Sunday, March 02, 2014
I just finished an amazing weekend. I flew to Seattle on Thursday to attend and speak at Refresh 2014, a Christian Foster and Adoptive Parents conference. This is the third year... I was here for the first one and as I have pointed out in jest at least 341 times since I got here this weekend, the FIRST YEAR I was important enough to be a keynote on the main stage. This year, back room. Now that the conference is big and popular I guess I'm not. :-) Except for Friday night respite... I was doing standup. How fun is that?
So Thurday I left kinda crabby to tell you the truth. Why? Because I am completely in love with my church and the people there and I HATE missing church. I also had to miss a monthly coffee shop event with the praise band at church and we hadn't had it for a couple months so I was just bummed to miss it. It's my favorite thing.
And I also was waiting for news -- news of whether or not I was going to get promoted at Bethany and whether or not I could hire an assistant. (I had an idea and one picked out -- a good friend of mine -- so I was really excited to find out and hated to be away when that news came)
But this morning as I get ready to fly out, I am SO sure this is where I was supposed to be....
Let me back up and tell a story. I went to a Unidos en Cristo weekend a few weeks ago. If you have never been, you should find out a way to go. It's amazing. Anyway, I came back from that completely changed in regards to the way I look at people. I finally realized that I AM A DOOR GOD PUT IN THIS WORLD FOR HIS LOVE TO WALK THROUGH! (Thank you Jason Gray).
All of the sudden life is different. Instead of seeing the people around me as burdens or interruptions or annoyances, I am seeing the opportunity God has given me to infuse grace, love, joy and hope into them. And this weekend I had the opportunity to do that.
Talk about an amazing time. Wonderful people, all connected to adoption, many going through REALLY hard times, coming together to to share experiences, to encourage each other, pray for one another, and bask in being refreshed. I got to meet cool people like Carlos Whittaker, and Jason Kovacs, and Bruce Kendrick. I even met a lady who calls Steven Curtis Chapman Steve. Wow. Blessed.
Friday night I had the chance to do stand up. It was SO MUCH FUN. I shared my heart... I told my stories... I had people in stitches. And then I turned it around at the end and I shared with them the way God has been showing me that all through the tough stuff of the past He was loving me, wooing me to Himself. A love story. They were in tears.
Yesterday I was treated like a celebrity. It really cracked me up. People were coming up to me asking for hugs, asking if they could friend me on Facebook, telling me how much they had enjoyed the night. I had two seminars and I closed each with prayer. It was so cool. We laughed together, we cried together, we shared life together.
This morning I had a surprise breakfast with the founders and leaders of the conference.... just the three of us. Andrew and Michele are awesome. I just love them.
Then I came upstairs and Leon let me worship with my people back home by holding his phone up with me on Facetime for the whole service. He even walked around and let me say hi to folks afterwards.
I sat in my hotel room with my phone on Mute singing 10,000 reasons very loudly with my people back at Brunswick. And my heart was so full.
My kids are all doing pretty well with the exception of Ricardo who is in jail... Pray for him. Pray for all of them actually.
My grandkids are adorable -- Salinda is having another (she's living in Puerto Rico with the new baby's dad right now). My husband remains incredible and his ministry is flourishing and great things are happening.
I realized that I needed to be Refreshed at Refresh, but more than anything I needed to be here to refresh others. When I was in the middle of the chaos and multiple crisis phase of our lives several years ago very few of the "old survivors" showed up to conferences any more. I would have loved to see an example of hope that I would make it to this place and there weren't many there.
And so I am flying back very glad I came. In awe of God's mercy and grace that allowed me to be here to bless others. There is no greater blessing.
I would like to promise I'll blog more but I probably won't. Life is just so full....
The next chapters at Bethany are exciting ones -- an adventure waiting to happen. I covet your prayers for us as we embark on a journey that impacts more children.
My theme song for the next chapter is one we sang at the conference: It's long, but so so very good.