A Big HOPE Weekend

I honestly don't even know where to begin.

I guess I'll just start at the beginning.

I've wanted to adopt a child since I was 16 years old. Just to give a little reference for when that was, I turned 16 in May of 2005 and Angelina Jolie adopted her second child, the child she and Brad adopted together, in July of 2005. The decisions to adopt are not related in any way.

When Jason and I met three years ago, I told him about my desire to adopt. He has encouraged me in my desire to be an adoptive parent since the beginning, and he quickly adopted this plan himself once we became pretty serious and knew we would get married (no pun intended...okay, maybe a little intended).

I don't remember exactly how I learned about Show Hope, and I'm sure Jason learned about this organization through touring with to Casting Crowns, but I've always seemed to just know that Show Hope existed. I have occasionally checked their website just to read about their mission and get excited about someday adopting, but in December of this last year, Jason and I became official Show Hope sponsors. 

Well, one thing led to another, and last weekend we spent Sunday volunteering at Show Hope's 10 Year Anniversary celebration in Nashville.



This day could not have come at a worse time in some ways, but in so many other ways it came at the perfect time.

I was sick all weekend with a horrible headache and sinus congestion. Traveling to Nashville this past weekend as meant that we'd be traveling for four weekends in a row. Jason worked on Saturday, so I had to pack for both of us and be ready as soon as he got home if we were going to make it there at a decent hour. On and on my excuses when, and you see, on paper, we probably should have just canceled. In fact, when I was feeling horrible and laying on the couch complaining, Jason asked if I wanted to just cancel and stay home.

But as always, God had the better plan.

Upon arriving to Nashville, we met up with the couple who invited us and some of their family/friends. We went to see Star Trek, which was good for Jason and a nap for me. Just kidding...but I'm a little bit serious. The redeeming factor to Star Trek is that J.J. Abrams directed it. But regardless, we had a great time with the company. I digress...

The next morning it was up and at 'em early. We were at Lipscomb University by about 8:45 ready and waiting to be given directions. We spent the next couple of hours helping set up for the "picnic" that Show Hope was hosting all afternoon. And when I say picnic, we're talking outdoor awesomenes. We're talking food trucks. We're talking blow up bouncy things. We're talking entertainment all afternoon. We're talking photobooth. We're talking merch table (which I took full advantage of). We're talking radio stations. We're talking everything a person could image at a picnic and much much more.
Volunteer Badge

Setting up

The Veggie Tales, duh.

The Red Bus Project

But even all of the awesomeness of the picnic didn't make me feel better. I was still feeling kind of icky with headaches and sinuses, and I just couldn't shake the "I want to be in my own bed" feeling. Finally, I did. Well, God did.

At about 1:30 in the afternoon, I looked around me. I saw families that I admired and I didn't even know their names, or where they were from, or any information about them, even the basics. I didn't see anything remarkable - they all looked and acted normal. Kids were crying, moms were frantic, dads were a little helpless but trying to be helpful; they were having fun one moment and the next they were cleaning up spilled juice...they were all completely normal; except for one thing...

They all had inexpressible love overflowing out of them.

They had love for their children. Love for God. Love for the organization that threw the awesome party picnic. Love for the other families. Love for those in need. Just plain, unmistakeable love.

At one point that afternoon, I was standing inside the arena waiting for Jason to get something to drink and a random lady walked up to me. In my memory of her, she had about 10 kids hanging off of her, but in reality it was probably only about three. She walked up to me, a complete stranger, and said, "Isn't it amazing what they've done here? All of us here in the same place. The Chapman's have just done something incredible by opening up their lives to us!" Then she walked away.

At this point in time, it was probably closer to 2:00, and this stranger had just peeled back the jaded selfishness that I'd carried around all day without even knowing it. It took me from 8:45 that morning until 2:00 in the afternoon to realize that God had placed Jason and I there to help and to serve, but more than that, he'd placed us there to look ahead at what obedience looks like. Obedience looks like all of those families. It looks like the stranger lady with 15 kids hanging off of her. It looks like Steven Curtis and Mary Beth Chapman and their story. It looks like love.

From that point on, I was on the verge of tears for the rest of the afternoon. I finally was able to let go and just cry when it came time for the concert that night.

People gave testimony after testimony of how God had allowed children to come into their lives and just turn their world upside down for the better. Testimonies of waiting. Testimonies of hurt. Testimonies of strength. Testimonies of discouragement. Testimonies of fear. Testimonies of grace. It was all there. All in one room.

I watched and listened as families talked about making the decision to adopt. For some it was an easy decision, but for some it was difficult. I watched and listened as people spoke about adopting children with needs and how that has brightened their lives with the purest kind of love in a way most of us will never experience on this side of heaven. I watched and listened as families shared their struggle financially to bring their child to live under the same roof. I even got to celebrate with a family who was given the financial means to bring home their baby right there on the spot. It was an incredible night full of laughter, tears of joy, and hope...lots and lots of HOPE.
The Chapman Family

A tribute to Maria Sue Chapman.

All of the bands on stage at the end.
Few people get the blessing of getting a glimpse into what their life will look like in the fugure. I am thankful to say that I received such a gift this past Sunday.

I got to see the kind of love a child out there will bring into my life - a love that is pure, a love that is kind, a love that is joyful, a love that surpasses my wildest understanding, a love that has hope, a love that is like Christ.

I got to see what my family may look like someday, not just the physical appearance, but the spiritual DNA of the future and expanded Morales Family.

I got to see the thousands of families that will be in this community of biblical adoption and orphan care with us someday.

I got to see the faces of those who are and will be praying for the same things that we are and will be praying for, and who will come alongside of us in this journey.

Most of all, I got to experience a renewed hope.

A hope for my future as a person, as a believer, a wife, as a mother.
Jason and I
I walked away from Sunday with a clear understanding of why Show Hope does what they do. I understand why they've been around for 10 years and I pray that they are a pillar that never ceases to exist. More than anything, I understand their name - Show Hope.

They do exactly what they're named for, and their name does deliver; they truly do Show Hope.

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Established in 2003 as Shaohannah’s Hope, Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife, Mary Beth initially founded Show Hope out of their desire to see more children find their way into forever families.  Though many families they talked to were willing to adopt, the financial costs to adoption were simply too high.

Originally named after the Chapman’s first adopted daughter, Shaohannah Hope Chapman, Shaohannah’s Hope has grown far beyond the initial vision of helping a few orphans find homes. In 2009, after changing the name to Show Hope, this organization has seen an amazing explosion in growth. From a six-story caring facility in China, equipped to provide surgeries and medical care to special needs orphans, to multiplying the effects of the adoption grant program by assisting churches in setting up their own adoption funds, Show Hope continues to expand its remarkable worldwide impact.
Posted on May 29, 2013 and filed under "Nashville", "Show Hope", "adoption", "vacation", "weekend".