Nov 17, 2013

Joy for the Journey Retreats and Home

I sit on a plane wondering what God just did. What exactly was just deposited in me?  I spent the last few days in a whirlwind.

That's the middle of the story. So let me start further back. I have stopped going to or speaking at adoption conferences. It's been YEARS.

Why? They advertise it as a certain thing but I typically find it's not as promised. It's either too clinical (education only and usually adoption 101 type of topics). Or it's too sappy. (Only feel good stuff with no meat.) Or it's an agenda pushing type of meeting.

I can't do any of those.

So when Pam emailed me (she found me because she googled), I knew this one was going to be different. I said yes.

Joy for the Journey Retreats...  It's up near Baltimore (Sandy Cove to be precise)

Then months later I got a phone call from Pam and Cheryl. They said they'd been planning and praying about the topic assignments.

"Outrageous Faith". And I was like "great! ". I was so excited and my mind and spirit filled instantly with thoughts.

They then told me the second topic "The connected mom" and I told them I wasn't sure I was qualified to give that talk. Thry said God had given it to them so it must be so. I said I'd pray about it.

I went to the conference with the faith talk and two versions of the connected mom talk.

It wasn't until the night before, around midnight that I felt God lead me to give the harder of the two versions of the talk. I was willing. But I felt that as the last speaker, it was my job to make them laugh, connect the pieces and send them out on a high. To inspire them. This was NOT that talk.

But God had other plans. He knew who was there and what they needed to hear. So I did what I always do ... dove in head first.

This post isn't about the content of my talk but let's just say I showed my proverbial undies. And I did something I've NEVER done in a talk ... I cried. Not that big blubbery sloppy kind. Not the ugly cry. But there were tears. From me and the audience.

And I can only hope that God was glorified. That God was lifted up. That His Kingdom gained some ground by my brokenness.

This adoption stuff ... It's hard sometimes. It gets REAL in my house. I rarely share much of that on here. Probably because I don't want to discourage anyone from adopting. But it's always right there.

This weekend was a beautiful, deeply spiritual time .  During the conference I got to sit and talk with others. To hear their stories. To connect.

And because there was no agenda of man, God's agenda got to be heard!! Before the first session, I heard the conversations. They were light and surface and very "all is great in my life" Pollyanna stuff.

Then the first speaker went head first into infertility. And I shared about special needs and looking at the waves of life vs Jesus (based on Peter walking on water).

And from there, I heard the conversations turn to "I deal with that issue too" and "how did you handle that?"

We got into race issues (how can you not with transracial adoption) and the point of view from adult adoptees. (Who all had lots of unique stories).  We laughed. We cried. We worshiped. We ate. Every waking moment we were immersed in this bubble of kindred spirits. A womb of sorts.

And while in that  environment, the other ladies and I completely free. No question off limit. Hearts open. Connected.

The whole weekend, I kept feeling like something was being planted, "conceived" if you will. And I'm so excited to see what God births!  I've NEVER experienced such a deep connection with a group of 100 people INSTANTLY.  We were of one mind, one body, one spirit, one Lord, one faith, one hope.  The BODY of Christ.  And I've been in a community of believers where we have that community but never experienced it instantly. 

So back to my plane ride I'm on as I write this. I wonder where all of us attendees go from here. I can't help but feel this story isn't over.

I just know ... For a weekend, I was surrounded by like minded people who are willing to get their hands dirty. They stand and be counted when many cower. They are warriors. And like most warriors they have the scars to prove it. We were loving on each other and sharing the heart of the Father. And I don't want to lose them.

I can't help but think THIS is what it looks like to BE the Body of Christ. To destroy the works of darkness. To propel forward the Kingdom of God.

I'm sure He is a Proud Papa this weekend. Saying , "well done, my good and faithful servants".

Now on to some of the behind the scenes stuff ... Let's start with some weirdness on the plane as I type this... A woman starts to hyperventilate. Hear her tell the flight attendant she is claustrophobic. She's a mess. She is sweating profusely and crying. Got a bag. The whole none yards.

I get out of my seat and tell her I'm Christian, could I pray for her. She was like, "do whatever you have to do."  I took that as permission. So for about 6 rows, they could hear me pray.

Let's just say she didn't give any glory to God when it IMMEDIATELY stopped. But I sure did.

That was an hour ago and she's happily playing a game on her Ipad.

Thank You, Lord. You are good.

Secondly, on the way TO the conference I was blessed with an exit row and an empty seat next to me.  How cool for an almost 6 foot person. 

But on the way back, as circumstances would have it, I was one of the last people to board.  As I got on, I could see my assigned empty seat.  It was next to a very, very large lady.  In fact she was so large she covered all of her seat and half of mine.  Really?  How am I going to squeeze my very non-petite hiney in that part of a seat?  And the seat in front of me was broken so it was laying back extra far.  So picture me ... knees in my nose.  And because there was a lady next to me, I wanted to continue the conversation and that instant bond thing we had going.  But ... well ... let's just say I instantly knew we would not be BFFs.  :)

I spend the two very uncomfortable hours in this moment though, still wanting to be in the cocoon I'd just left.  So I typed this blog entry out on my iphone on the notes page. Yes, all of these words typed out by my index finger on the right hand.  Why? I knew I needed to capture it while it was still fresh in my spirit.  I knew I'd hit home and immediately be hit with their needs, the needs of a family when the mom was gone for 3 days.  And I wanted to be there present for them. 

The hour home from the airport was uneventful.  Just my spirit trying to sort out what was different in my spirit, mind and soul.  A song kept playing over and over in my head.  A song I hadn't thought of or heard in over 15 years.  I tried to find a Youtube video with it singing it the way I had heard it but couldn't.  I'll put the lyrics on here anyway.  I was singing at the top of my lungs and weeping. Because THIS is what we experienced this weekend. 

Sister let me be your servant
Let me be as Christ to you
Pray that I might have the grace
To let you be my servant too
We are pilgrims on the journey
We are sisters on the road
We are here to help each other
Walk the mile and bear the load
I will hold the Christ light for you
In the night time of your fear
I will hold my hand out to you
Speak the peace you long to hear.
I will weep when you are weeping
When you laugh, I’ll laugh with you
I will share your joy and sorrow
Till we’ve seen this journey through.
When we sing to God in heaven
We shall find such harmony
Born to all we’ve known together
Of Christ’s love and agony 

And before I knew it, I was home.  Daddy didn't tell them when I was returning. They were out playing tennis. (Yes, don't be hatin', it was 81 at 7:30 pm).  I walked in, they yelled "Mom!" All but one of the ambulatory kids rushed to me for hugs. (Not sure what was up with the lone holdout.  I got my kiss and hug anyway.)

Manny however, yelled "Mama" happily and then burst into tears. He said, "I thought I lost you!" (Oh my heart).  Kaley says he's been saying it over and over.  That he was afraid he misplaced me or that he somehow didn't keep good track of me so I got lost.  Like it's his responsibility.  My heart broke further.  I assured him I didn't get lost.  That he couldn't possibly lose me.  But in light of the heartfelt things we had just heard, I couldn't help think about the impact of adoption and loss and trauma on his tiny fragile spirit.   (He's had MANY.)

After a few minutes dealing the Little Man, I took off my jacket and joined them in tennis. They all started telling all their stories from the weekend. And we just picked up where we left off. 

I think (Hope) that my story resonated with people.  I believe it made a difference and contributed to their walk in the Lord and with their husbands and kids.  I know my spirit has been added to.  (It's like a computer "Upgrade".  I know something's different, I just don't know what yet.)  But like I said in the conference ... the most important job I will EVER have is these 6 children who call me Mom.  It's the most important ministry.  It's the most Kingdom building work I'll ever do. 

And with that, I was back where I belonged.  Forever changed and Home.


  1. Beth,

    Thank you for following the Lord's leading. In your talk, and in writing the post on the plane - under less-than-ideal circumstances. I was registered for the conference but couldn't make it at the last minute. But I KNOW that the Lord did something powerful there. I was praying for you ladies. And I still am upholding my sisters in prayer.

    I'm eager to watch the videos of the talks, which Joy for the Journey has been kind enough to make available for me.

    May the Lord continue to bless you and give you joy for your journey.

    In His Service,

  2. Beth -

    I didn't get to talk to you because there always seem to be somebody talking to you but your last talk resonated with me profoundly. It has similarities to my story and when you were talking about "duty", the song that came to mind was Twila Paris' The Warrior Is A Child.

    Thank you for allowing us to enjoy the fragrance of the perfume in the alabaster - broken for Jesus. Thank you for the challenge and encouragement to stay connected and empowered in our daily walk with Christ, allowing Him to fill us to overflowing.

    In His Grip,

    ~ Corie

  3. Beth,
    Among other things, you stated: "I think (Hope) that my story resonated with people. I believe it made a difference and contributed to their walk in the Lord and with their husbands and kids." I am going to tell you that your story, your words, your spirit did resonate with not just me but many. You have made a difference and contributed to our walk in the Lord. I stated in my own blog that there wasn't any one moment or story that got me to remember that God has given me the Gift of adoption, not the burden and I was reminded how God not only orchestrated the whole adoption process but the retreat as well. It's like when Jesus spoke to the many and everyone heard his message in their own language. I believe our hearts "heard" the words we needed to hear. Instead of that robotic feeling, my hearts beats once again. Of 100 women, I knew only one there yet I felt like I knew every one there. I felt them all in my heart. I may not know them all by name but I know their hearts. I know that God brought every single one of them there for a reason by a different path and through his Grace we didn't leave as single's but as whole's - each of us was inside each other. Our spirits bonded as God intended them to. We left with that and we will carry it until we meet again, where God will design our paths in his Own way. Thank you for being a part of the journey along my path!