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Angela Braniff Exemplifies Love Without Borders

The Gathered Nest

Angela and her husband, CR, have the same heart when it comes to loving children. Their own “nest” includes: Kennedy, 12, and Shelby, 10, their two biological daughters; Rosie, 7, adopted from China; Noah, 7, adopted from Congo; Jonah, 5, adopted in the U.S.; Ivy and Amelia, two-year-old twins, adopted as embryos; and Benjamin, infant, adopted in the U.S. Having eight children, let alone from six adoptions, and three pregnancies (the twins were adopted as embryos and implanted in Angela, who gave them birth) was not anywhere on Angela’s radar as a young adult. “It sounds like a reality show, not a real person’s life,” she quips. She started on the path in life she had always expected, and found that God had placed many twists and turns along the way. “I thought the ‘right direction’ meant following a check list: Go to school. Check. Get married. Check. Get pregnant and have a child. Check. Buy a house. Check. Check. Check.” Years later, while reading her Bible one day, she came to a verse that pricked her heart, James 1:27: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unpolluted by the world.” Angela remembers how those words affected her. “It wasn’t until God started to break me open and show me all the ways He wanted me to live outside that checklist, to live outside the bounds of what we consider 'normal,' that I started to see unfold a life more beautiful than I could have imagined. When I responded with a bold yes to what God put before me, my whole world changed.”    

Hard Isn't Always Bad

“We have a little mantra in our house, ‘Hard isn’t always bad.’ Even as we drag our exhausted selves up the stairs to go to bed, we do it with happy hearts, knowing that being in this crazy story is exactly where we belong,” Angela explains. In addition to the daily ups, downs, and general chaos of life in a big family, she and CR have dealt with some particularly “hard” things in their 15 years of marriage, including extreme illness during pregnancy, an adoption that fell through after the baby was born, the intense grief of secondary infertility, and dealing with Rosie’s Down Syndrome.  

Angela boarded a plane to Beijing, China on Christmas Day, 2015 to bring home their newest daughter, Rosie. While things went well overall, there were many challenges. Rosie was four when adopted, and while she had been well cared for, she had spent little time out of the orphanage. Adjusting to an entirely new life brought many challenges for her and the family. The Braniffs had some dark days, questioning whether they could meet her many needs, and Angela sank into a dark depression. She sought the support of two women who had also adopted Down Syndrome kids from China. As she poured out her worries and fears to them, they walked her through those dark weeks. God gave the Braniffs strength, and soon, Rosie started to adjust well to her new home. Now, they can’t imagine life without her. “Rosie taught our entire family how to live. We were happy before, but she came in like a little ray of light and gave us all a new lens to see life through,” Angela says. “She has taught me about living without fear, living in the moment, and what it really means to be brave. And she keeps our family laughing and living life to the fullest in a way we never had done before.”  

Discovering Your Journey

Angela says she was once a people pleaser and full of insecurities. Following the Lord into the many wonderful joys and painful trials of building her “nest” has helped her grow in true security, based solely on Him. “When I threw away the checklist and said goodbye to the ‘dream,’ I found myself,” she confesses. “We’ve been given the opportunity to love beyond the borders of our perceived safety, beyond the borders of the American dream,” she says. “We are merely people who said yes when the open door appeared. There’s nothing special or unique about us that made our life what it is. What God does with our yes may be different from what He asks of you, but it’s obedience to God that led us here.” Her desire for those who follow her YouTube channels, or read her book is that they would be likewise freed to follow God’s plan for them. She says that if we find ourselves running a rat race, unfulfilled and searching, we need to seek Him, and lean in to hear His still small voice. “You’ll let go of the fear of being seen as different or weird, of not pleasing everyone in your life. You’ll take the risk of being misunderstood – labeled as ‘too much’ or just plain crazy. You’ll grab Jesus by the hand and dive off the cliff with Him.” 

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