Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Jen's Retreat Recap

It’s been just over two weeks since the first Joy in the Journey Retreat concluded and I am still struggling to put what I witnessed into words.

Our CRAZY Team!

I believe God has been preparing my heart for this ministry for many years, weaving exactly the right people into my journey and placing within me a passion for connecting and encouraging those who are parenting kids who had difficult beginnings.  Once, in the midst of our adoption journey, I was challenged to breathe in, breathe out, and clear my head of the distractions of life’s circumstances and to just listen to what God was whispering into my being. 

From that time of meditation, I wrote “I want to help others interested in orphan care.  I’d like to invest myself in this ministry.  I know I need to determine exactly where the need is and how God wants that to look.  I’m praying for answers on when/how it will come to fruition.”  I remember tearfully tucking that note into my Bible on that Sunday just a few short years ago, lacking faith that God could use me, a broken, grieving, waiting mother, to help other families (I was barely holding it together myself!), and yet determined that if it was His will, I would not miss out on the opportunity to fulfill His call.

Even given my intention of obedience on that day not so long ago, I am somehow still floored by God’s grace and sufficiency through my weakness…His building of a ministry that is doing what He laid on my heart is beyond what I can grasp.  And, yet, I am SO humbled and SO grateful that I get to have this front-row seat to watch how He’s shaping this ministry that, at its core, strives to do what He laid on my heart…to “help others interested in orphan care”.  Such a simple sentiment, and yet, so intricate in how He is shaping it to encourage and connect adoptive and foster families.

Team Ethiopia!  12 kiddos from Ethiopia represented here {and several others on the way!}

I took the opportunity throughout last weekend to just pray over the moms at the retreat.  What a privilege then to watch them be transformed by encouragement brought about through sessions and connections with other moms who just “get it”.  During this time of observation, I could feel His still, small voice, whispering again just as clearly as that day at church not so long ago, pleased with the works and the hearts of His good and faithful servants (in the form of adoptive mothers).

I watched moms be His hands and feet to other moms who are currently in the trenches.  I observed ladies rallying around other ladies they barely knew, encouraging them to fight the good fight.  I heard weary mamas asking hard questions and mamas who had “been there” giving hard answers.  I saw moms praying…for and with other moms, knowing that their grief and their burdens were best left to the Author of life.  I saw ladies listening {I mean, REALLY listening} to each other, lending their ear, their shoulder, their hand in comfort and friendship.

And, do you know what else I observed?  Laughing, story-telling, singing, praising, tears, smiles, all in a safe place that quickly felt comfortable and like it was right where each of the women attending were supposed to be.

My Joy in the Journey Retreat Roomies

Our four babies were together at their Transition Home in Ethiopia two years ago.  The retreat gave us an excuse to get them all back together for some crazy toddler time. 

The Joy Team...this picture describes us perfectly!  I couldn't ask for a better team {or friends} to do life and ministry with.  Love these girls so much.

And, I think I’m crazy, but I’m kinda ready to do it again!


  1. thank you for stepping out in faith over fear! blessed to know you, friend! can't wait for the retreat in 2015! :D