The truth about my life is that I don’t have very much figured out. I can get so caught up in the things of this world that really don’t matter, and I fall into despair. My emotions get the better of me more than I would like. I sometimes struggle to let go of past hurts. I am one who is so desperately in need of a loving Father to show me the way. Daily! I am always praying that God would take my heart and my often-failing self and make me into the person whom He desires me to be. And most of the time, He’ll use people to remind me about who I am and the many ways that He has taken my heart and changed it from the inside out.
A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with an adoptive mom who has adopted children with difficult pasts. They have walked a hard road. Our conversation was centered around our families, adopting children from hard places, and our daily lives. She mentioned to me how she struggled with how “positive” I was about my family and couldn’t relate to some of what I shared.
The conversation got me thinking and praying a lot.
About my life.
About my heart when I share my family publicly.
About who I am.
About authenticity and being real in a social media world that so often tends to be anything but real.
About my family and the journey that God has called us to walk.
For so many years, I have loved to write. Putting my thoughts into words became not only something that I loved to do, but also found so much joy in sharing. Many years ago, I discovered the beauty of pouring out my heart in words and sharing our struggles, our victories and our journey on these pages. I am by no stretch of the imagination an eloquent writer. But, by God’s amazing grace, He gave me a heart to share the highs and the lows and the pretty parts and the not so very lovely parts of our lives. Sometimes grammatically incorrect. Sometimes jumbled thoughts wearily strung together at the end of a long day. But always, always as real as I could possibly be.
The delicate dance between sharing with rawness and vulnerability while not crossing the line drawn in the sand that ensures that our lives are not completely exposed to a critical, harsh, judgmental world is something that I have always been mindful to maintain. Looking back, there may have been times when I failed. Times when silence would probably have been a better choice. We learn along the way. And as with all things in life, nothing ever really stays the same. Our hearts change. Our visions change. Our view on issues shifts. And we lean into the One who guides our steps and trust that our words will be a tender and honest refection of His heart—no matter the season we walk through.
But here’s the truth about my life that I have always tried to share with honesty, realness, and my whole heart. Life changes and seasons change and we all change. But this one thing I know.
There is no place in the world I would rather be. No calling I would rather have. No valleys I would rather walk through. No mountaintops I would prefer to stand on. No victories I would rather rejoice in. No career I would rather have.
There is absolutely, without a doubt, no life I would rather live…
This beautiful, messy, complicated, busy, challenging, rewarding, glorious life that I get to live each and every day.
Does that mean it’s always easy? Heavens, no! Every day presents its own set of challenges and we never know from one day to the next what new situations will arise. Each day is so unique and we are always changing plans, figuring out Plan B, taking detours in order to reach a goal, and reminding ourselves that being flexible is always key to making things work. Every day has sacrifices that need to be made and a little more of ourselves that needs to be given away for the sake of one who needs us. We give up things that had once been so important to us, fix our eyes on Jesus, and remind ourselves often to focus only on what matters.
The Salems are not immune to struggles and hard times. That would be silly to think. We walk through stormy seasons and navigate tough things often. Jesus promised us that we would face trials and that our faith would be tested. He never promised us easy and we never started this journey expecting anything less. Those tough times? They don’t for a single second define who we are and the joy we have in trying each and every day to faithfully walk out our calling.
As the years have passed and our family has grown, our hearts have changed. And so has our perspective.
This life we live? We chose every single part of it when we had our biological children and then adopted each one of our seven children who have special needs.
We said yes to every single special need—not knowing how it would work out, but learning what it means to trust God daily in the middle of it all.
We said yes to giving every part of us to the call on our lives.
We said yes to the uncertainties and the fears.
We said yes to medical issues—some which we had never even heard of when we first read our children’s referral paperwork.
We said yes to traumatic pasts, to hurts, to pain, and to unfathomable neglect.
We said yes to sacrificing and we said yes to God taking us on a journey to learn what it would mean to surrender—our hearts, our lives, our family.
We said yes to having our home a little more cramped, investing in bunk beds, and outgrowing our dining room table.
We said yes to standing with our arms wide open and trusting God in it ALL.
And along the way, we have learned a few truths that have become the lens through which we live our lives…
His grace will always be so very much bigger than any situation we ever walk through.
Choose joy! Always.
Sweating the small stuff never, ever made anything easier.
Make memories. The years pass way too quickly.
Have a heart of gratitude.
His mercies really are new each and every morning.
Look back and see His faithfulness…and then look forward with the assurance that He has never failed us. Ever!
It’s not about me. It’s not about me. It’s not about me.
Even on the hard days, there is always something to be thankful for.
Count blessings and name them one by one.
And when all else fails…
Dig a little deeper and trust Him a little more.
And if I stood at the crossroads and had to choose a path for my life all over again…
…I choose this!
Through every valley and every challenge, through every victory and every milestone we reach, through the daily grind and through the exciting adventures…may my words always bring Him glory.
“So may the words of my mouth, my meditation-thoughts,
and every movement of my heart be always pure and pleasing,
acceptable before your eyes, my only Redeemer, my Protector-God.” ~Psalm 19:14