3 Big Things We’ve Learned At Refresh Conference.

For the past few days, Kristin and I have had the honor and privilege of being a part of Refresh Conference in Redmond, Washington. We came out here prepared to teach and serve. What we’ve gained in the process is more than we could have imagined!

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“They get it!”

That was the thought that crossed my mind less than 10 minutes into the opening session. It was during a video called “You’re Not Alone.” Those words kept repeating on the screen, over and over, as if they were a soothing ointment being gently rubbed on gapping wounds that nearly everyone in the audience had sustained.

There’s healing in discovering that you’re not alone. Discovering you’re not the only parent who’s felt like quitting….Finding out you’re not the only person who has felt regret over becoming a foster parent, or questioned whether it was a good idea to adopt your child, who’s now completely out of control.

That’s the heartbeat of this blog and it’s the heartbeat of Refresh. We have spent the past 2 days feeling right at home. As if we’re with brothers and sisters, not strangers. Last night, during dinner, we sat with 2 couples from different parts of the country, and shared our stories for hours. It was fulfilling and empowering. As I drove back to our hotel I felt as if I had always known them. Such great people with amazing hearts for foster care and adoption!

We’ve learned enough in 2 days to fill up an entire series of blog posts. Maybe we’ll write something like that in the future. For now, here are the 3 biggest things we’ve learned at Refresh…

  1. Our family’s story is a story of redemption. Everyday we breathe and live is a story of redemption. We had our own ideas of how we thought our family (and life) would go, back in the day, when we were young, immature, and still living off of mom and dad in college. But God saw fit to do something else…something bigger, and more beautiful with our life. He led us to adopt 8 beautiful children. He carried us through 9 years of foster care where we were stretched, challenged, and moved to love deeper than we ever thought possible. Our story isn’t perfect, but our story is a beautiful representation of our Heavenly Father’s grace and redemption!
  2. We need a time out every now and then. Foster and adoptive parents are a special kind of parent. Okay, lets just call it what it is- we’re weird. Every single one of us. Why anybody would willingly take tons of children into their home and end up driving a big white van, is beyond anyone’s imagination! But that’s our life. And it’s overwhelming at times. We need to call time out more often than we do. This has been a great time out for us. We needed it. We needed to be away from our children and be with people who are on the same journey as we are. We needed to breathe deep and sleep in! One of the core values of Refresh is just that- rest…rejuvenation…refreshment. Foster care and adoption are hard, hard, hard lives to lead! The most important thing you and I can do is take a break every now and then.
  3. We are not alone. It’s true. We’re not. And neither are you. You may be ready to give up on your kid. You may be regretting the decision to adopt or foster. Your marriage may be on the rocks and the water’s still rising. Your foster child may be completely out of control and destructive. Guess what? We get it. We’ve been there. We’re still there. You are not alone. To bump into hundreds of people this weekend who bear the same scars as we do has been refreshing. It’s given us the hope we need to step into another day, and the day after that.

We needed this conference. We’ve discovered so much about ourselves, our journey, our wounds, and our story from our brief time here at Refresh. We already have next year’s conference dates, February 26-27, 2016, circled on our calendars! Join us. I promise, you won’t be disappointed. This is the best conference for foster and adoptive parents in the world!

Question: Do you have a question about Refresh? Have you attended Refresh? Share your story with us. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • Renee Bergeron

    I went last year and came back VERY refreshed! I wish I could gone back this year (with my husband) but it didn’t work out. Maybe next year…

    • Renee, this is so good to hear. You were missed this year. Hopefully we will see you there in 2016!

  • Brittany Flem

    I did go and you guys were amazing! I cried the whole time listening to you and felt the Holy Spirit through your story healing my wounds too. Thank you so much for sharing your hurt and pain, even as fresh as it is. It is so encouraging to hear that WE ARE NOT ALONE! Praise God for that!

    • Brittany, wow! We are so grateful that you were there. How amazing it is that we can all walk this road together and find healing and hope in knowing that we’re not alone!! Have a safe trip home!

  • Raeleen S.

    My husband came to the conference really having known idea what to expect, but knowing that we were just sick and tired of all the crap. We left feeling refreshed with some tools to do something different. Our last breakout session was yours, and may I say it was a perfect ending for us. Loosing hope as a mom of five is a hard pill to swallow day after day. But hearing your story and believing that others have had the same, or worse, as us gives me courage to FIGHT! I cannot say success will come efficiently, or even well, but one thing I do believe is that God Himself is in this and that through His strength, we can do this!

    • Raeleen, we are overwhelmed and humbled by your kind words. And more than that, we are so grateful that both of you were rejuvenated and refreshed at Refresh. That’s a win. We pray you find rest and the courage to fight everyday. We are in this battle with you!

  • Karen A

    This is the first year I’m MISSED the Refresh Conference, and I hope it will be the last. What an amazing group of people who host, present, and gather! I recommend it to every foster and adoptive parent, especially those who are struggling for whatever reason!

    • Karen, I’m so bummed to hear that you had to miss it. Hope to see you there next year. I stand with you in recommending it to every foster and adoptive parent. Such a rejuvenating and refreshing experience! Thanks for your comment.

  • Earline

    Our first refresh and it was AWESOME! Do we really have to come back to reality????

    • Haha, we said the same thing as we drove to the airport this morning. If only we could have this every week right??!! Hang in there. Let us know if we can do anything for you. 🙂