Tuesday, February 23, 2016

From Aunt Cheryl, With Love

(words reposted from the archives; 
a sentiment still echoing in my heart)

Dear Presley,
Welcome to the world little girl! Are you aware of the fact that people in Uganda were waiting for the news of your arrival?! Eagerly awaiting every tiny detail of You! You have hair! You weigh 7lbs! You are healthy! Every picture that floated over the web was studied and gushed over.

Because you are our treasure.

And we are so happy you are here.

I have not been able to hold you in my arms yet. I am grieving this, but don't worry your pretty little head over that. Because I am holding you in my heart. And while that may sound a little sappy and weird, it's true. There are no miles, no circumstances and no tomorrow that can change your place in my heart. Your brothers are anchored deep in there too.

If I could whisk myself to your home this evening, I would send your Mommy to sleep, rent your Daddy & brothers their favorite movie and rock you quietly in your room. While you rested, I would speak many wonderful things over your head and catch you up on some important information.

First, God made you. Perfectly. How I wish you could always rest so easily in this, but the truth is there are many untrue messages out there. Expectations and innuendos that boldly insist there is ONE WAY to look and ONE SIZE to wear and anything else is failure. Presley, Love, you are perfectly designed by a Perfect Creator and when you look at yourself through the years you should always remember, it is HIS work you see in that mirror and you should be careful how you speak about it. And how you allow others to speak about it. You are beautiful. Case closed.

Second, Jesus loves you. LOVES YOU. And that will never change. NEVER. He is the most incredible Hero, Protector, Friend and Confidant and He will never let you down. I pray for you and those brothers of yours and all your cousins living here in Uganda to know Jesus better than any other. Listen for His voice, my niece. He has a plan and a love for you that is unmatched.

Third, ice cream is awesome. You can call it “mum-mum” and smile sweetly and people will supply it to you by the gallon.

Fourth, organizing and cleaning are fun! (I can keep trying even though this hasn’t worked on any of my own babies yet!)

Fifth, I love your hair and your eyelashes and your perfect fingers and toes!

Sixth, I love you.

Finally a prayer: “Holy Father protect this life, protect this heart. Soften and nurture and grow this incredible spirit towards You. May nothing hinder or misdirect her gaze from Your Holiness and Your Grace.”

And then I would probably cry. Because my children and husband would be so hungry in Uganda without me and I would have to get on an airplane and fly away.

But not without singing first. "Jesus Loves Me," "Who Made the Flowers," and most likely, "Amazing Grace."

Blessings would be spoken over your perfect, tiny head. And your Mommy would be rested. And your brothers would be hugged. And my heart would be at peace.

The final thing I would remind us both of is that this life rarely gives you EVERYTHING that you want. Sadly, we can’t always have our way. But a quiver lip and pout do nothing but depress. The best plan is to count your blessings, pray with thanksgiving and wait on the Lord. His plan is ALWAYS perfect.

Just look at you.

I love you always. Call me if you need anything.

Aunt Cheryl

"For you created my inmost being. You knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful. I know that full well." 
Psalm 139:13-14

Wednesday, February 17, 2016


Several years ago a young man named Daniel and his sister were in an accident. The sister died and the young man suffered debilitating breaks to both legs and a severe head injury that caused brain damage. In the years to follow the young man suffered with his physical wounds and with the grief over the loss of his sister.
Today that young man's body was recovered from a nearby crater lake where he took his own life Friday morning. Jeff and our boys together with Derrick and other men from our church led the several day search.

In the recovery today, Jeff and Isaac swam the body to shore where our boys and men of the village moved the body onto a stretcher and carried it to an awaiting vehicle. This was a gruesome experience but everyone stepped in to assist with mercy for the family of this young man.
After the body was recovered, Jeff and his team participated in the burial with Jeff speaking and sharing in a time of prayer with the young man’s family and his home village. This too was a proclaiming act of mercy.

Among our local community this type of death is treated with heavy shame. In the case of suicide it is common for people to beat the body of the deceased, toss the body into a grave “like a dog” and very few churches will even perform a funeral service. The dignity Jeff offered into this circumstance today spoke loudly to all involved.

Your prayers have helped make such a difference.

In Fort Portal there are two men known for search and recovery in the event of a drowning. Jeff is one. The other is a witch doctor.

The witch doctor charges exorbitant fees and calls on evil spirits to recover a body for a grieving family. He is known to hide the body when he finds it and then charge the family per day for his searching.

Jeff and his team of Christian men call on the name of God, charge nothing and declare courage over fear.

Anytime Jeff steps in to act in these circumstances there is the chance that the body will not be found. Jeff has searched 6 different occasions through the years and found 3 bodies. (The bodies were eventually recovered in the other three but after some time.) The lake involved over the last few days is 330 metres deep at the deepest point. Jeff was the only diver. The odds were well against the recovery of this young man’s body. We had been persistently praying for God to bring the body up. He did.

We see the recovery of this body as God’s direct intervention as a result of the prayers of many. We give all glory to Him, our Father who sees and acts.

Today, there was more. 

As an act of 'spiritual cleansing,' it is also traditional here to burn around a lake where someone has died. In the drought of this dry season, grass fires spread quickly and can do much damage. Just after the burial, Jeff and our boys were called on to help fight one of these ‘cleansing’ fires that had grown large and was threatening a nearby lodge. Jeff guided the lodge staff in fire fighting techniques and the fire was contained. Immediately following that, an alarm sounded that one of the fire fighters was dying from smoke inhalation. The man was seriously affected and nearly died twice while Jeff worked with him. As of this evening the man was improving and headed to the hospital for oxygen and further healing treatment.

Quite a day. A grueling crater lake search and recovery, standing for a dignified burial in a sea of fear and shame, fire fighting and life saving. Our battle is not against flesh and blood. Today has born many signs of that.

This day has also born signs of God’s redemptive power and the beauty of mercy in the midst of pain.

Your continued prayers for Daniel's family as they suffer in grief are so appreciated. And your generous ‘standing alongside’ those in your own community who grieve begs to be emphasized too. Daniel felt he had no way through his grief and loss. He believed he was alone. When we grieve the people nearest us can speak truth into that lie the best. 

The Cash men have seen some difficult sights today and worked very hard to help others. Your continued prayers for each of them as they process today’s events are so appreciated.

Thank you for standing with us in this battle. We are grateful for the mercy of burial for Daniel’s grieving family and we are grateful for every moment that proclaims our God as mighty over all.

We brace for our Presidential Elections in Uganda (they begin tomorrow) with this covering over us:

Our God reigns. He moves with us through every season.

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;”
Psalm 23:4a

We are not alone.  

Remind someone of this today.

Steady on.

Thursday, February 04, 2016


edited from the archives because I'm still waiting:)

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.
I can be profuse in my grimaces, in my worry and in my sweaty, red-faced clamor.
(Is N.O.W. really too much to ask?!)

This clash of my longing and God’s timing keeps us (me and God) wrestling through details.

I acknowledge that Mastery of the Patience Thing would effectively end the 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.

My Provider and I stay connected in a way that strengthens and trains.
It builds muscle.
And necessary skill.
It shapes a warrior.

“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 & he was limping because of his thigh.”
Genesis 32:24-31
Amplified Bible Classic Edition

Sometimes our waiting can be for a long time.
Like Tamar. (Genesis 38:11-14)
Like Sarah. (Genesis21:1-7)
Like the Israelite slaves in Egypt. (Genesis 15:13-14; Exodus 3:7-10;21-22)

This is never popular. Or fun.


The awkwardness of long-waiting shoves insistently among us demanding our attention and our time.
Such a nuisance. An inconvenience.
A problem.
The sign of sure defeat.

Victorious completion is the celebratory standard we see in others and most readily proclaim for ourselves.
Those are the pictures we love to take.
But it is never the whole story.

So today.
From among all the postponed and deferred.
I wait with you.
Determinedly wrestling it all through.

Food. Sickness. Homeschool. Letting go. Heat. Mercy.
Exhaustion. Budgets. Joy. Connection. Betrayal. Loss.
(Your list is welcome too…)

We gather in all the waiting, in the inconclusive and in the seemingly endless and we whisper this:


Remember the provisions of God.
Retell His benefits.
Speak what He has done.

And even if you can’t just yet.
Even if it is all darkness and gloom in your awareness.
You are welcome too.
We can whisper around you.
We can hold space until you may be ready.
We can wait with you.

You’ll find your voice eventually.

Lean in.

I'll start.

 Chocolate chip cookies. Good ones. Free of all the allergens that cripple me.
So delicious.

Long lingering talks with my girl. In our kitchen. Hearing her heart.

Arranging pictures. Our families gathered to greet us every time we walk in the door. Such joy.

Every memory that reminds us, we are not alone.

There is more. SO much more.

I have a friend whose cancer was arrested and hasn’t spread in many years.
I have a friend who longed for children for a long time and now decades later raises her very own in a home overflowing with youth she also cares for.
I have a working refrigerator and it is full of healthy food. 
My husband was saved from a plane crash. Twice.
There are four children who call me Mom and thrive in my home.
My cold is almost gone.
(Your list is welcome too…)

His mercies New.
Every morning.

Slowly, together, we nourish and feed.
We sustain and renew.

We hope.

In fellowship with our Father and all His children that went before us, we come to know each other’s names.

Like Jacob.
 No longer mere replacements.
No longer standing in a place meant for someone else.
But contenders.
Those who will struggle to a victorious end.
(even if it doesn't look like we expect it to)
We remain.
Face to His adoring face.
Locked in His grip.
Holding out for a bestowing.
 Limping and blessed.

“I am still 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