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

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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.

The Kines Heart NYC

So, what’s up?

Lots of you know that we are attending a month long training in New York City.

That’s right. New York Cittaay.

We don’t stick out. We really don’t. There a lots of people that try to get on the subway with 4 children and 2 strollers. Lots.

There are also lots of people who walk into the corner grocery…

with all their chilluns…

and say,

“Jarsh. Look at that there cawfey. You grond it yurself. See. Tole ya. Shore did.”

Lots.

So, we’re lovin’ NYC. Mainly because we blend in.

The first thing I noticed was that New Yorkers are super friendly. I’m not being sarcastic. I can understand why it’s hard to take anything I say seriously. But, New Yorkers are super friendly.

For real.

I have yet to get on the subway (with our entire crew) and not have someone, or groups of people, smile and play with the kids and offer us their seat. Today there were two guys that were soooo too cool. They were trying so hard to stay serious, but could not keep from smiling at Matthew. He can crack the hardest shell. He will beat you at a staring contest. He will.

Trust me.

The first few days were really stressful. First time on the subway and we got separated. Josh had Jak and I had the other three on two separate cars. This would have been fine since we didn’t lose any kids …

Ahem. 

…but I didn’t know where to get off. So the first thing I did was pull out my cellphone to call Josh and find out where to get off. Cell phones don’t work in subways. But I know you knew that.

So, I sat down and started wracking my brain trying to remember the address of the school we were going to. Then I looked up and saw Josh motioning to me through the window into the next car. He was making a square with his hands and pointing to his watch. I just shook my head. I mean, seriously, I had no idea what time it was. Who cares. If we’re late we’re late. He kept waving at me and making motions.

Sounds like….Square….Watch….Square…..Time…..Cube….Time….Square.

Time Square!!!

We’re supposed to get off at Time Square!

Josh told me later that while all this was going on, he was sitting directly across from a man with the word Brooklyn tattooed on one arm and the word Outlaw tattooed on the other.

I didn’t even make that up. That’s really what happened.

Really.

So I was super stressed that first day. Getting around just seemed so hard. But we’ve gradually settled into our routine and getting on the subway is almost like jumping in my minivan. In the garage. Sort of.

Not really.

I was really wanting to subway surf, but I saw this sign. So I won’t.

Really glad I saw it in time.

Where we are…

Honestly, what I’m about to say makes me very uncomfortable. It seems God likes to bring me to that place. A lot. I have prayed so desperately over this post. I have prayed that I would communicate with humility what He has asked me to communicate, but I have also prayed that I would be bold enough to say some hard, even embarrassing things. Even more, I have prayed for you, reading this post.

I remember many times sitting at church and listening to missionaries and wanting to stick my fingers in my ears because I was afraid God might call me to go. It has been a fear in the back of my mind most of my life. I was so surprised one day to find out that there were many other Christians that didn’t dread hearing missionary reports. I’m probably the most unlikely missionary you’ll ever meet. Most of my life has been spent running from Him. It may not have looked like that on the outside, but my heart has always been wild. I don’t submit easily. Come to find out His grace is greater than the sin in my heart.

When I was a pastor’s wife I would get embarrassed just thinking about people’s tithe ending up as my husband’s paycheck. And, honestly, I would hope that all of my friends at church didn’t think about it. It made me uncomfortable.

So when He gave us the grace to obey a call to the mission field, my knees shook when I thought about asking people for money – especially people I know.

Alot of that comes from pride in my heart – it’s awkward to need something from people, but what’s worse than that is never having the ability to repay them. Never being able to square up. Saying: “Please give me your money and you will get a thank you note and our newsletter in return.” leaves you in a perpetual state of vulnerability. I’m beginning to think that’s right where He wants us.

If I (or Josh) could go out and just work harder and make more money, that is what we would do. But I am beginning to discover through this process that that would cause us both to miss out on a huge blessing. We would miss out on watching the Lord provide for us in the most amazing ways through His people and the church would miss out on the gift of investing in His economy. (aka storing up treasures in heaven.)

I never thought I would say I am grateful to be financially supported by the church, but I am.

So why am I telling you this?

Our team has to raise all of our financial support. We have about 25% left to raise. We cannot go until we get 100%. We cannot go without the generosity of God’s people. We need people to pledge to give monthly support, whether it be $20 or $100. We need your monthly support. And I’m asking for it.

I’m asking you to give. If that makes you feel awkward, please know that I feel awkward-er. But I’m not asking you to give to me. I’m asking you to give to God’s work. He has called me to be a part of it and He has called you to be a part of it. One of the greatest misunderstandings in the church today is that missions is optional.

It isn’t.

Missions has already been decided for us. The great commission was given to the church. It is explicit in the Gospel. The only question we have to answer is “How?” How do we respond personally to the only choice we are given – go or send?

God has called some of us to go and He has called some of us to watch over missions from home. Both of these callings are vital. This is the way He ordained it. We cannot go without you. We cannot. It is his plan for you to send us.

When we obey God by participating in missions, we are responding out of love for Him. The most tangible way to love Christ is to make Him known. “If you love Me, feed my sheep.”

We know He will not return until His name has been preached throughout the whole earth, to every tongue and every tribe and every nation. How much do we want to see His face? There are over 3 billion people on planet earth right now living a hopeless life without Christ. We have hope for them. Does that move us to obedience?

Charles Spurgeon was asked this question, “Will the heathen who have never heard the Gospel be saved?” Spurgeon replied, “It is more a question with me whether we – who have the Gospel and fail to give it to those who have not – can be saved.” We have the awesome privilege of giving the hopeless the hope that we have. The hope that has been given to us freely. I’m asking you to freely give – to invest in God’s economy.

The wonderful thing about this investment is that there is absolutely no risk involved. I am reminded of something Jim Elliot said before he literally gave his life for the Gospel, “He is no fool who gives what He cannot keep to gain what He cannot lose.” When Jesus calls us to give, it is actually an invitation to receive – to gain something eternal. I’m asking you to invest in this eternal treasure with us. Why? Because dying is gain. Because what we loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Because He first loved us. Because we long together to see Him face to face.

Because He Is Worth It.

May His kingdom come.