Monthly Archives: January 2015

Benaiah Jude

I decided to write an entirely separate blog about the birth of Benaiah because I know that it won’t be relevant to many but will be extraordinary to others.

Benaiah (Ben-eye-uh) Jude Cameron, was born on December 11th at 1:29 pm. He weighed 8lbs. 1oz at birth and was 20.5 inches long. He was born 3 hours after our arrival at the hospital. His name comes from 2 Samuel 23:20. Benaiah was a valiant warrior, the head of David’s body guards and was known for his courageous deeds.

December is a busy month for my family. My (Andi) birthday is the 14th, the birthday of my father-in-law is the 7th, the birth of my eldest brother is the 12th, my nephews birthday is the 17th, my grandmother-in-law has a Christmas eve birthday and our anniversary is on the same day as my younger brothers birthday, the 29th. When we learned the birth month of Benaiah we were eager to see if he would arrive on one of the few days between already claimed birthdays.

The night of Sunday the 7th, Bart, the kids and I decided to venture out into “la Fête des Lumières”, A Lyonnais light festival that brings the daily population of Lyon from 1.1 million to more than 3 million.  We decided that the once in a lifetime opportunity of attending the 3rd biggest light festival in Europe was worth the craze of the people. With Ziplocs full of popcorn we buttoned up our coats, donned our scarves and left, and when we returned home nearly 3 hours later my contractions started. I knew immediately that they were real contractions, and not Braxton-hicks because of the pain and the way they knocked the wind out of me. I was so excited! We called our friend to come and stay with the kids, and waited for the contractions to really pick up. They had been regular but not strong enough for more than an hour. We figured that because it was the middle of the night it would be better to have someone at the house and ready for when they got stronger and we had to leave. The next morning arrived, contractions continuing, but still not strong and we continued about our schedule, sending our friend home. We continued on like this until Tuesday morning, when we went ahead to the hospital, just to see if I (as every pregnant woman dreads) was completely crazy, or if I really was having contractions. They said that I was about 2 fingers dilated (We took this to mean 4 cm), but that the contractions weren’t strong enough or regular enough to admit me. So I went home and did what any normal woman would do. I walked the stairs. I took the stairs from our 5th floor (4th French floor) to the ground floor, and walked all 7 floors. I then, called the elevator and went to the bottom floor where I repeated this 4 times. Finally, after no progress, I went home and cried. It seems a little ridiculous, but I was so tired. I knew that these contractions were real. I knew that we had to plan a trip to acquire Benaiah’s passport which could take 4 weeks to arrive. I also knew that we had already purchased our tickets to America which we couldn’t use without Benaiah’s passport and that at some point we had to pack a house. I wasn’t worried about accomplishing the packing, because I am a bullheaded woman with a strong and equally as bullheaded husband. I wasn’t worried about the passport arriving in time because God has literally blown us away with His timing and providence. I was more just completely ready to meet this boy! I hadn’t rushed the pregnancy or wished away the weeks, so somehow I felt entitled that when these contractions started, I should somehow get a baby on MY timeline. Again, I was humbled. Wednesday night, after several days of contractions, I woke up with hard contractions. I wasn’t going to the hospital too early; not this time! Like I said, I am a little bullheaded.  I didn’t want to be stuck in a hospital or away from my family any longer than I had to be. I wanted to meet this child, but I knew it would break my heart to be sent home early again. That morning I slept in, and at 10:30 I awoke to a contraction that made me cry out…which isn’t how I respond to pain so I knew this was big! I sat up, my water broke, and the race was on. We called our friend back, she arrived, and we departed and rushed to the parking garage of Hospital Natecia. We immediately recognized the woman who came to the waiting room door to accept our dossier (again). She smiled and said she would be right with us, and a few minutes later a lovely, young, curly haired brunette came to bring me to a checking room. They said I was 6 cm dilated and that they were going to monitor me before moving me to a birthing room. Of course, all of this is said in French.

I should pause here. There are some things you should know to catch you up to speed.

Bart and I have spent the last 6 months jumping through about 150 legal hoops attempting to get financial aid from France. France has the world’s best healthcare, and at the suggestion of several friends, if we could receive this certain type of aid, our lives would be significantly easier. We didn’t realize the extensive paperwork, signatures, and such that would be required. Also, you should know that the monthly appointments we had were easily 3x less expensive than a doctor’s appointment in the States. This is also my first pregnancy that was completed with a doctor from start to finish. Lucas was born at a hospital with midwives after completing the beginning of the pregnancy in Mexico with an OB-Gyn. He was “supposed” to be born at a birthing center, but wouldn’t budge and so  41 hours after my water broke he was born at a compliant hospital. Hosanna was born at home in a birthing tub after a midwife led pregnancy. This entire pregnancy was, true to the pun, foreign to me. The price of the entire hospital birth in France was equal to that of about three hundred Euros more expensive than our monthly rent here, but only if we were on the French Aid system. If we weren’t on the system the birth would have been roughly five thousand Euros. Also, about a month before my due date we found out via “the fine print” on a form we were signing that we were supposed to have reserved a room in the hospital by the middle of the pregnancy. We had NO idea how to do this, and in the process of discovering how to do this, also discovered that somehow Bart had been accepted into the Financial Aid system, and the rest of us were stuck as “pending”. Could you possibly imagine the stress? Up to this point I had remained relatively calm, but I do believe I lost it at this point.

I was literally a week from giving birth and completely unsure about how much we were being charged, if I would be allowed to give birth at the private hospital, with the doctor I had come to know, or if I would even have a room. On Tuesday we were given the code to give to the hospital that showed that we had French aid, and that we would be charged the lower amount. We were assured that, no matter what, I would have a room at the hospital because my doctor was through the hospital.

Back to the story….

My water broke at 10:30 that morning, almost on the nose. Upon arrival in the birthing room I was given so much freedom. They had given me an IV line when I was told I was 6 cm, and that they would be admitting me, but nothing was ever hooked up to the line and so I was free to move about. I was allowed to walk around, they came to check on me every once in a while. At one point they came in and suggested that I decide how I want to birth my baby. My contractions were very regular and they said it could be anytime! They had a neat birthing swing, but with how quickly things were progressing I didn’t give it much thought, I climbed up into the bed. My music was playing and that gave me the peace of mind that I needed. Bart was by my side the entire time. I will say, going through an entire labor in French was a little confusing. I do believe that at one point I said “Do they want me to push? I want to push! Can I push??” and Bart, who was rushing from feet to head was translating and encouraging me every step of the way. When Bart caught Benaiah, he laid his beautiful little body on me, and then cut the cord. I held him and smiled. People think that I am crazy for not having pain meds (I did with Lucas), but to me, there is a glorious power and joy that comes with being entirely aware of every push, and entirely alert the first time I see my babies. The pain was still real when I looked in Benaiah Jude’s eyes and saw him staring back. Bart immediately came up to the head of the bed after cutting the cord and prayed for the new life in our family. When the big lights came back on in the room (They had turned them off to turn on the…ahem…spotlight) I looked into Benaiah’s eyes and new that his name wasn’t Benaiah Daniel, but Benaiah Jude (Son from God, and Praise). From the moment he was born, he was calm and at peace. 3 hours and 3 pushes for each baby that has joined our family. Benaiah also cried when he was born, which neither Lucas, nor Hosanna did. He immediately opened his eyes and looked into mine and I was in love.

After a couple of hours, a room opened up and we were taken to the part of the hospital I would stay at. I was given a delicious meal, and for the next 3 days I was given the ability to rest, and get to know my new little boy. The normal in France is to stay on for 4 days, but I was determined to head home and get adjusted to our new life. Bart stayed home with the kids and brought them to visit each day. They had the first night at a friends’ home but from then on were at home with Bart. A favored memory of the labor was after things had settled down in the delivery room. The doctor had chuckled when I first told him I wanted to have a natural birth “You’re going to cry” he said. My first inclination was to hit him in the head with my dossier, but after rethinking I just smiled and said “Ok”. This was a continued reaction. People, upon looking at my paperwork would be baffled and question me as to why I would have a natural birth. After Benaiah’s birth, I was telling the midwives “thank you”, because they truly were just incredibly sweet and encouraging throughout the entire thing. One of the midwives was chattering about me not having an epidural and said “Comment un chef!” or “Like a boss”. I think I will always remember that. She said that Benaiah and I were amazing.

Benaiah celebrated his 2 week Birthday on Christmas and his 3 week Birthday on New Years. He is loved tremendously, and even though we are all processing a million emotions, we are holding together really well. Lucas and Hosanna have been awesome. They have processed Christmas in a foreign country, gained a brother, endured repeated “transition discussions” about all of the upcoming changes, Lucas is preparing to go back to school and Hosanna is continuing to be an awesome big/little sister. Bart has been pulling super dad duty and allowing me to rest by spending gobs of time with Lucas and Hosanna as well as continuing to keep our house stocked with food and livable.

We thank you all for your prayers as we continue to figure out being a family of 5. We feel God’s presence with us always, especially in the hard moments when we are falling apart.

“3 turns and you’re there!” Lessons on trusting God

The New Year has arrived! We hope that it has greeted you warmly, aside from the weather. This year has brough new goals, new hopes, and new adventures. I think survival would be our biggest goal for the next transition.

There are many things that I struggle with in my life. Stubbornness is one of them. Yet, I wouldn’t say I “struggle” with stubbornness, but rather it is a gift that I am exceedingly good at. If you tell me I am incapable of completing a task, I will do it and probably be laughing the entire time. If I have a belief, or a passion it is nearly impossible to take it from me. I am very competitive, and this can be a weakness as well as strength. Of the many things I struggle with, one that is painstaking would definitely be navigation. To say that I am “directionally challenged” would be so kind, it would nearly be lying. I am so bad at directions that my dad used to have to tell me how to navigate the grocery store in order to buy eggs. This was mostly so that I could find my way back out of the store before the age of cell-phones.  When Bart and I first met, I once made a 2 hour trip to Terra Haute, Indiana into a 5 hour trip. The biggest change in my navigational abilities is my ability to keep calm now. If I were to get lost even 4 years ago, there would have been tears, panic, and near complete refusal to try again. The first time I attempted a trip to Rainbow Christian Camp, where my husband was raised, I tried patiently to explain that I never went anywhere alone, and that my sense of direction was that of a battery-operated helicopter with half the blade missing. He assured me over and over that he could get me safely from Richmond, Indiana to the small and beautiful farm town of Converse, Indiana.  “It’s only a 2 hour trip and I can get you here in 3 turns once you are on 27-Chester Blvd”. I was so full of doubt, but he kept assuring me “3 turns and you’re there!” It was the first of hundreds of times when my husband’s navigational abilities astounded me. I left with my Verizon flip phone in hand, and enough money in the bank for a tank of gas and some McDonald’s. 2 hours later I arrived safely to the parking lot of the conference center at Rainbow. That was more than likely my first successful trip more than 10 minutes away from home without making at least 1 wrong turn.

Looking back now, I can see a strong parallel from my story to the one God is writing with us now. I see Him beckoning us to take a risk, asking us to trust Him, and providing a way. The big difference is, I have never heard God say “3 turns and you’re there!” I have never heard Him give me a detailed route to where we are going. Bart and I have learned that we daily must submit our plans to Him. We now take joy in asking God to “go before us, make a clear path for us, and bless the way which you have called us”. Our life now is no exception. From the first week we arrived in France until this very moment we are constantly being taught to trust God. Here are some examples of how God has challenged us:

  •  When we arrived we were all very sick and had to find a French doctor (severe respiratory virus and Bart had shingles)
  • We began French school anyway, including sending Lucas to a French preschool
  • I struggled with every effort I made toward learning French
  •  both kids endured huge stress from culture shock including Lucas’ refusal to speak French
  •  We became pregnant
  •  The necessary change of plans for our departure to West Africa (delayed)
  • Bart spent more time in French government offices than either of us have ever spent in an American government office (in order to prepare for baby Benaiah’s arrival)
  • To receive financial aid (French Medicare) for the baby’s birth, Bart and our forwarding agent were scanning, emailing, mailing, and praying over our government papers (such as birth certificates, passports, marriage license etc.) that they would be recognized by the French government.
  • We were informed that it would not be possible to continue our current timeline to West Africa, and thus we began praying, readjusting, re-planning, rehoping, refiguring…and well…you get it.

 

What makes this whole process even more challenging is to do it in a way that helps our kids and our family not fall into survival mode, but do it all while trusting Jesus to provide the grace. We need all of the prayer we can get during this time, and we appreciate it greatly.

So what are our plans? For those of you who also read our newsletter, this will be covered there.

We have begun sorting, pitching, giving away and selling some of the things we have here. During a recent phone conversation someone said to me “Well you can’t possibly have gained THAT much stuff in a year! What is there to sort?”.  When we came to France, we had full expectation of leaving here directly for West Africa. Everything we have owned in 7 years is either with us, in about 8 Rubbermaid totes underneath my sister-in-laws house, or in West Africa in a giant container waiting for us. This includes many of our children’s toys. Thus, upon arrival, there were some definite necessities for a family of 4 that we had to purchase, as well as simply acquiring things that others have given to us.  A good friend complimented my packing a few weeks back, and it occurred to me how much we have mastered planning for packing. Almost all of our kids toys can collapse, fit into a small container, or lay completely flat. We learned to differentiate between a frivolous extra, what is necessary, and a necessary extra. During the last few weeks of pregnancy I began pre-packing. I knew that once Benaiah Jude arrived, it would be all I could do to help in the basics. I wrote out all that we own into lists and categorized them. Is it sellable? Is it staying in this apartment? Are we giving it away? Is it coming with us? This will be tremendously helpful. I also made freezer meals, and even organized the things in our cabinets in groups so that it would be easier to pack.

Our departure date is January 22. Our hearts are full of emotions. Our kids have expressed to us in many creative ways their emotions about the coming changes. We have tried to affirm them, and explained that all of what they are feeling is ok. We have all felt some fear, sadness, joy, and anticipation. We fly through London, and then change planes before flying to Chicago. The trip should take 14 hours. Lucas and Hosanna are very excited to fly. We are sure there are reasons we SHOULD be stressed about taking a 14 hour trip with 3 young kids, yet we know that God has gone before us every other time, and does not fall short of our needs. The first week back will be spent resting and organizing our stuff!

Our first 8 weeks are packed full of visits with churches and individuals. We also have some much needed transition time planned. We encourage you to check out your weekly bulletin and see if we are coming soon! If not, give us a call or an email and we will get in touch with you! We are making plans that involve spending more time in Knoxville at Johnson University. Bart will be finishing his Master’s during our time stateside, and I will be (ideally) finishing my Bachelor’s. We will both be pursuing methods of French study, including the possibility of taking courses through Alliance Française and French courses through Johnson.

Our friends, we are so very eager to see you all again. God has given us peace in this time of change, and again, we covet your prayers. Our two biggest needs right now are prayer and patience. The first weeks we are home will be packed with emotion. There will be many tears as we readjust and we encourage you to ask us questions, and give us time to answer them honestly. You don’t have to fix how we feel, we are very excited to have someone to share our stories and experiences with. We don’t expect you to understand all of them. Thank you for your willingness to let us be honest. Here are ways you can pray.

  • Pray for the people of West Africa, that God would speak to them through dreams and visions of His son Jesus. Also for the physical well-being of the people there.
  • Pray that God’s steadfast love would guide us through the upcoming transitions and travel.
  • Pray that we would be able to say goodbye to all of those we love here.
  • Pray that we would be able to close all French accounts without problem.
  • Pray that we would stay healthy during all of the travelling 

If you would like to get connected with Bart and I during our time in America, please feel free to get in touch with us!

Bart@bartcameron.com

Andi@Bartcameron.com