A Beautiful Story of Family Restoration

How God Brought Audra back to us

Hello friend! I’m excited because today my Handsome Man’s going to share his side of our restoration story! You know, the one where everything started with a grave mistake, but how God turned it into something awesome. You can hear the beginning of the story here, and Audra’s perspective here. So, let’s sit down to that amazing cup of coffee I’m smellin’, and Brad, the floor is yours!


Brad’s Side of the Story:

“I’m pregnant!” Two words that are normally received with cheers of joy but in the wrong time and context can cause your heart to leap into your throat. That’s exactly what happened when my girlfriend told me those words. My next thought was “now what am I going to do?”

Unfortunately, I heeded some terrible advice and I walked away…no I RAN away!

A few years passed and I came to understand the great love and grace God has for me. I was able to now take responsibility for my greatest mistake. After signing my paternal rights away all I could do was a trust that God could and would take my mistake and turn it for good. HE would bring restoration!

The small picture, the only one I had, of a little baby girl stayed with me, tucked into the pages of an old Bible. I’d pull it out from time to time and pray,

God, wherever she is, lead her to You. Put people into her life that will tell her about Your love. And Father, help me find her at the right time and place.

I didn’t realize it at the time but years before God restored my daughter to me, I had turned my heart toward her. And that is always the beginning of a reconciliation.

 


When Celina and I started dating, I told her about the daughter I had, out there somewhere, and that I was believing God would restore her to me.  I asked if she would accept me with this mistake, and in classic Celina fashion she took some time to think it over. Boy! Did that ever cause me to nervously sweat it out!

I knew she deserved someone who had no skeletons in his closet.  Of course, I’m very thankful that she said YES and as many times since then, she extended grace to me. In that action, Celina gave me the power to become a better man.

Fast forward to 2010 and a very random Facebook message from an old friend asking if I ever wanted to meet my daughter. I replied “Absolutely! It’s what we’ve been believing for!”  So, through the marvel of social media I was able to finally make contact with Audra.

It was a little strange writing her and saying, ‘hey, I’m your father…”, but it was the beginning of a restoration process that has taken us on a wild, God-ordained, God-inspired and God-directed ride. All because He helped me turn my heart towards my daughter. (To be continued)

Grace Over Abandonment – Pt. 2

Brad & Audra continue sharing how God restores our family

Brad & Audra continue sharing our journey of restoration as a family. They share things we’ve done right, things we done wrong and the Grace of God for it all. Please watch Pt. 1 if you haven’t already! And you can read a backstory here.

Brad y Audra continúan compartiendo nuestra historia de restauración familiar. Hablan de lo que hemos hecho correctamente, de nuestros errores, y de la Gracia de Dios que abunda en todo lo que hemos vivido. Por favor ve la 1a parte si aún no lo has hecho! Y puedes leer la historia aquí.

Por ahora, los videos están solamente en Inglés.

 

Grace Over Abandonment Pt. 1

Brad & Audra share how God restores families

We’ve talked about God’s amazing story of restoration between Brad and his daughter, Audra, in several posts from different perspectives. Because of many precious people being blessed by this and wanting to hear more, we’ve decided to tell our story on video. Please leave us a comment, we’d love to hear from you!

Hemos platicado de la historia de restauración entre Brad y su hija, Audra aquí, en varias entradas de diferentes puntos de vista. Decidimos videograbar esta historia porque han habido muchos a quienes ha tocado esta restauración que Dios está haciendo en nuestra familia. ¡Porfavor anota tus comentarios! ¡Queremos oír de tí!

 

 

 

One click changed my life

I’ve noticed an upward trend of parents and children who are looking for each other on Facebook.

When I reconnected with my dad, I was one of a handful–and I wasn’t even looking. Maybe that’s something we should talk about…have I ever shared with you how this adventure started?

I was a junior in college. Most of my weeknights were filled with reading and writing papers. I hopped onto Facebook for a quick brain break. Newsfeed, notifications, messages….one new message. I didn’t know who the message was from, but I clicked on it anyway.

One click changed my life.

Is this dramatic enough for you? I’m working on my pitch for Oprah. How does that sound?

But seriously, it’s true. This one moment really did change my life.

While I don’t remember everything the message said, here’s the gist:

I knew your parents. We were in youth group together. Your dad’s been looking for you. His name is Brad Holliman. Check out his profile. Let me know if you want to connect with him.

This night, like most nights, I was doing homework in my best friends’ dorm room. I freaked out and ran to my room. I went through his profile.

I looked at his picture, pictures of his family…and then I cried and cried and cried. It was too much. I couldn’t stop the tears. They were coming from somewhere deep inside me.

First picture I saw of my dad

First picture I saw of my dad

First picture I saw of the family

First picture I saw of my family

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eventually my friends showed up. They always knew when to push for information and when to leave me alone. We talked for a long time and I decided to reach out to my dad, to see what would happen.

There’s a lot more to this story. We’ll get to all of that later.

Right now, I want to applaud anyone who is trying to find their parents. It takes a lot of courage to seek out the truth.

I can’t guarantee that everything will work out. Sometimes you can’t find your parents or they don’t want anything to do with you or they’re dead or they end up being complete losers.

But at least you’re seeking the truth.

At least you are one step closer to closure.

I really hope you find the answers.

In my case, the answers found me, but it’s the journey I’m most grateful for. This road is where I’ve found healing.

And to think it all began with one click…

To all of my friends who are looking, don’t give up. No matter what side of the equation you are on–parent or child–don’t lose hope.

When Walls Fall

I’m at this really strange place in my life. 

It’s this weird feeling that things are starting to normalize. You start to even think that everything won’t fall apart if you relax a little bit. Sometimes you even catch yourself having fun, enjoying yourself instead of wondering when it’s all going to blow up in your face.

In the last year, I’ve been fighting against this feeling. If something seems too good to be true that’s because it is….or is it?

Maybe life can be good. Maybe people mean what they say.

Last time we talked about walls, remember?

What’s the purpose of walls?

Protection. Defense.

I started building walls to be safe, to hide from the hurt. And somewhere behind those walls I lost myself.

Now, for the most part, my walls are gone. Only dust and rubble remain.

What do you do when the walls fall?

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Through the dust and rubble, I can see my parents. They look so happy. I know they are pleased with my progress. I can see their hands outstretched, waiting for me to take my first step.

I’m scared because I want to move on but that means I lose control…

I’m also scared of staying where I am and watching life slip through my fingers.

This fear could paralyze me. I let it for a while.

The good news, though, is that I don’t have to go by my feelings. None of us do.

I’m not harping on the downside of emotions.

We all need to have a healthy relationship with our emotions. God gave them to us to use as indicators, but they are not supposed to control how we respond.

I’m not saying it’s easy (because that would be a lie). I’m just saying that it’s possible.

As Christians, the Bible is the ultimate authority, the final say, in how we respond to all of life’s situations. God is so awesome, so wonderful that He gave us His word to make it through the difficulties of life.

When everything is in turmoil, we can find peace and comfort in Scripture. We find the sustaining truths that will stand no matter the test set before us. No matter how scared we are to take the next step.

It’s definitely a choice, though, that each one of us has to make on our own.

And that’s where I am today.

Standing where the walls used to be, seeing my parents outstretched hands, I choose daily to look beyond the unknown and see something better. A life where good things are possible and you find hope through deep, meaningful relationships.

Scaling Walls

I do not like confrontation.

If I had the choice between 1) never having things my way or 2) having to fight for anything I wanted for the rest of my life, my natural choice is number one.

The thought of conflict makes my stomach twist into knots….

This area is a big struggle for me, especially when it comes to my family. As I look back over the past five years, many negative moments have occurred because of this particular weakness. My parents are constantly pushing me to talk about things, to tell them what I prefer.

Sometimes it’s as simple as “Will you please pick a dessert?” or as complicated as “Please tell us how you’re really feeling about this issue.”

My parents have sat staring at me for up to 15 minutes, waiting for me to get the courage to talk. My usual method of retreat is no match for their patience.

Most of the time, I am not happy with their persistence–at the time–but I know, deep down, that they love me tremendously and that they really want us to have a strong relationship.

I grew up mostly silent because I was a major bottler of all my emotions. No one pushed me to talk if I didn’t want to talk. And now, looking back, I almost wished someone had pushed me a little harder. There were many times that I really did want to talk, but couldn’t work up the gumption to say anything. The walls around my heart were so tall, so thick, that it became hard to climb them.

The thing I love the most about my parents is that they are trying.

dad and I mom and I funny dad

They don’t come with a bulldozer threatening to tear the walls down.

They don’t have a bullhorn, yelling things like “You better start talking!” or “Don’t you know how hard this is for me?”

The only sound I ever hear is knocking and then, “Audra, we’re here for you–if you’d only open the door we can work this out together.”

And the times I haven’t opened the door?

This is what I hear: “Okay. We’ll be standing right here whenever you’re ready to talk, but know that we aren’t going anywhere.”

Maybe you never had this kind of exchange growing up. I don’t think it’s a far stretch for me to say that most of us didn’t have parents around who could–or even wanted–to take the time to connect at a heart level.

But it’s so important.

Because you know who my parents are talking to most of the time? The person who lives behind that wall?

A scared little girl who locked herself in there for her own protection.

Without the persistence of my parents, that fear would keep me from having rich, meaningful relationships. And I would be just as lonely today as I was growing up.

If you, as a parent, can’t find a way to connect with your child, someone else will. Or, even worse. your child will build walls around their hearts.

Walls are a lot harder to tear down than to build.

Dusty Roads, Glorious Futures

dusty roadI have a confession to make: I struggle about what to write for this blog.

There are a lot of things I could write, I want to write, but a lot of times the emotions behind the subjects catch up to me.

And then my brain freezes…

I struggle because I want to be really honest with you, our readers, about my journey into this family.

I struggle because I stink at expressing myself in any way that reveals weaknesses.

I struggle because I grew up with everyone saying things to me like “You are so strong. You have really overcome all the obstacles thrown in your path.”

The truth is that I am not always strong.

I can get overwhelmed by emotions and swept away by the pain. Sometimes my dad and stepmom are exasperated at me because I refuse to talk things through. Many, many times I am the weakest link in my relationships.

Yet, I have such a stirring to share the amazing story of our journey. This past year I have healed so much, changed so much.

Isaiah 61:10-11 is a passage that describes what I’m talking about:

10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,

My soul shall be joyful in my God;

For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation,

He has covered me with the robe of righteousness,

As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments,

And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

11 For as the earth brings forth its bud,

As the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth,

So the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.

Several months ago, I had a dream where a princess showed me–a dusty, worn out war refugee–the most beautiful garment I had ever seen and then told me to try it on. Me? I was not looking very fitting of royal garments at the time. But I couldn’t help myself!

The radiance, the lure of it was greater than my doubts. The garment fit me perfectly. Like it was tailored beforehand just for me.

That’s exactly how my journey into this family has been. I am making my way through the emotions of a war zone, the toxicity of my past, and I am headed toward a future brighter than I ever imagined possible.

The faithfulness of God astounds me.

I share all of this with you, our blog family, because I know that many of you are walking down dusty roads. I want you to know that garments of salvation and robes of righteousness are waiting for you on the other side.

Don’t give up!

I am also sharing this with you because part of my journey is having the courage to offer insight when all I want to do is run and hide. Please be patient with me as we travel down this road together.

I am right there with you, walking towards a glorious future.

Until next time,

Audra

 

Freedom from Shame

I had a dream last week that taught me something about shame.

It’s a big bully, the ultimate abuser, and a major stumbling block to pursuing our God given purpose.

Shame personified is anyone or anything that perpetuates evil and pain in your life. At some point, this shame, even if you’ve escaped the bad situation, imprinted its nasty thoughts into your thinking.

Here are four major causes of shame. I believe any and all variations stem from the four listed below because they all wound the spirit, soul, or body in some way.

1) Abandonment–One or both parents walking out of their child(ren)’s lives. The results are struggles with rejection and identity.

2) Abuse–This could be physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional. All leave lasting scars that, left untreated, can do permanent damage.

3) Addiction–Any form of addiction albeit drugs, alcohol, gambling, eating disorders, self-harm, etc. can wreak havoc on one’s life and cause family and friends to be harmed directly or indirectly.

4) Neglect–Maybe a spouse or a parent is with you physically, but provides no monetary or emotional support. Being neglected causes people to doubt God’s ability to love and provide for his or her needs.

Luke 4:18-19 tells us what Jesus came to earth to do. We are called to point others back to him.

Luke 4:18-19 tells us what Jesus came to earth to do. We are called to point others back to him.

I was brought to tears upon waking from my dream.

The pain that I felt was so real and it reminded me of all the times I would cry out for relief during my own season of heartbreak.

Millions of people are still stuck in this same path.

But praise be to God that He provided a solution, our freedom, for any shame one might be experiencing. His name is Jesus Christ.

 

 

Friend, whoever you may be, Jesus came to set us free from all sin and shame. You don’t have to be a captive any longer!

For those of you who don’t know Jesus, He can be your Savior by praying, with a sincere heart and genuine spirit, the following:

Jesus,

Thank you for living and dying to set me free from all sin and shame. I need you, Jesus, to be my Lord and Savior today. Thank you for making a way for me to have a relationship with Father God. I trust you and thank you for the gift of salvation. Amen.

For those of you who are already Christians, begin to read the Scriptures. Ask a mature brother or sister in Christ to disciple you in this area.

A true revelation of God’s love shining into the darkness and pain of your past is the key to embracing true freedom, the kind of freedom Christ bought for us on the cross.

Know that the Holliman family loves to see chains fall. God delivered us each in a dramatic way from the pain and shame of our past. Let us know how we can help you on this journey to freedom. Also, if you received Christ as your Savior, we’d love to hear from you as well!

All glory and honor to our Father God and our Lord Jesus Christ.

2015: The Year of Doing

 

Everyone is making a long list of resolutions (or goals for those who are non-conformists). But how often do these lists sit dusty on a bulletin board or in a journal? I don’t want to be one of “those people” who harp about the lack of motivation in this world, but you know I’m right.

Let me take this a step further: I’m tired of watching others achieve their goals via Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. My thoughts always go to “I want to do something like that!”

Then I hit refresh and start scrolling through the newsfeed again…

new-years-resolution

For all of the above reasons, I’m calling 2015 “The Year of Doing.” I’ll be 25 in July and there’s a lot of things that I’ve always wanted to try and do. One excuse after another has kept me from action. When I’m 50, 60, 70 years old, I don’t want to wake up one day and realize that I’ve wasted my life and squandered opportunities.

2015 is The Year of Doing!

I want it to be a year–the first of many–where I look back and feel proud of all the things I’ve done and experienced. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be forced to come up with some new adventures for 2016 instead of recycled wishes from years passed. How awesome would that be?

Be encouraged, my blog family, to participate in The Year of Doing with me.

Let’s make the most of 2015. I’m excited to see all I learn about God, myself, and how I can better serve others as I put feet on my dreams.

 

Do Something

Three weeks ago, I decided to start training for a half marathon. This is one of those “I’ve always wanted to but never tried before” activities. With a new pair of tennis shoes, some decent headphones, and a twelve week training guide, I was set!

Most days, I see the craziness of what I’m attempting. I’ve never ran at all until now. Old men walk pass me and stare. Super buff athletes complete more laps than me in a matter of minutes. Often times, I get embarrassed and contemplate quitting.

But then I remember that running is something that I do for me. I run because I want to. Not because someone told me to or because I am seeking the approval of others.

Choosing to do something for yourself seems rather selfish, especially if you’re a Christian. Here’s what I have to remember: Ambition is not a crime. Selfish ambition is wrong, but being a doer is actually a biblical concept.

The problem is that most people are so bogged down by the expectations of others–both perceived and real–that they never do anything.

shoes

Until recently, I was trapped in that category. In many ways, I am still getting myself unstuck. My focus isn’t that sharp. The Lord   and I have a lot of conversations about the direction of my life. The primary reason I am training for this half-marathon is that I am tired of thinking about doing something as opposed to actually doing something.

At church, we’ve been talking about the body of Christ. Being a part of the body is so important because every Christian has a gift to use for God’s glory and the encouragement of others. And yet, here’s a big question that’s been on my heart since this study began:

How can I serve others if I am too scared to try something, to step out even if I don’t have all the answers?

Maybe you’ve asked yourself a similar question. It probably preceded or followed this line of questioning: What in the world am I supposed to be doing? How am I going to get there? If so, I believe it’s time you pick an activity from your “always wanted to” list and then do it.

Just do something.

In the process of doing, don’t be surprised if some of your questions start getting answered.