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Archive for the ‘personal’ Category

Dear Family and Friends,

In preparation for the arrival of our son, I read Tedd Tripp’s Shepherding a Child’s Heart. Tripp focuses on parenting that addresses the heart of the child, not just his behavior. He makes his point strongly with this statement: “A change in behavior that does not stem from a change in heart is not commendable; it is condemnable.” May God enable Oksana and me to raise our son with a gospel-saturated focus on his heart.

OUR SON IS BORN!

We PRAISE God for bringing Eliyas (pronounced EL-i-yas) Joseph into this world on May 19! He weighed 8 lbs and 15 oz, and was 22 inches long. Oksana was in labor for 27.5 hours, but we praise God for strengthening her to delivery normally. The timing was not what we had planned, but it turns out that God’s plan was better than ours. Oksana called me to come home at 4 p.m. on Thursday and, after everything was completed at the hospital, we went home Sunday afternoon. So, I missed only one day of the Haitian Creole workshop. I was able to do the second week of the workshop, because my mom helped Oksana at home during the day. Also, we got our first two meetings in Quebec moved into July, so we have a little longer for Oksana and Eliyas to get into a good routine.

Eliyas’ name means “my God is Jehovah,” and that’s our prayer for him—that he would follow only Jehovah all his days. Please PRAY with us in that regard and PRAY for us that God would enable us to lead him in that way. You can read more about the birth story and our choice of his name in previous posts on this blog.

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Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward. (Psa 127:3)

God makes a home for the lonely. (Psa 68:6a)

SUPPORT NEARING 100%

Our support increased again this past quarter, thanks to our sending church, Grand Valley Baptist; Lake County Baptist in Waukegan, IL; Calvary Baptist in York, PA; and a family, who are dear friends. Due to some anticipated expenses, our support estimate went up some, so the bottom line is that our support level is at 94%. Please pray for the remaining support to come in this year. During the summer, we will be visiting four supporting churches in Quebec and two non-supporting churches in the US.

MINISTRY

We PRAISE the Lord for giving me a safe trip to Myanmar (consultant seminar), Singapore (two churches), and India (school partnerships). The seminar was a tremendous team-building experience, the visits to Singapore churches were refreshing, and the exploration in India was very profitable. PRAY for wisdom as we strategize on how to move forward in India, which will include another trip to India in October.

We also PRAISE God for His help in writing the BI constitution. The committee worked very hard, and we should have the rough draft complete by the end of this week. PRAY as it will be sent to BMM for input at that point.

The Lord really helped me to stay focused for the Haitian Creole OT workshop in May, and we finished checking 1 Kings and 2 Kings 1-6. PRAISE God!

PRAY as I try to finalize plans for the Consultant Seminar at BI in August. PRAY for wisdom as I lead my department and prepare various presentations.

PRAY also for God’s provision of more laborers. PRAISE Him fo His provision of financial support for BI, though we continue to wait for His choice of a new Director and the filling of other strategic roles.

For the sake of Christ,

Troy (for the three of us)

 

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How did we get to Eliyas, which is pronounced EL-i-yas? The story is below for those who are interested. The story will be told in the third person, since I have to tell you what Troy said/thought as well as what Oksana said/thought.

What mattered most to them was that they choose a name with a good meaning. In fact, that was more important than a nice-sounding name. They’d rather have one with a good meaning, even if it didn’t sound nice. When they looked through names, Oksana considered a few names that sounded nice, but then she discarded them when she realized they had no good meaning. (Troy was less particular about which name their son should have as long as it had a good meaning, was easy to say in both the USA and in Ukraine, and wouldn’t get shortened to a nickname that we didn’t like.)

(In fact, when they were at the labor/delivery class offered by our hospital, they were asked by the professor to share which characteristic of their spouse they wanted to see in their child. The instructor was focusing on physical characteristics, it seems, but Oksana boldly declared that they wanted their child to have the shared characteristic of loving God all his life.)

Then, Oksana heard the name “Ilya” and really liked how it sounded; she also liked the “soft form” of the name in Russian, “Ilyusha.” But she didn’t like the English version, Elijah. She hadn’t considered the meaning of that name until that point. Troy told her the name means “my God is Jehovah.” It wasn’t exactly what she wanted (though quite close), but she knew she wanted our baby to be faithful to the Lord until the end. Both of them wanted that. She thought the meaning was OK, but she wondered if there might be a name that would fit her desires even better. She just entrusted it to the Lord and knew He would answer somehow.

Then, Troy said he likes it but that the Russian form in English would look like a feminine name with the ‘a’ ending. “Ilya” wouldn’t look like a name for a boy.

They considered other names, like Lemuel, because it had a good meaning. But Troy didn’t like the name, though it occurs in Proverbs and though it means “faithful” or “dedicated.” It’s not a very common name. Oksana didn’t want to push Troy to like this name.

Then, one time Oksana mentioned they could change Ilya to Ilyas, as they do in Turkmenistan and other countries in that part of the world. Troy thought the form “Ilyas” looks funny. The language we are helping in Eurasia has the form “Eliya.” Troy’s mom also suggested that form based on someone at our former church in South Carolina,” but Troy and Oksana didn’t like that form. In January, they talked to their friends in Eurasia and asked for their ideas, but they still couldn’t come to a conclusion.

Well, one day they were on the plane from Eurasia to Ukraine in early February, and out of the blue, Troy told Oksana that they needed to come to a conclusion very soon. He mentioned that they were on their way to Ukraine, and they would see family and friends, who would ask them what their boy’s name would be. So, they were trying to come to a conclusion on the plane. Oksana said, “Well, I told you the name I like, but I don’t want to pressure you to like it.”

It just so happened that a lady from Israel was sitting next to Troy, and she heard them discussing the matter. She was around 51, but she had twins at the age of 48—her first kids. She was a pharmacist at the time, but formerly she was an ob-gyn doctor, who had delivered many babies. She mentioned that the parents would sometimes ask her to be part of choosing a name.

She said she overheard them talking about choosing a name, so they told her what they were considering. She said that in Israel the form is “Eliyas.” It was similar to what is in Eurasian countries, but with an ‘E’ at the beginning, not an ‘I.’ And the pronunciation put the stress on the first syllable. Oksana wouldn’t like it on the second syllable, because then that would sound too much like “Eli,” the priest in 1 Samuel who didn’t raises his sons well. Oksana didn’t want anything close to his name.

Oksana said she liked Eliyas, and Troy agreed that it was a nice-sounding form of the name. Plus, he thought the form in English would look nice.

Then, Oksana said she really wanted the middle name to be “Joseph,” because she really likes that character in the Bible. Troy also really likes him. Both admire him for how faithful he was to the Lord. That’s exactly what they want for their son.

But, as they were considering the form “Eliyas,” they wondered if it would sound better with the stress on the first syllable or the second. So, when they were in Ukraine, they asked a few people how they would say “Eliyas.” They got two people to say they like the accent on the first syllable. As they would say the name themselves, they tended to put the accent on the first syllable too.

So, it was finally decided—Eliyas Joseph—with the stress on EL!

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It happened again. I was heading into another translation checking workshop, and I wondered how I would manage all the different things converging at the same time. Not only did I need to prepare for the Haitian Creole workshop, but I also needed to get ready to welcome two summer interns during the first week of the workshop, while also trying to be ready for whenever our son would decide to come into the world. (Not to mention the many emails and meetings I have to deal with on a regular basis)

I thought I needed to have both 1 and 2 Kings ready for the workshop, since that’s what the translator had submitted. Considering the amount of material we’ve covered in past workshops, I anticipated we could cover both books.

My prayer was that our son would come before the workshop started so that I wouldn’t miss any days of the workshop. It’s expensive to fly the translator to the office, so I didn’t want to lose a single day. My thinking was that if he were born on his due day (May 11), I would have a few days to get adjusted to welcoming him into this world and into our home before starting the workshop on May 15. God clearly had another plan, and as it always turns out, His plan was better than mine.

God delayed Eliyas’ birth until Friday, May 19. By that Wednesday evening I had prepared enough material to check through 2 Kings 8 in the workshop. Because I invited another consultant to join us in the workshop so she could do the next workshop in Haiti (I actually hoped she would take this May workshop, but she couldn’t, but wanted to just observe, resulting in my having to prepare an English interlinear for 8 chapters of 1 Kings–i.e., more work for me rather than less work!). I had prepared 6 chapters by that Wednesday night.

Then, Thursday afternoon came around. At 4 pm my wife called saying she felt the contractions coming on. So, I had to cut out of the workshop 30 minutes early. About 28 hours later, our son would be born. So, I lost that full day of the workshop. We were in the hospital until Sunday afternoon, so I was occupied for two weekend days, but no more workshop time was lost. I had to prepare two more chapters for an English interlinear, so I spent an hour doing that in the workshop.

I got back into the workshop on Monday, and we picked up where we left off. We had various other distractions along the way, slowing down our progress. In the end, we finished up to and including 2 Kings 6, which meant that I didn’t actually have to do any more prep work after the previous Wednesday night. God gave me just enough time to do all the preparation work needed for the workshop (except the 1 hour of work in the hospital), and He arranged it such that we basically lost only 1 day of the workshop because of my son’s birth. Plus, because of that, I could focus on helping my wife at home in the evenings during the second week of the workshop, instead of having to prepare more material, as I normally always have to do during a workshop. In fact, if I calculate the number of days we actually spent on 1-2 Kings (7.5 days), I find that we were as productive in this past workshop as any in the past.

I will add that I couldn’t have gotten back into the workshop very easily if it hadn’t been for the sacrificial help of my mom. She stayed all day every day with my mom while I was at the office, and then she stayed until late in the evening while Oksana and I did other tasks. So, I thank God for leading my mom to live close to us so that she could help us bear our burdens!

I also hoped Eliyas would come early in May, because we needed time for him to get into a good pattern before leaving for Quebec in mid-June. Well, God worked that out too. The pastors were very gracious to move the meetings back, giving us an extra week before we have to leave.

It never ceases to amaze me how God orchestrates His plan in my life such that everything works out well for a workshop. Why don’t I learn this lesson and stop getting stressed out about how it’s all going to work out? Maybe I’ll be less stressed out the next time? No, there will be completely different circumstances, causing me to wonder again how it’s all going to come together. If only I could trust God more, work within the time slots God gives, and leave the rest with Him!

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Eliyas is born!

Eliyas was due on May 11 (Thursday), so Oksana and I were busily preparing for his arrival on that date, knowing that it would be likely that he would be late. It was such a joy to prepare for his arrival. Since we had an actual date to aim for, the excitement really built as the day drew closer. My wife exercised with me until just a week before her due date, and then when I went by myself, I would take my phone everywhere I went in the fitness center. I was in a state of readiness, just as we should be for the Lord’s coming.

The date finally came, but Eliyas wasn’t ready yet to meet the world. It was a little disappointing, but we were expecting that he would go past the due date. During those few days just after the due date, my state of readiness weakened, as I thought maybe he would go many days past the due date. I still went and exercised but didn’t carry my phone to every weight station, as I did before May 11. That lasted for just a few days, but I thought how much my state of mind changed when I no longer had a specific date to keep in mind. Though I knew he could come at any moment, I was no longer in a state of expectancy. How often I’m like that as I wait for the Lord’s coming. Since He hasn’t given us a specific date, I can get lax about preparing for His arrival.

But once we rounded the corner into the new week, I began to get back into a state of readiness again. I had to start leading a translation checking workshop of the Haitian Creole OT that Monday, but I had my phone always close by to listen for Oksana’s call  to get home (it would take me 20-25 minutes). I remember driving to work that Monday morning and calling Oksana to set up an emergency plan in case her water broke (it would have increased the possibility of an infection being passed to the baby).

But then the hours and days started passing. I got a few calls from Oksana and wondered if it was “the call.” Then finally, the call came at around 4 pm on Thursday, May 18. Oksana had been experiencing contractions since around 6 am that morning, but hadn’t told me because she didn’t know if it was “the real thing.” But by mid-afternoon, she began to think it was the beginning of labor. I raced home (driving just a little over the speed limit) so I could help my wife, mainly by timing the contractions but also by getting the bags fully packed and into the car.

We were surprised that the contractions were so irregular, not necessarily increasing on a progressive scale. Sometimes they would be 10 minutes apart, and sometimes only 5. They would be as much as 1.5 minutes long then as short as 30 seconds. We were told to go according to the 5-1-1 Rule (no more than 5 minutes apart, 1 minute long, and for one whole hour). Oksana struggled to find a comfortable position as the evening wore on. By 10:40 pm, I saw the contractions getting close to the 5-1-1 rule. The average was that, anyway. So, at around midnight, I called the hospital to make sure they thought we should head down, and they did! We arrived at 12:15 am (and were hoping the arrival on a new day would save us some money!).

We checked into triage first, as they verified that Oksana was ready to go to a delivery room and as they prepared the room (the hospital was quite busy with deliveries last weekend). After around an hour, we were transferred to the delivery room. Oksana’s contractions continued to go around 5 minutes apart, but sometimes the interval was larger. The pain became quite intense for Oksana. She and I hoped that she could go “all natural”–without any medications. But it soon became apparent that she needed help. She tried one medication, but that didn’t seem to help at all. By around 8 am, she and I clearly felt the Lord wanted her to get the epidural. The pain was just too intense at that point, and we knew there was even stronger pain to follow.

The epidural definitely helped Oksana feel more comfortable. In fact, she finally got to get some much needed rest. She wasn’t able to get deep sleep, though. I guess her body was in too much of a state of readiness to deliver that she couldn’t fall asleep, though she hadn’t slept all night. I got a little more sleep too (I had slept some earlier, but mostly I was helping Oksana with pain management throughout the night).

I will add that it was a cool “extra” when we learned that the anesthesiologist was from Russia. Oksana enjoyed speaking Russian with her and getting directions in her heart language.

Oksana’s doctor arrived sometime around 8 or so, and that was a great blessing to Oksana and me. She’s a very personable, kind-hearted, knowledgeable lady, and she is able to help Oksana through all the questions that come up. She coached Oksana to get some sleep in preparation for the pushing later that day.

Oksana began pushing around 2 pm. By this time, the epidural was working quite well, so Oksana was no longer in major pain. The doctor and the nurse were quite good in coaching her through, and I also helped by encouraging her and holding one of her legs. I always wondered if the actual delivery process would be so traumatic to me that I wouldn’t be able to stand it (or stay standing during it!). Instead, I was so thankful I could be there for my wife to offer some help.

Eliyas didn’t come out with loud cries, but clearly the event was the most traumatic of his life! 🙂 He was immediately placed upon Oksana’s chest to begin bonding with her. Then after about an hour, I got to hold him and put him on the scale to be weighed and then have his lengthen measured. It was such a joy to hold my son for the first time–the first human being in this world that I could actually call “my son.” What a glorious experience!

Oksana thought she was carrying quite a large baby since her belly felt so heavy, but we all tried to assure her that she was probably carrying a normal-sized baby. Well, we were wrong, and she was right! Eliyas weighed 8 lbs and 15 oz, and was 22 inches long. The doctor thought she saw dark hair when he still inside Oksana, but it became clear after his birth that he was a blonde haired, blue eyed baby.

Though I find experiencing something new for the first time quite enjoyable, there’s nothing like the newness of fatherhood. I’ve really enjoyed holding him, burping him, calming him down when he cries, etc. I love hearing his little cries, his whimpering, his mouth sounds, etc. It’s also been so much fun to watch Oksana say sweet things to him in Russian (flowing from her heart). I also loved seeing my mom’s reaction when she came in to meet him for the first time (one of the most energetic hugs I’ve ever received!) and seeing him again and again. We’re all loving to having little Eliyas in our lives!

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Each new experience in life gives us another opportunity to learn more about our Lord’s precious ways toward believers. Oksana and I are gaining insight into some of the aspects of the Lord’s imminent coming. Of course, we are clearly experiencing the “any moment” nature of His coming, as we see Oksana’s belly getting bigger and bigger (sorry, no pictures!), and as she gets more and more uncomfortable (though in general, she’s doing quite well by the Lord’s strength).

We are also trying to predict when our son will come, as we see the “signs” of his coming, just as we do in relation to the Lord’s coming. Jesus’ return is predicted by sure promises. For our son’s coming, we have no promises. We do have anecdotes from others, though. They are all just theories, but it’s interesting that people tell us things as if they are gospel fact.

Boys are always late; girls are always early.

When your belly drops such that you can put four fingers above the belly and below the bra line, you are ready to deliver.

If you start experiencing nesting instincts and do nesting things at odd hours of the night, you are close.

If you experience certain pains (which they like describing to Oksana), you are on the verge.

Of course, some of these things may actually be quite common among expectant mothers (especially #3), but one key thing I am learning about a coming delivery–every women has her unique story to tell. Three women experiencing the same thing doesn’t make it fact; it’s still just anecdotes that can lead to a theory, but not a fact. Here’s my theory that I almost believe as fact:

First-born sons look more like their mom; first-born daughters look more like their dad.

No, I haven’t done a scientific study of this theory, but I choose to accept it as almost fact, because I’ve seen it come true in at least three families (ha!). Actually, I’ve seen it in many more families, but I’m still trying to keep it just as a theory. However, I’m expecting our son to look like Oksana (God would be merciful to us if He granted that!).

We’ve had fun preparing our son’s room for him. Here’s a picture of his room before we began much work or bought anything (sorry, I said the next pictures on my blog would be of our son, but he’s delaying and I gotta post something):

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This room actually used to be my office, but I and some friends helped me move everything to the basement. Though it may sound bad to be at the end of the basement, I’m actually liking my new location. My wife and I think it really improved the look of the basement to have my office down there.

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And here’s what our son’s room now looks like (still a few things left to do):

So, we are ready for him to arrive…any moment now! As I have been thinking about our joy in preparing a place for our son, I reflect upon the Lord’s joy in preparing a place for us. Think of Him busily working away to prepare our heavenly dwelling place.

John 14:1 “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.
2 “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.
3 “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.
4 “And you know the way where I am going.” (NAU)

The Lord’s words in John 14 are intended to assure our hearts that He will come back and take us to His glory–because He’s prepared a place for us. He will certainly come for us who believe! Oh, Lord, come quickly!

The truth is that we have no promise that our son will actually arrive. To be honest, our hearts have been a little anxious when we couldn’t feel our son moving in Oksana’s belly for an extended period of time (and then we breathe a thankful prayer to God when he starts moving again!). We don’t know if God will actually allow us to hold our son (our first child died in the womb), but we have confidence that He has only good purposes for all He does in our lives. This is what He has promised, and it’s what we are clinging to.

For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. (Jer 29:11 NAU)

We cling to that, and we also grasp hold of God’s good character and His power to bring life into this world. He certainly has the power to give us a healthy child, and so we are praying earnestly that God would do that…and that He would do it soon!

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If you are planning on a C-section, you can plan a baby’s birth, and you can pray for guidance on when it should happen. But if you are hoping to have the baby naturally, as Oksana wants to do (and I want that too!), then you can’t really plan when that can happen. But we can definitely pray that God would cause it to happen at just the right time. Of course, His sovereign purposes in our lives are mysterious to us, and He knows when the best timing is, but that doesn’t mean we can’t offer up our requests and desires to Him. I’m praying for our baby boy to arrive on May 11 or a little sooner.

Why? Because I have to lead a translation checking workshop on the Haitian Creole OT on May 15 for two weeks (at the BI office). I’ve tried to find a way to lighten my load in May, but I wasn’t successful. How will I be able to lead the workshop if our son is born during the workshop? Only God knows! But I’m praying for him to come before May 15.

Why else? Well, we are scheduled to leave for Quebec on June 16 (or June 15), and we want our boy and my wife to get into a good routine before we have to hit the road visiting churches. I’ve heard that takes 4-6 weeks, so the sooner our boy comes the better!

Oksana’s doctor explained yesterday that it’s when the baby’s lungs are fully developed and ready to breathe on their own that the baby is ready to come out. Somehow, his lungs will let my wife’s body know that he wants to get out and meet the world. Pray that his body would develop well and that his lungs will trigger this wonderful (but extremely painful) process of delivery…before May 15.

Lord willing, the next picture you’ll see on my blog will include a healthy baby boy, born at St. Mary’s hospital in Grand Rapids, MI, in early May! 🙂

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On Saturday some of my friends and I moved all of my office items from the upstairs bedroom near the master bedroom to the far end of the basement. We figured that upstairs bedroom would work best for our son’s room. We also decided the far end of the basement is a good spot for my home office, since it meant we didn’t lose a guest bedroom. I’m not as excited about having to walk further to get to my office–not to mention having to use the stairs too!–but I think I like the new set-up. The new office is set up such that everything is within close reach, and my drawing table is not far away anymore. It’s in the same room as my desk now, along with my two guitars.

I’m thankful that my former office’s room’s walls were blue, because that meant I didn’t have to paint them a different color for our baby. I was definitely rejoicing in that small blessing when we found out we are having a boy! But other than having the room cleared (with a crib and a rocking chair currently in there) and the walls being blue, I feel like Oksana and I are walking into completely unknown territory. We have so many questions about the future. Here are some of Oksana’s questions:

  1. How can my stomach get any bigger? (she’s due on May 11)
  2. Will I truly love this child as I should? (she used to long to have children, but those desires cooled down some in later years)
  3. Will this child keep me from traveling and ministering for BI? (she doesn’t want to stop at all)
  4. Is it more economical to use cloth diapers?
  5. Will I survive the delivery?
  6. Can I teach him Ukrainian and Russian?

She has more, but these are the only ones I can think of right now. Here are some of my questions:

  1. Will I be able to tear myself away from playing with my son in the evenings so that I can get other work done?
  2. Will I get any reading done in the evenings? Still be able to workout at the fitness center?
  3. Will my child understand my English? Will I learn Russian with him?
  4. What will we do about his schooling?
  5. Will people have a hard time spelling his name?
  6. Will he keep my wife from getting anything else done at home? (she has many tasks to do for BMM and BI)
  7. Will we have strength as we age to play with him? (we aren’t exactly 20-year-olds having kids!)
  8. How much extra stuff will we have to carry around with us when we visit churches? When we go overseas?

Of course, the biggest questions are: will we be able to raise him to love the Lord with all his heart, mind, and soul? Will he embrace Christ as strongly as we would desire him to do?

Right now, we have more questions than answers, but our trust is not in ourselves, but in the Lord. And we have many examples around us of new parents who survived the transition into parenthood and successfully raised their children for the Lord. They encourage us to keep pressing forward to that inevitable due date of May 11.

On another note, we look forward to visiting churches in the coming weeks. We’ll be at a missions conference at Waterman Baptist Church in Kingman, IN, this week. And then next week we’ll join Bible Baptist Church in Wakarusa for their missions emphasis month. Then we head to Peoples Baptist Church in Frederick, MD, for their missions emphasis weekend. It’s going to be a blessed and busy two weeks!

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