Saturday, February 23, 2019

Remembering Jan: Two Tales of Honor

 Tale #1: August 1997

My fever had set in fiercely as we awaited our plane trip the evening before. We were traveling from Nairobi to Kampala and the sickness from my newly discovered pregnancy was intensifying at an alarming rate. Maybe this wasn’t just my pregnancy?

I could not hold my head up as we waited to board, so I rested against Jeff’s shoulder and managed just enough energy to move to the plane when the time came. The one hour flight went quickly as I slept on Jeff's shoulder and by the time we landed, Jeff could feel the heat from my forehead through his shirt. We were both very concerned.

I took Tylenol and we made our way to our friend’s home where we would stay for the night. My fever rose and my misery magnified over the long hours of that one evening. Jeff got up early the next morning to take me to a doctor. I could not stand so he helped me get dressed and moved the truck as close to the front door as he could. Just as we were about to leave, Jan and Jana arrived. They had stopped by the house to pick something up, and were so sad to hear that I was ill. They came back to the bedroom where I lay fevered and shaking on the bed. Jan stood at my feet and laid her hand on my ankles as the tears slowly poured from my eyes.

I was so scared. And so very sick.

Jana held my hand and Jan started to pray:

“God protect this baby.”

“We ask for your peace. For your presence. For your help.”

She moved in closer and lay her hand on my abdomen. Jana’s hand moved there too.

“Keep this heart beating for you, Jesus. Keep this heart beating. Heal and help. We trust you.”

She then kissed my forehead.

I tested positive for malaria just one hour later.

“Keep this heart beating for you, Jesus.” I must have repeated that phrase over and over a thousand times in the fevered fog of the days that would follow. It was all I could think. A hope I desperately held on to.

Months later, just after Kinley’s safe arrival into the world, we worshiped at Kampala church of Christ. Jan took pictures of the day as our Kampala family passed Kinley around with joy. As I watched the celebration swirl around me, I felt Jan approach and hug me quietly while whispering in my ear: “Just look what God did for us, Cheryl! Just look!”

I have a very strong feeling that I will hear those exact words again when we all meet again around God’s throne.

Tale #2: Sometime in 2002-2003

It was just the two of us. 

Jeff had gone to complete some necessary errands in town and I had finally settled three children down for afternoon naps. The house was very quiet. Jan was housesitting for her daughter and son-in-law who were away on furlough and we were houseguests of the houseguest for a few nights in Kampala. As I sat down in the sitting room, she quietly smiled in my direction.

“You are doing a good job, you know.”

I glanced her way, immediately thirsty for this encouragement in a way I hadn’t even acknowledged.

I shrugged.

“You are. You and Jeff both. You are raising beautiful children and you are good at what you do.”

I do not remember exactly how I responded, but I most likely spoke some of my doubts. Mothering our Cashlings was the stuff of my dreams and also the home of some of my deepest fears. Nothing mattered more to me and what if, what if, I was doing it all wrong?

She smiled and closed her eyes, rocking peacefully in her chair.

“Isaiah says it. Chapter 40:10-11. It’s God’s word for you, Cheryl. He gently leads those who have young. God is gentle. If the words in your own head or the words coming at you from anybody else are not gentle, then perhaps they are not from Him. You are loved.”

I thanked her. I most likely cried. She encouraged me to put my feet up and rest my eyes for a bit.

Then, I think she left to take a nap.

In the days that followed I would search out that passage and read it over and over. The word gentle would play incessantly in my head.

It was a long road ahead of me, but that brief and specific encouragement illuminated a whole new way—a way that has consistently taken me nearer to God’s own heart and a freedom I could have never dreamed.

Two years later, I began to write on this thing called a ‘blog.' It was weird and wonderful and a part of my spirit that I had not acknowledged or released fully began to unwind and furl free.
I remember the day I set it all up and chose the title. The easiest decision I ever made.

“Gently Led”

It represented my life circumstance (still raising young children—four by that time), but even more than that, it represented a whole new way of being that I had yet to even grasp the depths of. Nothing about our existence seemed so very ‘gentle’ as we served, but there was this reminder for me:

“God’s voice is gentle with you…”

It is a beautiful thing to be seen and affirmed. 
It is God glorifying to step into each other's lives and serve. 

Jan Tarbet did stuff like this all the time.

Several weeks ago, Jan transitioned home to Jesus and tomorrow her family and community will gather to remember and celebrate her faithful, seeking life. My love and prayers are with you all as you worship, give honor and collectively grieve. I, too, am marking Jan’s gifts to the world fully confident that her soul now soars, welcomed, beloved and free.

Blessed be the name of the Lord!

Sunday, June 17, 2018


"Listen... to your father’s instruction… " Proverbs1:8

Ephesians 6:10-20;24

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Stand firm then…”

“…with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place…”

Glenn Cash follows Christ with dedication and fervor. He has a heart that ardently pursues truth. He trusts in the words of Scripture and, from a heart of love for God, adheres to the principles and wisdom He reads and studies. His persistent resolve to obey God, trains a righteousness that guards our hearts. Glenn taught Jeff the truth of Jesus’ salvation. Jeff embraced that truth with his whole being effecting generations and other nations for Christ. Glenn’s pursuit of understanding echoes and deeply influences Jeff’s personal choice to explore the depths of the mysteries of God. We are  thankful for Glenn's faithfulness and consistent prayer. We honor  his commitment to love and serve to the glory of the Lord. 

 “…and with the your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.”

My Dad means the world to me. Always has. He easily engages the people in his world with love, grace and humor. When people in his community are hurting, my Dad gets the call. He cares genuinely and is ready to go. Dad is always ready to go. Out the door-- to the hospital, to the funeral home and to death beds. He brings peace. The peace of Christ which transformed his own life dramatically, decades ago. My Dad carries Christ with him to every place, especially the dark and shadowy ones where Jesus’ light can soothe and comfort. Dad offers this peaceful support with such deep abiding joy. I’ve always wanted to be just like him. It is no surprise that I found my feet ‘fitted’ with the same readiness that I witnessed in his. I guess I was ready to go too. His sacrificial support of my calling sustains in places no one else can touch. He is my hero and my dearest friend.  

“In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”

I spent many days and hours in the company of my Granddaddy. He was an extremely reserved man, so most of those hours were quiet but his constant love was very, very loud. The complete assurance of his adoration and care for me affected me deeply. During a very trying time in my life  I was asked by a spiritual mentor to design a shield that would protect me from some of the arrows (figurative) being flung in my direction.  After I completed the task, I described the shield to my wise friend. When I was finished, she nodded and said, “If this shield was the strongest, most impenetrable shield available, who would you have build it?”
Without hesitation or even conscious thought I replied, “Granddaddy. Granddaddy would build it.”
Love conquers all. Granddaddy’s love for me was fueled by a faith he rarely spoke about but instead lived out daily one faithful, generous step at a time. Even though he is physically gone from my life, his steadfast devotion continues to protect me in the battles that I face. I miss him so very much. 

"Take the helmet of salvation…”

This picture sits on Jeff’s desk. It is a photo of a very young Jeff with his Granddad, AJ Small. Jeff tells the story of his Granddad delighting in watching him baptize his cousins and sister in the irrigation ditches that ran alongside Grandad’s house. They were little children acting out the blessing of obedience and salvation--a salvation AJ received and proclaimed with his life. AJ was a finish carpenter, an amazing one. He worked hard, loved his family, endured heavy physical illness and delighted in God’s word. Jeff recalls his love for scripture, his determination that Jeff could handle responsibility and his constant encouragement for Jeff to exercise independence. Granddad Small realized his salvation fully before I joined his family. I’m sure he would delight to know that his grandson would continue baptizing and proclaiming salvation. We will all be together again someday. I can’t wait to meet him around that Throne. 

“...and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

Granddad Cash was the captain of the police force in the town where he raised his family. He was a protector and a guard for the just and the good. He carried a gun every day, but only fired it once in his lifelong career. He said that there were better ways to solve a problem than with a gun. Weapons had their place, he taught, but should be respectfully wielded in conflict. 
Granddad Cash loved Christ and His church and served as an elder for many years. He acted as defender in that capacity too, utilizing the most valued weapon in his arsenal, the word of God. He trusted the tenets of scripture with his life and taught his children and grandchildren faithfully to follow Christ with their whole hearts. His influence penetrated deeply as he spoke truth about following God. 
Jeff often tells about Granddad's advice while hiking: "Lift up your eyes and see the views around--don't just watch the path at your feet."  
It was a moment that would echo in Jeff’s mind and spirit for decades. Jeff has nurtured a powerful, visionary heart that confidently lifts eyes to see the expanse of God’s design. Granddad Cash encouraged this vision by carefully carving inspiration with a weapon he very much respected--the words of God. We miss Granddad Cash very much, but walk out his wisdom still. 

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayer and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

My Grandpa Money was a strong man; a very hard worker. He and my Granny raised seven children on an oil field worker’s salary in dry West Texas towns. He was diligent and dedicated. He adhered to strict roles as he led his home. He was the provider and my Granny took care of the household responsibilities.  My Granny suffered through many strokes in the years I remember her most. I watched my Grandpa step out of his well-practiced role of working outside the home and walk confidently into the kitchen. He cooked and cleaned and took care of my Granny who became increasingly debilitated in the last years of her life. Grandpa stepped up, in exorbitant love. I witnessed him keeping his promises and serving his wife and his God, beautifully. He was a good, good man. 
Of all the memories I have of my Grandpa (dominoes, silly songs and the way he closed his eyes when he was remembering the details of a story he was telling) it is his prayers that emerge prominent. I remember how he held Granny’s hand and leaned in close over her bed when he prayed for her meals. I remember where he sat at the table in the kitchen and how his hand felt when he held mine. I remember his voice and how he ended every prayer the exact same way, “…we beg in Jesus name, Amen.” You could count on Grandpa's prayers. They were just like him. Solid, dependable, consistent and full of faith. 

“Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”

I see in Jeff attributes of each of these strong men of faith. Jeff embodies a true soldier spirit, armed and ready, prepared and sure. I so greatly esteem and depend on Jeff’s fearless heart as he proclaims the mysteries of the gospel to those in our community, in our churches and to the treasures in our home. Our children are following in Jeff’s courageous steps as he has followed in the steps of those before him. How grateful I am that these footfalls rest on a trail blazed by a Faithful, Merciful King. A King we have watched, in the generations before us, redeem, heal, sustain and welcome home. 

I honor each of these men today for their dedication to their families and for loving as Christ does. Because of their choices and their faithfulness my world and the world of my children was set on a solid foundation. I am forever grateful. 

“Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.”

Praise the Lord!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Her Children Rise Up

In honor of my heritage from selected verses of 
Psalm 147

“Praise the Lord.”

“How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him!”

Time at my Granny’s house always included good food, laughter and singing. She often made fudge just for me. It would be on a plate covered with plastic wrap on the bottom shelf of the fridge. Delightful!
My Granny Money suffered through strokes and their effects in the final years of her life. She lost many things due to her illness, including her recollection of words. How astounding that despite that struggle, God mercifully allowed a few words to remain. 
She could always sing every word of the hymn"Amazing Grace." I can still hear her voice and see  her left hand pat in time to the music. 

We sang it often then, together with her, as a family. 
We live it together still.  

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

My Mom spent her career in Child Protective Services, working long, arduous hours to right some wrongs for the brokenhearted. She served among heroes. She, herself, was a hero to many. She taught me where and how to follow Jesus--among the suffering, with dedicated persistence. 

(photo by Autumn Twilight photography)

My Mom also carries this verse in herself. My calling has become her sacrifice too.  I deeply appreciate her love for me in the midst of the surrender this work requires of us both.
There really is no way to serve the brokenhearted without surrendering to the breaking of our own hearts too. I am thankful for a Mom who taught me how faithfully Jesus loves. In Him there is a safe space for every wound to be tended and bound for healing.

“He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.”

Jeff remembers his Mom singing "Can You Count the Stars of Evening" often when he was young.  
He grew up fully confident of God’s loving awareness of Him. He knew that because he belonged to the One who numbers the stars, he could confidently shoot for them, with bold courage. 
He does this, every day. His mom’s song still sings over him and the children he is raising to live with courage too.

Every single time we sit outside and watch the African night sky, Jeff speaks of the song and of his Mom. Her faith and deep love for African missions (all missions really) is a vibrant part of where we serve and raise our family today. 

“...the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.”

I spent more time with Mam-ma than any of my other grandparents. Her influence in my life remains deep and strong to this day. How I clean a kitchen, cook a roast, or plan a holiday meal all spin within the influence of this beautifully hilarious and very smart woman. She pursued God with passionate dedication. She obeyed and deeply respected His commands. Her Bible was always at her right hand, on the end table beside her favorite chair, and the bookmark moved daily. She read His words as if her life depended on it because it absolutely did. I knew that full well. Her passing from this life was a great loss for all who loved her, but I remain so uplifted to consider her arrival into her eternal home. What joy for her when she realized, face to face, the depth and breadth of Christ’s unfailing and freeing love for her. I can’t wait to be together, there, around His throne forever.

“He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills. He provides…”

Grandma Rose loved flowers and she always had a beautiful garden. One of the gifts we honor in our home is a picture of flowers that she painted. It reminds us of her and her knowledge of the blooms she adored.  She knew the names of them all and she knew Who provided them for her enjoyment.
Conversations with Grandma Rose always included stories of the ways God provided for her in her life, and time with her consistently yielded arms full of gifts that she loved to provide for us. 
The beautiful wedding ring I treasure speaks daily to me of God’s provision to her and to me. The testimony of Grandma Rose’s life echoes in our home every day.

“He strengthens the bars of your gates and blesses your people within you. He grants peace to your borders and satisfies you with the finest of wheat.”

Nona Cash is one woman I long to know! She went to be with Jesus before I joined her clan, but I have heard her spoken of with such adoration and esteem. She is very well remembered. 
If I could sit with her over coffee today, I would celebrate with her the beautiful ways God has strengthened the gates of her Cash family and how He has stayed with us in the places where we come and go.  We could number the ways He has blessed us within those walls of belonging. We would rejoice over how large the family has grown—delighting in each new, beautiful life. We could look at our borders and see that even in our most vulnerable places God is kneading peace.
We could discuss how faithfully He has remained among us, satisfying us with the finest of wheat—the Bread of Life--
where we need Him most.
I would thank her for her endurance and her witness of Christ’s love. 
Her heritage of faith is mine now too. 

“One generation commends your works to another; 
they tell of your mighty acts.
They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty---
and I will meditate on your wonderful works.
They tell of the power of your awesome works---
and I will proclaim your great deeds.
They celebrate your abundant goodness
and joyfully sing of your righteousness.”
Psalm 145:4-7

On this Mother’s Day, I will proclaim and joyfully sing of His goodness as I meditate on the heritage of faith in these beautiful, Godly women. 

They commend God’s works to us, speaking and telling of His splendor and of His power and of His abundant goodness. 

We rise up and call them, “Blessed!”

Praise the Lord!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

A Word About Deficit

I never even started that Advent devotional.
The one I researched and found online but could not get to download over our shoddy internet. The process discouraged me and I thought of it, spoke of it to God, every morning.
If only that devotional had downloaded!
I really wanted all of those wise words.

God knew.

In this particular season, I did not need to read it.

I needed to walk it.

You see.

The water stopped flowing and there was an announcement about it on the radio and it was because a pipe had been damaged in a nearby road construction project.

We called, sent someone to the water office and discussed. The official word returned to us that ‘they couldn’t know’ when the pipe would be repaired. “The road must be finished first.”

We were watching those construction workers like hawks. Were they moving? Was the murram (gravel) spread? How many days would they break for holiday celebrations? Could we bring our wrenches and fix that pipe ourselves?!

Because you know what is helpful in the days just before Christmas? Water.
Because you know what is necessary for all of the dish washing? Water.
Because you know what is required for the gazillion times a person washes their hands while baking?  Water.
Because you know what is really advantageous when someone is ill with a stomach bug? Water.
Because you know what is conducive to Cheryl remaining sane? Water.


You see, once upon a time, we lived for six whole years without electricity. By God’s grace, we did that. We adjusted to solar power and all that it provides, namely, freedom from the corruption of our local electric company. So, I know that I can weather that particular deprivation. I can live without my hair dryer, a washer and dryer and a deep freeze. It hurt for a while, but I adjusted.

But you know what I cannot seem to adjust to living without? Water.

I simply cannot. It takes me right up to the edge of all that is rational and practical and tips me over the fraying, ragged edge. I know this because I have also done it. I have lived without running water. Our very first nine months in Fort Portal. Nine months. It changed me forever. (I never drain an entire bathtub of water without cringing.)

But the week before Christmas? The loss of water felt like some sort of cruel joke. Because, for the Cashes, this December of 2017 was one for the books.

Car tires. Blown out.
Car electrical system. Shut down.
Solar power inverter. Blown out.
Internet router. Burned out.
Web domain and email. Hacked and locked out.
Electricity. Browned out. Surged. Off.
Water. Off for days, tanks dry.
Jeff. Sick for two weeks.
Bank accounts. Locked out.
Phones. Frozen, locked up, conked.

It really has been remarkable. I awoke early each morning to sort the previous days burdening issues to realize that I must solve two new problems first.

There was no way it was coincidental. Not in the merciful hands of an incredibly persistent, incredibly faithful Provider.

He wastes nothing.

In the midst of it all, this one particular morning.
Sipping coffee.
Mapping out necessary tasks for the day ahead.
Praying for water.
There it was:
A gift, wrapped in discouragement and want, emerging sweeter than ever before.

His mysterious reckoning blazoned.

All of the deficit had me locked into waiting expectantly.

I didn’t have to tell myself to pay attention.

I already was.

There was nothing else to do.

Sitting in the want and need and impossibilities and straining my ears toward…something. Some word to guide the next step.
Some announcement that would promise good ahead.
Some news that would be abundant.
Some idea that would advance our day and maybe even alleviate a burden.

Like the shepherds.
Like the old barren couple, succumbed to the humility of no immediate heir.
Like the young girl waiting on the very edge of a community-accepted, status-quo life change offered instead the opportunity to labor on behalf of the whole world.  

Doing their jobs. In step with the familiar. The next right things. The daily. The yearly. The expected passage of one’s life.

Right in the middle of the worship. The day. The dark field at night.

Each person wanting for something.


“Do not be afraid!”
“….your prayer has been heard!”
“Your wife, Elizabeth, will bear you a son….
He will be a joy and delight to you.”
Luke 1: 5-25

“Greetings, you who are HIGHLY FAVORED!”
“The Lord is with you!”
“Do not be afraid!”
“You have found favor with God!”
“You will conceive and give birth to a son...”
“…call Him Jesus…”
“He will be great!”
Luke 1:26-33

“I bring you GOOD news!”
 “Today…a Savior has been born to you.”
Luke 2:8-12

My heart beats it.
Each of those glorious, weird, out-of-the-box announcements so full of mercy and hope shining light ahead, even then, into each of my current powered-out, bone dry places.

This is a gospel that resounds.
A point of light incisively radiating into the shadowy margin of every shortfall.

It is, in fact, really loud there.

For this is the meaning of advent.

We wait. He comes.

Over and over and over again.

The waiting is not a distraction.
It is, instead, the epiphany.

 Creating an empty space expansive enough for an echo to reverberate.
 Locking focus, accentuating need, heightening all the wanting and opening ears to every decree.
Perfectly priming each moment for proclamation.

And, somehow, the intensified longing transforms worship.

The discordant tone of yearning creating the most gorgeous, soul-satisfying dissonance.

We are so happy, so relieved, so satisfied,
when a long-awaited answer finally comes.

“My soul glorifies the Lord…”
…my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.
“…he has been mindful…
His mercy extends…
He has performed mighty deeds…
He has brought down rulers and lifted up the humble!
He has filled the hungry…
He has helped…
He remembers to be merciful…”
Luke 1: 46-55

His Spirit falls on us.
Fills us.
Births new.

“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has come to his people
and redeemed them!
.…to show mercy
to remember
to rescue
to enable us to serve…
to shine…
to guide our feet….”
Luke 1: 67-79

In my own weeks of pummeling deficiency, I was granted a Christmas season ripe with enlightening truth:
heavily expectant
lonely labor
saving arrivals
God’s Glory proclaimed.

From every humble state, a gift poured out from surprising places through concession to God’s upside down, shocking, ever-redemptive way:
“I am the Lord’s servant.
May your word to me be fulfilled.”
Luke 1:38

Wherever you are today--

From the obvious want of want.
(Or, even, from the constantly insatiable want of plenty.)

May your eyes be allowed to see,

His blessed favor, rest.

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
Luke 2:14

(Our water returned late in the evening on Christmas Eve. It was perfectly timed relief for all of us. Thanks be to God for His faithful presence in the midst of it all and thanks to each of you for every prayer.)