Tuesday, June 4, 2013

It's a God Thing

I consider myself a very blessed individual. I have had the good fortune of growing up in a loving family, always being fed with a roof over my head. I went to college, got married, own a house, and have the world's cutest baby. Looking back at the process of getting here, I now see exactly what God has done for me. He has provided me with more than I could have ever dreamed. Most importantly, He has given me people to help pave the way down the path He has laid out for me. 

High School: When I was a senior in high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do next. I knew I wanted to go to college but that was about it. I decided to try chorus for the first time because I wanted an extra class with one of my best friends. God gave me James Williams. I was scared to death to walk in and audition for Mr. Williams. I was desperately praying he wouldn't even be in the room and I would just give up on joining chorus. However, that is not what God had in mind. I auditioned for Mr. Williams and started chorus. He pushed me very hard that year- he started me in the freshman girls chorus and made me work to be in one of the upper level choirs before I graduated. He believed in me and encouraged me to keep going.

Then, God gave me Jennifer (Babel) Stepp. Jennifer visited our chorus class and told us about Piedmont College. For the first time, I had a gut feeling I needed to go visit Piedmont. Jennifer opened her dorm to me and led me around campus. She made me feel apart of something special. For the first time, I got the idea that I could make it on my own because people like her would be around to walk down this path with.  

College: Cue Dr. Wally Hinson's entrance into my life- my next God given gift. I will never understand what Wally saw in me when I auditioned for Chamber Singers, but I thank God he thought I was capable to be apart of the Piedmont music department. Over the next three years, I worked hard to be in the top of my classes because I wanted to show Wally he didn't make a mistake with me. My Master's year, I earned a Graduate Assistant spot. I got to conduct the Piedmont Chorale- a very large community choir. When I was standing conducting them in the Annual Lessons and Carols Program, I had my first real gut check moment. It was the first time I felt like I was exactly on the path God intended me for. I was conducting and sharing music with many people. I was doing something I love while fostering the gift God gave me. 

On to the working world! I know that Melissa Grizzle and Kevin Bales were the next players in God's plan. They lead me to East Hall Middle School and gave me my first job. Jake and I reached a point near the end of my 1st year of teaching where we decided it was time to find a house. Talk about an exhausting and heart wrenching process. We quickly realized we were not in a great position to buy a house. We had no savings and what we could afford wasn't necessarily what we wanted. After feeling very low and worn out one morning, I had a gut check feeling that I needed to look up Hud Homes. Why? I don't know. I didn't even really remember if Hud was a real thing. Low and behold, there was our house. I called our realtor, Kim Craft, and asked to see it. The next day, we made an offer. I know without a doubt that God lead us to this home. 

Baby Times: The most trying four years of my life involve trying to have a baby. I experienced more emotions and doubt during this time then I care to remember. However, God was still walking the path next to me. He had a better plan for me than I thought possible. To be honest, I had almost given up that He even had a plan for me. Then, God gave me Dr. Bryant. Dr. Bryant diagnosed what was wrong with me, performed surgery on me, and delivered Anthony by c-section 11 months later. She is one of my favorite God gifts because without her, I wouldn't have my top God gift- Anthony. 

I write all of this to say that God has always had a plan for me. Even when I doubted Him most, when I felt lost and forgotten, God was there. During many of these experiences, I had no idea that God was at work. Looking back now, it is clear that He was there. I am learning daily to put all of my trust in God. If he has brought me all of these blessings and gifts, He certainly isn't done with me now. The key is to stop wanting things in MY time, but rather in God's time.

"Isn't it funny how something that will later be a blessing can be a curse if you get it too soon."
- T.D. Jakes



Friday, August 17, 2012

What a Difference a Year Makes!

A year ago today, I had out patient surgery to remove endometriosis and a cyst on one of my ovaries. Up to that point, the idea of having a baby officially felt like a distant dream. When I found Dr Bryant, I had no idea just how much she would change my life. She was the only person to pinpoint why I couldn't get pregnant. Finally, I had answers!! After surgery, Dr Bryant told my family that she removed all of the endometriosis but that I had one of the most severe cases she had ever seen. She felt hopeful I would get pregnant though. Right before starting a treatment option that would be a 6-7 month process, I found out I was pregnant. It still seems hard to believe how quickly everything happened after surgery.

I am so happy to say that a year later, my life is completely different.

I have 4 scars (my own battle wounds) that I wear proudly. Three are from my surgery which allowed me to get pregnant and one c-section scar which helped welcomed my sweet Anthony into this world. Although they are not pretty, they remind me of the road I traveled to become a mom. God gave me the gift of salvation and He has the scars to prove it. I wear my scars of life knowing they were part of His greater plan for my life.

Over the past year I have felt hopeless, stressed, overwhelmed, amazed, inadequate, undeserving of, and abundantly blessed. God is so good to me and my little family. I cannot believe I ever doubted His perfect plan for my life.

I love my life and my sweet Anthony. He is amazing and melts my heart everyday. The wait was so worth it.

Here's to another year of amazing changes- The journey that lies ahead of me. I can't wait for the first real laugh, rolling over, walking, talking... I can't wait to celebrate several weddings with friends. I am excited for my new and growing friendships. If the past year held Anthony for me, I look happily into this new year with him in my arms.

I challenge you each to evaluate what is important in your life. Love your friends and families and trust in the Lord. He always has a plan, and it is often far better than what we could ever fathom.

Monday, May 28, 2012

What's in a name?

Well, a lot actually. When I first found out I was pregnant, I was flooded with so many amazing emotions. One of the things I was most excited about was naming this new little person in my life. Little did I know how difficult it would be!

A lot goes into picking a name. First, Jake and I both had to decide that the name we chose would be perfect for OUR son. Now, anyone who has named a child knows that everyone wants to share their opinion about what you pick. They want to know all the names you are considering and they don't hesitate to share their real thoughts on what you are thinking. I remember suggesting a certain name and the person I was talking to wincing and saying, "Really? But I don't like it!" Well, sorry! (I would like to add that I have been guilty of this very thing in the past...)

Another big part of naming lil bit for me was the meaning behind the name. I knew immediately that I wanted him to have the middle name Joseph. That is my Dad's middle name and since he has had a profound influence on my life, what better name to pass on to my son. I hope he grows up feeling extremely special to share part of his name with his Grandpa: )

Last week, Jake decided that maybe lil bit was waiting to be born because he didn't have a name yet(wishful thinking). So, we agreed on Anthony Joseph Allison! I am so excited to have a name that we both love. For all the Catholics out there, we are familiar with St. Anthony- the patron saint of lost things. What I didn't know is that he is also the patron saint of miracles. How fitting for my sweet little miracle. When I felt lost and hopeless, doubting God's ultimate plan for my life, he gave me a precious son. What better way to rejoice in God's glory than to name my son something that will constantly remind me of my blessings and his mercy? Here is hoping I get to meet my Anthony very soon.

Anthony- after St. Anthony, the patron saint of miracles
Joseph- meaning God will add; named after my Dad


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Thank You!!!

Over the past two months, I have had a total of 5 baby showers (community choir, work, Jake's work, friends, and family). To be honest, I had no idea I even knew enough people to come to 5 showers! Now that they are all done, I am left feeling overwhelmed (in a good way) and extremely blessed! I know that the support that Jake and I have had over these past 9 months is very rare. We haven't had to really buy anything ourselves for this little man that is about to enter into our family. I also know that many people go through their pregnancy alone, confused and wondering how they will manage to raise their child. I still worry how I will be as a mom, but I also know that I am surrounded by many people who will be there to help.

So, after writing a total of 74 thank you notes, I want to again say "Thank You" to everyone who has made this time so special for Jake and for me. I still remember that feeling of helplessness when waiting to discover if I would ever get to be a mom. I remember doubting God's plan for my life (funny how foolish I feel now for that) and hurting every time I got to see someone else welcome a new baby into their family. God's timing is perfect. He has set out an amazing plan for me and blessed me beyond what I deserve. I just got to celebrate 4 amazing years of being married to my best friend, I get to celebrate Jake's 31st birthday this Sunday, we are going to have a sweet son in our arms in a matter of weeks, and the list goes on.

I hope you all know that every time I stand and look into our son's room, I see the love and support of the many people that love my family. Thank you for standing beside me through the tough times (the waiting and surgery) and through this new celebration of life! I cannot wait for everyone to meet the newest Allison.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Music: )

I have been very fortunate to grow up with a supportive family. Thinking back to even my earliest memories, I have always been blessed with parents who are encouraging. If my sisters and I wanted to try something new, my parents found a way to make it happen. Now, don’t get me confused- we didn’t have everything we wanted. My parents didn’t give in to our every childlike demand- new toys each time you enter a store, candy as you leave, etc. They understood that true parental support is much more. It seems like the current definition of parental support equals how much stuff you buy for your child. I am lucky that my parents didn’t believe in this. They provided us with what really mattered.


In my family, we were always surrounded by music. We sang in the car, had the record player on at Christmas, we all sang together at church on Sunday, and we even sang the blessing before some of our meals. It comes as no surprise to me that my sisters and I all love music. I remember my parents getting Kate her first violin and later saving to get her a hand-made one. I remember getting my first clarinet. I remember going to see Meg in her chorus concerts in middle school. My parents made all of this a priority for us. Did I have that light-bright that was in wal-mart? No. But I had music, what I really needed, which has made all the difference in my life.

I believe that God blessed me with the gift of music. I get the most enjoyment when I am teaching my students, community choir, and church kids. God made me to fit this role. Without the love and encouragement of my parents and sisters, I may have missed out on this gift. This week, I had the opportunity to take my students to LGPE. This is where students sing two prepared songs for judges and then sight-read for another judge. It is a big deal because it is a major goal to work toward. Throughout my teaching career (all 4 years- haha!), I have seen so many teachers lose sight of what is truly important. It is wonderful to go on stage and make straight superior ratings, but not everyone can do that. I believe in pushing my students to their absolute best; better than what they thought they could achieve. For two of my groups, that was a straight superior performance. For another group, it was straight excellent ratings. I feel such a sense of pride standing with my students- superior and excellent- because I know they get it. They understand that the experience of performing will stay with them forever. They understand that music should involve everyone, not just the best. They understand that learning to work as a community to produce a final product, perfect or not, is where you find meaning. It is all about enjoying yourself and expressing yourself in a way that you can’t do with anything else.

For my students and my son on the way, I hope that I am able to provide the same support my parents gave me. They don’t get everything they want, but they know that they are loved and that I want the best for them.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Unnecessary Advice

We currently live in a society of advice overload. Everyone feels the need to share their thoughts on every subject. Pregnancy and children are no exception. I can remember when I was trying to get pregnant, I received so many “nuggets of knowledge” it was overwhelming. Often times, they were hurtful comments clouded under a pretend umbrella of people trying to be realistic with you. “When you have a baby, your life is over!” “Enjoy your free time now, because you will never get it again.” “Are you sure you are ready for kids? They change your life, and not always for the better.”


All of these comments add up to annoyance in my mind. Who can be so naive to think that adding a baby to your family wouldn’t change your life? What I don’t understand is why everyone phrases baby advice in such a negative way. Now that I am pregnant, I get even MORE advice. “Get your sleep now because you will never get it again.” “You just eat what you want when you’re pregnant. I did, and my kids are fine!”

My thought on these comments is very clear (and realistic, at least to me). You may have eaten whatever you wanted when you were pregnant, but I am not. If my doctor tells me to avoid deli meat and soft cheeses, I am going to. Your kids are fine and my little boy could probably be too, but when you wait almost 3 years to get pregnant and go through surgery to get to the point where you can even carry a child, you don’t want to take the extra risk. Cheese just isn’t that important to me.

For the people who complain about waking up with your child, go on and on about no sleep, and remind me constantly that babies wake up in the night and need to be fed, I say try being positive. I love to sleep, probably more than most people. However, walking in and seeing my sons face waiting for me will hopefully help ease any exhaustion I feel. Of course I will be tired and of course it will hard. I don’t want to seem unrealistic and as if I am looking at this through rose-colored glasses. However, what is wrong with choosing to look at things positively? What happened to sharing the joys of raising a child? Why don’t people feel the need to remind you of the overflowing love you will feel for that little baby you were entrusted with to raise? I choose to be positive. I choose to look forward to mid-night wake-ups because at the end of the day, it will mean that God blessed me with a son. So bring on the life changes!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Blessings

Earlier this year, my friend Page became very sick. From the moment I met Page a few years ago, I knew she was a person I just had to be friends with. She is hilarious! She has a way of stealing a room that I have never seen anyone else do. Her love and humor is contagious.

I remember the series of events leading to her sickness very clearly. Everything spiraled out of control the week I started my first dose of Clomid (which by the way, did not work). I saw Page at her pharmacy to pick up my "new hopes in having a baby" drug, and she was so tired. Despite not feeling well, we still joked about me having twins or triplets. Page and her husband promised me that they would take the extra babies and raise them. They were so excited about the idea of a new baby being around. We laughed, I hugged her and left. That weekend, Page was admitted to the hospital.

Over the next weeks, she moved into ICU and nothing seemed to go right. I vividly remember sitting in the waiting room with her family and my friends joking around to pass the time. All the while, we were praying for a miracle. On the day that my friends and I refer to as "the dark day" I sat in the hallway of EHMS during CRCT testing praying for God to give me more time with my friend. How could I make it without her there? I especially needed her to be there if I ever had a baby, or worse, if I could not have one.

During all of this, my friends and I centered around a song by Laura Story: Blessings. Some of the lyrics are:

'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel you near
We doubt your goodness
We doubt your love
As if every promise from your Word is not enough

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home

This became a focal point for all of my emotions. Page, infertility, life in general. I had so many questions that felt unanswered! I felt angry with God because it felt like he wasn't there. I had to remind myself that this is not my home. There is something greater after.

This brings us to today. Page is on the mend and seems so much like her old self. I am reminded daily of how fragile life is and how loving God is. I am also so blessed! I have so much to be thankful for. Here are just some of the things I feel so blessed for:

1) I got to experience a real miracle in the recovery of my friend. I felt God's love first hand and I feel it every time I see Page smile and joke around.

2) After my Grandfather passed away, I finally had a moment of knowing that he truly loved me. I could feel the mercy of God and the love He gives to His children when they enter Heaven and receive their final judgement. I can't really put into words the experience, but I know my Grandfather is happy and looking down on me.

3) I realized that the wait for a baby (2 years and 10 months) was well worth it. During that time, Jake and I bought a house, settled into our life together and strengthened our marriage. I also had time to build back a missing relationship with God (I am still working on this one).

4) I realized just how many supportive people I have in my life. God surrounded me with people who could love me in just the right way. He even gave me a new friend who understands me better than some of the people I have known my whole life.

5) I can finally say that I am pregnant! The idea of actually getting to tell people this still feels so unreal! I feel beyond excited for the unknown and so thankful that God trusts me with this responsibility. My sister Kate told me several times over the past few years that once I got pregnant, I would never have to feel those same lost feelings as I did before. Although I can easily remember them, she is exactly right. Now I get to focus on a new Allison family member. The best part is I truly understand how much of a blessing this baby will be. Jake and I have waited so long to begin this journey and because of God's love, we are now on that path.

For all of these things (and for many more), I am blessed.

Emily