Our next "While We're Waiting Weekend" is almost upon us, and we couldn't be more excited about it. And here's the amazing thing ... we were actually on the verge of postponing the weekend until the spring because we didn't have as many couples coming as we had hoped for. In fact, our leadership team got together Sunday afternoon, prayed about that very thing, and decided to give it 24 hours, just to see how we felt that the Lord was leading us. Well, less than 24 hours later, we had a widowed mom who has lost a son ask to come, and then today we had another couple sign up. So, we took that as our answer from God ... the weekend is on! And I honestly will not be surprised if we are completely filled up by the time we start on the evening of November 4th! Forgive us, Lord, for trying to take it out of Your hands!
Following our first couples' retreat in April, I wrote a post telling all about it and shared a whole bunch of pictures. To see that post, click here. If you read that post, you'll see how much fun we had that weekend. Yes, I did say "fun". It doesn't seem possible that a group of strangers, who get together to talk about losing their children, could possibly have fun, but that's exactly what we did. Sure, there were some tears over the course of the weekend, but they were cleansing tears, healing tears. The tears and the laughter we shared that weekend formed bonds between us that remain strong even today.
I'll close tonight's post by sharing what some of our last WWWW attendees had to say about the weekend. And we do still have a few openings for the upcoming retreat, which will be November 4-6, beginning around 5:00 on Friday evening, and ending around 10:00 on Sunday morning. Go to our website for more information or to register.
"I have never felt so connected to a group of people I didn't know. Our personal storms of losing a child had a unique way of bonding us together. It was refreshing to be around people that truly knew how we felt. To hear that others had the same questions we did and faced some of the same problems, it was great to know we weren't alone. From losing a child months ago to several years ago, It was great to see and hear how we can choose to see the good and continue to live by Fully Relying On God and each other! A GREAT weekend with GREAT strides towards healing." -Leightyn's Dad, Fort Smith, Arkansas, WWWW Spring 2011
"I am just so thankful that God gave you two the strength and courage to put this past weekend together!! I know you don't take the credit but I just want to you share with you how much it has changed my views on my life. This weekend enabled me to really grieve the loss of our little girl. God is truly amazing. The WWWW was structured in the perfect way to allow each and every couple a chance to share their own story of their loss of their child. It was inviting and peaceful. God was there each and every minute giving us the strength to share with others the most intimate details that we might not share with everyone. I did not want to go to bed at night but wanted to keep on talking to everyone. We made some life long friendships and connections that only God could have ordained. He was more evident in that 45 hours of being together than any other time that I can recall. This platform was awesome. It was facilitated smoothly and I just know that God has so much more to unveil in the future WWWWs. It was a perfect mixture of sharing, crying, laughing, talking, and relaxing that we all needed which, of course, God knew. We are forever changed and forever grateful for a loving, powerful, caring God that we all serve." -Lily's Mom, Hot Springs, Arkansas, WWWW Spring 2011
"For a long time after the loss of my daughter, Lily, I was convinced that if I were to speak too much about her I would be burdening people with my grief. God knew my heart and I believed that would be enough for me to understand and handle the feelings experienced with the loss. So, sharing my story with a group of people wasn't something I had expected to sign up to do, but apparently my wife did. During the retreat, however, I quickly learned I had been wrong. God had put these people in front of me with their stories, and instead of feeling as if I was burdening them with my pain, I realized these people were a blessing, and were willing to put their shoulders under the weight of my loss. The collective experience of sharing, praying, and teaching each other through our own experience has created an extended family of loving people that can sympathize with me, and for that I thank God (and my wife.) Now, I constantly pray for the families willing to let me into their grief, and for the children we are waiting to see. I am sure my daughter has babysitters in Heaven, and I know I am cared for on earth. The While We're Waiting Weekend was a celebration of the many wonders of God in our lives." -Lily's Dad, Hot Springs, Arkansas, WWWW Spring 2011
"As we loaded up the car to head east, if I am honest there were a lot of mixed emotions going on...
1. Malvern Arkansas is 4 1/2 hours away.
2. We were going to be spending the weekend with complete strangers.
3. We knew we was going to be sharing our daughters journey through cancer that hurts so bad.
I will just say in few words that the above statements WERE all true on Friday as we pulled out of the driveway, but if I'm honest all that was proved wrong by the time I went to bed Friday night. The weekend for me personally was amazing and I know God was all in it with each of us. The Family Farm is incredible. MOMMA MAY AND DADDY MAY are some of the most authentic people I have ever met. The weekend was structured well and organized in my eyes perfectly.
Did we cry? Yes
Did we laugh? Yes
Did we rejoice in H O P E? Yes
Did we feel like family? Yes.
We are excited about going to the next WWWW.
Thank you for a great weekend.
Thank you for loving on us.
Thank you for understanding.
My wife and I have been ignited and on fire to bring others H O P E like the WWWW brought us." -Laurren's Dad, Forney, TX, WWWW Spring 2011
"I walked into this retreat feeling numb, empty, struggling with isolation and feeling disconnected from God. As the weekend came to a close, I regained my hope that there is a tomorrow and gained so much wisdom to understand that our children who are now in Heaven WANT US TO HEAL and that we should never waste a storm, even as tragic as this. Such profound words that impacted me so deeply. We walked into the weekend as strangers with not many expectations but we walked away as one large family, forever changed because of the love and grace that only comes from God as Brad and Jill Sullivan opened their lives to us all. The weekend was peaceful, well structured, and every moment of the weekend seemed to refuel my soul and allow me to release so much grief and renew my relationship with Christ. What a powerful, uplifting weekend. Thank you Brad and Jill, and thank you to all the families who held hands to pray together, laugh together, cry together and most importantly, share our faith together to know that there is HOPE in tomorrow. We love and miss you guys." -Laurren's Mom, Forney, Texas, WWWW Spring 2011