Haven of Hope Retreat 2016

 

Haven of hope (1)

This years Haven of Hope retreat was very different for me, than last year was. I had just lost Rochelle two months before going on this retreat for the first time (for grieving mothers who have lost children) and I wasn’t fully prepared to embrace the entire weekend. I took so much away from it last year (which you can see here), but I also went in a downward spiral of depression, anger, and have had to learn how to cope with my grief of this past year.

Friday night was filled with getting settled into our room  (and meeting our roommates) and having dinner at 6pm.  This year they sat us down at the table next to someone, and during/after dinner we got to know them and share their story with the rest of the group.  It is always so sad hearing the loss of other women’s child(ren), but it is so good that we are surrounded by each other, and we can have a person to learn on and understand all weekend.  I stayed up late Friday night talking to my roommate Lauren and playing board games, so fun! Haven’t done that in a while.

Saturday morning started early for me, because I got up before sunrise, and it was so cold (which I definitely did not prepare for), but it definitely woke me up better during my morning walk.  After breakfast, we all broke out into our small groups (yay! Susan Gray did awesome leaders ours this year, and I was so blessed to be with those other mommas in our group) and shared such deep, personal stories with one another, that will only be kept there.  After small group, we broke out into breakout sessions (I personally attended the “dealing with fear after the loss of a child/struggling with life after loss” groups) and they were amazing and helped me learn better coping mechanisms and realizing to let go of some of my fears associated with Brielle doing certain things. Craft time was after and that was amazing (we painted candle holders in one and we made glass pictures in another) and so fun!  We had fellowship, prayer, worship, candle lighting, and slideshow o the rest of the night and it was SO good!

 

Sunday morning started in a similar way, that I woke up before sunrise to get my morning walk in and just to breathe.  I liked to take this time to pray/thank God for all that I had and all that He has done not only for me, but the people surrounding me.  After breakfast, they all gave away prizes to each one of us (yay!!) and then we had a guest speaker, then Pastor Sandra King gave such a wonderful sermon again and her analogy this year was that sometimes you just have to life yourself up from the ground, and rise to what God is calling you to do.  She said “it’s okay to grieve to be sad, and to cry over the loss of your loved one, but don’t let those emotions consume your life”.  I loved every word she spoke and I love getting to hear her speak the Word of God.

I hope the pictures speak for themselves, but I just had an amazing weekend, and I am seriously counting down the days I get to attend next years retreat!

©2016 Sheridan Johnson @Journey with the Johnsons. All Rights Reserved.

 

10 tips for your home study

10 tips for your home study

 

We just had our home study this past Saturday for our foster/adoption process, and I definitely have some helpful tips to share with everyone, that I SO wish me and my husband had prior to the 3 hour session.

  1. Know your immediate family history.  Shane and I both did not grow up with one of our biological parents so ALL of the questions pertaining to them, we answered to the best of our ability.  Some we just simply had to say “I don’t know”.
  2.  Gain as much knowledge/information as you can about past marriages (from your parents) as possible.  I had no idea why my parents got divorced, and if they had tried any methods to make it work before choosing that route.
  3. Be open to ANY and EVERYthing.  They ask SO many personal,in-depth questions about you, your spouse, and your relationship (even about your sex life and if you are satisfied with it), so be sure to communicate with each other prior to having that discussion with someone you don’t even know.
  4. Make sure you are on the same page about discipline/punishment.  We have always been on the same page about time-outs with Brielle and talking to her, but they want to make SURE that you don’t spank your child, nor will you ever spank the foster/adoptive child.
  5. Make sure your dining room table is cleaned off, because THAT’s where we had to conduct the interview in for 3 hours.. not the comfortable couches we have that’s maybe a good 20 feet from that.  She writes down a lot.
  6. Speaking of writing things down, make sure you are comfortable okay with being recorded, and anything you say, can be used during the study.
  7. Since our daughter is only 2, she did not have to interview her personally, but she did observe her to make sure she was healthy, and interactive and appropriate for her age.
  8. Speaking of your kids.. find a babysitter/caregiver to help you take care of them during the 3-4 hour interview, because your entire focus has to be on answering the questions correctly and appropriately.
  9. Dress comfortably.  I usually dress up a little for home visits/etc when it comes to this process to look more presentable, but I knew we were going to be sitting for a long time, and that wouldn’t be necessary.
  10. Last but not least, empty your bladder PRIOR to the home study visit. Shane and I both did have water with us, to sip on during the process (because you do a lot of talking), but we didn’t get up once from the table.

**Remember to relax, be calm as much as possible, and just be yourself.  That will shine further than any awkward question they may ask you.

Today, I am linking up with Karli from Sept. Farm for today’s 10 on Tuesday!

©2016 Sheridan Johnson @Journey with the Johnsons. All Rights Reserved.

Beloved

There is a person,

a man in fact.

Who gave me life,

and chose to bless my parents,

with a second child.

Who was watching over me,

before I even knew He existed.

Who loves me unconditionally,

when I was trying to so hard,

to find it in my own father.

Who constantly provides for me,

in strength, courage, and protection.

Who has accepted me,

and forgiven me,

despite having made some

terrible choices in life,

and still chooses to see the good in me,

and provide blessings.

Who has given me such a great husband,

and three beautiful children.

No one can truly describe

how amazing this man is.

He gave his life so we could have ours.

He is the beloved,

Jesus Christ.

©2015 Sheridan Johnson @Journey with the Johnsons. All Rights Reserved.

Freedom

As I look at all the walls around me,

I am quickly reminded of where I am.

The days go by,

the sweet memories of what life was like,

slowing starts to fade away.

The times where having a door to the bathroom,

just seemed like a necessity.

Now, I am lucky if I have enough

sand-paper like toilet paper left to use,

when it’s my turn.

Or the time where walking outside barefoot,

in the freshly-cut green grass,

was just something that

came to be second nature.

Now, I all I have is this cold,

grey-colored cement to put my feet on.

Or maybe the time where I could

put on my pajamas, and hop into bed,

and drift off into a peaceful nights sleep.

Now, I all I have  is this paper-like thin,

shirt and pants that I get to use,

to lay on my hard-as-a-rock bed,

and sleep, well that’s gone.

At the end of the day,

all of those times were mine before,

if I could only have remembered,

that freedom is never free.

prison-cells-with-doors-closed

Photo Credit: wisegeek

©2015 Sheridan Johnson @Journey with the Johnsons. All Rights Reserved.