Dear Momma, whose heart is raw . . .
Created for Care is just a few days away. Facebook is buzzing with excitement, friends are excited to see each other, and mommaʼs from afar are all getting ready for a weekend of retreat and refreshment. It may be hard to see as your heart hurts . . .
I donʼt know what led you sign up for Created for Care this year. Itʼs been different each year for me. The very ﬁrst time I attended, my husband and I were babies in our adoption journey. Our dossier had just been completed to adopt from Ethiopia and I heard people from my adoption agency buzzing about this retreat they were all excited for on our agency facebook page. I was hungry for connection and for just further direction in our journey and went to my husband with a request that went something like, “I donʼt know that much about this retreat or anyone there, but I feel like God is really speaking to my heart to go . . ..!?” He sweetly gave his blessing and I signed up not knowing a single soul who would be there, found three strangers as roommates and ﬂew to Atlanta by myself.
I remember feeling so alone that ﬁrst night. God was so gracious and blessed me with great roommates and one who was an instant soul sister and is like family today. Looking back, we laugh now at how we each spent the weekend trying not to “hang” on the other or look like a total newbie as we stared in awe at seeing those whose journeys we had followed online walk by us in person. Hope was so tangible for what God would do and He faithfully showed Himself in further directing our adoption journey. He built connections with friends I couldnʼt have even thought to pray for but deeply needed. I went home and told my husband I had found a place I felt at home and just felt God stir something in me. Created for Care was all about refreshment, calling and a tangible hope.
That second year? Our adoption journey with Ethiopia had stretched long in front of us. We were in the trenches of the wait - two years in. God had stretched me, found me and given me a rich community to walk alongside and hold me up in it. I came back to seek God, yes, but I will admit it was more about being able to get away with dear friends. To be honest? The wait, while hard, felt fruitful. I came with the desire for community and renewed strength to worship Him in the wait. God cemented my love for how Created for Care pours into the heart of the momma, speaks of His love for her and then calls to go forth in that love. And before I could even express what He was working in me, I found myself blessed to be a part of the Created for Care team and being able to support other mommaʼs in holding mini retreats back in their home towns. Created for Care that year was all about friendship, grace to persevere and the reminder of where my hope lay in the unknown ahead.
This past year has been the biggest whirl wind as I got to be a part of the “behind the scenes.” I wish you could have seen email after email as the heart of this yearʼs retreat was whispered, grown and planned as only a God who deeply sees and loves His daughters could. Amidst the lives of women who were stretched beyond themselves and living full lives, He simply was. It was so exciting to see each detail fall in place as He prepared, months ago, to meet you exactly where you are today. I wasnʼt quite ready for how that would apply to myself.
You see, the circumstances of my life when retreat planning began this past year were not the same circumstances I lived in the days leading up to the february retreat . . .Part way through this past year, God surprised our family and orchestrated a story we sat in awe of as the details fell in place. Amidst our international adoption journey, our paths crossed with those of a birth mom. Details of her story seemed to line up so directly with where God had brought our own family and as we prayed and sought Him and took baby step of faith after baby step of faith, we suddenly found ourselves matched and hoping for a son to be born this past January through domestic adoption.
I was sad to have to step back in the planning and to miss the february retreat but we were so excited for our family to grow. Plus there was still March!On a tuesday night, 2 1/2 weeks before the retreat, my husband and I were scurrying around as our girls slept in their beds, ﬁnalizing lots of last minute details. We planned to ﬂy out the following morning for birth momʼs scheduled c-section. Suitcases were packed, crib stood ready, and our girls had said their night time prayers praying for their little brother to be. A late night text came in from our birth mom (who we had been loving and connecting with along the way) that she had changed her mind, was so sorry, but was going to keep her baby boy.
Our world fell apart that night as I sat on our couch and cried tears of grief to a depth I donʼt think I had thought I could feel for a child I had never held, known or laid eyes on but had claimed as mine. I remember thinking that with such clarity as I realized God had answered a prayer I had been praying for months . . . that God would graft my heart with this little boy in a way that only He could as I prepared to be his momma. I remember writing a post sharing the news to avoid lots of “praying for you” with excitement texts and emails the following morning and falling into bed praying we would wake up to a different reality.
But morning came and reality got harder as the days progressed. Amazingly? Birth mom stayed connected and we found out when baby boy was born and even received a picture. We were so grateful for those details even as we grieved. Then hearts and faith were further stretched as due to circumstances in birth momʼs story, CPS was called in and we learned that baby would go into CPS custody and not home with birth mom. All while our arms ached for what we had hoped was our son.
Those were dark days. Lay on the ﬂoor and cry out to God days, and days where we were sustained on prayers alone. Yet He carried us, met us and saw us.Created for Care approached. I had never canceled a single ﬂight to C4C and my precious roommates and dear friends, had never ﬁlled my spot in our room. Because I hadnʼt been planned to be there, I had few roles to ﬁll, and I felt God whisper, “Go. Come sit with Me.”
So this past year? I will fully admit to walking, still slightly shell shocked, into the doors of the Lodge for Created for Care 2014. Grief was still fresh and raw and I felt almost fearful for what was in store. God moves mightily amidst those rooms - I had known that intimately and ﬁrst hand. But it almost felt like too much. The hope in fresh young eyes. The laughter of light hearted friends. The conﬁdent walks of those who knew which way they were going.
Me? I walked in just praying not to fall apart.Friends walked alongside me, before me, and sat with me in it. Yet most of thursday night I was sending SOS texts to my husband as he helped deep breath me through it. All night I just kept trying to ﬁgure out how I was going to walk into worship that following day and allow God into the broken places of my heart. I just kept praying, with my husband holding me up at home, that I could stay open to God, let Him in and trust Him to go to those deep places with me . . .even if it was painful and broken and messy.
Friday evening session came and the music began to swell and I pleaded for the grace to hold on as I kind of just wanted to run for the halls and chocolate. “Come. Sit with Me.”That night God gave me the grace to stand as the music rose. He gave me strength to raise my arms in surrender. And He saw me in my grief and my heartbreak and loved me in it. I donʼt think I hardly sang more than a dozen words. I couldnʼt as the tears fell down with abandon. But I worshiped in my broken that night and felt God touch the raw with His healing hands and say that we (Him and I) would be ok.
I would love to say the rest of the weekend was one of all joy. There were absolutely times the laughter was real and deep and the friendships were priceless and He gave me the capacity to form new ones and engage more as each day passed. God had healed a deep, deep spot in my heart that ﬁrst night of worship . .. but I still had to navigate this new normal I found myself in. But He spoke into me that weekend and piece by piece I made it.
Each time I struggled to ﬁnd connection and a safe place with another women there (even while surrounded by dear, close friends), God met me and showed me it was Him that I was there for and to ﬁnd. Each time the pain felt like too much? God showed me I was not alone in our hard and that hope could be restored. Little by little, the overwhelming weight of our grief lifted and I felt able to walk where we have been called standing up, ﬁrmly held by His grace and unending love. He lifted the depths of the sadness and spoke into our future.
So why do I write all this to you? Momma whose heart might be raw today?Because I want to let you know that you arenʼt alone and you arenʼt unseen as we head into the retreat. I promise that even as you see full hallways, or rooms, of light hearted women, there are other mommaʼs whose hearts walk broken with you. There are mommaʼs ﬁghting for the souls and hearts of their children. There are mommaʼs ﬁghting for their marriage and families with every ounce of remaining strength they hold. There are mommaʼs ﬁghting for their faith as they have been pressed down with the weight of this world and its trials. And there are mommaʼs who are grieving children who have not been, or who were, or arenʼt home with them yet.
You are not alone.
Satan will come this week and tell you that you shouldnʼt come. That life is too hard, too heavy, or too complicated to get away. But hear your Father whisper, “Come. Sit with Me.”Parts of the weekend may cause you to feel alone. “Come. Sit with Me.”Parts of the weekend may cause you to feel emotions you have hid or run from. “Come. Sit with Me.” Parts of the weekend may cause you to face realities you are grieving in your own walks. “Come. Sit with Me.”
You are coming to the right place. We are here to be community to each other and love each other though it. It is a safe place to come broken. This weekend isnʼt just about retreating to be refreshed, it is about retreating to be restored, renewed and rebuilt in even the most broken places of our heart. It isnʼt about friendships and some one to stand beside. It is about the One you can stand upon and His deep, deep love for you.
We are another month into our unexpected journey and the grief is still there. It still surprises me when I am not looking for it and my arms still ache for the little one we didnʼt bring home. But God walks with us and carries the weight of it for us. He is restoring and renewing and rebuilding with each new day. I feel that hope rising up again, and joy more tangible, even on the days He still catches my tears.
So be encouraged precious momma. You are being prayed for before you enter those doors. And if those walls start closing in and the raw of your heart feels like too much?
Come ﬁnd me.
I would count it my privilege to love you and pray for you as we walk these roads and together offer our broken hallelujahs.
“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”
Be love. . . .