Monday, November 23, 2015


This life stirs deep, doesn’t it?

And there is no way for that stirring to swing easy.

It agitates.

We are affected.

It takes courage to let something be what it is.

We can tend to busy-up around an issue.

We beautify.
And organize.
And store.
And straighten.
We fix.

We almost cannot get our values away from this.

We, the fixers, get problems with the unruly stuff like:


Those things that will not be contained and stored.
Or hidden away.

Those things that will not be stifled.

In this moment.

It quietly whispers…

What is making you afraid?


Jesus is already there.

Already in it.
Already making a way.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
 Heb 11:1

“By faith Moses…left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.”
Heb 11:24&27

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
 2Cor 4:18

Sometimes we only need to have our eyes opened.

Especially when any antagonizing force stands persistently against us.

When our enemy has us surrounded and we feel like they (any ‘they’) have won.

Elisha has been teaching me this over the last weeks.

Kneading hope into my days.

A story amidst all the Kings.

“Now the king of Aram was at war with Israel…”
 2 Kings 6:8

And Elisha, the Man of God, repeatedly warned the king of Israel of the Arameans plans with accuracy and miraculous foresight so that the Aramean strategies were completely thwarted.

“Go find out where [Elisha] is,” the king [of Aram] ordered, “so I can send men and capture him.” The report came back, “He is in Dothan.”
 Then he sent horses and chariots and a strong force there.
 They went by night and surrounded the city.

When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city.
 “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.

“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered, “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, LORD, so that he may see.”
 Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”
2 Kings 6:13-17

The story stays amazing.

The enemy advances and Elisha prays for the enemy army to be struck blind.

Elisha then leads the whole blind army straight into the hands and land of the Israel king, who inquires of Elisha, “What now? Do we kill them?”

Elisha says, “Feed them. Then send them home.”

Feed them?

The whole entire army of enemies armed to destroy?

Israel obeys.

They feed the army and then send them away.

The story ends with this:

“So the bands from Aram stopped raiding Israel’s territory.”
2 Kings 6:23


My takeaway…

*What happens in this great big world is never outside God’s awareness.
*His support and activity may require spiritual eyes to see.
*Faith and belief and relationship with Him clarify our vision.
*Those that are with us are MORE than those that are with them, whether I recognize it or not.

One very important clarification…
‘Us’ and ‘them’ are words that awaken wise caution in such a polarizing world.
So let’s lean into that caution for a bit.

In this particular passage I read ‘us’ as God’s chosen ones (Elisha and his servant specifically) and ‘them’ as God’s not-chosen nation (Aram). This us /them terminology is woven all throughout the stories we find in Old Testament history.
The nation of Israel (God’s chosen) was set apart in many dramatic ways.

And while I learn so much from Old Testament stories I also rejoice that we don’t live in the times of 2 Kings anymore.

Because, Jesus.
Our definitive Word (John 1).

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
1 Peter2:9-10

This choosing, this Nation that we are in Christ was established while we were all still really messed up.
Really vile.

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Romans 5:6-8

Some kind of weird Nation, isn’t it?

While we were still outrageously wicked—Christ died for us.

All of us.

We are ALL chosen now.

Blundering mistake-makers most graciously included into the ‘us’ of God through Jesus as fulfillment (not abolishment) of the Old Testament way. (Matt 5:17)


Whatever enemy surrounds you and stirs.

Stay loved.
(remembering gingerly, with grace, that because of Jesus every ‘they’ is loved so much too)

We just have to remember it.

Anchor to it.

To Him.

No one is forgotten.

God is near.
He hears.
He is acting on behalf of His Beloved.
(before we even know that we are so loved!)

He delights in us.

He is good.

Open our eyes, LORD!
Let us see how you are with us!

Let us advance into the day ahead—

Adored and Unafraid.

“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

“He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the LORD was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.”
Psalm 18:16-19

“Who will rise up for me against the wicked? Who will take a stand for me against evildoers? Unless the LORD had given me help, I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death. When I said, “my foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, LORD supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”
Psalm 94:16-19

Friday, November 20, 2015


We met Simba and Kali one afternoon on a smallish compound a few clicks down from the American Club in Kampala. Jeff found the notice on the advert board at the American Club and called immediately.

Two Rhodesian Ridgebacks, about a year old, were in need of a new home.

Jeff went quickly to meet the dogs and arranged an interview with their owner on the following day. We went as a family for the interview during which our animal ethics and ability to care for such fine animals were analyzed thoroughly.

These animals were incredibly well loved from day one. They would not be allowed to just anyone.

We learned all about their medical history. Simba (the male) had been ill early in his first year of life receiving intense therapy and overcoming the illness completely. His sister Kali, the more energetic of the two, had a great health record and a very strong build. They were most definitely a pair—together since birth—and very doting of each other.

We fell in love immediately.

The previous owner was concerned about the ages of our children as the dogs, very large and strong, had never played around little ones. Our Silas was four at the time and Isaac was six but the dogs and all of our children bonded quickly. Our kids were not afraid and the dogs warmed up to them in no time.

After much discussion, the owner decided we would be the best home for the dogs. We were ecstatic.

Jeff had the dogs delivered from Kampala in the back of our Hilux pickup. They reached our home late in the night. I took the dogs to our lower yard while Jeff prepared their space and blankets. Our children were already in bed, so that left me to entertain the two (VERY LARGE) animals that I didn’t know well yet. On the stairs leading to the yard that stretches below our house, I introduced myself to Simba and Kali and found my heart completely stolen as they both leaned their bodies into my legs and allowed me to pet and cuddle them. Like a giant hug.

Simba gave much space to Kali who was the most pushy of the two, but when Kali would wander off to sniff her new territory, Simba would somberly find his way to my side and gently raise his paw.

I shook his outreached paw that first time only to have him insist on my holding the paw for an extended time.

Simba did not want to simply shake. He wanted to hold hands.

We experienced this with Simba every day. Any time one of us would sit in the yard Simba would find his way to us and rest his very large paw on top of our hand. One evening as I watched the sun set over the mountains Simba sat beside me with his paw on my hand until the sky went dark.

He was happiest when we were holding his paw.

He was my walking buddy. In the evenings as I prepared dinner, he would come to the kitchen door and stick just his nose inside the door. He wasn’t allowed in the kitchen and he never disobeyed this, but his nose in the back door signified that it was 6pm and time to walk. Like clock work, Simba was ready to accompany me. He was my every-single-day friend.
Simba stoically kept watch as I marked off the miles in our yard. He would most often plant himself in the middle of my path with paw up until I took (and held) his paw for a moment. He made me laugh every time. He made me feel cared for.

In the months last year that I was so ill, 6pm would find Simba at the kitchen door laying and waiting every single evening. He never failed. Occasionally he would even ‘talk’ to us inside to let me know he was waiting. Jeff would explain that I was sick, but Simba would show up there anyway. He was so happy when I was well enough to walk again.

Simba loved all of us but Si was easily his favorite. (Silas is Kali’s favorite too. We’ve all just decided to accept this:)) Si, notorious in our family as the nap-evader when he was young, would nap with the dogs on the porch if he ever napped at all. And when the dogs were wrestling with each other, Si could be in the middle of them and they would never harm him. Si was fearless. When he was little he would often try to ride the dogs. Kali grew tired of that behavior and refused to comply but Simba would always concede as horse to Si’s cowboy game. They had a beautiful bond. A bond strengthened over the last seven years. Si doesn’t play cowboy anymore, but he is still the favorite.

(Simba on the left, Kali on the right)


Each member of our family has countless stories of Simba’s somber love and care for them. Moments of loneliness or struggle or heartbreak or anger. Simba could be counted on to find us, lay his paw on our hand and wait with us until the bad feeling passed. He has chased thieves, patrolled our home diligently anytime Jeff was away and he has even served as evangelist. The vet who cared for him over the last weeks wrote that witnessing our family and Simba’s love had encouraged him to get his spiritual life in order.

Simba has been a gift.

When we arrived back in Uganda several weeks ago from furlough we found Kali and Simba struggling. They had both been ill just before our return and the treatment by our trusted vet from Kampala had helped Kali. Simba, on the other hand, was not getting well.

Our hearts were broken to see him so sick. We kept the vet on a weekly visit rotation and we managed the daily care. Jeff ran IVs, gave injections and held on to every hope. I managed the oral meds and spoon feeding when Simba refused to eat. The kids kept constant vigil.

We prayed.

One week ago Simba lost the use of his back legs. We made his bed in our front room and the vet made another trip to provide pain meds and another round of antibiotics.

We were determined to fight for life.

There were hopeful moments when Simba seemed more responsive, but yesterday about midday he took a turn for the worse.

We all spent the day caring for Simba sitting by his side and whispering love all around him.

He, of course, wanted us to hold his paw.

He breathed his last at 1:35AM.

Alex and I were with him. Jeff came immediately and tried to give him every opportunity to breathe, but Simba was gone.

He departed strong and loving, just as he always had been.

Death is raw in this place we live. All death.

Jeff and the boys dressed in boots and work gloves and went to the yard in the early morning dark to begin to dig a hole. I cleaned Simba’s space. We all cried over him and whispered last words of thanks and love.

We buried him in my walking yard. In that place where he reminded me every day that I was loved.

The last seven years have been somewhat isolated for our family in different ways than before.

Kali and Simba needed a new home years ago, but gracious, the Cash family would also so desperately need them.

In our last season, those dogs, those animals have loved us so faithfully and so very well.

A reminder to us daily that God knows what we need and provides it ahead of time.

A reminder that we are known and adored.

We had no idea on that day we met the dogs what was about to transpire in our Fort Portal world.

We simply thought Kali and Simba were cool dogs.

They would also be faithful and stalwart friends.

In the wake of so many painful world events and understanding that many families are grieving the tragic loss of human life, we humbly offer our loss into that midst.

We join the prayers for all who grieve today. We join the prayers for peace.

And we pray for the courage to see the ordinary miracles in our day to day getting us through even the darkest valleys.

Simba was one such miracle to our family.

We will always be grateful.

"The earth is the Lord's and everything in it, the world and all who live in it;" Psalm 24:1

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

A & D Assignment Part 4: From Sea to Shining Sea

"God allowed us to accomplish what we set out to accomplish."

I whispered this to Jeff as we lay in the early morning dark unwilling to admit yet that we were, in fact, all the way awake. Jet lag. It is never fun. 

But our early morning conversations...those, I treasure. 

How very many times we have made travel plans, Jeff Cash and me. 

So many times. 

In our first years in Uganda, I was pummeled by the constant change of plans third world living afforded us. We never made a plan--from a grocery store trip to town to vacation in Kenya--that the plan was not altered or adjusted or completely scrapped.

For a girl secured by schedule and consistency, those early tumultuous days and years were challenging in very many ways. 

I wanted to be in control of something. Anything. 

But control was elusive. For awhile.

It doesn't feel this way in our day to day anymore. I don't know if that is because we are better planners or better predictors or if by some amazing miracle I have become more flexible and able to roll with the punches---but I don't struggle with the change of plans as often as I used to. (Gracious, someone needs to pray for me in the wake of such a statement! I'm inviting trouble with that bold boast ;))

Nonetheless, when international travel enters our immediate reality I brace myself for the inevitable. We are 6 humans and to see all of our Stateside people we must travel very, very many miles. There will be tedious planning and those plans may be altered along the way. Stomach bugs happen. Pneumonia happens. Losing important things happens. 

We sometimes forget, and we sometimes dawdle and we sometimes get too tired to keep up with it all. 

Early this year, when we considered a travel plan that would begin in Miami, Florida and end in Portland, Oregon with over 11,000 road miles between those two points, I crawled back into my bed in the fetal position.  

That plan was crazy. Buying a car. Securing insurance. Licensing. (in which state?) Hotels. My restricted diet. Jeff's pilot's license. Four months of living out of suitcases. Moving every single day down the road. Untold expense.

Could we do it? 

We prayed. I made lists. We prayed some more. 

And then, piece by meticulous piece, the trip came together. 

Money available just when we needed it. Just how we needed it. 

Not too early. Not too late. 

And off we went.  

The traveling Cashlings. 
They are my heroes!

First stop--Pompano Beach

The gorgeous Atlantic Ocean

We LOVE the beach!!


Where furlough REALLY begins:)

Jeff finishes his commercial pilot's license! 

Our new (to us) car! 

Let the road trippin' begin!

Universal Studios to celebrate Isaac's 13th birthday!

It was toasty warm in Orlando:)

But Harry Potter world was worth it all!

Some very happy Harry Potter fans:)

On to Georgia--

And beautiful Tennessee:)
Our first campus visit--Lipscomb is a gorgeous campus and we were warmly welcomed there!

Touring Nashville with a whole bunch of Cash!

Crossing the Mississippi

On to Arkansas

Second campus tour--Harding University (Jeff's alma mater) 
A wonderful day on an amazing campus!



Abilene Christian University
A great visit on this campus--our third college tour. 

On to Oklahoma for Global Reunion at Oklahoma Christian University
(this was Kinley's fourth college campus tour)

Then back to Texas

That West Texas sky welcoming me home!

The Sand Hills:)

Visiting Monahans and Wickett
Nana's and Papa's Hometowns
(Monahans was my first home!)

New Mexico
(Hobbs was my second home!)

Carlsbad Caverns

Back to Texas
And our fifth campus tour--Lubbock Christian University
Go Chaps!

Heading West
The Continental Divide

Standing on a corner...

in Winslow, Arizona:)

Vegas Baby! 
We hear there are so many fun things to do in Vegas but for us it was all about the Legos;)


Pepperdine University was our last campus tour and, of course, it did not disappoint! Unfortunately, my phone did disappoint and so I have no pictures from our Pepperdine time. But just imagine stunning views of the ocean and some of the nicest people in the world and that's Pepperdine! 

Heading North with a stop at the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset--perfection!

The Redwood Forest

Big trees!

Jeff and Cheryl standing in a tree

Saying hello to Paul

Silas makes friends with all the animals:)


And Washington--Fort Vancouver!

The gorgeous Pacific Ocean with my favorite Oregonian

The Oregon Coast--one of our favorite places in the world
But of course:)

And the sun sets on our cross-country adventure.

Back to the skies...

Bright and rested...

... tired and weary, but so glad to be HOME!

Jet lag, sweet jet lag. Our old familiar friend:)

We love Uganda!

Here's to this man!
He drove SO many miles, so very well. 
Love him and appreciate him SO MUCH!

My people.
The best traveling companions a girl could ever ask for! 

"God allowed us to accomplish what we set out to accomplish."
We gratefully receive this gift acknowledging that He was with us (and ahead of us) every step of the way.
He is good. He is Faithful.
All Glory to Him!

"Where can I go from your Spirit? 
Where can I flee from your presence?
 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; 
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. 
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, 
if I settle on the far side of the sea, 
even there your hand will guide me, 
your right hand will hold me fast."
Psalm 139:7-10