You know when God puts you in a situation or place that is exactly where you need to be?
That is exactly what the Refresh Conference Chicago was for me this past weekend.
I had heard about it through Instagram but I didn’t really know what to expect.
Friends! I need to tell you every single minute of it was AMAZING.
The conference started in Seattle and the replanted ministry put on the one in Chicago that I went to. It was the third year of it and I am so sad I haven’t gone the past 2 years.
From the second I walked into the second I left. I felt encouraged, lifted up, I learned a ton, I cried I was with “my people”.
I attended the pre-conference with Jason Johnson – he is a blogger and speaker and he is a wealth of knowledge. He was actually the reason I signed up for the conference. He was doing a session for people who wanted to start foster care and adoption ministries in their churches and communities.
He wrote a book called everyone can do something and it resonates so much with what I believe. I know not everyone is called to foster and adopt but it is a need near and dear to God’s heart, it betters our communities and the next generation. He was one of the first blogs I started to read when I started this journey and I just think he is amazing so it was wonderful to be in a live session with him and actually get to speak with him one on one.
The first day of the official conference started with us walking into the church and getting “same here” paddles, our workbook and a water bottle. We could sign up for pampering services and shop in the gift shop.
We then went into the main auditorium and started with worship and just asked the Holy Spirit to be there with us.
As I was there, we were in the middle of hard in our foster care journey. The very real possibility of losing our girl after we thought we could adopt her loomed in the back of my mind.
So the refresh conference was exactly where I needed to be.
We had a flip the script session each day where adoptees shared their perspective, Jen the director of Replanted Ministry and Currey (a pastor) shared their hearts and with the volunteers gave out “no way” gifts. We heard from others with “same here” stories and that really brought us all together.
I have said many times that this journey can be lonely and isolating but here I was in a room with people who have all been in similar hard and broken situations. It was really powerful.
We heard from Ann Voskamp. If you don’t know Ann she is an author and speaker and her talk was incredible and inspiring.
We heard from Wess from Compassion Internation and wow was I ever fired up for these kids after hearing his talk.
The first night after the main session finished we walked out to a dimly lit lobby with live music and handed a glass of punch and tables of delicious appetizers. They provided snacks and fancy water all throughout the conference.
There were breakout sessions you could pick to help you with your situation best. I learned so much.
The end of the conference we walked out to all the volunteers cheering and clapping and ringing cow bells holding signs that say “you are valued”, “what you are doing is important.” “you are loved.” I balled like a baby.
I cannot say enough about this conference. I want to attend every year. I want you guys to go if you are close enough. I was so inspired and encouraged and uplifted. God was with us in that church.
The best part was meeting and connecting with people who GET IT.
Check out my video for a glimpse of what I experienced.