Wednesday, December 11, 2013

You Were Right



  1. I do regret quitting piano lessons.
  2. Biting my nails was a yucky habit. I am glad I stopped.
  3. Finishing my college degree is something I am thankful for.
  4. I do wish for all those naps I resisted when I was a child.
  5.  Coffee is a good, good thing.
  6. Life long friends are both rare and an absolute treasure.
  7. Band did provide some of my very best friendships and memories in school.
  8. Those who gossip with me will also gossip about me. Gossip is painful for everyone involved.
  9.  Making a B really didn’t kill me.
  10. A new pair of shoes does cover a multitude of wrongs.
  11. I am thankful for that quiet, date-less weekend in college and for the meal and movie you directed me towards.
  12. Elvis does remain awesome.
  13. Laughter is healing.
  14. Crunching ice at the table is an annoying sound.
  15. The car does stop making that ‘funny noise’ the second a husband listens for it.
  16. Having all of your children safely asleep under your very own roof is an incredibly peaceful feeling.
  17. My hair really does have a mind of it’s own.
  18. Before I could blink twice my own daughter would be 16!
  19. Family is forever.
  20. Jesus does love me.

Happy birthday Mom!

I admire your amazing wisdom more with each passing day.

So thankful for you! 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Witnesses


We keep a list of names.

People and families with pressing needs.

We think of them all through the day and speak their names in our family prayers at night.

We honor this process so much.

Every name on our list is a testimony.

Every story a witness.

*Papa  He really didn’t want the surgery. He chose to simply handle the back pain and the other issues that accompanied. But ultimately, the effects and pain intensified motivating steps toward a more definitive solution. Surgery was scheduled.

Papa chose later over sooner in all of this, but Sooner would have it’s day.

*The surgery finished Sooner than expected.
*My parents went home from the hospital Sooner than was projected.
*Papa’s healing progressed Sooner than we dared hope.
*Papa was released Sooner from the doctors care because of advanced healing.

He is now back brace free, and walking with a smile.

Our hearts SOAR with joy over the provision we see in the healing of my Daddy.

*Three dear families from our Stateside homes mark the respective anniversaries of devastating loss. Sons and a daughter are with Jesus, and the practicalities of grief make daily footfalls heavy.

They all walk with such dignity, authenticity and hope.

And yet.

The difficulty of Goodbye pervades and persists.

*Travis Travis is a family practice doctor who serves with his family and team in a town several hours west of us in Uganda. They were on a short home leave, when medical tests revealed cancer. A young man (37 yrs) with no family history of cancer, the news was completely unexpected. Their family faced an abrupt change of plans and immediately settled into surgery and treatment schedules.

Twelve arduous chemo treatments later we prayed much concerning the CT scan that would determine the next steps.

With overwhelming joy we received news that the scan was clear!

Cancer Free.

*Our brother, our dear friend, was taken into emergency surgery several years ago. He has struggled with the same illness every day since. We have prayed. Asked.

We have beseeched.

He and his family have endured arduous treatments and much struggle.

They serve in their calling, in the midst of it. Faithful. Hurting. Diligent.

We all wait together still, longing for healing and relief.

*Lauren, Kimberly, Kasidy, Joanna, Jamie  Expectant mothers welcoming babies all within several weeks of each other.

Eli, Carson, Jesiah, Kamryn,Brumley and Harper Tiny little arrivals proclaiming big the mercy and wonder of New Life.

We have delighted over pictures and long to hold these adorable bundles of blessing. We are grateful for the health of each child and the safety of their Moms.

We celebrate confident in God’s plan and purpose for each of their lives.

*Three dearly esteemed sisters battling cancer, betrayal and heartbreak respectively. Each carrying burden from this broken world while loving their children and seeking their Lord.

God loves us and shows His power in wellness.
God loves us and chooses to be with us, in the need, a little while longer.

God loves us.

And this Love is Loud.

We gather the visible answers and we embrace the ongoing struggles and we fix our eyes.

Surrounded by such a cloud of Noisy Witness, we meet around a Thanksgiving Table, grateful in all these circumstances.

Marking answers in Thanksgiving while fully engaged in the God With Us miracle.

In the hope.

In the struggle.

There He Is.

We see Him.

And we are filled.

“Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us…”

“…Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith…”

“…consider Him…so that you won’t grow weary and lose heart.”

Hebrews 12: 1-3 (HCSB)









Monday, November 04, 2013

Bread, Oil and Wine

The calendar turned to November recently.
As I reset calendars and set out Thanksgiving décor, I find myself breathing disbelief.
Hard to keep up with, this turning of time.
But it marches and moves and passes.
Sometimes it even cajoles.

Life’s seasons coax us to feel or emote in particular ways.

Our family marks this particular season with fall colors and apple crisps and all things pumpkin.

We simmer apple cider and we pre-order turkeys from Kampala.

We start cycling the Christmas music.

We recall the warmth of memory, home and family.

And we are reminded to thank.

Our paper pumpkins collect on the kitchen door. The little and big things we praise God for. The difficult things we are disciplining appreciation into.

It is good to write it all down. To mark it.

David did this so beautifully.

In the Psalms.

“Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits…” Psalm 103:2

David is specific and detailed in his praising. His lists are long and descriptive. He nurtures the remembrance of our God who loves and acts in mercy and truth for all of us.

“Whoever is wise, let him heed these things and consider the great love of the Lord.” Psalm 107:43

In the considerations of Psalm 103-107 this passage has my attention today:

 “He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate—bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart.” Psalm 104:14-15

Our Provider meets our needs with careful attention to that which ‘gladdens’ and ‘sustains’ and ‘makes us shine’.

Today I record (in photos) the ‘bread’ and the ‘wine’ and the ‘oil’ of this season in my life.

“May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the Lord.” Psalm 104:34

sweet :)
                                             
Funny boys :)



My beautiful girl!

Chef Kinley 
An All Boy schoolroom
(Kinley is completing High School work on her own--tests are mailed and graded in the States. She is working hard and making A's. So proud of her!)

Peace--our other daughter:) and Kinley's sister friend
Lovely coffee in Fort Portal. A true sign of advanced civilization :)
Dad's stories draw a crowd. (Everyone in the kitchen after dinner--storing it all up in my heart.)

Twenty years of marriage. Eighteen years in Uganda. God's grace to us, over and over again.

Exceedingly. Abundantly. Blessed. 
“Praise the Lord, O my soul.  O Lord my God, you are very great…” Psalm 104:1



Wednesday, October 30, 2013

This Time Last Year

"I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. 
Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD."
Psalm 27:13-14

Waiting is a learned discipline.

And it rarely looks pretty on my countenance. 
I want to be calm and peaceful and quietly restful in all my waiting seasons.
But.
Instead.
I can be profuse in my grimaces, and my worry and my sweaty, red-faced clamor.
(Is N.O.W. really too much to ask?!)

The clash of my longing and God’s timing keeps me wrestling with Him through details.

I acknowledge that Mastery of the Patience Thing would effectively end this wrangle. 
And I recognize that the wrangle has value (dang it).

All the wrestling locks me in his grasp.
It keeps me in the game.
We stay connected in a way that strengthens and trains.
It builds muscle.
And necessary skill.
It shapes a warrior.

Remembering the provisions of God nourishes the faith muscles required to sustain a hopeful waiting posture in my current circumstances.
Retelling His benefits, feeds the very muscles that sustain all the wrestling.

Pictures of our furlough travels have prompted needful recollection this week.
The myriad interruptions (waiting) of last year did not hinder the blessings God had designed for us.
 These images and the memories they represent are soothing and strengthening and reminding me of God's good plans and purposes:


Pontevecchio Dates with Jeff-- completely delightful


Thanksgiving Prayer


Enjoying the winter weather in Durango, CO

Home to Oregon

Football with the Family (GO ROYALS!!!)

Meals and memories at Grammy and Granddad's table
Sweet memories with Uncle S'More

Joy :)

Celebrating, all together in one place

The gorgeous Oregon Coast 

A Merry Thanksgiving Meal 

One of our VERY favorite places in the world--Multnomah Falls

Snow!

The Grand Canyon
Surprise Time with treasured friends!
Every moment with THIS girl!
Silly Selfies
Games!

Sisters. Starbucks. Sanctuary.

Offspring in the halls of our junior high--so many memories in these corridors

This. 

Token tree decorating pose--HAPPINESS!

Beautiful Glenwood

Enjoying time with the Goodes!

Home away from Home--We love you Bill and Virginia!

A birthday supper at Mercado's. Perfection!
The Cashlings meet the Funnel Cake. Love at first bite!

Rockets and stars--a fun day at NASA

Dearest friends

Cheering for Bryson at a swim meet!

The Great Wolf Lodge with lots of Cousins

Sweetest sustaining connections--the Vaughn family

Refreshing Hope in the home of the Parsons--a perfect and very blessed ending to our furlough

And so, reminded, I remain.
Locked in His grip.
Holding out for a bestowing.
Limping and blessed.

"And Jacob was left alone, and a Man wrestled with him until daybreak.
And when [the Man] saw that He did not prevail against [Jacob], He touched the hollow of his thigh; and Jacob’s thigh was put out of joint as he wrestled with Him.
Then He said, Let Me go, for day is breaking. But [Jacob] said, I will not let You go unless You declare a blessing upon me.
[The Man] asked him, What is your name? And [in shock of realization, whispering] he said, Jacob [supplanter, schemer, trickster, swindler]!
And He said, Your name shall be called no more Jacob [supplanter], but Israel [contender with God]; for you have contended and have power with God and with men and have prevailed.
Then Jacob asked Him, Tell me, I pray You, what [in contrast] is Your name? But He said, Why is it that you ask My name? And [the Angel of God declared] a blessing on [Jacob] there.
And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel [the face of God], saying, For I have seen God face to face, and my life is spared and not snatched away.
And as he passed Penuel [Peniel], the sun rose upon him, and he was limping because of his thigh."
Genesis 32:24-31 
The Amplified Bible









Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Then They Will Know


“Hey, it’s me…”
There are voices we recognize immediately.
On the phone. Or from a distance.
In the space of days and many words, we practice discerning a tone, an accent and a lilt.
Until we know.
Jeff’s is one such voice for me.
I hear him and perceive both his identity and (often) exactly how he is feeling.
I adore this kind of knowing. This depth of awareness.
It feels very big. Very sustaining and full.
Very connected.
And yet.
That big, meaningful awareness is born from many very common conversations.
In the midst of all the Regular, I have learned his voice.


“…the word of the Lord came to Ezekiel the priest…” Ezekiel 1:3

We find Ezekiel in our Old Testament. Right between the Lamenting and Daniel.

God found Ezekiel by a river in the midst of exiles.

But they already knew each other because Ezekiel was a priest.

Ezekiel’s priesthood indicates, among other things, that he had spent time and energy maintaining daily religious practices in honor and worship of Jehovah God.

He had invested regular days to systematic discipline in obedience to Yahweh.

Ezekiel lived in a time when God’s Word was not compiled into one Holy book.

There was no Bible as we have today.

No concordances or dictionaries.

No bookstores with a zillion versions of His Words decorating the shelves.

When God had something to say, He sent angels.

And prophets.

And sometimes heart stopping visions.

“In my thirtieth year…the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God.” Ezekiel 1:1

“…This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking.” Ezekiel 1:28

Ezekiel writes of his commissioning by the very voice of God. He was chosen to be a Prophet.

Propheting (let’s just go with it) wasn’t so much a fun job for Zeke. 

Not very many chapters into Ezekiel’s story, one gets the strong feeling that Ezekiel has not been chosen for a ministry of Joy and Abundance. 

“The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn….Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions…. You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen for they are rebellious.” Ezekiel 2:4-7

Ezekiel was not so very cheery about his calling.
(To this, I might possibly, sometimes relate.)

“The Spirit then lifted me up and took me away, and I went in bitterness and in the anger of my spirit, with the strong hand of the Lord on me. I came to the exiles who lived at Tel Aviv near the Kebar River. And there, where they were living, I sat among them for seven days—deeply distressed.” Ezekiel 3:14-15

But.

Ezekiel obeyed.

He did his job.

He listened. He spoke.

He wrote stuff down.

He did what he was called to do.

There are 48 chapters of all that Ezekiel heard and faithfully repeated.

In the majority of the first 40 chapters Ezekiel is given heaps of bad news to deliver and often, experience himself.

He is asked to do some pretty weird things in order to make a point to a rebellious people.

He was called to be both a watchman and an example; to tell them and SHOW them.

His calling was sometimes harsh. 

“Son of man with one blow I am about to take away from you the delight of your eyes….So I spoke to the people in the morning and in the evening my wife died.” Ezekiel 24: 16&18

So devastating. And yet we read of Ezekiel’s obedience and perseverance.

We see his faithful proclaiming.

“Again the word of the LORD came to me.” Ezekiel 36:16

Ezekiel was listening, but God’s people were not.

It seems many folks, had fallen out of the “It’s me…” connection with Jehovah.

They weren’t recognizing His Voice anymore.

They had fallen into a whole lot of leaning on (listening to) other things.

“…I have been grieved by their adulterous hearts, which have turned away from me, and by their eyes, which have lusted after their idols.” Ezekiel 6:9b

“He said to me, ‘Son of man, have you seen what the elders of Israel are doing in the darkness; each at the shrine of his own idol?” Ezekiel 8:12

“… for you have not followed my decrees or kept my laws but have conformed to the standards of the nations around you.” Ezekiel 11:12

The ears of God’s people were tuned to the soundtrack of their own pursuits. Images and shrines that had become their Regular.

“… your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, because the splendor I had given you made your beauty perfect, declares the Sovereign Lord.
But you trusted in your beauty and used your fame to become a prostitute. You lavished your favors on anyone who passéd by and your beauty became his.” Ezekiel 16:14-15

Furthermore.

“…Was your prostitution not enough? You slaughtered my children and sacrificed them to the idols. In all your detestable practices and your prostitution you did not remember the days of your youth…” Ezekiel 16:20-22

God’s people did not remember.

They forgot: Who saved them; and Who made them beautiful; and Who they belonged to.

They chose Other Things.

(SO glad we have all moved way past THAT kind of living.)

(Right?)

(deep, deep sigh)

Ezekiel challenges and proclaims and reveals the grim despair of God’s people and the unfaithful nations surrounding God’s people.

At the exact same time.  (this is the BEST part!)

A point emerges repetitively from all of the warnings. And the punishments. And the losses. And the catastrophes. And the condemnations. And the silences. And the banishments.

“And then they will know that I am the LORD.”  Ezekiel 7:27b

Repeated more than 60 times, (63 times!!!) a refrain that crescendos and remarkably echoes Promise and Presence.

“And then they will know that I am the LORD.” Ezekiel 7:27b

God was still showing up.

While the reckoning was resounding and the wrath was pouring.

His love wasn’t going anywhere.

No matter what.

He wanted His Children to come Home.

“For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people and I will be your God.” Ezekiel 36: 24-28

With the same precision and purpose that He describes, warns and dispenses punishment for their conduct, He plans and purposes their Homecoming too.

The final eight chapters specifically and definitively measure and design glorious.

A City. And a restored temple.

“… the name of the city from that time on will be: ‘THE LORD IS THERE.’” Ezekiel 48:35b

Honesty resolves fastest. God never sugar coats Who We Are and What We Have Done.

Or Who He Is.

He keeps it all True.

Which means (because of us) it can get pretty ugly.

But (because of Him) can always be Redeemed.

According to Ezekiel’s testimony, God will go to extraordinary lengths to get our preoccupied attentions.

He is Jealous for our obsessions with other images, with other things that we depend on to sustain or help us.

He sees the Deception we wallow in and He is not okay with our wayward conduct.

He persists in reminding us of how He sounds. Of the Better Way.  Of the pain inherent in sin.

His Tone of Voice holds steady as Reconciling Hope. 

(Even when He Shouts.)

“Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:19-20


Repentance.

Hearing His Voice. (“Hey, it’s me…)

Opening the Door.

A feast.

And then we will know.
















Friday, October 04, 2013

Reality. Rest. Reset. Repeat.


We daily mark the steps in this dance of the realities and resets. We move through sorrow and celebration accompanied by the crooning Regular that comforts or drags, depending on the day.

Needing rest, so kneading rest. Somehow.

Finding our Faithful One, Faithful.


Reality
The rats have been many. The internet has been sparse. Rain pelts our land, our laundry and our lives. We spend many hours cooped up all together in one space. Many. Hours. The dark chocolate M&M’s are long finished and the thieves continue to pester and push.
A Kenyan Mall is invaded and we are wrapped up in mourning with a land we love. The Fun New Math has grown dull and the movies have all been recycled. Books are all read and batteries are dead. We. Are. Tired.


Rest
Weary, we pull towards an elusive rest finding respite in nibbles and drips.
(But finding it all the same.)
The Veranda. The Cool Air. Laughter. A Stolen Nap. Prayer.

“Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you.” Psalm 116:7

Reset

Thankful For a Life:
Where we go barefoot to school
Where bread is homemade and tortillas are fresh
Where the sun heats deep to our bones
Where activity Full-Stops when rains pour
Where my children learn to cope with Bored
Where conversations can meander long
Where my husband can have breakfast with me on the veranda
Where my children have learned to cook
Where fresh apples are celebratory treats
Where growing gardens and talking in the kitchen and reading books out loud together are main ingredients of our days
Where rhythm is established
Where there is always someone to teach
Where we have found time and space to heal and to hope
Where we can actively Believe
Yes, Thankful for a Life

Repeat

Honestly facing. Trusting. Listening. Proclaiming.

Again.

All day long.

“My mouth is filled with your praise, declaring your splendor all day long.” Psalm 70:8

“Give thanks in all circumstances…”I Thess 5:18



Thursday, September 26, 2013

Praying with Kenya


The Cash family feels deeply tied to the beautiful country of Kenya. We reside in Uganda (to the West of Kenya) but so much of our training, our renewing, and our strengthening traces East. Our family history is anchored in that land where we became missionaries and became parents.
We, like so many others in our East African community, have experienced the Westgate Mall attack with profound emotion. Our prayers are with all of Kenya and especially the Nairobi communities as they grieve, process and heal.

Our hearts have broken repeatedly as we have absorbed the news from Nairobi, Kenya.

The televised reports recycled clips and information over and over, and we struggled to pull our eyes away.

We have shed tears. Prayed so much. Listened as our children processed this.  Leaned hard on the Psalms.

We have scoured internet reports and facebook pages.

We have waited with a large, deeply pained, global community for it to be Over.

Our sleep has been robbed. We have scary dreams.

And we weren’t even there.

(But we have been there.)

Stores and scenarios that we are familiar with and relate to.

A very strong awareness that danger is no respecter of persons. Or days. Or locations.

Very bad things happen.

Tragedy reaches and takes.

We feel this from a distance. Realizing we grieve with those who are feeling this very, very Up Close.

We are inspired by each heroic story we encounter. We are thankful for courage that beautifully stands together thwarting the intention of completely shattering apart. 

We remember love. We cry out for mercy.

We pray for peace.

A distinct calm emerges from the quieting cessation of siege, but peace is not fully born from a simple lying down of guns.

Peace burgeons even more through a resolving. From the process of remembering and retelling. From, beyond our understanding, a renewed hope.

We ask for all of those things for the victims of Westgate’s siege.

Knowing full well, that Time is an imperative strand to the weaving of this resolution.

During these three set-apart days of mourning, we pray for God-encounters to emerge strong.

We ask for help and comfort.

We ask for a pervasive awareness of His attention and His love.

 “For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.” Psalm 22:24 NIV

“When Jesus saw Mary’s profound grief and the moaning and weeping of her companions, He was deeply moved by their pain in His spirit and was intensely troubled.
Jesus: “Where have you laid his body?”
Jews: "Come and see, Lord."
As they walked, Jesus wept; and everyone noticed how much Jesus must have loved…”
John 11:33-36 The Voice

Praying for all those thrust into wrestling lament by this crisis.

Believing full that He mourns with us too.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

"God sets the lonely in families..." Psalm 68:6a


Cleaning out files gets me every time.

There among the old catalogues (discard!) and two-decade-old receipts from Nairobi (burn!) I discover a treasure that melts me into tears.

Emails. The first emails we received in Uganda in 1995.

Email was brand new then. A mystery to me. Mission Aviation Fellowship hosted an email service used by many missionaries in Uganda.  We would send our emails to MAF’s computer system which would store the messages and then relay them several times a day to Europe and then on to the U.S. Power outages, poor phone lines and bad weather could hinder the calls making the messaging sporadic, but it was still so much faster than regular mail.

Before we settled in Fort Portal and acquired our own account, our missionary friends in Kampala blessed us by receiving messages for us. The messages were usually printed on scratch paper for us to collect when we visited.

In the stack I uncovered today were letters from my Dad, Mom and sister. From Jeff’s Mom and brother, Mike and sister, Kristi. From Joe Sasser (tears!) and Danny Carrigan (seriously—you wrote us an email once!) From Clint and Cathy West (messages that STILL make me laugh!)

And from Allan, our always computer-savvy brother-in-law, who gave us various suggestions on ways to improve our email access and spoke offhand about his hours ‘surfing the web’. We had no idea what he meant by that (smile).

The messages are full of details. A fire at LCU. Friona. Wade’s family is so great! Wedding plans. Church news. Mack’s latest cuteness. Mike’s job. News about sweet baby Sierra. Jeff’s parents’ upcoming trip to Uganda.  Who had been seen and sent their love to us. Questions about our days. Did we have the truck yet? When would we officially settle in Fort Portal? Where would we spend Christmas?

We all expressed our wonder.

“Can you believe I can type this message into a computer AT MY HOUSE and you can read it IN UGANDA in the same week I wrote it?!!!”

Kristi predicts, “Just imagine what communication will look like in 10 years! Maybe you will be able to get messages on the very day we write them!”

Unreal.

I am struck in the reading of those words, at how far we have come. Not just technologically.

We were only beginning, back then, to feel all this distance. And even though the grief was fresh and painful raw--

Every. Single. Message. Said how very proud they were of us. How very much they were praying.

How very much we are loved.

This venue of service has isolation programmed into it. Our differences (language, skin color, accent, experiences…) manifest in many flavors of lonely on both sides of the pond.

We can feel very Separate, and even, to some extent, settle into that ‘Other’ place accepting it as consequence and inevitability.

But into the Disconnect (perceived and real), we have found His Promises accompanying and persistent.

No one serves alone.

It is breathtaking how our Faithful and True kneads encouragement into our everyday.

Today, it was an impetuous 30-minute cleaning spree.

I set out to discard and make some more space—instead I rediscovered something we will always keep.

I had an unexpected and very sweet ‘visit’ with those who have known us always. With friends who prayed us into this endeavor and with those who still support us now.

I was reminded of relationships that hold.

And the gift of old friends.

Mostly, I felt overcome with the love of our families.

I am so thankful for our parents and our siblings and their spouses. Who pray. And believe. And release. And welcome.

Over and over again.

This part of the world is impacted, for Christ, by each of those Dear Ones.

We can stay because they have surrendered too.

Reminded poignantly of that today.

And blessed by the fellowship. Again.

So very grateful.