Not as those without hope

In my last post I talked about how I have grieved since I’ve been on the mission field. I grieve the loss of lots of different things in my life, but mostly I grieve the loss of the idols of my heart. The idols of safety and security, materialism and greed, comfort…I could go on and on. The idolotry of focusing on the sacrifice and not the blessing,” the mess and not the miracle”  (I totally stole that quote from somebody) sometimes can almost consume me.

There’s so much beauty in the sacrifice. But it is still A Sacrifice.

Sanctification hurts. Dying to self hurts. Being a living sacrifice hurts. And I’m going to tell you I climb off of that altar Every. Single. Day and I grieve the loss when I lay my idols down.

But I don’t grieve as one without hope. (I Thessalonians 4:13)

It’s not just for missionaries or the military or pastors and evangelists. It’s for every single person purchased by the blood of the Lamb.

The grief is ours, but the hope is ours too.

After my last post, I had a dear friend send me a message saying that she was happy to hear that it wasn’t easy for me. It wasn’t because she was happy to see me struggle, but because she just didn’t understand why it was so hard for her when she wasn’t even living on the mission field. And she thought it was easy for us. You know, us “spiritual folk”…

And it made her feel…normal.

Nope, DYING to yourself isn’t going to be sunshine and roses. I would dare say that if you aren’t feeling the pain of taking up your cross DAILY then there just might be something wrong…

Because death just shouldn’t feel good.

Some days I struggle to lay my life down again because I keep crawling right off of that altar.  And I’m not doing anybody any favors by pretending like that isn’t the ugly truth. Those idols are near and dear to my heart and to unclench my tight fists takes a miracle from the Holy Spirit.

A straight miracle.

And sometimes I grieve the loss.

But do you know what all of that does for me? It makes me run to Him.

Sometimes I even run to Him with idols tightly in my hands.

Why?

Because His burden is light, y’all. (You can take the girl out of Mississippi, but…)

Because….And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Because the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.

Because the One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.

Because the Father is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch you out of the Father’s hand.

Because His love reaches to the heavens, His faithfulness to the skies.

And because whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

Because He covers you with his feathers, and under his wings you find refuge.

Because His faithfulness is  your shield and rampart.

And you can say “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

Say it. Say it out loud with hope.

He began the work. He will complete it. He doesn’t use us because we’re somehow “worthy”. No, He uses us in spite of ourselves.

Its okay to grieve the loss, but grieve with hope that only comes from the One who can trade beauty for ashes.

Because He is faithful.

 

Yoo-googlies

My parents left.

My mom was here for an entire month after Carter was born and my dad was here this last week. We are very sad to see them go. When we told Matthew that they had to go, he said, “No! Matthew’s house!”

We had such a good time with them and it’s not because my mom is Mary Poppins. It’s not just because she does all of our laundry (which is a full time job for a family of 7) or because she gets up with the kids and feeds them breakfast while we sleep in, or because she paints the girl’s fingernails and reads to them and rocks the baby or because she spends the afternoons with them while I take a nap or because she keeps them while Josh and I go on a date to see G.I. Joe with Spanish subtitles – which is not the same as the Transformers, but if you’re a good wife, you already knew that.

Nope. It’s for lots of other reasons like the fact that she and my dad love our kids in a way I only hope I can when we have grandchildren of our own. We all feel loved. Not to be morbid or anything, but one day when Josh preaches at my mom’s funeral I want him to say, “We knew how much she loved us”. Why don’t we say these things before people die, like when they can actually hear us?? I think we should all have our eulogy (pronounced Yoo-goo-glee) before we die, you know, so we can hear it and all. But I’m post – partum and sleep deprived, so it may be wise to take what I say with a grain of salt. Maybe.

But since I am post-partum and a little cray-cray, I’ll tell you that at my Dad’s funeral, I want Josh to say, “He made us laugh and laugh and laugh”. He taught me to be so funny – I know y’all know what I’m talking about. I know you have been wondering where I got my stellar sense of humor… Now you know. It’s in my genes. I mean, I can’t even help it sometimes… For reals.

He also gave me a love for music. And animals – although I’ve temporarily abandoned this love, since I have 5 little people at the moment. It kind of trumps other hobbies and stuff.  He made me think I could do anything I wanted to do. He made me believe in myself. I hope to give this gift to my children.

I think we should all give each other eulogies yoo – googlies whenever we can. We should tell people how we feel. We may not always have the chance.

Mom and Dad, we are so thankful to have you in our lives. You love us so well. You support and respect our decisions as parents (and missionaries). You love our children. They miss you everyday. I don’t discount the sacrifice you have made  and are making for us to follow the Lord’s calling on our lives – a calling that takes your children and grandchildren very far away. You have submitted to His will with grace and a great trust in His plan – even when you don’t understand. We see it. Our children see it.

Don’t worry, I’ll say all this at your Yoo-googlies.

 

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We love you,

Emily, Josh, Anne Elise, Ava, Jak, Matthew and Carter

5 Kids, Hoarding, and the Day I Delivered My Own Baby

Can you hoard kids?

I’m thinking of having my own show called “Hoarders: Babies edition”

I already want another one. Or two. 

The fifth time is just  as amazing as the first. It never gets old.

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So, for the highlight.

I know you’re all dying for the story…

Who remembers what happened last time? Yeah, that made us a little worried that we might not make it to the hospital. Here in Bogota, the hospital is about a 45 minute drive. There was even a time that it took us an hour and a half to get to an appointment. It all depends on the time of day. And an ambulance may or may not come…in two hours. Or not.

So, our prayer for the last 6 months of living here has been that the Lord would allow me to get to the hospital BEFORE I delivered the baby.

He did. With 9 hours to spare…

So, Josh and I had decided that we would rather be sent home with a false alarm than have the baby in a taxi. I know. We’re very particular like that. So, at the first twinge I had of thinking I might feel something different, we left.  Immediately.  For the hospital. Did I mention that until that night,  the shortest amount of time it had ever taken us to get to the hospital was 45 minutes?

That night it took us 19. 

Apparently, if you yell out the window “Embarazada!” (the Spanish word for pregnant)  and wave your arms like a crazy person, people will move out of your way. Like the parting of the Red Sea.

By the time we got there, I was pretty sure I wasn’t in labor. I had two more “twinges” on the way and nothing else once we got in a room. I knew this wasn’t labor because the pain of last time is forever seared into my consciousness.  The doctor arrived and told us that he was not going to send us home because of my history of super-lightening fast labors. He told me he wanted to check to see if he needed to break my water.

Let me back up a little. I wanted to go into labor naturally and I wanted to have the baby with no drugs. At the hospital. I did not want to be induced. So, when he told me he thought he needed to break my water, I was very hesitant. At that point, I wasn’t even 38 weeks yet. However, we had seen that the baby’s cord was across his face in the last sonogram. The doctor was concerned that if my water broke spontaneously that the cord could come out first and cause a prolapse.

I agreed to let him break my water. As soon as he did it, I felt like it was a mistake.I was really disappointed in myself for allowing the doctor to do something that I didn’t feel comfortable with. At all.  I knew I wasn’t in labor and I didn’t feel ready. I was really upset because there was no turning back at that point and I was worried that if I didn’t go into labor that I would be pressured to have pitocin. I have had very bad experiences with this particular drug in the past and knew that not only would I have the side effects I have experienced with other deliveries, but it would be more likely that I wouldn’t be able to handle the pain and would need an epidural. Having an epidural in a foreign country is NOT something I wanted to do. I’m not super brave.

That was around 9:30 pm.

Nothing happened. All night.

I waited and pretty much stayed up all night praying that I would go into labor. At 5 o’clock am I felt my first real contraction. I recognized it as a true contraction because THE PAIN OF LAST TIME WAS SEARED INTO MY CONSCIOUSNESS.  I knew this baby was much smaller, so I had believed for this entire pregnancy that it couldn’t possibly be as painful as last time.

Vicious Lies.

At around 6am I could feel that I was getting very close. Josh called the nurse and told him that we needed the doctor because it wouldn’t be long.

They never believe us. THIS IS MY FIFTH BABY! I KNOW WHEN I NEED THE DOCTOR! 

About 6 minutes after 6 am. I told Josh I needed to push. The doctor walked in and said, “Well, let’s get you ready to push.” If you know my past experiences, you know that I don’t get “ready” to push.

I push and then there’s a baby. Pronto. The end.

The doctor was facing away from me, doing who knows what to “get ready for me to push” and I did.

I delivered Carter by myself . The doctor turned around because he heard him crying. True story.

What’s funny about this story is that after having a pretty traumatizing labor with no drugs last time – this entire pregnancy I had been saying, “I just wish I could be left alone and deliver the baby myself.” I know that sounds crazy to most people. And it is. I get it. But that’s really what I wanted. I’m just weird like that.

During the entire labor, I felt so scared and disappointed in how it was happening, but looking back, I truly see the Lord’s hand. I felt the same way about my last delivery. I felt that every singe thing that happened was in His control. There was a real possibility that if I had really gone into labor at home that I wouldn’t have made it to the hospital – since once I truly went into labor, it was about an hour, just like last time. Also, if my water had broken on its own, there was the possibility of the cord prolapsing.

And did I say he was only 7 pounds 4 ounces? After having a 10 pounder, the recovery was a walk in the park. I was able to leave the hospital the same day. Did you know that babies born in high altitudes are 15% smaller? I think we should all have the opportunity, nay the privilege, of having a pregnancy at 8,000 feet. God is good. 

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Carter is doing great. He sleeps really well through all the noise of his 4 siblings.

And did I say that the fifth is as amazing as the first?

Maybe I’ll blog before my next birth story. But no promises.

God is here too.

We have been in Bogota, Colombia since Tuesday night and I can wrap my brain around that.

What I can’t quite grasp is that we live here.

When we go back “home” it will be to visit, but this is where we live.

It feels very strange.

What I’ve been surprised at the most is how much I see Him here.

We all know that God is everywhere. We ask our children the catechism question, “Where is God?” and they respond, “God is everywhere!” Mine say it with a lot of emphasis, but I have to admit that I have never really, truly meditated on that thought before.

“Where shall I go from your Spirit? Where shall I flee from your presence? If I go to the heavens You are there! If I make my bed in the depths, You are there! If I ride on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will lead me, Your right hand will hold me fast.”

His presence cannot be escaped.

I have never been more thankful for that truth than I am right now sitting in my bedroom in Colombia.

My missionary friends in India (hi Maggie and Alison) know this. Our friends in Africa (hi Mike and Susan) know this and if you’re a friend of mine reading this in America, He’s there too.

“The whole earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein…”

His presence cannot be escaped.

What is even more amazing, if that’s possible, is that His mercy and goodness can’t be escaped either.

The day we traveled here from the states, a little more than half of our bags made it with us.

They were all delivered the next day and I thought,” God didn’t have to give us our bags! He is so good!”

The first morning I woke up in Bogota to bright sun blinding me before 6 am and birds chirping right outside my window and my first thought was, “God is so good. He didn’t have to give me a sunny day and birds.”

Then I went downstairs and drank a cup of coffee for the first time in 3 months and it tasted good! (I have a coffee aversion during every pregnancy)

And I thought, “God is so good! He didn’t have to give me amazing Colombian coffee.”

Then we went out and started doing the paperwork required to find housing and guess what? Pregnant people are treated like queens here! We were rushed to the front of the line everywhere we went and got everything done in record time. God is so good!

Our team leader, Gary, did our family devotional for us the first night and he talked to the children (and us) about Psalm 23. He told them that God’s Word says, “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life.”, but in Hebrew, the word “follow” is better translated, “chase”.

“Surely goodness and mercy shall chase me all the days of my life.

Yes, that’s exactly how I feel right now sitting in my bedroom in Bogota, Colombia.

God has chased me all the way to another continent with His presence and His goodness and His mercy.

Blessed be His name in all the earth.

What we’ve been up to in bullet points, because then I feel organized.

Well, well, well…

Where have you been?

Ahem.


I’ll have you know I blog very regularly in my head. Getting it here is a little more complicated. You know, the translating and all. Plus, it takes a whole lotta energy to be this funny. Just sayin’.

I really am going to try to do this more often, mainly so we don’t have to have those awkward introductions anymore. I knew you’d be happy about that.

So what we’ve been up to:

  • One bazillion mission conferences and we have a few more left. Seriously, we’ve been out of town every single weekend since sometime in January. This actually has been such a blessing to us and our children, but I will be very thankful when all of the traveling dies down. It’s been particularly helpful for the girls, since my goal is to have homeschooled children sans social awkwardness. I believe it can be done. Needless to say, we’ve had lots of practice lately.
  • 3 birthdays and one to go. The girls turned 5 and 7, Matthew turned 1 and Jak will be turning 3 on Easter. I will tell you Matthew’s birthday story soon. You really don’t want to miss it. And no, I can’t believe my baby just turned 1. That was the fastest year of my life. Crazy. I honestly thought I was going to have flashbacks of his birth. Matthew got a birthday card from our sweet friend and children’s ministry director. The card said, “You are turning one and that means you will be having a new little brother or sister very soon!” That made me laugh so hard. Yes, this is probably true. The first birthday has always been my cue. You may not know this about me, but I only have babies every other March and on odd years, except when our insurance company gives us a 30 day waiting period for maternity coverage and then we have to have our baby in April. True story. 
  • House on the market. We need to sell our house. I love my house and I don’t want to sell it. Really, I don’t. I got a call from our realtor to tell us that a couple wanted to come look at it a second time and I cried. Yes, this is the sad truth. I am very sentimental about this house. 5 years of life is a really long time when your oldest child is only 7. I know this is all very spoiled, but I’m just being honest. I keep having this conversation in my head, where I remind myself that Christians around the world are meeting underground and being persecuted for their faith and I am crying over losing my house in Madison. Geez. Rotten.
  •  70%Both of our families have 70% of our support raised, which is good, but we have to be at 100% to actually move. We are praying that we can move in August.
  • Colombia. We are planning a trip to Colombia in April. I will be sure to show you pictures and give you an idea of what our lives will look like there. I am looking forward to seeing it for myself.
  • Homeschool.We are very nicely ahead in homeschooling. I didn’t take last summer off and have not taken very many breaks so that right now I would be ahead of the game and can afford to take time off while we transition over the next few months.
  • Selling it all. I still haven’t started selling my stuff yet. Be on the lookout on facebook, especially if you live in the Jackson or Hattiesburg area. I am going to take pictures of everything and come up with prices and, hopefully, I can get a lot of it sold.
  • Matthew’s first birthday. Now, I will leave you with a picture of Matthew’s first birthday joke cake. All I have to say about that is there is an explanation…

…And I will share that information once I have it.

Biggest Announcement Ever

Well, maybe not the biggest…

I think I’m going to start putting that title on all of my posts, except then everyone will think I’m pregnant…and I probably am….

Okay, so big news to share. We (our team) have had a change of plans. I’ll give a little background for those of you who are new here. Our family is moving with another family to the mission field. The original plan was to go to Costa Rica for two years. During our time there, we were going to attend language school and participate in creating a training program for new missionaries going to the field. Our desire, and what we feel the Lord leading our families to do, is start a new work somewhere in Latin America where the Gospel has not taken root. We want to assist national pastors in planting churches where there is a need.

Well…

…two weeks ago we found out that there is a place better suited than Costa Rica to accomplish the training program, so we flipped a coin and decided that we’re moving to Bogota, Colombia. Just kidding about flipping a coin, we drew straws. No really, after much prayer and many conversations with MTW,  we decided that this is a much better fit. In fact we are absolutely thrilled with this change and let me tell you why.

First of all, there is a very reputable language school there that we will attend our first year. Secondly, there is a thriving team there and an established network of churches in Bogota. And if that was not enough, this is my favorite part…national  leaders and pastors are coming to Bogota from all over Latin America asking the team there to pease send missionaries to their countries because they want to duplicate what they are seeing happen in Colombia. God is moving there! Raise your hand if you want to be a part of that! No really, raise your hand!

Okay, for those of you freaking out about the drug cartel, violence, kidnapping and what not, let me speak to that. Colombia is not the place that it was 10 or 15 years ago. The team that is there now was pulled out from 2001 until 2006. The team leader told us that they feel so safe there that his wife walks alone at night. There are so many places here that you wouldn’t feel safe doing that. I think in terms of infectious diseases, not so much gangs and violence, so that was my main concern. I was very happy to hear that Bogota is not a city at high risk for malaria. Whew.

The fact of that matter is, and I know you all will agree with me here, God is in control of my life and your life. He is in control of my children’s lives and my husband’s life. “Which of you by worrying can add one more day to his life?” A hair doesn’t fall from our head without his permission. Any one of us could come down with a disease today or be a victim of a violent crime or a terrible accident. Our trust is in God alone. Our salvation comes from Him. Alone. But I get the concerns. God is teaching me this stuff.

So the last two weeks have been a lot of work. We have had to redo every single brochure, every mailout, packet, letter, card, every video, our website, every single thing said Costa Rica. Josh and Nate made a video (at midnight no less) describing what we are doing and answering questions. Some of you may not know that we have to raise all of our own support. Our plan and desire is that we are able to move to Bogota in August. We will only be able to do that if we have raised 100% of our support. Right now, we are at about 60 or 65%. We are completely dependent on monthly pledges. Please pray that the Lord leads people to give.

I’m going to link the video here. If you don’t care anything about the mission field or what we’re doing and if you have no desire to support us financially or pray for us. You MUST watch this video anyway! The guys recorded it at almost midnight and Josh is talking in his sleep. Seriously, his eyes are CLOSED the entire time. It’s the funniest thing I’ve ever seen. Go watch it. You can thank me later.

I forgot to mention one of the best things that is coming out of all of this. When I used to tell people that we were moving to the mission field, the first question they would ask was, “Where are you going?” then I would tell them “Costa Rica” and  they would get a huge smile on their face and say “Oh how fun!” like I was just going on an extended vacation. And then I  would smack them. Just kidding, I would never do that. Now, when I tell them I’m moving to the mission field and they ask me where I’m going and I say “Colombia” they get this look of intense concern on their face and immediately tell me that they will be praying for me.

Now that’s more like it.