Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Unconquerable Joy

Before I heard his story, I thought that he was just another baby boy. His name was Judah and he was one of the little ones who lived upstairs with the youngest children in the foster home. As I began working with these children I began to hear his story.

He had a severe heart disease; surgery would not help. It was inoperable. A situation so serious was more than my mind could fathom. I had never before met someone so small and so ill. A few months later I grasped how extremely sick he was. He was in the hospital with pneumonia and we got a call that he was in heart failure. I didn’t know what that meant, but it sounded scary. He shouldn’t have survived, but he did. And soon he was back in our arms.

Over the months I watched him grow. Every day I played with Judah and his “roommates.” Those sweet children brightened my day every day. As they grew, I watched each one of them move on. They moved downstairs where the bigger, healthier children lived. Some moved into foster families. Some were adopted. But not Judah. He was still so fragile.

His health was never dependable. Some weeks would find him battling infected lungs, fevers and colds that never got better. Often he would have to go to the hospital each morning to receive antibiotics. But, after each hospital stay, each IV and each appointment, he came back. He never let the weakness of his little body beat him. He always came back smiling, laughing and clapping.

    A doctor once examined Judah’s case and informed us that he should not have lived past one month old. At times, I felt the need to protect him, to hold tightly to his life. But I didn’t need to. I came to see that a supernatural, heavenly hand was holding Judah every single minute of the day.

Whether he was playing in the playroom, sleeping in his bedroom or in a car on the way to the hospital, he was being protected. Every day, for Judah, is a miracle. Seeing that miracle unfold each and every day inspires awe in even the most miracle-doubting person and it changed my life.

I learned from Judah what a difference joy makes in life. His joy got him through the cold winter months. Joy kept his heart beating and his blood flowing, despite the physical impossibility of his heart functioning at all. A joyful heart is good medicine and, in Judah’s case, it saved his life.

His two-year birthday was a huge day. I anticipated it for a month. This child was not supposed to live past one month old, yet he was turning two. My joy was tangible as the days grew nearer to that special day. We crowned him the birthday king and had an extra special party.

I feel like I grew up with Judah. While he grew in stature, I grew in wisdom, and that wisdom came from the things that he taught me.

Sustained by love, Judah stayed strong. He desired to communicate but couldn’t seem to get the words to come out. I taught him sign language and he learned so fast that I could barely keep up. After finally taking his first steps, Judah took off. Nothing stood in his way.

When I heard that Judah’s adoptive parents were going to name him Ajay, the first thing I did was to look up the name. It means, “Unconquered”. I cannot think of a more appropriate name for this champion. He has been through many battles during his short life, but has always emerged from them victorious. Ajay’s joy is unconquerable. Nothing has been able to diminish it and I know that nothing ever will.

Saying goodbye to the kids when they are adopted is hard, but it’s never sad. It’s a wonderful occasion because we know that they are joining their forever families who will always love them. So, as I say “goodbye” to Ajay this week, my heart is filled with Joy. Unconquerable joy.


  1. His day is finally here. Judah was the first child I got to hold and love on at NDFH. I love you, big boy, and I'm so proud of you. You are going to do amazing things-- you've already touched so many lives. I'm so very happy you are going home with your family.

  2. Hannah- This is a beautiful post.
    Congrats to Ajay and his forever family.

  3. Thank you Hannah, Jessica and everyone at New Day who loved and cared for Judah, and who continue each & every day to love & care for all the little ones there.

  4. Awesome! Praise God He works in bigger ways than we ever imagined! Rejoicing with you Hannah in Judahs life!

    Love in Christ,

  5. Ajay te deseo una feliz vida, una larga y feliz vida. Pequeño, he llorado por ti, y he rezado para que salieras adelante, por tu lucha. Deseo que tus padres sean muy felices contigo.
    Desde España hay mucha gente que cuida de ti, y desde el cielo un angel muy especial.

  6. Thank you Hannah for sharing this tender story of another modern day miralce at NDFH!
    Happy Birthday Blessings to Ajay from Hong Kong,

  7. Wonderful post, Hannah. Thanks for sharing his, and your, story so beautifully.

  8. I played with him a few times upstairs. He is a Truely Amazing Boy. Praise God From Whom All Blessing Flow. His "Forever Family" will be "Forever Blessed"!