Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Day 3 with Samuel

There just are not words to tell you how sweet this little man is. Unfortunately, he's every bit as rotten as he is sweet. He and his little friend are the babies at the orphanage and to say they get there way is an understatement. Who knew you could spoil an orphan? He's very good at getting what he wants. Like when he wants his Daddy to tickle him, he bribes him...

video
I said, "Oh, Marty, he's got your number." Marty said, "They all do." Which is so true. The easiest way to get this Daddy to co-operate is to give him some love and they all know it!

We had so much fun, today. Samuel pretended his blocks were a car and drove the car on the table for awhile. Then, we played ball and with his sing-a-ma-jig. He is just so much fun. This afternoon we played outside, again. It was cold and he has a nasty cough, so we only stayed for about an hour this afternoon. Samuel's favorite thing to do is clean! He loves to dust and sweep. We need this child at our house. The sooner, the better. Okay. I'm rambling. Here's what you're waiting for...
Mommy and Samuel

Daddy and Samuel

Favorite of the day...

Thanks for checking in on us! I hope you enjoyed the pictures and video. We get to go back tomorrow!

Blessings,
Mandy

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Have you ever had a moment where you're sure, positive, beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are seeing God revealed in the life of another? I had one, yesterday afternoon. I came home and was simply exhausted. Our days are long and full and tiring. I pulled up facebook and in just a few minutes had a message from a dear friend. My friend, Connie and her family are adopting a little boy named Ethan from the same country as us. In fact they will travel this same path in just 3 weeks time. Connie has 5 beautiful daughters. They are fearfully and wonderfully made and while they are stunning on the outside, the Jesus on the inside of them is breathtaking.

I tell my children often that we are the salt and the light of the world, that God is calling us to lay up our treasures in Heaven. I have posted about the enormous amounts of money that we will spend as a nation on Christmas, while children wait to be rescued, while children starve to death. We will buy those much needed video games, electronics, toys, things, junk. Idols the enemy uses to distract us, to ensure that when we arrive in Heaven our treasures will be light and easy to carry.

Back to my Jesus encounter. Connie's 13 year old daughter, Victoria decided to give her Christmas money toward our family's adoption. All of it. Do you know how humbling that is? How encouraging it is to our hearts? To see that the next generation gets it. Her parents have lived life in such a way that Jesus has spilled over into her. She has been led by example, discipled and encouraged to walk in Kingdom truths. She is running hard after the heart of God, longing to be used, to be the hands and feet of Jesus and so she gives. She gives ALL that she has to give, with no thought of herself.

I think of all the times I've asked my friends to simply give up a Starbucks and the response is sad. Then I see Victoria's gift and I know a little child shall lead them. Will you be encouraged by Victoria's generous gift? Will you meet her here with an offering? It doesn't have to be to our family. There are so many who need money to finish their adoptions. In fact you can read Victoria's family's journey to Ethan here. Will you let your light shine?

Victoria, shining brightly...

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Victoria does!

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Any encouraging words you leave here for Victoria, I'll be sure to pass along.

2nd Day with Samuel

video

He has the sweetest laugh, ever. He has so much personality and knows his own mind. He can turn that pout on quick. Obviously, we're going to have work on that when he gets home. For now, it is too cute.

We met lots of people at the orphanage, today. We met Samuel's doctor, his favorite teacher and his speech therapist. They all love him and he loves them. His teacher is his FAVORITE!

They will be sad to let him leave. He is well loved. There are only about 20 children in his orphanage. He and his best friend (a sweet little girl who is a month younger and also has an extra chromosome) are the youngest here and the only with special needs. The other children are very kind to them and they are all willing to share their food and toys (which is huge for children in an orphanage). He's being well taken care of and it will make leaving him behind a little easier. We're so grateful that God has him in such a good place.

We didn't get a lot of pictures, today. Our camera batteries died pretty early into our morning visit. We have lots of videos, but they take FOREVER to load, so this will have to do for now. We're going to watch a movie before bed. Then, we'll do better with pictures, tomorrow. For now, here's a favorite from yesterday.


Thank you to everyone who continues to give and encourage us! Thank you for loving us and our kids.

Blessings,
Mandy

Monday, November 28, 2011

Our first meeting with Samuel

What a long and wonderful day. To say that we are blessed, just doesn't even begin to cover it. Let's start at the beginning...we left our hotel and drove for nearly 2 hours before we found the orphanage. They don't want people to know they have forgotten children here, so the orphanages are often in remote villages. This boy was worth the drive. We met the director and chatted for a few minutes and then in comes our boy. He has a haircut and has grown some, so he looks different, but I only need to see his little bent right ear to know it's really him. He is so full of life and personality. We knew he was going to be different than Joseph and we gave him his space and let him come to us. It took about 10-15 minutes and then, he was in my lap, cuddled up, like we'd been friends forever...

video

He's very healthy and seems to be happy and well loved at his orphanage. I was a little concerned that they had moved him, not long after we committed to him, but he has handled the move just fine. It probably helped that his little friend went with him. I'm going to see about getting a photo of the two of them, so he'll be able to remember her. He liked to play ball and be tossed in the air by his Daddy and by Marty (Toni's brother, I know, it's confusing).

In the afternoon, we played outside with some of the other children. We really enjoyed seeing them all and were encouraged to see how well Samuel interacted. He shares well and only pushed a couple of times. He likes to ride the little car and is very co-ordinated. We're already thinking about baby gates and ways to wear this boy out. He's busy! Alright, here's what you're waiting for...
When he wanted to be thrown up in the air, he would point up and bounce a little. He knows how to get his point across.
He also pouts, if Marty doesn't move fast enough to suit him. It may be difficult to tell this one no.
He is beautiful with his big blue eyes...
Checking out his family. Love his expressions.
He loves to ride this car and the older kids are very nice and share with him. He's one of the youngest here and the older children seem to be very kind to him.
To all of my adopting friends, do not leave home without one of these little magnetic boards. You can get them at Wal-Mart for $1 and so far, both of our boys have loved them. All the other children like them, too. Marty and I think we will bring some back for them when we return.

Friends, I want to say this, too. We have no idea how we ended up so blessed. God gave us Eli and Julianna and then led us down this path to Joseph and Samuel. We are humbled by the process and in awe of God's mighty hand working in our lives. If you are considering adoption, please, don't hesitate. There are many beautiful children, who just need Moms and Dads to love them. They long to be a part of a family. Be the hands and feet of Jesus, you'll end up so blessed, that you'll forget you were trying to serve.

More tomorrow, in the meantime...Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support!

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Work of God Displayed in a Life

As I'm reading my Bible, today, these words from John 9:1-3 leaped off the page at me.

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him,"Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"
"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life."

Many will look at our boys and see their differences and may ask, "Who sinned to cause this child to be different?" I assure you that Marty and I have seen God's purpose in Joseph's life clearly on display this week. It was not because anyone sinned that our boy was born with an extra chromosome, but simply to allow the work of God to be displayed in his life.

We so often question whether a Holy, Righteous God loves us. The miracle that is happening for our boys should prove without any doubt that God loves each of us. That he would take the time to move heaven and earth for an extra-special orphan boy means he is compassionate in his care toward each of us. Whether or not Joseph ever learns to talk or walk (and we believe that he will do these things) his life will forever display the work and glory of God. We will share his testimony, the one about a boy frozen in time, waiting 6 and 1/2 years to be chosen. Waiting for someone to be obedient to God's call and to snatch him back from death. You see not too much longer and Joseph would have been transferred to a different kind of place, a sadder place, where he most likely would not have survived. God called and we obeyed and Joseph's life has the fingerprints of God all over it.

He was not born with Down Syndrome, because someone sinned, but so that God could receive the glory for the work he would do for Joseph. He sets the lonely in families and our family is overwhelmed by his greatness in allowing us to love this lonely child. He will come home and grow and learn about Jesus and be a favored son of the house. The work of redemption and restoration started this week and will continue for many years to come for Joseph.

If you're considering adoption, consider the next words of Jesus in John 9:4-5.

"As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world."

The voice of Jesus calls. He longs for us to be a light in this dark world, to do the work the Father has laid out for us. There are many more lonely children waiting for families. Won't you join us and watch as God performs miracles in your own life and the life of a child?

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something, the night is coming.

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Black Friday

It's Thanksgiving at home. We're missing the day with Eli and Julie and the rest of our friends and family. We're thankful for the time here with Joseph and next week with Samuel, but it's still hard to miss a special day with our other kids.

Tomorrow will be an even more difficult day...Black Friday. Normally, I love to shop on Black Friday. This year it seems to have a whole new meaning. Black Friday. The day we will leave Joseph behind and pray that God will continue to watch over him and speed our journey back here to him. Our 20 pound, 6 year old, who lives mostly in his own world, we'll leave him behind. Covered in prayers, we'll stand firmly believing that God has him in his hands. It will still break our hearts.

While our friends and family spend hundreds of dollars this holiday season, starting tomorrow with Black Friday sales, we are faced with the challenge of $10,000 that still stands between us and bringing our boys home. It's a daunting task.

Do you love us? Have you fallen in love with Joseph this week? Will you help or will you turn away? Your silence speaks volumes. We need you. We even have prizes...Christmas Cash Giveaway. We're praying that God will move on your hearts. If you're going to shop tomorrow, will you skip Starbucks and help bring our boys home instead?

It's humbling to ask for help again and again, but when I look at this beautiful boy, I know it's worth it.

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Day 4 with Joseph

We had a wonderful visit with Joseph, today. We missed the afternoon visit, yesterday. Joseph had an allergic reaction and had to go to the infirmary. He had a shot and is all better, today. We were able to take him out into the city to have his Visa photo made. What a chore. They need a head shot that shows both ears and our boy is not an easy one to photograph. After many tears, we finally got an acceptable shot. It's not great, but it will do.

He was quite out of sorts by the time we got back to our little room to finish our visit. It took about 30 minutes for him to settle in and relax. Then, imagine my surprise when after another 15 minutes or so, Joseph turned around on my lap to face me. This is huge for him. He doesn't like to make eye contact or have you in his space, so he mostly faces away from us when we hold him. Marty didn't get to hold him except for on the car ride, because he was so distressed when we made it back to the orphanage and once he settled, we thought it best not to move him.

We have one more visit this afternoon and one visit tomorrow morning and then it is time to leave our boy and head back to the capital city. We will be so sad to say, Goodbye. He is a love and we can't wait to have him home with us. I've been calling him Cookie Monster, because he loves food and he makes a sound that sounds just like Cookie Monster...nom, nom, nom.

Here's your pictures :)
Riding in Mitko's van. He loved the vibrations, the bumpier, the better.

He loves to have his hand and arm rubbed.

He flipped himself over and got comfy.

He decided maybe he'd like to see what this Mommy business is all about.

Favorite of the visit! Don't you want to squish those cheeks?

Thanks for taking the time to check in on us! I hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Blessings,
Mandy

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving

It will be Thanksgiving soon for our friends and family at home in the USA. I know you are all probably sure of what I am thankful for today. I think this post will surprise you some though.

Our journey into Eastern Europe and the time spent with the people here have impacted us a great deal. One man, in particular, our driver and translator, Mitko (Meet Koe) has opened our eyes to this country and all that we have to be thankful for in ours. Mitko is a soft spoken, gentle, kind-hearted man. When Mitko talks you want to listen. As we travel and dine with Mitko, he shares about his country and his life. He talks of a childhood, where his favorite memories were time spent on his grandparents farm. He paints a beautiful picture of a loving God-fearing couple. He tells how his grandfather used to pray before meals, much the way that Marty and I take time to bless our food and give thanks to God for providing it. Then, he says that communism robbed most of this country of their faith. "Most of us are athiests, now."

You see, there are many in the USA, today, who would like the government to provide them with things free of charge. Mitko would tell you with great certainty that nothing comes free of charge. It has been an honor to see this country through Mitko's eyes. Mitko's grandparents and their neighbors were forced to leave their homes, so that the government could tear them down and build apartments. People were allowed only to own one one-bedroom flat/apartment and no more, regardless of the size of their family.

It is amazing to hear Mitko talk of his nineteen year old daughter and how she is going to University in Italy. On one hand the Dad wishes for a more traditional life for his daughter and on the other you can hear the pride in his voice. You can also hear the awe. At one time not too long ago, Mitko would have needed a special pass or permit from his government to travel within 10 miles of the border. Only the most trusted citizens were ever allowed outside of the country.

Mitko never mentions the end of communism without telling you exactly how long it's been since it ended. 22 years ago the communist reign ended here in Eastern Europe. Mitko doesn't estimate. He never says around 20 years ago, it's always 22 years, like he's counting the days since he was set free. That's exactly how he describes it, too. This new life without communist rule has been a struggle for this nation, but they are finding their way. They are enjoying their freedoms. They do not take these freedoms lightly. They value the ability and privilege to be able to work hard and carve out a place for themselves and for their children. Mitko often says that when under the communist reign people never had to think for themselves and so, even your thoughts are a new freedom here. Deciding where to go and when to go and what job you will work, all freedoms that we take for granted.

I want to remember to be thankful that I was born free. I know nothing different. My prayer is that we will not allow that to change for our country. That the few who would like to push us into socialism would realize that nothing in life is free. You will give up liberties that our forefathers fought and died to provide for us. We never want to be a recovering communist nation. So, today, I am thankful to be an American Citizen and I love the land of the Free and the home of the Brave.

We're praying for Mitko, that he would fall in love with Jesus. He is already such a blessing and a wealth of knowledge. He has seen so much and lived through so much. There is wisdom oozing out of him. Believe with us for Mitko's salvation and the restoration of his family and his country to the Kingdom of God.

Blessings,
Mandy

Day 3 and a little from Day 2 with Joseph

I did not blog after our afternoon visit, yesterday. We were tired and Joseph is a little cranky in the afternoons. However, in keeping with the rest of the Rhodes' kids, he decided to make a liar of his Mommy. I said, he wouldn't walk in yesterday's post. Well, apparently, he will walk for the "right" motivation.
Having Daddy hold you is motivation to walk. His caregivers say they can normally only get him to take a few steps by offering him food. He loves his Daddy. Oh, the beds in the background are where he takes nap during the day. He goes to a special Day Care on the bottom floor of his orphanage and the Day Care kids sleep here.

Today, we had a quiet morning visit. We were given a private room with a couple of chairs and a couch. We started the visit off by having Joseph walk from one side of the table to the other, by offering him Gerber Puffs. He is very grumpy about being made to walk, but it's long past time for him to learn. Then he dug through his bag and dumped everything on the floor. He likes the etch and sketch best. He was very proud of himself when he made a few marks on it and it's the most focus we've seen him give to a task. It lasted about 3 minutes, before it was tossed into the floor along with all the other really fun toys.


When he was ready for a little break in all the fun, he came back to Mommy's lap and totally relaxed. This is the most we've seen him relax, too. He normally holds himself away a little, but not today. He melted right in and we rocked. He likes to rock or vibrate. He's going to need a bouncy chair fit for a king.


That's all for now. We took a short walk through the city and are going to rest for about an hour before our afternoon visit. I'll leave you with my favorite of the day.
We love this boy!

Blessings,
Mandy

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Second Day with Joseph

Our boy seemed happy to see us this morning. He doesn't make a lot of eye contact, but was quicker, today, to look for us. He reaches for Marty, often. Marty is so amazing with him. It's a beautiful thing to see. He played with us for about an hour, before he scooted over to his ball pit to sit in the sun. The sun comes in through a window and hits the ball pit. He likes to sit in the sunshine and I bet he loves to be outside. If it warms up some we're going to take him out this afternoon and see how he does.

He gets anxious as it gets close to lunch and nap time. This is when he rocks and shakes his head and hands. We saw a lot less of that this morning than we did yesterday. I think, yesterday, was incredibly overwhelming for him and I hate that we have to leave him and start the process all over again in a few months. He relaxed more while we held him today and snuggled in some. He prefers to face outward, but will lean back for a few seconds at a time. Here's what you all want to see...

  He really loves his Daddy...
Daddy's are so much fun!
Love this smile!
He's like a limp rag when you try to stand him up. Just not happening...
I sure do love him, though!

We'll go back for a visit this evening and will have him in a private room. I'm hoping to get his measurements, so we'll know what size clothing we're buying. I'm guessing an 18 month. His shoes are a size 6, but he could do a size 5 still. Sweet little man. 

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Monday, November 21, 2011

We Met Joseph!

Our first visit went well. We arrived a little after 10am and were taken to the director's office to chat about Joseph. We had about a ten minute visit with her about visitation hours and just chatting about some of the other children who were recently adopted from this orphanage and how they're doing. Then, the door opened and in walked one of the workers carrying a very disgruntled Joseph. Obviously, he was in the middle of something very important back in the playroom and really couldn't be disturbed with meeting Mommy and Daddy. I handled it like a veteran Mom and imposed myself directly into his personal space. Sorry, buddy, Mommy waited a long time for this day.

video

We have tons more video, but it's taking forever to load. We stayed for about two hours and loved on our boy as much as he would let us. He loves to sit in the ball pit and make all kinds of noises and funny facial expressions. He did take to Marty more than me, which I totally expected. He would let me hold his hand, but would reach for Marty to pick him up. He even snuggled in for a few minutes.
Isn't he precious? A Daddy's boy already. Marty is so good with him. They make strange noises together and blow spit bubbles. We're even more anxious now to get our boy home and love on him and watch what God can do in his little life. He has so much potential, we just have to help him find and reach it.

In case you were wondering, Joseph weighs just 20 lbs and is 5 days older than our Julie, who is a small six year old herself. She weighs 44 lbs. We knew he was small, but to hold him. Oh my heart...it's like holding a toddler. Such a tiny love. We're so thankful God has trusted us with the care of this little love.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

First Day in Country!

We explored the city, today. We found a McDonald's and had lunch there. The food in our hotel is yummy and we ate here for breakfast and dinner. We leave this hotel tomorrow and we'll come back next weekend, in between regions. The service here is excellent and we've made a friend. His name is Dido (die doe). He works here in the hotel and is ALWAYS here. So far, he's been our bell-hop, delivered our room service and waited on our table for breakfast and dinner. I'm going to see if I can get a picture of him, so you can see him, too. He speaks English, but it's limited and it's hilarious to try to hear us have conversation.

Another funny story from this morning. They serve a buffet style breakfast here at the hotel, very similar to what you find at most hotels in the USA. However, they do not serve biscuits and gravy. They do have yogurt with nuts mixed in that Marty mistook for gravy though. Marty does not eat yogurt. He did eat his bowl this morning. We're big on not offending anyone and try to eat anything we have on our plate. It was hilarious to see Marty's face when he realized his mistake. I knew right away that he had a bowl full of yogurt and not gravy. I don't eat yogurt, either, and felt no need to help him with his. I hope this doesn't come back to haunt me at some point this trip.

Other than that, we've been resting and preparing to meet Joseph, tomorrow. We got new information on both boys when we got here. It seems like Samuel was transferred a week after we committed to him. Which is very sad, since he had been in the same orphanage from the time he was 3 weeks old. Every move is traumatic for a child, especially one who has no family to take with them and help them adjust. One more hardship that he just didn't have to go through. What's done is done. Hopefully, he's adjusted well in the past 8 months.

Tomorrow's post should be full of pictures of us meeting our boy! Pray we have a good internet connection at our new hotel. We'll update as often as time and the internet access permit.

Blessings,
Mandy

Friday, November 18, 2011

It's Finally Here!

I'm writing this post from the airport. We're about an hour and a half from boarding our first flight. The flight that starts the journey to our sons! We'll be meeting Joseph on Monday! We're beyond excited and hope that you'll continue to pray for our safety as we travel. I'll post an update and share some pictures of the city on Sunday, if not before then. Thanks to everyone who's watching and praying and celebrating this journey with us. We appreciate each one of you!

Blessings,
Mandy

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I'm Scared

I'm scared. There I said it. I want to be honest here. I want this to be a place where you can come and find transparency. Adoption is hard. I am terrified about what is about to happen. In just three days, we fly across the ocean to meet our boys. We're excited and I'm scared and nervous. I've been on the verge of tears for most of the day, as I pack and prepare to go and meet our boys.

In less than a week, I am going to be holding one of my boys. I am already in love with these boys, but for right this minute they are still just pictures and videos. I'm about to put my hands on them, to feel the weight of them in my arms, to hear their laughter and love on them. Then, I'm going to have to leave them behind and I'm terrified, because I can, already, barely catch my breath when I think about it. Marty and I are about to leave our hearts on the other side of the ocean and that is an exercise in trust, my friends.

Can we put our feet, where our faith is? Do we trust God in every situation? Even the unbearable task of leaving our sons behind, while we finish the race toward bringing them home. I don't know if you can understand, unless you've been here. I just don't know. Pray for us, pray for our children, the ones who understand and the ones who will think that, once again, they are being left behind and forgotten. It's a difficult path that God has asked us to walk, but we'll walk it knowing we'll find more of Him along the way.

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Christmas Cash, Christmas Cash, Christmas Cash

We're at it, again! It's not because we're bored or have too much time on our hands. It's because these boys need to come home and we're not as close to our goal of being funded as we originally thought. I will know exactly how much we still need in a few weeks, after I figure out how much this first trip costs us, but we may still lack as much as $10,000 to be funded. That's $4,000 more than our original goal. So, while I wanted to take this month off, while we went to meet Joseph and Samuel, that is simply not an option. Here's the reason we're doing this, in case you'd forgotten...



Here's what we have to offer, Christmas Cash and lots of it! Just in time for Christmas, too. We giving away the following giftcards:

Prize #1: We're giving away a $250 Amazon.com Giftcard
 (Available Now!)

Prize #2: A $100 Wal-Mart Giftcard
(Available Now!)

Prize #3: A $50 Sears Giftcard
(Available Now!)

Prize #4: A $50 Lowe's Giftcard (for the man in your life)
(Available Now!)

Prize #5: A $50 Toys-R-Us Giftcard
(Available Now!)

How's that for Christmas shopping fun? The more money we raise the more prizes we'll add. I have some other really nice gifts here, but need to see how well you all spread the word before I post it all! 

We'll run this giveaway until Sunday, December 11th, so the winners will have plenty of time to use their giftcards toward their Christmas shopping.

Ways to enter:
Donations can be made through the chipin on the right hand side of the blog and all donations are tax-deductible. You will receive a receipt from Reece's Rainbow.

Donate any amount = 1 entry
Donate $10 = 3 entries
Donate $50 = 20 entries
Donate $100 = 50 entries

You can also earn one entry per day by sharing on facebook, twitter or your blog. You will need to leave me a comment, letting me know you've shared in order to earn your free entry.

We leave in 5 days to meet our boys, so I really need my friends to rally during this giveaway and share, share, share!

Blessings,
Mandy

Full-disclosure: The money to purchase these giftcards is coming from the money we raise, the Amazon Giftcard is being donated and then we have goals set for each additional giftcard to release. I, also, have other gifts to add, but we need to reach our giftcard goals, first.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

I am such a SLACKER!

I had such a busy day, yesterday. I think, I will never commit to blogging 30 days in a row again. Clearly, I'm not fit for the task.

Can I tell you why I'm such a slacker, when it comes to my blog, lately? We are leaving to meet our boys in 6 days! I'm very, very thankful for that, but it doesn't leave me with a lot of time to blog. You understand, right?

I do hate that I missed Forever Family Friday, yesterday...

I was going to tell you about Dwayne. Dwayne needs a forever family. Please, hop over to one of my all-time favorite blogs and read all about Dwayne: Pudge and Biggs. You should have a look around while you're over there. I go check in on LC and Jace when I need a pick me up. These two cuties are always up to something fun!

Please, keep praying for us as we prepare to leave Eli and Julianna behind and go meet Joseph and Samuel. We have a lot to do in the next 6 days.

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Give Thanks

"Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Today, I am going to give thanks for the people who leave nasty comments here on my blog. Come back. They've been deleted, no need to go looking for them. I have seen others respond and their has been discussion about whether we should address the issue of negative comments left on our blog. Here is my response.

I am thankful that you, who are skeptical are watching. I am thankful for the opportunity to let my light shine for Christ. I am thankful that you take the time to read about our beautiful boys, when others simply look away. I pray that God would ignite a passion within you to use your voice for His Kingdom and to His Glory.

Please know that you don't just exist here in Blogland. There are very real people, just like you, who we meet everyday in our real lives. You have helped prepare our hearts and our responses for the ones who simply don't get it. When a person overhears a conversation about our boys and all the ones like them who are lying in cribs waiting for a chance at life and says, "Why not just euthanize them all?" I know better how to pray and you have helped me prepare my gentle response. The word says, "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."

I am praying daily for you and them to receive a gentle nudging from the Holy Spirit regarding the truth. Today, I am thankful, that you have challenged me to be who God has called me to be. I will walk where He calls and I will count it a JOY when others insult me.

"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." Matthew 5:11-12

You see my dear friends, you have made my reward in heaven richer. For every one of my adopting friends who are dealing with negative comments in Blogland or in real life, "Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven." If we were trying to please man, we wouldn't be taking the road less travelled...the one where Jesus walks...

Hidden in Christ (and thankful to be here)
Mandy

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Day 8...Reece's Rainbow Family

So, I flaked, yesterday. Making number 7 on the list of things I'm thankful for...grace. I missed it. I often do, but there's always grace and new mercies. I'm thankful for those, today.

Day 8...I'm thankful to be a part of the Reece's Rainbow family. I was emailing with another Mom, today, and I wrote, "I am blessed to be a part of the Reece's Rainbow family, too. I think, if more people knew about this added benefit to adoption, they'd be less likely to hesitate." When you commit to a child on Reece's Rainbow, you join a new family. It's like being adopted. Immediately, you are loved and accepted and one of the family. These people know how to love and love well. If you knew how much of our funding has come from other families in the adoption process or who already have their "pot of gold" home or from those who would love to adopt, but can't so they advocate their hearts out, you'd be blown away!


So many people who will cheer you on and cheer you up, when you're having a hard day. People who will deliver paperwork. People who will talk with you for hours about the questions you have regarding the process and the child you're bringing home. People who will do everything in their power to get you to your child. People who will fund raise for and with you. People who get it! Love this Reece's Rainbow family and I'm glad to be a part of it.


Today, I'm thankful that Reece's Rainbow is a part of my children's legacy. Their stories will forever be woven through with the bright-colored threads that are Reece's Rainbow.


Blessings,
Mandy

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Thankful for my MAN!

I'm so thankful, I've made it to day 6 in my month of "Things I'm Thankful for..." I'm thankful, today, for a Godly husband. I have no idea where I'd be without Marty. I'm thankful, he's the kind of man who listens when God speaks. He works hard, plays hard and loves well. He is the best Daddy my kids could ever have.

God knew, I would need a man who was very, very patient and he gave me Marty. The most patient, slow to anger, person I know. He serves others with excellence. Though we joke that he would only take a bullet for me if it wasn't fatal, I know he would lay down his life for me or any one of our 4 children. He is quick not only to demonstrate his love for us, but to verbalize it. He says, "I love you." more often than anyone I know.

Marty laughs when I get all worked up about some trivial thing and I laugh, too. After being married for nearly 12 years, he is my best friend. There is no one else I'd rather spend my time with. When he's working, we miss his presence in our home. My kids sleep through the night on any given night, but let Daddy be working third shift and into my bed they come. He is our security, our safe place. His arms are always open to us. I am blessed that he chose me to share a lifetime with. So, today, I am thankful for Marty, the one I love.

(He's going to kill me for posting this)

Blessings,
Mandy

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Things I'm Thankful for: Take 5

5 days in and I'm going to have to make a list and choose wisely. There's so much to be thankful for that once I get started it's hard to choose just one per day to share. Since, I'm sure your time is limited...

Today, I am thankful for the few Saturdays a year when we have no activities planned. The Saturdays when we get to be lazy and snuggle in, play games and read books. So, today's post is short, because we're having a lazy Saturday afternoon and we're loving it. A day full of my favorite people...I am thankful.

Blessings,
Mandy

Friday, November 4, 2011

Day 4 of Things I'm Thankful For...Forever Family Friday

Today, I'm thankful for Reece's Rainbow and the opportunity to advocate for the littles there who are waiting for a family. I (try to) post a Forever Family Friday post every Friday and I'm thankful that from over here in my own little world, I can be a voice for God's children.

Reece's Rainbow is just kicking off their Christmas Angel Program! I've talked about it here before, because I'm Meredith's Christmas warrior. You can read more about Meredith over on our blog for her: Meredith's Miracle.

Today, I'm going to link you to the Reece's Rainbow Angel Tree and encourage you to go have a look. Each child needs a family and each warrior has a $1000 goal for their child. The idea is the by choosing a child and hollering as loudly as we can and as often as we can between now and Christmas, we will (hopefully) find our child a family and raise $1000 grant to help that family get started with their adoption.

If you make a donation of $35 or more to a child's account, Reece's Rainbow will send you a beautiful ornament with that child's photo on one side and this picture on the other...


So, today I'm am thankful that I can make a difference in the life of a child. Are you?

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Be Thankful you live in a place where you can do any one or all of those things!

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Kindness of Friends and Strangers

Day 3- I am thankful for the kindness and generosity of strangers and friends. Yesterday, I took Julianna to gymnastics, which is something I do every Wednesday. Nothing unusual. I have made great friends in the long hours of sitting and watching Julie learn a skill set. We cheer for and encourage each other and share stories about our lives and our kids. If you're a soccer Mom or gymnastics Mom, you know where I'm coming from. These ladies are good people and yesterday, one of them, showed up for us!

I watch Julianna's class along with the other parents from the observation room that looks down into the gym. When I left yesterday, to head downstairs and pick my girl up, taped to the door was an envelope with "Mandy" written on the front. I hesitated and looked around the room, wondering was this really for me. I've never received an envelope taped to a public door before. Who else could it be for though? No other Mandy's that I know of at our gym. So, I took the envelope, opened it quickly and peeked inside to read the note. I saw the words adoption and boys and knew it was for me. I also saw a stack of cash and shoved it all into my purse. 

Class was over and I finished those last minute conversations. The "have a good evening" and "we'll see you Friday" conversations and then I hopped in the van with my girl and drove off. Pulled out the envelope and read the note closer, only to find that this gift had been given anonymously. It was a generous gift, too...$145. That's right, a friend who I spend a couple of hours a week sharing an observation room with gave us $145 to help bring our boys home. I'm thankful that God spoke and this friend listened. 

I'm thankful for the reminder that we must live our lives out loud. We must share our stories and love well the people whom God puts in our path. I am thankful for this family's obedience and their generosity. I am equally thankful for each donation we've received on this journey to our boys. It blesses us, not just financially, but it speaks to our hearts. It's like you stood up and cheered us on! Every dollar given is a dollar that says, "We believe your boys lives are valuable. We believe they belong at home with you." 

Today, I am thankful for the kindness of friends and strangers.

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Attitude of Gratitude

One thing I've learned is that life is what we make of it. Our attitude determines how our day will go. A few years ago, I hated doing dishes. If I could avoid doing the dishes, I would. I'd grumble and complain my way through them. I still have days like that. It seems like everyone else in the world has a dishwasher and I still don't. My kids are piling dirty dishes beside me as I wash and I wonder, will it ever end?

Then, something changes. I remember a little poem that I found online a few years ago. It changed the way I will look at dirty dishes, forever. I memorized that little poem, by taping it to my kitchen window and reading it over and over, again, as I washed the dishes. My little index card is long gone, but the words have taken up residence in my heart and when I choose to remember them, I know I am blessed.

Thank God for dirty dishes;
They have a tale to tell.
While others are going hungry,
We're eating very well
With home and health, and happiness,
I shouldn't want to fuss;
For by this stack of evidence,
God's very good to us.

Author Unknown


It really is all in how you look at it. So, today, I am thankful for dirty dishes, because they mean that God is providing generously for our family. I am blessed to be able to wash dishes that held nourishing food for my children.

What task do you hate to do? Can you change the way you look at it? Find a new perspective, an attitude of gratitude.

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

30 days of Gratitude?!?

Day 1 of a 30 day challenge. A challenge to focus on all that I'm grateful for. How amazing that during this 30 days I will meet two new sons. That's for another post, on another day, though. Today, I have to start at the beginning, the thing that I have to be most grateful for and that's my relationship with Jesus Christ.

To know and be known by the Creator of the Universe is no small thing, but many days I take Him for granted. I fail to find the time to spend with Him that I should. I fail to listen when I know He's calling. I'm so thankful, today, that His mercy is new every morning. He looks my way and sees His daughter. I have been adopted into His family, grafted into the vine and covered with the blood of Jesus Christ. He died for me.

I am thankful that I know who I am in Him. I am thankful, for who He created me to be. Thankful that He continues to mold me into that new creation. A creation that on it's best days points to His glory and on it's worst days is covered by His grace. I love Jesus. He's been my friend since I was a very little girl. I have felt His very near presence on more occasions than I can count. He has held me together, been my protector, my fortress, my shelter from the storms of life. He is my everything.

I pray that if you don't know this Jesus, you will search the scripture or reach out to a believer who will help you know Him. He's worth knowing. You'll never be more thankful that you took the time to make a friend.

Hidden in Christ,
Mandy