It’s been one year today that we met Selah for the first time. It was such an emotional day for everyone involved. We spent months and months praying for her, and we were over the moon to finally meet her and hold her in our arms. The days following "Gotcha Day" were so emotional that it was hard to really share everything. I remember everything about that day and all of the emotions that went with it. There was the tearful, probably not culturally-appropriate hug I gave to Selah's foster mom. I knew she loved her, and I know it was an impossibly hard day for her. The language barrier didn't allow me to tell her how thankful I was to her for taking care of Selah for a whole year of her life, a year that I desperately wish I could have spent with her. And I will never forget the emotional van ride from the government building where we picked up our children to our hotel. The kids were heart-breakingly crying with such raw emotion that it can never be forgotten. They were driving away from a life, the only life that they ever knew, to a different life; one with different people and a different language and very new experiences.
One year ago we met a scared, tiny little peanut (dressed in many layers of clothing), and when I look at Selah now, I don’t even see that same girl anymore. I see a daughter that is cherished, a sister that plays and fights with her brothers, and a funny, talkative little girl. Selah was constantly in fear when we first met her. She was sick, scared, and barely slept. She was terrified of going to sleep for fear that no one would be there when she woke up. She would scream if anyone even sat on a bed. She tearfully begged to leave in toddler-Chinese wherever we were at. She was afraid when she didn’t have food in her hand that she would go hungry. She had no idea how to play with toys, and the feeling of grass on her feet was completely foreign to her. I am thrilled to say that last night, this little girl who was so scared to fall asleep went to bed in her own bed in her own room last night. This little girl who a year ago never stepped in grass helped me plant our garden today in bare feet; she couldn’t be happier about getting dirt all over her. She understands that we have meal times and snack times, and she trusts that she’ll always have enough food. She’s gained 5 pounds and grown 4 inches. She wants to be a doctor like Doc McStuffins when she grows up. She is smart and extroverted and funny. I only occasionally see the scared face of that little girl we met a year ago, and when I do, I try my best to reassure her and comfort her.
This past year has brought so many changes for Selah. She has blossomed and developed like I couldn’t have ever imagined. This year also changed the rest of the family, too. It’s been year of crazy transitions. Being Selah’s mom has taught me so much about myself; it has revealed all of my weaknesses as a mother and has continually brought me back to Jesus. My control-freak self has finally realized that I cannot possibly do this all on my own. Selah has also taught me to stop focusing on ME. Knowing my daughter was once an orphan had made the orphan crisis and poverty so much more real to me. They aren’t just faceless people on the other side of the world anymore. These people are loved dearly by God, just like Selah. Levi and Ezra are also changed. They are still little, but their worlds are so much bigger than they were before. Levi has become a sweet, thoughtful boy who thinks about others. He talks about how some kids don’t have the things that we do, and he wants to help. Ezra had a difficult transition giving up his youngest child position in the family. A year ago, he was digging a hole to China in the backyard to take Selah back. And today, when we were celebrating Selah’s Gotcha Day, he said, “I love Selah as much as God loves the world.”
As crazy as this past year has been, transitioning to a family of five, doctors and social worker visits, potty training TWO toddlers, job changes, getting SO little sleep, and finishing an EdD degree, when I look at Selah today, happily playing with her dolls, singing the songs from Moana all while wearing a glittery princess dress, I can only think about how truly blessed we are. Happy one year family day, Selah! We will thank God every day for you!
It's hard to believe it's been a year since we were anxiously awaiting our trip to China to pick up Selah. She is SUCH a Lunde, and I can't imagine our family without her. It's been a hard year, to be honest. Our whole worldview has been turned completely upside down, and we are not the same people we used to be. Our eyes were opened in China to the brokenness of this world. We were so safe in our little American bubble, and then we see travel halfway across the world and see so much suffering. It's like we were blindly skipping through life like little children, and our China trip opened our eyes to the brokenness and wreckage of the world. The things we were pursuing in life were hollow. These were not faceless children that we heard about or saw pictures of on a charity's website, but faces of real people, including the face of our daughter. The trauma and pain that she has been through in her short little life causes nightmares and difficulty trusting. It's heartbreaking. This has made my shortcomings as a mother become so evident, and it has become so clear that I cannot possibly do this on my own. The good news is, however, that I am NOT the head of my family and neither is Dan. Jesus is NOT crazy and He IS perfect (so unlike me). He loves us and ALL of these suffering children so intimately. His love is not controlling, or impatient, and without Him, I am useless.
This year our family has experienced job loss, anxiety, and trauma. The one thing we have learned is that God has a plan that is better than ours. In 1 Peter 5:7, it says to "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." Our God is a loving God, and He cares for us so much that He will take on our anxiety and fear. So, that's what we're doing. We're trusting God to lead us and to make us the best parents we can be to our sweet kiddos to help us teach them not to pursue a hollow "American" dream, but to love like Jesus.
Even with our difficulties and struggles, our kids bring us so much joy, and we thank God for the blessings they are every single day. In the past few weeks we celebrated Easter, went on our first road trip as a family of five to visit friends in Virginia and family in North Carolina, and we celebrated Selah's first birthday home with us. To make up for the first two birthdays we missed, we had a "1, 2, 3" birthday party to celebrate all three of her birthdays. She had a great time and was inviting people to her party personally for weeks, saying, "will you come to my party?" She loved blowing out the candles and of course, opening presents. And, the sun is finally shining after the winter, and we are excited about what God has in store for our family.
All National Parks: Our Travel Bucket list
X Acadia National Park