Oct 27 2010

Day 563: The Day that Ended with a Flood

by andrew

I knew it was going to be an interesting evening when the horse escaped. Pixie was tearing out of the gate as if she meant business and I figured pretty quickly that she’d be way more difficult to catch if she got too far. I was just coming out from my cousins house when she made the move and I ran to block the path at the gate to her pasture. But she was already out, and instead of falling for my attempt to push her back she started hugging the outside of the fence and trotting south.

Good old buddy – a brilliant black mut that has some Lab in him somewhere – observed what was at stake and came running out to head her off. As he circled and turned her around I approached from the other side and blocked any potential escape routes. The 2 of us wedged her in, forced her back into her pen, and she was not happy about it. Even though Leon got some treats ready for her she still kicked up a storm at Buddy.

Later on we tried to shoot a skunk that has been pilfering the dog food in the garage. It snuck out as Jen pulled the other car out of the garage and  potentially out of harms way. A few days later we got it though. We had it trapped behind a big sheet of plywood and the wall. I eased the plywood back ever so slowly. When it peeked around the corner Leon shot it in the head. It must have already released though because… man… you think they smell bad when you drive past a dead one on the road somewhere. Wow. It is quite debilitating.

Ok, so back to the night in question. Anyway. The wind turned vicious. It was nearly impossible to open the door to the heated shop (in which we had parked our trailer for our stay at our cousins) without going for a ride. It literally yanked my mom-in-law off her feet at one point. The door didn’t get shut all the way either at one point and the wind literally tore it off its hinges.

Try reattaching a door on hinges to the frame and some of the hinges back to the door while holding it open in Category 3 hurricane conditions. Fun times. It took several sessions (my first couple attempts were successful but not permanent as the wind had its way with the door again and again), but I finally got it. And I’m actually not exaggerating about the conditions. I know it was Cat 3 winds because at midnight we got a call from the nearby town (Winnipegosis) asking for help sandbagging. There’s a river that flows into the local lake (Lake Winnipegosis). Well, the winds were so strong and constant that they were actually blowing the lake water backwards up river and flooding parts of the town.

It was quite surreal. So we went and sandbagged for a bit. The next day the winds continued and the water displaced some residents, The Dredge, and a bunch of other stuff we found washed up around various fields that we went quading (4-wheelin) through a couple days later.

That was quite a day. People that have lived there all their lives said nothing ever close to that has happened before. I think there was some kind of flood in ’53 but hardly anyone remembered. Here are some shots from the next day.

Canada Flag shredded from the wind

Our friend's house in town. The "normal" river is way in the distance.

Driveway at the first place we sandbagged the night before.

Had coffee here at 2am. This was probably one of the worst-hit businesses.

Oct 20 2010

Day 554: The River

by andrew

Life is a river filled with self-reflexive microcosms. The Road.

Mostly it is a constant rushing, a blur of events carrying us incessantly forward, inexorably onward. Time.

But there are moments. An eddy in the currant snags the shore and strands time’s gaze. The river doesn’t stop, doesn’t even slow, but the inertia temporarily presses perspective into a recline between the water and the sky, and it feels like floating inside a transparent womb. There is no up or down, east, west, north or south.

There is no movement but constant motion surrounds. Weightless.

And then time’s tyranny takes account, finds a subject stranded, re-asserts its impatient decree. The womb shatters. And for a fraction of perception everything stops: motion, sound, pulse, vision… every gaze is frozen, pure, unfiltered, and collides into a choice: cling to jagged womb fragments or PLUNGE.

Such chatic contentions consume themselves before they even exist – time reverses upon itself for a span too short to measure and the decision is made before the choice has even penetrated the mind. Falling.


Then forward, into a vague familiar rushing. Momentums match and fuse. The shore fades away. It’s almost as if nothing changed yet something feels different… there is a dull throbbing.

Several shards of womb removed leave vivid scars of joy. Memories.

Older scars fade slightly.

The rushing intensifies and there is only the river. The Road.

Oct 1 2010

Sky Aysh Yachalel

by andrew

Sky – Old Norse: Cloud
Aysh – Hebrew: Fire
Yachalel – Hebrew: to wait on, hope, trust in Elohim / YHWH

He spread a cloud for a covering, And fire to give light in the night.
– Ps 105:39

When יהוה has washed away the filth of the daughters of Tsiyon, and rinsed away the blood of Yerushalayim from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning, then יהוה shall create above every dwelling place of Mount Tsiyon, and above her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night, for over all the esteem shall be a covering, and a booth [sukkah] for shade in the daytime from the heat, for a place of refuge, and for a shelter from storm and rain.
– Is 4:4-6

See, the eye of יהוה is on those fearing Him, On those waiting [hoping, trusting] for His kindness…
– Ps 33:18

As for me, I look to יהוה, I wait [hope, trust] for the Elohim of my deliverance, my Elohim does hear me.
– Mic 7:7

Born on Sep 28, 2010 during Sukkot (the Feast of Booths / Tabernacles) and through extraordinary circumstances, our precious little Punkin #6 has given us a challenge in the naming. There were so many weighty things that his name needed to carry, but it also needed to have the light-hearted nature of the excitement, adventure, and blessing that he is.

Baby Sky.

Sky Aysh Yachalel.

We wanted his name to both carry the character of his birth experience as well as the identity of what YHWH is showing us through the timing. There was also a sense of completeness and new beginnings as he is the 8th member of the family. The biggest themes that emerged for us through all of this were:

  • Trusting YHWH: The adventure of Sky’s birth was filled with unexpected plot twists, difficult decisions, and Father’s unfailing provision in even the smallest details. It tested and stretched us in many ways, but especially in trusting Him.
  • Waiting on YHWH: It is counterintuitive for the 6th pregnancy, but Renee’s labor was longer (by far) than any of the others. 38 hours. There were moments when we thought things might not be normal with this delivery and Father answered our prayers with wise counsel from others and options that we hadn’t thought of.
  • Sukkot: There are so many themes in this one word alone that resulted in many possible name sources – covering, refuge, protection, tabernacle, dwelling, canopy, chupah (wedding canopy), etc. I had been thinking in fairly concrete terms, trying to make an overt connection between the Festival birth and naming, but nothing sounded right. Then I remembered how YHWH Himself became a Sukkah for His Children in the wilderness and promised to do so again – as a Cloud and Fire.

Humorous Prelude

This seemed insignificant at the time, but actually became a factor in Sky’s name. A few weeks ago we were having family cuddles in our bed and talking about possible names with the kids (keep in mind that we didn’t know Punkin #6 was a boy until he was born). They were all pitching in their suggestions and Jaiden said with serious conviction, “We should call him ‘Hot Fire Super.'” Before I realized how serious he was I started laughing uncontrollably until Jaiden began to cry. Imagine trying to explain to your 3 year old that you weren’t laughing at his idea, just at how he expressed it. That was a tough one. He was 100% convinced that ‘Hot Fire Super’ would be a perfectly valid name for his little brother. I guess it really isn’t all that strange after all, and in the end, ‘Fire’ became part of his name.

The Story

On Monday, Sep 19th, we had our first visit with the midwife who delivered our neice a few months ago. Back in May she told Renee’s sister that she’d love to help us if we were going to be in Winnipeg around Renee’s due date. We were blown away by her offer. Even though it was informal, and we didn’t even get to talk to her until we were already here, after praying about it in Pennsylvania we felt total peace about working our way to Winnipeg. We were also prepared to have this baby ourselves somewhere on the road if that was what would unfold.

On Friday, Sep 24th, some out-of-town friends and family joined us here at the campground as Sukkot started.

On Saturday, Sep 25th, we had a whole additional crowd of friends / spiritual family out here for Shabbat and fellowship. They stayed late and went back to their homes in the city that night.

On Sunday, Sep 26th, around 11pm labor started. We were really excited because we figured there was a really good chance of having this baby before our out-of-town family / friends had to leave for home late the next day. The plan was to do the whole thing here in our trailer at the campground with the help of our midwife. We called her around 2am just to let her know that early labor had started.

However, by the afternoon on Monday, Sep 27th, labor was still fairly slow and it became obvious that nothing was going to happen before they all had to leave. By 10pm things had picked up a bit and the testing began. We got in touch with our midwife and she had landed in an impossible situation. She was in the middle of another delivery and couldn’t make it out. She thought she could make other arrangements for us, but we’d have to go into the city. The alternative would be to stay here with the expectation that we would be having this baby on our own without the assistance of a midwife, and that initially felt scary in some ways and relieving in other ways. After praying about it with Renee and her mom we were determined to do this YHWH’s way even if it meant trusting Him completely in new areas and depths.

Then we had an idea. Kind of a long shot, and were were hesitant to pursue it, but felt like we should try. We met a sweet woman who came out with our friends on Saturday. Sitting around the campfire that night she mentioned that she had been a midwife before. She hadn’t practiced in a while, but we thought maybe she’d be willing to come over just to offer advice and experience in an informal capacity. I called my dear brother up here through whom we met her and asked what he thought. He said he’d call her and check. A few minutes later he called back and said she was super excited that we’d ask and she was gathering her things and would be on her way. We were so blessed by her reaction and willingness to come over and help.

We fully expected to have the baby some time that night, but Monday night turned into Tuesday morning. We had a wonderful time together that night – Renee, her mom, this dear new midwife friend who we had just met a couple nights before, and myself – but labor was not progressing as fast as we thought it should and by 5am we were all exhausted. We decided to rest and regain some strength, and one by one we started to snooze. Joy woke up around 6am and was curious to know what was going on. So I held her for a while and fell asleep with her in my arms. Our friend didn’t want to leave, but she had to get her 2 children off to school and we encouraged her to go, expecting to be in touch and return when things picked up again.

After a couple hours of sleep the contractions intensified and Renee started bleeding with each one. It wasn’t a lot, but it hadn’t been like that with any of our other birth experiences either. Our original midwife called to check in after she had a couple hours of sleep herself and we gave her the update. She was a little concerned (as were we) about the bleeding.

One of the complications in the whole arrangement that hadn’t been obvious at the beginning was that we were too far out of the city for insurance to cover our midwife. She couldn’t come out at all, like we were originally planning. But she graciously offered for us to come over to her home and she would check Renee and, if need be, we could have the baby there. She lived just inside the city and not too far from us, which was a total provision and much better than where we’d have had to go the night before.

We really did not want to leave our kids – the whole point was to do this as a family and include them, and that was hard – but the most important thing was to use the resources Father was making available to us to insure everything was ok. Our midwife was even able to arrange an immediate ultrasound for us. The primary concern was that maybe the position of the placenta and/or cord was obstructing normal labor progression and causing the bleeding. We were ready to pay out of our own pocket for the ultrasound, but the doctor didn’t charge us. Isn’t YHWH amazing!

And of course during this whole time so many people were praying for us as well.

The ultrasound showed that everything was perfect. It was only a matter of time after all (with maybe a little help from assisted water breaking). I figured the next difficult decision would be between going back to the trailer without our midwife or leaving the kids out and having the baby at her house (though I knew Renee’s mom was taking great care of them). But even that was solved nicely when our midwife offered and suggested that I go pick them up and bring them back.

We fully expected to have our midwife break Renee’s water to speed things up when I got back with the kids, but by the time I returned in about an hour, she was having constant contractions and hard labor. 45 minutes later her water broke on its own an I was catching my new son. I finally got to catch one!

Zach was so excited. He didn’t leave Renee’s side for a long time once she and Sky were settled in the bed. The different reactions were interesting. Bennah and Reayah have seen this all before and they were content to check things out and move on to other things, but the younger ones were fascinated.

YHWH provided – even down to the car seat. We had shopped around and even had one lined up through a site like craigslist, but they never got back to us about when/where to pick it up. Father had one waiting for us though. Our midwife had been given a few car seats recently around the time of her own granddaughter’s birth and was happy to get one of them out of her basement.

Overall, throughout the entire process, there were so many moments characterized by having to trust and wait on YHWH – Yachalel. And during it all – despite the uncertainties – we felt covered, protected, encompassed by His Presence as a refuge, canopy, chupah, sukkah – the cloud and fire – Sky Aysh.

He is the most precious little thing.  He will be a constant reminder to us – and hopefully others too – especially as we continue into a future that is dark and  uncertain, that YHWH is our refuge and our strength; our cloud by day and fire by night as we learn to trust Him completely and obey His leading.

Baby Sky.