Sometimes A Chair Is Not Just A Chair

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I don’t often form attachments to inanimate objects, but the magic rocking chair was different. She was special. For almost eleven years, she had loved us well. It was she and I against the world on countless delirious and sleepless nights. It was her with whom I first rehearsed each of my childrens’ own personal lullabies and whispersang them across baby eyelashes a thousand times or so. She was right there holding me up when I prayed all kinds of yearnings over each of my fearfully-made treasures. She rocked gregariously with me through first reading lessons, soaking the words into her wood, book after fantastical book. She was my silent sister when scraped and world-weary toddlers needed a break from battle. She even held me softly, sleepily as I nursed all of my children. I was thousands of times comforted by her curves.

That pilled and tired-cushioned magic rocking chair is where I became a mother.

Her tidy soprano squeaks and familiar alto creaks, and the percolating percussion of the ottoman as it hiccupped lazily exactly each third time I forward rocked; these sounds became the harmony to my new-mother-melodied heart. She was my soul sister, that magic rocking chair.

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The Re-Education of Lisa Cash

Missions

I’ve recently decided that I might just be ADHD. Seriously. I think I might just be half-crazy to stay as hyper-stimulated as I do, but it’s like I can’t help it.

Yes, I’m a homeschooling mom with four children STILL unpacking her house from a colossal move from Japan to Germany. And yes I enrolled in 6 credit hours of seminary classes this semester (and next)! Why did I do this to myself? I don’t know, but this particular time, I’m so glad I did…

Both in the School of Life and literally through Trinity University, I am retaking a class. It’s the class that changed the whole trajectory of my life when I was 19 years old: Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. I am immersed, underwater (um, because I procrastinated) in thousands of pages of really great, deep, life-changing stuff. I’m re-learning things that I forgot in Japan. And evidently things I never learned in the first place.

And I am finding myself so moved, both backwards and forward, that I am having to stop and repent and pray and worship and praise Him and thank Him so frequently that I’m not sure if I’ll ever finish this class! But I must, and I will. I will not quit. I will walk on, Lord-willing.

I am required to write a personal journal response at the end of each of fifteen units of this class. I’m in the middle of the course, and something has shifted in me, and I want to share it. I need to actually. So if you are one of those people on the planet who love me and want to know what is going on in my head and in my world, here I am. This is sort of an introduction, I suppose for what is to come in the coming days.

It’s funny: I was just about to let our old domain (www.cashclanjapan.com) expire on January 1st and settle on thecashclan.com from here on out, but I think I’ll hold onto it now…

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I Have a Father

My dad is not a nice guy. And that’s me being nice. All seven of his ex-wives left him because he was abusive to both them and their children. And he was a horrible father. He once told me that no man would ever love me, and that I would grow up to be a good-for-nothing fat-ass. And he wasn’t even drunk then. My younger brother once accidentally left the refrigerator door cracked a little; my dad kicked him over and over again until he was satisfied that my helpless little brother wouldn’t make that mistake again. Jimmy was six years old at the time. I’ll never be able to get that out of my head, and I’m sure Jimmy won’t either. But I would put money on it that my dad doesn’t even remember that one. I’ll stop there with the stories because I’m sure you get the point. He’s a real peach. I’ve never written about him before. I’ve always been really conflicted about it. But today is the day. My heart is on fire to tell you a story.

For years, I was the last hold-out among his children, the last one to hang on for dear life to a relationship with my father. The others gave up long before I did. I’m just not the girl who quits on people. I never have been. Perhaps because I’ve been quit on a few times and because I happen to think those people should have held on, that it would have been worth it if they had just held on…

But finally he did something so unforgettable that I could no longer trust him. I had four children at this point, and I knew I could never bring them around him again. And l felt the boulder of burden lift away as I prayed to forgive my father and to let him go. I often worry about him. I worry about when he gets older, and frailer, that he’s going to get sick someday or get in another motorcycle accident, and he won’t have anyone—because he’s burned all his bridges and alienated everyone except whoever happens to be his flavor-of-the-year girlfriend. And she surely doesn’t even know my name, maybe not even that I exist. So when something happens to him, will I even know? When he’s on his deathbed, will I even find out? In a sense, I have already said goodbye to my dad, but I can’t help but wonder if I will ever see his face again. Will I get to hold his hand when he’s safely frail and old and tell him that I forgave him and loved him all along anyway?

A few years ago, right in the middle of our time in Japan, God gave me an unforgettable dream. Just a few times in my life, I’ve had dreams like this—where I knew it was from Him. In my dream, my father had died, and my brother and I and our two half-siblings from a previous marriage of my dad’s had all been notified and summoned to an attorney’s office for the reading of his will. It was so real. I can still see the round mahogany table and the leather chairs in the conference room. There’s a woman there whom I’ve never seen. She’s my dad’s current girlfriend; she’s a Farrah Fawcett-haired blonde, and she’s chewing gum and very cavalier about the situation. My brother and I are somber, just waiting for the attorney so we can get this over with. The attorney comes in and immediately lists off my dad’s assets (which are sizable), and announces that my father left everything to this woman. He left nothing at all to his children, but he had wanted us present at the reading of his will anyway. I sat and soaked it in for a moment, the subtext of this news. It wasn’t that I cared that I wasn’t getting anything from him; this final exclusion from his heart, an omission pregnant with apathy, was just too much for me to bear. I was uncontrollably weeping in my dream, alone now in the conference room, when suddenly I heard the Lord over the loudspeaker of my dream and heart, over and over again:

“Ask of me and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your reward.”

Over and over again until my broken heart quieted enough to hear Him. He kept saying it until I understood.

I awakened from that dream weeping with joy. My Father in heaven had made a promise to me, to fulfill the wildest dream of my heart—a dream that He put there because it’s from His very own Heart, and I am His daughter. For His glory to be revealed to the remotest corners of the earth, my heart was forever branded. This dream, His ultimate dream, is the most precious gift He could possibly impart to me–so magnificent in scope, infinite in worth. The colorful, beautiful nations gathered around His throne in white-hot worship, offering to the Lamb who was slain the reward of His suffering. This is it for me. It’s all that I want. It’s all that I ask for, Lord.

Although my passion has waned throughout the years, and I’ve made many mistakes, one thing remains: the very center of my heart yearns for nothing else at the end of this life than to know that I have loved Him with all that is within me and that I have spent all that I have on the gospel for His glory among the nations.

I have a Father.

He knows my name.

He has not forgotten me.

And He has promised me a great inheritance because I am His daughter.

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Back on the Saddle Again on the Other Side of the World

Well, today begins our official do-over. It is the morning of Monday, July 9, 2012, and as I have strived to remember at every waking of every day for a long time now, today it was somehow just a little bit easier to open my lazy eyes and pray, “This is the day the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it.”

We’ve had a couple of very rough years now: Misunderstandings and stupid mistakes on top of stupid mistakes; lost friendships of those who were like family; watching my husband’s faith , which has always been the bedrock of our family, waver just a bit for the first time EVER (not in the Lord specifically, but perhaps in His ways, in the why, why, whys of everything); utterly debilitating  depression and anxiety just sitting on my freaking head for over a year (ME! The former banner-wearer of the joy of the Lord), which believe you me has caused tidal waves of doubt in what the heck good am I to anyone if I’m not that happy girl), months of uncertainty and anxiety over whether we’d stay and martyr ourselves emotionally in and for Japan, the land I love so much I can’t type this part without a nice, long pause for tears, or whether we would be given a reprieve and start again in another completely unfamiliar place, without any sense of purpose there; losing our identity as the Cash Clan Japan. (By the way, I’ve changed our website to http://www.thecashclan.com, and as of next year http://www.cashclanjapan.com will not exist.) But a good friend reminded me wisely the other day that we are not the Cash Clan Japan or the Cash Clan Deutschland or the Cash Clan Anywhere. We are the Cash Clan in Christ. It’s who we are in that matters, not where–a real paradigm shift for this wannabe-missionary.

So let’s get to the fun stuff already! Geesh! Wanna hear a little about our first official day in Germany? Here are just a few highlights:

1) Claire and I both rocked into the Frankfurt International Airports with our pink, blinged-out cowgirl hats on. We agreed proudly that you can only take the girl out of Oklahoma. Oklahoma stays in the girl. Oklahoma sky, I miss you already.

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2) I love you, Tulsa, but you’ve got nothin’ on Germany as far as that “green country” title goes. Oh my gosh, the 90 minute drive from the airport was just stunning. It is so green and alive and beautiful here–in a very different way from Japan, which is somehow such a breath of fresh air to my soul. And then for several months a year, it will be white, which will be even prettier! Holy moly!

3) No air conditioning!! But it’s July! No air conditioning??? Because it’s not needed. It feels like Hawaii without the humidity here! Holy crap, the weather is amazing. I’ve never lived in a climate like this, so it’s very strange to me. But I’m loving it already. And supposedly, it rains “just a little” almost every day, which if you know me well, you know how much I love rain.

4) First thing in the morning (well, after starting up the coffee), you walk around your house and open all the windows (they slant open from the top) and the skylight in the kitchen above the kitchen island, and there’s all this amazing sunlight and cool fresh air just bringing the house to life inside. Loving that so much already. I can tell that’s going to become a ritual I adore.

5) This apartment is ridiculous. I did my research and I read the TDYHomes was the way to go for long-term temporary housing. But seriously? This place is ridiculous. It’s THE most beautiful place I’ve ever stayed, including any hotel ever. There’s a freakin’ ping pong table! The beds are like Westin beds! It’s fully outfitted for a family of our size. And we get to stay here for 90 days for FREE! Yay!! I will put pictures up on Facebook once we get unpacked for those of you who won’t find that egocentric of me and/or annoying and not subject you to them here.

6) Keith will be MIA for several days, as he is obviously the one who has to do all the in-processing. Today, the first thing on his list is to take the German Driver’s License Test. I’m a tiny bit worried since he didn’t have too much time to study the last several days. But if he fails it, I am scheduled to take it, and I can rock a multiple-choice test like no other. (And I WILL study my butt off if he fails it the first time, which DOES happen often supposedly; otherwise, we’ll be stuck in our beautiful apartment for a while because we’ll have no way to GET anywhere!)

7) Today we will be loaned two BMWs to drive until we get our own personal vehicles here. But of course, we have to pass our driver’s tests first! That’s just insane, right? (Yes, I’ll be careful. Actually, as long as Keith passes his driver’s test, I have NO intentions of driving until mid-August, after watching him navigate for a good month or so.)

So far, so good. I know there will be bumps and bruises here, just like anywhere, but I really am truly thankful for the chance to start fresh. Thank you, Lord.

We have free phone plans to the States, so call us on our magicJack! (918-960-7383). We’re only 7 hours ahead, instead of 13, so that’s different. If I don’t get to the phone, leave a message anyway, and I’ll receive it as an email and get right back to you.

Love you all, all over the world, all the way from the other side of it. 

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Merry Christmas Music

Claire and I recorded a little Christmas CD for you! I meant to get hard copies of this finished and out in time for Christmas gifts, but I’m afraid it wasn’t done in time. Please feel free to go to this website and download the album for free. One of the tracks was recorded by Claire, and the others are from me. Merry Christmas! (If you’re technologically-challenged and need help, just let me know.) Download away!

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A Beautiful Poem from a Beautiful Movie “Like Crazy”

I thought I understood it
That I could grasp it
But I didn’t
Not really
I knew the smudgeness of it
The pink-slippered-all-containered-semi-precious eagerness of it
I didn’t realize it would sometimes be more than whole
The wholeness was a rather luxurious idea
Because its the halves that halve you in half
Didn’t know
Don’t know about the in between bits
The gore-y bits of you
And gore-y bits of me

SEE THE MOVIE!

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A Song of Thanksgiving

Well, I knew it would happen! She has officially surpassed me in talent!! Not only can she sing, but she’s a little songwriter.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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What would you do if I sang out of tune?

If ever there has been a year that I sang out of tune, it has been this one. If ever there’s been a year when I lost my voice, it has been this one. If ever there’s been a year that I’ve seriously considered giving up on singing altogether, it has been this one.

In March, my world shifted on its axis. But really it started before that. I haven’t known how to write about all of this with grace and integrity. So I’ve been silent. That’s how you know I’m not quite right, by the way–when I’m quiet for too long. I mean, if you don’t have something nice to say, just shut up, right? But after several months here, waiting for Godot, I must start writing again, even if it’s not shiny and tidy. There will be no bright red bows, be warned.

Living overseas is hard. Living overseas as a missionary is even harder, I gather. But living overseas as a sort-of-missionary/sort-of-regular-person/what-the-crud-am-I-really-doing-here-person? Maybe it’s that word I have been fighting for so long: impossible. Impossible? After several months of trying to triumph over this wall of a word, we’re still here really, on the same side we were on when we first arrived in this country. For a spot there, we kind of thought we had stumbled upon our “mission” here, but then it slowly fell away. Certainty is the annoying little bastard of Pride. And what do you do with yourself when you don’t know what to do with yourself? Well, we’re still not sure. Move to Europe maybe?

I’m sorry. Are you surprised by my melancholy? It’s my own fault for fooling you into thinking everything was just fine the last few years. I mean, it is fine. We’re fine. It’s really not as depressing as my tone is coming across. But for a while now, we’ve been just barely surviving, certainly not thriving. I’m not going to lie to you now and tell you our hearts are humming “Victory in Jesus” these days. But they are still humming. More like “Blessed Be The Name of the Lord.” Don’t fret too much. We just have a lot of questions, but we seem to have been put on need-to-know status for the time being, somehow graciously benched for this quarter.

For the past few years, we felt like we had found our place in Japan, namely a church to serve alongside Japanese Christians whom we loved with all our hearts. After 5 years of striving to figure out how to best serve the Lord here in Japan, we finally found a match. Our first year there was a honeymoon–worshiping in Japanese among Japanese believers, mutually and joyfully gathering all of each others’ stories into our hearts, reveling in how even our differences complimented each others’, collaborating in fruitfulness, and seeing the church multiply very quickly.

But then somewhere along the way, we lost it. As in a marriage, how can you pinpoint that moment when things moved from challenging to “irreconcilable”? We were going through culture shock all over again, except it was “church culture” shock. Suddenly the honeymoon was over. I don’t know if I should give examples. Probably not. But the challenges went both ways: we struggled to reconcile the teachings and policies of the church with our own beliefs, and they struggled to accept us, aliens that we are here. The cultural challenges snowballed for two years, but we never considered them to be insurmountable. Until March.

When I left Japan with the kids in March after the earthquake, everything went to hell. We became deserters, traitors, outsiders never to be welcomed back. I’m actually not exaggerating. Those things were all spoken over us by strangers and friends alike. But it hurt the most coming from the church. It nearly tore me apart, personally. I won’t go into details now (you’ll have to buy the book), but I came closer this year to walking over the edge than I ever have in my life. I camped for months in emotional sadomasochism: torturing myself over every mistake, every misstep, every flat note; reading over and over again the emails from strangers who hated me and church members who were sorely disappointed in me, breathing in the words, even the lies; allowing depression and anxiety to swallow and chew me up, back and forth, back and forth. Keith was still in Japan, trying so hard to mend what had been broken. I was just trying to get myself back together again–it was all I could do to get through the day. But there were too many pieces. We couldn’t put it back together again, on either end. But we tried. And to be fair, so did they, for a very long time. We all tried so hard and we all loved like it was never gonna hurt. But in the end, we weren’t good for each other after all.

No wonder I’ve been so prophetically obsessed the last few years with the song “The Scientist”:

Nobody said it was easy
It’s such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be this hard
I’m goin’ back to the start

So that’s all I’ve got for you today. That’s all we know for now. We’re going back to the start.

And for those of you who didn’t stand up and walk out on me (when I sang out of tune), thank you.

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Come to Church With Me!

This is going to be a weird post, but stick with me.

I felt compelled this morning that it was the right day to write the rest of that story. I’ve been praying for weeks that God would give me the right words. But when you open up your soul and show your scars to the whole wide world, it’s a little scary. I mean, my in-laws read this thing. But I want you all to really know me. Or no. Not me. I want you to know Him who could take what I was and change me the way He has, the way He’s still doing…

I want you to know how He loves us, and how that can change everything. EVERYTHING.

So with more than a little trepidation, I posted that blog this morning, and then went to church. I walked into a church with blaring music (that’s the way, uh-huh, uh-huh, I like it), and I couldn’t find my place fast enough to start worshiping my heart out to this song that has literally been my personal anthem the last few years:

And then this one was next, another of the songs that has rocked my world the last couple years:

And then, finally, they finished me off with this one, and I just stood there trembling, sobbing, and laughing because I got the message loud and clear. He loves me. I mean, come on, Lord, could you BE more obvious? I love you, Abba Father.

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Narnia Chronicle 2: Like Dominoes We Fell For Him

So if you read my last blog, you know that I was fourteen when I got saved. My home life was pretty turbulent at that time, and I was in ninth grade, which just happened to be the year that all the “it” girls and guys started to drink. Shocking I know, but I was actually co-captain of our school’s cheer squad that year (probably more because I was a natural leader, not because I was the best cheerer. But I did have a pretty awesome toe-touch! Anyway…) In particular, most of the girls on the squad were going to these drinking/hook-up parties every weekend, and here I was a brand new Christian, and my conscience was screaming at me that I wasn’t to be any part of that. I had never quite fit in that crowd anyway; I didn’t know WHERE I belonged. That year was heaven and hell at the same time. I remember there was a rumor circulating around the school that I had an “A List” of people I would be friends with and I wouldn’t be friends with anyone who wasn’t on that list. It was completely untrue. On the contrary, I was reaching out to a lot of people in our school who were treated as outcasts, inviting them to church and telling them what God had done in my life. One day on my way to Science class, three boys knelt down and mocked me Wayne’s World-style, bowing to me and saying “We’re not worthy! We’re not worthy!” (Funnily, two of those boys grew up and became pastors!) But I was so hurt by all the random lies being spread about me. It was my first taste of persecution, and I was SOOOOO lonely.

Starr, the girl who had led me to the Lord, went to the other junior high in town, and I didn’t know any other serious Christians at my school. But then something amazing started happening. Let’s see if I can get this order right: Allison led Starr to the Lord after she had gotten saved at church camp, Starr led me to the Lord, and then one of my closest friends, April became the first person that I ever led to the Lord. Almost immediately after that, April led Maria to the Lord. One by one we fell at His feet, and our lives were all changed by Christmas time. I’ll never forget it. And then we found Nadia, who was the most explosively joyful Christian any of us had ever met. (And she still is!) And a circle of friends was formed that still remains unbroken, even by years and distance and babies and marriages. All through high school, we leaned on each other, laughed together, cried together, worshiped together at Angus. We were tight. And when we are able to get back together, even after all these years, it’s always the most natural thing in the world to just pick up where we left off.

It wasn’t until years later that I discovered that this gift of godly girlfriends He had given me was quite an extraordinary thing. Most young, sold-out believers in Christ, it seems, walk the road without friends cheering them on, like I had. I am so grateful for these precious girls. I walked through more than a few fires in those years (we all did), but we didn’t do it alone. There was even a season when I secretly strayed far from the straight and narrow, near the end of high school, but those girls’ hands were the ones that pulled me through that dark tunnel, and they still loved me, even at my worst.

In a couple months, all but one of us (plus a couple other girls that joined our circle a little later) are having a reunion/retreat. Many of us haven’t seen each other in years, and we are going to worship together and do an in-house Beth Moore retreat together. I can’t wait!!!

Okay, so the next blog is going to be about that tunnel, and I’m kind of dreading writing about it, but I need to, because God did something amazing in me, after He crushed me. Just warning you. Heavy stuff coming right up.

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