The day was just incredible. God was glorified in every way. There were babies, toddlers, teens, adults and grandparents all coming together to help the least of us. James 1:27 tells us that taking care of the widows and the orphans is true religion, yesterday I saw true religion ALIVE. God is ALIVE! We serve an awesome, LIVING God. I am so thankful for the encouragement I got along the way as Lisa and I planned this day. The skies were the beautiful Carolina blue that we who live in North Carolina brag about. All of us raised OVER $10,000!! Can you believe ?!? I was not at the registration table so I did not see the donations being collected until the end of the day. But, I must tell you about one donation that was left on the table. It was a small tin princess bank with a white ribbon attached. The note on the ribbon said, "I hope all the children feel better soon" The bank was stuffed FULL of this little girl's money.Sweet pure giving!! Thank you Lord for loving me and allowing me to serve you.
Dear Walkers! We are excited for the First Annual “5K Walk for Hope and Healing” and hope that you all are as well! According to the weather forecast it is going to be sunny and 78 degrees. Perfect walking weather! The order of events for tomorrow will be as follows: Registration will begin under the tent behind the Amphitheatre at 1:30 p.m.. There will be a few signs on the streets to direct you in, as well as some at the venue. The address for the Amphitheatre is 8003 Regency Parkway, Cary, NC 27511. Parking will be at the Amphitheatre gate entrance. Around 2:00 p.m. we will say a few words and then the walk will be underway! The path for the walk will be contained to Symphony Lake. It will be three times around to total the 5K. Light refreshments and water will be provided. Any donations that you have received in the form of check or cash please bring them with you to the walk. We will be collecting those when you register and sending to Love Without Boundaries. The top three participants will be announced the following week and prizes will be sent in the mail. We want to be sure we allow enough time for all donations collected to be counted. Thank you again to all of our Corporate Sponsors, it means a lot! We are looking forward to seeing you all there! Thank you again for your participation and support of these beautiful children! Blessings, Jody Brannon & Lisa McNutt
So two years ago we were flying from Shanghai to Fuzhou to meet our newest daughter/sister. Tylar could not travel with us because she was just starting college. It was hard to leave her. What if something happened to her, what if something happened to us. I had to let it go, give it to God. While we were gone her car broke down in Maryland and towed home. An expense and experience we were not counting on. She started her first couple of weeks of college with out a hitch. We were in China. Lily's world was about to turn upside down. Cali's world was about to turn upside down. The insomnia that most expectant mom's experience before giving birth, I really feel God is preparing the woman for the nights that she will be up with her new born. I experienced insomnia before we traveled to adopt Cali. Humm, should have known God was preparing me for the months or years ahead. The first few months home were a killer. We were sleep deprived from jet lag and Cali and Lily were learning to be sisters and friends during the day but they had no interest in being sisters or friends during the night when both of them needed their mommy. I am getting ahead of myself. I have sweet memories of the trip to Fuzhou, China. I hope to return one day. Cali still keeps me up some nights and I fret over her, just like all mom's do over their babies. There is something different about her, she is independent,spunky,tough,loving,mad,happy,sweet and sassy. Guess all these things make her who she is. Could I have overcome the things she has in her 3, almost four years. Humm, not so sure. These children that have been adopted have quite a story to tell, I am blessed that God chose me to be part of Cali's story.
Cali has enjoyed her summer. She proudly proclaims she is a "fish!" She can swim from end to end in the pool, has conquered the waves, held a sting ray, watched the baby and mama deer at the beach and mastered the bicycle. What a great summer she had! Too bad it is winding down (although it is still well over 90 degrees). But the rights of autumn are here. Her big sisters and brother are heading back to school. Two years ago this week I was nervously packing and repacking with the anticipation of traveling to China to adopt Cali. It is a time of such emotion for me. It is a time that God draws me so close. A time when time stands still for just a bit. I love you Cali.
The past few months have brought events to our immediate family that none of us could have imagined just a few short months ago. The photo attached was taken this past Thanksgiving. Greg was on call so we could not go the beach, as we had done for the past several years. We were a bit disappointed but we decided that we would take the opportunity to get some new family photos of Greg's side of the family. In the past 3 years Greg's brother had three children and we brought home Cali and Lily. I some how convinced, maybe forced Greg's mom into some of the photos (she hates herself in pictures). For Christmas I made Greg's mom a great photo book from snapfish with the photos from that day. She thought it was silly at first but it became a cherished gift. In April, Greg's brother (center photo, big smile) was killed riding his motorcycle. He left behind his two year old twins, and 3 year old son.Greg's mom, Estelle was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer 3 weeks ago.We had her funeral today.Greg grew up with his mom and brother, he misses them today. I am going to say some things that may offend some one reading this, because in all honesty I do not know many of you who read this blog. Please know that it my intention NOT to offend but really share. My dad and brother both died when I was a teenager. It was an awful, dark time in my life. We were raised in a catholic home, but I can say I had no relationship with Jesus. It was a dark,dark, lonely place to be.Both Greg's mom and brother were buried in a catholic service. Here is the place where I may offend... I see so clearly now how I became so dark after loosing my brother and father. whom I loved very, very much. Listening to both priests recently, two different churches, I heard them both to say, pray that you are good enough, pray that those who have preceded you in death will work to get you into heaven, pray that your prayers can be heard so that they can get into heaven. Well, as a teenager and me today I will NEVER be good enough, I will NEVER be able to pray some one into heaven and I hope no one is "working" in heaven for me. Getting into heaven is between me and Jesus. It is knowing that HE died for me, He loves me (even when I do not love Him), It is about Jesus and nothing else. Listening to these two funerals brought me back to an ugly place but I am rejoicing that I am no longer there, I am a new creation in Christ. I am still sad for what may have been, for three little boys that do not have an earthly father. I am sad for my husband to have lost so much so soon. I am sad for my children to have lost a very special uncle and crazy grandma. But I am also happy that they are no longer suffering and that I can rest in the arms of Jesus.
My daughter GB asks me funny questions from time to time that stump me for some reason. Last week she asked me what my favorite flower is. Well I love to garden so believe it or not I could not think of an answer. Even the next day I could not come up with an answer. Today's question was if you could have one wish... before I could answer she looked at her friend and said"this one is easy" I answered, "just bring one more baby home from China" She said to her friend, "I told you". GB did say,"could it be a brother this time". I really would not care if it were a boy or girl but am i CRAZY just thinking about it. What is wrong with me. I just can not get all those kids who need mommys out of my mind and ultimately my heart. It makes me sad. Today walking on the beach a couple stopped me and told me of their adoption journey some 11 and 13 years ago to Russia. It is like we who have adopted all speak a common language. One that is so easily understood, especially for those of us who have adopted "later in life". For now I will be satisfied praying for and cheering on my friends that are in the midst of their journeys. Thank you God for laying this on my heart. PS GB's favorite flower is a day lily. I still can not think of just one favorite!
Greg and Peter are home from their trip to Oregon. It was a celebration of Peter graduating high school and Greg turning 50 this summer. They had a great trip. Really sweet to see them spend that time together.
My good friend's husband took some photos for us at our home last week. Just to get the entire family in one location these days can prove difficult. We had an event at our house and RA graciously came and took tons of photos to record the night for us. He did a great job on a crazy night! I have to admit I think my favorite photo is the one of me and my mom. She hates getting her photo taken so she always proves the be a stubborn subject. RA got a great shot of the two of us that I know I am going to treasure. Thanks RA!!!!
We often go to the same small Mexican place to eat. We have been going there for years. A couple of nights ago the sweet waitress remarked how Cali has changed so much in the past year or so. I asked her, how so? She said, "oh I remember how she would cry so much during dinner and you just had to hold her. Now look at her, so happy and eating, eating,eating." I guess it is those little changes that happen each day that sometimes we need to be reminded. She has changed so much, almost into a new creation. Oh I know she is still the Cali that God created so beautifully as she was knitted in her mother's womb. But as she grows into the beautiful girl that God planned for her I find it an honor to be a part of God's plan and little changes!
Sherrie and I met in Nashville to support Mary Beth and Steven Curtis Chapman's Show Hope production of Cinderella. We had an incredible weekend. Some really funny moments like when the clerk at the food counter said he could not tell us apart. We must have looked confused because he said it again and said well, you are twins! Funny since we are not biologically related. Although we are sisters in Christ which makes us true sisters through adoption! The production of Cinderella was beautiful and funny! They took the classic and put a comedic spin to it. Steven and Mary Beth Chapman came out before the show began and shared their hearts. But again, funny moments like Mary Beth ribbing her husband about being too old to play prince charming. That sort of thing makes them so "real". The show closed with SSC singing with a group of children-SO WONDERFUL!!!I will admit that Sherrie and I were a bit giddy when we met Mary Beth. We did talk for a few minutes and mostly likely sounded a bit cooky but we just really wanted to let her know how much she is prayed for and thought about. We went to the after party and met Steven Curtis Chapman and again, what a "nice, nice" person. I mean it may sound silly to say but when I talked to them I just walked away with the feeling that I would just want to "hang around with them". When I told Greg he said, so are they coming to the beach this summer with us. Hum, I did not get a chance to invite them but they are sure welcome any time. I so hope that working at MBHOH is in my future. When my kids saw the photo of me, Sherrie and Mary Beth they said we all look alike. I said that is funny everyone said that about me and Sherrie, they said no ALL 3 of you. Hee HEE.I think we all look alike because we all share the love for our children and for God's orphan children. Once that feeling has taken hold of your heart there is no letting go. Thank you Chapman family for all you do to further God's kingdom. Mary Beth, I consider you a sister through adoption.
Spring is a time of new birth. We have watched birds hatch, flowers bloom and trees come alive. This spring Peter will be graduating high school and beginning a new chapter in his life. I do pray that he will always rely on God and know how much he is loved. Cali is continuing to explore and learn new things. She is quite independent and strong! She loves to learn. On that note, I have decided to home school both Cali and Lily. I am excited and looking forward to teaching the girls. I have loved to both teach and learn. I am thankful each day.
Well another soccer season is coming to an end. It is most likely our 15th soccer season as a family. It is always nice to make new friends and watch the kids grow. When I signed Greyson up for her team, one of the moms commented that she was happy to have Cali and Lily back "on the team" too! Sweet memories.
My sweet sweet Lily was placed in my arms 4 years ago today. The love that I felt was unmeasurable. I was so very very thankful that God had chosen me for her. The time has gone way too quick for me. If I could slow down time I would. But I will enjoy each day because I know we are not promised tomorrow. On a side note from the previous post about her "adoption" a few days after that conversation she said, "I don't want to be adopted, I just want to be a plain old Brannon" but on the other hand...today was her special anniversary day to be a bit spoiled and I think she really enjoyed the "specialness" of it.
As we raise our internationally adopted children, we try to educate them and prepare them for those "questions" by their peers. Never know when that will happen but we do try the best we can... This was an exchange the other day between Lily (4 years old) and another girl (5 years old) The girl starts off... "we have different skin" Lily,"yes, I am tan because I am from China" Girl,"were you adopted?' ME-I cringe a bit a casually lean so I can hear the answer and see if I have to intervine. Lily"Yes , i am adopted, I did not come out of my mommy's tummy. That sounds so gross and disgusting"LOL That was the end of their adoption conversation. OK I know Lily has some of the facts mixed up a bit. Yes I know she was born. My bio kids also thought it was gross when they found out how they were born! LOL. But any how, I was so happy that Lily was able to answer the questions and be OK with it. The other girl may now have some funny questions to ask her parents at the dinner table about being "born".
Did you ever have a moment when the things that God has done for you or your children that you may have never known is revealed to you because of a set of circumstances that only HE could have orchestrated. When Cali was in China she lived with two foster families. Each one unique and needed. Each one provided by God just when she needed them most. There are many times that I look at Cali and I just wonder what ifs, I pray that I can right her wrongs,I wonder about her surgery and who may have held her or no one at all, was she cold, was she hot, was she prayed for? Some of those questions have been clearly answered for me. She was in fact held, she was prayed for and she was loved. Before I knew that God had chosen her to be my daughter He was there to protect her and sent others to her before I could. How can I thank some one for that. I do not know. I will be praying for them and I pray that God will give me the honor to help him as He allowed them to help Cali.
Check out the newest addition to my blog list. It is about an American family that has been living in Haiti for the past 9 months. Wow, what a time to be there!
I just added another one, I have not had a chance to read all the way through but the woman is ministering in Haiti and she is from Cary. Totally a God thing that I found both these blogs, what is God reveal to me. So exciting....
Photo from Mary Beth Chapman's trip to open Maria's Big House of Hope
Christmas Eve 2007
Our Christmas gift was Cali's referral!
Cali is home!!
Mommy and Lily 6/9/08
CALI'S FIRST PHOTO !
Can Cali be any cuter?
Look at that pout-we are in trouble! 6/19/2008
Maybe she is looking for us-we'll be there soon!
A helping hand
Lily at the beach
life is good!
Our journey of a thousand miles began with one step...
We are so very happy to announce the addition of our newest daughter, Cali Christine. We felt strongly that Cali have a family name so we chose Christine, Greg's maternal grandmother's name. Cali is a beautiful 22 month old (DOB 10/12/2006). She is from the Fujian Province of China. She is being cared for in the Xiamen SWI orphanage.Fujian is a southern coastal province of China. As we are about to embark on another incredible journey of adoption from China we ask that you come beside as prayer partners. We pray for Cali, her caretakers, her biological family, and the other children that are still waiting for their forever families. We thank you in advance for the blanket of prayers that you will place over our family. Funny 20 years ago when Greg and I got married our wedding invitations were inscribed with "A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step" How were we to know then how tied we would be to this ancient Chinese saying. Cali has a cleft lip and a cleft palate. She has had one surgery in China. Her follow up surgeries will be done at UNC Medical center. I have heard the staff there are just incredible. How blessed we are to be so close to such a great medical center. We hope to travel this summer but international adoption always has an element of uncertainty as far as travel dates. We ofcourse will keep you posted.
Cali's Gotcha Day was September 1, 2008
wonder why we adopt?.. love, jody (to listen-pause the music in the pink box below)
Every call has a beginning A quiet moment when God whispers a promise to a mother's heart A holy place where a father bows and faithfully accepts the journey set before him. A miraculous morning that unexpectedly dawns....... Casting its first light on a chosen threshold. A gentle knock...a closed door opens. A sacred invitation sent by the Father... Leads to the other side of the world. Where lonely hearts stare out orphanage windows Praying for someone to care.... And then one morning, On an ordinary day An orphan's life changes...... God sends them a second chance........Through YOU.....
Peter and Lily goofing around.
Legacy of the Adopted Child Author Unknown
Once there were two women who never knew each other One you do not remember the other you call Mother Two different lives shaped to make you one One became your guidingstarthe other became your sun first one gave you life and the second taught you to live it The first gave you a need for love The second was there to give it One gave you a nationality The other gave you a name One gave you a talent The other gave you aim One gave you emotions The other calmed your fears One saw your first sweet smile The other dried your tears One sought for you a home that she could not provide The other prayed for a child and her hope was not denied And now you ask me through your tears The age old question unanswered through the years Heredity or environment which are you a product of? Neither my darling neither, just two different kinds of Love.