For This Journey We're On » Blog

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  • Hi! My name is Brantley and this is my little corner of the web!

    Thanks for checking out my blog! This is the place where I share my heart & passions! I am a wife to an incredible man. The mommy to two beautiful girls. My husband and I are the founders of Voices 4 the Voiceless, a ministry focused on orphan advocacy! I am passionate about missions and educating the world about the orphan crisis around the world! I love being a mommy, documenting life through my lens and traveling the world!

    My heart is burdened for the fatherless. I love adoption and how families are made! Our first child was welcomed through adoption and we praise the Lord for the gift she is! Join with me as I talk about life candidly, the challenges of being a mommy & my heart for serving the Lord faithfully!

Where do I fit into this?

I ask the Lord constantly, “where do I fit into all of this?”.

Its a tough place to be, but after traveling back to Africa, I feel a great peace about where I am.  This trip was a vision trip for us – the main reason why it was just our family this time.  We wanted to seek the Lord, be purposeful with our time and patiently introduce our 4 year old into a new culture.  Thankful, that is what I feel.

Truly blown away by how the Lord used us on this journey back to Africa.  In the months leading up, He used scripture to prepare my heart. He even used very specific verses as confirmation throughout our time there. In the last 4 years, I haven’t felt a greater peace than I do now.   I have spent more time in the Word, truly digging into scripture this last year then probably in a lifetime.  Thats embarrassing to say, but its true.

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The Lord broke my heart for the fatherless some time ago. Orphan care and advocacy… that is what my heart longed for!  And since then, I have been searching for where I fit into it all. For the bigger picture. We started our ministry 4 years ago next month.  And while we’ve been productive… I sometimes question if we’ve been purposeful!

Ministry is definitely a growing experience, and if we’re seeking for answers, we might be waiting a while.  But when we are seeking the Lord, and his guidance… He is there!

Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.  ~Jeremiah 29:12-13

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!  ~ Matthew 7:7-11

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I may not find the exact answers I’m looking for.  But, that doesn’t mean he’s not still working in us.

I am seeking the Lord.  I am seeking him through prayer and scripture!

I got to experience something so special this time around.  Watching my firstborn experience something brand new.  She went a country on the other side of the world.  She embraced babies that were crying, held hands with those trying to walk and got on dirty grounds to play with street children.  Looking at my child in this far away place, loving on the least of these, humbled my heart in a way I never thought.

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4U5A3102 katherine grace and baby

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Watching her reminded me of what Christ called us to do!

And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 32 And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. 33 And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions. ~ Mark 12:28-34

He said, to LOVE THE LORD with all your heart and to LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR as yourself!

Basically, He called us to LOVE.  I know its easy to love myself.  Thats a no brainer.  But how easy is it to love the guy next door who plays his music too loud, or the rude woman glaring at your child in the checkout line?  Maybe the children with dirty faces and urine soaked clothes?  Or what about the guy who shot and killed people praying in their church? Trust me when I say this… I am not starting a debate.  However, the Bible calls us… HE COMMANDS us to do these things.  To truly LOVE our NEIGHBOR as ourselves!

I won’t pretend to say I do this often.  There are many times when I struggle and even ask God, “how can you expect me to love that person??”

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My husband and I spent time in Uganda, watching our 4 year old LOVE.  She loved so unselfishly and without hesitation.

That is the kind of love I want to have.  That child-like faith, the carefree spirit and unconditional love towards others.  In no way am placing my daughter on a pedestal, bc thats far from what I mean when I say that.  I simply mean that when we stop and truly seek the Lord with all our hearts, He shows up in the most incredible ways to remind us of what we were created to do!  While I still do not know exactly where and how I fit into all of this… one thing I do know.  I am called to LOVE.  I am called to Go and tell all the Nations. So until He gives us a more clear direction of where we fit into all of this – I will simply love.

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My prayer is that I cling to the Lord for guidance always and LOVE with all my heart!

Until then… Brantley

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Uganda 2015

Hello friends!  It has been far too long since I’ve updated here.  We just got back from Africa late Sunday night, and I’m slowly getting back into life here.  My heart is full and I got to see firsthand all that the Lord has done!  Its truly been an emotional few days trying to resettle back into a normal routine here.  I’ve always said, it is a greater culture shock coming home then it is going there.

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The Lord was evident in so many ways throughout our time there. I have so much to share with you soon, but for now I am still processing my thoughts.

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We are so thankful for each of you who lifted us up in prayers.  We felt the love and support that so many extended to us and we are grateful. Our time was well served and we are so thankful for the opportunity to serve as a family.

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Katherine Grace saw so much on this trip.  She experienced life in a new culture, met children “who look like her” (in her own words) and truly embraced everything that came her way!  It was priceless to have her with us and share in such a special time with her! I cannot help but wonder what it was like through her little eyes!

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She misses Africa and the people there.  She’s had so many questions since coming home, and I now pray that I can answer them well.

Please continue to keep our family in your prayers as we continue processing through everything and seeking the Lord in guidance!  We have a lot we’re praying through and we look forward to seeing how the Lord can use us!

Until then… Brantley

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Airplane Travel with a 4 year old

We leave for Africa THIS week.  And while getting everything together, and working on our packing some today… I thought I’d share a little of how we’re packing for our 4 year old.  Two 9 hour flights, plus a 7 hour layover in between is no joke!  Yes, 18 hours in the air!  Whew!  However, I’m actually not dreading the flight too much.  Reason being, my 4 year old is a tv junkie.  If we let her, she could sit glued to the tv for hours and watch her shows.  (we don’t) BUT… the airplane will be a dream for her with her very own tv to watch!

Now, thats not saying I expect the ride to be 100% smooth sailing, because I don’t.  However, I’m trying to remain optimistic!  :)

Here is a preview of what we packed for her!

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Inside her “backpack carry-on” we included:

•A small notebook with colored pencils and crayons

• Kid sized headphones

• An Empty cup

• Nabi and Nabi Charger

• My First Airplane Book (GREAT for kids with LOTS of pics and descriptions)

• Several activity books, color wonder books and sticker books

• Quart sized bag full of fruit snacks, teddy grahams and animal cracker pouches

suitcase contents

Empty Cup

The empty cup with come in handy on the plane.  When they bring out each meal or snack – we can pour her drink into the cup and hopefully prevent any spills or mishaps!  :)

headphones

One of the biggest recommendations all across the board were kid sized headphones!  I’ll admit, even the headphones on the plane are often too big for me!  So I kind of wish I had bought some of these beauties for me too!  ;)

Activity Books

Katherine Grace loves activity books.  She really enjoys coloring, doing little mazes and drawing.  So I have the following packed for her!

Handwriting pages, hidden picture books, a sticker book with faces, a book of mazes, and a ColorWonder coloring book.

Book and Nabi
Her new book all about the airport, going through security and baggage claim, waiting for the plane, the plane ride and meal times… this book goes into serious detail about everything you can expect.  Katherine Grace has been so excited about the plane ride since first reading this book!

And the Nabi Tablet!  The is a MUST in our family!  She loves this tablet and the best part is, its completely educational and fun!  We recently took it away and hid it from her.  This way it would be fresh and exciting again for the airport and plane.  We’ve added a few new games to it that we found for FREE online!  (score!)  So it should be just as fun as before!

Snacks
 Another must have we saw, were traveling with snacks!  When you hit a snag or frustrating moment – pull out a treat and distract them!  So we’ve packed her favorite fruit snacks, graham crackers and animal cracker pouches!  She has a quart-sized bag for the plane ride there, one for in country and another for the plane ride home.  (so we’re set!)

{NOT PICTURED: HER ROLLING SUITCASE}

We included her toiletries, ALL of her clothes and undies!  Yes, we know how to pack by now!  :)

Please continue praying as we prepare for our flight on FRIDAY!!!

Until then… Brantley

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May I rejoice in Suffering

We are one week to the day away from flying out to Africa.  To say I’m excited has been weighted by anxieties, fears and exhaustion from a week of sickness.  It never fails, every time we get ready to leave for Africa – ‘life’ happens.  The very first trip, Katherine Grace got very sick two weeks prior to leaving.  Then, she spent the final days leading up to us leaving in the hospital.  Only to be discharged just a day or so prior to leaving.  It was a terrible scenario for this first time momma.  Not only was I leaving my (just barely) one year old to fly out of the country… but I was leaving under “iffy” circumstances.  Then to top it all off… when we got the airport, we soon realized our flight was overbooked and had to wait to fly a later flight (without our team).  It seemed endless, that first trip.  Fail after fail.  I kept telling Richard, “lets forget this and go home!” Obviously God doesn’t want us on this trip.  But he reminded me of the faithfulness and favor the Lord had constantly shown us leading up.  And praise the Lord we went, because the clarity of that trip has long since proven his faithfulness!

Trip two, a similar scenario.

And now, yet again, with just a week left in the game before we leave… both our girls have already been fighting bronchitis for a week. They’ve been on a breathing treatment and resting after fighting high temps.  After a followup today, they both still have wheezing in their chest. It seems hopeless during times like this.

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But then in the midst of my own self-pity, self-righteous attitude, I stop and find myself grumbling.  I become quickly reminded of all that He has done.  He has provided much, and never ceases to provide!  He has calmed our hearts after months (more like 2 years) of searching his plan for our lives.  He’s provided clarity in the timing of this trip.  He’s provided financially (to the very dime) of this entire trip.  {more on that in another post}  He’s given us people to pray for us, love and encourage us!  He’s revealed to us his grace and sovereignty through scriptures. I must not forget about all that He has done…. and I cannot allow Satan to come in destroy all that He has done!

1 Timothy 6:12

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

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I can come up with several reasons moan and complain – but the truth is – there is far more to rejoice in!

1 Peter 1:3-7

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire- may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

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Romans 5:1-5

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

I’ve been studying 1 & 2 Peter these last few weeks and I believe those scriptures were laid on my heart for a reason.  He has used those devotions to prepare me for much, and remind me that all that we do is ultimately to bring Him glory.  This isn’t about me, or my circumstances.  Its not about the little obstacles that come my way (bc they will come)…

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.  ~ 1 Peter 4:12-13

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For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.  For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”  The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. ~ Romans 8:14-17

I need these reminders- scripture to fill my mind with. The Lord is faithful. He is good.  And may I learn to rejoice in suffering, humbling myself before the Lord!

Friends, please continue praying for us and with us.  Pray for the works that Christ has laid before us.  Pray for opportunities to share the gospel. And please pray for our family as we deal with sickness, that the Lord bring comfort and healing.

Thank you all who have and continue to cover us in prayer!  It means so much to us!

Until then… Brantley

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Splish Splash

For Annalise’s first birthday we bought her a water table!  Katherine Grace had the same one and played HARD with it 3 years in a row!  Needless to say, it went through a lot and became worn out.  So we decided to buy the same one and it has been just as big of a hit with Annalise!!  Yay for double WIN!!!

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If only she realized her sister wasn’t equally as excited!  ;)

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Fun times happening here this summer!  We LOVE being outdoors every moment that we can!  And thankfully, so many of our friends have neighborhood pools that we can enjoy also!

Until then… Brantley

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