Anyway, it is the tenth, so it's time for another list. And since we just had our fifth While We're Waiting Weekend for Bereaved Parents this past weekend, I thought I'd share my top ten favorite things about the weekend. Here we go ...
1. Family Farm is one of my most favorite places in the world. You can walk onto the property and feel the presence of the Holy Spirit. I love that we have our retreats here. The feeling of peace is almost palpable.
2. I love the time we spend with the animals. Each one has a name and its own unique personality. There's something about spending time with God's creatures that's very therapeutic.
3. I love watching folks figure out how to get across the Islands without stepping into the "molten lava" in between them. People who just met less than 24 hours ago have to work together to get every member of their team across these wooden platforms using only three boards and a rope swing. They did it!
4. I love hearing the Mays, who own Family Farm, share the story of their son, Zane. We always hear their story at Salvation Station. Such a beautiful spot.
5. I got a big kick out of watching this group do the land skis. Another working-together type activity, with a little competition thrown in. OK, maybe a lot of competition. The ladies were waaaaay ahead, 'til the guys got their act together. Could've been a little cheating involved. Just sayin'.
6. I love watching moms and dads who have endured so much loss having fun. Our kids would want us to find the joy in life ... after all, they are experiencing more joy than we can even imagine!
7. One of the moms who came from New Orleans brought us a king cake. She explained to the group that king cake is a New Orleans tradition. A plastic baby is baked into the cake, and we "worked" all weekend to find that baby. And it was hard work too ... we had to keep on eating this delicious pastry until we found it! By Sunday morning, there were just a few pieces left, and the baby was finally found. There might have been a little cheating involved here, too.
8. Speaking of food, our 5-course gourmet meal on Saturday night is always a special treat. Take a look at what we enjoyed ... in order, these pictures are the appetizer, the salad, the intermezzo, the entree, and the dessert.
9. I love the time we spend sharing our kids' stories and talking about our various journeys. There is so much wisdom shared in these discussions. I've gotten to where I keep a notebook handy and jot down things I want to remember. Here are just a few quotes I wrote down ...
"Why would I be angry at God when He ended my son's suffering?"
"Your perspective in life changes, and your direction in life changes."
"It's not a new chapter ... it's a new book."
"Guard your heart, pick your battles, and use your energy to get better."
10. But maybe my favorite part of this weekend came after I got home. Our parents are offered the opportunity to write comments about the weekend that they wouldn't mind us sharing publicly. I didn't read what they had written until I got home, but when I did, I was so touched by what they said. I'll close this post with these...
"Truly amazing weekend! So thankful for this opportunity!" ~Raegan's mom
"WWW has been an uplifting and inspirational experience. I would recommend it to all those grieving the loss of their most precious children." ~Ben's mom
"What a life changing event! After our daughter's passing, our lives were forever altered. Our faith has been strengthened tenfold after attending our first While We're Waiting retreat. We were just where we needed to be on the anniversary of Kendra's passing." ~Kendra's mom and dad
"As a skeptic coming in, it only took a few hours with this great group of people of God for me to realize my family had just grown. Thank you for this amazing, healing ministry." ~Timmy's stepdad