Saturday, January 17, 2015

For This Reason


That you may be filled
to the measure of all the fullness of God.

That you may know this love
that surpasses knowledge.

That you may have power to grasp
how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.

That you may be rooted and established
in love.

That Christ may dwell in your hearts
through faith.

That he may strengthen you
With power
through His Spirit
in your inner being
from the abundance of His glorious riches.

I kneel before the Father.

For this reason.

Eph 3:16-17

December and January are uniquely difficult in our Fort Portal lives. There is a very particular press of some sort of weighty something. A vague type of heaviness that settles all over our town and in our home.

Perhaps it is the season’s heat and dry air that slows us all down and surrounds us with dreary and mundane. We love our rainy cool in this lovely mountain town. We’ve been weeks without moisture from the sky.

I just know that our daily exercise of forward motion—school, meals, work, writing and rest—those regular things have required far more energy and gumption to get started and completed.

It’s worse when sickness accompanies this dry time. And it has. A physical malaise that has stuck with our family rotating resting places for far too long it seems.

Perhaps some of the hardest work we (all of us) do. Keeping. And staying. And holding on. And discovering the next optimistic forward step.

When all around us is hot and dry and heavy and slow. (Or frozen and cold and paralyzed with ice.)

For this reason…

We press on.

Seeking.

And from his abundance we receive.

Always enough.

Steady on.




Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Cash Family Christmas Highlights

The decorating began the day after Thanksgiving, just like God intended:)


Everybody helps!


All done!

And then there was dancing...

Stockings were hung over the piano with care...


Family remembered and missed!

Believe!

Every decoration a memory...


Even Fort Portal decorated for Christmas! Christmas lights and a tree at the lion roundabout in town:)

Time for cookie decorating!

And we enlisted help from sweet friends:)

Elves hard at work

Such fun!

Quick trip to Kampala for holiday fun--a family movie date (the Hobbit!), some last minute gift shopping and a lovely dinner date for Jeff & Cheryl with live music and amazing food!

Merry Christmas to me! A health food store just opened in Kampala with gluten free products galore. Joy to the World!

Packages from family...

...fill our hearts with joy and love. 

We celebrated a birthday...

15?!? How can it be???

Mexican food, birthday cake and friends. A young man well celebrated and deeply loved.

Treats (and a message) for Santa...

He found us!

Christmas programs with a passel of kids

A Christmas feast prepared by a beautiful chef

Pie! 

Good food, sweet faces, forever memories.

A wonderful visit with friends that feel like family!


Happy

Happy

Happiness.

So very thankful for these.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Enough


Over the last few months I have been challenged by this one word.

Enough: as much or as many as required; adequate.

I have realized with a bit of sheepish shock, that I rarely declare this into my own world and heart.

I rarely practice saying to myself, “Today, you were enough. You did enough. Well done!”

Instead, I hear so easily the word pairing of ‘not enough.’

During the last months of practicing a new way, kneading new words into my subconscious, I have found many fields of exercise availing themselves to my training.

Take Christmas pictures for example.

Family photos. Dear me.

I love having them, but my goodness gracious, the ordeal of it all is remarkable.

And astounding.

And overwhelming.

And sometimes ridiculous.

But maybe that is just in our house.

Way back in the days of yore…back when I obsessed over Christmas cards and address lists and a long letter detailing our year…

Wait.

What is that?

You never got yearly letters from us with cute pictures?

You only ever received them haphazardly and with no consistency?

Yep.

I said, “back when I obsessed” not  “back when I actually succeeded in getting things finished.”

So. Back when, we took a picture every single holiday season. Every single one.

And for our first decade on the field, I wrote a newsy update for every single holiday season. Every single one.

We mailed about half.

The other half most likely still sit in a box in my schoolroom. Half addressed envelopes. Poorly copied letters.

And stacks of photos that never went out.

Stacks of pages and guilty regret paying homage to my lack and my deficiency and also my lack.

(Yes, I realize I am repeating myself.)

In fact, since I’m opening this pandora’s box of guilty splendor, let me just go ahead and admit that every single day of my tenure on the field there has existed somewhere in my kitchen or on my bookshelf or tucked away on a corner of my schoolroom desk, a stack.

A brooding, diabolical, relentless weight of expectancy that I never, never found the end of.

A mocking heap of defeat.

Treasured letters that await beautiful responses.

And never found them.

Sigh.

I absolutely love letters. (and Christmas cards!)

They are a lost art, truly.

Very dear souls have written (with pen and ink!) letters to us through the years and those messages mean SO much to me. I always weave and spin and create the most loving and eloquent responses---in my head.

And in my heart.

With every intention of putting those profuse thanks onto a page.

But, by and large, other necessities protrude into my intentions robbing all of us of the blessing of actual follow through.

But for some reason, I could never get rid of the stack.

I could never admit that I wasn’t going to be able to complete that task.

I could never ‘delete’ and move on, accepting that for that time and season I had already done and been enough.

(I couldn’t take the ‘B’)

So the stack would remain.

And shift from counter space, to desktop, to storage bin accompanied by pangs and remorse and ever valiant resilience that would lie to my silly self and say, “Someday you will get around to that!”

This week, it looked like this:

Christmas card stock (a stack of it!) that I bought on clearance in the USofA on furlough over a decade ago. And envelopes with poinsetta leaves decorating the border awaiting the beautifully printed card that I have designed in my head.

That I designed in my head 15 years ago.

That I have NEVER printed.

But the Christmas card stock remains.

Stacked.

Waiting.

And ominously reminding me that I haven’t.

With the nagging of ‘I won’t ever’.

And the guilty beckoning of, ‘keep it just a few years more.’

In a simple, momentary glance at my paper supply cabinet in my schoolroom, the loud, resonating message of ‘look at all you are failing to get done’ echoes around me following me into my work and my service of the present day.

Enough.

I need a new song in my heart.

As I’ve poured through our old Christmas photos this year I’ve noted again how the imperfect ones are the ones that bring such delight now.

The ones we laugh about and re-enact are the broken ones. The lumpy ones.

The real ones.

Those are the ones that flood our souls with profound and hilarious.

Those are the ones that were in every way, enough.

Today, in celebration of all the glory of broken and imperfect, I offer you a glimpse into the annual agony of the Cashling Christmas picture (with a few remakes we attempted just this week.)

I’m learning a new tune, slowly but surely, and it says that what I am and have already is sufficient. Ample.

Good.

(you are SO welcome to 'sing' along...)

Joy to the World!




Say cheese!





Tone it down a tad, Si!




So close until I suggested they hug each other…




Brothers…



And this week…






We did a retake that year and added Baxter to bring some cheer…




It didn’t exactly work out.



 Pet the dog?



Done.



During this next attempt I was holding four bags of M&M’s, offered as a bribe for a quick and easy ‘smile and we’re done’ success.

They were all in…



A second try…





Look at the camera!





And this week…



Finally we would get that perfect shot of sweetness…



To be printed.

And stacked.

And stored needlessly.

(and blogged about a decade later!)

Enough. 

Merry Christmas!

Celebrate this year remembering the arrival of a grace so monstrous it could conquer even the most gargantuan of holiday (any day) guilt.

Swaddled atop hay. Surrounded by smelly animals. Attended by raucous shepherds.

Enough.

More than.

Him. And You.

Together.

Amidst all our stacked up deficiency.

God WITH us.

Immanuel.

“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth PEACE to all on whom His favor rests!”
Luke 2:14


Saturday, November 22, 2014

For Such a Time…


College took us to different places but we saw each other sporadically.

She said it every time we talked.

Christmas, a brief visit in the summer, maybe Thanksgiving…

As we rushed through our highlights and heard the report of a year and all it’s happenings, my life-long friend Shelli would mention, seemingly offhand, “Now, do you know Kelly Jeffrey?”

Every single time I would shake my head, “No. I’ve never met Kelly. But you always ask…”

We would laugh and Shelli would say, “Somehow, I just feel like you should know her. How can we make that happen?”

We’d scatter on to other topics and part ways eventually to carry on with our lives.

On one of our last visits, just before I left for Uganda again and when I first heard her talk about a guy named Erik, Shelli spoke the familiar pondering one last time.

“Kelly Jeffrey Vaughn. She’s married to Randy Vaughn. They are joining a mission team to Benin. They have one baby daughter. Seriously, you have to know her. You are supposed to.”

I still didn’t know Kelly then and wondered why this name, this particular name continued to repeat sporadically into my life.

My beautiful, sanguine friend Shelli with a bazillion gorgeous people in her world felt nudged to mention this one. Over and over. 

Precise and deliberate and mysterious.

The glorious Hand of God.






Years passed. Many of them.

Shelli became Mrs. Erik. Shelli, Kelly and I all became ‘Mom’ several times over.

Uganda became my home. And all the way across this giant continent the country of Benin became Kelly’s home.

Sometime in 2005, I ventured into another foreign and unknown world—the growing social sphere called blogging, a venue of communication that had me puzzled and unsure and delighted all within the measure of a few weeks.

All of a sudden from our isolated Western Ugandan world I had access to other moms, other homeschoolers, other Jesus followers, far-away friends.

It was scrumptious and fed my soul in good, good ways.

From my blogging world new relationships emerged, including a connection with Kelly Vaughn, a name I recognized because of Shelli, but a person I still had never met. Through comments and the faithful following of each other’s blogged journals we established a fun base of communication.

Our blog comments birthed some emails and over the course of time Kelly Vaughn became a gift from the internet to me. A dear friend walking familiar daily steps as she served in Benin and I served in Uganda.

If we had only known.

After some years of internet visits, we had the opportunity to meet in person. She and I would both be attending a conference in Kenya and we were ecstatic to learn that we would finally meet face to face.

A sister from the first hug.

It felt like we had known each other always.



The conference was large so we interacted with many, leaving scattered conversations together over the course of the three days.

I heard a random assortment of her stories and she heard a random assortment of mine.

Bits and pieces really.

We remained connected via email after that first face to face, providing prayer support for each other’s transitions and ministries and all of our people.

More time passed. 

Kelly and I hadn’t communicated in a while when one specific day dawned difficult in the Cash home as a darkness we did not see coming rolled over our family in a painful and debilitating way.

Relationships we valued were being revealed in a new awareness and it stung and it ached and it broke us.

Jeff and I were wounded by the situations stirring around and I could not get up off the floor.

Praying, beseeching and mourning, we spent most of the day seeking the One we knew we could depend on and in that moment needed very much.

Eventually Jeff went to contact our nearest and dearest, to alert them to our need for prayer.

And I wondered how long I would feel collapsed on that cold tile.

In the silence of our bedroom, I heard my email notification beep on my laptop.

I almost didn’t even check it because of the pain drawn already from that venue.

But I glanced at the name and was surprised to see ‘Kelly Vaughn’ in the highlighted line.

On my knees, I opened the email to her simple and direct message,

“What is happening?!?! You are burning on my heart and I am thinking of you constantly. How can I pray for you? Are you okay?!?!”

She had no way of knowing. Not of her own awareness anyway.

But her words and her listening heart alerted me to the liberating truth that God never leaves us abandoned.

Also.

That random smattering of testimony that I heard from Kelly’s heart some years before?

Now, linking and associating and joining us in a broken and precious fellowship we could have never anticipated.

But God knew all along.

Because of what she shared with me, I knew she would understand all that was transpiring in my world. I typed my story in choppy sentences and sent the words over that elusive and invisible wave called internet while I ached on that bleak, silent floor. 

And her reply bounced back with amazing speed.

“With you. WITH YOU!!! You are not alone. I am on my knees until you can stand from your own.”

Weeping, comforted and helped I met my sister at a Throne. Her words speaking on my behalf. Jesus heart speaking for us both.

Sometime that evening, I got up off the floor.

I stood.

Not alone.

Not abandoned.

Drenched in the grace and the mercy of our all-knowing God.


Over the years that followed I stood and broke and healed and stood again, valiantly supported by several who loved me well during a difficult season. A season I would simply not have survived as profoundly without Kelly’s understanding and empathetic battle on behalf of my own heart.

By His Spirit, in miraculous ways, she has labored in prayer in some darkest days and in some darkest times.

In a way only she could do.

In a connection only God could ordain.

I am forever grateful.


This last week, Kelly and her Tori, graciously flew across an ocean to sit with us on our veranda and drink tea from our tea cups and stare at our mountains and pray together over people and places we love and they embrace.

They came to visit a ministry dear to us.

A ministry they are such a part of too.

We do not serve here alone. Not ever.

God provides.

Most of the time, long before we even know we what we are going to need.

This last week I was blessed by Kelly and Shelli who each in their own way have always been a part of my story.

The three of us most lovingly known and weaved together.

As only He could do.

Their witness in my life reminds me actively that God sees. He acts. He purposes.

He never quits.

So.

Wherever you are today. Isolated. Or lonely. Or feeling very ‘other’ in whatever way you may…

Hang on.

What He has already done, He is also currently doing. As we move about, He is providing for us ahead of our need working restoration and redemption well into our souls.


“For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD, ‘and will bring you back from captivity…”
Jeremiah 29:11

With your whole heart.

Seek.

He already knows The Plan.

Hope. A future.

He will be found.

And that will be all Grace and Glory to His name alone.

Jehovah Jireh.

Praise the Lord!