Have you ever had that feeling that you were exactly where you needed to be, at the precise moment you needed to be there, experiencing the exact thing you needed to, with the exact people you needed to experience it with? That was the thought that kept running through our hearts and minds on March 3-4 as we joined with 1600 of our fellow foster and adoptive parents in Seattle for The Refresh Conference.
As our plane landed the day before, nearly 2200 miles away from our home in Indiana, we felt like we were coming home. We felt like we had been out on a journey, sometimes through the wilderness, and we had finally returned to a place of rest and rejuvenation. These were our people. These were our brothers and sisters.
The foster and adoptive journey can be lonely and isolating at times. We fight for our children, we raise our voice on their behalf, we keep going even though we’re exhausted. We advocate and advocate and advocate until we’re so drained we feel as though we haven’t the strength to step into the next day. We wear scars on our bodies, and our hearts, from the battles we face with our children’s traumatic past. And yet we keep going, even though the majority of the world will never understand us, or see us.
We aren’t superheros. We’re just everyday people who desperately love vulnerable children.
But then we arrive at Refresh and we are seen, we are known, and we are cheered for. We are seen by our fellow travelers…we are cheered for by people who know the hopes, fears, and desperations of this journey. But most importantly we are seen, and known, and cheered for, by a Heavenly Father who will never leave us, nor forsake us. In Genesis 16:13, Hagar uttered these simple words: “You are the God who sees me.” They have never been more true for us. We are seen.
Refresh 2017 was beyond amazing. For 48 hours we gathered from all over the United States and Canada and held one another up. We discovered how not alone we are. We found camaraderie. We found rest and replenishment. But most importantly, we were reminded of hope. The deepest hope there is. The kind of hope that steps right into the messiness of our lives, and lifts us up.
Make plans to join us next year for Refresh Seattle. It’s happening March 2-3, 2018. Visit therefreshconference.org for details. If you can’t wait for 2018, or you live in the Midwest or East coast, join us for Refresh Chicago this coming fall on October 6-7. Visit refreshchicago.net for information.
We promise, you won’t be sorry you attended either location!
Were you at Refresh Seattle this year? What was your biggest take-away? Share your story with us in the comment section below.