It's hard to know where to start to talk about the retreat. I came back full, relieved, armed, and thankful.
Full: I was full of joy and ready to pour out to my family. Even I was unaware before arriving how much I needed to attend this time of refreshment, learning, and bonding with women in similar situations.
Relieved: Adopting older children from a foreign country is hard stuff. It's a grueling process and a long process. What most people don't realize is that it's a very LONELY process. After 14 months of paperwork, social worker visits, required reading, watching other families, discussing real-life situations, stalking email for updates, and thinking about what the "new normal" may look like when you have your kids home, you are alone. You just are. Not on purpose. Your friends can't help it. They're clueless. Know how I know this? Because I was clueless before we began this process. You see your friends and feel like you have nothing to contribute to the conversation because your mind is 100,000 miles away. You know they will get tired of hearing about a process that's old news and seems to drag on and on. So you just don't say anything. Distance becomes natural and talking when you've been doing this for so long just doesn't come easy anymore. I'm not saying it's right. It just is what is. A lonely place in life. A lonely season.
To show up at Lake Lanier and be smack in the middle of 400 women who have experienced the exact same thing was awesome. Incredible! To hear their stories of struggling with older children who didn't speak their language, fought with them, spit on them, yelled at them, etc., and to learn how families deal with it all was such a relief. I finally felt like I wasn't alone. In that place with those ladies. Ladies whose families have been forever altered by their decision to bring more children into their families. Children with traumatic pasts who need an unimaginable amount of healing. To worship with those women and pray with them and cry with them was such a gift.
Armed: All the speakers at C4C were carefully chosen. There were main sessions every day and smaller, breakout sessions each day as well. My breakout sessions included the Adoptive Mom's Panel, Empowered to Connect, and Adopting Older Children. I took a lot of notes and learned strategies to use when our children come home. I learned I will not be able to parent my two newest children the same way I parent the 3 I have now. Most importantly, I heard about the truth of what I need to teach them and that truth revolves around their identity in Christ.
Thankful: I'm extremely thankful to Andrea Young for starting C4C. I'm thankful my husband let me drive 9 hours alone to go away for 3 days while he kept the kids. I'm thankful for the community I experienced, the women I met, and the information I learned. I'm thankful God asked us to embark on this journey, however hard it may be.
I only have a couple pictures from the weekend. This is one of my roommates, Cimbrey, who came home with her son last year from ET:
These are two of my adjoining roommates, Kristy and Rebecca. This picture took place as we were getting in our pajamas to go to documentary movie night:
You can click on this link to see the documentary we watched that evening from the mission Light Gives Heat. It's an hour and a half long, but it's definitely worth watching. The movie is being shown at film festivals in the U.S. and other countries as well, but you can see it here for free. http://lightgivesheat.org/movingonrelease
- "Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young--a place near your altar, O LORD Almighty, my King and my God"