I attended an adoptive mom’s retreat (Created for Care) at the end of January that was so good for my soul! It was my first one to attend, and I’ll definitely be going back again! It was held at a beautiful lakeside resort north of Atlanta and the contents of the retreat were the perfect balance of education and refreshment.
Going into the retreat weekend, I specifically prayed that God would reveal more to me about what direction to take regarding a little boy from China named Nathan who Ben had found on a waiting child website. Ben was feeling very connected to this little boy, but I just wasn’t “feelin’ it.” Ben wanted more from me than just being a submissive wife—he needed me to have confirmation and excitement (or at least peace) about pursuing Nathan.
So that was my prayer for the weekend.
One of the sessions that they encouraged all of the women to attend was called a “Date with God.” I was a bit skeptical of what it might be, but I overheard another adoptive mom telling her friend that it was essentially a guided quiet time and that if she was working through a particular issue with God, she should sign up for the last session at the end of the retreat weekend. Since her advice was relevant to my situation, I went ahead and signed up for the last session.
Ready for my Date!
When the time came for my date, I walked into the room not knowing what to expect. What I saw kind of weirded me out…a table with playdoh, an area with watercolor, a big cross, a massive tent, and loads of women packed into this room. The lady at the front who was leading was very sweet-looking, and when she spoke, I could hear an “ooey-gooey-ness” to her voice. If you know me, you know that’s not a style that I typically connect to. So I immediately jumped to conclusions about what this was going to be like and I became disappointed.
Thankfully I couldn’t have been more wrong. The leader gave out our “instructions” (I use quotes because she made it clear that we could do whatever we wanted during our date with God). She was very clear in her communication (my style!) and it gave me a lot of comfort when she explained that we did not have to do all of the stations if we didn’t want to (whew!—no art for me!). She said we could go in any order and could stay as short or as long as we wanted. She noted that the two ladies waiting at the door to do the prayer of blessing over each of us would be her (Jenny) and Anna. (*this is an important note for later*) She asked that we all be respectful of others as we move through the stations and then she prayed for us and let us start.
Station 1: getting in the Word (at the foot of a cross)
I decided to start at the cross, so I found a comfy spot sitting on a pillow and propped up against a wall. I grabbed a Bible (didn’t have mine with me), took a long, deep breath, and silently asked God to guide me to a passage. I opened the Bible to Psalm 65-66 (naturally the Bible fell open to the middle!). The header for Psalm 65 said “a hymn of thanksgiving.” An appropriate place to begin my date—with a thankful heart! A few verses stood out to me…
65:5 – You answer us in amazing ways, God our Savior. People everywhere on the earth and beyond the sea trust you. I read “beyond the sea” and immediately thought of China.
65:6 – Even those people at the ends of the earth fear your miracles. You are praised from where the sun rises to where it sets. I read this and immediately thought this could be the verse for Nathan’s adoption announcement.
66:5 – Come and see what God has done. See what amazing things he has done for people. I read as another potential verse for Nathan’s adoption announcement.
66:20 – Praise God. He did not ignore my prayer. He did not hold back his love from me. This resonates the same message of the song that I keep hearing along this journey to Nathan—“your love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on me”—more on that song at a later date
Lord, thank you that your Word can speak directly to us!
Station 2: joy defined
As I stood up to go to another station, I scanned the room for one with the least amount of people. Of course, it was one of the art-related ones that I had decided I’d probably stay away from. I walked over to it anyway, telling myself that if I started stressing about it, I would just walk away—no harm in that. Well, it turns out that God revealed something really cool to me at this station!
There was a large poster board heart and some markers. The instructions were to draw a picture of what joy defined in your life looks like. I surprised myself by immediately picking up a marker (purple, the favorite color of Team Huss) and began drawing our house. Then I wrote words like “fill it up” and “the more, the merrier”—WHAT?? Did I actually just write those things? I guess in my heart of hearts, I do believe that JOY defined in my life equates to a FULL HOUSE!
Lord, thank you for reminding me that having joy in You is very different than searching for happiness!
Station 3: praying over the nations
The next station I headed to was an area of the room with two huge maps of the world—one on the wall and one on the floor. As I was walking toward it, I was a bit torn because I really wanted to pray for Ethiopia (Eden’s birth country), but felt like I should probably pray for China (Nathan’s birth country). When I looked over at the maps, the answer was right in front of me. Ethiopia was completely covered (literally) by other mothers’ hands, while China was wide open (and conveniently located at the edge of the map)! So again, God was focusing my attention to Nathan.
I knelt down, placed both hands over China, and prayed. I prayed that God would give me a heart for the Chinese people. You see, after spending six weeks in Ethiopia, and having our firstborn daughter be from that country, I obviously have a huge heart for the Ethiopian people. The country is known for how loving and kind the people are! The very little that I have heard about China is quite the opposite. My limited knowledge of the Chinese culture is that it is more on the harsh side. So I prayed. I prayed that God would break down those barriers (of mostly being uneducated and not exposed to the Chinese) in my heart.
And I prayed for Nathan’s caretakers. That they would know God—that someone would be put in their path to share Christ with them. That they would show love and affection to Nathan while he is in their care. And that they would have a renewed love of caring for orphans.
And I prayed for Nathan’s birthmother. For the unimaginable hurt she must have felt when she decided that she could not raise him. And that she would also come to know the love of our Heavenly Father.
Lord, thank you for gently reminding me that it’s not about me and my feelings.
Station 4: prayer post-it wall
I moved next to the prayer request wall. The instructions were to write one prayer request on a post-it note and stick it to the wall, then select two post-it notes to pray for. The request that I wrote was specifically about Nathan. That the Lord would clearly show us what to do. I put it on the wall and stepped back to pray.
In order to select the two to pray for, I decided to pray for the first two that my eyes landed on. The first one sent chills up my arms. My eyes had landed on a post-it asking for prayer for “S” (her name was spelled out, but I will keep it private here). It was a bit of a generic request, but the cool thing is this—I had randomly (I say that word fully knowing that it was God-ordained—not random!) been seated next to “S’s” mom at dinner the night before. So I knew EXACTLY how to pray for this little blessing who is on the other side of the world from her mama! So cool!
The next one that my eyes landed on was even more generic. It asked for prayer that God would direct them in what to do next with their adoption/ministry/family. As I began to pray for this anonymous request written by another adoptive mama, I heard myself praying that she would find comfort and peace in knowing that God will light up the next STEP for her family, but God doesn’t promise to show us the full PATH at the beginning. He will ask us to take a step in obedience, and then He will guide us from there.
I kind of chuckled out loud to myself when I realized that this was the exact thing that I needed to believe myself! God has told us to take the next step of completing our home study. We just need to rest in that, be obedient to complete that paperwork, and not be anxious about what the next 9 months looks like! AMEN!
Lord, thank you for telling me what I needed to hear in my prayer for another adoptive mama.
In Between Stations: a really cool way for God to answer a prayer!
After my time in prayer for these two adoptive mamas, I whispered a prayer to God, asking Him to send me a familiar face. You see, I had gone to this retreat by myself and had only met my roommates on the first day there (3 other adoptive mamas from my agency). The room for this date with God was full of so many women that I just wanted God to show me someone who I recognized. I was thinking of someone like one of my roommates, one of the other ladies I had met at the retreat, etc. Well, God had a much better plan to answer my whispered prayer!
As I turned to walk to my final station, I immediately heard a voice that I recognized. (Keep in mind that the room was completely silent besides some soft music playing and the two women who were quietly giving prayers of blessing over each woman as they walked out of the room.) The voice was a voice from home and it made NO sense to be hearing this friend’s voice. She lives in Texas and was definitely not at this retreat.
So I turned toward this familiar voice and saw a familiar face! A series of thoughts quickly went through my head as I tried to process this: “Wait—there is no way that Aimee is here!...But that’s definitely her!...No, it’s not!...But she looks and sounds JUST like Aimee!...Wait—Aimee has an identical twin sister!...And she lives in the Atlanta area!...And her name is Anna (remember the name mentioned in the introduction of the date with God session?)!...Seriously, God—that is some COOL stuff!...You totally answered my prayer for a familiar face in the most literal way possible!...And I LOVE You for that!”
I decided to do my final station and then go to Anna on my way out for her to do the prayer of blessing over me. And that’s when I would introduce myself and tell her this really cool God story. So off to my final station I went…
Station 5: replenishment tent
When I reached the tent, I found a comfy pillow to sit on and again leaned up against a wall. Luckily there were tissue boxes scattered all around this tent because as soon as I settled in, the tears just started flowing! And I mean flowing! I was so incredibly thankful that God had chosen to give me the confirmations that I had asked Him for at the beginning of our date. And then He just topped it off by sending that sweet familiar face just for me! I truly felt SO LOVED!
After many nose-blows and eye-wipes, I collected my thoughts. There was still something keeping me from feeling completely confirmed in this decision to pursue Nathan as our son. “What is it, Lord?” I asked. “What is keeping me from fully surrendering to this?” And then God revealed what was on my heart. I have two precious girls at home who I love SO much. We have added to our family so quickly that I was feeling like I just didn’t have room in my heart right now for another lovie. I needed more time with my girls.
Then God quietly spoke to me. “Open your eyes, Lauren. Look around the room. All of these women—these adoptive mamas—are spending time with me. I have room to love all of you. And I will give you room to love Nathan. Just trust me.” Cue the weeping once again! Again, I felt SO loved that God would immediately answer my prayer to Him. Being in communication with God is awesome! My stubbornness, worry, and failure to listen is the only reason I am not in more constant communication with Him. I was (am) in awe that the Creator of the universe is also my best friend! Oh, how He loves me!
Lord, thank you for being an intimate God who I can communicate with directly! Thank you for loving me!
Station 6: prayer of blessing
I stood and began walking toward my final stop during my date with God. Anna was praying over someone, so I stood and waited. As soon as she was finished, she looked up. And of course, I started crying immediately! She must have thought I was a bit off my rocker! Actually, she was at an adoptive mom’s retreat praying over women—I’m sure I fit right in! haha!
Getting the introductions out of the way…
“Your name is Anna, right?” (through my tears and intermittent sobbing)
“Yes, how do I know you?” (smiling sweetly, glancing at my nametag)
“You don’t. I’m friends with your sister.” (sniff, sniff)
“Oh, OK. Which one?” (I forgot that they have a younger sister!)
“Your twin, Aimee.” (sniff, sniff)
“OK, yes, your nametag says you live in Richmond. You’re Lauren…a friend she has mentioned.” (still smiling sweetly, a trait she shares with Aimee)
Then I proceeded to tell her the cool God story that just went down. I was seriously choking back tears and felt a bit silly because of that. But she didn’t make me feel uncomfortable at all—she was super sweet. By the time I finished talking, her eyes were glistening because of how cool God is.
Then I asked her the obvious questions about what brought her here and what her connection to this retreat was. Turns out that she was asked by one of her mentors (Jenny Means, the lady who organizes the date with God—the “ooey-gooey” one) to come pray over some women at a retreat being held near her home. She didn’t know much more than that until she arrived earlier that evening. After sharing my story, we both knew exactly why God put her here.
She then asked more about what else God had spoken to me about Nathan and where I stood with that. I gave her the quick version of what all happened during my date with God and she prayed a very sweet and heartfelt prayer of blessing over me, our family, and Nathan. It was such a special time!
She mentioned that she and her baby girl (whose name and age are very close to my Callie!) were coming to visit Aimee in March, so we made plans to meet up during that time. She also mentioned how excited she was to be able to share this cool story with Aimee and I let her know that I would probably beat her to it since I was headed out the door and planned to text her immediately (which I did—and of course, Aimee was equally in awe of how cool that answer to prayer was)!
The theme of the retreat was “Love BIG.” One would usually put that in context of an adoptive mom’s retreat and apply it to how we as moms are meant to love our children. However, I walked away from that date (and the retreat as a whole) feeling just how BIG God loves ME as His child! So amazing!
NOTE: This post probably left you with some questions like “Does this mean you’re adopting again? And will it be this little boy from China named Nathan?” If you want to get the low-down, check out the Our Current Adoption page on the upper right-hand side of the blog.