This past Monday, we celebrated ten months as a family. Ten months of laughs, of tears, of smiles, of joys. Ten months of meals shared, songs sung, church services attended, prayers recited, bedtime books read. Ten months of kisses every night before bed, ten months of bleary-eyed good mornings. Those who know us in real life know that those bleary-eyed good mornings were hard, really hard for a long time. That’s gotten much better, and the morning fireworks are almost a distant memory at this point, so much so that this morning Shanti woke from a deep sleep with a huge smile on her face and bounded out of bed to tell Arturo about the dream she’d had. What a transformation. What a miracle. What a blessing.
The metamorphosis in the life and heart of our daughter was brought home to me last week by the casual comment of a new acquaintance. I teach music lessons from our house, and of course we have photos of our family all over. We have a frame in the front entryway that has a photo of Shanti and me just a few days after we met her, and then another photo from several months later. I had a new student come for her first lesson last week, and as she was leaving she paused at the photos, pointed to Shanti in each picture, and asked, “Is this the same girl?”
In many of the big ways, yes, Shanti is the same girl we met just over 11 months ago. Her laugh is still quick and bubbling, and her smile is still infectious. Her sense of humor is the same, all “12-year-old,” and her mind is as quick as can be. But in many other big ways, Shanti is not at all the same child who tentatively said hello to us for the first time. The hard shell of pain and defensiveness around her heart is slowly melting away, revealing a spirit of pure gold underneath. Healing is not a linear path, and some days seem like we take three steps forward and two steps back. But the progress is still there, and when I look back over how far we have come over the past 10 months, I am blown away by what God can do when we open up to His will and dare to say “yes” to His call.