Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Brave Restoration

I've been doing my best to contrive words for what I experienced last weekend.

In March I became part the launch team for Jen Hatmaker's new book For The Love
I mentioned it in this post. The object of the game was simple.  
Receive an advanced copy of the book, read it, promote it.

Except that's not what happened. 

What happened was something none of us could have ever imagined.

Our launch team became a community of women (and four men) 
who were organic, raw, real, genuine, and just downright epic.

We didn't start off that way.  It began rather shallow.  "Hi, I'm so-and-so, I live here, and I'm SO EXCITED!"  As we began to receive our books, quotes began to fly around and the real began to creep in.  We moved from the shallow to the deep end.  We began to share things that maybe some of our nearest and dearest didn't know.  We shared the hard.  The struggles. It was a safe place. The hopes.  The dreams.  We loved on each other. We got silly. For reals.  People who lived in common areas began to meet up, prayers were asked and said a mile a minute, and we began showering each other with incredible love.  My Facebook news feed was clogged with For The Love Launch Team member posts every single day. 

Somewhere along the line, someone {joking} suggested a launch team party at Jen's farmhouse. 

And then Jen invited us all to her farmhouse for a Launch Team Party.

As I type this I am still finding it hard to put this experience into words.  I wasn't going to go.  Insert one of the 452 excuses I made here.  Some incredibly thoughtful women decided to start a scholarship fund for women who wanted to attend the party.  By the time this venture was completed, 27 women, myself included, were scholarship recipients. 

As I was boarding my first flight, a woman said, "I'm on the launch team too!" When we arrived in our connecting city, we met up with another launch team member and flew together to Austin.  When we arrived in Austin, we picked up another!

We greeted one another with hugs.  We were not strangers.

I stayed in a house with twelve other women.  
Twelve incredible souls that are now my dear friends.  

Initially, the excitement was all about going to Jen's.  Meeting Jen.  

It was a backyard party y'all.  
Two hundred + women, loving each other, loving Jesus, 
and embracing this incredible community we had built.

{Dinner on Jen's porch}

One of our sweet thirteen shared with me that she felt I was brave for coming. 
I didn't feel brave for coming.

I left feeling brave.  

Brave with clarity and direction.  
Brave to implement changes in my life that are long overdue.
 Brave to find myself again.
Brave to take some things off my beam.
Brave in realizing so many things.
Brave in just being me.

Community is a struggle for me.
It's something I have wrestled with since I was a young girl.
None of these women knew this, but they still love me for me.
I'm quick to brush things off because my life is so obtuse sometimes.
I either omit and ditch the participation factor or risk it and
find myself vulnerable in sharing, automatically feeling like I've overshared.


I feel brave.

On her website, Jen shares this little nugget:

 I want our home to be lovely and comfortable and sacred. 
I hope folks leave our home more restored than when they walked in the door.
 -Jen Hatmaker


 I feel beyond restored and I was just in her backyard. 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

My Favorite Adoption Story: One in a Million

 I am so very excited to be partnering with Show Hope as a blogger for the Show Hope Blogging Network. I'll be writing to raise awareness and encourage discussion about the global orphan crisis. 

Jeremy was very confused when I told him about this particular assignment.

Share your favorite adoption story.  

"Well, why aren't you sharing ours?" he said. I could.  But most of you already know those. I want to share a story of incredible love, determination, hope, and grace.

I first met Amy when our names were shouted out in the same small group pairing of a summer women's bible study group. I knew of a few women in our group but didn't really know them. As we went around our precious circle, I learned a bit about Amy and her family.  When she shared her family was in the process of adopting from China, my heart skipped a beat.

A few weeks later Amy came to group clearly smitten.  She could barely contain herself as she flipped her iPad around and showed us a picture of this precious little girl. "Isn't she beautiful?!" Indeed she was.  She shared the story of a sweet baby girl Esther in China who went to heaven {due to a virus + her heart defeat} before her adoptive family was able to bring her home.  Esther's family designed T-shirts printed with "So Loved", with 100% of the profits of the proceeds funding a future heart surgery for an orphan in China.  A sweet angel named Kate had her future heart surgery fully funded!

Amy showed us the picture of "Kate".  And that was that.

No it wasn't.

Six months later "Kate" was referred to Amy's family.

A one in a million shot.  Literally.

Amy wrote, "Only God writes a story like this."

And so it was.

Kate became Grace.

That heart surgery?  That was prayed for and supposed to occur in China?  Never happened.

I watched from afar as their family dynamic changed in anticipation for Grace.  I watched Amy fight fear and worry as her sweet baby girl was thousands of miles away, being hospitalized over and over again. I had heard her speak about their adoption process months before and watched her growth and trust in Him. When it was real, she was real. I watched her develop a deep, deep passion for orphans. Hundreds of us stalked her Facebook page for updates while they traveled to China. We waited for that glimpse of the family all together and watched as her little personality emerged slowly but surely.

We watched Grace undergo the heart surgery she so desperately needed.  We witnessed a visceral love and tenderness that goes far beyond what we think we are capable of.  We watched as Grace went from blue to pink.  We saw Grace change by the healing grace of God. Its been a few years since she arrived home and hearing the word grace still causes me to think of Grace.

I'm truly not doing any justice to all things Grace.  I'm really not.

But what I do want to say is Grace's story holds a special place in my heart because it gave me hope. Hope for a mama who was beyond broken and had a very jaded view of adoption.  Hope for a mama who did not trust. Hope for a mama who thought her parenting journey was over. Healing to a mama who learned that its okay to not know everything. Healing to a mama who desperately needed to see God's working. Our stories matter.  We never know who's listening. I'm so thankful I met Amy, her family, and sweet Grace.

Grace changes everything.

You can find Amy's blog here.  
She also contributes monthly at No Hands But Ours

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