Monday, March 24, 2014

Created for Care

A few weekends ago, I went to a retreat for adoptive moms. I was super excited. And also a little worried. Because, you know, I am a mama with no kids at home. I was a little worried I would be the only mama who was "retreating" from her zero children. I mean, not worried enough to not go. I wanted to experience what everyone had been talking about and meet other mamas who have been where I am going. Plus, we are really hoping to bring something like this closer to our home for mamas from our local area. So I was going but worried.

I had an 11-hour drive for my local mama friends to reassure me and scold me for my negative thoughts.

So we arrived and I was ready just to learn, listen, and live life with other mamas.

I was immediately struck by how beautiful the lodge was where the retreat was held. I mean, you want to talk about an oasis. So, so pretty.

When you check in at C4C (cause they're cool and have an acronym), you get a name tag with your name and the country your kiddo/kiddos came from. So, I got a sweet Ethiopian flag on my name tag. And also, I quickly decided I needed a shirt that said, "Africa has my heart." Because it does. 

Only my friend, Liz, also decided she needed the shirt. So we both put it on and took a picture. You can't see Liz's but you'll have to trust her shirt matches mine.

As soon as the retreat sessions started, I knew I was in the right place. There were three kind of breakout sessions: sessions meant to equip you (called Be Love), sessions meant to refresh you emotionally (Be Loved), and sessions meant to help you connect with God (Beloved). I tried to hit a lot of the equipping sessions. You know, because I am about to be a mom for the first time in my whole life and he's seven and I'm totally overwhelmed (I'm told all new moms feel this way, whether their child is a newborn or 15).

So, I went to breakout sessions and listened to moms with tears in their eyes share how hard and wonderful this journey is, all at once. I saw moms hug each other and pat each other on the knee knowingly and share how sometimes the hardest thing is how alone you feel.

Which is my biggest concern. Except, I know I'm not alone. I've been promised this by so many mamas going before me, all over the country and in my back yard, promising they'll be by my side with coffee and chocolate (and maybe even some wine) when the circumstances require it.

It was such a blessing to sit at dinner with women I'd prayed for but never met. To hug my friends that I've felt so close to but only from across a screen. I can't even tell you what this meant. 

Beth Guckenberger (remember her? From this post?) was our keynote. Her knowledge of the Bible and heart for orphans just lights me up. And of course I've heard her 3 times in 1.5 years. So yeah. I feel like God just keeps placing her in my path. I got some awesome worship time and great words from the word, if you know what I mean.  

But of course it wasn't all serious. Sometimes you just have to put on a crazy costume and take a picture with your girls.

Or several pictures. Whatever. It was so fun to be silly and enjoy each other's company. 

So after a long, full day I went to bed, full and heart-happy.

And then I woke up with a stomach bug at 2am. Yeah. Not my favorite. Especially because my sweet bedmate and I had just met earlier in the day. Oh man. Hi, dear adoptive mama friend. What's that? You thought when you got away from your six kids you would have a vomit-free weekend? So sorry to ruin that for you.

But seriously.  My roommates were so kind to take care of me and help me make it to morning.

And then I had to skip some sessions. You know, for rest.

I was down but I was not about to be out! I got myself around and headed back for some afternoon sessions. And, of course, more photos with these chicks:

Because seriously? When you get a weekend with the girls, you go for it, even if you lie on the ground to rest while everyone else chats.

I did get to go to the signature session of the weekend, called "Date with God." It lived up to they hype. I got a little over an hour to experience different stations and share some quiet time with God. It happened to be in a room with dozens of other women but it definitely didn't feel like it. I wish I could explain it to you. But it's pretty much a post in and of itself. And even then it is hard to explain. There are stations and different activities, all of which are meant to help you share time in the word and in prayer. It was a beautiful time for just the two of us. 

After dinner, the mamas from my agency all got together for a group photo. It was amazing to see so many moms I'd prayed for and watched for the past three years. And to finally be the one who was being asked the questions about their referral and their process. Finally!!

Aren't we a pretty bunch? And pretty sweet and kind, too, if I do say so myself. I mean, the rest of them, of course.

So yeah, there was a stomach bug. And some skipping sessions. But in general it was amazing. And so many of  my mama friends said, "We'll see you next year--can't wait to hear how attachment is going!"

Oh my heart.

So thankful for a weekend with adoptive mamas. Can't wait to do it again. Sans stomach bug next time, if I do say so myself.

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