Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Brighton Their World

We shot, edited and posted this little video in 4 hours last night to beat a deadline for entering a little video contest online.

The girls did a great job of telling how, where and why we do what we do with Brighton Their World. Watch through to the end to see Mebrate's "cheeseface!"

Great job girls and big thanks to everybody who helped knock it out!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Worth It!

Skipping school to dress like princesses?

Worth it EVERY TIME!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Lights! Camera! Action!

A little fun in front of the camera...

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Granny Reader

I never get that kind of attention when I read to them. Usually Meron is trying to say the words I am saying and totally throws me off.

But not Granny. She clearly brings something much more to the table.

They LOVE their Granny!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Mom Got Gas

Meron brought this book home this weekend as part of her homework. There was coloring and some sounding out stuff in it. I was downstairs packing formula when I heard some SERIOUS uproar upstairs and then intense clapping...

Next I heard the pitter-patter of Meron's feet coming down the steps with Mommy right behind her. Mommy had tears in her eyes and said "Daddy - you ready to be amazed?"

Meron held out her book in front of her and READ to me. She showed me how she did it...

"M says 'mmmm' and 'o' says "awww' - MOM...

'G' says 'guh' and 'o' says 'awww' and 't' says 'tuh...' - GOT.

'G' says 'guh' and 'a' says 'ahhhh' and 's' says 'sss' - GAS.

I was floored. And Laura's tears almost got me going...

I know probably every parent gets this crazy over their kid starting to do something new but something about her life - her story - what all it took to get her here to this very point in time - and just watching the potential being unlocked in her. It's pretty freaking cool to be a tiny part of it all.

She was super duper proud - as she should be...

God made you for this and so much more Meron - KEEP UP THE INCREDIBLE WORK!

Friday, February 24, 2012

A LIttle Chat With Mebrate

About 6 months ago our little girl didn't know any english - she had barely even been exposed to it.

Check her out now. And to think - communication was one of my fears while waiting for her to come home. Man... God knows all of those fears and He resolves them.

Keep on talking Mebrate! We'll keep listening...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Don't Go Daddy!

This was me trying to leave today for work. She is a drama queen for sure and she adds a ton of theatrics to it...

Drama queen or not - she still makes it super hard to leave the house!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Can't Get Enough...

Seriously. I can't get enough of this right here...

The Lord has been abundantly good to me.

Go Volunteer!

I threw this on Facebook but I figured I'd toss it on here cuz this is where I'll come back and watch it again and again and again...

We had a service project for kids on President's Day at my office so the girls came with me to work and got to make cards for veterans to be taken to a VA Hospital.

They had a blast.

In their words - "GO VOLUNTEER!"

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

What He Wants...

For the past 3 years or so we have been doing a nightly devotion with Meron and reading from her bible. And now Mebrate is in on it too - and they LOVE it. They would seriously flip out if we skipped it.

We read the bible, we pray like mad for them, we discuss the nature of God as we know it - but let's be honest - without the Holy Spirit recklessly invading their heart - they'd be lost right? So we pray daily for that to happen. And every now and then God gives ya a glimpse of the work He is doing.

The other day in the car Meron said:

"Daddy - turn that radio off please..."
That's usually what she says when she wants to ask me something or generally hear herself talk.

I said "What's up baby?" and she said:
"You know what God wants us to do?
Uhhh... random... "No baby - what does He want us to do?" I asked her while stealing a glimpse in the rearview mirror...
"It's easy. He wants us to pray. He wants us to sing to Him. And He wants us to read the bible. That's what He wants..."
I'm staring in the mirror at this gorgeous masterpiece of His and listening to her tell me what He wants and I am just floored. These prayers of ours - for the Holy Spirit to bombard her heart and soul - they just might be working! She sees me staring at her and I think she thinks I am weird...
"Can you turn the music back on please?"
And like that - we're right back where we were.

Thankful for the glimpses God gives me into her heart...

Monday, February 20, 2012

God In Her

Some times your kids just say something that makes ya beam. Ya know - big Cheshire-cat style grins. The goofy smile. Mostly cuz ya know ya just heard a little bit of God coming out of their mouth.

We were sitting around eating lunch and Meron had already asked to be excused so it was just me, Laura and Mebrate. We were talking about being sisters and how lucky they were to have each other when Laura asked Mebrate if she loved Meron. Of course she said "YES!" and then Laura asked her "Why do you love Meron?"

Mebrate's response brought the big goofy smile to my face. She said:

"I love Meron, mommy. Because God loves me."
Wow. Indeed Mebrate. She seems to be developing a sound theology pretty early on.

We love. Because God first loved us.

That's God in ya Mebrate - NEVER, EVER, EVER let go of it!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

3 Weeks!

I came in the door from work on Thursday to a "wave him in your face while freaking out" introduction to "Boo Bear."

Meron's teacher had given her this bear and the best we story we could get out of her was she was good. Was he hers to keep? Was she sure she was allowed to bring him home? Did she have to take him back?

She didn't know. So next day while picking her up, Laura did some investigative work. Meron's teacher was happy to give us the info.

Apparently - she got that bear (to keep!) because she had been so good for 3 weeks straight. 3 WEEKS! Her teacher said this basically never happens with her students. On Thursday she brought Meron up in front of the class to tell them why she was getting a bear. Meron gets a little embarrassed when we talk about it - but we asked her what all the kids did and she said:

"They cheered. And yelled and screamed."
Well dang it... that's what I wanna do too! I am so stinking proud of her. Yeah - I know. I am being obnoxious and bragging on her and all of that. But fact is - it's awesome. And it has NOTHING to do with us and EVERYTHING to do with her growing in to the person God built her to be.

She loves her bear. She knows it was a pretty big deal. Boo Bear has been elevated to a status few of her stuffed animals have seen in a while. And I love it.

Keep it up Meron! God is smiling at ya girl!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Mic Check - Jesus Loves Me

We spent a chunk of the morning today shooting some video for a few Brighton Their World promos we are cooking up. We needed to get a sound check on Meron so we asked her to just "say something" so we could check the levels...

She initially said "Daddy..." and I said "Is that all you got? Say something else... something a little longer..."

That's when she busted out "Jesus Loves Me."

Yes He does, Meron. YES. HE. DOES.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Cue Lee Greenwood...

Meron's Certificate of Citizenship came in the mail today. It was very official, I had to sign like 5 different places and then it was all ours.

We celebrated with some Christian Chicken ice dream and then headed home for a picture. She was PUMPED.

I am pretty sure she has no idea what it means - even after I explained it to her. She wanted to know where mine and mommy's certificate was.

But she was still pretty excited about it.

And she should be. We are too sweet girl!

American population just grew by one. And she is proud to be one!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Get Behind Us!

Satan's messed with us a little bit this year. And I ain't gonna lie - some of it almost derailed us. ALMOST. He did what he does best and whispered some lies in our ears and made us question ourselves or act/react in ways we didn't want to.

But we serve a God so infinitely bigger than this pathetic little earthly satan. So in this household - this family is committed to yelling it loud and clear when we feel it:

God has been so faithful to let us know when the attacks are happening so that we can lean into Him.

Love the full verse of that:
"Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." [Mark 8:33]
And here's the kicker - we already know the outcome of his little attempts to win us all over. That's what bugs me so much sometimes - satan wins an occasional little battle - but I know the outcome. And yet he still wins the battle every now and then.

But one day we'll be in Heaven next to our one TRUE REAL father and the idea of satan won't even be in existence.

You'd think satan would realize that I'm on to him. I mean - I spent 31 years listening to him more than anything else - but now... now the tides have turned. Now I am a servant of God. And this is what us servants have going for us:
"No weapon formed against you shall prosper, And every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, And their righteousness is from Me, Says the Lord." [Isaiah 54:17]
I'm gonna rest in that when he tries to come at us.

Oh - and we had to warn Meron's school teacher that if Meron yelled out in class "Get behind me Satan!" it was because she felt him at work trying to get her to talk, disobey, be disrespectful or not listen.

And here's why we love her school - her teacher - one of our favorites and one of the people in Meron's life pouring REAL BIBLICAL TRUTH into her said: "Amen. She can yell that all she wants!"

How's the view back there?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Satan Made Sugar

I am pretty sure that right after satan was cast out from Heaven - he hit the earth and got busy making sugar...

Shortly thereafter he devised the plan of creating some silly holidays like Halloween and Valentines Day that basically exist to pump our kids full of the satan-serum...

Here is one of ours tonight - an hour past bedtime - acting totally possessed by the sugar...

I love this girl. I'm terrified of her on sugar... but I love her!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentines Day

With love...


Redemption. I've been thinking about it a lot lately. Mine. Yours.

Hers. She was redeemed. And I am not even remotely talking about her adoption here. I am talking about the fact that a people group that coud be so spiteful, hateful, ugly, disobedient and sinister and display absolutely no outwardly desirable traits could be loved SO MUCH by God that He would humble Himself to becoming one of us and then be willing to die for us to be saved.

Redemption. It's a whole lot to wrap your head around. The past week or so - as I got to do a tiny bit of work with 60 feet - a cool organization that proclaims God's name loud and clear in the work they do - I really got to thinking about redemption. And the understanding of it.

And I think it's why I go. It's why I pack up, sacrifice time with my family, sacrifice my vacation days and money... and go spend time visiting orphans in their distress. And don't get me wrong - my sacrifice... it pales in comparison to His.

But I do that because I get to tangibly walk out the Gospel. Does that make sense? If we are to align ourselves with God and His nature - this is simply as close as I can get to doing that. Loving the least. Cuz that's what He did to me. Loved me.

No book or sermon series. No pastor or fancy, creative video. No worship song or fellowship has ever revealed to me the true nature of God like going and visiting orphans and spending time with them on their turf has.

I am redeemed. And there is nothing that anybody close to me or distant can say or do to take that gift away from me.

These lyrics from Lecrae have been resonating with me lately - because we should ALL be boasting in Him and the cross.:

If this life has anything to gain at all
I count it lost if I can't hear you, feel you, 'cause I need you
Can't walk this earth alone
I recognize I am not my own, so before I fall
I need to hear you, feel you, as I live to make my boast in you alone

With every breath I take, with every heart beat,
Sunrise and the moon lights in the dark street
Every glance, every dance, every note of a song
It's all a gift undeserved that I shouldn't have known
Every day that I lie, every moment I covet
I'm deserving to die, I'm just earning your judgment
Ah, without the cross there's only condemnation
If Jesus wasn't executed there's no celebration
So in times that are good, in times that are bad
For any times that I've had at all I will be glad
And I will boast in the cross, I boast in my pains
I will boast in the sunshine, boast in his reign
What's my life if it's not praising you
Another dollar in my bank account of vain pursuit,
I do
not count my life as any value or precious at all
Let me finish my race, let me answer my call

If this life has anything to gain at all
I count it lost if I can't hear you, feel you, 'cause I need you
Can't walk this earth alone
I recognize I am not my own, so before I fall
I need to hear you, feel you, as I live to make my boast in you alone

Tomorrow's never promised, but it is we swear
Think we holding our own, just a fist full of air
God has never been obligated to give us life
If we fought for our rights, we'd be in hell tonight
Mere sinners own nothing but a fierce hand
We never loved Him, we pushed away His pierced hands
I rejected His love, grace, kindness, and mercy
Dying of thirst, yet willing to die thirsty
Eternally worthy, how could I live for less?
Patiently you turn my heart away from selfishness
I volunteer for your sanctifying surgery
I know the spirits purging me of everything that's hurting me
Remove the veil from my darkened eyes
So now every morning I open Your Word and see the sunrise
I hope in nothing, boast in nothing, only in your suffering
I live to show Your glory, dying to tell Your story

If this life has anything to gain at all
I count it lost if I can't hear you, feel you, 'cause I need you
Can't walk this earth alone
I recognize I am not my own, so before I fall
I need to hear you, feel you, as I live to make my boast in you alone

Glory was solely meant for you
Doing what no one else could do
With all I have to give, (With all I have to give)
I'll use my life, I'll use my lips (My Lips, Yaaa)
I'll only glory in your Word
What gift to me I don't deserve
I'll live in such a way that it reflects to you, my, my Praise

If this life has anything to gain at all
I count it lost if I can't hear you, feel you, 'cause I need you
Can't walk this earth alone
I recognize I am not my own, so before I fall
I need to hear you, feel you, as I live to make my boast in you alone

We are redeemed. And I am thankful...

Monday, February 13, 2012

My Crew

I had the privilege of doing a little Valentine's Day shopping for this motley crew tonight! Not a big fan of the commercialized holiday - but when it comes to these guys - I am in!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Barbie Beetle

She'd drive the thing to school if we'd let her - she LOVES it!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Best Sisters - Best Friends

Their love for each other is infectious...

Friday, February 10, 2012

Saying A Lot Here Too

Yesterday was big sis - today is our little "baby" girl. her face - her radiant smile - the glow in her eyes (that we KNOW wasn't always there). It all speaks so much.

It says SAFE.

It says LOVED.





These girls speak volumes to me without saying a word.

I'm listening God. I'm listening...

Thursday, February 9, 2012

It Says So Much...

Sometimes I simply look in to her face and I am a bit overwhelmed. That sweet, innocent little face that says so, so much to me.







I know I don't deserve a single bit of what He has given me in this life. But I am thankful beyond words for it.

My sweet big girl's gorgeous face. It's growing up... and I can't wait to see the beautiful things it says in the future.

Thank you Meron... for a million things you'll never know you were part of...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Movie Night Madness

Fridays around here have turned into the unofficial official movie night. It doesn't happen regularly enough to be called official yet - but it's close.

This one wouldn't DARE fall asleep. Ever.

This one wouldn't dare make it an hour into it. Ever.

And this one... welll... this one is just... crazy.

Movie night madness. Wouldn't trade it for a thing...

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Mastering The Wink

The girl has been working on the wink for years. Years I tell ya...

I think she finally got it.

And her little sis is pretty darn proud of her (Mebrate isn't quite there yet - her wink is hilarious)...

Way to go ya Wink Star!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Like Minds, Like Hearts

We had some "new" friends come over for a little visit today. I say "new" because we have never really met them in person but we have "known" them forever online...

There's something extra cool about hanging out with people with like minds and like hearts. I think everybody hit it off real well...

And seriously... Meron looks entirely too grown up in this picture.


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Running For Brighton - Race #22

5:00 AM alarm clock on a Sunday means one thing - another Running For Brighton Race. This one was going to be cool because a friend of mine was running it with me and it was his first trail race.

But I was worried. My trip to Africa lent to 3 weeks of ABSOLUTELY NO RUNNING. GULP! I had 3 weeks to prepare - so I ran like a nut (well at least for me). 107 miles in 3 weeks. Now - that's not a lot for a lot of these trail runner guys and girls. But for me - between 40+ hour work weeks, school, Brighton Their World, the girls, etc... - 107 miles in 3 weeks is unheard of!

Turns out I was just fine. A beautiful course, with super-friendly runners and great weather. First 3 miles or so tricked me and then the hills started. You were either going up or coming down. Very little in between. And just when I started griping about going out too fast and sore legs and too many hills - God pressed it on me why I was running these things again. They help remind me of the struggles the 163+ million orphans in this world deal with.

I have heard it said "Runners know suffering." And that's true. But orphans know it on a level we can barely imagine.

So I run. A mediocre sprinter who thought anything over 400 meters was "long distance" runs these things to remember my son. His life. And all the others just like him across the globe.

Meron always loves to show off the "goods" afterwards. And seeing her in it just makes me smile. Can't wait til her and Mebrate are running one of these with me. It's bound to be soon.

You wanna help out an orphan or two (or a million)? It's real easy - just ask us about ways to get involved or connect with us at "Brighton Their World" as we try to bring new and exciting opportunities for EVERYBODY to help brighten the world of orphans around the globe.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Daddy-Daughter Date Night

I love Chick-Fil-A. There are a whole lotta reasons why too. Spicy chicken sandwiches. Easy to watch playgrounds. Grilled nuggets for the kids. And Daddy-daughter date night.

If you have daughters and you're not in on this - get in on it. Basically they set up a night where they take reservations, serve you at your table and give you the opportunity to show your daughter what a date should look like.

Ours won't be dating for at least 30 more years and even then I am considering a "only from the homeland" stipulation (to make it tougher) - but I figured it's never too early to start showing them how they should be treated...

The afternoon kicked off with mommy hooking them up with super cute hair-dos.

Earlier in the day the girls had gone shopping and mommy let them get new dresses for the big night. So after the hair - it was into the new dresses and ready to go!

Next I rang the doorbell and picked them up...

We were all pumped about it as we posed for our "sidewalk shot"...

Then it was load 'em up and head on out...

We got there a little early but the girls insisted "LET'S GO IN!"

So we got a picture taken with the cows (Mebrate was kinda freaked out by this...)

We got seated, did a little coloring, had some dope conversations, ate some of our favorite foods and even splurged a little on desserts...

On the way out the girls got to walk the red carpet like the beautiful stars they are...

And then it was home to check out their chocolate, stuffed animals and flowers...

Before leaving, Mebrate leaned over to me and said:

"Daddy... I want to do daddy-daughter date night tomorrow too..."
Me too girl. Me too... But ya know what? Every day is like daddy-daughter date night for me. I am just stupid blessed.

Luckiest daddy on the planet tonight...