Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Joy in the Journey Retreat Video 2014

The next several weeks, we will be bringing stories of how lives were changed at the first EVER Joy in the Journey Retreat on February 21st and 22nd.

Our prayer is that you will be blessed by these stories and that God will work through the testimonials of these sweet ladies to bring you closer to Him and to fill you with His Joy.

Before that, though, we bring you this awesome visual recap of the weekend...

Special thanks to Scraplace Studio for the wonderful pictures, awesome video, and super fun Photobooth (which raised $205 for an adopting mama at the retreat).

Stay tuned...exciting things coming up on the blog!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Meet Sara - Host of our Creative Quiet Time Breakout Session

This is the story of a family that God has grown.  When I looked up the word “biological” to try and find some other word to describe it, the word “organic” popped up.  I like that word better.  It better describes our family.  Organic:  of, related to, derived from living matter (Google’s “meaning of organic”).  Yes, that’s it.  We are of each other because we love each other.  And the blood that unites us may not have the same DNA, but it was shed for all of us.  With each one of us in mind, knowing our lives needed His perfect blood because everything else is so deficient—He gave His life so we could live.
We got started growing our family right away after we got married.  We brought our first little one home about a month after our first anniversary!  With each stage, we have left it up to the Lord to make it happen.  We didn’t know how long it might take to get pregnant or if I would have successful pregnancies, etc.  Conversations always included adoption as well.  But where do you even start with that?  We weren’t exactly “trying,” but we weren’t exactly doing anything to not try either.  And then BAM!  I always tell people, “He winked at me, and I got pregnant.”  So, there we were trying to finish school (which we’re still doing 11 years and 3 undergraduate degrees, 2 Masters degrees, and 1 (almost) PhD later!), living technically below the poverty level, and jumping into life with both feet!  We were thrilled, and scared to death!  But as you all know, life keeps going.  You can’t stop it.  Sometimes I want to—not just because I’m scared of the future, but because I want to freeze moments and dwell in them.  Like hearing that first heart beat over the Doppler.  Or finally looking into the face of the sweet child you’ve been anticipating for so long.  Or maybe even freezing a date night with the hubby—just for a few extra hours together.  Those would be nice frozen moments, don’t you think?
The growth of our family has not come without growing pains.  We’ve lived on very tight budgets.  We’ve lived in cramped quarters.  We’ve moved.  A lot.  But the Lord has always provided.  And we have felt His leading to each of the places we’ve been.  Certainly there were times of questioning—you know, when it got hard or uncomfortable.  And yes, we thought about leaving and giving up.  But we are not a people who leave and give up!  We are followers of Christ.  So, we follow.  Faithfully.  Even when it’s hard.  The one pregnancy we talked about “trying” for ended in a miscarriage.  Our oldest son was just over a year old.  We thought it was a good time to start trying for baby #2.  Once again, I got pregnant right away.  Around two and a half months later we found out we had lost the baby.  Sometimes I feel like that heartbreaking day at the ultrasound is frozen in my mind.  The pain and grief can still wash over me with such a vengeance even after all these years.  In the middle of us trying to find our bearings again and praying healing for my body, it happened again.  It was the Lord.  And by the time we figured out I was pregnant, we were well into the second trimester and baby was healthy.  We rejoiced!  And this time we were having a girl.  We talked about whether or not to try for #3.  We finally decided the Lord was telling us to wait it out to the end of the year for his answer.  I supposed that if we were pregnant by the end of the year that was a “yes,” and if not, “no.”  Well, the New Year came and went.  I didn’t think it was possible that I would have become pregnant because of my history while nursing a baby (which I was presently doing)—#nocycle, #freebirthcontrol.  Well, the Lord had other ideas.  And sure enough, at the end of January I became suspicious.  Remember how I mentioned the Lord had said to wait until the end of the year?  Well, literally, I will never forget the moment my doctor said to me when we were confirming the pregnancy, “Oh, it looks like this must have happened on New Year’s Eve!”  It doesn’t get anymore “end of the year” than that, folks!  We were confident after this pregnancy the Lord was telling us our biological family was complete.  However, we didn’t feel like were done growing as a family.  We weren’t sure what it would look like, but we began praying, dreaming, and waiting.  Oh, the waiting.  Am I right?! 
Fast forward about 5 years.  Our oldest son was 8, our daughter 6, and our youngest son at the time was 5.  It was time.  We began searching and praying for answers, for direction from the Lord.  I had spent some time in the country of Haiti during my college years, and the people of Haiti had never left my heart.  We started there.  It was a dead end with all the current (at the time) rules and regulations, we didn’t qualify.  Where now?  We started talking to agencies who gave us all the countries we did qualify for.  We marked all of them on our globe and prayed.  And waited.  We knew some missionary friends in the Eastern Caribbean, and we also knew a family who had begun their adoption process through the same country.  After a few conversations we decided THIS WAS IT!  We got connected with the right people, and we were officially on a list!  We were doing an international private adoption.  As my 4th grader sometimes says, “That’s cray cray!”  And it was!  Communication was limited and sometimes confusing.  Most of the time I didn’t know what I should be doing or what I should be expecting.  Praise the Lord for a family a few months ahead of us in the process—they were a constant resource.  Not just for practical and technical purposes, but for encouragement and sanity purposes as well!  So began the process of hurry-up-and-wait!  Paperwork.  Waiting.  Paperwork.  Waiting.  We’re at the top of the list.  Waiting.  I’ll spare a lot of the details in between—though there are some precious gems of God’s divine intervention.  (He’s pretty awesome!)
Finally a referral.  A pregnant young mom.  Gender of baby unknown.  Health of baby unknown.  Due in 8 weeks or so.  YES!  Without hesitation.  We knew this was our baby!  More waiting.  The baby was due at the end of December.  And HE was the best Christmas present ever!  We waited 6 more months after he was born to finally hold him in our arms.  His foster mom is one of the most amazing women I have ever met in my life.  I feel so blessed to know her.  Her love for the Lord and for children is incredible.  She would give her life, and quite frankly, is giving her life to help children in desperate need.  She took the best care of our sweet baby boy for 6 months, and then handed him over to us.  The process of going to get him and bring him home was incredible.  Not only was it amazing to meet him and spend time in his birth country and even meet his birth mother and hear her story, but it was also one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life.  We were away from our three bigger kids for an indefinite amount of time.  We thought maybe two weeks, at the most 2.5 weeks.  Three and a half weeks later we were finally reunited as a family again!  I can see many positive things for the time we spent bringing him home now.  (At the time, not so much.)  I am overwhelmed and thankful for the journey the Lord has us on, and the way He is growing our family.  All the days of waiting and paperwork and being separated from family—they seem so far away now.  Almost gone.  The joy and delight right before my very eyes blocks it all out these days…
I know that many people have very hard “growing family” stories.  Whether it be waiting periods without end.  Or trying so hard and experiencing failure and heartbreak.  Referrals that don’t come to fruition.  Saying “yes” and hearing back “no.”  The depth of faith and testing and trust that some endure is incredible.  Once again, I’m drawn to think of what unites all of us.  The thing that makes us all family. The blood.  His blood. Shed for us.  The blood running through our veins at this very moment is temporary.  But His blood that unites us is eternal.  My prayer for each of you reading this is that His blood would cover you and your family—whatever that looks like.  That He would unite you in an eternal way more than an official or biological or lawful way.  Oh that we would all be eternally united—knitted together in Him.  That’s family. 
“For all these things are for your sake, so that the grace that is including more and more people may cause thanksgiving to increase to the glory of God.  Therefore, we do not despair, but even if our physical body is wearing away, our inner person is being renewed day by day.  For our momentary, light suffering is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison because we are not looking at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen.  For what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.”  2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Breakout Session Teaser: Connecting while Correcting

Have you ever gotten to the end of what was supposed to be a great day with your children and just thought, “Man, all I did today was ride my kids about this and that.” Or “I had really wanted to connect with her today, but we were just at odds all day.”?  I have and it’s an awful feeling.   I think if we are honest, we have those days so much more than we want to admit.  Oh sure, we plaster our Facebook walls with the ideal moments that we want to cherish.  And  sometimes, if we are really being authentic, as adoptive parents we feel the need to project how great we are doing and how wonderful adoption can be, by making it look easy.  But, let’s be real, our life doesn’t look like our Facebook newsfeed or our Instagram photo stream.  We would trade it all for true connection with our kids any day; we long for them to know how much we love them and how much we desire to parent them well. We would LOVE to go to bed every night knowing they felt loved and successful, without those tense interactions repeating themselves over and over in our mind.  Knowing we sounded differently than we planned, knowing we didn’t make it better and desperately wanting to fix it but not knowing how.  We simply sleep on the promise that we will all start fresh tomorrow. 
So what IS my goal?  Is my goal compliance?  If my goal is compliance and behavioral change then (let’s face it sometimes it is just for the behavior to STOP! FOR THE LOVE!), then my approach places the child’s behavior above their preciousness and need to trust.  It also allows me to use whatever means necessary to change the behavior, but this usually creates a disconnection that I now have to recover from.  However, if my goal is to build trust and connection with my child then, the behavior (both mine and theirs) that I need to address is merely what is standing in the way of that connection.  Because our children need so much correction, the only way to meet the goal of building a trusting, connected relationship is to connect while you are correcting your child. This requires a whole new skill set, because most of us didn’t grow up this way and it doesn’t come naturally to us.
I would argue that this is how God parents us, from a point of trust and connection. 
“Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?”
Romans 2:4
The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”  Romans 8:15
God doesn’t send his children away when they are “bad.”  We don’t only get to be in is embrace when we are “measuring up”; he gently guides us, loving us.  In fact, it is our connection with our Father that creates our desire to obey.  It is that same connection with a loving Father that allows us to approach him when we have strayed, knowing his love remains, he’s still our fan and that all is not lost.
It’s my goal, as we grow as parents that we will parent more how God parents us.  Because it doesn’t come naturally to any of us I would like to provide you with a set of tools and strategies to turn your correction moments into connection moments as well. I look forward to being a part of your journey next weekend!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Breakout Session Teaser: Foster Care in the US

Whenever we get the opportunity to speak to groups about our experiences of being foster parents, my husband starts the speech the same way every time.  He starts with the sweet story of how he has had a crush on me since he was 15 years old.  So sweet.  And yet, unfortunately for him,  I did not feel the same way back then.  So he talks about how it took 6 years, but he kept at it and finally wore me down enough that I agreed to marry him!  His story continues on with how I returned the favor and wore him down until he was convinced to get into foster care.  Not so sweet!
It is funny to hear him say & it makes the groups we are talking to laugh and smile.  It is a good icebreaker before we get into the seriousness of what foster care is and how it has changed our lives.  But the truth of the matter is that I did not wear him down.  I never would have been able to do that nor would I have wanted to.  Foster care is not something that you can convince, manipulate, or force someone into, not if it is going to be effective and be something that changes your heart and brings hope and healing to children.  I wholeheartedly believe  it is something that God calls you to and He is the one that will lay it on your heart.
I wish I could tell people that doing foster care is all sunshine and rainbows and happiness.  I wish I could tell them that all the kids in foster care are so relieved to be “rescued” from their hard circumstances that they are the most obedient and respectful children you will ever come into contact with.  It would be nice to be able to tell them that the system is always just and fair and does exactly what we feel is best for the child.  I would like to tell them that working with biological families is a piece of cake and they are always pleasant and polite when you interact.  I mean, you are taking care of something precious to them so how could they not be grateful!  I bet I could get a lot of people to give foster care a shot if I was able to tell them how easy and rewarding it is every day!  But my goodness, that would be the biggest lie I have ever told!  Foster care is hard and messy.  It is heart-wrenching and uncomfortable.  It is full of excited nervous hellos and horribly painful goodbyes. It requires you and your family to make sacrifices that you may not be ready or willing to make.
In Matthew 16:24, Jesus says “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”  For those of us who know the rest of the story we often forget that at the time Jesus said this, it was outlandish!  “If you want to be my student, pick up the most demeaning, traumatic, shameful, painful way to die and follow me with it.” Jesus calls us to follow Him, but at a cost to us - emotionally, physically and socially.  We consider foster care to be our cross.
My husband and I would both tell you that we would quit foster care right this moment if we could.  In moments of weakness we often comment how easy it would be to “only” have four children. How we long to eat at a restaurant without needing a table for 8 with 3 high chairs & to be able to make it through that meal without one of our little people having an embarrassing meltdown. How wonderful it would be to not get the judgmental stares and looks when we walk into places with our very large, very young, mixed race crew of kids.   So many days end with one (or both!) of us needing an emotional break - usually this involves increased doses of coffee or chocolate (or both!)  And I can’t even begin to count how many times my husband has said, “You’re going to bed at 9?” or “Wow, you look tired!”  Always lovely to hear!
And while we wistfully talk about how much different our lives would be if we had not started this journey 4 years ago, we continue to daily pick up “our cross”. We do it because it is a burden that God has placed on our hearts. We feel it is the ministry He has called us to while we are here on earth.  So we choose to take up our “cross” daily and do what God is calling us to do.  And if this cross--taking care of and loving innocent, hurting children--is the cross that we must bear on this earth, then we are blessed - for what an easy burden that is to bear!

My name is Joanna Holden.  I have been married to my college sweetheart for 13 years.  We have 3 biological daughters and adopted our 2 year old son through foster care in December.  We have had the privilege of being a temporary home & family for 15 precious children in the 4 years that we have been foster parents.  Each face & name is imprinted on our hearts forever!
I will be speaking in one of the breakout sessions about the crisis of foster care in our country & different ways that we can give our hearts to these children & families.  While God does not call all of us to personally care for foster children in our homes, I am convinced that we can all reach out & in some way support these children and the families that care for them!

Monday, February 10, 2014

SHARE SOME LOVE: Clement Family Benefit Raffle

Less than two weeks ago, Elizabeth and Evan Clements, parents of two year old Eden (who was adopted from Taiwan), welcomed their beautiful brand new baby, Ezekiel, into the world.

Upon his birth, it quickly became clear that something was seriously wrong with Ezekiel's heart.  The family was rushed to St. Louis, where doctors initially believed there would be a way to surgically correct baby E's heart, which they discovered is missing a pulmonary artery. Unfortunately, after testing and researching options, the doctors informed the Clements that there are now no surgical options for Ezekiel, nor do the doctors believe that there is much of a chance for surgery in the future. 

The following is what Evan wrote on his facebook page: "We know that we serve the creator God that designed Ezekiel in this special way for a special reason. For now we are simply going to love the blessing of Ezekiel and cherish each day. We may not know the future, but we know The One who holds the future. Our prayer is that His kingdom may be blessed and glorified through the life of our son. Continue to pray for us as our mommy and daddy hearts are shattering. Thank you all for your love and support this week."

In addition, the Clements are just months away from bringing their baby boy, Elijah, home from the DRC.

Elizabeth is personal friend of each of us here at Joy in the Journey, and our team felt moved to support our friend.  So, here's where you come in.  We are inviting each of you to help in two ways:

1. PRAY for the Clements: for Evan and Elizabeth as they love on their sweet baby; for Eden, as she processes all that is going on around her; for baby Ezekiel's heart and that he will feel the huge amount of love and prayer support surrounding him; for Elijah as he waits to come home.

2. SUPPORT the family financially by entering the

Want to know how?

Well, first things first...the prizes...

We asked for donations for this raffle and had many amazing people graciously donate.  So many, in fact, that we are able to offer FOUR prize package bundles!!

Prize Package #1
Adult Bundle

Beauty will rise print Love is Waiting 
Joy in the Journey necklace The Adopt Shoppe
Chevron scarf 517 Creations
Wash clothes Megan Lock Designs
Dozen cupcakes Ritter's Babycakes 
Leather Bracelet The Adopt Shoppe (kids)

Prize Package #2
Adult Bundle

Scarf Kim Nantz
Colors of the World Cuff Trades of Hope
Hannah James Cards Hannah James
Jamberry Nail pack (Indulgence Pack, three nail sheets, and sample sheets) Jamberry Nails
Whimsical Scarf-set of 3 Bubbly Bows
Sunglasses Subsidy Shades
Fleece Floral Scarf Crafting a Family
Pot Holder Megan Lock Designs

Prize Package #3
Child Bundle (Boy)

Owl Hat Bubbly Bows
1 Spit Up Game Onesie/1 Diaper Game Onesie Spectrum of Amber
Hooded Towel 517 Creations
Carrie Me Home Onesie Love is Waiting 
$50 Photo Session Gift Card Scraplace Studio
Madison Loom Bracelets (variety of three) The Adopt Shoppe (daughter)

Prize Package #4
Child Bundle (Girl)

Owl hat Bubbly Bows
Leg warmers Bubbly Bows
Bow bundle Bubbly Bows
Hooded towel 517 Creations
Melia Set of 3 Loom Bracelets Joy in the Journey (daughter)
Large Hairbow OolalaHandicrafts
Mum clips-Set of 3 Megan Lock Designs
Crotchet Hat Mishie's Marvels
Girl pack of Goodies Emily Taylor

Ready to enter?  Here's how:

You will receive entries based on how much you donate to the Clements family using the PayPal button below.  The more you donate, the more chances you have to win one of the bundles listed above.

You will receive entries based on the following table:
$5 equals 1 entry
$20 equals 5 entries
$35 equals 10 entries
$60 equals 20 entries
$100 equals 40 entries

There will be four winners and the winners will chose their bundles in the order in which they are drawn after the raffle is closed (the first winner chosen will get first choice, the second winner will chose out of the remaining three, and so on).  You will not specify which bundle you want when you make your donations.  We do not need to know your preference unless you win a bundle.

The raffle will close at 6:00 p.m. Central on Saturday, February 15th, 2014.

For more information and for up-to-date raffle news (as well as to keep up with our ministry to encourage and connect adoptive and foster moms), click here and like the Joy in the Journey ministry's Facebook page.

Please consider sharing this raffle with your friends by using our floating toolbar to the left of this post.  Thank you for helping us Share Some Love to this sweet family during their time of need.


Friday, February 7, 2014

Meet Maggie!

Becoming a mother has always been a terrifying thing to me. Being responsible for the health and well-being of my own self was scary enough, let alone doing that for another human being. I was constantly questioning whether or not I had what it took to raise a child. I was afraid of not being nice enough, not being patient enough, not being kind enough, and, to be honest, I just really love to sleep in and take long showers. I’ve seen enough mommy blogs to know those would both be out the window come parenthood. Last year, I even made a list of 30 things I wanted to accomplish before I turned 30. Number 7 said this: “Start to think about maybe possibly becoming a mom. Someday. In the future.” To say that having the title “mother” freaked me out was an understatement.

Last Spring, God began to change my heart. I started seeing motherhood in a new light. It suddenly became less about what I would have to give up and more about what I would gain. The thought of raising a child seemed less like a burden and more like a privilege. I can’t put my finger on what caused these thoughts, but I’m confident that God was preparing my heart for a journey that I never expected.

Isaac and I began talking about starting a family. We talked about timeframe, finances, and every possible logistic that a child would affect. What can I say? I’m a planner. As we began talking about having a biological baby, there was a disconnect. We felt God saying, “It’s time to become parents, but it’s not time to have a baby.” Awesome. Thanks for the extremely clear and easy to understand answer, God. Much appreciated.

In April, we traveled to Haiti to check out a potential missions partner and everything began to make sense. The parent-like hearts God was beginning to form inside of us went into overdrive and we couldn’t imagine not making adoption the basis of our family. We knew God was leading us to adopt from the Caribbean so we began the process.

We’ve experienced incredibly joyous highs and gut-wrenching lows, but God remains faithful in his promise to complete what he begins. We’ve had the door shut in our faces with no idea of what to do next, and we’ve had doors we didn’t even know existed flung wide open for us. We’ve stressed and doubted we would ever come up with enough money to make this thing happen, and we’ve had anonymous checks handed to us for the perfect amount needed. God does not call us to missions that he has not already fulfilled, and for this truth I could not be more grateful.

Maggie is on staff as the Community Impact Minister at Christ’s Church of Oronogo. She and her husband, Isaac, are in the process of adopting their first child from St. Vincent and the Grenadines.  At the Joy in the Journey Retreat, she will be leading the breakout session entitled, “Orphan Care Ministries.”

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Breakout Session Teaser: Expectations vs Reality

Joy in The Journey Breakout: 
Not What I Expected - Food for Thought

Have you ever wondered just how in the world you ever ended up somewhere?  For example, when you set out to find a crock pot recipe for supper using google and millions of recipes are displayed.  Click,click, and another click, and without realizing sidebar adds and pictures hijack your entire mission, and it's now time to pick up your daughter from school. Somehow you got derailed and lost in the abyss of cyberspace and the superhighway of information. You pick up the littles from school, run from dance practices to appointments, to the grocery store and you feel exhausted upon entering your front door. When you look up at the clock, you gasp, because you just remembered this morning's intentions for dinner. You remember that moment ten hours earlier when your mind was kidnapped by cyber-thieves. The frustration and haste sets in as you apply your least favorite pair of glasses... your hindsight bifocals.  

For just a moment you are able to replay the events through those awful glasses. You see it all through the two in one lens. The top of the hindsight bifocals play out the days events and display what actually happened. But, the bottom magnified lens reveals what could have been. All you can think of is.... NOT AGAIN!! You scramble around in an attempt to fix a nutritious meal for your family and the best you can do is grill cheese or PB&J.  Your family looks down at the food on their plate, dissatisfied, and the grumbling begins...."I don't like grill cheese."  "I thought we were gonna have a real meal mommy." "Why can't you make us good food?" Or my favorite, "I think I'm gonna starve to death cause I don't want that." 

Yep, and that's the moment you start feeling like you have to be the worst mother ever. It's one of those moments when you wish you could have a do over. But you just keep repeating the same old patterns and expecting something to change.  Because the greater the difference between your expectation and reality the greater the disappointment. And each day of disappointment regarding parenting your  adopted kiddo(s) becomes cumulative and the whisper of lies begin; and all you can hear is the chatter of shouldacouldawouldas.  

You're not good enough.  
Really, again..... 
Couldn't you just find a recipe and feed your family something fabulous for once?
I'm not cut out for this...
If only I had.....
Why couldn't I be more like....
You should have never said that..
I wish I would have known how hard this would be...
This is all your fault...
You're parenting just like...
There's a reason you were barren...
You're such a disappointment...

Your mind is reeling. It is then that you start to try to deflect those lies to make yourself feel better. And making yourself feel better is all you can think about.  You just want to escape the hundreds of lies that bounce from side to side inside your head.  You never knew it would EVER be this hard and on many days you are reminded of the hundreds of disconnected instances between you and your family.  You miss the mark again, and now you feel like parenting adopted kiddos is not at all what you ever anticipated or expected it would be. These are the days that strip you of who you are. You wear thin and your heart grows weary. And because you're weary you say things you should never say to the ones you love. You forget all about the teachings, the videos, the books and the conferences, and all the tools they had once equipped you with to parent your littles. You know the things that have come out of your mouth would cause Karyn Purvis to shriek in horror. You are more disconnected from your kids than you ever imagined or expected you ever could be.  You think about the videos and books and the moments you should be connecting with your children but all those resources are forced behind the curtain of a hazy blur.  You know the less frequent you use those tools you were once equipped with the more you forget you ever had them to begin with - securely attached to your belt. They become heavy and burdensome, so you decide to parent on your own - you take off the belt.  

But, when you decide to parent your way it feels all wrong. You know you have no healthy reference point, and you feel like God must have made a mistake in choosing you to parent. Our disconnected parenting hurts us, it hurts our families, and it hurts the hearts of the children God entrusted us to love, to teach, and to encourage. Your level of disappointment has far exceeded what you ever envisioned. Because what you envisioned were journeys full of colorful rainbows and flavorful lollipops. But your reality was more like Dark skies, constant rain filled clouds and buckets of lemons to suck on. Because of these two in such opposition (Expectation and Reality) your level of disappointment is greater than you could have ever prepared yourself for.  
But, I am so thankful there is hope and grace for the weary mommy.  The days are long and the years are short, so I'm welcoming the use of my Hindsight bifocals more often.  I believe there are lessons to be learned in the knowledge of our past.    

Someone once said that life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.

This is oh so true.  I've come to realize that life is full of expectations, big or small, realistic, or way off the mark. I've learned so much by understanding what is behind me. I've learned over time that my backwards can help me live in the forward. 

Adoption has been a tool God has used to reshape my heart, change my thinking and broaden my view of His Grace. Because without His Grace, and without Him meeting me where my expectation and reality intersect into disappointment, I will never be the mother He has so graciously called me to be.  

My Hindsight view has allowed me to learn how to rest upon the wings of grace, a grace that I cannot earn and I did nothing to deserve.  Gods grace is sufficient to meet you in your daily disappointments, in your heartbreak, and in the moments you get it all wrong. 

"But He said to me, "my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ's power may rest on me." (2 Corinthians 12:9)

What expectations did you have before your adoption Journey?  What do you wish you had known? Were your expectations realistic, or are you still trying to figure out how your reality could be so far off from your expectations? I can't wait to share with you what other adoptive moms wish they knew, and how we can learn from one another's heartaches and disappointments. Lets count them ALL as Joy, as we join one another in Missouri.  

My name is Sharon, and I'm honored to be one of the speakers at the upcoming Joy in the Journey retreat this month. I’m a Ragamuffin Writer, A Lyoness Heart; Chosen as a mother through the gift of adoption. I’m a wife, a mother, a nurse, a blogger & lover of Jesus. I love all things adoption both the bitter & the sweet. I am a Daughter of The King most High, who was chosen, adopted, forgiven, & redeemed, and because of His love for me ~ I am committed to defending the Fatherless.  www.lyonessheart.blogspot.com