Wednesday, April 27, 2011

#1 special need in adoption

When I ask people what they think is the number one reason why a child stays an orphan, I get all kinds of answers. Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, HIV positive, a whole list of reasons come to mind. My response is always the same and people look at me like I'm crazy. Today, I received an email backing up what I have believed to be true for quite some time.

The number one reason a child, who is orphaned, stays an orphan is because they are boys. Boys are the last chosen. Every time. Watch this video and then I'll share some more information afterward.

For awhile now, it has baffled me, why little boys are always the last ones chosen. I see little boys on Reece's Rainbow with huge grants, who get passed over time and time again, for little girls. I know little girls are sweet (I'm blessed to have one). Little boys are every bit as precious and every bit as deserving of love and a family as little girls. Every child needs a home.

Now, I know, some of you are skeptics, so I'll prove my point. There is only one little girl on Reece's Rainbow, who has a grant over $5000. That's sweet Meredith and her requirements are a little different than most of the kids on Reece's Rainbow. There are no other little girls waiting with grants over $5000. Normally, once a little girl's grant hits the $5000 mark she will be snatched up quickly. Often times a little girl needs no grant at all. I love this for the girls and I love little girls. One day, God may add another little girl to our family.

That being said, here are the boys with HUGE grants and some without very significant needs who are waiting and waiting and waiting for a family...

Sterling waits for a family and has a grant over $11,000. He's a sweet, active little boy, who needs to be loved. You can find more information about Sterling, here.

Then, there's Tanner. I can't get his picture to post, right now. His grant had been at $9000 for about a month and today, it grew to over $20,000. Tanner needs to come home, quickly, where he can receive better medical care.

There's also Eddie

Sadly, Eddie is waiting for his forever family in a mental institute. His grant is over $16000.

Last, but not least and not even the last with a large grant, (but you're getting the point, right?) is Anthony. Anthony's grant is also over $20,000 and he's at great risk of being transferred to the mental institution.

Any one of these boys' ransoms have been drastically decreased. I chose boys who have different special needs to show you that this is an issue that effects every orphaned boy. Now, I told you before I love little girls, but I feel like these boys need a voice. I think, one of the highest callings God can place on a couple's life is to raise up Godly young men to be the leaders of the next generation.

Besides, boys are fun! Boys will keep you busy and entertained.

While we're on the subject of boys, I have 2 beautiful boys, Joseph and Samuel, who would love it, if you participated in our Mother's Day "Gift"Away and helped bring them home.

When considering the least of these, we should look at the little lost boys...the ones who so desperately need families. Maybe you're like me and God has called you to love a little lost boy or two. Thanks, as always for letting me share my heart and for considering these boys. Pray and ask God what he wants you to do. He does want you to Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

We're planning a trip to Holland.

by Emily Perl Kingsley

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability-to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this...

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip-to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The coliseum. The Michealangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say, "What do you mean "Holland"??? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in "Holland" and there you must stay. The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for awhile and you catch your breath, you look around...and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills...Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy...and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life you will say, "Yes that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away...because the loss of that dream is a very significant loss.

But, if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to go to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things...about Holland.


I love this letter, written by a Momma who unexpectedly found herself in "Holland." People wonder why Marty and I are choosing to adopt children with down syndrome. The answer is simple, we know that different doesn't have to be scary. You see, Marty and I have been to "Italy." We're there, now, with Eli and Julianna. We'll have all of those experiences with them. But, we wonder what we might be missing in "Holland," so we're planning a trip there, too. We've learned that the road less travelled is the place where we meet Jesus face to face. Might our trip to "Holland" be eventful and full of new life experiences? You bet! We believe there will be JOY in the journey. Will it be hard? Yes, but God didn't call us to easy...

So, we're excited to plan this trip. A new adventure for our whole family. We will learn to love deeper. We will learn to slow down and enjoy each moment and every accomplishment. We will work hard and we will laugh hard. We will do it all by walking in the full measure of grace, given to us each day by our Creator God. You're invited to watch as we journey into "Holland." Who knows, you may even find yourself planning your own trip to "Holland." I do believe it's contagious...

Hidden in Christ,

Monday, April 25, 2011

I'm going to tell you a secret

Some of you may not like this post. Some should probably stop reading, now. I'm going to tell you something that the "modern" church has kept quiet. Are you ready?

God wants you to do something! GASP! I know, I know, the audacity. To suggest that the "body of Christ" would do something. To even hint that we might get up off our comfortable pew and step outside the walls of our churches is almost unheard of. Yet, I believe with everything in me, that God is waiting on us to do just that. Do something!

At this point, I can hear your brain working. Umm...I am praying about God's plan for my life. I want to be in his perfect will, doing only what pleases him. We've learned all the right things to say. When we don't want to step out in faith, we simply say, "God hasn't called me to that ministry." or "I don't know what God's will is for my life, so I'll keep praying." I know another secret...if you're waiting to act until you hear the audible voice of God or until you see the blueprint of the vision that God has for your life, you're going to miss IT!

I'm going to be radical here, because I can. (It's my blog) There are somethings that God has commanded us to do in his word. Things like, Go, ye, into all the world preaching the gospel. Then there's that verse in James that tells us what true religion visit or take care of the orphans and widows. Hmm...wonder how long you're going to need to pray about that?  Or how about Isaiah 58, where we learn what true fasting break the chains of injustice.

I believe in prayer! I know, we must be covered by the blood of Jesus before we step out to do anything. However, I think there are a lot of Christians who have put on the full armor of God and are hiding behind a rock waiting for a David to come forward and do what God called them to do. If you don't plan to go to battle, if you don't plan to encroach on enemy territory, if you don't plan to win some victories for the kingdom of God, why are you wearing the King's armor? I challenge you to come out from behind that rock!

Do something, anything, please.

People are dying. Children are dying. They are perishing because we're too comfortable to get up and do something. Become passionate about what God is passionate about, the lost, the dying, the orphan, the poor, the widow, the lonely, the oppressed. That's just a few, that come to my mind. Love someone into the kingdom. Your armor is ready. You're all prayed up. Now, go and give love to someone else.

That's the secret. Do something. Act in obedience to the word of God and the lights will come on in your life. This gospel is not hard. Loving Jesus is not hard. Loving people is not hard. Do something this week that will change a life for the glory of God.

I'm going to end with this scripture from The Message version of the Bible, "If you are generous with the hungry and start giving yourselves to the down and out, Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness, your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight. I will always show you where to go. I'll give you a full life in the emptiest of places-" Isaiah 58:10-11

Hidden in Christ,

Friday, April 22, 2011

Grace's such a simple word...grace. I find, I have been fascinated with grace, since I was in my early teens. What is grace? By definition, it is undeserved love or salvation. I love that! Everyone should be filled with JOY when they hear that simple little word, grace. Grace reached out across the span of time and yanked me out of hell. Grace revealed itself on Calvary's Cross, all those years ago. Grace has set me free. Grace longs to do the same for you. Where did this grace come from? A man, called Jesus. The very son of God. He looked down from the throne room of Heaven and saw me. He saw a girl undeserving of love or salvation and he was moved with compassion for me.

Compassion, another word I have been fascinated with for years. I'm not sure, if you look this one up what the dictionary has to say, but I know a great man of God who taught me that compassion is love in action. Compassion is seeing someone else in a pitiful state and being so full of love for them that it moves us into action on their behalf.

Compassion. He was moved with compassion for me. He left behind the glory of Heaven, he took on humanity in all it's frailty and weakness. He did it for me. He did it with a heart full of compassion. He did it to extend an offer of grace. A gift given freely, but not without great cost to himself. He was beaten, spit upon, cursed, nailed to a cross. He died for me. In my place, the son of the living God. He was laid in a tomb and visited Hell for me. Then, he rose victorious, triumphantly, ready to extend grace to me. Many, many years later, all I had to do was cry out to him. To call out in my sick, sin filled state for grace. The Bible tells us there is no other name in heaven or on earth by which man can be saved. So, I cried out to Jesus for grace and it was freely given.

Why am I sharing this here? I must. I must tell you that I have been saved by grace, through the blood of Jesus Christ. I want you to come with me to Heaven. I want you to live a life abandoned to the cross of Jesus. Passionately pursuing his heart while you're here on earth, so that one day when the time comes you will stand with me before him and hear the words, "This one's mine." It's what I'm living for, grace, a gift freely given. A gift that takes the undeserving, the unloved and adds them to the family of God. We each need to be adopted into this family. It is the most important thing we will ever do, so, I invite you to experience the fullness of God's grace. Confess your sins, ask Jesus to be the Lord of your life and join the family.

Hidden in Christ,

Thursday, April 21, 2011

10 Days and counting

Alright, it's time to start our BIG push for our Mother's Day "Gift"Away . We have a Kindle and a Nikon Coolpix Camera to give away and you can get your name entered in the drawing for just $10. Follow the link included for all the details on ways you can participate and increase your chances of winning.

Don't forget that you will be entered to win the Epic Mickey game, just for sharing on you facebook/blog about our giveaway. Just remember to come back to our Mother's Day "Gift"Away post and leave a comment about how you shared. I know, not everyone can donate, but you can share. We've had donations come in from strangers all over the country. So share, share, share!

We need your help to bring our boys home! The chipin on the right hand side of the blog is how you can make your tax-deductible donations and get entered for your chance to win. Continue to pray that God would speak to hearts on our behalf.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Forever Family Friday on Wednesday...

I have a little one that has been heavy on my heart to share with you this week and he can't wait til Friday. His story is one that will reach out and grab your heart. I wanted to wait, because I know a lot of you look forward to FFF and I didn't want you to miss him. His need is too great. You must hear his story, now. So, we're having a Wednesday edition of Forever Family Friday.

Nathaniel means "gift from God." I didn't have to look that up, because I have my very own "gift from God" living in my house. Eli's first name is Nathaniel and we chose it for him, because of it's meaning. I think it's fitting that this little boy's name is Nathaniel. He is a gift from God waiting to be discovered and loved. He is capturing hearts. I think, Nathaniel is going to be the child that opens the door for many family's to take the leap of faith required for adoption. Here he is, Nathaniel.

He's so cute, it hurts my feelings. Nathaniel has hydrocephaly. That's why his head is swollen. He has fluid pressing on his brain and needs surgery to drain that fluid. Sounds easy enough, right? Only, we don't think he's going to get that surgery where he is in Eastern Europe. He needs a shunt placed that will relieve the pressure. What will happen if he doesn't receive this surgery? He will go blind and suffer brain damage as a result of the pressure created by the fluid build up. What does Nathaniel really need? A family. A family called by God to cross the ocean and rescue their son. A family who will bring him home and get him the life saving surgery he needs. Are you his family? Will you help by sharing his story and helping his family find him? Will you give sacrificially for Nathaniel? He will need to come home quickly and funding should not be an issue. Follow this link Nathaniel's Blog to learn how you can give and maybe even win a $75 Sears gift card. Give not just out of your abundance, but out of your need. Nathaniel's life is depending on us. You can find information about Nathaniel on his profile at Reece's Rainbow here, too Nathaniel.

Share, share, share Nathaniel's story with everyone you can. Pray that God will put his picture into his parents' hands and that they will know, he is theirs. Let's see if we can help deliver this "Gift from God."

Thank you for letting me share my heart and my passion for the lost children with you. I pray that they are touching your lives in a way that is moving you into action.

Hidden in Christ,

Picture Time

I have pictures of our boys that I haven't posted on here, yet. I only have a couple of Samuel, but lots of Joseph. A lot of adopting families only get one photo, so we're blessed to have all that we do. I'm going to share my favorite of each boy, so Samuel first.

I love his Santa hat and red jacket. I love that he's looking expectantly through those bars. I know he's waiting on us, believing that his family is coming. Soon, sweet Samuel, it will be your turn to be chosen. The next picture we have of Samuel in a Santa hat will surely be under our very own Christmas tree. Please God, speed the process and let it be this Christmas. I'm so in love with this boy and cannot wait to kiss those sweet cheeks.

Next up, we have Joseph. We have so many pictures of Joseph that it's hard to choose a favorite, but I'll do my best.

I love this one, because you can see all of Joseph. Don't you love his Nike's? The family that was there on his birthday, bought them for him. He's just learning how to walk and they thought these super cool shoes would encourage him. I'm thinking they're right! I love how proud he's looking in the picture. "Look at me world, I'm standing up with only this table to help me!" He's so tiny for a six year old and I can't wait to get him home and feed him good food. He'll be running through our house soon and I'll be following along behind him. Ready to pick him up when he falls.

These are our boys. We're proud parents. Please, do consider participating in our Mother's Day "Gift"away and helping us raise the funds we need to get our boys home. They've never known a home besides the orphanage and even the nicest orphanage is not a place to raise a child. Every child needs a family and our boys have a family, we're just on different continents. Won't you help us tear down this wall and get to our boys?

As always, keep praying, not just for our family, but for the orphans.

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support.
What is God calling you to do?

Hidden in Christ,

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Life Celebrated

There are so many things that trouble a Momma's heart when she has littles on the other side of the ocean. Not all of them are logical or seem like reasonable things to be concerned about when your children are so far away and in the care of others. One of those concerns for me has been my boys' birthdays. We don't do anything outrageous to celebrate birthday's in our family, but we do celebrate. A birthday is a beautiful time to be thankful for the life God has given us. Every life deserves to be celebrated, as we are each gifts from God to be treasured. So, thinking that neither of my boys have ever been celebrated, that possibly no one has ever acknowledge the JOY of their births, well it has made this Momma's heart sad. Sad enough that I've been bugging God about it for quite sometime. I told you all I had a rough week last week and that God just continues to show himself faithful. Well, God's really showing off this morning.

I briefly mentioned that Joseph (Isaac) previously had a family committed to him. God closed the door for this wonderful family to bring Joseph home and now we know why. Joseph belongs in the Rhodes' house. This family, who are quickly becoming some of my personal favorites, were in EE at Joseph's orphanage on his birthday! Now, what you're about to see is not the "norm" for an orphanage in Eastern Europe, but God! I love a, but God, moment when God steps in and changes our circumstances. Our family's story is filling up with them on this adoption journey.

Joseph's 6th Birthday Celebration

Joseph is the little guy sitting in front of the man with the green shirt. There's even a little smile on his face :)

They are singing and celebrating, my precious boy! Can you imagine what this does for my heart? While he's waiting, he's loved. Loved...not a word we can apply to most orphans. Clearly, this little guy is something Spectacular!

Isn't he gorgeous? Just hold on Joseph, Mommy and Daddy are coming and you're next birthday is going to blow your mind. There will be so many people there to celebrate you! I can't wait to hear you laughing and playing with your brothers and sister. In the meantime, we'll continue to pray God's protection and favor on your life like never before.

So, you see God is bigger than our circumstances. He orchestrated a birthday party for my son on another continent. He knew my heart needed to see my boy was loved and celebrated. I continue to pray that Samuel (Dawson) is receiving the same loving care. If he's not, I know God will continue to protect him, as well.

I have to tell you, again, this is the exception and not the rule for children living in orphanages. Mostly, their birthdays go by unnoticed. They may not even know what a birthday is as each day just runs into another. Please continue to ask God what he wants you to do for the orphans. He does want you to do something.
Pray, Advocate, Adopt, Support are the things that come to mind, but God may have an even better, bigger plan for you to care for the orphan. Ask him and see what kind of journey he will take you on.

Please consider participating in our Mother's Day "Gift"Away and helping us bring our boys home. Any amount you chipin on the sidebar is tax deductible and will be a blessing to our family. You could even send a belated Birthday wish for Joseph, along with your gift as a celebration of his sixth birthday. We'll be doing a Birthday "Party" for Samuel in October here on findingourlittleone, so don't think he'll be overlooked :)

Hidden in Christ,

Saturday, April 16, 2011

What a week!

I'm going to start by telling you that as soon as we committed to Joseph (Isaac) things just started to go wrong. I'm not going to give the devil any glory by going into details, but we are on the offensive, now. Covering ourselves and our home in prayers of protection. It's just reaffirmation that we're on the right path. Too bad, Satan, we're moving forward!

I'm living testimony this week (and every week) to the goodness of God. Every time, I've been discouraged he's shown up and blessed me right out of my discouragement. On Monday, we received an unexpected financial blessing from a lovely family who we're blessed to have as friends. Not just a financial blessing, but the blessing of encouragement.

On Tuesday, we committed to Joseph (Isaac) and had friends call and message us to say they were coming Saturday to help sell tickets at Belk. If you've ever had to fund raise you know what a blessing it is to have people volunteering to help. Tuesday was also Julianna's birthday and that's a blessing every year.

On  Wednesday, we made our announcement about adding Joseph (Isaac) to our family and were overwhelmed by the love and encouragement we received.

On Thursday, I won a thirty-one gift bag from another adoptive family's blog give away. I don't usually win things, so this was a great surprise.

On Friday, I drove home from visiting my sister and her kids in Hampton (also a blessing) and arrived to find that my new friend, Genesis had finished giving our blog an update. I was most blessed that Genesis, an 11 year old with a heart for orphans, is finding a way to use her talent for Jesus. Keep doing your thing, Genesis. You rock!

Today, I was overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of our friends joining me at Belk at 5:45 this morning to sell tickets for the charity day sale. Okay, I joined them, because they were all so enthusiastic that they beat me there. It was a blessing to hear them share our story and be so passionate about helping bring our boys home. I also had the first nap I've had in weeks this afternoon. If you're a Mom, you understand this particular blessing a little better than anyone else.

I'm thankful everyday, that the God of the universe deemed me worthy of salvation, through the blood of Jesus Christ. I'm thankful that he takes the time to see my heart and my need for affection and meets those needs. He's a good Daddy to have and life with him just keeps getting better.

Hidden in Christ,

I'd be remiss if I didn't link you to our give away, you only have two weeks left to enter...
Mother's Day "Gift"Away!
Thanks for spreading the word and helping bring our boys home!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Forever Family Friday

Sweet, sweet girl, today. She stole my heart and Marty's the first time we saw her. We weren't convinced at the time that we were going to adopt a child with special needs/down syndrome and we were even more convinced that we were bringing home a boy, but when we saw her we were smitten. We inquired about her, only to learn she had a family already reviewing her file. We knew they would take her and they did commit. I'm not sure why, except for God, but she has lost her family. She kept that family long enough for us to move forward and commit to Dawson. Sometimes, God uses one child to open the door for another and that was very much the case with Meredith and Dawson. We were so willing to take her regardless of her needs that we had to take a second look and see if there was another child we were supposed to love this way.

Earlier this week, Meredith lost her family and became available for adoption again. We immediately began to inquire about whether we could adopt from 2 countries at the same time. (Yes, we are that crazy.) The answer is yes, but it's hard to do, because the travel time may have overlapped. We knew we had to let her go, again. Our hearts were sad, but she did prompt us to take the time to search through the littles on Reece's Rainbow, again, and who did we find? A little boy named Isaac. A boy who has waited too long for a family. A boy who had a family that desperately wanted to bring him home, much the same way we felt about Meredith, but God closed the door. That's another story that I will share later. So, now God has used sweet Meredith to lead the Rhodes' family to not one son, but two. How could we in turn do anything less than trying to find her forever family.

So, her she is...
Meredith. There just aren't words to tell you how my heart fills up when I see this girl. She needs a Mommy and Daddy, who will treat her like the princess she is. She needs to be covered in kisses and carried high on her Daddy's shoulders. She must long to be snuggled in her Mommy's arms and rocked and loved. Meredith has a grant through Reece's Rainbow and it is a fast process to get to her. She could be home this year, if her family is motivated and moves quickly. I know you're in love. How could you not be?

Please, please share this post. If Meredith's not your girl, please help us by sharing her sweet face and helping us find her family. You can read more about Meredith on her profile here:

Thanks for letting me share and please join me in praying that Meredith's family finds her quickly.

Hidden in Christ,

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

We're expecting, again!

Well, some of you knew and some of didn't that we were having our home study written to include 2 children and just waiting on God's direction. He directed! We're so proud to share with you "Isaac!"

I know what you're come they're so blessed? Why does God keep giving them such cute kids? All I know is it's a good thing to walk in God's favor ;)

Okay, details. "Isaac" is in the same country as "Dawson" and will come home at the same time, because "Isaac" has a lovely grant (over $7700) there will be no additional cost involved in bringing him home. Yay God! We'd have brought him home either way, but it's always nice when God shows off.

I've been stalking RR for a week or so and showing Marty different kids, but not feeling the same way we did when we saw Dawson. We just knew he was ours. Well, two days ago, a new photo of "Isaac" was posted and I was in love, again. I emailed our worker from the international agency and asked for additional photos and information and waited impatiently for Marty to finish sleeping off the night shift. I knew by watching Marty's face as he scrolled through those 13 pictures (Can you believe we have 13 pictures) that this was our fourth child.

Isaac is six years old, just 5 days older than Julianna. He's had some challenges other than his Down Syndrome that have caused significant delays for him. He is learning to walk and feed himself, now. He's around the size of an 18-24 month old toddler. Probably a little taller, but weight wise, he's tiny. We've also been blessed with videos of Isaac and he is a JOYful boy. Full of life and the best belly laugh I've ever heard.

Our hearts are full to overflowing. We, too, are amazed that God has called us to be the parents of 4 amazing children. We have names chosen for "Dawson" and "Isaac." They are being named by Eli and Julianna, so I know you're eager to learn their new names and we're eager to share. I'm holding their names hostage in hopes that it will encourage you to share our Mother's Day "Gift"Away with your friends. After, we receive three donations, I'll reveal one name and after three more donations, I'll reveal the second name. So, here's the link: Come on, Aunties you know you want to hear their names...

We love you all and are blessed by your willingness to take this journey with us. Please continue to cover us with prayers. We've made the devil mad and he's on the attack, but we won't back down. We're bringing our boys home for the glory of God!

Hidden in Christ,

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Happy Birthday, Julie!

I'm a little overwhelmed, today, in knowing that my little princess is 6 years old. We are so blessed by her everyday. She has such a gentle and quiet spirit. She's easy to love and we've enjoyed loving her everyday for the past 6 years. She's generous and I'm amazed by her willingness to share everything she has. She loves Jesus and this blesses me more than anything else. I love knowing that my kids are going to see Jesus one day.

She holds her Momma's heart and her Daddy's heart and her brother's heart securely in her hand. The first thing Eli said this morning, "Is Julie up?" My response, "Yes, but it's early you don't have to get up, yet." "I need to tell her, Happy Birthday." He's not always sweet to her these days. Their becoming independent, but I still see two kids who love each other more than anyone else. I don't worry that they'll ever be lonely or friendless, because God made them the best of friends. Who wouldn't love a girl who dresses like a princess to play in the mud.

Don't tell anyone, but sometimes after they're all tucked in for the night, Julie will sneak back downstairs and come to find me. She says, "I miss you, Mommy." and gives me a hug. I hug her back and send her back to bed. It's harder these days to let go. She's growing so fast and I can't wait to watch her be the BIG sister when we bring Dawson home. She's so very excited to love him.

So, we celebrate Julianna Faye, today. A sweet, muddy princess, who we love with all our hearts.

Happy Birthday, baby girl!

PS Don't forget to enter for your chance to win a prize in our Mother's Day "Gift"Away. You can find the details here:

Monday, April 11, 2011

No Knots

Dear God,

Please untie the knots that are in my mind, my heart, and my life.

Remove the have nots, the can nots and the do nots that I have in my mind.

Erase the will nots, may nots, might nots that may find a home in my heart.

Release me from the could nots, the would nots and should nots that obstruct my life.

And most of all, Dear God,

I ask that you remove from my mind all of the "am nots" that I have allowed to hold me back,

Especially the thought that I am not good enough.


Author Unknown

I read this prayer at the beginning of our adoption journey and am still praying it, today. Not just for myself, but for every family who loves a child, but cannot see past the knots in their way. Allow God to untie your knots and free you to do a work for him. You are called and chosen! Let's live a life with No KNOTS for the glory of God!

Hidden in Christ,

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Mother's Day "Gift"Away

Our first blog fundraiser to bring Dawson home! I'm so excited to be able to host a Mother's Day "Gift"Away. We have some great gifts that any mom would love to receive for Mother's Day. Mother's Day is May 8th, so this "Gift"Away will run through the 1st of May allowing time for your prize to ship, should you be a winner.

Alright, rules first. There is a chip-in set up on the right hand side of the blog. All donations made through the chip-in will go to our Reece's Rainbow grant, meaning your chip-in is tax deductible. To enter to win one of these super prizes all you need to do is chip-in $10 or more. Entries will be earned as follows:

$10 = 1 entry
$25 = 3 entries
$50 = 7 entries

All you need to do is chip-in and I will  have your information. The "Gift"Away will end on May 1st at 5:00 pm and the winners will be drawn and announced on May 2nd. Now, on to the prizes...

An Amazon Kindle with Wi-Fi and a 6" display screen

At A Glance image
A Nikon Coolpix L22 12.0MP Digital Camera with 3.6x Optical Zoom and a 3.0 inch LCD in black, perfect for the on-the-go Mom's purse or diaper bag.
Nikon Coolpix L22 12.1MP Digital Camera with 3.6x Optical Zoom and 3.0-Inch LCD
The camera will come with a tripod, so Mom can be in the pictures and not just behind the camera.

Are you excited? Wouldn't you love to give Mom one of these amazing gifts for Mother's Day? Mom's are allowed to enter, too. Then, if you win, you know you're getting exactly what you wanted.

Now, a fun side give-away. If you share about our Mother's Day "Gift"Away on your facebook page, blog or other social media, you will earn a free entry for a chance to win the following prize:

Disney Epic Mickey Collector's Edition for the Wii
Disney Epic Mickey
This set includes the video game, a 5" collectible figure, special edition DVD with behind scenes footage, and a wii remote faceplate with wii console skin.

You will need to leave a comment in the comment section with how you shared and where, so I can track and enter you for Epic Mickey. Help us by spreading the word and we'll share the love.

Remember, all of this is to help us raise the funds necessary to "ransom" our son from an orphanage in Eastern Europe. The quicker we raise this money the sooner Dawson gets to come home. No donation is too small and every prayer counts, too. Thank you for covering us with prayers and support.

Hidden in Christ,

Friday, April 8, 2011

Forever Family Friday

I'm so in love with the little one I'm sharing, today. I felt so drawn to him, the first time I saw his little face on Reece's Rainbow. He had a family and for reasons unknown to me his family could not complete the adoption and so he waits, again. I love how one adoptive Mom who met him said she would, "add him to her tab" if she could. This is exactly how I feel, too. Again, he's in a different country than our Dawson or he too would be a Rhodes. So, I really want to find him a family, the forever kind of family. I believe they'll be so blessed by him. Here he is:

Isn't he adorable? I want to squish him up! I'm praying for Vilis' Forever Family to find him. I'm also praying that they will  live within driving distance of southern Virginia. A girl can hope, right?

His description on RR says, "He's lagging behind, but not from lack of ability, just lack of opportunity and stimulation." Someone give Vilis a chance, please...bring him home and give him every opportunity he deserves and all the love in the world.

Now's the time in our post where we talk dollars. I know, I know, but the news is good for Vilis. Vilis has a fabulous grant to help bring him home. He's close to halfway home, with a grant of $8430. Wow! Okay, I know you want to scroll back up and take a second look at this dumpling. Your biggest hurdle just got a whole lot smaller. Now, look with your heart and ask God if Vilis is your son.

If he's not your son, pray and ask God what you can do for Vilis. Maybe you need to be a prayer warrior for Vilis or maybe God wants you to fund the rest of his adoption, eliminating the hurdle completely. (I know it's optimistic, but we serve a BIG God, who likes to do BIG things). Maybe you are called to advocate for Vilis by sharing him on your facebook page or blog and calling for people to pray and donate, to spread the word and find Vilis' family.

While you're praying don't forget to ask God to find Vilis a family close to me, so I can love on him :) Thanks for letting me share my heart.

Hidden in Christ,

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Update on our week

We have gotten a lot done since our last update: fingerprinting for the home study, Doctor's visits, and our first adoption class. Our fundraising is going well. We're in the middle of selling tickets for the Belk Charity Day sale. It's a super easy fundraiser and we're so glad we stumbled into it. We are selling tickets for $5 and when people purchase a ticket they receive $5 off at the register, so everyone wins! We've also had our great friends and family step forward to help sell. We are blessed, blessed, blessed by each of you!

We went and ordered t-shirts to wear at our fundraising events with Dawson's picture on them. I can't wait to see them and may post the two options here on the blog to see which one ya'll like best. I gave her two pictures and she's working on two designs. The lady at the t-shirt shop was so kind and even gave us a discount on the shirts when she heard what we were doing. Love walking in God's favor.

We got our donation box up and running here on our blog this week, too. We received our first $10 donation through that link, so a big "Thank you." to whomever made that donation. It was nice to not be looking at zeros anymore and every dollar counts! I put a ticker at the top of the page, so everyone can keep up with our progress. I'll do my best to keep it current.

We're taking tomorrow off. It's our 11th wedding anniversary and we're taking the kids to the zoo with some friends for the afternoon. Looking forward to enjoying a fun day, filled with laughter and memory making, fully believing that our next trip to the zoo will include Dawson!

Thanks for keeping up with the Rhodes' Family and make sure you check back tomorrow for Forever Family Friday. I'm super excited to share this little boy with you, but that's tomorrow's post.

Hidden in Christ,

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

If only...

I have shared small details here and alluded to how life is in Eastern Europe for special needs orphans, but I believe you need to hear the whole story. It's not an easy story to tell and an even harder one to know. The weight of responsibility that comes with a story like this one is significant. When we know the truth, God holds us responsible and accountable with that truth.

Somewhere in EE a child is born. A child whose mother and father are eagerly anticipating his arrival. A mother labors and brings life into the world. Then she lies and wonders why her son was taken swiftly from the room and hasn't been returned. The minutes have now turned to hours and the joy is giving way to fear. The doctor arrives with the news. "Your baby has down syndrome. I have contacted the state and they will be here shortly to pick him up." The family's heart is broken. They make the unthinkable decision to leave the hospital without the child they have longed for and planned for over the past nine months. I know some of you are judging them. You're saying, "If it were me I'd fight for my baby. I'd never let them take him." Before you judge, let's remember that in our own country there is over a 90% abortion rate of babies diagnosed with down syndrome. In this EE country, if the family takes this baby home, they will be shunned. They could lose their homes, jobs, family, friends. How will they provide not just for baby boy, but for the other children waiting at home. There will be no speech therapy, no occupational therapy, no inclusion program through the public education system. So, they make the hardest decision anyone ever faces. They allow the state to take baby boy and place him in an orphanage.

An orphanage may not sound so bad. Let's go there with baby boy, shall we. He arrives at the orphanage, where he is placed in a group with around a dozen other high needs babies and children. Maybe there's enough food, maybe there isn't. Yet, he has a strong will to survive. He fights for his life and begins to grow and learn. The orphanage is not such a bad place. He's safe from the outside world. He has playmates and a few toys. He has a bed in a room full of beds. He receives at least one meal a day. He is no one's son, though. Just another child the workers are paid to tend to. When he's sick, there's very little extra attention for him. The workers just don't have time.

Fast forward a few years...four birthdays have come and gone unnoticed by anyone. There was no cake to smash his face in on that first birthday. The one where truly his survival of that first year should have been celebrated. Now, his fifth birthday is looming ahead. He doesn't know it. What he has learned in his short life is that there are only three ways you leave the orphanage. By ambulance, if you're sick enough to need care at hospital. By adoption, if you're blessed enough to be chosen. Then there's a third way to leave the orphanage, in the backseat of a car, shortly after your fifth birthday. He doesn't know where that car goes he only knows it won't bring him back to the only home he's ever known. It might not be much of a home, but he's comfortable here with the familiar faces and routines. His fifth birthday arrives and if he's a favorite of the orphanage director, she will try to hold on to him for as long as possible. She is hoping it is only a matter of time before his new family comes. When she can keep him there no longer, she makes the phone call. The car comes and baby boy takes a ride.

He may be excited to ride in a car. Unless he's been sick he can't remember ever riding in a car. He's a little uncertain and afraid about what's ahead, but he's a five year old boy full of life and adventure. The car stops. He gets out and if he could read the sign on the door would say, "House for the Invalids." (We would know this as a mental institution or insane asylum). Baby boy is not an invalid, he is an active, curious five year old. This must be a mistake. He is led inside. His head is shaved. It's easier to keep him clean and lice free if he has no hair. Then he's taken to a room full of cribs and placed in one. He climbs out and is put back in. He climbs out again, because he knows his routine and it is not nap time. He is put back in the crib. He makes the mistake of climbing out again. He is put back into his crib where he is tied down and left for hours. He may struggle and cry, but no one cares. There are adults with varying levels of mental incapacity roaming around. He has been potty trained for years, but he can no longer hold it and relieves himself in his clothes. Still no one comes.

How did this happen? He was at an orphanage this morning and now he is in hell on earth. What must he think? What did he do to deserve such cruelty at the hands of other human beings? How could his life have been different? If only, if only someone would be his voice. If only, someone would advocate for him. If only, someone would see value where others find none and begin to pray for change. If only, his picture had made it into the hands of his Mommy and Daddy. If only...

Here are some children who will be turning five this year. Let's not allow them to take that dreaded car ride and become a story of, if only. Update: Constance has a family! Yay God!

There are many more like these, who need to be rescued this year. Wait, we didn't finish baby boy's story. Baby boy won't live long after his transfer. He may not make it to birthday number six. He will lie tied to that crib, until he loses his will to live and succumbs to death. The only peace he has ever known will come in that death when he rests safely in the arms of Jesus. He could have been so much more. He was created with a purpose and I doubt that purpose was to die a slow, painful death after living a terribly difficult life. Please pray about what God wants you to do for the orphans of Eastern Europe. God does want you to do something.

Hidden in Christ,

Monday, April 4, 2011

Love, sweet love...

I am so in love with this boy! I catch myself just pulling up his pictures and staring. It's so much like when you get those first ultrasound pictures and you want to show them off to everyone around. He's so handsome. I just want to scoop him up. How blessed are we that this little one will be ours? God is so good to us, giving us gifts we didn't even know we were looking for. We're coming sweet boy.

Many people have asked how our kids feel about getting a new brother. Here's the best example I can give you. Over the weekend, it was payday in the Rhodes' house. That means the little people who kept up with their chores received their allowance. $1 per week for a grand total of $4 each. Julianna went directly to her bank with her money and came back downstairs with a five dollar bill. She said, "I want to help bring Dawson home, so I'm giving you my $5." I'd say she loves her brother already. She reached way down deep and pulled out the best gift she could to help bring her brother home. It makes this Mommy's heart happy.

We love you, Dawson, and are doing everything we can to get to you quickly.

Hidden in Christ,

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Praise Report

We've had a great week here. Marty worked a side job while he was off and made a couple hundred dollars to put in the adoption fund. We stumbled on the easiest fundraiser ever. It's the Belk Charity Day sale. It will be held on April 16th from 6am-10am. We are selling tickets for $5 and we get to keep all the proceeds from the ticket sales. It won't be thousands of dollars, but somewhere between $500 and $1000 just to sell tickets to an event Belk is hosting. No brainer, right?

I also mailed out our commitment paperwork to Dawson's country on Monday evening. I tried to set up an account with FedEx and do this from home, because so many people had told me to use FedEx. Well, I'm not technologically inclined and this was a challenge for me. After some encouragement from a friend (Hi, friend) I carried that package to our local mailing store and shipped it UPS. I pulled up the tracking information last night on UPS website. I thought, maybe it will be in Europe somewhere. No, it has been delivered and signed for by our facilitator in country. Two days after I posted it! Go Brown, people!

God's hand has been all over this adoption from day one and we're so excited to know we are in the will of the Father. Ways you can pray this week include:

We have our physicals on Thursday and this will be our first visit with this doctor. I need a letter regarding my pre-existing condition and am hoping I will be able to provide him with the information he needs to be able to write that letter.

We have our first class for our home study on Tuesday night and are hoping to turn in the bulk of our paperwork while we're there. Pray that we did it correctly and for our safe travel to Roanoke and back.

As always, please pray for Dawson. Pray that he would somehow know we are coming. Pray that the Holy Spirit would surround him with love and protection. That his care would continually be in compassionate hands.

If you want to help bring Dawson home follow this link and make a tax deductible donation. Thanks for keeping up with our journey and for all your prayers and support.

Hidden in Christ,

Friday, April 1, 2011

Forever Family Friday

Today, I'm going to introduce you to Victoria. I'm bringing you Victoria, because I cannot believe no one has chosen her, yet. Julianna (my daughter) is in love with her. She's been on Reece's Rainbow, since I started visiting the sight back in December. Her fund is low and lots of children have been chosen to come home (Praise God) since I started visiting Reece's Rainbow. You're about to see one of the cutest little girls in all the world. Brace yourselves, here she is...

I told you! I'm a bit of a sucker for a girl with pigtails and big pink bows. Look at those beautiful blue eyes, too. She's a princess waiting to be rescued and carried off to her palace. I heard a story this week and I think it applies here. A little boy overheard a Mom of four boys saying, "I wish God would give me a girl." His response, "There are a lot of little girls out there who wish God would give them a Mommy. Why don't you go get one of them and then you'll both be happy?" I can just see this princess in a house full of protective brothers.

Julianna disagrees, she sees Victoria and knows she'd make any girl a great sister. She wants to tell her secrets and share her toys. She says, "Oh, she is so sweet. Can we get her?" Unfortunately, we cannot get Ms. Victoria. She's not in the same country as our little one. She does need a home, though. Whether there are brothers or sisters or both, this girl will be a fabulous addition. She turned four last month, which puts her one year closer to life in an institution. Won't someone bring Victoria home? Julianna will be so excited. Her time is running short and she needs a forever family.

I'm praying someone will see this sweet little girl and know that she's the one. Is God whispering in your ear this morning? There she is, the daughter you've been waiting on. Don't let the fact that she was born in another country keep you from the JOY of knowing her and loving her. To learn more about Princess Victoria follow this link: You can also follow the link to make a donation to help Victoria's forever family bring her home. I look at her and I know it's only a matter of time before her Mommy finds her. Let's ease the burden of bringing her home. Every dollar counts. Every prayer counts, too. Pray that her care would be in kind, loving hands while she waits.

As always, thanks for letting me share my heart.

Hidden in Christ,