Sunday, November 21, 2010

We're Thankful

This weekend began the 9 days of Thanksgiving break for the Brannans.  I love our school district for giving us a week off for Thanksgiving every year.  It's a blessing to be able to relax, shop, and see friends and family before the craziness of the Christmas season begins.

We are particularly blessed this Thanksgiving to have attended a "family reunion" of sorts in College Station.  Mark was adopted by a Student Adoption Ministry family in college through First Baptist Bryan, and the Nelsons have been friends, supporters, and family to Mark during very formative years of his life.  Their love was graciously extended to me when I became a part of the "family" Mark's senior year at Texas A&M.  They are a fun couple who love the Lord and love the Aggies.  What could be sweeter?  This weekend, their son, Kyle, celebrated his 16th birthday and the adoption ministry kids from the past 10 years returned along with Kyle's blood-relatives to wish Kyle a Happy Birthday.  The Nelson's influence on a decade of Aggies was evident as we gathered and immediately bonded in our "kinship" in the Lord.  It was like Mark sat down to talk with brothers as they visited about life, "man-stuff", and family.  The wives laughed and awed over the birth of a new baby into the "family".  It was like heaven...a variety of backgrounds, races, and families gathering in fellowship around the throne of Jesus.  He was at the center of it all, and He tied us all together in love, even though some of us had never met.

Mark and I spoke for a long time after our wonderful visit with the Nelsons about faith, family, fellowship, and the importance of mentors in the lives of our children.  Mark said at one point during the visit, "We know we won't always be the best parents and that our children probably won't listen to us.  But when we surround them with people that love God and speak truth to them, maybe they'll listen to them."  It's true.  We're not naive enough to think that our kids are going to think we're wise and hang on every word we say, but wouldn't it be amazing if every direction they turn they run into a Godly man or woman who directed them to the same Jesus we speak of?  What if the cloud of witnesses cheering them on could be evident on this earth, not just in Heaven?  How much harder would they run their race?

Mark and I have taken note of the method the Nelson's have used in raising their own children.  It's not just about free dinners, doing laundry at their house, or having a home away from home for these college students.  For the Nelsons, it's about pouring into their "adopted children" the love and truth of Christ, and seeing them, in turn, pour faith, belief, and Christian mentorship into their children as well.  It's not a selfish pursuit; it's the body of Christ.  We were made to sharpen one another, provide discipleship, and be upheld by our fellow soldiers in the Gospel.  This race is not run alone...

I am thankful for the body of Christ, for the family we have that exceeds boundaries placed by man.  I pray our children will know the kind of love that God has shown us through people like the Nelsons.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I am extremely turned-off by redundancy, and I annoy myself when I think that I may be saying the same thing over and over.  Maybe that's because I spend most of my day repeating myself.  I teach the same lesson three times in one day.  Within that lesson I may give the same directions two or three times, and within that direction, I may repeat a key phrase twice more for added emphasis.  Obviously, I'm experienced in redundant, monotonous verbiage.  The deal is, as much as I hate to repeat myself, it really boils down to a subconscious feeling I have that nobody really wants to know all I have to say (and I have A LOT to say usually!).  I feel like if I write one more blog entry about how we're waiting...still...people might vomit.
And the truth is, there is absolutely nothing happening on our end of the adoption right now besides WAITING.  (My favorite.)

So for those of you patient enough to read as I drone on and on (thanks, mom!)...I still wonder what Zane looks like...I still wonder if he has a twin that we will adopt too...I still think about his mom and wonder how she's doing.  I wonder who his dad is and if he is an upstanding man.  I wonder what region of Ethiopia he's from and what it looks like.  I wonder if I will see it one day and maybe even meet his birth family.  I think about what I might say to them.  I dream of his curly locks resting softly upon his smooth skin.  I think of his cheeks and how I will want to kiss 'em and press them to my face every minute.  And his sweet hands that will gently rest in mine.  Most of all, though, I think of his eyes and the story they might tell.  His soul will pour out through those eyes, and I wonder so desperately about them.  What color will they be and what shape will they take?  What will they convey to me about his time with his birth family, his trip to the orphanage, his understanding that they are not coming back, and his adventure to a transition home where he will be given to Mark and I, his new family.

Better yet...more than what his eyes convey to me, I wonder what his eyes convey to himself.  What is his perception of his world?  What message did he receive from his birth families faces the day he was born?  What signs did he interpret as he made his way to the orphanage?  What did he perceive about life...about himself when no one came back to get him?
My heart hurts over this and yearns for God's intervention.  Satan will pounce at the opportunity to speak lies of abandonment and unworthiness to any child(ren) who will listen.  If he can convince us of our lack of value to God, he can render our lives completely ineffective, unproductive, and completely worthless to the Kingdom of God.  He wreaks havoc in the world's children everyday, and I am desperate for God to preserve the heart of my child.  I pray he will know, even now, his God in such an intimate way, that he feels His presence with him every moment.  I pray he talks about Him when he gets up in the morning and when he lie down at night, and that he knows Him as Father as well as I know my own earthly father.  While we are away from him, He will be his Daddy, and oh, how I want him to know His face, His touch, His words.  I pray for God to show Himself...for God to whisper in his ear the truth about who he is in Christ:  loved, accepted, rescued.

No matter how much I tire of talking, I never grow weary over praying for my Zane's relationship with Jesus, his understanding of God's love, and his confidence as a child of the Savior.  While English grammar, test directions, and rules grow mundane, some things are clearly worth repeating.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Perfect Weekend

Last weekend I had Fall Break!  It's the first year we've been given a four-day weekend in the middle of the fall, and it was much appreciated!  Mark and I planned months ago to meet our friends in College Station for an Aggie football game, and we were thrilled to see the Aggies beat the Raiders!  However, this weekend ended up being better than we ever imagined.

First, we have to thank God that we got to Houston from New Orleans in 5 1/2 hours on Thursday night.  It's always a gamble when you drive the perilous I-10 through endless construction and traffic, and we are so thankful when we bypass traffic and have an easy drive home.

Secondly, we got to sleep in for 4 days!  It's so nice to not have anywhere to be and to wake up on your own!  No alarms, no stress, just rest.

Thirdly, beautiful weather allowed for a fun neighborhood cookout on my parent's driveway Friday night and Sunday night while trick-or-treaters ran by searching for candy.  It was incredibly entertaining to see the costumes and children scuttling by with sugar-highs.

Saturday was ideal, as we got to eat at our favorite College Station restaurants, Koppe Bridge for hamburgers and Rudy's for good Texas Bar-b-que!  We got to shop for Aggie paraphernalia, and got our first items of clothing for our little boy(s)...TEXAS A&M t-shirts!

Our seats were at the 35 yard line, first deck.  We eyed David Robinson just below where we sat, watched George Bush lead out the team, and of course sat in awe at the "Fightin' Texas Aggie Band".  The best news is that we played great and beat the Raiders!

We headed up to San Antonio after the game to stay with Laura and Ben (Mark's sister and brother-in-law). Unfortunately, we were meeting under sad circumstances.  Mark's grandmother is dying, and we were taking our last opportunities to visit her.  We spent a couple of hours with her on Sunday as she laughed and joked as usual about life...and death.  We wrote notes to her and were comforted by her peace, joy, and readiness to spend eternity with her Savior, Jesus.  There was no sadness, only joy for Grenna's life, ministry, and future in Heaven.

It made me think.  I want to go like that.  Wondering how much longer I have to "do this" because I can't wait to see Him.  I want to be ready; so much so that every moment I long more to see His face.  What a way to go.  There is NO better way to go, and the sad reality is that so many will suffer greatly at the hands of death. As if death isn't fearful enough, many will spend eternity in anguish at what might have been if they had only trusted Jesus.  This is the only sadness we feel as Grenna passes on...the sadness for loved ones who may not be ready...It hurts to leave behind loved ones you may not ever see again because they have rejected Christ.  I saw this anguish in her face this weekend, and it pained all of us.

With all of the fun, beauty, and complete delight I felt this weekend, there is no pleasure that eclipses the truth of our need for a Savior.  Every good thing in our lives comes from Him and He alone is worthy of praise.  What will happen when we die?  We all will acknowledge that Jesus is Lord, but for some of us it will be too late.  What should we do then?  Become better people?  Go to church more?  Have a more philanthropic life?  NO!  We all fall short of the glory of God, no matter what we do!  We must rely on His grace and His righteousness.  That's the transforming, life-changing power of the Gospel.