I’m not sure when my story began of learning what it means to follow Jesus with my whole heart. I don’t think I can remember when I truly started embracing a life where I would try to do anything that God asked of me.
Was it when I met my missionary husband-to-be and became a much braver version of myself as we followed God together—willing to step way out of my comfort zone? Or was it when I left my family in South Africa and moved to Australia with a baby and a toddler, not knowing a single person there? Or was it when we stepped into the world of international adoption, not knowing a thing about special needs? Or was it three or four adoptions later when our unconventional, often misunderstood life to the rest of the world felt like it was perfectly normal and beautiful to me?
Or was it on my first visit to an orphanage in Eastern Europe when they placed my new teenage daughter in my arms? Was it on that day when I looked over every fragile, unbathed, neglected ounce of her 14 pound body, every crooked tooth and deformed toe, and every tear she sobbed as she dealt with pain and fear—the paralyzing fear of being removed from the only safe place she knew for almost fifteen years, the confines of her crib? Was it during that week when I faced every fear I had about what the future of my family would look like with this tiny girl in it—an emaciated teenager who was so desperate for medical care that it was only by the grace of God that she had held on for so many years?
I don’t know. I honestly can’t tell you if my story of learning to lose my life began when Hasya’s story of learning to find her life began. But I can say without any doubt that this little young lady whom I have the absolute privilege of calling my daughter has helped me to see life in a way that I know I would not have, had God not asked us to bring her home.
Without hesitation, Hasya has taught me that chasing after the will of God always satisfies so much more than holding onto the life I thought I needed or wanted.
A couple of weeks ago I sat in my kitchen sharing hearts with a young lady who I love like one of my own. We discussed so many things on our hearts. We spoke about special needs and the trials and the beauty of raising children who struggle more than others. “You make this look so easy,” she said to me.
I have thought about that so much over the past few days. My heart’s desire is never to make our lives look easy, nor do I want anyone close to us (or not) to believe that what we do is never without its hard days. Because that’s just not the reality of it at all. Of course we walk through hard and painful things and some days are particularly stretching. I long to share our story and our family with a whole lot of authenticity and grace sprinkled in between.
Because on no given day do we get everything right. We fail often and wish we could have a do-over on many days. That’s just life and the reality of living a life where we are completely hopeless without the grace and the mercy of Jesus every day.
But raising my sweet Hasya and her many siblings has taught me a thing or two—sometimes I have been slow to learn and other days I have learned quickly. Mostly though, I’m a slow learner who is so thankful for amazing grace as I figure out all of its ups and downs. But through the day in and day out of caring for our children who are completely dependent on us and trusting God in the hard things, my heart has changed over the years. I have changed. I do what I do with great joy only because I have tasted and I have seen that God is good through it all. He is faithful when we walk through hard things, and He is faithful in the daily grind.
And every morning that my feet hit the ground to do it all over again for another day–to change diapers, prepare food, clean up messes, care for every need they have—I pause and consider the privilege and the mystery that God chose me to do it.
There is so much joy that comes from living a life of counting our blessings and not our burdens.
As I sit here giving thanks for the Lord for the 23 years that He has sustained Hasya on this earth, it is with a heart of so much gratitude.
Gratitude for ALL that He has done in the past eight years that she has been a Salem.
Gratitude for her health. Her sweet, sweet personality. Her everyday presence in our home that just makes life so much lovelier. Her love for her family. Her contagious laugh that fills the room. Her ability to go with and love all the life and the busyness that happens around her every day. Grateful for the precious moments that we get to love her and be the hands of Jesus to her in caring for her daily needs. It is truly one of our greatest honors in this life that we live.
Happy, happy birthday, my amazing young lady. What a precious gift you are to us!
Thank you, thank you my sweet Hasya for showing me that when I lost the life I thought I wanted, I gained the life I never knew I needed.