Two years ago, Summit 7 took place in Louisville, KY. Living only 45 minutes away, "The Event" in regards to adoption/orphan care and the church was right in my backyard. Adoption pals from our church support group and community attended this dynamic conference, and we walked away uplifted, challenged, motivated, and encouraged. Words can't adequately express all I gleaned in those two very short days. God used the speakers and workshop leaders to stir my heart, affirm my convictions, and propel me to seek more opportunities to be His hands and feet. I laughed, cried, mourned, and rejoiced... I was moved!
Then this past fall we left my old KY home and literally moved to TN. So, can you guess where the Christian Alliance for Orphans is holding Summit 9? You got it - Nashville, TN - my new backyard :-) What a blessing! (P.S. - This Momma Bear is working on logistics finding caretakers for the cubs... any volunteers?)
You may ask, "Why go to Summit 9 if you have attended before?" Ha! My first response would be, "Come with me, and you'll never ask again." Honestly, I'd attend every single year if feasibly possible, but let me give you my Top 10 Reasons Why I Want to Attend Summit 9.
10. Exhibit Hall
Ministries, organizations, non-profits, agencies, authors, artisans, and more take up residence in the exhibit hall. It is a fantastic place to pick up information, prayer cards, reading material, a new t-shirt, or some paper bead jewelry. Even more so, it is a spot to take a deep breath and marvel at the many ways God uses His people to love and minister to the very least of these worldwide.
9. America World Adoption
It thrills me that our amazing adoption agency is a member of the Christian Alliance for Orphans. Through the adoption process, I forged such wonderful relationships with staff members and fellow adoptive families. I look forward to the inevitably sweet reunions and hugs at the America World booth.
8. Adoption. Foster Care. Global Initiatives
I so appreciate that Summit is not just an adoption conference. It has all the components and available tracks to meet adoptive parents needs. However, it really serves as a rally cry to mobilize the global church to care for orphans and vulnerable children.
Ha! Nothing like following the spiritual point with a superficial one. What can I say though? Momma likes to eat. With Summit registration, you get lunch and snacks. The fact that they are not of the fish cracker variety excites me. I'm easy to please!
One of my favorite things at Summit 7 was hearing redemption story after redemption story. It is the heart of the gospel and why we do what we do. God has authored such beautiful stories, and I love nothing more than to be a witness to His magnificent works and give Him all the praise, glory, and honor that is due.
5. David Platt
“We learned that orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they’re not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes…” – Radical
Yes, that should sound familiar. It has made repeat appearances on my blog, Facebook, and Twitter feeds because the message is so profound. Actually, I could type quotes from virtually every page of David Platt's book, Radical. If you haven't read it, you must. His words are so challenging and convicting on the page. I look forward to hearing him in person. I anticipate God will use him in mighty ways.
4. The Chapman Family
When we announced to friends and family that we were moving to the Nashville area, I jokingly said that I would be best buddies with Steven Curtis Chapman in no time. Really, don't you think Mary Beth and I could be great gal pals? I'm sure my kiddos would make great playmates for their little cuties. Well, even though that dream has yet to come true, as always, I'm ecstatic when there is an event involving the Chapman family. They are true champions of the orphan. Living transparently and publicly, they have allowed us to be privy to their great joys and their heartbreaking tragedy. They are authentic, genuine, and real and steward the story they never would have chosen for themselves with such grace and faith. Their words and Steven's music have prompted so many to give a VOICE to those that have no voice. (Confession: This girl is still brought to tears within the opening bars of "When Love Takes You In.")
3. Dr. Karyn Purvis
She is dubbed "The Kid Whisperer" and known for her "Whoa Nellie's." I was blessed to attend an Empowered to Connect Conference, and I have become a staunch believer in this woman's incredible work. She has the research to back her words up, but most importantly, she has the eyes to see the preciousness of each child. I could literally sit at her feet and soak up every word she has to say. It is her giftedness and brilliant work with children from hard places that causes this soon-to-be-34-year-old-Momma-of-4 to entertain the thought of going back to school to get my Masters degree. There is such a need for more professionals to help equip trauma mommas to help their sweet children.
2. New Tools
With our move came many changes. Obviously, we left behind family, friends, our church, and our adoption community. Double whammy... just a few months later a new baby enters the picture. There has been A LOT of transition. Likewise, there has been some regression and some old unhealthy behaviors displayed. This Momma's arsenal is running low. It is time to learn from the pros and the been-there-done-that's. I need to sharpen old tools and acquire some new ones to keep my lil' cuties on the road to wholeness and healing.
In KY, I served on the Board of Director's for our adoption agency, held seminars, led workshops for our local alliance, started a non-profit with friends, was active in our adoption support group at church, and socialized with so many adoptive families. Leaving all this behind has been difficult. I suppose I may have romanticized the move a bit what with the Chapman's coming over for a potluck and all. Even still, the Nashville area is home to so many well known adoption/orphan care ministries and organizations, I thought for sure I'd land right smack in the middle of them all and immediately get plugged in. Unfortunately, I've yet to get involved here. I know there is a strong adoption presence in the area, but I'm not presently connected. It is time to change that. I'm ready to roll my sleeves up and get my hands dirty again. I want to live in community with like-minded servants. What better place to connect than Summit 9... in my "new" backyard!!!
**I am writing this post as part of the Summit 9 Blogger Giveaway. Check out all the details at www.summit9.org