Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Rhodes Report 2012

Where did February go?  Seriously.  Here's our end-of-year update, which I didn't get out until mid-January.  I was waiting a few weeks longer to post it on here, until my sister overseas received it.... I'm not sure she has gotten it yet, but it should be close.  
Plus, I needed to post SOMETHING.....  More updates coming.....  Eventually......  It's been just a little crazy.

Rhodes Report 2012
Greetings in the New Year!
This has been a busy year!  Where has the time gone?  We have been blessed, and we continue to marvel at God’s provision for us.  “All glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.  Glory to him ….. forever and ever! Amen.”  (Ephesians 3:20-21)  God has blessed us.  Even when we don’t think to ask, He surprises us.  We are so grateful.
Our biggest news of the year, obviously, would be the addition of our beautiful girl to our family.  Zadie Marie was born in April, and is now almost 9 months old.  She is a big girl!  She continues to top the charts for growth.  She is now crawling, pulling up, and “cruising” along the furniture, crawling up the stairs (!!!), and trying out unsupported standing. She has two teeth, and beautiful big blue eyes, and lots of dark hair.  She’s a very happy, very laid back baby.  We can already, even at her young age, tell the difference in the way she interacts compared to how the boys were at the same age, and we are looking forward to seeing the change a girl will bring to the dynamics of our family.
Jacob turned 3 in October, and continues to be a happy, silly guy.  He has the normal short attention of a 3-year-old boy, but surprises us with what he is picking up from being around as his brother learns.  He knows all of his colors and shapes, days of the week, and can count to 20.  He’s in the Cubbies class at Awana this year.  He loves to sing, and it brings us such joy to hear him singing praise songs to God as he plays.  He’s starting on violin, learning how to hold it and posture.  He’s a snuggler, and loves to cuddle up with Daddy or Mommy or other favorite people.  He’s very attentive to little sister as well.  But as much as he loves to snuggle, he also loves to wrestle with his brother.  They have almost daily matches rolling all over the living room and giggling.  He’s just a very happy boy, and we love him so much.
Nathan turned 5 in September.  We started home-school Kindergarten with him on Labor Day.  (Appropriate, eh?) He is moving along rapidly with Math, and will be moving on to 1st grade math this spring.  He picked up letters and sounds very quickly, but is slower on learning blends and simple words (although it seems that it’s just now starting to “click”).  He’s in the Sparks program at Awana, and really enjoys it.  In February, he prayed to ask Jesus to forgive his sins and live in his heart, and then was baptized in July.  We can tell that the Holy Spirit is working inside of him.  He’s made a lot of progress on his violin in the last year.  He has memorized 6 variations of “Twinkle Little Star” and 4 other songs, plus two scales.  He did his first special at church December 30.  He had a little accident the day after Christmas, tripping going up the stairs.  He knocked out one tooth, and had to have the other pulled.  It makes him look very tough and grown up!  He is more serious (and strong-willed – imagine that!) than our other two, but still loves to laugh and be silly and have fun.
The boys’ curiosity about the size and geography and cultures of the world has been aided by the fact my sister Carlsie is on assignment with the Peace Corps in Zambia, Africa.  They really perk up when they hear, “In Africa, where Aunt Sissy lives….”  She has been there since August of 2011; her job there is “rural aquaculture” – teaching people how to build and maintain fish ponds for food and income.  She is on the downhill side of her time there, and will be home next autumn.  My dad and brother got to go visit her for two weeks over Christmas.  They really enjoyed the time there, and I am still blown away by the fact my dad actually flew halfway around the world in an airplane! :)     
My Grandma Marie (my mom’s mom) passed away in April, the week before Zadie was born.  Her health had been declining, and we are glad she is not suffering any more.  I think even in her passing, God used it to be a special time of reuniting for her children and family.
We didn’t take any vacations this year, between baby, finances, and time.  Paul did arrange a surprise day trip for my birthday, to the Wichita Zoo with his family.  It was a beautiful day, in the midst of the oppressing summer, and we really enjoyed the time.
We thought 2011’s summer was bad, but last summer blew it away.  No rain; it was depressing to watch the ponds dry up and the crops wither in the fields during 3 solid months of near or over 100 degrees.  The yard is greener now, in January, than it was all summer.  It was crunchy and brown by the 4th of July.  Despite this, though, we somehow managed to have our best garden ever.  I think it was because it didn’t rain, we didn’t have any floods, wind, or hail to destroy our crop.  It was so hot even the weeds weren’t growing much.  We could water exactly how much was needed, exactly when it was needed.  Our tomatoes were a failure, but everything else did very well, especially our green beans and cantaloupe.
After a month and a half of cramming 3 kids (in their required car seats) in the back seat of our Buick, we bought a minivan.  (We’d been waiting for a certain kind.)  Although I don’t like being classified as a “minivan mommy,” I do like the fact we can fit 8 in the van (which we’ve already done a couple times), and the fact it gets about twice the gas mileage of an SUV (which is what we originally though we wanted).  It’s a basic 2008 Toyota Sienna, and so far we’ve been very happy with it.
Paul continues to supervise at the glass plant.  It has been a very slow year for the company.  We’re hoping that when the economy finally bounces back, things will pick up.  Paul got the opportunity to go to a men’s retreat called “Encounter” in September and again in November.  It has been wonderful to see his spiritual life renewed and energized, and see how God is using him.  We are experiencing the blessings of letting him lead according to God’s design for a family.  He and my Dad are organizing a group from our church to go to another one later in January.  We got Paul a new grill/smoker for Father’s Day.  Several weeks, the temperature didn’t dip below 100 for days on end, and I told Paul I would not be turning on the oven to heat up the house.  Besides the usual burgers and briskets, we perfected the grilled pizza, meatloaf, bread, French fries, and veggies. The grill definitely paid for itself over the summer.  Paul enjoys the culinary adventures, and I enjoy the break from the kitchen. :)
I “just” stay home with the kids.  Besides home school, I teach Nathan’s violin when Paul is working, and I also have been doing piano lessons with my niece Lena.   I still lead our church’s praise team, and teach Bible lessons weekly at Awana.  I organized two worship nights in the second half of the year, where our band joined with some other musicians and singers for a “concert” of worship music for the community.  Both were great nights, with an excellent turnout, and we are planning another for February 10th.  The whole family was involved in our church’s 10th annual Bethlehem reenactment, the first weekend of December.  We had record attendance this year, with over 2000 attending during the three nights.  I turned 30 this year, and I am definitely feeling my age.  (haha)  I got glasses for driving and screen time, and got an umbilical hernia fixed (caused by 3 pregnancies).  The hernia repair lasted a week before it tore out at another place.  The doctor said I would need a more extensive surgery to repair, so that will be coming at some point in the future.  (It’s not an emergency at this point, just ugly and occasionally uncomfortable.) 
I’m sure there are other details about the year that I’m missing, but these were the major things.  We love our life. Of course there are always things that we imagine we’d like to change, but in the end:  we have a roof over our head, food in the cupboard, and a family that loves each other.  What more do we need?
We hope that 2013 is your best year ever.

From our house to yours,
Paul & Rachel
Nathan, Jacob, and Zadie

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


Paul was gone from Thursday to Saturday last week at a Men's retreat.  (Same one he's been to previously.)  He was kind of heading up a group of 14 guys that left from our church.  It was a powerful weekend, with guys opening up and deciding to change their lives and homes.  So he was not only physically exhausted, from little sleep, but also emotionally spent.
As we were eating supper at a makeshift table in the living room (the house is a disaster area; the dining table completely buried), out of no where, Jacob started talking about asking Jesus to live in his heart.  That grabbed our attention.  We have talked to Jacob a lot about receiving Christ, as it comes up, and he knows all the facts:  he has sinned, Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins, we have to ask Jesus to forgive us and accept His payment in order to go to Heaven.  He knew the facts, but he didn't want to do it.  We'd ask him the questions, and he knew all the answers - "Do you want to ask Jesus to forgive your sins?"
This had us kind of worried or upset.  People tend to say, "Oh he's just 3."  But what if he died?  He knew what he needed to do, but was rejecting it.  He's old enough to sin, know he's sinning, know he need to do something about it.... And not doing it.  Nathan was also concerned.  He sometimes would lay in bed and ask, "But Jacob hasn't asked Jesus into his heart.  Why hasn't Jake?  Can Jacob go to Heaven?"
So out of the blue Saturday night, he started talking about it.  Paul started asking the same questions.  Jacob gave clear answers.  So we got to the big question:  "Do you want to ask Jesus to forgive your sins and come into your heart?"
Paul and I prayed with him there, in the middle of the messy living room, in the middle of our meal.  I won't say Paul was sobbing, but he was definitely emotional.  I think the boys were like, Okay, Dad.....?
Paul has said recently he's not ready for Jesus to come back yet.  He has children who have not accepted Him.  You don't know how wrenching it is to think that the child you love so much here on earth may not be with you for eternity.  We are so incredibly happy to add Jacob to our eternal family.