Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Father to the Fatherless

On Sunday, our church celebrated Father's Day, as did most churches in the United States.  I love Father's Day.  I have such a wonderful Dad who always showed me how much he loved me.  My dad is funny, sociable, sensitive, and all-around great.  I wish everyone had a dad like my dad.
I realize that many people don't have the capability to celebrate on Father's Day.  Maybe they don't have a dad, or maybe there dad is absent.  Even worse, maybe Dad is hurtful and abusive.
This Father's Day I realized more than ever that Father's Day, like EVERY day, is all about Him, our Heavenly Father.  We celebrate Him when we celebrate the love that our earthly dad's have shown us because it is He who empowers that love.  Likewise we celebrate Him though we have no earthly father because He is the only one that can provide, love and care for us perfectly anyway.  I love that God calls Himself our Father.  I think of all of the children who have never known a Father, who are orphaned, abandoned, or neglected whether physically or spiritually.  He knew that in life, we would be vulnerable and lonely without fathers, so in His love, He decided to be the BEST at it.  I love this verse..."Father to the fatherless, defender of widows — this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families."

Psalms 68:5-6
So whether you have a father or not, like your father, or hate him, we can all celebrate Father's Day; the day that God became our Father and gave us a place to belong.  I hope that you know Him as your Father today.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


THERE IS ANOTHER ADOPTIVE FAMILY IN NEW ORLEANS!!!!  YEA!  The Jeansonnes!  Anna, I hope your reading this.  We are not alone!  HOLLA AT US if you are adopting in NOLA!
Here's my new friend, Kristy's, blog:


You won't believe this.  After my post about names I met a girl on facebook named Simbry.  Not only that, but she was named after someone her mom went to high school with like I was.  Not only that, but she went to TEXAS A&M like me.  Not only that, but she majored in English like I did.  Not only that, but she took education classes too.  Not only that, but we had the same professors.  Not only that, but she is from the Houston area.  GETTING WEIRD YET?????  Turns out, the girl I was named after is most likely the girl she was named after because both our parents went to high school in Abilene.  Whoa.  I'm freaked out.  THIS IS AWESOME.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

What's in a Name?

Names are very important to me.  I guess growing up with an unusual name caused me to feel the impact names can have on a person.  For years, I had no idea what my name meant.  Cimbrey is NEVER defined or explained when I look it up; however, there was a shop in Branson, MO that made name souvenirs that looked it up for me when I was in middle school.  He said it was derived from Kimberley and meant "from the royal fortress meadow."  I'll take it.  It made me feel like a princess, and what girl doesn't need to be reminded that she is a princess now and then?
I've always had to explain my name and spell it for other people.  There's not a very interesting story behind it.  My dad new a girl named Symbre in high school and my mom and dad loved the name.  They decided to spell it differently, and Cimbrey became my name.  I don't mind questions about my name.  I don't even care about misspellings, mispronunciations, etc.  It happens.  What having a name like Cimbrey has made me care about is the importance of names themselves and how much a part of your identity the become.  Because I have such a unique name, I really value uniqueness in myself and other individuals.  I value going against "status quo" and making a difference in the world.  I am very comfortable being the "only one" to do something.  I've even been comfortable going to a public restroom by myself my entire life! (Shocking!  I know.)  Being unique, independent, and deviating from the norm has been a compelling force in my life, and I believe it has a lot to do with my name.
When I read stories in the bible about God changing a person's name, it has a profound impact on me.  I immediately think of the confusion that must have caused.  When Saul ("asked for" or "ditch, death"), a persecutor of Christians became Paul ("small, humble"), a zealous apostle of Jesus Christ, I wonder if he had to get his carriage license and registration, birth certificate, mortgage, fishing license,  hunting license, etc. changed as well.  How does one go about changing their name?  If someone calls your house asking for "Saul", do you say, "Saul no longer lives here?"  Really.  What do you tell your mom and dad?  "Mom and dad, what drugs were you on?  My name stinks.  My new name is Paul." People's questions alone would be enough to make me want to change my name back to Saul.  I can imagine the impact of changing your name is far more involved that we might think at first glance.
Jesus' encounter with Saul on the road to Damascus completely changed his life.  Saul was physically blinded for a time, emotionally traumatized (I'm sure), and spiritually, he was never the same again.  There is no greater change of heart than the one we see in Saul, turned Paul.  Saul was ravenous for the blood of Christian men and women, and he thought that he was justified in his cause.  After all, he was a Jew, and a very pious one at that.  He thought he was doing God a favor by exterminating Christians.  When he encountered God that day, God changed a hateful heart into a passionate love for people everywhere to know Christ.
In the same way, we who have been changed by God through a relationship with Jesus Christ, have been given a new heart.  When God met us on our road of destruction, he demonstrated His love and power by making us a new creation.  My name may not be changed in the literal sense, but I know I will never be the same again.  Being adopted and grafted into God's inheritance changes us in every way.
When Mark and I meet our little one in Ethiopia, there will be many experiences, mindsets, fears, and joys that he will have.  His adoption into our family will change his life forever.  He will no longer be called "forgotten", "orphaned", "alone", "abandoned".  Instead, he will be given a new name, "accepted", "loved", "valued", "blessed".  Like our stories of adoption into Christ's family, our son's story will forevermore be marked by reckless love and devotion.
It is for this reason, that Mark and I have searched and discussed names that reflect our son's new live as an adopted son.  We love unique names because we know our son is special and unique to God.  We also know that God is with him even now when we can't be with him.  We know that God rescues the weak and He never leaves any of us as orphans, but He comes to us in our distress.  Therefore, Mark and I have decided that Baby Brannan will be named...
ZANE - "God has been gracious."
GABRIEL - "messenger of God" and "devoted to God"
It is our prayer that Zane Gabriel Brannan will know God's grace and love at an early age and devote his entire life to sharing the message of God's grace to the world.
We invite you to pray with us for Zane!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Why Ethiopia????

Read this Washington Post article written by a Bethany Christian Director:

PSALM 86:6 - God places the lonely in families; he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy. But he makes the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.

Psalm 146:7 Who executes justice for the oppressed; Who gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets the prisoners free.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Dr. Livingstone, I presume?

Wow.  A lot has happened since I posted last.
School ended on May 26th with kids and May 27th for teachers.  Mark and I celebrated at the Court of Two Sisters on Royal St. in the French Quarter.  The courtyard was beautiful, and we lazily sat for three hours sampling New Orleans best cuisine:  jambalaya, turtle soup, shrimp etouffee, roast beef and gravy, garlic mashed potatoes, oyster dressing, crawfish dressing, bread pudding, praline sauce, homemade vanilla ice-cream, etc.  It is an amazing place to go to get a complete taste of NOLA in one stop.
Mark and I spent the rest of the weekend looking at furniture, hoping to get a Memorial Day deal.  When you know someone is expecting a baby, the natural thought is to think, "They were looking for baby furniture!"  Oh no.  Not us.  We have waited 7 years to get our bedroom furniture, and by golly we're getting it before the baby comes.  I know that our priorities will be entirely shifted to the needs of our baby when he comes, so the time is now.  We have been using old furniture Mark's dad gave us when we got married, and it wasn't designed to last very long.  We have procrastinated long enough, so on Monday we bought a bedroom suit.  Here is the set we got.  Unfortunately, the windows in this picture were not included.
Since it was raining all day Sunday, Mark and I went to the library and picked up some books/DVD's on Africa.  The Jefferson Parish library is pretty amazing.  I have to admit...the best books on Ethiopia are picture books from the children's section.
We picked up a DVD called Expedition Africa which was originally aired on the History Channel.  If you're ever in the mood for a 5 hour quest through Africa, this is the DVD for you.
Dr. David Livingstone

The premise of the film is 4 modern-day explorers journey through Tanzania along the same route that Sir H.M. Stanley took in search for Dr. David Livingstone.  To recap the story briefly, Livingstone was best known for being a missionary/explorer who searched for the source of the Nile River.  During his time in Africa, he developed a deep love for the people, and a life-altering passion to work as an anti-slavery crusader.  During his time in Africa, he became so enthralled with finding the source of the Nile, that his contemporaries and the media in London began to rumor his death.  Eager to attract the public spotlight, young reporter H.M. Stanley sets out to "find" Livingstone.  It is truly remarkable how Stanley made it all the way across Tanzania.  The rugged terrain, swamps, crocodiles, rhinos, lions, and hyenas are no small obstacle, much less the diseases that claimed many of his porters:  malaria and dysentery. Astonishingly, the man makes it to Livingstone where he supposedly utters the famous phrase, "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?"
The entire time I watched the trek of these modern-day explorers as they fought disease, exhaustion, rain, mud, and wildlife, I wondered, "WHY IN THE WORLD ARE THEY NOT TAKING A CAB?"  I honestly don't relate to their desire to walk in Stanley's shoes AT ALL.  Who would wish upon themselves sleepless nights, danger, disease, and 24 hour dirtiness?  It beats me.
What I did get though, was Stanley's determination to meet Dr. Livingstone.  Aside from the fact that "finding" this great explorer/missionary would make him Europe's most famous reporter, I have to believe that something inside of Stanley longed to understand a man that would risk his fame in London, his comfort, and his life for a people who lived in fear of being sold into slavery.  London couldn't find Livingstone because Livingstone didn't want to be "found".  To Livingstone, his home was among a people that he knew he was called by God to serve...Africa.
Stanley was eager to jump into the rat race.  His idea of a meaningful life involved risking his life to be in the tabloids.  Because explorers in his day were like modern-day rock stars, Stanley knew that this was his chance at fame.  Risk his life, he did, but what is the man known for?  Four words:  "Dr. Livingstone, I presume."  Ironically, the most famous thing he is known for saying doesn't even point to him; it honors Livingstone!  It's no wonder.  Stanley was a violent, selfish man.  He was brutal to his porters who traveled across Africa with him.  He left a fellow explorer to die of malaria just outside his destination.  And for what?  A temporary fame that left him lacking depth in our history books.  On the contrary, Livingstone did not seek the praise of man.  In fact, he was probably despised and shunned by most of the white men he encountered in Africa.  He would have opposed them because they would have been there to capture his people.  Instead of seeking fame and approval from London, he dedicated himself to giving people a voice who had no rights. To Livingstone, proclaiming freedom for the captives (Isaiah 61:1) was a cause he took literally and the world is better for it. Livingstone understood that "when you lose your life for Christ's sake, you find it."  (Matthew 10:39)
I wonder what it would look like if followers of Christ took God's word literally.  What would happen to our lives?  Would we lose them?  And what if we did?  Doesn't God's word say we would find life in Him?  What are we so afraid of?
Livingstone's story is one I will continue to tell because when I look at his life, I see a man who really "got it."  This is what it means to live... "I (Jesus) have come that you might have life and have it to the fullest." John 10:10.