400 moms, all with a heart for adoption, at a beautiful lake-side lodge outside of Atlanta. Could it get any better than that?
It can actually . . . none of us had to be mom while we were there (we love our kiddos, but a few days away can be like a cold cup of water in the blazing hot desert). No one pulling at your shirt or hollering your name. A chance to have an uninterrupted time of prayer and worship. Adult conversations without phrases like "We don't wipe boogers on our shirt" or "No you can't have 10 marshmallows" coming out of your mouth every few minutes. :)
There were lots of moms from our agency at the retreat. We have a facebook group so we're basically best friends online even though we've never met! It was so good to hang out with these ladies in real life!
Before I share how powerfully God used this retreat in my life, let me tell you that Satan wanted to ruin it from the beginning. The spiritual attack was intense and unfortunately not aimed directly at me.
I left Thursday night and returned Sunday night, which meant Chad had to gear up for three full days alone with the kids. We have incredible children, but even still it is hard for Chad (or me for that matter) to be with them for that long with no reinforcements.
To start things off, Chad's car wasn't working last week. Our kids are great on the go, but since I was driving to Atlanta, Chad wasn't going to have the option of getting out and about to do fun things. But my sweet hubby didn't let that get him down . . . they took lots of walks and spent as much time running wild outside as possible!
About 30 minutes after I left, Chad called to tell me that Ava had a 102 fever. Dirty Satan. The very first time I left Ava with Chad for the weekend at 18 months, she got a horrible stomach virus and I had to come back early. So the sickness strikes again. This time was a high fever and a really bad cough. So bad, in fact, that Ava had a major problem sleeping . . . up for several hours each night because she couldn't get back to sleep. This resulted in one tired Daddy and a pitiful little girl.
I don't know about you, but lack of sleep makes me just plain foul. I can't tell you how much I prayed over the weekend for Ava to be healed and for Chad to have supernatural patience as he had no chance of rest.
As if that wasn't enough, Chad developed an abscess in his mouth on Saturday that he said hurt so bad that he could hardly think. Not to mention that there were some things going on that had both of us a little anxious in our hearts and minds.
No sleep mixed with a sick daughter topped off with incredible pain and some worry on the side would usually result in a Daddy that begs me to come home and has zero patience with his kids. Satan really packed it on. I'm not saying that this was like Job by any stretch, but we really saw how an attack was coming from all sides.
But praise the Lord that God gave us eyes to see the attack, gave me words of Truth to encourage Chad on the phone and as I prayed, and anointed Chad to have compassion and patience not of his own strength.
Looking back, it is no wonder that the Evil One was working to hard to distract, discourage, and destroy my time at the retreat.
God met me there. He spoke words of Life into my heart, convicted me of sin, confirmed our call, and restored my heart.
I got up early each morning and sat on a bench as the sun came up over gorgeous Lake Lanier. I poured out my heart to my Father . . . all my fears, my anxiety, my questions . . . and He gently, but powerfully, answered with Psalm 93.
The Lord reigns; he is robed in majesty;
the Lord is robed; he has put on strength as his belt.
Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.
Your throne is established from of old;
you are from everlasting.
The floods have lifted up, O Lord,
the floods have lifted up their voice;
the floods lift up their roaring.
Mightier than the thunders of many waters,
mightier than the waves of the sea,
the Lord on high is mighty!
The floods of worry and fear may rise, but my God is mightier. His throne has always been established and nothing will remove Him from that sovereign seat.
I literally felt the anxiety leave as He whispered over and over to me . . . You can trust Me . . . You can trust Me . . . You can trust Me.
I can trust Him with this intense adoption journey. I can trust Him to work out every detail in His perfect timing. I can trust Him to provide each penny we will need to bring Easton home. I can trust Him to protect us from the evil one. I can trust Him to strength us by His Spirit and through the Word.
I can trust Him. A simple, but profound truth that I need to believe. Jesus, help my unbelief!
God also pointed out an area of my life that was not glorifying Him. That hurts. But it is His kindness that leads to repentance and this time was no different. With love, God opened my eyes to my transgression in a way that didn't lead to further rebellion, but confession and a desire to be transformed.
I want to be happy. Doesn't seem like such a big sin. But I've been replacing a life of joy with the pursuit of happiness.
This most often plays out in my time with the kids (no wonder . . . that's about all but about 2% of my life!). Chad can come home for lunch and I'm already frustrated after just 4 hours of mommyhood that day. I can get so bent out of shape about big and little things that I can end up having a "tough day" every day. Do I expect perfection from my kids? I would never say that. But I let all the imperfections (disobedience, childishness, drama) steal my happiness.
God revealed my deep lack of gratitude for the tremendous blessings that He has given me. I have an amazing husband who desires to lead us in glorifying God and two absolute treasures in my beautiful, smart, and funny children.
Yet I have refused to live a life of joy and gratitude to the Giver of these gifts.
I definitely can acknowledge that some moments in parenthood can be harder than others, but in everything I have reason to give thanks.
As I said, this revelation brought some major confession and a resolve to abide in joy and gratitude. And I must say that these past few days have been drastically different . . . a different wife and mom who is grounding herself in thankfulness no matter what happens!
I went to the retreat a little overwhelmed as I thought about what lies ahead in our adoption journey. I wanted God to assure me that I could do it. (A ridiculous notion. You can laugh and shake your head if you want. I don't know what I was thinking either.)
Shocker . . . God did not tell me that I could do it. He politely confirmed the exact opposite. I have zero hope of walking this road well by just mustering up as much strength as I have and giving it all I've got.
He reminded me of 2 Corinthians 12:9 . . .
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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
The Father to the fatherless has put a call on our lives to display His heart by adopting our sweet Easton. He continues to confirm and flesh out this call for us in amazing ways.
But we will fail if we don't walk in the Spirit and rely on His power.
I heard from some adoptive moms that humbled my heart more than I thought possible. Moms that have not just adopted, but adopted five or seven kids. Moms that have adopted kids with severe attachment issues, or medical needs, or older kids who have already been through such trauma that has inflicted major wounds on their hearts.
These moms weren't shy about the heartache that comes with adoption, but they all gave testimony to God's incredible work in their lives. They proclaimed that His grace is indeed sufficient. They never put themselves on a pedestal for us to see what they had accomplished . . . God got all the glory!
So . . . I can't do it. I'm not capable. I don't have what it takes. But He does. And He promises to be powerful when I am weak, to fill me when I am empty, to give wisdom when I ask, and to never leave me or forsake me. What more do I need?!
The weekend was so refreshing to my heart. I feel like God breathed new life and joy into me. To Him be the glory.
I'll leave you with a song that we sang during worship that was so powerful and truly the cry of my heart!