Tim and I had the awesome opportunity to attend the Lead Summit Retreat with the staff from Lonoke Baptist Church. We drove 10 hours to Gulf Shores, AL to spend a few days resting, gaining encouragement, and building bonds. I have really been looking forward to it. I didn’t know much about it, since I somehow missed the Facebook page that everyone else seemed to know about, so I thought we would be heading back home Sunday and actually, we’ll be back Monday. Oops…sorry grandparents! I never do things like that, but it’s been a little wild around my house lately so this one slipped up on me.
Getting there was difficult. It never fails that when our family plans to go somewhere, anything and everything that can go wrong will go wrong. It’s some kind of law of nature. So, when the head cold that started last Wednesday only got worse and worse, I knew that it had begun. By this Thursday I was really sick, and we were leaving on Friday. So, I high-tailed it to my doctor and asked him to work a quick miracle. He gave me two shots and an antibiotic, but said that he didn’t think it would be miraculous. He was right, but thankfully, I did just fine on the trip and felt better with each passing day.
To share with you a little more about how our week was going before the trip, aside from the fact that the head cold had made its way through the whole family, Thursday afternoon, our in home consultation for our upcoming adoption was scheduled for the third time. The third time. And for the third time, it was cancelled. Not only that, but it was cancelled by e-mail about two minutes before the time our resource worker was supposed to show up at our door. I was sick as a dog, and had worked tirelessly all day to keep the house clean (not an easy task for a mom with two preschoolers who have just learned paper-cutting skills and love to practice), prepare for our trip…I even washed the car so that it would look decent parked in our carport (which almost never happens-we live on a dirt road). And it’s cancelled. As it turns out, we were going through the Faulkner County DHS and we need to go through the Conway County DHS even though we are using Faulkner County CALL. I’ve debated on how much to say on here. I don’t want to bash the system or anyone working to get these kids into waiting families. But, what I do want to do is to give a true, real, transparent account of our feelings, highs and lows throughout this process. For that reason, and for that reason alone, I want to record this day and all the raw emotions I felt.
So when I got that message, I cried. And I realize that most of my posts lately have included at least two lines that read something like, “I cried tears that would soak a bath towel.” Don’t worry…I have noticed my redundancy. I have cried…A LOT…lately. These tears were no different. Let me just stop here and say that I understand that the in home consultation is not a big deal. I get that. I know that my house does not have to be “adoption-ready” or even spotless for this. Don’t worry-I get that. But, what I’d really like to say is that this is not just an appointment for us. This is our life. This is a decision that I’ve lost a lot of sleep and a lot of hydration (due to tear loss) over. It’s a decision that I’m constantly second-guessing in my mind. And YES, I second-guess myself regularly. That’s why it took us SO long to tell people…because I wasn’t sure. So Thursday afternoon, around 4:15, I sat on my porch crying my eyes out, wondering, once again, if we were doing the right thing. And I could just feel God’s calming reassurance, and the one thing that has brought me back every time I’ve questioned our decision is the simple fact that my only path to peace in this situation is obedience. Don’t think for a second that I didn’t explore my options. Sitting on my porch at 4:15 Thursday afternoon, a few hours before our 10 hour trek to Gulf Shores, I sat thinking, “We could just stop here, tell everyone it just wasn’t God’s timing and then our life would be easier.” And that’s when I remembered what I’ve been reminded of several times throughout this process. No. It. Wouldn’t. I know in my heart that if we chose that path, I would never have peace in my heart. I would always know that I was running from what God asked me to do. And a hard path with God’s peace will always be a better choice than an easy path with regrets and running. So, having things worked out in my heart once again, Tim came out to sit with me, I wiped my soaked face on my soaked shirt and said something like, “This trip better be good, because I sure don’t feel like going right now!” I’m so glad that this trip proved to be totally worth it. As it turned out, it’s exactly what I needed.
We arrived Friday night after a 10 hour drive through the deep south and we had a little bit of an opportunity to visit with some of the pastors that night after supper. Saturday morning, we spent several hours in a room full of pastors and their wives, and I have to say that I was in awe to be in a place so full of servant-hearted people. There is no eye that you catch without a warm smile. There is no task that goes undone. Pastors and their families are such a special breed of people. I say that with all humility, because I know that I now find myself somehow included in this wonderful group of people. But having been only officially in the fold for a few months now, I am blown away by the sincerity of this group of pastors, and I find myself praying that I can be like these self-less people. In other similar settings I have experienced, conversation quickly becomes a numbers game or a “my church does ____” competition. In this setting, it was exactly the opposite. The first words from each person’s mouth were words of encouragement and genuine care. That’s been so refreshing. We were blessed by three full, rich sessions encouraging us to find margin, adventure and joy in our lives and to handle criticism. We got to hear from missionaries…who are like real-life-heroes to me. They talked about things like translating the Bible and treating machete cuts. It was fascinating. The leaders of each session were totally real and transparent which is something that I so appreciated.
We ate SO much. Probably the most memorable dining experience would have to be Lambert’s. It was my first time ever, and I have to say, I’ve never really wanted to go because the roll-throwing kind of scares me. I can’t catch anything. Literally. I am one of those tall people who can’t work their limbs in a coordinated fashion at all. So it’s just flailing arms everywhere. And I could only envision trying to catch a flying roll and sending one of the extra-large thermos mugs spewing across three tables of unsuspecting people. Yes, this is how my mind works. So, I refused and was tirelessly made fun of. But, that’s ok. All part of the experience. It was really fun and I’d love to go to Lambert’s again, despite my fear of flying rolls.
Our beach time was awesome. I got in. I got wet. I got clobbered by waves, again and again. I could not stand up in that water. I told Tim that I am officially the most un-athletic person I know. He told me that it wasn’t athleticism I was missing…it was coordination and balance. But, I did NOT get stung by a jellyfish. So, it was pretty much a win all around. As an added bonus, I got to meet another mother who recently adopted four precious kiddos, and I’m so thankful for that connection we’ve made. The fact that everywhere we go, we are meeting people that want to invest in us and support us through this adoption adventure is exactly the confirmation that we need when those tearful, doubtful moments roll around. Thank you Deborah! I am so excited to get to know you guys better.
So, out of all that I’ve said, what I’m really getting at here is, “Thank you!” to everyone who put together this retreat. It was exactly what Tim and I needed after a hectic summer, and it was SO worth all that happened beforehand to get there! So, thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who helped put it together. Your service did not go unnoticed, and it was SO appreciated. I am now sitting at home, thrilled to see my three babies again, and I’m already looking forward to next year and hoping that we’ll get to come again and bring the whole crew!