Monthly Archives: July 2012

Shining Moments

There was one moment

    in the whole adoption process

       that shines brightly above the rest.

It was a few days before Christmas 1993.

For three days I had been spending time with my six month old baby girl

  in the orphanage. My heart would beat with excitement every time I saw her.

  The moments would fly and with sadness I would place her back in the nurse’s

  arms until the next visitation time.

In between I was busy with paperwork. Endless paperwork.

The other couples adopting with me

    and I often spoke

    wondering when we would get to take our children from the orphanage

   and ride the overnight train back to Moscow.

We could hardly wait.

Although the kind Russian facilitators had placed a small, Charlie Brown like Christmas tree  up for us Americans

  we longed for home.

Finally the day came.

“Tonight bring your clothes…the clothes your child will wear home.”


What joy.

I carefully packed my suitcases putting Noelle’s traveling outfit in another bag.

Carefully purchased items. A pink top and pants outfit, socks and undershirt,

 A pink snowsuit, hat and gloves.

I looked at them again and smiled overwhelmed with gratitude

   that God would give me this special gift.

   A child to mother for Him.

    My heart’s desire from the time I was a young girl.

The other couples and I gathered in the large room at 10 o’clock Christmas Eve as told.

We chatted about this and that

     all the while watching the clock.

“Bet they’re going to wait till midnight,” a soon to be father spoke.

We all smiled in agreement.

Tick tock. Tick tock.

My thoughts wandered back to Virginia

    wondering what my family was doing.

What a strange Christmas

   to be so far away physically

    but so very close in heart.

And then I thought about Christmases to come.

A little girl to surprise.

A little one to teach about God’s great Love

    in sending Jesus.

Away in a manger, no crib for a bed.

Tick tock. Tick tock.

We continued to sit waiting for the word that we could go to our children.

My heart was filled with wonder and humility

   that God would give me this awesome experience.

He knew my heart’s deepest longings

   He knew the pain and disappointments.

He knew. He cared.

Here I was halfway around the world; far from anyone I knew

    but I sensed His Strong Arms of protection and peace.

All was well.


Suddenly the door opened

   and the Russian facilitator stepped in with a big smile on her worn face.

“Now,” she whispered motioning with her hands.

“Very quiet”.

Quickly getting to my feet I grabbed my bag and followed the rest

  out the door,

     down the long partly lit hall

        into the nursery.

I waited for only a brief moment

   and then

   she was placed in my arms. My daughter. Eyes wide open.

I immediately went to work

   taking one piece of clothing off at a time

   and replacing it with my carefully chosen


          just for her


She was so good. So easy going.

Before I knew it

  Noelle Joy Oksana Brani

   was completely dressed.

“Ok, honey. This is going to be one big adventure.” I said picking her up

    and holding her close to my heart.

I glanced up at the clock on the wall.


Christmas Eve.

The time had come.

His Time had come.

     In His Time. In His Time.

     He makes all things beautiful in His time.

A new beginning for both of us.

The old had passed away.

It was a new beginning.

How marvelous that God loves to give us new beginnings.

He loves to show Himself faithful and true.




Shining Moments

Troubles are part of life.

    Count on it.

Rain does fall. Prepare for it.

I remember a time a few years ago when my girls and I were at the beach.

A sudden shower sent us ducking into a nearby store.

As we stood together inside watching the heavy downpour

   I heard the voice of a man.

   Turning my head I saw the elderly man behind the counter looking at  us.

“It’s just rain,” he said with a twinkle in his eyes.

Sudden showers were frequent. He should know living here at the beach all his life.

“Just rain,” we all repeated looking again outside as the rain gushed.

But for us it meant

   no time on the beach, at least not for a few hours,

   getting soaked since we were without car

       and our room was a long walk away

   change of plans

   an inconvenience.


  the man was right!

It was just rain.

Why do we always think things will go the way we plan?

That vacations mean sunny days every day?

That there won’t be time when we need to be flexible?

All of a sudden we all laughed.

Just rain. A great perspective.

After a few minutes we all dashed out of the store, across the street

   and up the sidewalk that led to our home away from home.

Sure we got wet

     completely soaked.

     no photo from that experience

 But in my heart it left a shining moment that I remember to this day.

Rain will come.

It’s just rain.

Days of eternal bliss are for heaven.

While we are here on earth

    let’s encourage each other with words of hope and cheer.

When the rain comes

    and troubles mount

        Jesus told us, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart.

               I have overcome the world. I have told you things so that in Me

               you may have peace.” (John 16:33)

Our peace is not about having a trouble free life.

No, it’s about knowing Him

        snuggling into His everlasting arms of love

         in the midst of trouble.

Yes, as we watch the rain falling around us

   Let’s remember,

      “You are loved with an everlasting Love

         and underneath are His everlasting arms.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

Shining moments all around.

For the darker it gets

    the more obvious is His Glorious Light.


Shining Moments

I sat in the waiting alone.

   Halfway around the world my family was praying.

There I was in Moscow, Russia,

    waiting for Noelle’s final physical examination to be completed.

“Please Lord, help her to pass.”

My heart cried out in anguish to the One and Only One.

The past few days had been extremely busy,

   signing papers,

   spending precious moments with my baby girl,

   dancing with her in that tiny room.

Then as the Lord arranged

    she was allowed to leave the orphanage at 12:00 midnight.

    Christmas Eve.

 As I walked out of that building with the snow gently falling

   I thought I could hear angels singing.

I softly laughed with wonder and excitement.

God was making a Way for this precious child to become mine

    to love,

    and parent

    for the rest of my days.

We rode the overnight train back to Moscow.

Noelle slept most of the way.



   through the darkness.

He provided.

But now as I sat outside in the waiting room

   waves of anxiety swept over me.

She had to be declared unhealthy

   in order to be adopted.

There had to be something wrong.

But her eyes sparkled

  and shone with alertness.

Yes, I knew that her one side was weak;

   her legs were like jello from inactivity

But would that be enough.

How strange to be even praying that the doctor would declare her adoptable.

I longed for a shoulder

  to lean on

God gave me His Best Arm upon which to rest.

Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting Arms.

I don’t remember anything about that room

   but I will never forget that shining moment

   when the door opened.

I turned my eyes and met the dark eyes of that tall, stern Russian doctor.

He nodded.

That was all.

  And I knew. I knew that she had passed….

                                                 had failed….

                                      the way was cleared for this precious little child to be mine.

The next few minutes were a blur as they placed her into my open,

                    waiting arms

     and I walked out of the room,

        down the stairs

           and out onto the busy street.

Nothing mattered at that moment.

My heart was rejoicing that once more my Lord was Faithful and True.

One step closer to the time when I would board that plane to journey back to the States.

I have experienced so many gifts,

                                  so many joys,

                  as Noelle’s mother

                  but none of it do I take for granted.

She is His

    was His from the beginning

       and always will be His.


God has given me incredible joy all along the journey.

Gift after gift I treasure in my heart.