Dec 4 2017

Kyliesha Selah

by andrew

The strong, virtuous woman trusts in the refuge of her Rock (Yahushua the King Messiah).

Well, I was too slow, and the telling of our adventurous journey from Colorado back to Canada has been quite completely upstaged by the birth of our daughter Kylie. This post is hard for me to write because so many thoughts are trying to be put down all at once. So, let me work on it methodically.

3 Days ago (December 1, 2017) at 3:42 pm our 4th daughter and 8th child Kylie was born at home near Winkler, MB in the house of dear friends where they raised ten children themselves. She was 8 lbs 10 oz and 21 inches long. The raw essence of every detail of this pregnancy and birth-journey is captured in Kylie’s name – both as a testimony to Yah’s faithfulness throughout the process, and Renee’s diligent strength, as well as Kylie’s identity and destiny.

With each pregnancy we’ve had various levels of confidence about the gender of the baby growing inside Renee. Some we knew ahead of time from the ultrasound. Some we had a very strong notion (like with Joy who was the promised girl arriving later than we thought after Jaiden surprised us by being a boy). And with others we had no idea. Kylie was unique in that, not only did we lack all sense of who she might be, but we also had no consensus on name candidates for boys or girls. We had name ideas, but nothing that felt right – nothing that resonated spiritually with the life YHWH had knit in Renee’s womb.

Other new factors with this pregnancy were the additional concerns of higher risk with Renee’s age (the medical community is a little confused and thinks Renee is getting older for some reason), the fact that she was carrying Kylie in a breech position, and abnormal antibodies present in her repeated blood work which meant baby’s blood was mingling with hers. The breech factor was particularly bothersome because we really wanted to have another home birth and if Renee went into labor with Kylie breech, our midwife could not attend us at home. On top of that, they wouldn’t even deliver at the hospital near our friends. We’d have to relocate to the Winnipeg hospital over an hour away… not a fun idea while in labor.

We also had an initial 5-hour drive to our friends’ house to factor in. They live in the same area as our midwife and had graciously and excitedly agreed with the idea of us spending a few days here around the due date. But planning the timing was going to be a little like jumping out of a plane with only a rough map of the landing zone and hoping the winds were favorable for touching down in the right spot. Should we wait until labor started (great thing we DIDN’T do that in retrospect)? Do we pick a date and be there way too early? All those kinds of questions were in play.

So, about a week before the due date, with the impending necessity of finding a name in the background of our brains, and wanting it to be connected with the core theme of trusting Yah with all the details (including logistics, timing, breech, age, risk factors, travel, antibodies, etc.) I came across Psalm 18:2:

YHWH is my ROCK and my fortress and my deliverer, my God is my ROCK and I take refuge in Him; My shield and the horn of my salvation (yeshua), and my high tower.

I would have likely just breezed past this verse normally, but it perfectly resonated with the experience of our need in this season, which stirred additional curiosity. I wondered – why was ROCK repeated twice, and what was the Hebrew word behind it? I’ve often found the Scriptures to use repetition when something is being emphasized and/or hinting at a deeper meaning. I was surprised to discover that although the translators used the same word “ROCK” twice, there were actually 2 different Hebrew words behind them. One of those was:

Selah – literally or figuratively a ROCK, a fortress, a stronghold

Up until then I had only thought of “selah” in the musical sense found throughout the Psalms which indicates a pause for meditation or pondering. These two variants of the root have a different last letter. The musical pause “selah” is SLH whereas the rock and fortress “selah” is SLA – the final ayin (A) having the thematic meaning of eye or “to see” which makes sense because a ROCK and it’s defense and deliverance is something that is witnessed. Kylie is a witness to her Creator.

Then, a day or two later I was reading Proverbs 31 again as it happened to fall into my reading schedule with a new translation, and I read verse 10 with eyes that were constantly, subconsciously searching for name ideas: “Who can find a virtuous woman?” Hmmm, I thought, I wonder what the Hebrew word for “virtuous” is in this case. I was floored to discover it was one of my favorite Hebrew words of all time:

Khayil – a force whether of human or supernatural means, an army, virtue, valor, STRENGTH, able, activity, valiant, worthy.

In fact, this word was the original basis for a character’s name in a series of books I’ve been slowly writing for nearly 25 years now. And with the Hebrew word for “woman” / “wife” in that verse being “isha” (“eesha”) I immediately knew in my spirit – if we were having a girl, her name was Kyliesha (“Kylie” for short). When I presented the idea to everyone else it was it was unanimous (a rare thing in a family of 9). Everyone loved it. And a sense of peace settled into me that we had finally stumbled upon the first truly accurate name-reflection of who this little unborn person was to be… and with that sense of identity I tried coming up with a couple boy variations on the same theme, but I was almost completely convinced from that point forward that it was going to be a girl.

With the strong potential for a complicated breech birth, Renee diligently learned and applied new stretches and exercises to help adjust her body and turn Kylie. She was trusting Yah, but also doing everything she could to act on that belief.

As for the timing… Renee and I both separately asked Father to give us a birth date so that we could plan our drive down to our friends. She got Dec 2 and I got Dec 5 (with a low degree of self-confidence whether or not I was hearing clearly or just making something up in my own mind). Dec 11 was the full 40-week count from conception, but the due date calculator (also based on the conception date) said the due date was Nov 30. So, we had a few data points to work with and decided that the right course of action would be to drive down on Nov 30 (unless labor started sooner of course). We also debated whether or not to just stay put and have the baby in our own home. But in asking Father about that, we felt with great confidence that He wanted the bigger story to include the time with our friends.

As it turned out, that ended up meaning we got to meet another dear sister in the area who came over for Shabbat for the first time in two years since having known our friends from a previous church, which was really special. But I digress.

The rest unfolded like miraculous clockwork:

  • We drove down in (relatively) warm and sunny weather on Thurs Nov 30th (the official due date). Some contraction activity started during the trip and I made sure to take the bumpiest gravel-road route for the last 10 miles.
  • We settled¬†in with our friends at their house and had a wonderful meal and time of catching up together.
  • After a profound, restful sleep (everyone in the house – even out friends – reported sleeping better than they had for a really long time), Renee’s water broke at 8:30am. It doesn’t get much more precise than that ūüôā Thank you Abba!
  • There wasn’t really any contraction activity at that point, but after Renee finished leaking we headed out for our ultrasound appointment at 10:15am to go confirm Kylie was head down (and maybe see if we could tell for sure that she was a she). At that point the breech status was still in question (but we knew she was¬†going to be head down, and the chiropractor Renee had visited on Tues had said as much too).
  • More bumpy roads, the ultrasound-revealed position was perfect (although we couldn’t catch a glimpse of the gender), and our midwife wanted to run a non-stress test while¬†we were at the hospital just to make sure everything was good; especially since there had been a little¬†meconium in Renee’s water. Vitals were perfect.
  • We spent a couple hours doing errands including picking up some new sweet games for the kids from an amazing hobby store.
  • Renee was having regular contractions at this point and Cara (our midwife) said to let her know when they were consistently 4 minutes apart.
  • We headed¬†back just before 2pm and as we were pulling up to the house the contractions had been settling in to every 4 minutes.
  • We sat down for some lunch and Renee almost finished a bowl of “Kate’s Chicken Noodle Delight” soup while the contractions increased intensity before¬†finally having to retire to upstairs around 2:15pm.
  • I called Cara and she was on her way. Later we learned that en route Cara had called the other midwives to come (because she’s not allowed to attend a home birth by herself). When¬†she told one of the other midwives about the meconium in Renee’s water, the other midwife said that she wouldn’t come here and that “they need to go to the hospital” for the delivery. So, Cara was actually planning to let us know we had to move to the hospital for the rest of the labor and delivery.
  • In the meantime, Renee transitioned from the medium hard part of labor to the hard hard part and the contractions were coming on top of each other and getting longer. She asked me to keep praying because she did not at all feel mentally ready for this.¬†With all our previous experiences, each stage of difficulty had gradually progressed into the¬†next so that getting through the levels helped mentally tackle the next ones. And, at that point, we still thought we had a long way to go in terms of total time.
  • In addition to asking Father to fill Renee with strength and energy, I asked Him to¬†accelerate the process and allow us to go into Shabbat¬†with the baby born and entering into His rest with us.
  • Cara arrived around 2:30pm and after checking Kylie’s heart rate (which was great) and evaluating Renee’s progression, she started setting up.
  • While she was setting up, Renee hit the shaking and moaning phase … the hard hard hard intense hard hard hard stage and Cara decided she had better call the other midwives and tell them to come here anyway – there would not be time to make it to the hospital.
  • About an hour later I was catching Kyliesha Selah and Renee’s mom arrived very shortly after that.
  • We watched the epic¬†Sabbath-starting sunset from our upstairs room window and held a miracle in our arms.

We couldn’t have planned it better ourselves. YHWH had all the details orchestrated and in motion, and Kylie gave Zach a run for his money on his record for fastest birth. It might have been a tie. Or maybe Kylie edged him out for the title. In any case, this home has been a refuge of peace for us. It has been a blessing to share the experience with our friends and to enjoy their fellowship.

Renee has been healing well and resting. The biggest difficulty so far (aside from the math related to 1 baby and 7 siblings who all want to hold her at the same time) has been Kylie’s extremely tight lip-tie. It has made nursing her extremely painful for Renee. One option would be to have it cut (which is apparently something they do frequently around here). But 1 hospital visit was enough, and more importantly we felt no peace about force-altering the way YHWH made her. If Kylie wasn’t able to nurse at all, or not getting enough, we’d be seriously considering that option. But in our case, Father has provided an electric breastpump that we can borrow and a soft shield that helps dramatically reduce the pain for Renee. We’re confident Kylie’s lip-tie is going to naturally grow and stretch and become a non-issue.

It was once again such an incalculable blessing to have the whole family in one place – the same place that the birth was happening. Joy and Ellie got to observe the whole thing and meet their baby sister first hand, seconds after she drew her first breath. Joy was a hurricane of delight and excitement – I don’t know how the stairs survived – as she stormed down them shouting “It’s a girl! It’s a girl! It’s a girl!” When Joy introduced herself to her new sister, Kylie looked at her with big bright eyes and cooed intently and wisely back at her. She hardly seems like a newborn. We’re already noticing she’s an amazing and peaceful communicator. She recognizes all our voices and listens intently. Even her crying is filled with meaning; not just “i want something” or “i don’t like something” but it carries tones and inflection and deeper senses of communication in a way that none of our other 7 had (at least that we remember).

I had mentally remembered but emotionally forgotten how awe-inspiring and life-giving it is to hold and snuggle and watch over such a little beautiful one. Right now, she is sleeping peacefully amidst a constant background of the noise and activity of the big brothers who will defend and protect her and the big sisters who will tend and spoil her. Many many thanks and blessings to the Elias family for their generous hospitality and joyful help and participation in this part of our journey. YHWH is GOOD. Blessed be His Name for ever and ever.


Nov 9 2009

Day 211: Our Incredible Life

by andrew

You can’t even imagine what I’ve been up to these last couple weeks… I can scarcely believe it myself. If only income was based on how “interesting” one’s life was, we’d be insanely wealthy by now. But our Creator continues to provide for us faithfully even as we stare down the bottom of the savings barrel. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Nor would I trade all the money in the world for a life even one bit less interesting.

I will work backwards and try to remember the most noteworthy details.

  1. I just started a course in the Ancient (pictograph-based) Hebrew language
  2. Bennah slept outside in low 40 F weather by himself
  3. I’m currently working on editing a training DVD from the footage a buddy and I shot of a seminar at a Filipino martial arts class
  4. Renee and I became founding members of a company that offers every media service known to man (from video production to web sites to marketing to traditional print, writing, and editing, to technology consulting, and more).
  5. I went dumpster diving with the boys to find materials for the airplane they are building to escape to Pennsylvania. I am not making this up. They are convinced they can pull it off.
  6. I took Renee and the kids to visit the Air Force Academy (where I graduated in 1999)  and told them a few stories at the places where the adventures actually occurred.
  7. I was on the video crew and manned the lead camera at a big Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) event in Denver.
  8. I started submitting photos again to the stock agencies I’m with and also ramped up video submissions significantly.

I thought the list would be more fascinating without extra commentary, but here are some additional details about each item with resources and links for those with time for chasing fun bunny trails:

  1. The course is offered on-line here:¬†¬†http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/index.html –¬†It turns out that the modern Hebrew characters represent at least 3 or 4 evolutionary transitions distant from the original pictographs that would have been inscribed on the tablets of the Commandments at Mt. Sinai and used in the original writings of Scripture. Not only this, but the original pictographs also restore the grounding of the language in its original, agricultural, cultural, concrete, and practical-every-day-life base. Not only does Hebrew (ancient and modern) read from right-to-left, but the original meanings and understandings are often completely opposite from our modern interpretations. For example, we think of the past as behind us and the future as in front of us. Not so in Hebrew thought where the past is in front of us (after all it is visible and completely known) and the future is behind us (for we cannot see it and do not know what it will be). How can we correctly interpret the Scriptures when we approach it with our backwards modern thinking and expect it’s meaning to conform to our cultural biases and preconceptions.
  2. Actually, all the kids wanted to sleep outside the other night. They made a tarp “tent” in the back yard and bundled up in 10 layers of clothing each. One by one they all came in… except Bennah. He toughed out the whole night. I was so proud of him. I wanted to go out there and sleep through it with him, but I knew that he had to handle this one by himself – he had to know that he could do it without any help.
  3. The instructor of the seminar was Rico Cortes of Filipino Combat Systems hosted by ColoradoFCS.com and TrainFightWinFitness.com. It was an awesome class. I’m looking forward to getting the DVD ready for sale and am seriously considering going back to the great folks at the gym there to continue my own training.
  4. The name of the company is Garlic Media Group and we’re in the process of spinning up the website now. I know the name sounds a little funny, but it’s good for you! And it encapsulates our character and emphasis: we can offer a spectrum of media services and packages to any company, but our forte and mission lands squarely in the arena of health, wellness, and wholeness of body, mind, and spirit whether we’re generating marketing material for another business or creating entertainment for diverse audiences. There are 4 primary couples involved at this point and among the 8 of us we have: an award winning director / producer / editor / filmmaker; a published author / nutritionist; a chiropractic doctor; musicians; a programmer / technology consultant; a connector (marketing and PR genius); artists; a graphic designer; writers; editors; our own private think tank; several children; videographers; photographers; …and… someone who has worked at the White House… sorry, just had to throw that in, as it makes this COMPLETELY TRUE list even more outrageous. We’re excited to see where it goes.
  5. That about speaks for itself… I actually interviewed my 8 yr old, 4 yr old, and 2 yr old boy and they told me all about their plans for the airplane. If I ever dig my way out of all the video I have to edit, maybe I’ll post some stuff from that project.
  6. The Academy has and hasn’t changed much. The SMACKS still run on the strips at least. The cadets took the hill at noon meal formation as army helicopters flew over and dropped thousands of little “go Army beat AF” slips of paper (the two Academies were playing each other this weekend). You can still get pizza and watch movies in Arnold Hall. But now all the cadet areas are secured by gate-fences with keypads and there are new id badges. I’m guessing that all went into place after 9-11. The pay phones in the back of Arnold Hall – the ones I used every weekend as a freshman – are gone. And it seemed somehow much quieter from the outside looking in.
  7. The MMA event was my first time shooting with high end equipment. I had to learn how to shoot with a shoulder-mount full manual camera, walk backwards, track the fighters making their grand entrances, and somehow not trip over the 250 feet of cable I was tethered to all that the same time. For starters. Then, after the fighters were in the cage, I was up on the platform mounted to one of the posts, shooting right down into it. Yes, these were cage matches. I was on one of three cameras and our director was switching between them live, giving us instructions and heads-up as necessary in our headsets; the feed was going to the massive screen for the event and streaming live over the internet. The 3 hour event evaporated in what felt like about 30 seconds of adrenaline.
  8. Starting to have to get serious about every potential revenue stream… I had a pretty good couple months with my stock video work and wanted to invest a lot more time and energy in that since it was starting to pay off. But it’s a massive ship and slow to accelerate. Photo efforts have an immediate affect, but on a much smaller profit scale. So, it’s all a balancing act. And I’m still LEARNING what works and what doesn’t.

There’s more, but that will have to wrap it up for now… I have to get back to work editing video. Stay in touch!