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Created for Care Retreat…

WOW! I am finally coming up for air after crashing pretty early the last two nights! It was SUCH an amazing weekend–one that I really can’t put into words!! “REALLY, you say?” I know, I’m a writer at heart–but there are SO many things that were just amazing…AMAZING…about the weekend. Truly, I have NEVER in my entire life been to a retreat like this one–and I can take ABSOLUTELY ZERO credit for it. It was just the Lord all over it!!!

From start to finish–for me…it was a taste of heaven. Beginning with praying with the session breakout leaders and speakers over all the women there–I started off the weekend in tears (good tears!) and I think I choked up at every prayer and welcome from then on out! I was challenged to be around other moms who have followed the Lord in growing their families through adoption…opening their hearts and homes to little ones because of Kingdom living—taking care of orphans by changing their status to SONS and DAUGHTERS…and being willing to go in the depths of brokeness with their little ones to see healing and hope begin to truly happen.

I loved that we heard from SO many different adoption moms and teachers—so often you go to retreats and it’s the same “key note” speaker–and you find yourself listening to the speaker and hearing from them more than seeing the common thing so many different speakers are talking about—and listening to hear from the Lord above all else. One thing I really loved, was our “Date with God” time. I would do this time an injustice to try and describe it—it was just incredible…to be able to pray over others prayer requests, to sit quietly before the Lord…and to even paint and create sculptures as I prayed and just rested in His Peace.

And the worship—it truly blew me away. On Friday night I was taken back during worship. I wish I could have held it in–but the tears poured down my cheeks as I sang to the Lord for His perfect plan and for His goodness. There I was with over 250 moms following Him in this way–and I looked to my right and beside me I saw Laura McBrayer. Then I looked to my left–and I saw Amy Stavnes, Melanie Strobel, Meghan Dempster and Kristin Burleigh…and several other moms that ALSO had their babies home—but to me—these babies are so very, very dear. Their babies were in the orphanage at Hannah’s Hope the SAME time as my Isaac Temesgen…

So there I stood–in Atlanta, Georgia…praising God with these other moms…when last year–we were all desperately waiting for a phone call–to call us with a referral for our children…to tell us they were okay…to tell us the wait was over–and we could soon bring them home. Then–there I stood with hands lifted high with the MOMS of the babies that my son roomed with at the orphanage just a year ago…all of our children were once orphans…they were once across the WORLD…and now I stood there praising the Lord WITH them WHILE our babies were home safely tucked in their beds with their daddies home caring for them. SERIOUSLY–I was overwhelmed by His goodness and grace! And that I would have the opportunity to not only MEET these moms–but worship WITH them. wow. Wow. WOW!

So many wonderful things happened–and I also believe SO many wonderful things will come out of the retreat. Before the retreat began, we only had around 20 moms signed up to attend the HIV adoption breakout. After we were EDUCATED by Amy Levy and Susan Hillis HOW HARD it is to get HIV and really…just how uneducated our country is on HIV in general…YET how DESPERATELY these children NEED to come home to moms and dads who will care for them and get them the medicine they need to LIVE–blows me away. Seriously–what IS Kingdom living about?? One thing is certain–I am 100% certain that if I were living in the Kingdom and looked down to see thousands of children in orphanages with HIV with very short lines waiting for them…that I would LONG to come down to Earth and tell them how LOVED they are…how VALUED they are…and how God WILL speak to hearts to find them a family. Oh–I pray we listen when He calls!!! BUT GET THIS! After the pj panel–more moms signed up for this and the next day there were more than twice as many present as moms that had originally signed up!!! Just amazing!!!

The breakout sessions–were incredible…and after debriefing with some of the session speakers and planning crew–we already have a long list of ideas for NEXT YEAR! Did I just say NEXT YEAR? Absolutely!!! We are so in–and we can’t wait for many of you to join us again!!! We will be sending out a survey later in the week to hear from teh 250+ mommas input to help us with planning next year’s retreat! Now…what did other mommas have to say??? Well…I have spotted a few on blogs–but of course send me your link if I don’t have it so I can share it too! Would love to share what other moms got out of the retreat!

Here’s just a few…

This is a Great Adventure
Hearing ItToys in My Coffee
Our Journey to 6
Jones Always and Forever
The Bice Family Blog
My Resting Place
Filled with Praise
Our Something Beautiful
We Love our Lucy
Dockery Bambino
Lovin Much
The Growin’ Gothros
The Shubins
Begin with One
Inexhaustible Love
Blessed Bentons
And 2 Became 5
The Farmer’s Wife Tells All
Mixon Mania
Leigh-One Day at a Time
Adding Astons
The Brown Brigade

Okay…so if you blogged about the retreat–email me your link so I can share!!!! AND your favorite pics too! We can totally use them for next year fun stuff:). I did not take ONE single picture. NOT ONE. SOOOO…here are a few fun ones that have been sent my way…

YES…ITY made his appearance…but JUST for a very short bit on Saturday for lunch!

Thank you Kim for sending these!!!

LOOOOOVED getting to see so many of my adoption momma blog friends!!!!!!!!(Pictured above: Courtney Aston, Mitzi McBride, Hilary Helms, and Lara Dinsmore (aka the Farmer’s Wife:)

Me with the moms whose little ones were at Hannah’s Hope TOGETHER!!!!! (Laura McBrayer, Me, Melanie Strobel and Amy Stavnes)

One REALLY cool thing is even the staff jumped on board with our heart!!! AND this sweet friend is FROM Ethiopia!!! How cool is that?!

LOVED getting to meet these fun blog and AGCI mommas…and Aimee Powell too. I love that we may all be from different parts of the country…adopt from different places…YET our heartbeat for these kids is the same!!!!

Ok…so I’m sure more to come!!! Just wanted to share a little bit of the retreat while I had a moment!!! Can’t wait to share more…and can’t wait to share 2012 dates once they are in place so you can mark your calendars!!!!!! XOXO!

Bonnie Nieuwstraten - February 9, 2011 - 12:19 am

Andrea~ Thank you, thank you for taking me under your wing on Sunday and taking me to the airport. It was SO above and beyond and it blessed me – really! It was a treat to get to spend a few hours getting to know you. Thank you for all that you poured into the retreat. I’m praying for your new area of ministry this week. Praying that He will give you energy and wisdom to love and to listen and let Him move.

Elle J - February 9, 2011 - 12:31 am

You are Beautiful, Andrea, inside and out … I could feel the power and passion of this weekend in your writing. How awesome is our God – love this!!

missy - February 9, 2011 - 12:42 am

wow. what a beautiful weekend. sure wish i could have experienced it. but i feel like i am getting to live vicariously through everyone’s posts. it is obvious that the lord really met you all there.

Kim - February 9, 2011 - 3:37 am

Sounds like God did immeasurably more than we prayed for!
Love & Blessings from Hong Kong,

Amy @ Filled With Praise - February 9, 2011 - 7:22 am

I just cannot tell you enough what a blessing last weekend was to my heart. I am so thankful that you said YES to God when He put this on your heart. I pray that your family will be abundantly blessed for being obedient to His calling.
Love you!!!

sarah hurst - February 9, 2011 - 9:13 am

i am thoroughly enjoying reading on lots of adoption blogs about the Created for Care retreat! it seems like everyone had a blast and truly felt the Lord in that place! i can’t wait to see the dates for 2012; i’m ready to schedule it on my calendar…can’t miss it! thanks for all your hard work. God Bless!

Audrey Brown - February 9, 2011 - 10:10 am

Thank you for following your heart and having this retreat. It was so encouraging to me.

Christina - February 9, 2011 - 10:57 am

I’m still speechless about the weekend. It was awesome. It was life-changing. I’m going to try to crank out a post this week so it will have a page in our blog book for memories’ sake, but seriously, there are just no words to describe! Thank you so much for being God’s hands and feet in pulling it all together–it was clear that it was His doing and HE WAS THERE WITH US, but it only happened because you were willing to be the vessel! LOVE YOU!!!

Ashley - February 9, 2011 - 11:47 am

I am still processing this weekend as well. All I know is that I’m better for it!!!

Kandra - February 9, 2011 - 12:27 pm

It was a powerful weekend and I am looking forward to next year already! I posted it on my blog…but I was really challenged by Beth T. in one of the breakout sessions. She spoke about parenting your child in the Spirit…anyone that attended and did not get to go to that session be sure to listen to it…OUTSTANDING! God has clearly given her the ability to speak to the heart of women! Thanks Andrea for being obedient to God’s call not only on your life…but specifically in the planning of this retreat!

Courtney - February 9, 2011 - 12:59 pm

Thank you for this amazing weekend! Such an encouraging, informative, challenging weekend for me-a first time mom! I blogged about it!

Amber - February 9, 2011 - 2:52 pm

I just posted one of several blog posts I plan to write about the retreat. It was so encouraging and refreshing. Looking forward to next year.

Natalie Teabo - February 9, 2011 - 9:10 pm

Can you see all these comments??Is God not AWESOME!!!
Here is mine I also

Loves to you girl!

Lauren - February 10, 2011 - 12:56 am

Such an amazing weekend. I’m amazed by the Lord completely showing up and speaking so loudly to so many of us. Thanks for taking the leap of faith to put it together.

Maria Davis - February 10, 2011 - 8:31 am

Thank you for following God’s leading for a weekend like this. I loved it and I still can’t come up with the words to express my time there.

Robyn Beall - February 10, 2011 - 11:02 am

Andrea, it was an amazing weekend! And timed so perfectly for me! I can’t wait until next year! I posted (what I could with four precious children running around) 🙂 on my blog about the weekend
Time to go play in the snow – while it lasts! 🙂

Erin Crenshaw - February 10, 2011 - 1:39 pm

Andrea! The retreat sounds absolutely incredible!!!!!! My heart just hurts when I read this b/c I wish I was there so badly! And, when I read that about what you said about orphans with HIV, it made me so emotional! It all resonated with my heart! We are waiting to bring home our little one with HIV, and I can’t stop thinking about him/her. I can’t wait to get him/her on the meds he/she needs…to hold him/her, love him/her, show him/her how special and loved he/she is! I never signed up to go on the retreat b/c we were already in the program and I assumed we would get a referral really quickly and that by Feb, we would be in travel-mode. But…we are still waiting!! Trusting in God’s perfect timing and sovereignty while LONGING for a little African baby to be in our arms!