Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!!!!

so then, let us consider Jesus, the Author and Perfector of our faith.
Because of Him,
Love from the Brandt Family

Advent Activities...

...a beautiful performance of Handel's Messiah by the St. Mary's College Choir
Gingerbread Houses... games...

...making a banner to send to far away family...

...attending a concert with Windham Hill recording artists...

                                           ...evening devotions and reading from our advent book.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Advent Begins!

For years we have used Arnold Ytreeides's trilogy: Jotham' Journey, Bartholomew's Passage and Tabitha's Travels as part of our daily Advent Family Devotions.  This year we return to Bartholomew's story as he discovers the Messiah. We have also been using a book describing the origins of Christmas carols. We use this before we sing. After closing in prayer, Steven reads the benediciton and we sing the Doxology.

Mihret's First American Christmas

Yes, Christmas is celebrated in Ethiopia, as some of the country is Orthodox.
However, it's certianly different than here!

The Boy's First Deer Hunting Season!

It's good to have meat right in your back yard!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Retirement from the Air Force - October 8, 2010

This photo was taken just following the ceremony at the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School.  We celebrated 20 years of faithful service that day.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Showcase 2010

Team member Unit Leader Joan Flannery was 6th in Personal Volume.

Director Beckie Belote and Unit Leader Lynn Brau received recruiting awards.

I received a $1,000 gift card from Best Buy for my award in Leader Development.

Director Beckie Belote received numerous awards, including the prestigious Masterpiece award. She's shown here with co-founder Rhonda Anderson and the CM CEO.

The formal dinner after the closing session was, as always, fun and full of delightful fellowship. Above I am shown with Lynn, Karen and Joan. Below, with Shelly and Cassie.

Our Creative Memories national convention in Minneapolis earlier this month was the best I've attended in my 15 years as an Instrustor. Truly, preserving the past, enriching the present and inspiring hope for the future makes a very positive difference in our lives. In the Bible, the Lord commands us to remember His great works and this is yet another means to do that.

Catching Up...

They are such buddies!

A recent trip to historic St. Mary's City in Maryland.

An amazing evening marine parade by "The President's Own" band at historic 8th & I in Washington D.C.

A walk down to the river...

Our new barber :)...

Bedtime reading with the world's best Daddy.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Six Months today!

On January 19, 2010 one of our daughters, Grace, turned eight years old. That same day, we received another daughter into our care by way of adoption. In the six months Mihret has been with us, she has gained 10 pounds and grown from a 4T to 6x dress size. Her umbilical hernia has been surgically corrected. She is no longer malnourished...or lonely...or afraid. 

We have learned much on this journey. One thing I'm learning to discipline myself about is wondering about her past. Almost every time she wants to wash her hands at length or have her third helping of food I think about this. Did she walk far to get water? Did she, like so many we saw while we were in Ethiopia, drink water carried from miles away in yellow jeri cans? Did she ever take a bath in clean, clear water? How many times a day or week did she eat? Did she only eat injera? Did she have access to any protein? Was she loved by her family? What did they think of her hernia? Did they not know what it was? Only a few hours south of her region (Wolayta), the tribes believe if the top two teeth come in before the bottom two the child is "mingi" and they kill them, so this quesion is not unreasonable.

These questions, and countless others, have regularly flooded my mind. They are unanswerable in this life. SO, I'm realizing that I must let them go and discipline my mind to not think about them. Even when I do that, questions about the future rapidly replace them. Such as, "Will she want to go back and help her people? Will she long to know her culture? Will she embrace it? Will she take the Gospel to them?" Those, and others, too, are unanswerable.

This is part of that issue of faith to which we have been called in Hebrews, " ...for without faith it is impossible to please God."  We pursued Mihret in faith, we have her now because we trusted in God's Word, and we continue to live by faith. "My righteous one shall live by faith and if he shrinks back, My sould shall have no delight in him", says Almighty God.

Daily life with her is good. She's a joyful, sweet, pleasant child and we are very glad to have her.  Not only are we glad to have her, but we're so grateful to the Lord for all we've learned about Him, His kingdom, this world and ourselves along the way. If I were to share all of that, this would be a very lengthy post! Suffice it to say we have become more sanctified because of this choice. We do not regret it. We rejoice in it and in the One who put it in our hearts. The end purpose of all of our choices should be to worship Christ more fully, as He deserves. Our prayer is that this is happening...daily.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Mid-Summer Update

Here we are at the Test Pilot School Graduation in June.
The school graduates two classes per year. It's such a rigorous program, graduation is a big deal!

The two youngest in the pool with Daddy! Mihret, especially enjoys the swimming pool.
She is still fascinated with clean water!

It's been hot here. That was the catalyst for cutting her hair.
Thirty minutes of effort every morning just to make it look nice should have been enough for me, but everyone kept saying, "It's so beautiful, don't cut it". After I felt the density and weight of it in my hands, I understood more fully why she sweat so much. Perhaps this will make her a littlemore comfortable.

Our house addition is finally done! We love it. It so practical. We now have a full bath near the loft bedroom and kitchen, an enhanced laundry room, pantry, coat closet and covered front porch with an external closet for coats and shoes (more pics to come). We also have a brand new sidewalk. I found the azealas at a local Amish store on closeout for $6.00 each. What a gift! They will look lovely as they grow.
Over the past month, most of us have experienced a nasty virus that lasts for almost a week (hence, the lack of blogging or other efforts at communication). When I got it last week, I was in bed for a few days.
One morning I came downstairs to find this lovely banner from my children.
"Children are a heritage from the Lord..."
This is Mihret on Monday at the hospital for her umbilical hernia.  We were aware of it when we were introduced to her and the adoption agency asked us if we'd still accept her with it. We knew we had the resources to have it repaired and thought it was a minor issue. Here she is looking at the iPhone the anethesiologist gave her as she was headed into surgery.
Lack of good communication has been difficult in this.
But, she looked at me and said, "Tummy fixed, Mommy?"
Meanwhile, Stirling and Rachel have been in PA at White Sulphur Springs, the Officer's Christian Fellowship family camp. We get them back on Friday and Steven leave for Mexico to visit for two weeks.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day Update

Since our last post our friend, Jim Dutton, returned from space.
We're grateful for his safe return. 
We receieved 35 new chickens via USPS from McMurray Hatchery.
Our 11 yr. old son has a plan to sell eggs to raise money for missions trips.  
Everyday life with two small children, plus all of the others, keeps our days full to overflowing.
This is morning milk time!

Learning how to manage African hair is...whew! education! 

The benefits of our children far outweigh the challenges. See how beautiful they are! 

We're having a new bathroom and front porch built on the front of our house.
The kids have found it fascinating to watch!
I checked on Mihret during naptime one day and her hands were covering her ears!
I didn't realize the construction was so loud in her room!
Last weekend was very special because we celebrated our 18 year anniversary! We walked down our road to the beach and enjoyed a perfect evening on the river enjoying our children over a glass of champagne.


Mihret has so much fun on the beach. Water remains a novelty to her.
What an amazing gift we have, yet we take it for granted every day.
Toward the end of the evening, the kids found a black snake.

Today is Memorial Day and some friends invited ALL of us to go out on their boat with them.
What a treat for our children!
It was Mihret's first boat ride...first swim in the river.  She loved it!
We're approaching five months with her in our home. She has adjusted so well. Today we viewed  blogs of several families who were in our Ethiopia travel group. She hugged me and voluntarily said, "Thank you, Mommy." Often, when I correct her she responds, "Yes ma'am, Mom." She rarely throws tantrums, although she can really stick out a pouty lip. Overall she has been a joy and we are so grateful to the Lord for a smooth transition. We know it isn't this way for everyone who adopts. Harder times may be ahead, but for now, it's peaceful. I'm just trying to figure out what to do with that hair!