Some personal testimonies make you laugh. Others make you cry. Allison Chase’s testimony made the whole room sob. This is her story.
Dallin was conceived and born with no issues at all. Allison and Dan – happily married and living life to the fullest – knew they wanted children, and before too long, a beautiful baby boy was born. It was getting pregnant a second time that soon became what seemed an impossibility.
There were sleepless nights. Tears. Questions without answers. Prayers.
And then there were pills. Treatments. Doctors. Surgeries. Anguish.
Years went by and Dallin alone filled the ache in Allison and Dan’s heart for a larger family, rich with the blessing of siblings. He was God’s precious gift to them, and for that they were eternally grateful, but a hole remained in their small family home.
The adoption process is long and tedious. The paperwork mounds on attorney desks and the red tape is so thick that crossing through its barrier is nearly impossible. Still, they trudged on, desperate for the promise of a babe cooing in their arms.
Allison, standing at the front of our small room, had an audience of Christian women — some of us mothers, some of us struggling to be mothers. She began to cry. The memories were still so fresh. Dead ends. Unanswered prayers. A miscarriage while her husband was deployed.
A tissue box was passed around the room. I was there for worship and to take pictures, but all I could do was stand there, frozen in my little space by the water cooler where my camera was propped up. I thought of my own three children, each so special and perfect in their own way that at times I feel unworthy to be their mother. I became transfixed on her words: her testimony. As all mothers do, I put myself in her shoes, and as a result had the most horrifying thought. What if my kids hadn’t been born? What if I had not been able to have children and therefore, never knew of the love and joy that each child brings to me in their own special way? The thought alone drew tears from the pit of my stomach, bursting from my eyes like rain from the heavens.
But I did have my children. They were just down the road, probably making Christmas crafts in school. My tears became a river of sorrow for the woman standing at the front of the room. A woman who had endured a kind of pain that I’ll never truly understand.
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
These words, spoken by Jesus, console and comfort the distressed. Allison told us that no matter the suffering, trials or tribulations, she always knew that God stood behind her: that He had not left her. She recognized that although she was craving the bread of a mother of many, God had other plans for her, and would not feed her inedible food for the soul.
Allison caught her breath and found her voice again. “But then, one Friday afternoon, my cousin called,” she said. “She told me, ‘I know a lady who knows a lady who is having a baby on Monday. Are you interested?'”
The shock of the wildly unexpected call and question that could only be categorized at rhetorical left Allison stammering. It was Dan who shouted at the phone, “Yes! Yes! Yes!”
They named her Saylor. “She’s ours,” Allison said, and a smile formed on her face. “She’s Daddy’s’ little girl.”
I could feel the tension in the air lift a bit. A few sighs of relief could be heard but from whom I couldn’t say. My eyes were still transfixed on the woman who had survived a gauntlet, coming out of the end with a smile on her face. “It’s a righteous desire to have children,” Allison all but whispered. “But having children was not the bread that Jesus wanted to give me. When one door closes another will open.”
I met with Allison a few days later. As we sat and talked about Saylor – now an adorable 6 year-old ball of energy who lives for fun – Dallin and Dan, I realized that God has been working in this woman’s life for a very long time.
In college Allison found herself in a cemetery, pondering a quote on a headstone that belonged to no one she knew.
I am positive in my mind that the Lord has planned our destiny. Sometime we’ll understand fully, and when we see back from the vantage point of the future, we shall be satisfied with many of the happenings of this life that are so difficult for us to comprehend.
The words were wise, and sang to her soul in the most specific of ways. Over the next couple of years, whenever the struggles of life would overcome emotion, Allison found herself back in that cemetery, reading the words inscribed on the tombstone she found so many years ago. The Truth gave her strength.
And then one day she met a man named Dan. Not even dating yet, he told her about his father who had passed some time ago. As Dan began to describe the words which were carved on his father’s tombstone, Allison realized that she could have finished his sentence. “God brought us together,” Allison asserted. “Dan’s dad had it all planned out.”
It was shortly after that miraculous Friday when Dan shouted “Yes!” to the phone, and that following Monday when they both held their precious baby girl in their arms that Allison and Dan found out that Saylor was supposed to have been adopted into an entirely different family. Plans had already been made between the birth mother and this family, but at the last-minute, Saylor’s birth mother changed her mind and chose the Chase’s instead.
“Saylor’s mom did something for us that we couldn’t do,” Allison told me. “Just like Jesus.” Jesus died for us so that our sins can be made clean: so that we may live eternally in Heaven. There in the hospital room Allison conveyed her boundless gratitude to Saylor’s birth mother. “Thank you for the beautiful gift that you have given us.”
Looking back, it’s easy for Allison to see God’s presence in her life. It’s the getting there that can become cloudy and difficult to navigate. She looked me in the eye. “God always gives bread, not stones. It might not be the bread that you want, but in the end we will be able to look back and understand.”