We need your prayers today! [Adoption Update vol. 3]

IMG_5934.PNG TODAY IS A BIG DAY!

We are being transparent and sharing the journey Jesus is taking us on through adoption, with our loved ones, close friends, and this blog. So with basically..whoever wants to know.

Today we are being presented to a Birth Mom. We fell in love with her and her baby the moment we heard of her situation. Our connection to her was immediate and ran deep through our hearts. We know this is risky, allowing our hearts to love someone so deeply and so quickly. But it is what it is, and it was impossible not to love her. Like I have said: love is risky, but love is always worth the risk.

For weeks we have prayed and thought about her daily. Today she will know we exist. At 1 pm Pacific Time we will be presented (our Family Profile book). Would you please lift this situation up in prayer? Would you pray bold prayers, that she would feel our love through our Family Profile book (a shutterfly book full of photos of us and our family and our life), that we would be what she is looking for as an adoptive family to raise baby? Pray peace over our hearts as well. Protection.

Even if she does not choose us, she has opened up our hearts in ways we didn't realize they needed opened. My heart is the bleeding-heart type, and it has bled a lot this year. Lorens heart has grown and molded and shaped into something so wonderful, I have fallen in love with him deeper and deeper every day.

Also...if she chooses us, we would need the rest of our puzzle pieces purchased FAST.

We need everyone who is able to purchase a puzzle piece. Would you think and pray about supporting us in that way? For every piece you purchase, your name(s) will be written on the back to be displayed forever in our home. We thank you in advance!

 

How it works:

1)   Decide how many puzzle pieces you want to purchase to financially support our adoption fund.

1 puzzle piece = $25 

2)  Click on the donate button below to give securely through PayPal

-OR-

Donate via check. Email us at nataliekbrenner@gmail.com and we will send your our address to mail in a check.

3)  Watch the adoption puzzle come together on our blog and see your name be recognized. We will build the puzzle as you donate the pieces.

 

We put together the crib and pieces of the nursery. TALK ABOUT NESTING.

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Meal plan + Verse of the week

It's been too long since I've meditated on a specific verse or passage for the entire week. It is time to revisit this. Without the discipline of writing it down every Monday and having something to think about through the week, I find my mind easily wandering off onto rabbit trails of worry and fear, shriveling and withering. Even with reading the bible every morning, if I haven't purposed in my heart that I am going to use a specific chunk to meditate on throughout the week, I tend to trail off. It's the secret of truly meditating. Who knew? The Bible proves true every time:

But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do. Psalm 1:2-3

20140714-161855-58735778.jpg Delighting in The Lord. Meditating on His word day & night. When we do this, we are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each and every season! All of the time. We don't wither and shrivel from fear or worry or anything at all, but prosper in all that we do. Even when our circumstances should be shriveling us. Yes. I want to get back to that. I want to meditate day and night and night and day. But the only way for me to really do that, is to be in His word everyday. And having something to always draw upon.

So this week, I choose Psalm 23. Will you join me? I read it three times this morning. While on our 16 mile bike ride, two of the verses echoed through my head. The Holy Spirit used what I had read to help me meditate on His word. "The Lord is my shepherd. I have all that I need...Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me." 20140714-153116-55876074.jpg20140714-153113-55873930.jpg

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As I go through my week I'll read this passage every morning in addition to anything else. As I catch myself alone or need something to think about

besides my lists or "what if's," I have something that will easily pop into my heart. So can you! Just ask the Holy Spirit to take captive of your thoughts, help you meditate on what is pure and lovely, from the heart of Jesus. I promise that releasing our fears and replacing them with prayer and His truths brings SO MUCH FREEDOM. It is so delicious.

On another note- what are you eating this week? Here is my dinner meal plan:

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I've been asked by a few peeps now how I meal plan. I'll give you a quick run down.

Our usual day off is Monday. I plan my weeks as Monday being the start of it, rather than Sunday - it's how my brain works & categorizes life. Every Sunday evening or Monday morning, I sit down with my board and my calendar and I begin the process. I ask Loren if he has any requests, which usually he has one. This week it was enchiladas. I am not going to lie - we eat almost the same meals every week. I'll switch it up a bit, but mostly, they're the same. We eat a lot of tacos but this week, they didn't make it onto the menu!

When planning meals, I look at what's going on that day. Will I have an hour or 15 minutes to prep dinner? Will we have something going on for hours where we need to stock up on lots of food or is a simply small meal going to do the trick? I am gluten free and I avoid mass amounts of dairy such as milk and any sort of cheese or ice cream. When we make burgers or BBQ hot dogs, we skip the buns. We don't ever buy flour tortillas; if we are craving some sort of tortilla for our tacos, I'll either make a paleo wrap (found on my Pinterest board) or we will splurge and get corn tortillas. Loren enjoys it all just the same.

Lunches? We are very blessed to have space for a garden. I eat a salad with canned chicken on it; I'll add nuts or berries or avocado. Loren eats a sandwich or hot dog. Since I don't use cheese in our main meals, I no longer purchase the large blocks. So instead of spending $8 on cheese a week, we spend about $3 and buy the pre-sliced for his sandwiches. Not only do we save $5, but I get to save time! No slicing!

We eat about 5 dozen eggs a week. Yes. 5. At WinCo, we can purchase a 5 dozen pack for $7-8 depending on the week. Worth it! For breakfasts we both eat about 4 eggs. Whether scrambled or in a quiche or fried with some turkey on it...we eat eggs. If I don't have a salad for lunch, I eat eggs. Scrambled or hard boiled. I love eggs!

Hard boiled eggs, nuts, and whatever fruit is in season are great snacks to pack as well. I am all about picking local berries and storing for the year! Last year we filled 4 gallon zip lock bags of blue berries. It lasted us 11 months! It maybe cost us a little more than $40, but if you compare a years worth of blue berries at the store versus picking them, it's like you're stealing. So we get all the berries in the summer! Strawberries, black berries, raspberries, and blueberries.

We do most of our shopping at Trader Joes. Not only is it all great produce and free range chicken and grass fed beef, we have found that 75% of it is cheaper than WinCo and Walmart! Definitely cheaper than Safeway and Fred Meyers. Our food budget is about $75/week. Email me if you have any questions.

Enjoy your week and feel free to share any recipes you love, or scriptures that you're meditating on!

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The Weeklies

Happy spring break! We have an odd but blessed week ahead! Monday & Tuesday at the beach, Wed-Thurs in our beautiful city Corvallis, and Friday & Saturday back at the beach! Do you have any plans this week? 20140324-135824.jpg

I am currently in the passenger seat with the window rolled down, heading to Lincoln City! Loren and I enjoyed a nice run this morning but were bummed that it turned out to be less than 8 miles. We then had a sweet surprise by a man we cherish; Allan! He gifted us with means to treat ourselves to a date this evening on the coast. Cannot express my deep gratitude. I feel so deeply loved by Jesus and do not want to take these moments for granted.

Last week we memorized and focused on 1 Corinthians 16:13. I can tell you, I loved it! It inspired and motivated me to move out of my comfort zone many times. Did you have any moments of bold strength, courageous love, or standing firm in the faith?

This week I will be memorizing & internalizing & focusing on the very next verse: 1 Corinthians 16:14 "And do everything with love."

Love. It's patient and kind, it doesn't boast nor is it rude! You know how easy it is to boast? I mean, about the little things we do, like emailing someone. I find myself boasting too often. Love doesn't do that.

It does not demand or even seek it's own way; even if it's certain that it's own way is best. It is not selfish -- I get to put my phone down when asked by my husband...not in "1 minute," but that immediate moment, when asked.

Love is humble, not proud --> it sees others as better than self, it accepts other peoples love with joy {aka love doesn't reject people's blessing of truth, compliments, gifts}.

Love is not jealous -- when my friend has an opportunity to drive to Canada for her anniversary, I don't get to be jealous! I get to be happy for her!

Love is not irritable {boy howdy do I need to work on this!}. When I am making dinner or working on a task and Loren wants me to pause and pay attention to him {instead of "multi task"}, I get to choose light hearted joy, not irritation. OR when my computer doesn't do what I want it to {aka I don't know how to use it}, I don't get to throw a tantrum of irritation!

Love keeps no record of being wronged, so let's not bring up last week's hurt and hold it over that persons head.

Love does not rejoice about injustice, but rejoices when truth wins out. No gossiping - that's injustice. No rejoicing in sexual impurities. No rejoicing when someone "gets what they deserved." No joy over bullying or harassment of any kind. No, let us only rejoice when the truth wins out. When love wins.

Love never gives up. Never loses faith. Is always hopeful. Endures through every circumstance. Let's do everything with love! And when we are tempted not to, we will remember 1 Corinthians 16:14 and we will be courageous, standing firm in our faith with the strength of Jesus.

What is amazing to me is that love will never fail me. Every time I choose love, I know that I will not be failed. And neither will you, contrary to popular belief.

Will you memorize and focus on this verse with me this week? Which areas of love do you need to be reminded of most?

20140324-142430.jpg On our run this morning I snapped a few photos. Surprisingly, not too blurry! We saw 3 deer, crossed 4 creeks, and climbed lots of hills! It is a great opportunity for us to encourage and cheer one another on.

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The Weeklies: Now Including Exercise Goals!

Here are our menu/evening plans, exercise goals, and a verse to memorize. Feel free to join me in any of these weekly goals! I will also post any links to recipes for the meals. What are you eating? Do you have any plans this week? menu & plans

We used this recipe for Corned Beef: click HERE.

A little green salad for this St Patty's day, and Irish coffee made by Jesse:

Green salad & irish coffee

Friday's gluten free pizza recipe.

Memorize this week's verse:

Verse

This week I am praying for discernment and protection; to be on guard. I fully believe that committing to be on guard means that I am soaking in Jesus truths and promises, clothing myself in His armor. I ask Jesus for His spirit and angels to guard me and my heart, as well as my husband's. I pray that we will stand firm in our faith in Jesus Christ, even when this life threatens our joy -- He has so many promises that we get to stand on, firmly. Promises of peace, patience, and fullness of joy. I pray that I stand firmly in my faith, choosing not to have any hints of boasting or slander, knowing my identity is wrapped in Jesus. When I stand firm in my faith, believe that Truth, I have no need to prove myself anywhere.

Sometimes, being courageous is telling a trusted friend that you are struggling. Sometimes being courageous is letting others see you're broken and a complete mess {which was me from Saturday 3 am to Sunday 10 pm}. And that's okay, because well, we're human. Courageous is forgiving someone. Courageous is praying for that person that persecutes you. Courageous is reaching out to someone who is lonely. Courageous is smiling at the grumpy store employee. Courageous is walking in love when it's easier to walk in something other.

This week, I will be courageous in the way I speak with people -- I will declare truths, calling out the good in others. I will courageously declare the gifts in people.

I will be strong; not in my own strength, but in Jesus. I must rely on His spirit to carry me through each day. I will strongly lean into His grace, remembering that sometimes "strong" means being vulnerable. Being strong can be recognizing I am weak, and in need of Jesus.

I pray these things for you, too. Please memorize and internalize this with me?

Read HERE why I encourage memorizing scripture.

The Weeklies

20140310-155006.jpg Some days the weight of this life crushes my spirit and I forget that I was not made to carry it. Some days I wake up with the mind set that I need to earn my value and work for approval, love. Too often I forget that my Father has lavished me love, that He chooses to call me His child.

When we walk in the assurance of the Truth of this verse, we walk with peace. We carry a light heart. We experience the fullness of joy. We no longer attempt to count our value through accomplishments and tasks; if we did, we would fall short every time. Is it not the best gift, love lavished upon us, no strings attached?

Today, remember and know that you are deeply loved exactly how you are. You are valued because of Jesus. You are known and you are adopted into the most beautiful family there is. You have the best, most forgiving Dad imaginable. He is pleased with you.

Let's memorize this verse this week, internalizing it and walking in it's freedom!

Read HERE why I highly encourage memorizing verses!

Our dinner menu:

Monday: Mahi mahi tacos; soccer Tuesday: let's be real, we forget to eat dinner & eat the snacks at youth group; 4 mile run Wednesday: Pulled pork, rice, & fruit salad; Worship & prayer at 7; cross fit Thursday: Pizza! Homemade with green salad; 8.5 mile run & volleyball Friday: CIY BELIEVE! Saturday: CIY BELIEVE! Sunday: Marriage Small Group! Mexican theme potluck

Verse & Menu!

"We will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of His body, the church." Ephesians 4:15

How do we speak the truth in love? Some {I fall into this category too often} assume speaking truth means speaking in a blunt and concise manner, throwing a hyperbole out into the air, hoping to pierce the heart of the "sinner." As I reflected over this verse this morning, I was reminded that speaking truth without love is useless; in fact it is detrimental and will destroy. I was reminded that throwing a hyperbole of truth at someone's face will not inspire action or repentance or love, but the very opposite.

Speaking the truth in love doesn't always come easy. But if we remember how Paul instructed us to be loving, we can confidently lean into Jesus' spirit for strength. Click here to be reminded of how to love others.

Speaking with harsh rudeness, speaking with agenda of self-seeking, speaking with an impatient or critical tone, speaking without kindness or with jealousy...those all all opposite of love. Let us both check our hearts: am I bitter and entitled or am I seeking the better good for them, with a pure heart?

{As Christians we don't often forget that we are to hold each other accountable as brothers and sisters. But we are too quick to forget that we are on the other side of that equation -- that we are asking others to hold us accountable. Proverbs repeats time and time again how wise it is for us to accept instruction, to receive correction with a joyful heart. I pray that as Christ's body, we can all grow in our understanding and learn to love correction, and that we can learn to correct lovingly. We walk and breathe by grace, so why would we dare correct without it, lacking the very thing that keeps us breathing & hoping & strengthened? Know that I am a big part of this "we."}

Also! I have been really excited to be flourishing in speaking the truth. I mean, flat out just telling people they are LOVED. The last two waitresses I have been in contact with were obviously stressed out and flustered. People to wait on, meals to serve, orders to take, demands to answer. I decided to stare both of them (these were two different meals) square in the eyes, and these words fell right out of my mouth: "You are doing great! Do you know how loved you are? ... I mean, you are LOVED." The first waitress smiled and then I think once it sunk in is when her face truly softened. Her eyes stared back at mine. I thought she might cry. Her shoulders relaxed and she said "Thank you. So much." I am pretty sure Jesus just rocked her heart there in that restaurant.

I tell my girls every time I see them how deeply loved they are. Not flippantly, but I grab their shoulders and I remind them how loved and valuable they are. Friends! Join me in this. Nothing bad can come of it. Speak those truth words in love to people and I assure you that you will grow in EVERY WAY more and more like Jesus.

Read HERE why I memorize scripture, and you should too!

Weekly Verse & Menu

20140224-152227.jpg Romans 12:21 "Don't let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good." We can do this, friends!

As Christians, we see bad everywhere. We see evil lurking in almost every corner, engulfing our cities, and bursting through our news. I would say that too often our response is no better than the evil we are witnessing. Too often, we see injustice done by a human, and we curse and hate the "criminal" or "doer." But is that not evil itself? To curse and to hate?

When my family {or anyone} hurts me and brings me pain, my first response isn't always to conquer that evil and pain by doing good. It isn't usually to pray that God will bless them, "turn my cheek," being patient and kind, or putting on the eyes of Jesus Christ and seeing the evil-doer as human. My first response is all too often to throw pain right back, whether through a facial expression, hurtful words, or even my thoughts. When I respond to evil with evil, I am believing that the way of Satan is better and will accomplish more than the way of Christ. In that, I am being conquered by evil. No evil will accomplish any good. I am so grateful for the Holy Spirit, giving me access to the strength needed for this.

May we accept this invitation to conquer evil by doing good. Let's submit to Jesus, who knows what's best for our hearts. May we walk in the purest Love, pouring His beautiful and loving Spirit out, destroying the very evil that threatens our joy.

Read why I encourage memorizing scripture.

This Week's Weeklies: Peace

living in peace This week's verse is Romans 12:18. It is a tough one! Not so difficult to memorize, but tough to live by. "Do all  that you can to live in peace with everyone." What about the family member that isn't so family? What about the coworker that seems to purposely get under my skin? What about the waitress that is paying no attention to you and all of her attention to the table buying hundreds of dollars in bottles of wine? (This happened last night). What about what about what about... Live in peace with everyone.

When I think of living in peace, immediately I might think that could mean compromising some of God's instruction for the sake "peace" in a disagreement. But that's not true, do not get caught in that snare. We can easily disagree and remain living in peace - it is about the way we treat & view one another. With love, in love, through love. How do I look at you? Am I looking at you through a lens of anger, frustration, hurt, bitterness, self protection, anything but love?

When we look at one another through the lens of love (patience, kindness, without jealousy or boastfulness, without demanding my way, without irritability, without a record of the wrongs you've done to me..) we can easily have a conversation where disagreement is present but so is peace - they can co-reside. It all starts with knowing who I am: where does my identity lie? In the offense & their words or opinions? Or does it lie in Jesus and His love for me?

If you are like me and wear the name "Christ," we cannot excuse our behavior and our {lack of} peace with others. I am so good at that! Too good, unfortunately, at justifying my stressful relationships, my unforgiving heart and pointing a finger. But I cannot blame the difficult people. It is in my hands, it is our responsibility to do all that we can to live in peace. We give 100% and expect 0%.

We cannot live offended and never tell the person who committed the offense; how unfair, right? I've been learning this over the last two years. Learning it's a choice to be offended and it's also my responsibility to attempt to bring peace to the relationship. Wouldn't you want a friend or sister to let you know how you hurt them?

I invite you to join me: think through your life, the people in your life. Where is there a lack of peace and how can you work towards peace? It may even be as simple as praying for that person and asking Jesus to renew your heart and the way you view them. Let's do this together! Remember that fighting for peace doesn't mean compromising righteousness or truth. In fact, the very opposite. If we disagree on a behavior and you lovingly and gently stand for what you believe to be true, encouraging me to join you in that behavior, peace is an overwhelming byproduct.

Peace is possible in all relationships. Peace is attainable through every circumstance. Even when it surpasses understanding. Peace is worth it.

{CLICK HERE to read why I memorize a verse a week!}

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This Week's Menu

Monday: Los Agaves in Sisters, OR

Tuesday: Avacado turkey burgers {kale buns} and fruit salad {before Youth Group}

Wednesday: Chicken wrapped in bacon and quinoa salad {before Jeremy's basketball game}

Thursday: Crocpot Roast & babysit

Friday: Breakfast for Dinner

Saturday: Mom's birthday dinner {before soccer game}

What is on your menu this week?