Family Picture

Family Picture

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wait, What???!!!!

Our God is an amazing, powerful incredible God!!  If you do not yet believe in the name of Jesus, BELIEVE!!!  If you feel God is calling you to do something crazy, radical life changing but you think you are not the right person for the job, I am telling you have FAITH the size of a mustard seed and do it!!  Our adoption story is one of faith in action and I am continually amazed at God's work!!!  So here are a few of my wait, what?!!  moments leading up to our current status.  A friend just happens to post on facebook that she has two twin beds and a dresser to give away after I had just been at IKEA agonizing over what to do about needing three more beds.  Wait, What!!  Thanks God!  And we just happen to have enough money to pay for our adoption expenses every time we need to write a check even though we only had enough for one and didn't plan on the extra expense of adopting three.  Wait, What!!  Thanks God!!  And one night I spent 45 minutes trying to find a google translate sorta thing to translate Tshiluba so I could communicate more effectively with my boys in case of a moment that would come up that we may need that.  There is no google translate for Tshiluba, but there is a Pastor and his wife who speak Tshiluba, who grew up in a town 100 miles away from where my boys grew up, who just happen to live 20 minutes away from us.  WAIT, WHAT!!!  This is a miracle God!!  Thank You!!! 

After we met that amazing Pastor and his family, we learned that he was taking a group of people on a mission trip in February.  I blew it off at first thinking that we needed to concentrate on our adoption and not worry about this trip.  However, my heart was continually stirred as I thought about what an incredible opportunity this trip would be.  So I asked my adoption coordinator what might happen if we went on this trip and how that would work with picking up the boys.  Of course the ideal plan would be to go on the mission trip and then pick up the boys after that and experience lots of amazing incredibleness in one fell swoop.  She said she thought it might work, that it wasn't really pushing it even, to make this happen.  But Matt and I still had to decide what to do, as if we went on the mission trip we knew we may still have to make another trip to get the boys.  Matt says he doesn't want to go, he wants to save his time off of work to spend with the boys.  So I call my sister whom I had invited on the trip and we decide to go.  We get permission from our AMAZING husbands to do God's work and we booked our tickets last night to travel to Congo on the mission trip.  And then I get an email today from our adoption coordinator that WE HAVE JUDGEMENT!!!  But not only do we have the judgement that we have been waiting for since October 5th, she also received other paperwork that puts our timeline ahead of schedule by 2-3 weeks!!!  WAIT, WHAT!!!!  Praise the Lord!!!  So it looks like we may be going on a mission trip and picking up three handsome boys at the same time!!  Of course nothing is set in stone and things can change quickly, but the Lord has blessed us with a miracle today and we are praising his name!!!  I am so excited to continue to watch God work.  I can hardly even believe how amazing God is.  And so today I am SO thankful and so humbled by his work and presence in our lives. My heart is singing!!!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

While I'm Waiting

God has put this song on my heart this past week to guide me while I wait.  My prayer is that I will serve him well, worship well and most important that I will not fade.  Because this God we serve and worship is worthy and amazing and incredible.  I am so thankful for his ever present guidance and love.  We are still waiting to hear that we have received written judgement.  Without this signature our adoption process cannot move forward.  But I am confident that we will hear something soon, in God's perfect timing.  And while the waiting is painful and not easy, I plan to serve and worship and love well!!

Monday, October 15, 2012


So today was a yucky adoption crazies day for this mama.  I am having a difficult time with all of the waiting.  We still have not received our written judgement and I found out that our 30 day wait will not start until a couple of weeks after our written judgement.  It is not until after the 30 day wait that we can breathe a sigh of relief knowing these are truly our kids.  So I prayed and I was mad at God and I wanted answers and I wanted to run, run far away from this adoption process.  Not because I don't love God and desire to live for Him, not because I don't love our boys, not because I don't love adoption.  But because it is too hard.  It is too challenging.  I want to do it my way, make it go faster, get my boys now!  Because I am selfish.  And as I think that it may be January, or it could be February, or it may be March before we can go them I just want to scream.  Scream at God to make it go faster, let me get my boys sooner.  If this is your will, why can't you move mountains and make it happen NOW!  But as I pray and read His word and listen to songs and read others words of wisdom I am gently but firmly reminded of Isaiah 55, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord.  It is not up to me.  I hear him saying are you going to follow me, are you going to allow me to get you through this, are you going to let me make you stronger?  You see I cannot try to do this thing that he has called me to with my own ways.  This challenge he has called me to is not for me to try to do on my own or for me to step in and change it or push it.  It is all about me relying solely and completely on HIM.  Instead of trying to do it my own way I have come to realize that I need to surrender.  Surrender in prayer and reading his word and learning more about who my amazing God is, allowing him to shape me.  And what is so awesome is that now at the end of my day, I am totally at peace.  At peace with just surrendering and allowing God the control.  And waiting well while he comforts me and changes me.  And I am renewed and refreshed and hopeful that our story draws others closer to Jesus.  And hopeful that others make the choice to open their hearts to adoption.  To a journey that is difficult but so amazingly wonderful in so many ways.  I feel blessed and honored and humbled everyday that God has chosen us to serve him in this way!

Monday, October 8, 2012


Praise and thankfulness are what I have been feeling lately.  Praise to an amazing God who answers my prayers even when I have given up.  He is quietly whispering that he's in control and it is his timing, but oh how I want it when I want it.  But his ways are greater than ours and he is faithful!  We received verbal approval that we passed court in the DRC on Friday.  Yeah!! We should be receiving word that the judge has actually signed off on the case on Wednesday, so I will update again when I have more information.  God is moving and blessing and my heart is so full and so thankful.  We are going to meet with a family who grew up in the Congo this month.  This is an answer to prayer as I desire to know more about the Congolese culture and how we can continue to be a blessing to the Congolese people.  There is no better way to learn than to talk to a family firsthand.  Thank you God!  Orphan Sunday is coming up and it will be a great time of celebrating God's goodness in our adoption journey and what he is doing around the world as we seek to care for orphans.  He is amazing and I am humbled by his goodness.  I am enjoying this journey, this journey of learning, this journey of change, this journey of drawing nearer to my Heavenly Father.  We are taking everything a step at a time and excitement is growing as we get closer and closer to bringing our boys home.  What a joyous day that will be! 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Amazing Love

So we are only a week away from our court date!  Can't wait to hear some good news next week!  As we wait I am just humbled by all God is doing in our lives.  I am working hard on enjoying the journey and not getting caught up in the difficulty of the wait.  Adoption has changed our lives already in so may ways.  We are totally dependent on the holy spirit to work in our lives.  We need him to help us grow spiritually, to keep our boys safe, to help our adoption process go smoothly, and to change us.  I just love how this process has MADE me dependent on Christ for everything.  I am constantly praying for our adoption case, for other cases and for him to help me be more patient, more loving, more kind, more compassionate.  We are also humbled at how God is just showing up and taking care of things.  Our initial concern when we decided to take the plunge of faith and say YES to adopting three boys was the additional stuff we would need.  Three more beds, lots of clothes, coats, shoes, etc.  But God knows!  And he just shows up.  We were so blessed to receive 2 twin beds and a dresser FREE from some amazing friends!  God took care of it!  And we are receiving clothes often from friends and family.  HE is taking care of it!  It is amazing to sit back and watch his love pour out on our journey.  And a huge thank you to all of those who are blessing us with stuff or praying for us!  We would so value prayers that we pass court next week and that we have a successful 30 day waiting period.  Living, Loving and Serving an Incredible God!!!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Court Update

So this is a small update in the large scope of things, but just wanted to share that we received an update that our case would be heard in the Mbuji Mayi court around October 5th.  This is exciting as hopefully all goes smoothly and we will be issued a judgement within a couple weeks after the court date.  The judgement is the official adoption!  We are thrilled that our process seems to be moving forward.  We would also cherish prayers as the Congo is a very unstable country and things can certainly go awry very easily.  The Congo is not like China, where the government is stable and you have a pretty concrete timeline.  Things can change on a whim with a Congo adoption as the DRC has very little government infrastructure.  So I have guarded excitement, but I also trust that God is more powerful than all of the issues that could go wrong.  What is so awesome is that I was praying fervently today for a quick and smooth process and that we would hear soon about our court date.  And I just so happened to receive an email regarding our court date!  God rocks and we praise him for his faithfulness on this journey.  Whatever happens, it is in his hands, his ways are greater than ours and he is sovereign!  The power of prayer is amazing!! So we keep on keepin on and trust in a powerful and amazing God!!

Thursday, September 6, 2012


So there are definitely some not so fun things about adoption-like the wait!!  ARGGHHH!!  And attachment issues, etc, etc.  However I truly feel that the abundant blessings and joy far outweigh the not so fun things.  Yesterday we received new pics of our sweet, sweet boys!  These pictures brightened our day.  We cannot wait to love on them!! Our favorite thing about all of the pictures that we have received is that they seem SO happy!  I said to Matt last night, don't they just look happy? And he said, yeah, it's amazing!  I really think God is watching over them and blessing them in huge ways!  We are just filled with joy that they are joyful and we can't wait to bring this love into our home.  Don't get me wrong, we are prepared for super hard days, but LOVE always wins!!!  By the way, Jean is in the tank top, he is 5, Constantin is the little guy (age 2) and Patrick is in the Love Star shirt, he is 4.  We also sent out a care package to our little guys today.  It is Patrick's birthday on September 21st, so we sent them all some goodies.  Looking forward to loving and laughing as a Bruening family of eight!!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Not About Us

So it has been a month or so since we announced that we were pursuing an adoption of 3 boys, ages 3, 4 and 5 which would make us a family of 8 with 6 kids under the age of 7!!  The reaction across the board from many people has been that we are crazy!  Bless your hearts, but you are crazy!  Yeah, we know!  We agree, we are kind of crazy, but we wouldn't have it any other way!!  We are certainly not equipped with incredible patience, tons of wisdom, or gobs of gentleness to handle all of these little lives.  We are far from perfect!  However, we have lots of love and an incredible passion for orphans, the poor, the needy and just an overall passion to live out God's call for our lives.  For us that happens to be orphan care and helping the poor.  We are not amazing-as Katie Davis (Kisses from Katie) says, we simple read the Bible and did what it says.  In fact, if everyone would simply live out God's call for their lives, no one would think we are crazy because many "amazing" things would be happening all the time.  God uses ordinary people for his glory and to do extraordinary things-to do his work.  He wants to use all of us-no matter what kind of a mess we are.  And we aren't the first people ever to adopt a bunch of kids and create a large family.  We are blessed to know people and email and blog with people who have done or are doing the same thing.  It just needs to become the norm instead of the crazy!!  It's not about us, it's not about accumulating more stuff for myself, it's about freely giving and helping those who need it.  We feel blessed that God has blessed us with an incredible passion for the orphans and the poor and we enjoy just walking in obedience to him.  We also feel very much at peace with our decision and so we trust that our powerful God will be with us every step of the way. 

 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Ephesians 3:20-22

We would also very much value prayers for our adoption journey and others adopting from the Congo as well.  The Congo has very little infrastructure and so sometimes cases are heard and processed quickly and other times there are long delays.  Kids are dying weeks before their parents can get to them.  We would so value prayers that our adoption case and others would go quickly and smoothly without delays so that we can get to our children and love on them-as we all desire so badly to do!!  Thanks for praying! 

We are blessed so we can bless!!!!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Crazy Courage

There are a few updates regarding our adoption process.  Our dossier is completed, translated and sent off to the DRC!!  Yeah!  We also know the next steps in our process which is good.  It is nice to be able to follow along with what is going on.  So our next step is receiving a court date in the Congo.  That should happen in about 5 weeks, maybe sooner.  Upon receiving our court date, we will then hear whether or not the judge approved our case.  After court, there is a 30 day waiting period.  Once the 30 day waiting period is up our kids will be moved from Mbuji Mayi to Kinahsa where we will pick them up.  We will wait about 8 weeks for all the paperwork to be completed and then be able to travel.  So in all we are looking at 5 months if there are no paperwork delays and up to 8-9 months if there are delays.  We would so value your prayers that there are no delays and we have a quick process!!  I have been asked if these sweet boys are really ours...  The answer to that question, is yes, in my heart, Matt's heart and our kids's hearts!  We love them so much already!  But officially, no, they are not ours.  After we get through court and our 30 day waiting period, we will get the adoption judgement that states that we have officially adopted these boys.  So we have to wait about 9 weeks or so for the court process to get done and then we can call it official.  I titled my post today Crazy Courage because I believe it takes a lot of crazy courage to adopt!!  We are fairly confident that our court process will go well, but we are aware of cases where it hasn't gone well and people have lost their referral for various reasons.  So it takes some crazy courage and a whole lot of Jesus just to get through this part of the process!  Adoption is hard but it has already yielded blessings beyond anything I could have ever imagined.  Our spiritual and relationship growth along this journey has been incredible and I am so excited for what the future holds!  A special thanks to my sister in law for the following verse that I am holding close to my heart for the rest of this journey:  "Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong." 1 Corinthians 16:13.

By the way, I encourage all of you to be courageous and think about adoption or supporting an orphanage. There is a great need out there and God asks us to take care of the orphans, the poor and the needy!!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Saying Yes to God

This is a really exciting blog post!  Finally, right!!  We are working on adopting three boys from Mbuji Mayi Democratic Republic of Congo!  We received our official referral Saturday night and we couldn't be more excited!  Their names are Jean (pronounced John), Patrick and Constantin.  They are ages 3, 4, and 5.  This has been a really long journey filled with much prayer, tons of God's Word, much thought and lots of processing.  We have been processing this for over a month.  It has been such a great time of growing closer to God and learning how to rely on him.  We are so excited to glorify God by saying YES we will adopt these boys.  This will require much hard work and sacrifice but I can't think of anything else I would rather do.  Total surrender to God and total reliance on him is so incredible.  Our whole family is SO excited.  Our hearts have always been that we wanted to adopt those who often get looked over, like special needs children, children over 4, or sibling groups.  Words cannot describe the joy in my heart that God has blessed us with this incredible opportunity.  Serving him in this way is so amazing.  We are prepared for the Are you crazy comments and those that may not understand.  Wholeheartedly following Jesus usually comes at a cost.  But nothing is more worth it.  HE is worthy!!  God has shown up in amazing ways over these last few weeks, answering prayers and uniting our hearts.  HE is worthy of all praise!!  I am not sure of all the next steps yet, I hope it will be a quick process, like 6-8 months or so.  In the meantime we will renovate our house and add a seat to our car and buy more beds in anticipation of three more precious lives in our home.  We would so appreciate your prayers that our journey would go smoothly, that God would be more powerful than the legalities and the paperwork and that we would be able to bring these boys home so soon. 

Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”
Luke 9:48

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Heart of the Matter

So there is not a ton of new stuff to share regarding our adoption journey.  Our home study is done and off to immigration!!  Woohoo!  That is a super big step done.  God answered my prayers on that one in a huge way!  I am now working on the dossier and hope to have that completed and sent to the Congo soon.  I realized something yesterday that I wanted to write about.  Jesus wrecked my life!  In a good way!  He turned everything upside down and my heart wants only to serve him, to love him and to seek him.  I have been wrestling with my heart and my emotions this entire adoption journey and I could not figure out what was wrong with me.  Why did I cry about the adoption journey taking so long?  Why could I not focus on anything but adoption, adoption, adoption?  What was wrong with me?  I realize now it is the longing in my heart to serve an amazing God and to be totally focused on that.  I had heard about the book Kisses from Katie but I had never thought to read it.  My sister was visiting and during our conversation she said you need to read this NOW!  So I started and I connected.  This book helped me to understand what was going in my life.  Jesus wrecked me!!  And I love it.  You see I used to love shopping and would be obsessed with buying expensive things to decorate my house.  I used to spend way too much time shopping on the internet for expensive clothes.  I used to desire material things.  And then Jesus wrecked me.  And now I want to care for the orphans, serve the poor and love others with all I've got.  I am now obsessed with Jesus and his plan for my life and I love it!!  And I love that I live this journey not by myself but with my family.  We can read the Bible, we can learn about the poor and the orphans, we can read amazing books and we can make a choice.  We can take action or we can do nothing.  As for me and my family, I want our hearts to be broken for what breaks HIS! What would happen if the 1 million readers of Kisses from Katie actually submitted fully to God's will for their lives?  What would the world look like?  I think it would be amazing.  I think it can be amazing! This life journey has been incredible and I am so excited to see how Jesus continues to wreck my life.  I hope to be able to update soon with news about a referral.  Until then we will continue to love, serve and live for Jesus!!

Thursday, June 21, 2012


We have been approved to adopt from the Democratic Republic of Congo with A Love Beyond Borders, an adoption agency in Colorado.  There is a huge need for kids to be adopted from the Congo as there is war and incredible poverty in the region.  We are SO excited to be approved and to have found a country that we know is perfect and is God's will.  Our change in plans from China to Africa has been crazy but so wonderful.  I know it is God's perfect plan as I meet and talk to others who have a heart for Africa as well.  And it just feels right!!  So I trust wholeheartedly that this is the direction that God wants us to go.  I can't wait to get there.  And that's the hard part, waiting!!!  We are waiting for our home study to be rewritten so that we can submit a homestudy and an I600A to the USCIS to change from China to Africa.  We need to get our immigration approval and our dossier submitted to the Congo before much further action can take place.  We are also praying about what children God wants us to adopt.  We have a heart for those that are waiting-those that are older and in sibling groups.  And so we are checking out the waiting children and just praying that God would unite our hearts and show us which children are meant to be in our family.  Some days I just wish Jesus was physically standing next to me and telling me exactly what to do!  How awesome would that be!  :)  I feel like we will soon be making decisions on children, I feel an aching in my heart to move forward with God's mission for us.  But yet, he calls us to be patient as well.  I just have the yearning to complete this already, yet I know that we are growing spiritually in huge ways through it all.  So we will probably be able to travel to the Congo in about 9-10 months to grab our child/children.  So we keep on keeping on, serving our amazing Lord each day!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Keep on Keepin On

We submitted our application with a new agency to proceed with our Ethiopian adoption last Friday.  In the meantime I asked for some information on waiting children from this agency.  This whole process and my gut feeling caused me to have tons of questions rolling around in my head.  So I used the handy old internet to do even more research.  What I came to find out is that the agency I chose was not the best choice as it has had tons and tons of complaints filed against it and it's leaders could be involved in adoption corruption in Ethiopia.  So we begin again and keep on keepin on.  I have called and called and researched and researched and I think I have finally found an agency that is honest, ethical and cares only about the children and not the money.  African adoption is a whole new ball game and care needs to be taken to find the right agency to lead us in this.  I am just amazed at the corruption out there.  I truly believe we need to adopt those children who are truly in need.  But I think we also need to support the families who can keep their children and just need some financial assistance.  Matt and I's hope is to somehow be able to figure out how we can start doing this.  This morning he said let's just start our own 501C3 nonprofit and build a house in Africa.  Sounds great to me!!  We will still be pursuing adoption wholeheartedly but I am excited to see what else God may do with this whole process.  We stand with arms wide open surrendered to whatever God might have in store for us!! 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Beginning

I decided to create this blog to record our adoption journey and allow people to stay up to date with the twists and turns this journey will take us on.  So welcome to the beginning!  Our adoption story starts on December 1, 2011, my birthday, when Matt told me YES we can adopt.  And so the process started.  We went forward with an agency and we were approved for the China special needs program.  Five months later we had our homestudy complete and had all of our paperwork gathered together for our dossier.  Early in May 2012, we asked for more information on a little boy on the waiting child list.  We went through the whole process and we were told that we were approved and could adopt him.  However, the next day we got a phone call saying that we did not meet agency requirements and that he was too close in age to our youngest daughter and so we would not be able to adopt him without an exception.  A few days later they called us and they decided not to make an exception, so we were unable to adopt this sweet little boy.  This was a painful, yet much needed learning experience on the adoption journey.  Matt and I took some time to take a step back from everything and search our hearts.  We prayed and talked and researched and read the bible in an effort to make the best decision about how to move forward on this journey.  We ended up realizing that God knows our hearts better than we do and he wants to give us our desires!  What an amazing God we serve!!  My heart has always been in Africa, so we decided to explore our adoption options in Africa.  We settled on Ethiopia.  We found out that there are many orphans who need a home in Ethiopia and we can adopt a young boy, which is what our heart desires.  So the journey begins again.  We switched agencies and we are starting the application process.  We are praying we get approved and can begin the journey to bring home our little boy from Ethiopia.  We feel so blessed to be able to do this.  God has laid it on our hearts in a huge way and we cannot wait to fulfill the mission he gave us.  Matt would say he has been thinking about adoption forever!  We are so excited to see what God does with this amazing journey!!