Monday, February 11, 2013
I know I haven't blogged much but wanted to at least talk a bit about REFRESH 2013.... before I get back on a plane and return to the real world. Bart and I have been here since Friday afternoon and it has been a great weekend.
Having been to many many conferences, I must confess to never leaving another conference with a stronger feeling that for Christians who have adopted, this is a MUST ATTEND event. No other place that I've found provides post-adoption support, encouragement, and faith-building like REFRESH. The huge team of people at Overlake Christian Church works together to pull off such a great event, with so many additional touches, that it takes the conference to a new level. And if you are a professional or adoptive parent who has struggled with not being able to talk about your faith openly in the adoption world, this even is for you.
We gathered with 550 people for an amazing time of worship, learning, sharing, crying, and getting to know people who shared our passion. Here are a few of my own takeaways from the event:
1) God, as Father to the fatherless, is already in the adoption and adoption care business. Those of us who are doing this hard stuff are joining in something that is in God's heart. God is passionate about caring for the orphan.... and so anything that I do doesn't make me having to worry if He is going to be with me, or if it is a good idea. It's been his heartbeat for hundreds of years. While nobody spoke about this at the conference directly, I put that all together and then it started to make sense why God is continuing to do such great things at Bethany.
2) If the church is the bride of Christ, then does that make the church mother to the motherless? I realize this is a fairly gender-bound statement, but I like the concept. No matter how you explain it, it is the church who is God is calling to care for the orphan. Robert Galinas did an excellent job of explaining this.
3) God is in the business of transforming our lives through our children and we don't need to be ashamed when we aren't perfect parents. Lisa Qualls and her son Isaiah powerfully communicated this truth as did many others.
4) Taking time to be with God and others who have been down this path and share our faith is so important. It is so incredibly energizing to spend time with people who share my passion -- and as you know, my passion is intense and runs deep. But it is nothing compared to folks like Andrew and Michele Schneidler and Johnston Moore, to just name a couple of people whose passion impresses me. Talk about being refueled -- just being in the same room does that for me.
5) I was able to share at the conference in the two break out sessions -- Even When the Healing Doesn't Come" and "Anger and Arguing: How to Avoid Both to Parent with Humor." The people in my sessions were engaged and honest... it was so cool. My takeaway from sharing my story is that God has given me the wonderful privilege through all my mistakes of being able to teach people what not to do. :-)
I could go on and talk about others who were there and other things I learned, but there are other projects calling out to me... so I just want to say this...
Come next year. If you are a Christian and you have adopted, put February 28-March 1 2014 on your calendar. The conference fee is very reasonable, so your trip to Seattle and hotel is what you need to save for.... but if you get them at the right time tickets to Seattle aren't bad -- ours were $230 a piece or something crazy from Minneapolis.
I know I've encouraged my blog readers to come to a bunch of stuff in the past, but if you're a Christian and you care about orphan care THIS is the one conference you just can't miss.
Who wants to come next year?
(And no, nobody paid me to write this. Although maybe I will go back and charge someone. (Just kidding)