The Trip of a Lifetime!

Family Updates

Waller Family in IsraelWith the next generation of the Waller family growing quickly, we realized that there was perhaps a narrowing window of practical opportunity for us to travel together as an extended family. This fall we finalized plans for a three-and-a-half week trip to Israel, the land of the Bible. Our group of 14 represented three generations ofย  the Waller family, and included all but one of my siblings. (Rachelle and her family would have loved to join us, but had to decline due to the timing of the trip.)

Walking on the Wall of JerusalemFor us, this was not a spiritual pilgrimage, but rather an opportunity to see with our own eyes the land we read about in the pages of the Bible. It is one thing to read about the Sea of Galilee, but another to actually drive through the city of Tiberias, and eat a picnic lunch on the shore, and gaze up into the hill country where Jesus fed the five thousand.

I love the verses we find at the end of Psalm 48. Picture a father walking around the city of Jerusalem, pointing out to his children the landmarks and memorials that remind us of the great things that God has done through the ages.

“Walk about Zion, and go round about her: tell the towers thereof. Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces; that ye may tell it to the generation following. For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.” –Psalm 48:12-14

Abigail at MegiddoAs a new father, I find this passage of particular significance as I ponder my responsibility to teach my children to know the God of the Bible.

In this picture, Abigail is sitting in a feeding trough at Megiddo, found in the ruins of Solomon’s palace in this city.

Someday when Abigail is older, I look forward to going over these pictures with her and describing the significance of the places we carried her through at just three months old.

 

Chapel Lesson – Are you qualified?

Teaching

On December 5th I had the opportunity to share a chapel lesson for the elementary students at our church’s Christian school. With the help of Heidi and Zach, (two of Valerie’s siblings) I shared a story that I hoped would help the students understand why Jesus Christ was the only one that could suffer and die a substitutionary death for the sins of mankind.

 

Growing Happily!

Abigail, Family Updates

Abigail at Two MonthsWe just returned from Abigail’s two-month checkup appointment, and she is doing wonderfully! A happy, healthy baby, our little daughter brings great joy to our home.

Abigail’s favorite place to play is on a blanket near the patio window where she gets lots of warm sunshine in the morning. She is learning how to use her hands and enjoys batting at little toys hanging from a mobile.

Another favorite spot is on the floor in Daddy’s office. You can watch Abigail enjoying her playtime in the video below. She loves her “wiggle time” and making little cooing noises.

Many friends have told us to treasure these moments because she will grow up before we know it.ย  ๐Ÿ™‚ย  In just a couple short months it is amazing to see how much she has grown! Even in the last week or so she is starting to lose that “newborn cry” and sound more like a growing little girl! My IT consulting work allows me to work from home several days a week, and I am very thankful for the opportunity to enjoy these special moments as a family.

 

 

 

Answers to Prayer

Family Updates

In the weeks leading up to Abigail’s birth, I found myself sometimes pondering a question. How do you pray for an upcoming birth experience? Do I pray through a detailed checklist of all the things that I would really want to see in the birth, or do I just trust that God knows our hearts and He is going to work out all the details as I commit these things to Him?

PrayerPersonally, I believe that prayer is really a relationship of communication and trust, not just a method of obtaining the things we want in life. Yes, God knows our needs, and He can (and often does) provide for them without our even asking, but how much more does He delight to see us come to Him as children coming to a father, pouring out our hearts before Him in childlike simplicity, being confident of His care for us?

And yet even after making our requests known, there is an aspect of trusting that God knows what is His very best for us, even if this means His answer is not quite the same as we were anticipating. Consider the nation of Israel as they were coming out of Egypt. I think that if I was there, I would have been praying for smooth roads and plenty of provision along the way. But what did God give them? A difficult path with very real needs. But God’s intent was that these very needs would become the testimonies of God’s faithfulness and loving care for His people.

Mother and BabyI love reading in Deuteronomy chapter 8 where God calls His people to “Remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness…” After recounting numerous examples of how He had provided for their needs during these difficult times, God exhorted them to never forget what He had done for them.

Remembering God’s faithfulness is what gave Joshua and Caleb the confidence that God would lead them into the Promised Land, just as He had brought them out of the bondage of Egypt.

“Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the Lord” –Psalm 107:43

For me, walking through the process of the birth of our first child was an incredible opportunity to experience God’s faithfulness and loving care for us! This week my heart overflowed with tears of gratefulness as Valerie and I were reading some scripture together. God was so faithful in carrying us through this experience! All along the way, even down to the smallest details, I could see how evidently the Lord had prepared the way before us.

Strength for Labor

Timing contractionsIt is often through our weakness that the Lord’s strength is made most evident. One of my primary concerns as we approached our baby’s due date was that Valerie would have the physical stamina to go through the labor and delivery process. As all of you parents know, labor and delivery is not for the faint of heart! ๐Ÿ™‚ It has been said that the energy required during this process is comparable to the energy expended while running a marathon.

Valerie and I were also earnestly desiring, if possible, to have a natural, unmedicated birth. We are very grateful for the advances in technology and medicine that save many lives when complications occur, but we personally believe that God designed our bodies for the birth process, and that many undesirable side affects can be avoided (where possible) by taking a less invasive approach.

Heartbeat and Contraction MonitorIt was a specific answer to prayer to see God not only give Valerie the strength for labor, but to enable her to go through the entire process without any type of pain medication! I cannot tell you the encouragement it was to know that the Lord was with us and see Him give strength for each step of the way! What a comfort to know that our families and friends were standing behind us in prayer as we worked through each contraction leading up to Abigail’s birth.

At one point before the labor really started in earnest, Valerie and I were getting tired after over 20 hours of frequent contractions and very little sleep. I knew that rest would be very important for the even greater marathon that lay before us, so at 7:30 that evening we sent out a text message asking for prayer that we could get at least a few hours of sleep before moving into active labor.

She's Here!God answered that prayer! For the next several hours till about midnight, the Lord allowed us to get bits of sleep between contractions as they slowed to about 20 minutes apart. At midnight the contractions suddenly went to 5-8 minutes apart and we moved rapidly into active labor. We went in the strength of that rest for the next eighteen hours until Abigail’s arrival at 5:58 that evening.

Many times when I see first pictures of mom and dad at the hospital with their new baby, mom looks understandably exhausted. I was amazed to look across and see Valerie holding baby Abigail shortly after birth. Instead of a pale, exhausted face, I saw a countenance that was just glowing with the joy and excitement of finally being able to hold our little girl. God answered prayer!

Just the Right People

Not only was God pouring out His strength and grace upon us as a couple, but He also put together a wonderful team to assist with the birth. The nurse assigned to us that day was one of the kindest nurses I have ever met. She was extremely gracious and sensitive to our needs, and gave us excellent care. Hearing the gentle music we were playing in the background, she asked if we were Christians, and we were delighted to learn that we shared this common bond in Christ.

Grandma and Grandpa Waller

Adam’s parents, Brian and Sue Waller

We had made arrangements for a doula to be with us for the birth, and here again the Lord put together just the right one to give helpful suggestions at key points during the hours of labor before the midwife arrived for the actual birth. The midwives on call during our labor and delivery “happened” to be our two favorites of the group, and did a beautiful job assisting with the birth, even allowing dad to help “catch” the baby.

Blessings on Logistics

As I reflect on our birth experience, I am amazed at how many things the Lord orchestrated to demonstrate His loving care for us! Even the little things, like the weather going from the sweltering 90’s the week before to a very comfortable 70’s for the ride to the hospital in a car without air conditioning. We would have survived, but it made the 20 minute drive so much easier for Valerie!

Enroute to the Hospital!Speaking of the drive, had Abigail been born just a couple days earlier, some road closures along the route would have forced us to take a detour on a cobblestone road. (Note for prospective dads, bumpy roads on the way to the hospital during labor is not a good idea.) But by the time we were making this trip, the roads had been reopened, and we had a very smooth ride.

Another desire that the Lord granted us was to be released to go home from the hospital as soon as possible, knowing that we would rest much better at home (assuming mom and baby were recovering well with no complications). Our hope was to head home after the state-mandated testing done 24 hours after birth. In spite of a very hectic day for the hospital staff, they managed to squeeze our testing in at the end of the day, and little Abigail passed all the tests with flying colors.

As we were just packing up our bags to leave the hospital, we had a surprise visit from our pastor and his wife. This was a very sweet visit, and perfect timing for us! Thirty minutes later, and they may have missed us entirely. Our pastor helped me carry our bags down to the car, and they prayed for us before our trip home.

Speedy Recovery

Two hours after the birth, we were moved across to the recovery room where we would spend our first night together as a family. The nurse explained the different pain medications to Valerie, and what we could expect in terms of the recovery process. In the hours that followed, the hospital staff was surprised to find that Valerie was experiencing very little pain, and a little Tylenol from time to time was all that she wanted.

Here again we felt that the Lord was answering prayer in giving Valerie a very smooth and speedy recovery. Many first-time mothers that are far more strong and robust than Valerie have much more painful and difficult recoveries. We recognSleeping in Daddy's Armsize that every birth is different, and there are many factors involved, but we personally believe that it is the definite hand of the Lord that is causing Valerie to spring back so well from Abigail’s birth.

Our subsequent doctor checkups have all gone well, and everyone seems to comment on how well Valerie is doing. As we hear these comments we turn to each other with knowing smiles. We know full well that it is not our strength and ability, but the gracious lovingkindness of a prayer-hearing God! To God be the glory, great things He has done! We want to give tribute to the Lord’s faithfulness in giving us strength that we did not have, and to thank each one that had a part in praying for us! God answers prayer!

 

A Father’s Joy

Family Updates

Sleeping SweetlyChoosing a name for our “little one” was a special privilege for Valerie and me. More than just a name that sounded pretty, we wanted a name that would convey meaning and give a sense of purpose to the little life entrusted to our care.

Abigail — My father’s joy

The name Abigail is of Hebrew origin, and comes from the word awb which means father (like Abba Father), and gheel which means great joy or exaltation (literally, to spin around in ecstatic joy). Together they have the idea of a child bringing great joy to a father.

Waller FamilyAs a boy growing up in the Waller home, one of my most treasured memories is that of sensing my father’s approval. To see my dad smile, place his hand on my shoulder, and hear him say that he was proud of me meant the world to me. I felt like I could face just about anything in life as long as I had the simple confidence that I was bringing joy to my father.

I believe that every person is born with a deep desire for their father’s approval. We find this even in the life of our Savior Jesus Christ. At key points in His earthly ministry, you find recorded those affirming words from His Father, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” How those human emotions must have swelled in the heart of our Lord to hear those words! And what a powerful opportunity and responsibility for us as fathers!

P1100332aIt is our prayer that Abigail will grow to live a life that brings joy to her father. Proverbs tells us that “A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.” May our little Abigail be trained up in the ways of the Lord, so that her heart may be one that delights in bringing joy to her father. May the approval that she senses from her earthly father in those early years be just a foretaste of the even more important approval of her Heavenly Father, and may her life be guided by the desire to bring joy to her Heavenly Father.

Renee — Born again

Abigail’s middle name expresses our desire that she would one day place her faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Our daughter was born physically on September 6th, 2013, but in John chapter 3, Jesus talks of another kind of birth. “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

P1100342aNicodemus was understandably bewildered by this concept of being born again, but Jesus was making a very important distinction between these two “births”. The perspective of most Jews in that day was that they were God’s people by virtue of being physical descendents of Abraham. Jesus pointed out that while they were born of the flesh (Abraham’s children), there was a spiritual birth that had to take place for a person to become a true child of God.

It is from this context that the passage goes on to one of the most familiar verses in all of the Bible, where Jesus describes precisely how a person is born of the Spirit. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Unlike a physical birth, a spiritual birth requires action on our part. We must believe in Jesus Christ, accepting His death as the just payment for our sin, and trusting exclusively in His righteousness (not our own), as the basis of our relationship with God.

Abigail Renee WallerThe beautiful thing about this spiritual birth Jesus describes is that it is offered to anyone, not just the physical children of Abraham. This is the fulfillment of what we find in God’s original promise to Abraham thousands of years before, that “…in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” This opportunity to become God’s child is not something we can do for someone else. We must personally make that choice for ourselves. Valerie and I have made that choice, and we pray that as our little Abigail grows in understanding, she will also make that decision to put her faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and be born again.

 

 
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