loss and hope

It’s been almost one month since we found out that our treasured embryo baby did not make it. So many friends have reached out to ask me how we’re dealing with the loss. Your love and support have touched my heart so deeply.

It’s been an emotional time in our lives. I’d be lying if I said that it’s been easy. Loss of any kind is always hard. Walking this road of going deeper with God when it comes to learning to trust with everything that I am has been stretching, to say the least. I have days when I can shout it from the tallest rooftops, “He gives and takes away, BLESSED be the name of the Lord!”

And then I have days when my heart feels so tender.

Days when I come to my Father with my broken dreams and lay them at His feet.

Trust has been something that I have struggled with for most of my life. Most of us know what it feels like to be let down, betrayed, and left wondering if anyone is truly trustworthy, I’m sure. By the time I reached my mid twenties, life felt so fragile in the area of being able to fully and completely trust with all of my heart. Sadly, as my relationship with God grew in that season of my life, I transferred all those feelings of being cautious to trust onto my Heavenly Father.

Learning to trust a God whom I could not see, touch, or feel felt like one of the hardest things I had ever done. It took years before I could truly see Him as “Abba,” “Daddy.”

For years I lived with a tiny morsel of cautious hope in my heart, while at the same time being prepared for the how will I deal with this if it fails horribly mentality. I was so afraid of being let down and being disappointed that I lived my life always being mentally prepared to deal with the next failure or let down.

God, in all of His grace and mercy, would have to gently take me by the hand and show me over many, many years that He could be trusted.

He could be trusted on the tallest mountaintop.

And He could be trusted in the lowest valley.

Anthony and I have journeyed through many of both. God has taken us on the most incredible adventures where we have seen His glory shine brightly as we have overcome obstacles. And we have seen that same glory shine gloriously in our lowest of lows. We have lost parents and loved ones, miscarried, been through incredibly tough financial times where we wondered how in the world we would ever pay the next bill, seen friends walk away from us when they disagreed with the choices we have made for our family, lost material possessions, on and on and on. We’re not alone. No one is immune from suffering. Jesus promised us that trials would come knocking on our door.

As many of you know, we have been very busy purging 99% of our earthly belongings as we prepare to move our large family to South Africa to serve God as missionaries again. It’s been so fun going through all of my sentimental things that I have hoarded over the years—boxes of stuff that have travelled to three different continents with me. I have kept every card and love letter that Anthony has ever given me. As I read through some of them I was struck by just how far we have come over the last nearly nineteen years. We both entered our marriage as such broken people with so many hurts. Our first two years were a season of great pruning for both of us. It was so lovely to read our notes to one another over the years—to see how JESUS has shown Himself faithful to us as we have sought to always put Him first in our lives–and to trust Him completely. Sometimes we got it right. Too many times we crashed and burned badly and had to start all over again. As I read through our history again, one thing stood out to me most of all…

…GOD HAS BEEN TRUSTWORTHY.

Even when we felt all alone, He carried us.

Even when we wondered how we would ever get to the other side of the raging sea, His quiet presence was our anchor in the storm.

Faithful.

I have come so far since those early days of marriage. It’s been an eighteen-year journey of learning a lesson so deep down in my heart—to where it cannot be shaken…

MY JESUS CAN BE TRUSTED!

I longed. I ached. I yearned. I would have given anything. It was the greatest desire of my heart to carry just one more baby in my womb. Yes, I even pleaded with the Lord to let it be so—to let that sweet baby have LIFE here on earth.

But sometimes, just sometimes, our answer from heaven is, “No, my child! My plans and purposes are so much greater than what you could ever imagine. Trust me!”

It’s so easy to trust when God says yes and flings wide those heavenly gates. It’s the easiest thing in the world saying and believing that God is trustworthy when life is working out the way we want it to. But learning to trust when there is pain, and heartache, and broken dreams, and suffering, and when every plan we make feels like it fails…

…THAT is when trust hurts so much.

I am still so far from having this trust thing all figured out. My human heart fails me too often. But I am so much further down this road than where I was even two years ago. I don’t have all the answers. I don’t know why God led us specifically to four embryos who weren’t viable. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.

But I do know that the One who created the heavens and the earth always writes a story that is beautiful.

Four embryos are no longer frozen in a storage tank, and it is beautiful.

One genetic family no longer has to agonize over their remaining embryos and finally have such peace, and it is beautiful.

And for my own family—even though the outcome is so not what we wanted, just having the opportunity to be obedient to accept these particular embryos into our hearts is beautiful. We are honored, privileged and grateful that God chose us. The journey to try and give those four precious babies LIFE is something that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. Such sweet memories etched in my heart.

I have no regrets as we press forward and embrace the things that God has for us. We’ll continue to say yes to everything that He has for the Salems—even when God closes the door in front of us and our answer from heaven is no. We’ll press on and there will be times when our faith will feel fragile and we will falter and fall over and over again.

But Jesus…He is enough.  His grace will always find us right where we are.

Yes, there are moments when my heart aches when I think about what could have been. But He is God and I am not. He is the Potter, the Master Gardener, the lifter of my head. He is my All in All.

I will continue to choose to cling to the HOPE that we have in eternity.

Because even when life is hard and painful, we have such a glorious HOPE in what is to come.

And if I had to choose all over again, if God called us to adopt these four embryos and we knew what the outcome would be, our answer would still be yes. Because from the foundation of the earth, God chose them for us.

His will always. Not mine.

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IN HIM WILL I TRUST!

“Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” Psalm 9:10

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