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?
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 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."

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.)