We have just wrapped up the 2nd retreat of the year–and now we will spend the rest of 2013 seeking direction and making plans for the heart of 2014. We just do 2 retreats each year–back to back (in January and in March)–simply so we can serve more moms without spreading out the crazy of planning and what it requires to host retreats. 450 moms attend each retreat–and we also know if we spread them out TOO far that really…most would probably want to come to both because…well you’d need another one by then! Having them back to back allows us to also have some rest and to plan the next year while still getting let our families be first.
This year our theme was LOVE BIG! We based our theme on 1 Corinthians 13:13 “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” Step out in faith. Wait with hope. And LOVE BIG.
Truly. It is an honor and joy to volunteer planning these retreats each year. When you think about the moms in the room…the beautiful stories that each one represents…the journey behind and ahead of each of them–truly to stand in a room with 450 foster care and adoption moms with a similar heartbeat and love for the Lord in worship—is truly amazing…
We always begin our weekend together with a slideshow of the pictures the ladies sent in of their family prior to the retreat. (We do a separate one for each retreat. This is the MARCH slideshow. We are unable to post the JANUARY slideshow because the January slideshow has lots of pictures sent in of foster babies so that one can’t be shared online.) After our welcome on Friday night, we use the slideshow to start us off before worship–with the slideshow being our first act of worship for the weekend–remembering what He has ALREADY done–what He is doing–and trusting Him in faith for what He will do. I ask the ladies to pray for the families as they see them and to remember how each one represents quite an amazing journey. By the end of it…every retreat…I’m speechless. And thankful. And just in awe of how big our God is and how He cares for each family so tenderly and powerfully.
So that wasn’t the VERY beginning of the March Friday night agenda. Before we got serious–I actually opened us up in silly. I don’t have the full video to show you–but I do have the “practice” that happened at my house the night before. This was kinda on a whim. We are always SO CRAZY planning the January retreat as it’s right after the holidays. But for March–doing a repeat…we have a little extra time…not much–but just enough time to make a few trips to Party City for some crazy. I actually welcomed everyone in the beginning by shutting off all the lights. Turning on a solo spot light. And coming out as Napoleon. The actual performance welcome was much longer–the full deal…but this was my practice the night before. Not right I know. But retreats can some times be so serious–that we want to bring in the silly too. Cause although life can be serious–the stuff surrounding it hard…you have to bring the silly with you and learn to laugh too.
Here’s an out-take wig malfunction that made us laugh. Learned for the actual performance I needed bobby pins. Glad I rehearsed I guess;)
Ole Rico Suave and I laugh a lot around here. He and the kids thought this was a great way to open up the weekend…not sure what all the moms thought–but I have no shame when it comes to attempting to make people who need to laugh – laugh:)
Then on Saturday morning, Carissa Woodwyk shared a letter she had written called “Listen”. Carissa is a Korean-born adoptee–and a counselor, mommy, wife and most precious friend. She shared her heart–and really spoke on behalf of the adoptee’s heart. Powerful. Moving. Sacred. Tender. She makes me want to really listen as a mom to the hearts of my children.
On Saturday night we got to hear from her again–right after Amy Monroe from Empowered to Connect/Tapestry Ministry shared the heart of an adoption mom. Then the two tag-teamed an amazing session where they dug deep into the heart–and shared theirs along with sharing pre-recorded clips of other adoptees. Powerful–and so good.
Carissa–well, she is also a nut. In good company. Definitely part of our crazy team. She sent me this following the retreat with the message “Napolean meets Created for Care.” Hilarious. You’re on the right track Pedro. You’re on the right track;)
ALSO on Saturday night–mommas had the option to attend a fun time led by Meghan Dempster and Mary Ostyn about thriving as a big family. We called this “Extreme Home Edition” and they shared everything from tips on multi-tasking, grocery shopping on a budget, homeschooling, etc. Mary has the most dear, tender spirit about her. So thankful she was able to join us this March!
It was truly an AMAZING weekend. And I had such fun tag-teaming the MC responsibilities with one of the C4C trio mommas Christy Elphick. We decided to dress up for every main session announcement time–and we rocked Debbie Gibson like no man’s business on Saturday night.
We wrapped up the weekend with the story of Hagar and Tona Ottinger reminding us that the Lord SEES us too. Right where we are. He sees us. He has a plan. And He will never leave us. Not only does HE hear US. But He hears our children. He will care for them. He is ENOUGH.
Truly, it was such a sweet weekend.
A time to connect with other adoption mommas…
Here’s a picture from the January retreat of AGCI Ethiopia mommas…had to throw this in there as I reflect remember also the sweet connections made in January
The Lord does so much in our stories–and even SO MUCH in just this weekend! I’ve already begun to get so many emails of how the Lord worked in individual hearts and how so many moms heard from Him in specific, amazing ways.
Thank you ladies so much for coming. For coming to rest. To be refreshed. And to just open your hearts to receive whatever His purpose was for you for this sweet weekend together.
We can’t wait to begin planning for 2014…and to see each of you again!
And I can’t BELIEVE that I came home to find out on Monday morning–that while we were serving at the retreat that our LOA was delivered from China! I asked the ladies to pray for this…and on Monday morning–it came. CRAZY. And on Tuesday (yesterday)…well–we celebrated in true Young fashion:)
Pulling out the blanket that Megan Boltes made for me and gave me this weekend today and getting ready to DECORATE a nursery with it! How precious is this?? (Thank you Megan!)
Megan is making these to help fund their adoption travel AND 10% goes to Ubuntu in Africa! You can visit Megan’s Etsy shop here.
UNTIL next year…