“Praise the Lord, O my Soul, and forget not all his benefits-
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who REDEEMS your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion
who SATISFIES your desires with GOOD things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagles.” Psalm 103: 2-5

He finds us over our heads in the ugly and ridiculous and buys us right back.

To SATISFY.

He affords. So I can too.

I can afford

Time to read aloud to my children
 Stolen kisses in the kitchen
 Lingering cuddles
 Deep, healing breaths
 Quiet
 Memorizing scripture
 Forgiveness
 Writing
 Laughter
 Another cup of coffee

I cannot afford

Fret or worry
 Bitterness
 Self-pity
 What-ifs
 Regrets



Afforded unto Me

Coffee on the veranda in the cool of the morning
 Sweaters and cooling rains
 Time with sister-friend on my porch, in my house, in my world
 Time to write
 the book of Nehemiah
 Ability to read
 Watching the Olympics
 Time to think
 Being Home
 Today’s bread
 Opportunity to ‘not know’ but obey
 Witnessing initiative when (and where) I least expect it
 forgiveness
 Dinner time conversation
 Front row seat to God’s crafting, refining and shaping of the four Cashlings
 Every single hug
 Jeff



 “Praise the Lord, O my Soul, all my inmost being, praise his holy name.” Psalm 103:1



Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Load Up the Camels


“By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.”

Seventy-five year old Abram. And lovely Sarai.

 Right smack dab in the middle of a predictable, constant life.

Surrounded by family. Familiarity. The security of knowing.

Called to move.

“…to a land I will show you.”

I try to picture the hub-bub created by Abram’s active obedience to this interesting directive.

Packing up their tents and herding animals and loading camels---destination unknown.

They must have been questioned about their journey? Where were they heading?

What exactly was the plan?

How long would it take to get...Where?

The servants would be curious. The community would be interested. The family would need to know where to forward the mail.

I picture Abram overseeing the massive migration that was his household, fielding the questions and wondering himself.

Did he answer, “God knows.”

Or simply, “I don’t know.”

Or perhaps the spiritually astute, “God will provide.”

Responses that could all most simply be boiled down to, “No clue.”

I wonder how his lack of knowledge was received?

Abram was commanded to 'not know'. But obey.

On more than one very difficult occasion.

Desert travel. Barrenness. Attempted murder.

Many years filled with long seconds and minutes and days of not knowing.

This is resonating with me right now.

A recent season of planning and decision making has been thwarted and delayed and remains undecided, leaving me to answer when asked about our plans, 

"God knows."
And “I don’t know.”
And “God will provide.”

Yep.

“No clue.”

It is easier for me to ponder and esteem this type of faith in the setting of a distant desert among tents I’m neither packing nor setting up. Camels I am not smelling.

To keep that kind of not knowing but believing obedience somewhere far away from my ‘need to know’ existence.

When this lack of knowledge settles in my living space and gallops across my daytimer, I become a tad bit grumpy.

With a smidge of pout.

Is my knowing a right?  A necessity?

A privilege?

I need to more carefully distinguish the difference.

“All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance.”

I must remember who I am.

“And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.”

And who my God is.

“Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”

Believing my Father, who knows me and mine so very well, has a definitive plan.

My not knowing is allowing me to exercise a very particular faith muscle.

Building strength where fitness had waned.

Developing brawn I might need in the very near future.

You know.

To load the camels.


(scripture references in italics from Hebrews 11: 8,13,16b and Genesis 12:1b)















Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Love Story by Cheryl Money Cash


Once Upon a Time

--I met a guy who was crazy passionate about living in Africa
--I found this mildly intriguing in an amusing sort of way
--when he asked for my number, I gave him the wrong one
--I did not hear from him for the rest of the year

Twice Upon a Time

--I saw the Africa guy from a distance and waved
--I dated other guys
--I wrote about the Africa guy in my journal
--one entry read: “Pray for Jeff Cash—money situation”

Twice Upon a Time Squared

--I traveled the West Coast over Christmas break and had the name “Jeff Cash” said to me (with glowing description to follow) on four different occasions in four different cities
--the last occurrence was in the home of his first cousin (hey Barb!) who showed me family pictures and said Jeff’s mom (hey Phyllis!) wanted to send a care package back to Texas with us if I would take it

Once Upon a Time

--it snowed and I didn’t meet Jeff’s Mom because she was ‘stuck on their mountain’
--I pondered what kind of life these interesting Northwesterners lived that they could actually employ the phrases, “I couldn’t make it. I was stuck on my mountain.”
--I wondered if I would ever hear from Jeff Cash again so I could tell him that I met his cousin

Thrice Upon a Time (or so)

--Jeff ventured to the University I attended to try and locate me
--I prayed for this Africa guy whose name would not leave my head (I figured it was the ‘Cash’ name that resonated)
--I thought about Africa and missions, intrigued and terrified

Once Upon a Time

--I happened to be at my apartment in the middle of the day
--at the exact same moment across town, Jeff ran into a mutual friend of ours who dialed my correct phone number so Jeff could leave me a message
--I answered the phone
--Jeff offered to show me pictures of Africa and tell me about his time there

Once Upon a Time

--we met and talked for hours
--he worked hard to recruit me to join an Africa team
--his ‘recruiting’ may have eventually involved roses, teddy bears and some kissing
--he was one heck of a recruiter







Once Upon a Time

--I got married and moved to Africa







And we lived….





Diligently. Laboriously. Passionately. Lovingly. Strenuously. Blessedly. Uncomfortably. Peacefully. Combatant-ly.  Hilariously. Adoringly. Thankfully.





Happily Ever After.







Sunday, June 17, 2012

Going to the Game


It was dark and we were walking through the parking lot toward Barrett Stadium. An old wooden stadium that seemed to creak and sway with every movement of the spectators. The playing field was grass.

In that sort of distinct fogginess of childhood memory, I remember the lights.

Bright lights. Shouted greetings as we climbed through the stands.

The smell of nacho cheese and jalapenos. Hot dogs. Cotton candy and popcorn.

The scent of the wooden bleachers and the sticky of the soda soaked wood.

The breeze was cool, especially towards the top of the stands. I was zipped up in a coat. His hand was bigger than mine and warm.

He was holding my hand and telling me about this thing we were there to see. This,  football.

He was telling me the names of the players he knew. He was commenting on the team. How important it was to work together. And depend.

How debilitating it was to have a showy player. How everyone needed to be moving as one. Strengths and weaknesses accounted for and negotiated.

He pointed out that the players held hands in the huddle. These tough, West Texas boys traditionally proclaimed to everyone watching, that they were standing together. Each member of the team was important.

He spoke of the players who did not see much playing time in games, but worked hard all week at practice anyway. He highlighted their roles behind the scenes. How everyone contributed.

He stood a lot. And cheered loudly, calling the players by name.

He clapped and shouted encouragement loudest when they made a mistake.

“That’s all right boys! Stay with it!!!

He celebrated classy behavior. He would point out the good choices and strong courage shown.

We never left the stadium until the team had prayed and cleared the field. 

We joined with the other remaining faithful and applauded the team to the locker room.

We applauded longer, if they lost.

Being community meant supporting. No matter what the outcome.

They were kids. Working together, sometimes against big odds, to advance and improve. To win. They were often the underdogs. Smaller. Slower. From a dry, hot West Texas town.

I loved going to the games with him.

Loved the sound of his voice. The way his hands looked and sounded when he clapped.

The funny, characteristic banter between him and those who shared our bleacher.

The enduring principles I saw and absorbed through his engagement of the game.

How proud I always felt to be sitting next to him.

Dad.

It seems like yesterday.

Shivering in the West Texas fall winds.  Enjoying the game. Laughing with friends. Staying until the final prayer.

Holding my hand.


We watched many, many games from the stands in our good town. I live a fair distance from that world now, but the feeling of those Friday nights is nestled deep and real.  

The same feeling treasured from countless other childhood memories.

The belonging of community. The value of people and integrity.

The security of having a hand to hold and a supportive voice cheering.

I have been incredibly blessed. 

Happy Father’s Day to my Dad. 

I am so thankful for you. 

Can’t wait to watch some football with you again. And soon.







Monday, June 04, 2012

Pushing Through Doors


They were the very first smiles I saw when we pushed through the Entebbe airport doors.  Two very white faces in a sea of Ugandan community. October 1995.

Their hugs were warm and their welcome was enthusiastic. Friends.

Together we tugged and pushed our baggage towards vehicles they had secured. We loaded and hauled our treasures and eventually settled into their guest room.

We’ve loaded and unloaded many things since then. (Literally, but mostly figuratively.)

We are marking those shared experiences as we pray for their impending departure.

We are remembering. We are thanking.

For these:

*sharing your home for three whole months (and still loving each other at the end!)
*delivering food to Iki Iki church
*sleeping in a sweltering, mosquito infested tiny mud-hut room
*mental health food at Quality Cuts
*conversations late into the night
*navigating Kampala’s traffic with Cheryl as driver and Jana as navigator
*debriefing and decompressing with those who truly understand
*house sitting
*bike-a-thon
*movie marathons
*sleeping until noon (ha!)
*car repairs
*UP
*Indian food
*birthdays
*calling Jana from restaurants so she could tell us what to order
*the blessing of each child added to our families
*book titles for our memoirs
*soul healing laughter

In a few short hours their hauling will recommence. Across an ocean. Again.

We won’t be physically present when you push your luggage through customs and the Rwandan airport doors shut behind you.

But from this distance, we honor the treasures you’ve tucked away. Memories. The overcoming. The gifts.

Especially those riches known only to you. The hidden, sacred gifts given by a Father Who knows you so very well.

Each treasure matters. Because they are yours. (Just like a tin of blue band in a child’s grasp--smile)

He has given (and taken) from the deepest love we will ever know.


Shared history. We are thankful for this.

We won’t belabor that difficult, weighty word we all despise. (goodbye)

Instead, we pray with joy. Confident.

That the doors you push through next will bring you to spacious, blessed places.

God promises this.

His abundant provision awaits those who trust in His Name.

It is an honor to serve around His throne with you.



Our God is Faithful.

We are witnesses to that redemptive truth in our shared journey these two decades.

Travel safely, Jenkins family.

Until we meet…



Thursday, May 31, 2012

Gadgets and Gizmos


We love technology. But we live very far from it’s thriving epicenter.

In fact. Our domicile has gone many a day with absolutely no connection to anything remotely resembling technology.

And that is not all bad.

We are forced, by our life circumstance, to find something else to do. To be creative. To be outside. To have conversations with actual people.

And sometimes. To be bored.

But, despite what our circumstance affords us, once we have ready access to all things technological we are thrilled to engage the gadgetry.

On the eve of re-entry to a highly technological world, we begin to dip our toes into the inviting water.

Exciting. And intimidating.

In the last 24 hours I have read about Kindles, Ipods, DSi gaming systems and IPads.

I’m a little bit dizzy from all the information.

Dizzy from the choices.

I thought I knew exactly what we wanted. But soon discovered that there was MORE and BETTER and NEW!

And so we begin. The consumerism of our Homeland.

I love it!

And I hate it.

My navigation skills need honing, in this sea of options and improvements.

I’ve read websites and reviews. I’ve questioned friends and family. I’ve decided and changed my mind.

But in the end. I’m back to that moment I’ve often bemoaned.

I’m switching off my internet and computer, escaping to my unplugged porch, staring at the silent mountains and deliberately laying aside the deciding of things.

I’m sure we will engage the technological, but only at the pace I’m most acquainted with now.

Slow and steady.

Funny. I did not see that advertised even one time.






Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Best for Me






Two times to the hospital before I cooperated.
She never told me how much it hurt.
How tiresome and frustrated…
Just the joy was retold. The best for me.

 I cried. I fussed. Colic.
She walked. She cried. Dad walked. They tried.
New formula. This. That.
I got better. The best for me.

Bows in my hair. Songs in my chair.
Celebration over every next step.
Mamma and Grandaddy. Granny and Papa.
The best for me.

Hobbs, then Odessa.
Grandparents just down the street.
A sister!
The best for me.

Life full. Time fast.
Memories. Speed past…

School, a job, church, my Dad.
Parties, sponsor, teacher.
Stitches, friends, slumber parties, movies.
Hair styles, clothes, shopping.
Talks. Boys. Dates. Driving.
College. Heartbreak. Decisions. Marriage.
A missionary.
Africa. Africa?
Passports. Visits. Grandchildren. Furlough.
Packages. Reunions. Plans.

Always. Still.

She wants the best for me.

This inherent gift. Born with conception. Instilled in her from her own Grace. A love so deep it sacrifices and gives. And multiplies.

I made her a mom.
And so did He.
The very best for me.






Happy Mother’s Day Mom. Thank you. For everything.





Thursday, May 03, 2012

Believing from the Hard Places


Maci. Ryan. Bentley. Diane.

One fell from a third story balcony.

One has a (dang-blasted) tumor around his spinal cord.

Two are undergoing chemo to fight Non-hodgkins Lymphoma.

They are wearing braces. Using wheelchairs. Limping and in pain.

They are working hard and monitoring everything.

They are losing their hair. Throwing up. Running fevers and very, very tired.

Their people are worn out too.

Nathan. Aleasha. Madi. Jessica. Jones. India. RayeAnne. Larry. 

(Together with amazing grandparents, superior aunts and uncles, incredible children and grandchildren.)

They are dispensing meds and driving to the doctor. They are holding hands and crying tears.

They are missing sleep and missing home. They are cheering on and hoping.

They are discussing death and realizing the imminence. 

They are comforting.

And they are all testifying.

Through blogs and emails and Facebook updates. Through hugs and prayers and blessed face-to-face contact. Through perseverance and authenticity.

Through their love for each other.

They are proclaiming Hope.

Truth.

God.

We can hear such messages in our faith communities each and every week. We can read them in Scripture. We can memorize, study and even believe.

But this testimony shouts loud and convicts deep. It’s VISIBLE.

From defeat. And struggle. And burden. And drought.

From loss.

Our family speaks these precious names each and every night. In prayer. With deep love and esteem.

With renewed faith.

Because we are Seeing Him.

In their words.  In their courage. In their weakened state.

Such vivid contrast that brings clearer focus. Our brokenness. His strength.

We see Him. Standing right there among these. Hurting as they hurt. Engaging them in the midst of frustrations. Handling the pleading prayers. Enabling. Sustaining. 

He is there.

Just like He promised He would be.

We see this. We show it to our children. We proclaim their testimony further.

We believe.

With them.

From the hard places.


.






Wednesday, May 02, 2012

The Sidebar and Some Other Stuff


  1. My husband works hard to keep our websites updated. I finally have links up in the sidebar on this blog. So if you are wondering what in the world we do in this far-off land, click on a link under “How We Serve”.

  1. Subscriptions—I’ve added gadgets to the sidebar to help you subscribe to these posts and/or receive them in your email inbox. HANDY!

  1. The Agriculture/Small Industries fair has come to our quaint little town. What this means, among many other things, is the thumping rap music can be expected at all hours of the day and night. With increasing volume as the sun goes down. We are just BESIDE ourselves with happiness. (not exactly)

  1. I enjoyed the most amazing cappuccino while in Kampala last week.  At Dormans coffee shop in Garden City Mall. (Okay. I enjoyed two.) Dorman’s location is far from peaceful (in the parking garage, overlooking the traffic jams in front of Garden City) but the cappuccino is tops, in my humble opinion.

  1. I accompanied my dear friend on a wedding dress shopping excursion in Kampala. I wasn’t sure what to expect but it was a remarkably wonderful experience. We even found some definite contenders in the wedding attire line-up. (clarification: dresses were for her, not me. I’m already married.)

  1. I found Dr Pepper in Kampala and bought 12 cans. We are rationing them carefully. When we drink them, we feel like we are in Texas. This makes us happy. And makes us want to eat fajitas.

  1. I don’t remember preferring Dr Pepper when I lived on American soil. But now that it is not readily available to me, I find it delightful. Interesting.

  1. Dear, sweet friends (hey Mark and Jamie!!!) left us a wonderful CD called Seeds of Courage when they visited recently. The CD has scriptures set to music and we are loving it. The package comes with two CD’s (identical). The idea being that you keep one and share one, like planting seeds. Highly recommended! www.seedsfamilyworship.com

  1. Hand-washing laundry in the rainy season seems futile. Mildew adds stink to clothes so the process of ‘cleansing’ and ‘refreshing’ is a no-go. But we continue to try anyway.

  1. Along the same lines:  Hand washing and line-drying towels is ridiculous. The end.

This has been a public service announcement.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Diligence


                                       “Careful and persistent work and effort”



I watch his labor.

I feel it.

In the set of his shoulders. In his stride. How he opens a drawer or moves down the hall.

I can tell when his burden is heavy.

The mechanics are calling. The churches need tending. The lessons need preparing. The sick need visiting. The oppressed need praying.

And the tires are always going flat.

There is a birthday to make memorable. Websites to update. A NEVERENDING slew of reports for agencies in front of us and those who meet far away.

Emails continue to arrive. Decisions pending must be faced. School.

Assignments to grade. Students to mentor. Counseling to ponder.

And the dreams. The vision. His life blood.

The camp. The retreat center. Our family home.

An aviation ministry.

Prayer and Vision. A council that will not be forgotten.

And the always needful, “Dad?”

Nineteen years ago, I was just beginning to learn his cadence.

His long stride covered ground quickly. Movement was synonymous with him. He hated to turn around and go back. Preferred to find the way forward.

Uphill energized him. The strenuous was a welcome outlet. His exertion breathed life into him. Gave him a story to tell.

He sought the challenge. Tackled it.

And always continued forward.

He still does.

I will never cease to be amazed, thankful and (honestly) exasperated at his determined pace. I’m challenged by it. I’m fatigued by it. I’m trained by it.

And I undeniably depend on it.

So many people do.

When those steps grow heavy, I notice.

I feel it.

And I know.

He will continue on.

The exertion will only serve to strengthen him. To write more of an adventure into his story.

Our story.

Our Father has a plan. We know this. We remind each other.

We step. 


Diligently forward.