Friday, May 01, 2015

Stay so close...


“Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel,
‘My way is hidden from the Lord;
my cause is disregarded by my God’?
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 40:27-31


Feeling forgotten?

You are designed and purposed by One who never ends.
Today.
He understands.
Every single thing.
And He never wearies of all this.
Even when we do.

He gives and increases.

He renews.

Waiting expectantly on Him, we move forward.

We will soar!

Hear and know.

His promises are for keeps.

With tenacious hold, I take your hand and His.

Strengthened and sustained
To stand together and believe.

“If our heart’s desire is the will of God, we will wait for His timing even when the pause is long and uncomfortable…. Use every second of the wait to allow the Father to increase your faith and deepen your trust. Stay so close that when He finally says “now,” He’ll only have to whisper.”  Beth Moore from Whispers of Hope

Friday, April 17, 2015

Just One More



It was Christmas Day and all the activity was behind us. Presents opened, feast devoured, pictures taken and Skype calls complete.

We were putting away the last of the leftovers together when she said it.

“I had really been dreading Christmas this year, Mama.”

“Dreading?” I replied with surprise.

“Yes,” she paused considering if she even wanted to continue and put all the words out there between us. With a deep breath she revealed into the sanctity of our very usual motions what her heart was turning over and around and feeling loudly.

“I only have one more Christmas at home before college. Only one more furlough. Only one more year at home. Just one more year where everything will be the same.”

I quietly took in her words choosing to still my own reaction and simply hear her heart.

But I felt crumbling begin from the depths of my soul as she verbally contemplated all the changes edging into our world.

Just one more?

She spoke at length about college and her dreams and all the excited, happy expectations she allows to flourish too, but my mind was lost already.

Lost in every precious memory.

That first heartbeat. Then my malaria. Then that precious heartbeat again.

Her first laborious breath.

Her first smiles. Her first laugh. Her first step.

How she loves the Bible. How she loved every brother God brought to her.

How instantaneously she stole her Daddy’s heart.

How easily she has embraced others.

How her joy and beauty have filled our home.

Just one more?

How can this be?

How can I ever endure the most agonizing beauty of this specific flavor of release?

But here we are.

On this side of it all.

Tumbling through the sippy cups and sleepless nights and weary days and stomach flues  and teething. Through the messy floors and sticky tables and snotty cuddles. It felt never ending. 

But it was ending. It is ending.

If I keep saying it, will it start to feel real?

I cried a long time on Christmas night. It won’t be the last time, I am sure.

But we have entered that season of ‘Just One More’.

And at the end of it all, no matter how bad it hurts, I am stunned by the glorious honor of participating in even this. Treasuring every ‘just one more’ to the edges of it’s occurrence.

Because these exquisite creations are of me in a way no one else ever will be.

Pieces of me splaying outward from here in a gorgeous light spiraling splendor.

Merciful Father, you are Giving even this.

Holding on. Letting go. Eyes wide open. Heart beseeching.

Blessed be the Name of the Lord!




Thursday, April 02, 2015

Wounds

There is a shattering moment when a deception unveils.

Lies don’t appear all of a sudden and they never walk alone. They most always walk in community with resembling counterparts.

They need companionship to thrive. 

And when a thundering horde arrives greeting us in the native tongue of our enemy  (John 8:44), the resulting shards can stab from the inside out. 

“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
 Heb 4:13

A sense of invisibility can be wrapped inseparably with betrayal. 

An obscured and hidden injuring that can settle deeply indiscernible. 

A traumatic casting off that muses forgotten over time. 

Betrayal can be so surprising, searing deeply for a long season; leaving one staggered and stunned, reeling to disorientation. Harboring in a wounded curl, pleading with inward groans for help from somewhere. 

Last night, in the sanctity of trusting conversation with my closest friend I uncovered this wound. This still oozing soreness that I can barely stand to have seen or touched. 

This certain ache that I am so embarrassed to still have with me.

But there it is. 

Bleeding out. 

Why, in all my analysis and awareness and understanding and praying, does this wound still bleed?

(why am I still surprised?)

Betrayal and Grief are counterparts. Deeply gouged into one experience. 

And grief will not be stilled. It works through a soul establishing a permanent place. Forever changing a life. 

Grieving expressions can grow wearisome for witnesses and those who still need to say it all can find closed doors and blank stares where they seek listening eyes and sympathetic holds. 

Where we lose the most and hurt the deepest we can feel the most alone. 

But, Jesus.

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are---yet was without sin.” 
Hebrews 4:14-15

We have a great High Priest. 

The One, who is like us. 

Tempted. 

(yet without sin)

Easter approaches and His story recalls and repeats in many venues. 

Mark 14 tells a part of it this way: 

“Peter declared, ‘Even if all fall away, I will not.’

‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus answered, ‘today---yes, tonight---before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.’

But Peter insisted emphatically, ‘Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.’ 
And all the others said the same.

They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples,
 ‘Sit here while I pray.’ 
He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled.  
‘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…. 
Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping….
Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. 
When he came back, he again found them sleeping because their eyes were heavy. Returning a third time he said to them,
 ‘Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come… Here comes my betrayer!’

Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared.
With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders.
Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: ‘The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.’
Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, ‘Rabbi!’ and kissed him.
The men seized Jesus and arrested him….
Then everyone deserted him and fled.”


This Holy Week, the lonely garden moments profoundly echo and sustain. 

In the most intense crisis we have recorded of Jesus life, in a moment of crushing betrayal, Jesus finds the people He has invested in the deepest asleep, bored, afraid and abandoning. 

They had just celebrated together. Loved. Discussed all the expected victory. 

Declared their undying devotion and loyalty.

And within hours, everything changes. 

Wrapped in the heaviest darkness, all the false and all the jealous and all the self righteous indignation justified and marched. 

The holiest leaders, dedicated to zealous religious piety, reign down indictment with blind eyes and heavy hands through the kiss of one friend who really wasn’t and the crowd he gathered around himself.  

Distance generates from the humiliation of judgment. 

In his sorrowing pain, struggle He felt every implication of, Jesus friends could not see the way through. Even though they loved him. 

Such agony. 

“During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him…” 
Hebrews 5:7-9

Jesus knows even this.  His cries were heard but he had to learn obedience through suffering. 

“…. It was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering.”
Hebrews 2:9-10

“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death---that is, the devil---
For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 
Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”
Hebrews 2:14-18

He sympathizes in every weakness. 

In every place where I want the pain to stop.

He knows.

All is laid bare. 

Nursing my own bleeding wound, I begin to recognize again, that the outpouring is His. 

“In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”
 Hebrews 9:22

It’s His blood that seeps through my own gash.

When my own blood pours it depletes. My own blood pouring must be stopped with pressure. It makes me weak. 

His blood is salient, pervasive, regenerative. 

Undefeated. 

It’s Sunday blood. 

A blood that fills up again despite all the pouring out. 

A blood that restores. 

From every garden abandonment and collapsing submission, we can strain for that looming third day. 

We can cling ahead to Sunday. 

We get to know.


With the wounds.

 Beyond the wounds.  

Because of the wounds.

He is Lord.


 “…Though the doors were locked Jesus came and stood among them and said, 
“Peace be with you!’
Then he said to Thomas, 
‘Put your finger here; 
see my hands. 
Reach out your hand and put it into my side. 
Stop doubting and believe.’ 
Thomas said to him, “my Lord and my God!” 
John 20:26-28

Invisibility denied. 

“Everything is uncovered and laid bare…”

Every wound accounted for.

We are His because He became like us. 

In every single broken, abandoned, defeated way. 

“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
 2 Corinthians 5:21

This story will never dim. 

The longer we hurt in this world the longer we need to remember. 

He is coming back. 

All will be made right. 

“In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am…” 
John 14:2-3

Face to face with Jesus, the resemblance resounds.

His wounds still look exactly like mine.


“Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.”
Isaiah 53:4-6

“When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” 
1 Peter 2: 23-24

 “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Hebrews 4:16

With all our hearts,
Thank you, Jesus.
You win!



Friday, February 06, 2015

Rain


Oppressive heat remained into our evening hours, Tuesday, in an uncharacteristic fashion. We came very close to 90 degrees inside our house. We ran a generator for a few hours in the evening which allowed for some oscillating fans and ice cold smoothies. But it hurt to turn off that generator in the night and settle into beds with no breeze circulating around us. After a long drive from Kampala, sleep overtook us despite the heat but we would be awakened again in the early morning dark.

Thunder and wind.
A gigantic, lovely spattering.
For over an hour.

Awakened weary.
Stilled and aware.

A very sweetest relief.

Rain.


“He covers the sky with clouds;
he supplies the earth with rain

    and makes grass grow on the hills.”
Psalm 147:8(NIV)


He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth; he sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses.
Psalm 135:7(NIV)


I lay listening to the answer to my every prayer.

This moment felt like a most definitive reply.

 Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man whose strength is in You, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
 Passing through the Valley of Weeping (Baca), they make it a place of springs; the early rain also fills [the pools] with blessings.
 They go from strength to strength [increasing in victorious power]; each of them appears before God in Zion.
Psalm 84:5-7(AMP)



It’s strength to strength when we edge towards God.

Even through the Valley of Baca.

A deserted space of weeping and grief. (strength)

Even that dry place of suffering becomes a water-filled oasis.

With blessings pooling abundant.

As a result of the early rain.

All the ways of our hearts:

Weeping
Celebrating
Loving
Wandering
Losing
Gaining
Breaking

All the ways.

Are roads--High Ways--headed straight to Zion.

The presence of God. (strength)

Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are those who dwell in Your house and Your presence;
they will be singing Your praises all the day long.
Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!
Psalm 84:4 (AMP)

Rain or shine.

Oppressive heat or soothing breezes.

Restful answers or a steady barrage of wondering questions.

 O Lord of hosts, blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man who trusts in You [leaning and believing on You, committing all and confidently looking to You, and that without fear or misgiving]!
Psalm 84:12(AMP)

“…the Lord delights in those who fear him,

    who put their hope in his unfailing love.”
Psalm 147:11(NIV)

Hope even when the heat rises.

A faithful God bringing all matter of ‘rain’ to console and remind.

He’s got this.

You. Us.

All our heart-ways.
He is Good.

 “The Lord will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest.”
Psalm 85:12

“When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things.”
Psalm 104:28

“He does not withhold the good
 from those who live with integrity.”
Psalm 84:11b (HCSB)

Selah.


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