It is kind of embarrassing to start updating your blog again in APRIL . . .and have to begin back in JANUARY still.
Although did you know a SURE way of getting a HUGE number of viewers on a post is to leave it up and not post again for like THREE months? Not that I know that personally at all.
Oh you poor five souls that kept checking in hopes of a new post day after day. : )
Although this is a super fun memory from January.
You may remember from last year I attended a retreat called "Created for Care." It is a weekend spent pouring God's truths, heart and love into moms called to the love children from hard places and moms called to love alongside moms loving kids from hard places.
There is lots of great education there to come alongside you where you are at and then this incredible, powerful and amazing gift called community. To be surrounded by women who intimately know the idiosyncrasies of your journey, share honestly and vulnerably of where they have gone before you and encourage you to keep your eyes, your heart and your mind fixed on the One who sees us, our families and is with us every step of the way? There aren't words.
Although I just managed to use a lot of them. I specialize in long run on sentences.
This retreat has been a huge blessing in my life and over the course of our family's adoption journey, some of these women I see there have become as close as family to me as we have walked together towards and in adoption.
A dear friend of mine from Chicago, Lauren, was my travel partner. : )
There is always a part of coming to the retreat that feels like coming home. I think there is just something special about knowing this may be the only time for a year you get to see these people you interact with on almost a daily basis and walk through the hard and beautiful together.
It is absolutely nuts to be to think last year I went totally on my own with nothing but a conviction God has something for me there . . .and God saw fit to put me in a room with a woman who shares so much of my heart . Not to mention she also has two little girls almost essentially the exact ages as our girls.
Roomies reunited - me and Cat
Unpacking and finding these fun surprises was super sweet
Each year, one of the most incredible parts of the weekend is standing in a room worshiping with 450 women. There are moments you just have to stop, be still and let it wash over you.
And plus you get fun pictures like these texted to you from Daddy . . .
My sweet sleeping Kate
My sweet sleeping Ava
My sweet NOT sleeping Olivia?!
Then it was on to a grown up pajama party - you never out grow those!
So excited to see my dear friend Kimberly. Last year we left praying so boldly that God would answer her prayers and she would know her child's face after a long and hard wait. . .and this year she came with some of the sweetest pictures of a precious baby boy you have ever seen.
And yet one more way God just works details out in friendships . .. meet another roomie of mine, Suzanne. It was just over the course of this past year we have gotten to know each other really well and our hearts clicked. Like hearts, like humor, like love of all things musicals (you should hear her sing)?! . . .and two little girls right around our girls ages. I don't know where she has been all my life other than living too many states away. Look for a theme in the roomie department.
One of the things that was a touch different for me this year is that amidst all the incredible teachings and sitting under God's Word, I definitely spent a little more time this year pulled back a little, soaking in time with my roomies and soaking in what God was speaking to me. Last year was so much meeting and getting to know others. But no C4C would be complete with out lots of community.
One of the best parts is that on saturday night, any of the women who are there from my specific agency, All God's Children International, come together for a big group picture, to chat some, pray together and just soak in talking in person instead of over the internet. : )
These are two dear momma's I have loved getting to know . . .and both momma's of twins as well, Jenny and Kimberly.
If we look tired the twins are not to blame. It is staying up too late . . .ok, maybe the twins are to blame too.
Another extended family of mine!
Rory - how in the world are you in so few of my pictures!!!
My incredible, amazing, God seeking, loving big roomies.
Rory, too, has become like family this past year. I met her briefly in passing and over the course of this past year she has blessed my life so deeply as she has walked some deep waters with a faith I pray to have. She may have 4 little girls at home. Now are you detecting a theme?
Meet my roomies.
Yes, the four of us, PLUS 11 daughters? . . ..our husbands need a retreat.
And before you ask, none of us are specifying gender in our adoptions. : )
And between the four of us there is one precious boy across the ocean that is loved deeply and carried deeply within our hearts.
A breakout session with Dr. Susan Hillis on "choosing joy." Oh this session spoke to my heart. Reminding me it is God who brings things to completion, that He is able and He is with me.
Some of my favorite points from her talk?
*Reminding me I am a small woman, loved by a big God, who is for our family and for our hearts and for the world.
*I need to not only listen to my children but listen to what God has to see and say about them
*not only am I not able but it is also not my job to heal them. My job is to love big.
*the Lord's strategic plan is quite different than ours. We need the armor of God and we need to change how we are building our walls (her talk centered around Nehemiah and the building of the wall).
*quit trying to build and come spend time seeking His face.
*I am the joy set before Him.
See . . .that was just a FEW points from one session . . . don't you want to go?!?!?!
It was especially timely because God just really showed me I have been carrying around the heavy weight of the struggles one of our kiddos faces on a more daily basis . . .and that it isn't my weight to carry. That yes, I can be doing all I can to come alongside her, love her, advocate for her and support her . . .but all the details, the ending and the healing? That is His. And my job as her momma is to love deeply, pray deeply and point her to Him and let the opinions of others fall along the wayside as I seek my Father's face for her.
And then somewhere amidst that your husband sends you this picture.
Hello, melt my heart.
Oh I love those three deeply and can not believe I get to be their momma.
And then before you blink the weekend is winding down. You have been stripped, emptied, pour into and filled back up. It is a gift in my life.
There is just the sad reality that you have to start saying good bye.
And wear glasses.
Because at this point you are so exhausted, have cried more than a few tears and your eyes protest the mere mention of contacts both for vain reasons and comfort reasons. : )
Myself, Cat, Kimberly and Suzanne
My dear Rory and me
And the woman who had no idea what was in store when she said yes to God. Andrea was the idea behind the weekend. She desperately needed retreat and community in her life and had the idea to get away with 25 of her closest friends. Did you read that number? 25.
The first year they put the word out there (3 years ago), around 200 signed up in no time flat showing clearly God's hand was in this and a need existed. She never dreamed God was calling her to helping put on two different retreats for 450 each (that sell out in a matter of hours). And yet she continues to seek to serve and obey His call, even when satan would like nothing more than to rob her ability to do so. I am grateful to now call her friend and watch God continue to work in and grow her family.
Love these girls:
Suzanne, Andrea and me
A few more dear AGCI friends
One last roomie picture
We are all still scheming and talking about a way to see each other more than once a year amidst family needs, adoptions and missionary callings and these things called budgets. California, Illinois, Oregon and Kansas. Still boggles my mind. Regardless of how often I see them, they are family.
Then after one last, fun filled ride to the airport, one final good bye . . .
Until next year . . .kind of. : ) More on that to come.