humbled, speechless, and completely blown away!

Nine months ago I shared my heart in a blog post that I titled “Faith Must Get Uncomfortable.”  I remember writing that post like it was yesterday.  We had gathered the essentials that we needed from our mountain home, packed a few belongings in a rented truck, said goodbye to precious friends, and headed down to a much lower altitude because one sweet little blessing in the family simply could not get healthy at the high altitude.  As you may remember, we nearly lost Harper to severe pneumonia last winter.

We drove down the mountain that day with tender hearts and shaky faith the size of a mustard seed—knowing that somehow God would meet us on the other side—even though we did not know one person where we were going.
When I wrote that post, I knew that God was about to take our family on a journey of learning to trust Him on a deeper level. I sensed even then that the season we were heading into would be challenging and that our faith was about to be taken to a new level of learning to trust.
Had I known back then just how stormy the sea would become, I think I probably would have said, “Let’s give it another winter here and see how Harper does.”
Because when the journey of faith gets messy and uncomfortable, like the Israelites in the desert, we long for stability.  We yearn for the former things.  We remember the days when life seemed simpler, even for a family of eleven.
I’ll be honest.  The past nine months have stretched and challenged me unlike anything else I have ever faced.  Adopting our six children with special needs has been a walk in the park compared to the uncertainty of life since we moved.
Faith did get uncomfortable!
We faced one crazy obstacle after the next, after the next…
…just as we suspected we would.
We have looked back at our former life and thought too many times to count, “Maybe God wants us to go back?”  “Did we make a mistake?”  “What if we have completely missed God’s still small voice leading us in this?”  There have been days when God has been so silent in the storm…yet, He is there!
And every time we have questioned or wondered, He has whispered to our hearts, “The Israelites never returned to Egypt!  You must keep moving forward to enter the Promised Land, Salems.”
We have failed too many times to count—taken our eyes off of Jesus and tried to find an easy way out of this crazy season.  Fragile faith in the fire.
A few days ago, Anthony received a call from a friend.  He asked us if we would be willing to share our family’s story with a local radio station.  They were doing a segment on people making a difference in their community and would be interviewing several families.  Anthony didn’t quite understand exactly why we were picked, but gladly obliged our friend.
Yesterday we piled our whole family into our van and drove out to the car dealership that has partnered with the radio station to do the interview.  The kids and I laughed as we drove into the parking lot.  My big, rusted, sometimes-faithful old van seemed to stick out like a very sore thumb in the midst of countless shiny new cars.  Looking back now, God must have smiled from heaven.
As soon as all the children were out of the car, they insisted on taking our van to their service center for an oil check.  I was so touched by the kind offer. 
Sharing our children’s stories with Scott and Sadie from Big Country 97.9 was amazing.  We felt so incredibly blessed that they had invited us to come and share our hearts on adoption and God’s desire to see children in families. 

 

I felt so emotional and humbled that God had given us such a beautiful opportunity to share HIS unfolding story in our lives with the community that we live in.
Once we were done with the interview, they took us out back toward the service center to collect our van.
And in an instant, when we walked through the doors…
…God showed us His faithfulness like never before.
We have never been so shocked in our entire lives!  I saw a crowd of people and my initial thought was, “Oh no!  They’re having a party here!  Let’s get the kids out of here quickly!”
Until I looked around and I saw.
They were OUR friends.
They were OUR people.
People who have, in just nine short months, opened their huge hearts to us and welcomed us into their lives with such unconditional love and acceptance–arms wide open.
It’s the kind of thing that happens to other people, so we thought.
Waiting for us were precious friends who had gathered to share in our joy…
…as our family was presented with a 15-seater passenger van! 

We’ve never driven nearly-new cars!  Ours are always several years old with at least 100,000 miles on them, and we drive them until they literally tell us they can’t go another mile!  We have to tell someone to come haul them away to scrap yards!

But before us stood a beautiful, shiny white passenger van.OVERWHELMING!

Oh my goodness gracious!  The tears—they would not stop.  Never in our wildest dreams did we expect ANYTHING like that.  Ever!  When we sought the Lord just a few days before, asking Him, “How Lord?  How are we going to replace our van?”…never did we imagine that He would move on the hearts of His people in such a generous and incredible way!
Never did we dream that a community of people who have seen us drive our beat up old van would think of a way to relieve us of the burden of maintaining a car that was costing us more in repairs than what it was worth.
And we never imagined it would ever happen to us.  We are completely overwhelmed and undone.  We stood humbled, amazed, and our tender hearts laid bare before the Lord…overwhelmed with gratitude.  

All pictures courtesy of Ehrlich Toyota

Anthony and I have been awake for most of the night. “Why us?” we have asked one another so many times. We have felt so unworthy of such a generous gift. “What did we ever do to deserve this humongous blessing?” We’re nothing special! We’re just two ordinary people who told the Father a long time ago that we would be obedient—no matter where He sends us or what He called us to do. There have been so very many times when we have completely blown it! We have been unfaithful. We have missed the Lord. We have failed to see opportunities right before our eyes when He has called us to love, to help, to give, and to be a blessing.

But in His unfathomable grace and love that my heart just cannot comprehend…He has chosen to spoil us in this way.

They even went to the trouble of adding the stickers.  Yes, it made me cry even more happy tears.

 

I remembered something that I shared in that post that I wrote last August.  It was a conversation that I had with one of our children on a day when his heart was struggling to find contentment in our ancient van.  “You know, honey, sometimes God allows us to be uncomfortable for a season. It’s a good thing! It means that He is stretching us and teaching us that sometimes life just does not go the way we hope or plan, but it’s all for our good. Perhaps He’s teaching you to be content in this van so that some day, when we are able to get a larger one, you will look back and see His faithfulness to provide.”
My children have tasted and they too have seen God’s incredible faithfulness to provide in the most astounding way. 
To EHRLICH TOYOTA and BIG COUNTRY FM, we honestly just do not have the words to express our gratitude.  Your incredible generosity has ministered to our hearts in such a beautiful way.  Thank you for being the hands and feet of Jesus to our family.  Thank you for blessing us with such an amazing and ridiculously generous gift.  We are so humbled and amazed by your outpouring of love.  From the moment that we arrived and throughout the afternoon, we just felt so overwhelmed by your kindness and your love for our family.  As we arrived, the clouds were black and there was even a tornado warning.  But God, through YOU, shone like the brilliant sun in that place. God has provided us with exceedingly, abundantly more than we could ever have hoped for…through YOU! THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts.
And to our family at HCA, goodness, thank you!  Thank you for embracing all of us so wholeheartedly.  Thank you for reaching out and for reminding us that we truly never do walk alone.  And thank you, with hearts overflowing, for the precious gift of your friendship as God has planted us in this place. What a blessing you have all been to our family.  We only hope that we can give back just a tiny portion of the love that you have so graciously lavished upon us.  We are truly grateful that God, in all His wisdom, led us to a place where we would be so embraced.
With tender and extremely grateful hearts today.Anthony, Adéye, Hasya, Connor, Kellan, Haven, Hannah-Claire, Kael, Cade, Hailee and Harper.

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