Saturday, May 25, 2013

Settling In

The scent met us at the door. Mildew. Africa dirt. The faint wisps of Omo soap that remained on the dusty linens. The children’s ecstatic squeals reverberated around me. We were home. Again. We had much to accomplish in the space of just a few hours. We all uncovered furniture and beds and I scratched together some semblance of dinner before we would all succumb to the pressing of jet lag. My quickly overwhelmed  brain was pulled into submission by the rhythm of my children’s joy. How very often they teach me.

“Be joyful always…”

We were thrilled to walk into our own space.

We were overwhelmed by the work to just find a place to sleep.

The children rejoiced to walk into their rooms and see their toys and books and treasures.

The children moaned over the layers of dirt coating every surface.

We celebrated sleeping in our very own beds.

We bemoaned the biting bugs that had claimed those beds in our absence.

The night sounds soothed.

The night sounds kept us awake.

The jet lag forced us into deep heavy sleep.

The jet lag woke us up after only a few hours.

The early mornings with our whole family making breakfast in the dark.

The long afternoons with drooping eye lids and heavy exhaustion.

The days are full of familiar.

The days are full of different.

Roads we know. Rutted roads that hurt to travel over.

Social patterns we understand. Slow, gradual, relational  avenues of task accomplishment.

“…pray continually…”

Our brains rest from the drain of making decisions among a million choices.

Our brains labor from the strain of making-do amid the absence of choice at all.

Water pours from the sky.

Water stops flowing into the house.

The dogs are thriving, happy to have us all back.

The dogs are thin from their weeks without us.

Three large rooms cleaned top to bottom. Such satisfactory accomplishment!

Three large rooms wait to be cleaned top to bottom.  Such dreaded endeavor.

My kitchen with my things!

My kitchen with my responsibility.

A ministry filled with purpose and never lacking for the next thing to do.

A ministry that demands and stretches us to our limits.

Our favorite restaurants.

Our only restaurants.

Our peaceful veranda with a gorgeous view.

Mosquito bites from sitting long into the evening.

The breath-taking view of green foliage and the grandeur of a tropical rain storm.

The pervasive mildew that invades our home and drying laundry.

Joyful reunions.

Grieving goodbyes.

Feeling safe on our compound.

Feeling undone by the thief in the yard next door.

What is it like to be back?

Wonderful. (And difficult.)

Delightful. (And difficult.)

So happy. (And difficult.)

Peaceful. (And difficult.)


Right where we are supposed to be.

Eyes wide open.

To all of it.

“…give thanks in ALL circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
I Thessalonians 5: 16-18

Sunday, May 12, 2013


I am so thankful.

For my own Mom. And my grandmothers. And my sister. And my Cashlings. And all those amazing Moms who I have been blessed to walk alongside in this life. 

I also so deeply esteem those who experience motherhood from longing. Who still wait for this journey to begin. Who may have heard 'No' far too many times. Who may have recently lost. You are so beautiful and embraced too. May you find an extra special measure of tenderness and grace on this day.

I have celebrated Mother's Day by remembering. I have so enjoyed perusing some of my older posts about family, and my Cashlings and my Mom. I'm linking some of my favorites here from the archives, but invite you to click on "Family" and "They Call Me Mom" in my labels in the sidebar for more of my thoughts and experiences concerning this great adventure called Motherhood.

Posts about my Mom: My Mom
                                   A Word About the Spotlight
                                   The Best for Me

Posts about Home: On the Market
                              The House With the Shiny Sink 

Honoring the Miracle: Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVConclusion

And a simple post that effects me deep, because it reminds me that the daily and seemingly mundane are where the stirring and equipping and the blessing are really taking place: The Usual

Happy Mother's Day!!!!

Saturday, May 11, 2013


School cafeterias have a very distinguishing smell. Like no other place in the world. My junior high was no exception. Salisbury steaks, burritos (questionable), hamburgers and grilled cheese sandwiches. The unmistakable aroma of paper lunch sacks and bananas that have browned in a locker for half a day.
I can remember the smell and the sounds of that large echoing room, but I do not ever remember choosing a song on the jukebox.
That’s right. A jukebox.
I have no idea how or why our cafeteria ended up with such a delightful contraption, but our school was known for it and we all were impressed with the availability of fun tunes while we ate.  I mostly enjoyed the music other people chose.
Distinguishing smells, echoing chatter,  song ballads by Chicago (‘You’re the Inspiration’) and friends. Dear, dear friends.

In my eighth grade science class, I met Dena. I called her Dena Joe. Joe was not her name and it annoyed her. Which means the name stuck.

We laughed a lot together and enjoyed talking.

In the visiting clumps outside of the lunchroom, we would chat.

She would roll her eyes a lot. And she had an opinion about everything.

I admired that.

Somewhere between the post lunch clumping, the science labs, sleepovers and many long phone calls, DJ became my best friend.

We talked about boys. A lot actually. We both had crushes and heart breaks and first kisses. She knew all those details about me and I knew all those details about her. And it was safe.

She was organized and on time. I was always late.

She endured this trait in me but spoke loud and long about how ridiculous it was.

I kept her out of a lot of trouble. And I kept secrets loyally. (I still haven’t told anyone why she got her first ticket.)

She depended on me. And I depended on her.

She was Baptist. And I was church of Christ. And it didn’t matter one iota.

I went to church with her. And she came to church with me.

And we talked (and agreed) about God, all the time.

One memorable conversation took place on the stairs in the education building of the church my family attended. My dad was finishing stuff up in the office after an evening youth activity, so DJ and I were waiting for him and visiting on the stairs outside his office.

We were talking about our future.

She wanted to be a doctor and have a career. She said that she planned to date a lot in college but absolutely would never fall in love until she was in grad school or just after.

She was confident and independent. Just like I wanted to be.

I, on the other hand, already knew whom I would marry and that I would have a dozen kids.

We laughed at this, because we knew it wasn’t true. I would not have a dozen kids. But I would have a lot of kids. Three maybe.

She thought it was cool that I was in love. And I admired her amazing goals. I knew she would be an amazing doctor. An amazing anything.

After some easy silence, DJ told me that when she thought of my future she always pictured me around a fire in Africa, teaching people about Jesus.

I laughed at her.


Are you serious?

I hate camping. And bugs. I am not brave. (I never even chose one song on that stinking jukebox.)

She listened to all my doubts and laughed (at me) with me over my reticence and fears.

Then she said, “All the same. That’s where I see you.”

Dad came out of the office about that time. And we took DJ home.

DJ and I would learn to drive, watch a million movies, discuss and analyze all the worlds problems and our brilliant solutions, laugh at a million inside jokes, eat a lot of ice cream, cry some tears, shop, get tickets, paint signs, eat lunches, annoy each other and remain fiercely supportive.

College took us to different towns and new adventures. We wrote letters (remember those?) to stay in touch.

She mentioned Scott in one of her first messages.  She said how cute he was but that she was absolutely NOT falling in love.

 But I knew she was. And felt sure she would fully admit this by letter three.

I was right.

She and Scott dated exclusively for four years and married after graduation.

I lived her dream. Straight through college with no serious love commitments. We entered our senior years, her engaged and planning a wedding. Me, decidedly single.

She was my first phone call when I met him.

“His name is Jeff. He wants to live in Africa.”

She said simply, “I told you so.”


I haven’t seen DJ in a very long time.

We occasionally write letters, only we type them and call them email now.

I know she is raising her boys. Loving her man. And making a determinedly beautiful way in this world.

She’s probably still rolling her eyes.

I miss her.

To have a friend. And to be one.

Treasured. And well remembered.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Perfect Words

So many words.

Commercials and news reports and internet access and blogs and tweets and text messages and Facebook.

All the words.

All the information.

All the time.

On one evening of our recent furlough, my husband asked me if I could have anything in the world on that particular evening what would I want and I replied simply, “Silence.”

He kindly carved out some space for me to enjoy silence that evening.  It was bliss.

America is addicted to information. We love it. We crave it.

We love To Know.

We love it so much that we have begun to think of Knowing as a Right.

We sometimes assume The Knowing even in places and topics where we don’t have all the information.

Take the news for instance.

Reporters and commentators talk. A lot. They have minutes and segments and hours to fill. And so they do. With words.

Yes, they impart information. Facts and numbers. And pictures. (Have mercy-- the invasive pictures.)

But all the fact relaying can take a subtle shift.  From probable cause to blame. From making people aware to causing fear. From fact to conjecture. From what would be understood as public domain to delving into the sacredly private.

Over time, I found it all very wearying. And many folks I talked to did too.

I have friends in America who never, NEVER watch the news.

I have friends who never watch TV at all.

Friends who aren’t on Facebook.

I even have friends who carry… Flip Phones. I know—drastic :).

When hearing their many reasons for these choices, some consistencies emerged.

The information and the acquiring of information had begun to control them. Govern their day and even their choices.

So they made important choices to reclaim and take back-- their time. And their opinion. And their thoughts.

They had to silence some things to rediscover their reality.

Instead of having their reality constantly shaped by the words swirling around them.

Silence is a valuable asset and these brave friends, choosing counter-culturally, reminded me of the beautiful value of living intentionally every day. And how difficult silencing the loud voices can be.

How we must choose what we hear.

It is from the swirling world of information that I landed at Psalm 19. Words I have memorized and sung since I was a child.

But, last Sunday, with the birds chirping and the rooster crowing. With the rain falling, and all the solar batteries dead, this familiar page in my Bible provided a fresh Word of Sanctuary. A reminder of respite. 

“The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.

There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.”
Psalm 19: 1-4

The vast and deep and endless sky.


Perfect, unhurried, relevant, globally understood words.

“In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun…
It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.”
Psalm 19:6

There is something more precious than pure gold.

Something sweeter than honey.

There are things that offer great reward.

They revive. And make wise. And give joy.

They radiate light. They are sure. They endure.

“The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever.
The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous.”
Psalm 19:7-9

In all the Knowing that we so dearly esteem and claim we can make the same subtle shift mentioned earlier. From enriching to depleting. From informing to misleading. From honest sharing to attention craving embellishing.

We can sometimes get it wrong.

But there remains, something Sure.

We don’t need many words to correct things.  We need a Good Word.

“…of the LORD…”

We have ears made to hear. And we will be influenced by the information we take in.

But we can choose.

We can ask for help.

“Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me.
Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight,
O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
Psalm 19:12-14

Our attentions. Our allegiance may need to be redirected.

We may need to look up to hear.

The heavens are speaking.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Far Away

(Digging into some archived journaling for this one. I wrote this from one of our furlough respites. The heart of a sojourner is tempered by the farewells--learning more about this everyday as the color and nuance of goodbye continue to augment my life experience.)

While perusing pictures online this evening, it dawned on me with a startling abruptness that many of the people in the pictures live in the very town I am sleeping in.

And yet.

I perceive that I am VERY far away.

So often, my reality is that I cannot get to friends and family and events.

And I find that even when dinner would be possible or a phone call or running into someone at a store…

I almost avoid it.

Because the ‘hello’ will most certainly be soon chased by a ‘goodbye’.

And I’m still reeling from the last big one.

It’s like my grieving heart fresh from a weepy farewell to my family cannot bear even the most fleeting farewell in the aftermath.

So I avoid the connection at all.

And thus the perception (conscious or subconscious) that I exist ‘far away’.

I know that I must maintain the ability to connect—for the good of my family. For the good of my children.

This is one of those costs that I rarely read about before I departed 18 years ago.

I just knew that I was ripped and torn in hidden sacred places. And I lacked words to describe it.

I communed in that unique type of suffering with others whose eyes and tears and story spoke this same experience.

A like pain draws us to each other in unspoken ways. Anchors us.

Thankfully, so many who had weathered this particular type of grieving spoke faith and hope into my story. Reminding me of Truth.

So tonight. Cozy in a hotel room with my people and our own space, I choose to think about it. To accept it. To be willing to engage.

I am near to many that I love and cherish, physically. Father, grant me courage to be near them emotionally too.

Even for a moment.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013


 We were so blessed to enjoy a stop-over in Italy on our way to America last October. Below are some of my daily journaled thoughts as we relished each moment in Rome, Florence and Cinque Terra.


Today I had the best cappuccino I have ever had.

On the gorgeous Italian square. Fountain in the center.

The air smelled like pizza. And coffee. And that certain perfume every Italian woman seems to wear.

Walking the streets of Rome can be equally wearying and delightful. But every person who entered the square, changed. Eyes lit. Smiles broad.

Art is displayed all in the center. Musicians play.

The accordion. That’s amore!

Romance. Excellent pizza.

I kissed my husband.

And drank the best cappuccino I have ever had.


I was the first one awake this morning.

I love the still dark of morning. Light was just creeping in. 

The church bell toll counted seven. I lay still and celebrated the silence that followed.

Coffee awaited. And sweet cereal. A treat for our family.

But my mind whirled back over our arrival in Florence, Italy.

This town is one long deep contented sigh. 

Everything we eat explodes joy and delightful flavor.

Interesting pizza. 


Bread and delightful coffee.

I was congratulated for my four children. Helped by four angels of mercy along the way.

Exhausted from the lugging of the bags. Relieved at a wonderful place to rest our heads at night.

Extraordinarily thankful for my family. Amazing, resilient, flexible children.

Incredible navigator and guide, Jeff Cash.

We are here. Loving it.


To share Michaelangelo with my children. A dream.

To walk Italian streets and eat Italian pizza and ride Italian trains with my children. A dream.

We have laughed. 

And learned. 

And walked. 

And rested.

We have seen.

So thankful!  For everything.


 What made Florence feel like home?

Jeff’s comfort and memories of the place.

The quaint streets.

Gorgeous art and amazing history.

Walking where genius has etched it’s treasure.

Not sure every aspect that pours into that feeling of welcome and peace.

But I felt it in Florence.



The market air smells of leather. Jackets. Purses. Shoes.

And boots. 

In college, Jeff spent five months living in Florence and traveling around Europe through a study abroad program his university offered. Every street in Florence reminded him of a story about something. 

As we passed the stalls of leather items for sale, Jeff was telling the kids about shoe shopping with a group of girls in college. 

He described a shop that went down from the street through a tunnel. He said he spent several hours in the shop while his friends tried on fun shoes and bought treasures. 

He remembered dreaming about bringing his wife to Florence someday and buying her some shoes.

As Jeff was finishing the story, he mentioned that the shop was just off a market square much like the one we were in. He stood and turned slowly until he was facing---a shop with a tunnel that went down from the street! 

We all laughed wondering if this could be the same shop-- 

Jeff visited with the store clerk, describing the man who had waited on him and his friends all those years ago. The man laughed and confirmed that the man Jeff described was his father and this was the same shop. Amazing! 

I got some boots! And a leather jacket and matching purse.

Dreams do come true, I guess :)

Such fun!


We are sad to leave. Jeff and I enjoyed one last walk in the dark. Holding hands. Quiet conversation.

We love it here.

In Florence.

Jeff took out his camera to capture what he could.

His perspective and ability getting amazing photos we can treasure.

We were quiet on the bridge.

Quiet at the river.


Tuesday, May 07, 2013


“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city…”

“Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow….”

“Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

James 4: 13,14 &15

I enjoy routine. I am not time conscious (if you listen carefully you can hear my husband chuckling at this understatement). But I do very much delight in the familiarity of daily pattern.

Our life calling challenges this often and loud.

The third world is nothing if not unpredictable. And traveling internationally is fraught with opportunity to be delayed or rescheduled.

The constant changing is difficult for me. (again with the understatement…)

The last year has provided many occasions to exercise new and better ways of coping with abrupt redirection.

It hasn’t been pretty.

But it has been effective.

I have been forced to practice waiting.

And I am learning, albeit slowly and painfully: Being in control is an allusion.

I think this is always true, but when faced with the disappointment of a missed occasion or anticipated gathering, the truth is very pointed and acute.

I am not in control.

There are many discussion points as to why this realization is so difficult.

But today I am considering the practice of Surrender.

The definition of surrender often correlates to opposition.

“Cease resistance to an enemy or opponent and submit to their authority.”


“Give up or hand over typically on compulsion or demand”


“To lose”

But also.

“To abandon oneself entirely to a powerful emotion or influence; to give in to”

Surrender most often connotes a negative thing. (No one wants to lose.)

Surrender also suggests a ‘taking’. Someone else gets the thing I am giving up.

The win. The esteem. The control. Another party wields those good things.

This is, among other things, uncomfortable.

And a seeming display of weakness.

Deep sigh.

I am struck by the complete counter cultural requirement of a life pursuit of Christ.

Seeking after the heart of God. Experiencing a Spirit led life—requires this practice we encapsulate in weakness.


“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,’ he said to them. ‘stay here and keep watch.”

“Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
Mark 14: 34-36

This ultimate surrender—the death of Jesus Christ—did not end with oppression. Or burden. Or even, loss.

His surrender, brought life.

"...I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full....I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me---just as the Father knows me and I know the Father---and I lay down my life for the sheep....I give them eternal life and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand." 
John 10: 10b,14-15,28


“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us….” I John 3:16

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

Love changes everything. Turns stuff upside down and backwards.

Redirects the loss.

And makes it all new.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

Surrender (ceasing to resist; handing over; losing; submitting) saturated in love equals a Brand. New. Thing.

Beyond all we ask or imagine.

“…And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine…to him be glory…throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” 
Ephesians 3: 17b-21

So, when I'm feeling pounded by the change of plans and unforeseen road blocks, I do have control over something.

To surrender or not. "Thy will be done..."

There is a Love at work on my behalf. "I have loved you with an everlasting love... Jeremiah 31:3"

My cooperation is not required. "While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

But my cooperation, changes me.

Redirects the losing.

It makes me New.

One merciful morning at a time.

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.”
Psalm 143:8

Monday, May 06, 2013

Stormy Weather

My Mam-ma always said it just this way: "Got my walk in today."

Even if Granddaddy was with her, or her grandkids tagged along, it was ‘my walk’. The two words kind of squished together in that comforting West Texas way.
I hear those words, her words, in my head when I say this now too. And I am amazed again at how far from my childhood I am and yet simple phrases and moments like these spring up so current and evocative.

My walk.

When we are home in Fort Portal, I like to walk at the same time every day.

Early evening. Just before dinner.

For the last few weeks before our furlough, this was the same time of day the rains would appear.

When rainy season descends over Fort Portal the storms can be heavy.  Strong winds, lightning and sometimes hail.

From our home you can see the storm approaching and very often predict it’s strength or nature.

The storms and their timing very often affected ‘my walk’ in the weeks before our departure.

I missed my walk some nights. And I shortened my walk some nights.

And some evenings, I got my complete walk in before the rain fell.

But I had to be paying attention.

This from a typed musing just before we departed:

“Tonight, the sky started to rumble as I put on my shoes. The clouds were dark in the distance so I hurried to get in what minutes that I could.

As I circled my usual path, I began to pray for God to hold back the storm. Just so I could finish my walk.

And it struck me.

So much of this current season is just like this.

I seem to be constantly praying, “Hold back the storm, just for a bit.”

It is heavy and threatening. Approaching. Visible.

And yet, I rush against it. To complete something then move to safety.

Sometimes, the rain pelts down despite my request for a reprieve. Sometimes the storm holds until the minute I get inside my back door.

And sometimes it is a little of both.

The rain has been fat and heavy. Painful as it hits my head.

Other times, it is a slow drizzle and I can walk in it with little discomfort.

Sometimes the electricity lights up the sky around me, sending me racing for the door.

But in the last weeks, I could always count on the presence of the storm.

I couldn’t stop it.

I could only choose how to negotiate it.”

Living in the vagabond state of furlough changes all of our daily practices. We are in new systems and schedules and lifestyles. Colder weather. As I look back over the last six months I am gently astounded by the provision of time to walk at every destination point.

The venues have varied and I never know at what time of day I will be free to sneak away for exercise. But one thing has remained steadily consistent.


Winds (I’m looking at you West Texas!), snow, rains, bitter cold and the seemingly unending ‘storm’ of ill health that has battered our family more than the elements.

The ‘storm’ of a constant change of plan. The constant waiting. The pelting rain of not knowing what the next steps will be.

To get ‘my walk’ in I have to be paying attention. I must be deliberate.

(And flexible--deep, deep sigh)

I can’t choose when or how the storm will play out. I can’t manipulate it. I can only choose to push into it or wait it out or not walk at all.

And those choices make all the difference.

I am pondering today that I have been allowed to see the approaching storm. This isn’t always the case. But when I see what may be headed my way it serves some of the same purpose that an unexpected storm serves.

A reminder.

I am not in control.

Turns out the walk isn’t all mine.

‘My walk’ is a gift.

A provision.

And the strength to persist in the walking? To push through the storm?


“Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength,
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.”
Isaiah 40: 28-31

Sunday, May 05, 2013

On Lattes and Listing and Thanks

Thank You.

Two very important words. For the one who says them and the one who hears them.

I often neglect the public listing of my furlough thanks. Over the past months we have been graced with many mercies from dearest family, friends and even complete strangers. Saying thank you is so important and I love to do it. And yet, I often let the fear of leaving someone out stop me from beginning a public list at all.

But my Grande Skinny Vanilla Latte changed all that.

Here’s how.

On one of my passes through the Starbucks drive thru, a kind stranger in a pick up truck in front of me paid for my coffee. I was surprised and encouraged. This unexpected kindness changed the course of my day.


I couldn’t wait to share that same joy with someone else. This simple act by a stranger persistently challenged me over my final weeks in America to remember that kindness truly breeds kindness. Large or small, when we act in generosity, the world changes for the better. 


I’m going to start a thank you list, out loud, right here. I hope it will change the course of someone’s day for the better.

And that, just like my latte, inspire more of the same.

Pay it forward, as it were.

Here we go---

*thank you to the Cashes and the Moneys--grandparents who welcomed us for shorter and longer than expected visits respectively. The Uganda ministry is costly in many ways, but it is arguable that Nana & Papa and Grammy and Granddaddy pay the dearest price. We are grateful for their support, welcome and persistence in staying connected to each of us. We love you, deeply. Thank you all for everything!
*thank you to the kind gentleman who helped lift my luggage upon arrival in Florence Italy. I do not know your name but you seriously blessed my day!
*thank you Dr Cochran, Dr. Coate, Dr. Propst, Dr Burnett, Dr Brown and Dr Rutherford for your kindness in serving our family. We are grateful.
*thank you Mike & Koni, Kristi & Allan for sharing your lives and time with us, working to give cousins together time, and continually welcoming us home, even though we are so very separated by time and distance. We love you.
*thank you Steve and Dana for the wonderful example of service you have set in caring for Dana’s mom through much suffering. We are so sad to have not hugged your necks this furlough, but we are very grateful for your faithful care for Margaret and Richard. You were exactly where you were supposed to be. We love you both so much!
*thank you to New Life Church for your heart and your welcome. We were uplifted among you as we worshiped and communed. Our children feel such a part of your youth group and children’s ministry—you were a home to them and we all treasure this.
*thank you to Sherwood church of Christ for being family and dear friends to my parents. They love being among you and serving Jesus with you. We are grateful for your fellowship, your prayers and our bond in Christ.
*thank you Metro church of Christ for so many years of faithful devotion and support. You are a stable supportive influence in our lives and in the lives of our children. Thank you for your hugs, smiles, meals and esteem. You are a gift to us.
*thank you Uncle S’more (aka Greg Woods) for making memories with our family for all these years. Living scattered about diminishes the number of constants in our children’s lives. You have been a constant—a minister to our whole family. We are so thankful for your wisdom, your listening ear, your discernment and your prayers. We are also very thankful you chose to marry the amazing Dottie! So enjoyed our fun time together. Love you both!!!
*thank you Devin and Melissa for taking your family on that fun cruise and loaning us your suburban while you were gone :) SO blessed by your generosity!
*thank you King Flight schools for making video curriculum that teaches flight ground school so well.
*thank you Benjamin Franklin for the gift of electricity
*thank you to every sweet person who made their washer and dryer available to me. Truly one of my highlights this furlough was washing clothes in machines. Truly.
*thank you to Glenwood church of Christ for every hug, face-to-face conversation and prayer. Sitting around your tables and sharing food, seeing how your children have grown and sharing memories of when our kids were babies, hearing your words of encouragement and realizing God’s ongoing plan for our fellowship together has blessed us again. You are dear, dear folks and we are thankful for your participation in our family and the ministry in Uganda. We love you.
*thank you to every single woman who pulled me close and whispered into my ear words of hope, and solidarity and esteem and blessing. Words of understanding. I cannot think past those moments of blessed interaction without tears of gratitude. I cannot always find spoken words to express pain in my life, but some of your wise, knowing eyes saw into the depths and acted in love. I give praise to the One who joins us. And I am thankful.
*thank you Kregg and Anne for hearing our story and sharing yours. You have beautiful hearts and we are so blessed to know you and your family. 
*thank you to Trisha, Melinda and Sharon for including me on Fridays. I LOVED our study and prayer. LOVED knowing you each better. LOVED speaking of God and His persistent care in each of our lives. You were an equipping gift to me. Thank you.
*thank you Uncle Wade for making wonderful memories with all the cousins. You are a gift and we are thankful for you!
*thank you Cherise for being my best friend and advocate— You will always be one I am deeply connected to—I am beyond grateful that this connection is so much stinkin’ fun! I love you and I am so proud of you!
*thank you Jana Miller and Trisha Wall for being faithful, stalwart friends. Thank you Trisha for the gift and fun you bring to our lives; laughing with you is one of my favorite things to do especially as it blends so easily with deeper conversations and heart sharing. Your support through the last few years has been deeply sustaining.  You are a treasure to me and to so many others. Thank you Jana for supporting our family in SO many practical ways. Homeschool curriculum, groceries, packing, directions, places to stay, rides to and from places, clothes…you have done it all. It is so easy for me to be around you. I can rest when we are together and I treasure that.  Thank you for the laughing and sharing and listening. I miss you already.
The fact that you two amazing ladies are close friends to my flesh and blood sister is a most sacred blessing. I am in awe of how God has moved among us. Love, love, LOVE you!
*Thank you Stephanie Harris for being a great friend and having amazing parents :) I feel like I know you better after this last week of hanging out with your folks. Thank you for helping us make Dallas arrangements for our travels.
*Thank you Curt & Jan for such warm generosity to complete strangers. We could never have planned for the intersections and connections we would discover in our conversations. I am so grateful to know you both. Thank you for opening your heart and home to us.
*Thank you Suzy Jeffrey for a wonderful visit that filled my heart with good things. WOW! Laughing, crying, learning, sharing…we covered a lot of ground over those fancy scrambled eggs :). I loved being with you and praise God for making it possible!
*Thank you Morton and Suzy for a wonderful prayer of blessing on our last night on US soil. We look forward to more visits with you if God makes a way. So blessed by your stories and appreciate you learning ours.
*Thank you Kelly Vaughn.  Your obedience to God’s leading has greatly impacted my life. I am so grateful that after all those years of hearing about you, I finally got to know you in person. A kindred spirit if I ever had one--I love you, dear friend!!!
*Thank you Randy & Kelly for everything! The visit, the concert, the listening, the prayers.  We treasure the comfort of sharing our hearts with others who know of our life ‘through the wardrobe’. We are so thankful for your friendship and can’t wait to be together again.
*Thank you Jeff Morrison for being such a supportive good friend. Thank you for always being willing to help out in any way you can. Thank you for loving and raising those boys so beautifully. We love all three of you.
*Thank you Dennis Dossey for your encouragement. We are excited to see where this will lead us. So thankful for our time at Bammel.
*Thank you Robert and Amy for being faithful, dear friends. Thank you Robert for standing with Jeff and embracing this ministry. A trip to my home in Africa?! YES!!! Come see us. We love you!
*Thank you Bammel church of Christ for hosting Soul Link. Such a blessing for our girl and for us.
*thank you Hollye--for everything.  I love you! And I miss you!
*Thank you Amy Hosch for being there. And for lunch. And for sharing life with us, in this distant way that we can. I so appreciate you and love you!
*Thank you Kendra King for stepping into my world and speaking such beautiful encouragement. I love you—
*Thank you Roger McCown for your knowing and understanding support. You and Liz bring encouragement to us. Thank you for hearing us. You guys have such a beautiful family—loved our time with you!
*Thank you Wes and Kim Crawford for moving to Tyler! So amazed by the connections we discovered in our conversations. Our God is amazing. Looking forward to more time together as God makes a way. Thank you Wes for that terrific sermon on lament---PREACH!!!
*thank you Jack and Tootsie Hooper for everything. Your generosity blesses so many. We are deeply grateful for your persistent love and care for our family and this ministry. We love you!
*thank you to countless, beautiful people who invited us into their lives for a meal or a moment to visit. We were blessed by every invitation, even if we were unable to get to you. Our lives are so full of amazing people. Thank you for your effort to stay connected with us.
*thank you Shelli Presley for the prayer and easy conversation—no matter how many years pass we just start up like we talked 30 minutes ago—I am incredibly grateful for this. Incredibly grateful for you!
*thank you Maury and Jacqueline for so many years of faithful friendship and service—we love you both!
*thank you Donita for the gift of a great haircut; how very many years you have served our family with all things beautiful. I love sitting in your chair!
*thank you Jana, Sarah and Emily for driving to Tyler so that Jana and I could sit together at Glenwood. And visit at Mercado’s. And solve the world’s problems while our kids play basketball in the gym. Your showing up set my Tyler experience a-right. Love all of you Millers!
*thank you Joanna Neel for making me eat that cobbler and blue bell ice cream—and for serving with a big spoon :)
*thank you Dewayne and Cynthia for hearing us. Can’t wait to welcome you in our home.
*thank you Don and Sanna for praying so faithfully for our family and this ministry. We love you--
*thank you kind stranger in a Ford pickup—that was the very best Vanilla Latte I had all furlough!

And may the list go on…

Saturday, May 04, 2013

To Pause

Heathrow. So many people. Business travelers. Tourists. Families. Large groups. Lone travelers. Hurried and frantic. Or exhausted and still. Different skin colors. And fashion tastes.

So many souls and stories marching past our bleary eyed gazing.

We have safely reached London and wait for the next leg of our journey.

I sit among the movement taking in the beautiful shops and scents and options. Everything changes tomorrow.

Starbucks will not be just around the corner.

There is something peaceful about being at this juncture in our travel. I am sitting with absolutely nothing to be done (except find food for the boys. There is always that J) I have not had a moment like this in a while. On furlough, there is always a working list in my possession. The next thing that must be accomplished or started or finished. Our final week before departure is a long stretch of deadlines. I am thankful to be on the other side of the troubleshooting and planning and sorting and deciding.

Tomorrow will begin a new set of tasks. I am easing back into the reality that we fight to survive in Uganda. We push back against many things, big and small, to exist in safety and cleanliness. We work hard to live.

But there is nothing I can do about that today. I sit. I breathe. I write. I think.

I am thankful to be here.