Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Connect Courageously

"No matter how busy you are, you must take time to make the other person feel important. "
 Mary Kay Ash

We have been really busy lately. 

It's been great. We have spent a lot of time with family, made memories, eaten great food, and done a lot of laundry. But this morning, when I looked at my calendar (the dry erase one on the refrigerator) and I saw nothing written on it...I felt pure joy. I actually love to have things on my agenda. Play dates, errands, lunches, appointments, these are the musical notes to the sweet melody of my life, but sometimes, the rhythm needs to slow down a little bit. Because I need to remember that my symphony, my opus, my prize winning score, is my family. The little nucleus that lives in this house right now and the two that live in our hearts, those people are the ones I need to make feel important. 

I would love to take some time to report on those wonderful trips and activities that have happened in the past few weeks  months. So be expecting some retro blogging in the future. Those highlights will consist of the beach, Gatlinburg, and our precious precious son. But today, please let me share with you about our weekend. 

This past weekend Ryan and I attended Empowered to Connect. It is a conference geared towards adoptive and foster parents, along with social workers and counselors, but mainly parents. To say that it was "empowering" and that I "connected" would be an understatement. My emotions were in hyper overdrive and my heart was wide open from the minute I parked the car at Brentwood Baptist, which is where the conference was held. Ryan was able to come after lunch on Friday and join me, but I was solo for the morning session. As I was walking in I actually started crying just watching all of the other adoptive parents gather to learn more about how to connect with their children. It felt awesome to be in the presence of so many other people that are on the same journey as us. Some of them are WAY ahead of us, and other in the same boat. It was like God was showing me, see, you aren't alone. These people made it and they are with you. 

Now I don't really know how to explain what the sessions were about, but they were amazing.  There was scientific research, there were video clips, there were personal stories, there were charts, and there was THE  Dr. Karyn Purvis. In the world of adoption this woman is the expert. She has seen some children from VERY hard places and been able to help them and their families. My heart broke hearing her talk about the children who have come to her and the past they are trying to overcome.

 I remembered that God has a design for families. When a baby is born they are supposed to be held close and fed by their mother and rocked and cooed at by daddy. When they cry, someone should take care of their needs and they should always be warm and have a full belly. But this is not the case for every child.  Many things in this world do not go according to God's design...but the amazing thing about God is that He also offers redemption. So, whatever our children are missing, we will do all we can to try and make up for that. I know it won't be easy, but the first step is having the tools to make it happen. I believe that God provides those tools if we seek them out. He has created amazing people who have talents and brains to help us.

One of my favorite quotes from the conference was this: "Don't you love it when science catches up to God?" Some people think that there is either faith or there is science. I think that it's amazing to discover something that God designed and to understand it even further. Now I am no science lover...but when it comes to understanding the development of children and their brains and their inner workings...I like that, I like that a lot. 

We felt so blessed to go the conference. We took notes, cried, got some DVDs, and learned so much. It just sort of reignited our passion. Sometimes with adoption you hit slumps and it feels like the whole process just stopped. So doing something like this was great. It made it real again. It also made me thing that maybe sometimes the journey is long and hard because it strengthens us as parents. And these children are going to need strong parents.

I need to brag on my husband a minute. I don't think I do it enough. Ryan is a sweetheart. Literally, he just has a sweet heart. I feel so blessed to be the one to know him the best. You see, my sweet Ryan just turned 25. Yeah, he's a tiny baby. But he gets it. This man in my life is leading our family on a journey that I would not miss for anything. He is passionate about being a good father and husband and doing for our family whatever it is we need to do. I went on a run the other day and my mind was going crazy, naturally. A song popped into my head. It is by Casting Crowns and it is from the movie Courageous. If you haven't seen the movie, watch it tonight with your husband. If you're single, watch it and then reassess your list of desirable traits in a mate. Here are the lyrics to the song:

we were made to be courageous
we were made to lead the way
we could be the generation that finally breaks the chains

we were made to be courageous
we were made to be courageous

we were warriors on the front lines,
standing unafraid.
but now we're watchers on the side lines,
while our families slip away.
where are you men of courage?
you were made for so much more.
let the pounding of our hearts cry,
we will serve the Lord.

we were made to be courageous,
and were taking back the fight.
we were made to be courageous,
and it starts with us tonight.
the only way we'll ever stand,
is on our knees with lifted hands.
make us courageous,
Lord make us courageous.
this is our resolution, our answer to the call,
we will love our wives and children,
and refuse to let them fall.
we will reignite the passion,
that we buried deep inside.
may the watchers become warriors,
let the men of God arise.


seek justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God
seek justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God

Lead singer:
In the war of the mind i will make my stand,
in the battle of the heart, in the battle of the hands.
in the war of the mind i will make my stand,
in the battle of the heart,

As I mentioned, Ryan is young. We are young parents, just starting out. But I think that he can lead his generation. He is on the front line for us. I am so proud of him. The whole theme of the conference was connecting with children from hard places. But we are going to make sure that we first connect with God, connect in our marriage, connect with Brody, connect with family and friends, and then when we finally are able to physically connect with our children in Ethiopia, we will learn to connect with them. 

As Christians, we were made to be courageous...not watcher on the sidelines. So get out there...whatever connections you have, really connect. 

And please listen to this song :)

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