Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Successful Day

Today was a good day. Marty and I went for our 2nd homestudy interview and scheduled our last interview to take place here in our home on Thursday morning. I came home and spent the afternoon cleaning and emailing with our social worker. Our homestudy should be complete and ready to mail to USCIS in the next two weeks. Once we receive USCIS approval, we can submit our dossier (most of this paperwork is already done and waiting) and wait for travel dates. We're praying for the end of summer. We cannot wait to meet our boys!

We got new pictures of Joseph (Isaac) today, too! We're so blessed to have as many as we do and Marty had just told me, yesterday, that he wished we had a new picture. Our prayer, now, is for any update on Samuel (Dawson). We have 4 pictures of him, for which we're thankful, but we'd love to hear that someone had been to his orphanage and learn how he's doing. We're going to use the new photo of Joseph in a fundraiser, soon. So, be on the lookout. We've gotta get the money raised to pay our USCIS fees...

We're thankful for where we are in the process and that God has walked every step with us. There are lots of new littles on Reece's Rainbow! Head on over and take a look, maybe you'll fall in love, too :)

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Are we wise or foolish?

I know this is our adoption blog, but you've probably realized by now that I just share whatever's on my mind. I was reading in Matthew this morning and had to share. I wonder which of these two categories most of our lives would fall into?

Words of Jesus in Matthew 7:24-27, "These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit-but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock.

But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don't work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards."

The imagery here is amazing. The first house built on a strong foundation and fixed to the rock (Jesus) withstood even a tornado. We've seen this week the destruction a tornado can bring to our lives. We need to be fixed in such a way the even the most devastating life event will not tear down our faith. How does that happen? By doing the word, rather than just hearing it. By putting our faith into action.

Look at how little it takes to bring down the home of the "stupid" carpenter, one storm and a few waves and down comes his house. If your life begins to fall apart at the slightest hint of a storm, you need to check your foundation. Are you anchored to the rock (Jesus)? Are you working these foundational words into your life? Or are you just using them in Bible studies or at church on Sundays? It's not enough! When the storm comes, you need to already have your life firmly attached to Jesus.

I encourage you to get in your Word. Learn who Jesus is and who He wants you to be and then get about the Father's business. Too many of us are hugging the beam. It's time to stand up and walk out our faith.

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


So many blessings to be thankful for today!

Nathaniel has a family! We don't know who they are yet. They're in the early stages of getting their commitment paperwork together, but I'll let you know as soon as I hear who they are and what they need. We need to continue to stand with this family to bring Nathaniel home and get the treatment he needs.

Kirill is coming home! The Davis family had court this morning and the Supreme Court said, "YES to Kirill coming home!" God is good! He hears when we pray! I cannot wait to see how God continues to use Kirill's story to raise awareness and help bring other children home.

A day of victories! They are fewer and farther between than they should be, but when they come they are sweet! YAY GOD!

Thankful we serve "the father of the fatherless," and that He's in the business of  "setting the lonely in families."

Hidden in Christ,

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Spiritual Battles

My kids and I were having devotions, today, and the conversation turned to spiritual battles. How we fight them? Why we fight them? When they're happening? We talked about Satan and how he's seeking to devour the weak and vulnerable. How it's our job as Christians to come boldly before the throne on behalf of those weaker and more open to attack. We talked about how Jesus himself is there before the throne petitioning God on our behalf. Then I asked my kids, "Who do we need to pray for today?"

Our boys (Samuel and Joseph)
and Julianna ended with "that little boy whose Mommy and Daddy want to bring him home."

She was talking about Kirill and his family. We haven't talked about them in a few weeks. They've been on my prayer list, but there hasn't been much happening except waiting to go to court. I started to tell this to Julie and then stopped myself and said, "Yes, we need to pray for Kirill not just because his family goes to court on Tuesday, but because we are fighting a spiritual battle for Kirill's life." That battle didn't take a break, while the Davis' family waited to go to court.

Kirill's family goes before the supreme court in Kirill's country to find out if Kirill can come home or if the supreme court will back the earlier decision that Kirill does not belong in a family because of his down syndrome. This is a spiritual battle, one that we are called to help this family fight. Please, join us in praying and fasting for Kirill to come home and for the Davis' family's (Kirill's family) safety, wisdom and boldness to shine a light into a dark place. Pray that in all that transpires this week on Kirill's behalf that God would be lifted up and that the light of Jesus' love would shine brightly. The family will be in court on Tuesday morning around 6:00 a.m. eastern time.

It is a privilege that Jesus paid a high price for us to have, to come boldly before the throne of grace and ask God to move for us and for those we love. Prayer changes things. Prayer moves the hand of God.

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,

Friday, May 20, 2011

Forever Family Friday

While I was trying to decide who to write about today, I was looking at little Nate's picture and thinking how great it would be if he had an updated photo. His baby picture had been listed for awhile and I was anxious to see the cute little two year old that he is now. An hour later, I read a post on a yahoo group that I belong to that Nate has a new photo up! Yay God! Nate is every bit as cute as I thought he would be.

Don't you want to scoop him up? His hair looks so baby soft and I just want to squish those cheeks. Nate just turned 2 last month and he could be home before his 3rd birthday, if a family commits to him, now. Imagine all the JOY and laughter this little one is bound to bring to his forever family. He just looks like he's waiting to get into something and I'm sure he'd make a great little brother for Landon.

That's right, two busy little boys for today's FFF post. Landon and Nate are in the same country and could be adopted together. I think they look like brothers, already. Landon will be 5 in July and I'm guessing he'll keep his Momma busy, too. Think of the fun to be had with two boys on a summer afternoon, bubbles, sprinklers, bugs and kisses. Both of these littles has been waiting too long. They need to come home. They need a Daddy to teach them all about sports and cars and fun. A Momma to pick them up when they fall down and rock them when they're sick.

If you want to learn more about either boy, check them out at Reece's Rainbow: Landon and Nate. If you're not their forever family, please share this post and let's find their family (families) together. Consider making a donation to their accounts and helping bring them home. Definitely, take the time to pray for these sweet little boys. They need people covering them in prayer, prayers for safety, protection, love. We are called to be a father to the fatherless. Landon and Nate are the fatherless, so let's be their family.

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,

Monday, May 16, 2011

Sam and Joe

We had a great weekend of just being...being together, enjoying family and friends, cheering Eli on at his soccer game, reading our Word and enjoying fellowship with each other. Now, it's Monday, again, time to jump back in with both feet. We are mailing in the last few documents we need for our homestudy and, now we'll wait for our social worker to schedule our final two visits and write our homestudy.

When I'm enjoying my family and friends, like I did this weekend, there are always moments when my mind strays to Samuel and Joseph. When I imagine what they would be doing if in the moment with us. It's very much like being pregnant and having the anticipation of the arrival of your child, but with the added twist that comes from the uncertainty of where they are waiting. Not safely tucked away in my belly, but left to wait in an orphanage, alone.

Marty and I read another family's story this weekend and it hit a little too close to home. This family was also adopting 2 little boys (Yay for boys) from EE. They learned that while they were working their way through the mountains of paperwork and just the process in general, one of their boys died in the orphanage. It was heartbreaking to hear and I cannot imagine this family's pain and loss. It has motivated Marty and I to move more quickly, to stay focused on the task at hand, to pray more fervently for the protection of our boys, while they wait.

Please, continue to pray for our family, for our boys, for safety and for a speedy process. If you want to bless us financially you can do that with the donation box on the right hand side of the blog. It is tax deductible. We're not doing any fancy giveaways, right now, but God knows we need to be funded when the time comes to go and get our boys. Just in case you forgot why we're doing this, here's a sweet reminder and a great way to start the week.

Joseph I. Rhodes

Samuel D. Rhodes

I know, they're cute beyond words and we are blessed that God chose us to be their parents.

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Thirty seconds of your time

If you've never shared anything on your facebook or blog before, please share this.

Nathaniel's giveaway!

Thirty seconds of your time, to help save a child's life, to find a family for a child who desperately needs one, to be the hands and feet of Jesus. This is your chance to answer the Father's call, "to look after orphans and widows in their distress." Nathaniel is in distress. He has been sentenced to life in a crib, to suffer from a treatable medical condition. We can Do Something for Nathaniel!

Pray, Share, Give, help bring Nathaniel home where he can be given a new life.

Are you Nathaniel's Mom? If so, we'll help you move mountains to bring him home!

Come on, church, Nathaniel needs us...

Go to Nathaniel's blog and learn what you can do to help! Give generously and share Nathaniel's story!

Hidden in Christ,

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Sweet Nathaniel

Every effort was made to obtain surgery for Nathaniel in his country. The head of a non-profit organization took Nathaniel to the neurosurgeon in EE and was told he would not perform the surgery. You can read all about this at Nathaniel's blog.

The long and short of it is this...Nathaniel needs a family, now! Efforts are being made to raise a full grant to bring Nathaniel home. A full grant is $22,000. The goal is to have this money raised and find Nathaniel's family this month. At the Nathaniel's blog, there will be a give away posted tonight. There are going to be great prizes, so keep checking back. I'll link directly to the giveaway when it's live.

Here's the thing, we have a chance to be the hands and feet of Jesus for this little boy. We have the opportunity to help bring him home to a loving family and life saving surgery here in the USA. Shouldn't we do everything we can to help this little one? Jesus said, "In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost."

Look at this little one, pray and ask God how you can help...

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Cost of Adoption

Yes, Adoption is ridiculously expensive! We can't help it! We can only pay the price to "ransom" our boys. Can we give you a break down of the costs? Yes, but it will still cost the same amount. It is expensive, but the end result (having Samuel and Joseph home) will be worth the effort.

Is Fundraising fun? No. Is it necessary? At this point, it seems so. Do I enjoy dragging my children all over town to ask for donations for an Auction, Yard Sale/Bake Sale, etc.? Not one little bit. (Anytime, someone wants to just write the check for the remaining balance, feel free.) Are we doing it? Yes. Are we JOYful in the process? We're trying our best and God is helping with the rest.

The cost is a great reminder that we were each bought with a price. Aren't we all grateful that God didn't look down at us and say I'd like to help, but the cost is too much? The sacrifice too great? What if God simply refused to put his son, Jesus through the cost of our adoption? Are my kids struggling with the disruption to their schedule? Yes, but everything worth having is worth sacrificing for. So, we are JOYful in the process, when we remember that we, too, were bought with a price. That a sacrifice was made for us to become a part of the family of God. That sacrifice is necessary to bring Samuel and Joseph home.

Here's a broad breakdown of the cost, the detailed breakdown would be painful to type.

Homestudy $3300
USCIS fees $900
Agency fees $14000 ($10,000 for the first child and $4000 for the second)
Medicals $500
Passports $200
Documentation fees $150
Postage $400
Background checks $175
Plane tickets $7500 (subject to go up as gas prices rise, this includes 2 trips for Marty and I and tickets home for the boys)
Visas and passports for the boys $500 (? I need to check on this)
In country housing, food, etc. $1200 (this is another guesstimate, I've never been to this part of EE)

That's all I can think of right, now. I'm sure I'm missing some things, but you get the idea. It's expensive, ridiculously so, but we believe with everything in us, that God has called us to this mission and we know he will provide.

Hidden in Christ,

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Tribute to Children

Do you remember? Do you remember the first time someone else's need touched your heart? Do you remember the first time, probably in childhood, that you realized how truly blessed you were?

I see the lights coming on in my children's eyes. We learn about children all over the world who have so much less than we do. We read stories of children who pilfer through garbage in hopes of finding something to fill their hungry bellies. We pray for a child to receive the life saving surgery he desperately needs and would have received already here in the USA. We learn of boys, as young as 3 years old, shut away in mental institutions and left to die in cribs, alone. We pray for a sweet orphan girl, who came home to her family weighing just 11 pounds at three years old and knocking on death's door. We are angered by the judge who says a child is worthless, because God created him extra special.

Why? Why do I expose my children to such truths? Do I worry that they will be overburdened by these truths at such a young age? NO. They are simply learning about the needs of other children, other children, who need advocates. Children who have no voice and no one to pray for them. How can the reality that one child lives be too much information for my children to handle? Shame on us for thinking our children do not care. Or do we not tell our children these things, because we don't know how to answer their questions?

Questions? Questions, like what can we do to help? How many can come live at our house? If you show a child a problem the solution is almost always simple and black and white in their minds. We have taught them to pray, so they pray. We have taught them to give, so they give (generously). We have taught them to love, so they love. Then they look at us, the grownups, and wonder what we're doing allowing such horrible things to happen. Why aren't we helping? Why aren't we yelling and screaming for someone to change things? Why aren't we giving (generously and sacrificially). What are we doing?

I think, we feel justified in not sharing truth with our children, because we're "protecting" them. In fact aren't we protecting our own inaction? Aren't we shielding ourselves from the hard questions we will have to ask ourselves? Can we really think our children believe that we are the hands and feet of Jesus, when we rarely (if ever) do anything that remotely favors Christ? I challenge you to share the stories of children from around the world with your children and then really listen to their hearts as God speaks through them about how your family can help. They will amaze you and challenge you and inspire you to do more than you ever dreamed you would.

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something...your children are watching.

Hidden in Christ,

Sunday, May 8, 2011

"Happy" Mother's Day

I want to start this post off saying that I am truly blessed to be the Mom of Eli and Julianna. They are JOY and sweetness and laughter and they love Jesus! They are a blessing to my Momma's heart.

Today is met with mixed emotions, as my arms and heart ache to hold not just Eli and Julianna, but Samuel and Joseph, as well. There are tears of sadness for the absence of my boys, who should be here with us to celebrate the JOY of Motherhood. There is a bond between Mother and Child that can not be explained until you experience it for yourself. Somehow, across the ocean there are two little boys who hold as much of my heart as Eli and Julie. If you had told me that was possible a few months back, I'd have said, "No, way." I'm here, now, to tell you it is possible and painful.

If you think of me, today, say a little prayer for comfort and peace...my heart is truly sad.

Hidden in Christ,

Friday, May 6, 2011

I will follow you.

I will follow you, Lord. Wherever you lead, I'll follow. When the path is dark, I'll follow you. When it leads to places I've never been, I will follow you. When it doesn't make sense to the people watching, I will follow you.

Is this your heart's cry? Do you want to follow Jesus wherever he leads? Will you follow him to the streets to minister to the homeless and the prostitute? Will you follow him to foreign countries, forsaking your own life, to minister to the poor? Will you follow his lead when he calls you to open your home to an orphan, not just an orphan, but a child who has been devastated by rejection and loss? Will you follow Jesus outside the walls of the church building and into the community around you?

If your answer is "Yes. I will follow you, Lord," then hold on because things will begin to look different than they've ever looked before. You will begin to see more and more of your own lack and desperation for a Savior. The closer your heart draws to God the more it will hurt, the more it will ache for the lost and dying all around the world. You will wake in the night with the need to pray for another soul, maybe even one you've never met. God will awaken a passion in you for the things He's passionate about. It will hurt, the cleansing fire will burn away the things that are not useful to the Kingdom work. You're life will look different and it will cause people to take a second and third look, because they're not sure how you have such JOY in your circumstance.

He's looking. God is searching for followers, who are ready to get up off the church pew and Do Something. Not just anything, but the hard work of knowing him and meeting the needs of the people. Will you follow him? How far will you follow him? Will you stop there in your comfort or will you move forward no matter the cost? If it costs you friends, will you still follow? If it costs you family, will you still follow? If it costs your very life, will you still follow? Will you follow Jesus?

"I will follow you, Lord. Wherever you lead, I will follow."

Hidden in Christ,

Forever Family Friday!

Okay, I'm a slacker and missed a couple of weeks of FFF, but I'm back! I'm having a hard time choosing, again. The first part of this FFF post is going to be to encourage you to go to this page and learn more about Reece's Rainbow's 5/5/5 warrior project. Every child listed on the first link will turn 5 years old this year. Instead of starting school, they are in very real danger of being transferred to a mental institution. Not a reason to celebrate :( Once, you see all the little faces listed in the 5/5/5 program you will understand my difficulty in choosing, just one. (This is why Marty and I are bringing home two).

I did choose one, though. This little one looks like a baby doll. Her name is Lina :)

I love her big, brown eyes! She's clearly uncertain about the camera and not sure how she's supposed to react.

You can read Lina's complete profile at Reece's Rainbow. She's a sweet 4 year old with dwarfism and congenital cleft of the hard and soft palate that needs surgical correction. That's all. She mostly needs a Momma and Daddy. She's about 25 inches tall and just beautiful. She plays and interacts with others and needs surgery to help her be able to speak better.

Her medical report says, "The only way for the child to receive her full value is in a stable family environment where the love for the child will dominate." Well, truer words have never been spoken. Every child deserves a stable family environment where love for them reigns! Can you imagine sweet little Lina's face lit with laughter and JOY? She will be so much fun for the family that brings her home. Are you that family? Do you need a little princess like Lina? Can you help her grow and become everything God intended for her to be? She will thrive in a loving home.

Pray for Lina. Pray that her family is coming. Pray about whether you're her family and of course consider making a donation for Lina at her profile on Reece's Rainbow. She needs us to help her find her Forever Family.

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Our Next Big Event

We're organizing a new fundraiser! We're going to have a HUGE Yard Sale/Bake Sale/Car Wash/Auction on June 11th at CarQuest from 8am-2pm. Local friends, please, let me know if you have anything you'd like to donate or if you want to help in any of the events listed above. Thanks to everyone who's already offered to help. We will need all the help we can get. We want this to be a fun day for everyone and ultimately to raise a TON of money to help bring Samuel and Joseph home.

If anyone has any suggestions for organizing or other ideas for fundraising, please, leave a comment below or email me. Also, the donation box on the side of the blog is for Joseph and Samuel's adoption and is tax-deductible...just wanted to remind you ;)

One other thing, thoughts on another blog giveaway? Yes, No, what would you like to see offered?

Continue to pray for Joseph and Samuel and for our process to move along quickly. Remember, Pray, Advocate, Adopt, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,

Monday, May 2, 2011

One of God's greatest gifts...

I want to share with you a beautiful little girl. Her name is as pretty as she is...Albina. I know it's a nickname, but it suits her perfectly. It makes me think of something small and delicate. I'd say she's just that.

The problem is her eyes...they are sorrowful. A child's eyes should not know such sadness.

She's captivating, this Albina girl. Can you imagine such beauty, set aside? Considered less than worthy? Thought incapable of being part of a family? That's what has happened to sweet Albina. I was drawn in when I saw this first photo of Albina on Reece's Rainbow. I thought, surely, she'll be snatched up quickly. I mean how could you refuse. Then, I saw this...

Look at that little lip...she is lonely and sad while she waits.

How can this be? Maybe Albina's family is out there trying desperately to figure out how to fund her adoption? Well, because of a generous matching grant donated by an amazing couple who loves Albina and wants to see her find a family, some "knots" are about to be untied.

This couple is matching dollar for dollar up to $5000 for the entire month of May. That means if Albina's grant is $5000 on May 31st this couple will double it! Yay God! Everyone can Do Something! Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Give...

Here's how you can donate and maybe win a cool prize, too. This great Mom is hosting a giveaway to help encourage donations and you can check it out at her amazing blog. 

I'm encouraged as always when I see the family of God pulling together. You can also read more about Albina and make a donation at her Reece's Rainbow page. 

Thanks for letting me share my passion for the orphan and for praying about what you can do.

Hidden in Christ,

Sunday, May 1, 2011


So excited to share the Winners of the Mother's Day "Gift"Away. We had 27 participants, with a total of 109 entries. Each participant was assigned numbers and then we went to Random.org and had the numbers of winners, randomly, selected. First, we had random generate the number for the Kindle, that winner was...

Keith Guess

Second, we "drew" the winner for the Nikon Coolpix Camera and that winner was...

Cathy McKillip

Last we assigned numbers for everyone who shared our giveaway on facebook or their blogs and Random chose the winner for the Epic Mickey for the wii game, that winner was...

Bonnie Bowman

Each winner has been contacted at the email address listed in conjunction with their donation. Please, contact us and let us know where to ship your prize.

We want to say a big, "Thank you!" to everyone who participated, shared or prayed for favor. We raised $810 with this give away and feel like it was a great success. Keep checking back, we're sure to do another give away in a few weeks. Leave a comment and let us know what you'd like to see for a Father's Day Give Away!

Thanks again to everyone for helping bring our boys home!

A Very Grateful,
Marty and Mandy Rhodes

Progress Report

I haven't posted an update in awhile and wanted to let you all know where we are in the process. We're very close to having all of our paperwork turned in for our homestudy. We should have it all together to turn in at our final adoption class in Roanoke on Tuesday. That feels good, our final adoption class! Marty and I have enjoyed these Tuesday night dates. We've been so busy that it's nice to have a set time to "catch up" and make sure we're on the same page with what's going on not just in the adoption, but with our lives in general.

We mailed out a package on Friday to the Sec of State's office for apostilles. An apostille is a notary of the notary, so to speak. They verify that the notary we used is in fact licensed in the state of Virginia. That package has our commitment documents for Joseph and they should be in EE by the end of this week. This is the document that states our intent to adopt and that we are COMING!

I'm going to start working on our next HUGE fundraiser on Monday. I'm hoping this will be something the whole community can be involved in. More on that Monday. We're wrapping up the Mother's Day "Gift"Away tonight and I can't wait to draw the winners and announce them here. We have been overwhelmed by the number of people who have graciously contributed, shared, and prayed. We're still looking to make our $1000 goal by the end of the day. Please consider helping. We're getting close to the half way mark with our funding.

The next step and how you can be praying.

First, we need our homestudy to be finished. We're hoping by the end of this month. We'll have 2 more interviews. One at the social workers office and one here in our home.

Second, we'll be sending the written homestudy along with our application to the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) to be approved to adopt internationally. This process can take 2 weeks to 2 months. Obviously, we'd like you to pray for the quicker timing, but more importantly for God's perfect timing.

Third, I have one piece of paperwork that is alluding me and I need some people to pray that I will get that taken care of this week! Pray for favor!

Fourth, pray that we'll find a great location to host our big fundraiser in June and that we'll get lots of support from the local community.

Last, but certainly not least, continue to pray for our boys, Joseph and Samuel. Pray that their care will be in compassionate hands. Pray that they will stay healthy and that they will somehow know that we are coming. Pray for our hearts to be at peace in the waiting.

Thank you for following our journey and for letting me share my heart.

Don't forget to Do Something this week to advance the Kingdom for God's glory!

Hidden in Christ,