Author Archives: walking2you

Living By Faith

     Tonight at church, our pastor, Jeremy Rands, closed the service by singing an old favorite,  “Living by Faith.” This was a pretty appropriate song to close this particular service, but it had a little extra significance to me this evening. The concept of living by faith has great meaning to me as a Christian. Faith is what makes me a Christian; it is why I am called a believer. The day will come when I will die in faith, and faith alone will carry me into Heaven. But that’s not living faith; that is dying faith. What does it mean to live by faith? God has been teaching Heather and I some lessons about it for the past several years.
     Preachers speak often about the need to “have faith in God,” and we should preach about it. After all, the Lord Jesus Christ delivered that message to His disciples 2,000 years ago, and it still is our great need today. Faith is one of those qualities that is hard to measure, but we all know we could use more of it. Or, maybe I should say, we need to build upon the faith we have. 2 Peter 1:5-8 states that God’s desire is to build our faith. Now, I have often thought that I am solely responsible for building my faith, but I have come to realize that there is mutual responsibility in accomplishing this feat. It’s me and God working together to bring it about, mostly by the situations He sets up and my response to them.
     This past week, a new God-given life situation landed in mine and Heather’s lap. After trying for over 6 years to have a child and almost one year of waiting for an adoption, we were told last Sunday, May 19th, that a couple chose us to be the parents of their child. I have had some awesome days in my life:  my wedding, college graduation, the day that Heather got the “all-clear” from her cancer doctor. These all are unforgettable hours of my life. And now I can add another moment to the list.
     All of those wonderful moments have something in common:  waiting. Some of the greatest gifts in life come with patience and preparation. That patience is something divinely-taught, and it takes much time. Our preparation is divinely-planned, and there are a number of exams along the way. Exercising faith to believe that God could give us a child was like going out on a limb. And, after waiting 7 years, the limb honestly was feeling shaky. But, I have seen first-hand multiple times in my life that the exercise of faith will lead to the realization of God’s blessing. God does not just honor faith; He rewards it. And, it appears again that He has done it again for me and Heather. All the glory belongs to Him!
     Heather and I will keep posting about our journey as it progresses. Please add a comment below about a time when you saw God clearly give you a desire of your heart.

-Brian

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Our "Child of Promise," Victoria Marie Allison

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The Big 3-0!!

I just celebrated a milestone birthday! Yep, I’m officially 30 years old! Okay, I have to be honest: I was kind of dreading this one, but it turned out to be an absolutely amazing celebration! I have to give a shout out to my husband for doing an awesome job of making my 30th birthday very special!

With my birthday being in the middle of the week, we decided to celebrate on the weekend. We started the day with a trip to Callaway Gardens. This is where we were engaged on my birthday nine years ago! The flowers were beautiful, the weather was perfect, and the chapel organ even serenaded us during our picnic lunch!

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On our way home from the Gardens, Brian suggested that we stop in at our favorite mexican restaurant for dinner. I’m always up for mexican, so I was super excited to end our perfect day with a cheesy chicken quesadilla! Unbeknownst to me, my husband was breathing a sigh of relief that I agreed to his plan because he had arranged a surprise for me and it was waiting at the restaurant.

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When I walked in, several of my friends and family were there to embarrass me…I mean… celebrate with me! 😉 It was so special…the perfect ending to a perfect day!

Brian is going to be such a fun Dad!

Brian is going to be such a fun Dad!

My friends will never know how much it comforts my heart to love on their little ones!

My friends will never know how much it comforts my heart to love on their little ones while I’m waiting for my little one!

 

Yes, I’m no longer in my twenties, and, at times, that might still bother me a little, but thirty is looking pretty good right now! Besides, I’ve heard it said “In the end it is not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years.” Thank you, Lord, for giving me more than just another year. Thank you for my abundant life!

Just Waiting…An Adoption Update

Over the past several months, we’ve been asked the question “So, how’s the adoption going?” more times than I can count. I love when people ask about the adoption, but I don’t always know what to say. My standard answer lately has been “We’re still just waiting.” I feel like I need to give more of an explanation, but I don’t really want to pour my heart and soul out to everyone who casually asks for an update. So, I want you to know what I really mean when I say that we’re just waiting.

Waiting is not a strength of mine. Patience is definitely not one of my virtues, but I’m trying to rise to James’ challenge to “let patience have her perfect work”. Because, I know that in all of this waiting, there is a work being done. It’s not something that we can see right now, but it will all be evident in God’s time. In the meantime, here’s what I’m really saying when I tell you that “We’re still just waiting”:

  • We are praying. This experience has driven us to pray more fervently than we ever have in our lives. I find myself praying randomly throughout the day for our little one – the one we have longed for and dreamed of for so many years now. But, we’ve also felt such a burden for the woman who will suffer such a great loss through our gain: our child’s Birthmother. We pray for her salvation, for her healing, for her peace. There is so much to pray for, so we feel that it is vital that we continue to pray fervently as God is working.
  • We are seeking. We need wisdom. There have been adoption opportunities that we’ve pursued and they fell through and others we have felt strongly about not pursuing. This has been so hard, and it’s going to get harder the longer we wait, so we are seeking for God’s guidance. Please pray that the Lord would continue to lead us in a plain path.
  • We are living. We don’t believe that God’s Will for our lives is somewhere in the future when we finally receive the desire of our hearts. We believe that God has something for us to do right now, so we are living in the present. Don’t get me wrong, I dream of the day when I can hold my sweet baby. I am beyond thrilled about what our future holds, but we don’t want to live so much in the future that we miss the blessings that God has for us right now.
  • We are hurting. There are days that we struggle with the wait, and that’s okay. There is nothing wrong with hurting as long as we take those struggles to the Lord. The adoption process has been an emotional rollercoaster. We’ve had some exciting days filled with hope and joy. And we’ve experienced some of the lowest points in our lives. But, through it all, we understand that God is using both the joy and the sorrow to mold us, to test us, to bring us closer to Himself. We know that He will make everything beautiful in His time.
  • We are hoping. We’ve been working on the nursery. This has been so much fun! Making this preparation makes us feel closer to our baby. We’ve had some people tell us that it’s probably not a good idea to start on the nursery this early in the process. That it could take up to two years to get a child, so it will be hard if it’s still sitting empty in a year. I understand what they’re saying, but we’re so full of hope. We can’t help but make preparations for what God is going to do. Please pray for us. It could be a long wait, but we don’t want to ever get to a place where we lose hope.
  • We are sharing. 2 Corinthians 1:4 “Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” The Lord has brought people into our lives who have been such a blessing to us. They’ve given us hope through their adoption stories. They’ve prayed with us and cried with us. They’ll never know how much God has used them in our lives. And I’m so thankful that we’ve had the opportunity to share the same comfort with others who are going through it with us right now. I know that I will love sharing our adoption story when it’s fully revealed, but we have a chapter to tell right now. It’s a chapter called “Just Waiting”, and it’s so much more than it seems.

Heather

Merry Christmas to All

Last night (Sunday night), Heather and I stopped at Piggly Wiggly to pick up a few supplies for a feast of hot chocolate and Christmas cookies. We already had the essentials; we just needed a little something extra to put it over the top. While we were at the store, we decided to pick up a few extra groceries to get us through until Christmas. It was December 22nd, and we were going to have a stocked refrigerator. Of course, I didn’t think twice about how to come up with the cash for this unforeseen expense. Of course, we wouldn’t blow the budget by buying a few groceries, but even cash flow wasn’t a concern. The bank account was sufficiently stocked with money to trade out a few groceries for it. As I re-seated my Mastercard in my leather wallet, I looked out the store’s front glass and kicked myself. I had forgotten my trenchcoat at church, and it was pouring buckets. I would have to leg out those fifty miserable, watery feet to the car. I had to run for my life, but I made it. Was there any doubt, after all? After picking my wife up from the door, we drove home.

It was perfect. A chilly December evening with hot chocolate at home – you couldn’t draw a more perfect Christmas card. We gathered all the goods and started the water boiling, and then it hit. The bottom fell out of the sky. You could hear the rain like you were outside standing in it. But, I was glad. A hard rain makes a more pleasant evening inside. So, I paused for a moment and thanked God above for the shelter that I call my home. I then had to remember to thank Him for the car that allowed me to dryly travel from church to store and store to home. And, of course, I had to thank Him for the funds to buy the hot chocolate that started our whole miniature adventure.

After I finished my milliseconds of praise, I listened to the rain one more time over the whistle of the tea kettle, and it made my heart hurt. Because while I was enjoying all of these blessings, there were so many who left out in the cold (and rain). You see, I have had the privilege to preach once a month at a local rescue mission, and I have shook the dirty hand of many a homeless gentlemen who was battling some addiction, bad decision, or other sin that led them under Dillingham Bridge. I guess this regular opportunity has made me a little more sensitive to the weather than I used to be. After all, a gentle rain to us in our cieled houses feels more like a monsoon to someone sleeping on a bench. I couldn’t help but think about those men, not much different than me, sleeping in mud while I sit on my leather couch. After all, what separates me from them, but God’s unbelievable grace? Were it not for God’s divine intrusions into my life, I might find myself on the other side of those monthly handshakes.

Now, I’m not one for self-loathing, but the fact remains that if you’re reading this blog, then you’ve got it pretty good, like me. So, can I offer up an idea that Heather and I tried to do this year? How about taking a little bit of your blessing and sharing it with someone that needs a blessing this Christmas? Find an addict or a needy child or a hungry family or a complete stranger and perform a random act of kindness on them. And say a prayer for those who keep refusing God’s gift of grace to them. If Jesus is the reason for the season, then let’s honor the reason that He came:  “to seek and to save that which was lost.” And, perhaps those little displays of grace can do something to help fulfill that old Christmas wish, “Merry Christmas to ALL.”

Brian

It’s Not About the Journey…It’s About the Experience!

“…and he delighteth in his way.” Psalm 37:23

Growing up, we did the same thing every summer for “vacation”: we drove to Michigan to see family. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my family. I have a lot of great memories from those summer visits, and I wouldn’t trade the time we spent with our Michigan family for any fancy vacation…BUT the drive…well, that’s a different story. Fact #1: We drove an old station wagon with NO A/C. Fact #2: We always took our trip at the HOTTEST part of the summer. Fact #3: I usually sat amidst the stuff crammed into the very back of the vehicle.

My Dad was the designated driver on these long, hot journeys, and let’s just say, he had one thing in mind: get there. There was no stopping at the tourist traps or the shopping malls along the way, and we had an allowance of potty breaks to be used wisely. I don’t fault him for this mindset. It’s just his personality, and I think I’ve picked some of that up myself.

For him, it was all about the destination. As long as we got to Grandma’s house by dinnertime, he felt that it was a good trip. The experience didn’t matter nearly as much to him as it did to the rest of us because he was so focused on his goal.

I, like my father, am a goal-setter. When Brian & I got married, I had already decided how our life would turn out: We would have four children (minimum). I was already working on the names. When Brian finished college, he would go to work full-time in a church somewhere for a while and then we’d start a church in Nebraska. I would homeschool, of course. And we’d stay there for the rest of our lives.

These were MY goals, but God had something completely different in mind for us: After almost eight years of marriage, we do not have any children. Brian finished college, but he has yet to work in full-time ministry. In 2008, I was diagnosed with cancer and went through six months of chemotherapy (I didn’t see that one coming!) Please know that I am not complaining about God’s choice for our path. I just want you to know where I am coming from when I talk about how I’m learning (trust me, it’s a work in progress) to delight in the way that God has established for us.

In studying these verses, I’ve seen differing opinions about WHO is doing the delighting here. One might say that it’s God Himself who delights in the way He has chosen for us. And while that is certainly true – He does delight when we follow His way – with the sentence structure the way it is, it seems more likely that the “he” here is referring to the good man – to the one on the journey. If you don’t agree, that’s okay. It is very possible that I’m wrong, but the principle is true, regardless: When we follow God’s way with the right spirit, we will delight in what He is doing in our lives.

In the Strong’s Concordance, “Delighteth” means: to be pleased with; to desire; to favor. What it basically boils down to is contentment. To want what God has given to you to the point of desiring it above anything else you could possibly have. OUCH!

Delighting doesn’t mean waking up every day with a smile on your face. It doesn’t mean that you’ll always feel happy about your situation. To delight in God’s way is to agree with God that it is the best way and to desire to follow the Lord no matter where He takes you.

Psalm 40:8 “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.”

So, I’ve learned that God’s purpose is ultimately not to bring me to a baby or to a full-time ministry. God’s goal is to bring me to Himself. Every burden that He gives me is not meant to be carried but brought to Him. All of this time that has been allotted as “waiting time” is not meant to be endured, it’s meant to be spent with Him. Every step that I take on this journey is not to be a hurried rush towards my goal. It’s to be a steady (and often slow) journey with my Friend.

“The hill was steep, but cheered along the way by converse sweet,

I mounted on the thought that so it might be til the height was reached;

But suddenly a narrow winding path appeared,

 and then the Master said, ‘My child, here thou wilt safest walk with me alone.’

 

I trembled, yet my heart’s deep trust replied, ‘So be it, Lord.’

 He took my feeble hand in His, accepting thus my will

to yield Him all, and to find all in Him.

One long, dark moment,

And no friend I saw, save Jesus only.

 

But oh! so tenderly He led me on and up, and spoke to me such words of cheer,

Such secret whisperings of His wondrous love,

that soon I told Him all my grief and fear, and leaned on His strong arm confidingly.

And then I found my footsteps quickened, and light ineffable,

the rugged way Illumined, such light as only can be seen

In close companionship with God.

 

A little while, and we shall meet again the loved and lost;

but in the rapturous joy of greetings, such as here we cannot know,

And happy song, and heavenly embraces,

and tender recollections rushing back of pilgrim life,

methinks one memory more dear and sacred than the rest, shall rise.

 

And we who gather in the golden streets,

Shall oft be stirred to speak with grateful love

Of that dark day when Jesus bade us climb

Some narrow steep, leaning on Him alone.”

Planning for the First Step

For those married folks out there, do you remember what it was like preparing for your marriage? You and your spouse-to-be planned for everything, right? What your dream house was going to look like, what motif your kitchen would have, how many kids you two would have, when you would start having them – all that kind of stuff was planned out long before the marriage vows were even exchanged.

     It was the same way with us, too. Heather and I thought of every possible scenario of life that would call for our forethought. Before we got married, we knew that the kitchen was going to be decorated with cherries, we wanted four kids, and we would wait one year (TO THE DAY!) to start enlarging our family. But there was one very important thing that we had not planned out completely:  a way to make a living.

     That’s right, when I promised to love, honor, and provide for Heather, I meant every word of it, but the truth was, I had no idea how to really do any of it, especially the part about providing for her needs. Don’t misunderstand, I knew how to work hard. Manual labor or desk work, it didn’t matter to me. If it paid the bills, I was up for it. But, when we got married, neither Heather nor I had any means of income. When we said “I do,” we had no idea what we would actually do. Imagine my poor father-in-law, watching his beautiful (wait, gorgeous) daughter give her life over to an unemployed schlub, knowing that she was also without gainful employment. What was he thinking, anyway?

     Who does that? Who gets married without knowing how to pay for all of that stuff you’ve planned for? Seems a little irresponsible, doesn’t it? Looking back on it now, it actually seems a little crazy, foolhardy at best. But, then I remember why we did it. You see, after we got married, Heather and I moved to Knoxville, TN, so that I could finish my last two years of Bible college. I didn’t know why, but I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that it was God’s will for me to receive my bachelor’s degree at Crown College of the Bible. That life decision would require us to leave good jobs that could have easily turned into lucrative careers, had we stayed in our hometown. But, instead, we decided to follow God’s leading. So, we put in job applications in the Knoxville area, but nothing panned out, nothing.

     When we moved to Knoxville, all we possessed financially was a little under $1,000 and a bucketload of faith in God. But, little did we know how many dollars that faith would add up to. Our first year of marriage was awesome! We had food, the bills stayed paid (including college), we went out on dates; I mean, we had a blast! And, oh yeah, we did eventually find work. But, in all honesty, the money we were bringing in did not add up to how much we were paying out. Simply put, we were running on a deficit. But, that’s where the blessing of faith comes in. We had faith in God that He would provide for us, as long as we followed His will. We fulfilled our end of the bargain, and God did more than keep up his end. Every need we had was supplied, sometimes in amazing ways. Just like the widow of Zarephath, the barrel of oil and bag of flour always had just enough left right at the time that we needed it. Ever since then, we have tried to live our lives in a way that captures that same kind of faith in God’s ability to provide for us, and I can sincerely say that we have never lacked in one area of financial need.

     It’s funny to note, by the way, that most of those big plans that we made before we got married changed considerably. That’s right, we don’t have cherry stuff in our kitchen any more. But, I hope that we will continue to trust in God’s provision in our lives, because I know for a fact that His designs are so much greater than anything we could plan on. How about you? When is the last time that you forced God to take care of you because of your faith?

Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”

Brian

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord”

I don’t remember my first steps, and since I don’t have children of my own yet, I haven’t had the privilege of teaching a child to walk. But I know that this “big step” in life is a momentous occasion. I imagine that this one small step for man can really feel like a giant leap in that moment.

Imagine with me: I’m learning to stand. This requires a strength that I don’t have. I cling to something solid – maybe it’s a coffee table or a chair. I hold on with all my strength to something that I know can hold me up. Those first few attempts are hard. I can’t stand for long. My legs are wobbly, and time and time again, I fall. But I don’t give up. I was made to stand. I keep trying, and with that practice, I gain the strength to stand for longer periods of time.

But what good does it do me to just stand for the rest of my life? I feel an urge to go somewhere, but I haven’t gained my balance yet. That’s when my father takes me by the hand and doesn’t let go. He holds me up while I take those first steps of freedom. I’m walking places I’ve never walked before, and it feels good. I’m not too afraid because I know that he won’t let me go.

I’m getting stronger, but I’m still holding on. I haven’t felt ready to let go yet. Letting go is scary. It’s uncertain, and it can be painful. But my father is coaxing me to try: “Walk to me.” He’s right there in front of me. Do I trust him? He doesn’t let go until he knows that I’m ready. With tender care, he releases my grip from his fingers and holds out his arms. He’s only a few steps away, but in that moment, it feels like a million miles.

I reach out to him in desperation and carefully lift my foot…one step closer to him. We’ve practiced this…another step. He feels so far away. Is this what it means to trust? A third step…I don’t know if I can go any further. “Come to me. Come to Daddy.” I want to be with him. I always feel safer in his arms, but it’s taking so long to get there on these unstable legs. I don’t know if I have the strength to make it, but I’m going to keep trying.

Do you see it? Do you get the picture? “The steps” referenced in Psalm 37 are baby steps. They’re steps of faith. These steps are laborious, slow, and scary at times; but we are called to walk them. Our Father is urging us forward – calling us to “press towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus”. He’s there right in front of us beckoning us forward: “Come to Me.”

Many times, He feels so far away, and we don’t understand why we can’t just be held safely in His arms.  But the truth is: He’s never too far away to catch us if we fall – as we surely will. It’s a struggle, but it is a growing process. We’re alive in Christ. We’ve been born into His family, but we are made for a greater purpose than just to be a safe, sheltered child of God. We were meant to move forward in faith – to walk the path that He has prepared for us.

We’ve practiced this. In those first days as a believer, He helped us to stand – strengthening our spiritual legs until we could stand upon the truth of His Word. We learned that the only anchor for our soul – the only Rock that we could cling to was the hope found in Christ. All other ground is sinking sand.

In this trial and error of learning to stand, we quickly learned what we could rely upon – what would hold us up. We may have tried to lean on something that we thought was solid only to find that it was not sufficient to meet our needs. We desperately clung to friends, to family, to our jobs, to our finances all in an effort to gain our footing. We placed our full reliance upon them, but they were not made to support the weight of the burden that we carried. We needed something made to withstand the storms of life that constantly try to knock us off our feet.

Psalm 40:2 – “He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.”

We’re growing, and now it’s time to step out in faith. He’s still waiting. It’s a life-long journey, and each day walked in faith is another step closer to Him. He’s calling me to Himself. I struggle for balance as I lift my foot one step closer to Him. He’s proven that He’s faithful…another step. Is this what it means to trust? I don’t know if I have the strength to make it, but I’m going to keep trying.

Lord, I’m walking to You!

Heather