Thursday, July 24, 2014

LEMON-AID Stand

There is not a day goes by, that our children don't speak about adoption. Most frequently, our conversations involve their brother.. what he might be like, how old he might be, how he will share our room with our sweet JoJo.

Inevitably, the conversation turns to WHEN our newest family member will enter into our home and call it HIS. We are all so very excited and anxious for the day that our precious boy will eat, sleep, play,  love, pick fights with sometimes, and BE HERE with us!

And sometimes, the conversation even leads to the financial aspect of adoption. Our eldest fair-headed one has a knack for being on top of things. She is in the know.. about, well everything. She is wildly confident and is a wonderful planner. Her mind articulates all kinds of scenarios, solves problems with ease, and best of all.. she is a dreamer!

When this girl gets an idea in her head, there is NO STOPPING her! Her bravery amazes me, and I wish I had half her self-esteem and confidence.

This morning, like so many other mornings, she sat at the table doodling. (Sorry. We are the reason all the forests and trees are cut down everywhere. I promise we will start planting trees somewhere to make up for all the paper this crafty kid goes through.)

And while she is doodling, she is rattling off all these grand plans left and right. The words flow off her tongue a mile a minute, while her tone fluctuates with excitement at all the right moments.

She's found the perfect solution to bring her brother home. She is going to have a LEMONADE STAND! Hard at work, the crayons and markers create beautiful images on the paper in front of her.
(With a tiny bit of help from Mom on making the words all fit with proper justification and such.)

We spend the rest of our day much like all other summer days. In the blistering Texas sun but making sure to keep cool in a neighborhood pool where we are LITERALLY the only ones in the pool for most of the afternoon.

We stop by the store on the way home to pick up a few supplies for our grand LEMONADE STAND adventure. And every chance my children get, they chirp to those passing by about our plans. They excitedly share about the boy they will share all their toys, time and love with. They gush over how they can't wait to help bring their brother home with the sales from this endeavor.

With little time to spare before the coming-home-from-work traffic hits our neighborhood, we prepare our Fresh Squeezed (straight from the Country-Time container) lemonade. We make sure to have all our supplies out and ready.

Then, the fun began!

The girls rushed to hold the signs advertising our "LEMON- AID" stand to each car that passed by!

I just prayed it wouldn't be a huge flop, and the girls would get just a couple of cars to stop.

Several minutes passed. We had our first customer. The girls ambushed politely asked him if he'd like a cup of lemonade.

He did.

Chattering a mile a minute, they enthusiastically explained how they will have a new brother soon because we are adopting! They explained how they wanted to have a "LEMON-AID" stand to help bring their brother home!

(I fought back the ugly cry. I actually fought it back the whole day. It snuck out a time or two throughout the poster preparing, and the shopping.. and the swimming. And I've realized I need someone to teach my the art of the "Pretty Cry." For pete's sake.. I'm going to be crying lots of big emotional tears. There will be lots of FEELS throughout this process. I can't be breaking down in a completely hideous face  everytime the FEELS overwhelm me in public!)

The man laid $7 down in our collection box. AMAZING! Which, also kind of set the bar high for future customers. I may have had to remind the girls that our most generous customers were free to give as they wished.. and not feel obligated to fork over $7 for some water-downed CountryTime mix.

The girls worked and worked. They sprinted to pick up a sign each time they heard the faintest sound of a car. With eager grins, they presented the signs advertising a sweet, refreshing beverage.

Occasionally, a car would stop. But there were others that just whizzed right by. (From henceforth and forevermore, I vow to stop at EVERY SINGLE LEMONADE STAND from here to kingdom come!) Our expressive four-year-old found great delight and pleasure from throwing her sign on the ground at every failed attempt to attract customers to our tart beverages. And with each person that did stop, we had the chance to chat with neighbors we never even knew lived down or around, or a street over from us. We had the chance to chat adoption, and orphan care, and our Faith. And we did it together. As a family. With my kids more than eagerly serving to bring their brother home.

As the evening wore on and nighttime drew closer, my little sales-people were ever so polite to keep checking product quality. Being sure to do a taste check here and there, they wanted to make sure that our product was of utmost greatness to serve to the general public.

We called it a night and closed up shop just as traffic slowed to a near trickle through the neighborhood.

 After a long evening in the hot sun, the kids enjoyed running through the sprinkler. The water cooled them and only made the excitement over the evening that much more palpable.

And I vowed to want to ALWAYS believe in my little dreamer girl. I want to keep encouraging her and the ways she dreams up ways of bringing her newest sibling into this family. I want to continue to remind her that her ideas are important, they are valued!

(And I may or may not want to keep cashing in on that brilliant mind and killer smile of hers... which might have raked in over $100 this evening! We are so grateful to God for the very generous people that stopped by our little stand! Thank you for loving our family and loving our sweet boy that we just can't wait to welcome home!)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

New Opportunity

Hey there! Why, yes we are STILL in the home study process! The fun thing about adoption is ALL. THE. PAPERWORK. Our home study has included LOTS of paperwork. We've just sent in the last of it. Next up, our interviews! This is where we talk about lots of things with our wonderful social worker. Then, they'll compile all this stuff and write up one big summary. They'll slap it all together and VOILA- Homestudy COMPLETE!

In the meantime, I've started my own business! As you may or may not know, my husband does an INCREDIBLE job busting his hind end for our family. We are so thankful for the Lord's provision for our family in the jobs Matt has! We have been so blessed and taken care of in the last couple of years since I quit my job to be a full time Stay At Home Mom. To help ease the financial strain off of Matt, I watched various kids in our home while their moms worked, and I even picked up a wonderful cleaning job for a year!

A few weeks ago, my cleaning client let me know my services were no longer needed. Since then, we discussed how I might be able to help in our family's budget and expenses. We debated whether I should extend care to children needing a loving environment during the day or whether to find a new client in need of a clean home. Each option seemed to have vast amounts of pro's and con's. Unfortunately, neither of those options seemed like the best fit for our family at this particular point in time.

Around the same time, I began regularly communicating with a friend of a friend who is also in the process of adopting a son! She had started her own business through a wonderful company full of other adoptive Moms, ministry leaders, stay at home moms, business executives, and professional minded people. In her kindness, she shared with me how much it had blessed their family since she had taken the leap to start.

Matt and I prayerfully considered if this might be a good fit for our family. After some time in prayer and careful deliberation, we decided that it would be crazy not to join in this adventure!

It is with great joy that I let you know I have decided to partner with the creators of PROACTIV, Dr. Rodan and Dr. Fields, in their newest business venture.

Rodan+Fields comes from the world's top dermatologists to offer customers products proven to fight wrinkles, large pores, reverse sun damage and signs of melasma, provide relief for skin irritation or treat sensitive skin conditions. and treat adult acne!

I love what these products have already done for my skin, and I would be so happy to help you find the perfect product for your skin care needs!

So, why do I need a job? Well, adoption costs. And not just adoption fees either. Every form, every little piece of paper, every trip to this office or that, every mile put on the car, every gallon of gas to get to here or there, parking for this location or that… It all costs! And these are fees and expenses I will gladly pay in order to bring our son home through the most ethical means possible! But they are still expenses that take a toll on a family budget.

In the future, we look forward to sharing with you some of the more traditional fundraisers we will have to bring our son home! We would be so honored and blessed for you to share in our joy by supporting us through those fundraising endeavors. But many times, fundraisers typically go straight to the adoption agency. So, in the meantime, I look forward to earning a sustainable income to help with the offset and more "non-traditional" costs associated with adoption… all those little things that add up!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Homestudy, Part 1

One of the first steps in the adoption process is the home study! Yay. (No, seriously, its a GOOD thing! Homestudies are essential to the adoption process. They are needed, and worth while.)

A homestudy, basically, is just what it sounds like. It's the opportunity for your social worker to study your home.

But before they even study your actual home, they gather lots of facts about you in documentation that you provide to them. Anyone and everyone will tell you that there's an ENORMOUS amount of paperwork involved with adoption. Tedious, yes. Frustrating at times, you betcha! Worth it and ultimately good, ABSOLUTELY!


So. What does a home study actually look like? It starts with a thick envelope from your agency to help you get started on the "paper chase." The forms are pretty mindless and not really out of the ordinary. Basic forms proving who you are, you're an upstanding citizen, and you're in good health.

But what happens when you don't have all these files and documents laying around at your disposal in your home?



You go on fun "adventures" with your kids downtown to gather said documents! You make sure to pack a backpack full of knick-knacks to keep little hands preoccupied, and you pray there won't be any catastrophes along the way! Catastrophes as in no pee-pee pants, no flying fists and no gnashing of teeth… from you or the littles. Standing in a long line waiting on 1 little document, going from office to the next isn't very fun for Momma. So, you can't expect it to be too fun for the people under 4ft tall in your life, either. As most kids who've been raised in the 'burbs though, they were ECSTATIC to be downtown and amongst the tall buildings.


When your number is finally called to be helped by an attendant, you see her tag holder thing-a-ma-jig says "I love Jesus" and she's playing the latest Hillsong album at her desk. You might just get leaky eyes and say a quick prayer of Thanks and praise Him for putting believers in your path to encourage you!

When your adventures are done for the day, you keep trekking along on all those documents. Those mind-numbing documents that in any other circumstance might make you scream. But knowing its bring you one step closer to bringing your son home, gives you a slight thrill and keeps you humbly praying as each thing is checked off that list. You will spend many nights like this. You and the computer screen. You and the gently hum of that scanner loading documents onto your harddrive, only to be emailed a few minutes later. You and the gentle klickity-klackity of that keyboard. Each keystroke on that 20 page autobiography that your pouring your heart out on… its not for nothing. It's your steady "pregnancy" & "labor" to bring a precious boy into your home that needs your unconditional love!

This is what the first part of the home study process looks like. Tedious, mind-numbing at times, heartfelt, worth it.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Lifesong Blog Moment

14-05 MM email

 "If our effort to love only affects ONE person...it is worth it!" -Ivan Zhykhariev, Ukraine Graduate

Child Sponsorship. It's easy to underestimate the impact sponsorship has on a child. Not only are basic needs (such as food, clothing, shelter) met, but also a sense of belonging is given that money can't buy. Sponsorship speaks "YOU MATTER TO ME." to a child who is longing for love from a family, security and hope for a future.

Giving FAMILY to Evelyn {HONDURAS}
Testimonies like Evelyn's reminds us of the work God is doing to change lives in Honduras. Children who lose their earthly father, learn about their heavenly Father. Children who lose their family can say they have a new family. Children with little hope are taught that they can change their nation!

Currently, Evelyn has not been chosen by a sponsor to help support her Christian education and hopeful future. By sponsoring a child like Evelyn, you can be a part of changing a life, letting a child know they matter by bringing joy and purpose to their lives.

Will you help us find Evelyn a sponsor?
Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 9.07.05 AM

 Learn more about Child Sponsorship at www.lifesongchildsponsorship.org.


Testimony: More than Money {LIBERIA}
Listen in as Carla Cornell, Liberia Child Sponsor shares on sponsorship...
wp-image-83569" src="http://www.lifesongfororphans.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Cornell-Sponsorship-1024x1024.jpeg" height="290" width="290" />"Meeting Thomas, Sharine and Prince was something we had been picturing for months and to finally feel those arms around us was a priceless, God-given moment. It was then we realized that sponsoring a child can be so much more than just sending money.

It can be an opportunity to open our hearts and share the love we so often take for granted with a child who needs it desperately. A child who may never have the same blessings and opportunities that most of us enjoy but with our help, they can have hope and they can know Jesus loves them and has not forgotten them. And we can be blessed beyond measure to be a tiny part of God's plan for them."


#31kids31days
wp-image-83575" src="http://www.lifesongfororphans.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/31-in-31-badge-300x247.png" height="89" width="108" />This month, Help us find 31 sponsors in 31 days! Each day, we feature a child that does not yet have a sponsor. Will you join us in advocating on their behalf?

Meet a few of our kids waiting for sponsorship....

See all featured kids for the #31kids31days Campaign at lifesongfororphans.org/31kids31days 


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

And so, it's begun!

If you've been around for any length of time, you may have an inclination towards our heart for adoption and in for caring for children.

Several years ago, through various events and happenings, Matt and I felt the Lord urging our hearts to care for orphans, and more specifically to adopt. At the time, we felt very strongly being led to adopt internationally. However, for one reason or another we were unable to begin the process of international adoption. (You can read about that here .)

Being open minded and having hearts softened by prayer, we even tried beginning the process of adopting a child from within our home state. (I've mentioned that here.) But for multiple reasons, we just did not feel at peace about adopting locally. (We talked about that here and here.. again.)

During our time in prayer, our hearts were continually being led back to the plight of international orphans. (Please don't misunderstand me, there are children EVERYWHERE that are in need of a loving home, and a family to sacrificially love them.)

And after years of prayer and preparation, we are so happy to announce that WE ARE ADOPTING! For reals.

Through the Lord's provision, we were able to acquire the amount needed to begin our application and home study process to bring our boy home from Ethiopia. We are nearing the end of the home study process and I can tell you that all of that waiting just to start the process was not wasted. Every day.. every month.. every year waiting to begin this process has worked in our hearts (and in our minds) in tremendous ways. We look forward to sharing with you all the joys (and the heartaches) this process will bring. And we would be so grateful for you to come along side us in this journey. First, please cover us, all the people we come in contact with through this process, and our sweet boy that's needing his family in prayer.

In the words of some of our great friends, our main goal in adopting our precious boy is to " 'commend the gospel through adoption.' Our adoption story is just one of many amidst the greatest adoption story. " (Josh and Angela Walker, Hymns for Selena)


Friday, May 2, 2014

My Kind of Therapy

"It's 9a.m. I'm ready to be done for the day. I want to get back in bed," the blunt text to my husband read this morning.

In typical Superman fashion, he texted back with an encouraging word or two.

It's been a long week in the Brantner home, and I was just ready to crash into bed and let it be Saturday already. I trudged home from the grocery store. Anxious for it almost to be nap time, I put away all the groceries in the blink of an eye. But try as I might, I couldn't settle down.

I knew what I had to do. Clean.

My spice/catch all cabinet has long been the target of my "need to clean to work things out" therapy. But today, I knew I needed to do more.

Armed with the cleaning essentials, I shuffled my two ducklings up the stairs to play in their rooms.

"Maybe if I clean the whole upstairs, I might feel better," the next text to my husband read.

I realized.. that I LOVE cleaning!

Here are 4 of my favorite things about cleaning:

1. It's therapeutic.  Instead of wallowing in my (figurative) funk, I got up and got busy. My body tries to confuse me if I'm stressed sometimes and makes me think I'm sleepy. But, I knew I wasn't sleepy because I've been getting plenty of sleep. And I knew my kids definitely would not benefit from a mommy that wanted to wallow and nap all day. Whilst cleaning, I was able to pray about what's been going on in my heart and head this week. I was also able to happily entertain two little people by providing perfect scenarios for Lego Man and Barbie. Although, I'm pretty certain the Lord afforded me an extra heaping of grace and mercy in that department today. My kids usually prefer the company of Mommy sitting and playing right next to them all. the. time., and not just vocal encouragement and instruction.

2. It makes me realize how much we have. I love decorating our girl's hair. Love it. Love putting in a braid or making a fun bun. And I love buying them different hair accessories. But I didn't realize just how much we had. "Cleaning today. 2 things I am certain of. #1. I will never need to buy another hair accessory for my girls, as I have picked up at least 5000 hair bands, 6987 hair bows, and another 1,230,495 head bands. #2. I am a hoarder of books."  And its just not the hair accessories. It's our laundry too, and the dishes. Cleaning always gives me a grateful heart for the Lord's provision in our lives. I see first hand throughout the day just how full our tummies have been, how well clothed we have been, and how spoiled we are even with pretty things.

3. It helps take the added stress away. Sure, this one probably can be filed under number 1. But, if something is already got my mind whirring… an extra large heaping load of dirty laundry staring at me from the top of the stairs isn't necessarily going to ease my troubled mind. I can tend to the laundry, scrub those nooks and crannies, and process everything that's been going on. And when I'm done, I've got somewhat tangible proof of the work that's been done in my heart during the process. Today, the 'ol  blood pumper got a real thorough scrubbing. You can tell just how deep it was cleaned because I even cleaned out under the beds, got the vacuum attachments out and vacuumed under the beds too.

4. It almost counts as a workout. And we all know, that working out gives you endorphins. And endorphins make you happy. And happy people don't kill people. They just don't. Working out also burns calories. Which lets face it, I'll be enjoying those extra calories in the form of some chocolate. Chocolate is also one of my favorite therapeutic stress reducers. So, there you have it. It all comes kind of full circle really.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Throwback Thursday Story: Being close enough to Needtobreathe to be spit on

My husband loves music. I mean, I like it a lot too. But he really loves music. Which in a way is really good, since its kind of his job.

Now that we are real grown-ups, the concerts we attend are more few and far between than in yesteryears. And as we've "matured", our choice in visited venues is much more selective.

I'll never forget the first NeedToBreathe concert we went to. Several years back, on the heels of their 2nd album release they made a stop in Houston. They were already a big deal, but hadn't really exploded with popularity just yet. 

My handsome blonde guy and I dined at a nearby restaurant. We quickly made our way to the venue to get a good spot in the line for when they opened the doors. Being some of the first ones in, we planted ourselves (nearly) front row center of the general audience (standing room) section. 

And y'all. They put on an awesome concert! As in the words of BooMama, it was pure joy from start to finish. Years later, we still say that it is one of the BEST concerts we've ever been to. Definitely top 3.

(*Fun sidenote. I was a few months into my pregnancy with our sweet boy who would complete the trifecta of little blonde people in our home, or the 3rd musketeer, or the 3rd stooge, or … well, you get it.)