Sunday, June 15, 2014

Mighty


"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. In study and in teaching, Jeff serves as he watched his dad serve:  diligently discovering and proclaiming truth, shielding hearts with a righteousness that frees and renews. We are deeply thankful for Glenn's faithfulness and we honor  his commitment to love and serve to the glory of the Lord. His influence and consistent prayer for our family has guarded our hearts as we seek to continue in truth. 


 “…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 (AJ let 8 yr old Jeff walk to the ranching store alone much to the chagrin of AJ’s wife and daughter at the time!). 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 a story of hiking with his Granddad. During the hike, Jeff recalls his Granddad encouraging him to lift his eyes every once and awhile. Granddad said, “When we are walking we are often watching the path just in front of us. Too often we miss the incredible views around. We need to lift up our eyes and see the great expanse God designed around us. Not just watch the path at our 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. As far as I know, they were both content in their circumstance. 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, protected 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!


Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Taste and See

Psalm 34
Encouragement for the afflicted.

"I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. I will glory in the LORD; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt his name together."

Celebrating Easter


With my dear ones


Fun with Easter Elephants (not bunnies!)

"I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame."

I love this girl! 

Enjoying the delights of a trip to Kampala

"This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them."

blessed by the prayers of new friends as we wait for test results at the clinic

"Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Fear the LORD, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing."

New malls, new cafes, good coffee


Birthday breakfast in bed


Blueberries (a rare treat!) and ice cream. A perfect birthday dessert!

Laying words on a page--delight!

"Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD...
 Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it."

Bible class on Sunday mornings

Sharing love, laughter and Jesus together with dear friends 


Mother's day with all my loves


Mother's Day surprises



beautiful new dishes!

Memorial Day skype time with cousins

Memorial Day grilling and fun




"The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."


my steadfast man, working tirelessly to make life better for our family


"The righteous person may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all; he protects his bones, not one of them will be broken."

a washed out bridge between us and church on a Sunday morning

'no hill for a stepper!' 
Jeff Cash drove three vehicles over this tiny space twice in one day


"The LORD will rescue his servants; no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned."

safe travels and providential guidance over many long, dangerous miles

A Psalm for the afflicted.
(hear! and rejoice!)

Taste and see.
(Partake.)
(Join in!)

The Lord is good!



thankful, thankful to share life with this man


treasures of my heart

delight!


"We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love be with us, LORD, even as we put our hope in you."
Psalm 33:20-22


Brief health update:  Thank you for your love and encouragement! I continue to work towards healing. 
The latest labs and opinions and well-informed thoughts say I might be fighting some sort of allergy or food intolerance.  We are utilizing the resources we have, namely, Process of Elimination. This process is slow and sometimes difficult, but we are thankful for every success and strengthened through each opportunity to discipline endurance. Your prayers have been felt and fruitful.  We greatly appreciate your continued petitions for sustained good health.









Saturday, May 10, 2014

Her Children Rise Up...


“…do not forsake your mother’s teaching.” Proverbs 1:8b


Psalm 147
selected verses

“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 included good food, laughter and singing. She always made fudge just for me. It would be on a plate, with plastic wrap covering it 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 the use of many things, including her recollection of words.
But she could always sing every word of her favorite song. I can still hear her voice and see her pat her left hand in time to the music.
The song was "Amazing Grace."
We sang it often together with her as a family.
We live it together still. 


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

My Mom has lived this verse. She 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 showed me where and how to follow Jesus. Among the suffering, with dedicated persistence.
My Mom also carries this verse in herself. My calling has become her sacrifice too, leaving her brokenhearted in tender places. She has journeyed far in our service here. I deeply appreciate her love for me in the midst of the surrender this work requires of us both.


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

One consistent memory Jeff recalls of his Mom is her singing over him as a young boy. 
“Can You Count the Stars of Evening”
Jeff grew up fully confident of God’s awareness of Him. Of God’s love. He knew that because he belonged to the One who numbers the stars, he could confidently shoot for them…with bold courage.
He does. Every day. And 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. 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. The bookmark moved daily. She read His words as if her life depended on it. Her life did depend on it. I knew that full well. I delight in considering her entrance into her eternal home. What joy for her when she realized, face to face, the depth and breadth of Christ’s unfailing love for her. I can’t wait to be with them both.


“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. 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.
As Grandma Rose served alongside her husband, AJ, in ministry, money was pretty tight. She was well practiced at making the most of what she was given. Conversations with her always included stories of the ways God provided for her in her life. And time with her consistently yielded arms full of blessings and 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 God’s provision 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 never have I heard a woman spoken of with such adoration and esteem as this one. 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, 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 long 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 beautiful heritage 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 2014, 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!







Monday, May 05, 2014

The Wedding Ring


A post from the archives. It is good to remember...

I love my wedding ring.

It is just what I wanted.

Jeff and I were not making very much money when we began wedding plans. We were students and set on living our life in Africa once our programs of study were completed.

I decided that a plain, simple wedding band would suit me just fine. I love diamonds but financially and practically it didn’t seem the time for diamonds. We could save and invest in some gems later.

Jeff decided differently.

One time he asked me what kind of ring I would want if I could choose. Shape of diamond? Yellow gold or white gold? Solitaire or in a larger setting?

Honestly, I answered, “Heirloom.”

I had developed a fondness for antique/old jewelry. Especially, if said jewelry came with a story. A happy one, preferably.

But, I quickly brushed this discussion aside. Plain bands. We had decided.

About a week before my birthday, Jeff began to verbally stress out over my empty ring finger. He said that every girl deserved an engagement story. An engagement ring.

He said that he felt like a bum.

I prayed for him.  I asked God to help him be content.

I assured him that I was satisfied with waiting for a diamond ring.

My birthday rolled around with big plans for a whole day together. Jeff asked me to dress up and said that we would have a nice lunch at a restaurant of my choosing. He was to meet me after chapel. (I was still in college).

The singing group I was in was singing that day in chapel and towards the end of our presentation, I noticed Jeff walk in the back of the auditorium. He was dressed in a suit.

This made me very happy. It was going to be a nice date!

During announcements, I tried to leave out of a side door, anxious to meet up with my knight and begin our day of romance. Just as I reached the door, my roommate grabbed my arm and pulled me into the chair beside her. I complained and she said, oddly, “Don’t you want to hear them wish you happy birthday?!” (birthdays were announced in chapel daily)

No. I did not care to waste my romantic day waiting to hear my name said over a microphone. And then, I noticed Jeff. He and his roommate were walking down the aisles of chapel. They were both wearing suits, dark sunglasses and had earpieces, like the Secret Service.

I began to feel very nervous. And if my roommate hadn’t had such superhuman strength at that moment, I would have successfully escaped out the side door.

I was scared all of a sudden.

Jeff went up on stage and called me to the front. Things began to go fuzzy. My face felt on fire. What in the world was he doing?! I was handcuffed and escorted outside for questioning.

I don’t remember specifics of the next bit of time. Humiliation blocks memory apparently.

I was blindfolded, driven all over Lubbock, switched from car to car and finally told to remove my blindfold to discover I was in the middle of nowhere West Texas being driven by Jeff’s roommate, also named Jeff. We were turning into a private airfield and there was a helicopter waiting.

A helicopter? We were quickly informed that the helicopter couldn’t fly. Too windy. (In Lubbock? Wind? Shocking.)

Roommate Jeff shifted to Plan B and drove me to Boyfriend Jeff who was waiting on a dock near a pond in a park with a table, chairs and birthday cake.

I chastised my love. He had shared many elaborate date stories from his own college experiences. But our dating life had, up until this moment, remained pretty low key. I accepted the events of the morning as they were meant. A birthday surprise and a lot of hoopla to cement a memory and have some fun.  My embarrassment was just icing on the cake.

Cake. Jeff had made a strawberry cake and we sat down to enjoy it.  I assumed all the excitement was over. Jeff served my piece and it looked a little odd.

It looked a little odd because it was not a piece of cake at all, but a ring box, iced into the strawberry cake.

I was shocked.

And my mind raced. Where did he get the money for this? How did he do this? What did it look like?!?!

He ceremoniously got down on one knee, opened the ring box, took out the ring and began to speak.

“Will you….”

The world seemed to stop for a minute. THE moment was before me. The words and event romanticized and play acted by little girls for generations.

The Proposal. It was happening. I was trying to take it all in.

I was wrapped up in the exhilaration of surprise and expectantly held my breath.

In that flash of an instant…my dear suitor… dropped the ring.

Dropped. The. Ring.

In slow motion I watched the ring bounce off the deck and into the water. With a tiny little plunk that seemed to echo for several minutes.

Jeff tore off his coat and tie and jumped into the pond. I stared in disbelief.

Who does this? Who drops the ring? Who loses THE moment?

Was it a sign?

I felt sick.

The water of the man-made pond was as thick as the silence around me.

We were supposed to be celebrating by now, tears of joy pouring down our love struck faces. But instead…

Jeff came out of the water overwhelmed with apology. He said we needed to go get his scuba gear. I didn’t have the heart to speak the obvious truth. The ring was gone.

Why did I feel such loss when I didn’t even have my heart set on it in the first place?

We began to load the uneaten cake and the small table and chairs into the car. There were two other presents under the table, wrapped with beautiful bows. He had asked my shirt size the day before and so I assumed he had bought me clothes. 

He asked me to open those presents, at least. He continued to apologize and lament.

I unwrapped the first box, pulled back the tissue paper to see…

A ring box.

A. Ring. Box.

I looked up to the twinkling eyes of my very mischievous boyfriend who innocently said, “What’s this?!”

While I stared at him, incredulous, he took the box, opened it and got down on one knee again.

He spoke eloquent words that swirled around me as I tried to regain control of my breathing. I truly can't recall his speech, but I did hear him say that I would never lose his love and then “Will you marry me?”

He finished all those words. And the ring was still in his hand. And he was waiting hopefully with laughter in his eyes. 

I paused longer than he expected.

But then I decided it was safer to get the ring on MY finger before he dropped it again.

I said, “Yes”, which was a decision I had already made through a series of long talks, heart sharing and prayers. Good thing for him. This proposal was turning me every which way but loose.

He gently placed a beautiful, old fashioned, heirloom ring on my finger and then I punched him in the arm. Repeatedly.

Jeff confessed that the first ring was a set up. A Walmart $3 ring he purposefully tossed in the water.

Why?

Well. That’s just how he rolls.

The writing was on the wall for me.

This man was a mess. A MESS. He would always surprise me, never be boring and never outgrow his propensity for losing things.  (sigh)

But he wouldn’t lose me. True to his word, he would hold on and persevere and beautifully treasure me through the life we would build together.

The ring was gorgeous. Perfect.




His grandmother’s. She was one of our first phone calls after my heart started beating again and I had stopped punching him.

She was thrilled to share the story of the ring. As I remember, she said the ring was given to her and AJ (Jeff’s grandfather) by a friend. AJ served as a minister and they never had a lot of money. Her original wedding band was simple and inexpensive. When their friend presented them with this ring, she and AJ were so thankful and thrilled. Grandma Rose wore it for many years.

Jeff’s Mom shared with me once about her Mom and Dad (Rose and AJ) enjoying a cup of coffee together every day when AJ came in from work. Phyllis remembered that as their time. The kids were not allowed to interrupt. Phyllis saw their friendship and their adoration for each other in those coffee moments. And in many other moments too.

When AJ passed away, Rose, grieved so much. Their relationship had been faithful, deep and precious. Losing him was devastating to her.

Some years later, Rose met Francis and he asked her to be his wife. At that time, she passed on this wedding ring to Phyllis. Phyllis had in mind for the ring to go to her daughter Kristi.

When Jeff decided to marry me he asked his Mom if she knew of any heirloom jewelry in the family. Phyllis asked Kristi, who said she would be happy for Jeff to have the ring, and sent the ring to Jeff.

And that is how I came to have Grandma Rose’s wedding ring.

It represents love, faithfulness and the generosity of loved ones. It also represents many sweet moments over coffee.

Jeff and I have been incredibly blessed by the heritage we have in our grandparents. All four sets, loving each other “til death do us part.” Their marital faithfulness and devotion has encouraged and spurred us on as we continue to learn and grow together. We don’t take this heritage for granted.

All of our grandparents have now moved on to be with Jesus. They are Home, but we still miss them here. We know we will see them again.

Until then, we have many wonderful things to hold on to as we journey.

Grandma’s ring and what it represents is one of those things for me.

A heritage, that we will never lose. An heirloom ring with a story.

A happy one.
  

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Drenched


Blood washes.
“…they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
Rev 7:14

Blood cleanses.
“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


Blood frees.
“…To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood…” Rev 1:5

Blood pours.
“This is the blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
Matthew 26:28

It is an age-old image of the cross of Jesus Christ.

The pouring of blood that saves.

Maybe I saw it painted. Or heard it depicted in a sermon.

The image of stepping up to the cross of Christ and letting his blood coat and cleanse me from sin.

It is a powerful (paradoxical) impression that goes back to my childhood.

I still believe it is true.

I believe I am welcomed to that cross. To be cleansed and freed.

But.

Blood wasn’t the only thing that poured on that remarkable day.

And it isn’t the only thing meant to wash over me as His Follower.

There was a total experience. A devastating and delivering one.

Derision.

“Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!’ In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves, ‘He saved others,’ they said, ‘but he can’t save himself! Let this Christ, this King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.’ Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.”
Mark 15:29-32

The anguished, sorrowing cry of rejection.

“About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Matthew 27:46

Goodbye and sacrificial release.

“When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Dear woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.”
John 19:26-27

Physical need.

“…Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty.”
John 19:28b

Forgiveness.

“When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing…”
Luke 23:33-34

Forgiveness?

Hanging naked before the world. Spit on, scarred and dying.

“Father forgive them…”

As the anguish poured.

As the rejection resounded.

As the accusations were spoken and believed.

While everyone was still sinning.

Forgiveness poured. Right along with His blood. The two cannot and will not be separated.

This message, this truth, which I have heard and believed always, is coming alive in me in a whole new way. Exuding life where I have forgotten to breath.

Christ’s Mercy, spoken from the cross, has been a thing I attain to; a heart I aspire to train into.

Something I keep trying to do myself.

Inevitably, painful heartbreak trips me up. 

That insult. That injustice. Those people.

Where there is injury. Where I am wronged. Where I hurt.

There, my eyes can examine the wound so closely and feel the pain so acutely that forgiveness can feel very far beyond my own hard, shattered heart.

It makes no difference where I seek solace. In church. In service. In anger. In tears. Surrounded by friends. All alone.

I find Him in each of those places. Waiting and receiving.

Knowing.

He has my cup already poured.

I receive His forgiveness for me readily. I guzzle the grace right down. I understand that His Love, His Mercy, His Sacrifice does all the doing where my own forgiveness is concerned.

And then, refreshed and thirst quenched I turn to give to the world.

I turn.

My gaze turns.

My heart turns.

(pause)

The motive is fine.

To give what I have been given.

Only.

It doesn’t always work.

No matter how holy my words sound or how generous my actions may appear. My heart can still hold on to things it should not.

I am hearing…

In the very hardest places.

Where there is destruction. Where there is pervasive grief.

He continually calls my gaze back.

Locks it in.

To his eyes that eternally reflect the cross. And the cup.

All that was poured.

I so badly need that communion, because the forgiveness is going to kill me.

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me…”

That I might have life…

“…The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Galatians 2:20

He knows that connection to Him, the One who speaks on my behalf, is the only way.


“…Christ Jesus who died---more than that, who was raised to life---is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us…”
Romans 8:34

“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”
I John 2: 1-2


He shed the blood. And spoke the forgiveness.

Together.

In my place. He bled and forgave. In my place.

He was forgiving me for all.

And he was forgiving all with me.

It was a complete work. A total work.

A giving that would wrap all of me up.

His presence. His Love is the imperative. There is no Healing outside of Him.

So.

In the face of the most painful injustices. The most searing accusations. The most costly loss.

From every shattered place.

I am invited.

To step right back under that cross I love.

To be coated and covered; filled and set free by…

His forgiveness for All.

I just have to get up underneath it. And let it with all it’s mighty grace, continue to do it’s work in me.

Covered.

Immersed.

Guzzling.

Drenched.

He forever attached forgiveness to anguish.

He made the impossible, Possible.

Eyes fixed on His, I hear Him declare:

“It is finished.”
 John 19:30

Let it be, dear Savior.

Let. It. Be. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Equipped


“As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless….”
2 Samuel 22:31

We don’t choose who our parents will be.

Or where our parents will live.

Or what our parents will do for a job.

“It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.”
2 Samuel 22:33


Our Girl arrived to us in East Africa sixteen years ago.

To grow up. Where we chose to be.

I prayed many, many times for her to be supplied with all she would need to thrive in this place.

Her situation would be unique in experience and in opportunity. It would also be rich with challenge.

God has been so very faithful.

“…but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place….”
2Samuel 22:19-20

Months ago, Our Girl came to me and said she had some wishes for her sixteenth birthday celebration.

She wanted special dates with all of her dearest friends.

My mind raced as to how we could pull that off…

She smiled.

And caught me up.

“Isaac likes to swim and play pool—I can go with him on a lunch date and do both of those things.”

Isaac.

She continued…

“Silas loves camping out—so I can camp out with him one night and play cards in the tent outside.”

We were both smiling then.

“Alex and I have a list of movies and TV shows we want to watch, so we could have a marathon movie night with fun snacks and lots of laughs.”

Her best friend, Alex.


“We could go to breakfast together, Mom…”

Our favorite get-away-from-it-all treat.



“And Dad. I’d love to go on a fancy date with Dad.”

I knew he would be honored.

We schemed for how to locate a new, fun dress for her special date. And we made arrangements with these, all of her dearest friends, for celebrating her big week.

Our whole family plus Derrick would cap off the festivities with High Tea on her actual birthday.





I watched her roll through her week of dates, treasuring each in my heart.

This life we live requires making do and flexibility.

How amazing to realize she was doing neither throughout this week.

She really was celebrating with her dearest friends.

How very often my Cashlings teach me.

“Then this city will bring me renown, joy, praise and honor before all nations on earth that hear of all the good things I do for it; and they will be in awe and will tremble at the abundant prosperity and peace I provide for it.”
Jeremiah 33:9

God promised, through Jeremiah, that his restoration of and provision for Jerusalem would proclaim Him “before all nations on earth.”

This. Exactly this, is what I hear in the lives of my family.

Our Father Provides. And supplies. And gives.

Not ‘sort of.’

All the way.

I, the Mama, stand in trembling awe to see Yahweh Jireh pour good things into the lives of my beloved ones.

“The LORD lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God, the Rock, my Savior!”
2 Samuel 22:47

“…he shows unfailing kindness to his anointed…”
2 Samuel 22:51

God’s blessings on you, my Beautiful Girl, as you continue to walk out this perfectly designed trail.
Your faithfulness and joy in your journey inspire me every day.
I am breathless to witness God’s incredible provision in you.
His way is perfect.
And He never fails.
So grateful to learn with you.
Happy birthday!
Always, Mama

“May the God of peace…equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
Hebrews 13:20-21