The following post was written by Jacqui Jackson, iHope’s co-founder, on her Grateful Mommy blog. It can be accessed here: http://www.thegratefulmommy.com
About 7 months ago, a sweet friend invited me to a C4C (Created for Care) conference, cautioning me to stay up until registration opened at midnight because it would sell out. I am no conference novice, but my interest was piqued. I have been to women’s conferences, to mommy conferences, but this...this was different.
As I reflect on all I heard, saw, and experienced, I know that God was speaking to me this weekend. I should have realized it would be an important weekend in my motherhood, because I was kind of flipping out before I went. I didn’t pack until one hour before our sweet sitter showed up to usher me out the door. I left the van with the Hubs, and this led to about 30 uncomfortable minutes where I realized I had no idea how to adjust the seat to my liking.
Finally, I called my best friend en route to get a pep talk because mommy guilt hit like lightning the very moment I left our neighborhood. I felt like I needed to be home with my kids instead! Rush hour traffic began at 2 PM (this is probably standard for Atlanta, but I’m a homebody), and this made my WAZE app (a community-based traffic app) a big liar, turning a one-hour drive into almost two! But arrive I did. Without the Littles needing my attention, or the Hubs needing, well, attention, God gifted me with uninterrupted time to process, and He had a lot to say.
I coasted onto the resort grounds a mere 17 minutes after the whole shebang began, and I glimpsed Jesus-rays shooting between puffy white clouds and glimmering across the lake. It was the perfect setting for peace and release.
Within the first hour I was in attendance, I knew I was home. My sweet friend had picked up my registration info, and in my excitement, I completely forgot about the car, which I randomly left with the valet curbside. I was simply way too thrilled about being out in the world to worry about niceties like basic hotel protocol. Before the dinner break, I did pull myself away from the festivities and ran back up front to handle my vehicular misstep. I found it being guarded by a slightly bemused valet who expected me to return within moments, and instead welcomed me back about an hour later. Yes, I was that enthralled…I had found my people, and it was good.
Regardless of what break out session or seating assignment I experienced, I always found at least one (or 12) kindred spirits. Mommying is hard, y’all. But when you have been charged by God to walk out an adoption journey, you have battle wounds and war stories that only others on the front lines can fully appreciate.
Enthralled does not begin to cover my enjoyment of this conference. I met sisters who had recently adopted from China, a locale that will always hold my heart, as that is the place God chose to gift us with our new adoption ministry, Ignite Hope. I met girls who have been fostering, and I was able to share about the foster families who have blessed me over the years – loving on my sister, my son, and me. I was able to share deeply and honestly as an adoptee with mommas who so desperately want to do right by their children, whether their kiddos are adopted, biological, or fostered.
During late night girl time, I was humbled as I listened to new friends share their hearts and their stories. I was so honored to be able to share parts of mine. And that was the crux of it – I’m an adoptee, but I’m also an adoptive momma. And I’m a belly momma too. God has given me the opportunity to build a family in pretty much every which way, and each has a testimony that came with it.
God granted me the ability to speak life into new friends by sharing my thoughts as an adoptee, encouraging them in their mothering, and praying over them and their families. What an incredible opportunity! This sharing and caring literally brought me to tears.
Ladies I may never have met in other ways have now been adopted into my life as heart sisters. I was challenged and encouraged by the women and our worship together. Amid pajama chats, line dancing, chocolate-tasting, and coffee-drinking, I found the sisterhood I had been searching for. A group of girls – real and authentic, overcome and overwhelmed – willing to share their struggles and willing to welcome me in, and I am so very grateful.