Monday, December 11, 2017

Fundraising Info & Update

Fundraising Info!
There has been such an outpouring of support from friends, family, and community; we have been blown away!  (I think you will read me repeat this over and over for the next few months:) 

I wanted to provide a little more information regarding our fundraiser, answering common questions we've received and sharing our hearts for this cause!

This past year our hearts and eyes have been opened to God revealing His character to us in new ways. God is a fighter for the oppressed-- not in just a caring way but with the heart and spirit of a warrior, a protector, a provider. He calls us to represent His heart through caring, protecting, fighting for the poor, the widowed, the fatherless.  

"He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing" Deuteronomy 10:18 

We know that adoption matters because it is a part of WHO God is. We have no greater command than any believer, simply God has placed a plan on our hearts that we are trusting Him to bring into fruition. 

This means that the hearts and lives of all believers are integral to supporting adoption in a way God places on their hearts. One truth we have clung to through this process is that we have done nothing God did not do solely FOR us. 

The funds we have thus far are not ours, the funds we have left to acquire are not ours---God is using us as vessels to accomplish His plans of protection, provision, justice, greatness, and overwhelming love for a child that He created. In order to steward our responsibility well, we wanted to be sure we did not skip or cheapen the process for our benefit. 

We view the money of this adoption as that of protection and provision for a child and their birth mother (or father, family, etc.). 

The consultants we are working with turn no considering mother away. They meet her needs regardless of completion of an adoption plan, they provide, they love, they support her and her family unconditionally. This continues post placement through counseling and continued connection with birth mothers. Showing the heart of Jesus is a pillar of this organization. We also chose an agency for our home study that advocates for birth mothers on every level. Adoption is not a way for a family to "get" a child- it is a way for a mother to experience the love of a God that sees her and meets her where she is as a protector, a warrior, a provider (and this is accomplished through each and every heart that gives, shares, talk, advocates for adoption). 

That is why we are choosing to communally fundraise. We want to use our voices well in this process, for so many more reasons than just the precious child we are allowed to steward.  

It is my hope to continue sharing the incredible ways adoption reflects God's heart to those facing unwanted pregnancy and all affected by it; and to vulnerably and humbly share are continued needs as we try to serve well and diligently through this process! 

Things to Know :) 

- We are able to directly receive donations through Venmo: ben-rhodes-3 

- Our fundraising platform, PureCharity, is tax deductible!!! .. meaning any donation is given a tax deductible receipt.. aka.. get those funds in before the end of the year

- If you know of or have any gifts/services to be used for fundraising or giveaways, we are 100% open and grateful! This includes ideas for fundraisers, etc. 

- Please continue sharing our story and posts! 

-At the time of matching (we are hoping this to be Jan/Feb 2018.. aka SOON!!!) we have to provide our agency with a picture from our bank account, with the funds, showing we have raised enough to complete to process. We are praying HARD that this is accomplished by then and trusting for miracles :) 

-We have had some family members recognize that their companies match donations given to pure charity. In doing so, be sure you and your company use our ID: FUN267433

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Something We Can't Say This Enough

Once again... I'm behind... but it is never too late to say Thank YOU! 

If you followed my Facebook updates, you'll know that we held an "adoption party" for fundraising earlier this month. I wanted to write a quick post about the INCREDIBLE blessing this event was as a part of our journey. 

Through the adoption process (especially the beginning) I was researching EVERYTHING  about ways to fundraise.. this idea wasn't on any lists or blogs I found so I also want to share our details to serve as encouragement and possibly innovation for others walking through the fundraising process to mimic. 

We planned our party in a very short time.. and in all honesty the true planner was our beloved friend 💛Bird. Legit.. He was our backbone.. entirely!!!

Food, location, and drinks were donated (thanks to Bubba Garcias & Southern Soul--> check them out) as well as silent auction items.  

Our friends Tonic Blue offered to play jazz music for guests, while we ensured the college football games would all be playing on the TVs. (Georgia College Ball is no joke...) 

The items for silent auction were all gathered within a week or two -- gift cards to local businesses (shout out omcore yoga.. seriously.. the best yoga studio like EVER ✌), cooler, night stay & dinner at local hotel, and gift basket put together by my sister. Some were requested and some were offered without even asking because sweet owners wanted to support us! (This was AMAZING, to have people offer services and products on their own accord to show their contribution and support) 

We advertised solely on facebook and word of mouth. We told everyone- the gym, co-workers, church groups, family, etc. then asked them to tell all their friends too! We posted the event on FB and asked our friends to share. (again, all of this was at no cost) 

To raise funds we charged $20 a person for party entry, food, and drink. $ was given upon entry and we kept donation boxes available through the location. And thats really all there was to it. 

BUT big things happened! Ben and I were COMPLETELY overwhelmed with our community surrounding us with such love, support, and encouragement. We truly felt the Lord moving through OUR friends, OUR community, OUR favorite places all for OUR baby👶 and their birth mom. It seems inadequate to describe how immensely our hearts were flooded with love, excitement, friendship, and community. 

The morning of the party I had an amount on my heart to pray specifically for- I shared this with a few of our warriors that have committed to walking alongside us in prayer and Ben. He felt the same-- that we were praying for an amount that was MORE than we thought possible- we had to leave room for God to move and DREAM BIG. At the end of the day, God had provided that amount! For those considering using this template for their own journey of fundraising (and since the funds are not our own but we're simply funneling them to accomplish the Lord's work) our total raised from the party was $4,000. 

This entire journey of fundraising has been small uphill battles that arrive and feel like I am being presented with the anxiety, sometimes the grief, and feelings of doubt BUT each time God has shown me that He is our source, He makes us conquerers, He is fighting for us and our baby. 

And I cant say it enough. Not even close to enough. BUT THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU to each and every person! 

Stay tuned for more on our continuing fundraising, FAQ post, blogs on the money breakdown, and baby updates :) 

Monday, November 13, 2017

All Things Adoption

"Defend the weak and fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed" Psalm 82:3

Although I have been blogging MIA for a LONG time... Ben and I have been discussing how much of a platform and information hub this blog can be for our newest RHODE of becoming parents thru adoption.  It is my intention to post more often and share all the incredible things we have been taught thus far. I'll start with an introduction into our journey...

Ben and I have always discussed and mutually understood that adoption to build our family was something we desired. We didn't know what that would like or when. Last summer we knew God was beginning to lay into our hearts that it was time to start a family. We began looking into adoption as an option, how it would work, what type we thought would be best and eventually had our first call with a consulting agency in May of this year.
Pic: mary margaret curtis from

After our call, we knew this was exactly what God was leading us to pursue. It is easy to say that God has called you to something and feel that certainty but difficult to explain how even when that happens the fear and doubts can still be paralyzing. As trivial and vain as it sounds the financial mountain associated with adopting is one that battles me constantly. It makes no sense how we will make this work but we are constantly reminded that nothing we have is only what the Lord has given us. It is so simple when we look at how all we even call "ours" is from the blessings and provisions we have that did not come from us at all. So we took our first steps.

Our home study started in August and finished last week. There was a literal hurricane in the middle of it but other than the normal loads of paperwork, doctors visits, and interviews went smooth and easy. We are hoping to receive our completed report in the next few weeks. We decided that our adoption will be for a domestic infant, meaning a baby from the US (typically being matched before birth and allowing us to bring home baby from the hospital!).  Our consulting company has our application and should be contacting us in the next few weeks to begin our journey towards "going live".

All of these terms are also intimidating and unfamiliar to most, as they were to us, so I will expand. A home study is a report from an agency or social worker summarizing legal documents, education, and ability to be parents. This is one part of the process that includes paperwork on paperwork (financial statements, essay questions, marriage, health, birth, licensure certifications, etc.). Home studies are required for all adoptions and foster care situations. Ours will meet universal standards providing it applicable to situations across the entire US.

A consulting firm is a bridge between adoptive parents and prospective birth mothers and agencies. Adoption agencies typically serve both birth mothers and adoptive parents as individual clients but consulting agencies bridge the gap between all parties. They also work with agencies across the entirety of the US vs. specific states only. The firm we have chosen has a great reputation for quick matches (almost always under a year) and being an adoptive parent and birth mother advocate. It is also unique in that they require counseling for all birth mothers pre and post adoption (which is HUGE in providing healing and love to them!). The evidence of Gods loved being poured into the birth families that work with this firm is unreal and their service has blown us away.

"Going Live" will mean that our profile is actively being shown to prospective birth parents, enabling us to be eligible for matching. Matching means that we have been chosen by a birth mother to be the parents to her baby and we accepted. Once this happens we will have more information regarding due date, gender, location for birth, etc.

This post could go on for days so I will end this one here! There's more to come! And for more updates on our progress or if God is leading you to join us in this journey-- you can follow our fundraising sight!

My next post will be FAQ! Post, FM message, or text me any questions you have! This is a journey everyone reading is a part of!!

Friday, January 1, 2016

GUEST POST: Embrace 2016 with Confusion & Questions

Ah! Why has is been so long since I've blogged? Life gets busy but I want to be better than that silly excuse.

Working on getting better! 

Never did I think 2015 would make me a blogger- if I even count..  but it did and I slightly LOVE it.

Welcome to 2016! 
It has already brought one of my favorite things- a guest post! 

One of my most treasured friendships is that with Veena & Paras. 

I consider them a friendship "pair". 

Unlike socks, usually only one survives months of use, but these two have been tried and true through many years of drug tests, political debates, dance parties, and countless memories. 

After much teasing, Paras finally decided to actually give some substance towards my blog journey, and voluntarily provided me with a post.

He's one of the most kind hearted, open- minded, and culturally educated individuals I know, and despite his ego being extra large- his true humility does shine through from time to time. I hope you enjoy his ramblings as much as I pretend  to.

Its long but he's good. I promise. 

Bridging gaps

I find myself confused.

Before I explain, first a little bit about myself. It's relevant, I promise, and in no manner a veiled attempt at a humble-brag (or is it?).

I was born in India, to parents who were both born and raised in the same district, before they they themselves emigrated to Botswana via Zambia. As it happens, i was in India only to arrive into this beautiful world, before packing my nappies with my mum and heading to Botswana, where I was raised and which became my adopted home. I was born, raised and still am a Hindu. I went to an international school, and my primary and secondary education both had a large dose of
Commonwealth in it; uniforms, long socks, ties, houses and all 

(I was a legacy Weaver, which was yellow house - so yes, in my mind I was Gryffindor).

My best friends are Welsh, Dutch and Indian, and I grew up around fellow Batswana and Indian immigrants. I speak English, Gujarati and Hindi, can understand Setswana if its spoken slowly enough, and thought I was good at French till I actually went to France.
--> ("these are all lies"- Heather...jk jk) 

Eventually, I ended up coming to the USA , setting up in NC, where I currently reside, still littered with travel back to Botswana and India whenever I can. I am a health professional from a farming family that worked as teachers and ended up as entrepreneurs, all things i dabble in as well. 
--> ("that humility thing shows up eventually I promise"- Heather) 

When HR asked me to write a guest post, I thought to myself what can I write about? I threw out ideas, "Chipotle vs Moes: which is the best burrito" or "The Ultimate Guide to 90s Cartoons" both of which were shut down too quickly for my liking. 

So, i thought some more.

Eventually, I kept coming back to our friendship and how we were able to become close friends (you will have to ask her if the feeling is mutual), something she agreed may work better for what is (for now) her blog.

So why is this all relevant? 

As you can probably tell by now, HR and I are very different, with very different world views, ideas, thoughts, music taste, food taste (curry always wins) and so much more.

And as I stated previously, I consider myself confused. Why you ask? 

Well, since I was a kid (again, see above) I have been exposed to many different views, people and cultures, all while trying to fit into different places, trying to figure what my purpose is, and trying to muster the courage to speak to girls (thankfully i finally did succeed in that department).
--> ("have you though?"- Heather) 

I find myself constantly asking questions and thinking about situations-->mostly in an overly dramatic way. 

What is right? Do I do this or that? Where is my place? Who am I and where do I belong? Am I considered Indian, African or American? How can I get out of this one? Is my mum going to kill me? What is the meaning of life? 
(The answer is 42 by the way)

But - and here is the clanger - I think its great being confused
I think my confusion is directly related to my exposure. My experiences, friendships, and background. 

Because of this confusion, I have constantly asked myself questions and thought about situations. 
Luka Chan via Pintrest via

This in the turn has strengthened my own world view (Indian Heart, American Head, African soul) and formed the foundations of who I am as a person. 

I remember while on a family vacation, I asked my father why he took us traveling all the time. His response, which i will never forget. "Exposure is the key to learning."

That exposure, and all the experiences that came with it, I would like to think played a part in me being a better version of my self (on a relative scale).

Going back to mine and HR's friendship: 
As unlikely as it would seem, two completely different people becoming close friends I think comes down to one thing - 

We never, ever, never agree on anything. 

How are we close friends then? 

She challenges my viewpoint, irritates and confuses me some more, and gets me thinking. We get to having discussions (sometimes arguments), she provides new observations and I try to do the same. We both may get annoyed sometimes, but these discussions are valuable, because it allows us to bridge gaps. 

We honestly question each other. If we can't agree, we always know we can at least understand each other. 

And all that is the very reason we remain friends.

Thats the thing about being confused.. 

Because when you are confused, you are searching for answers, trying to figure things out, trying to understand different perspectives,  and solidifying your own world view, while making an impact on others and shaping relationships. 

If nothing else, at least it gets you thinking. 

So stay confused my friends, discuss, experience and get exposed. 

Bridge gaps. 

And perhaps, if you are lucky, you will make a friend (or two) out of it. 
Cheers, P 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thoughts from the Struggle Bus of Unicorns and Rainbow [Carrots] courtesy of waitbutwhy
There's been an article circulating on the book of faces (Facebook) in the past few day about "Why Generation Y is Unhappy". After skimming through the article a few things entered by chaotic box of thoughts (brain): 

- So... I'm not alone? Other people are feeling like they're meant for so much more than they're actually achieving?

-You mean.. I'm not supposed to already be killing it with an awesome career, multiple accolades, and lots of cash flow yet?
- And...What if some people really are special unicorns that can do anything they want? 

I am a huge believer that enough work and motivation can create something special... but I guess I can also recognize that we can't all just will ourselves to be unicorns. 

After noticing the surprisingly high amount of people I know that shared or discussed this article on happiness, expectations, and our culture;  my eyes were opened to the realization that maybe "its not just me". Maybe twenty something year olds, in the beginning of a career or two, is a hard place to be....but maybe thats ok... and maybe theres community in that place. And what if this is a multi-generational human nature problem that were just now applying cultural and sociological concepts to.. but really it's been a struggle for many for some time. 

For the sake of transparency, I have to confess that I have been taking some trips on the struggle bus recently. Working hard towards accomplishments (half marathons, triathlons, running a new business, crossfit PRs,etc.) but not feeling super rewarded. I've felt God speaking to me through these "bus rides" and I think my eyes were opened to some things I needed to share (keep in mind these are just my thoughts not biblical scholarship).
1 & 2 Samuel chronicle through the life of King David- one of the most notable, famous, and I'm guessing pretty hot pieces of royalty in Bible times. He was promised to be King of Israel when he was really young. I think he killed a giant and won a war fairly 2010 Bieber status. He spent the next few years in this crazy love/hate, chase/kill/don't kill/ make up "frienemy" type thing with King Saul. He spent some time in hiding, and eventually went on to be King of this random city called Hebon. He asked God if thats where he should go, he got the OK, and went and was king there...not the king of the great nation of Israel.. but of this other place... for one ever talks of or seems to care about these early career moves (that lasted 7 years..). 

But taking a minute to think about that: 
 He accomplished something really really great when he was very young and was promised to be king of ISRAEL (that was a huge nation and kinda a big deal). Then we look at him in his twenties and he's king, sure, but of some random place...thats not Israel. 

He was told from a young age that he was special and would accomplish great things, like many of us, but then spent teenage years and more reaching small goals, hitting set backs, running for his life, saving some cities, etc. It wasn't until he was 30 years old that he was crowned king of Israel (something he was promised at like 11? don't fact check me here). He put in a lot of work before his time to shine but all along he held onto character traits I'm needing to be reminded of...

God knew David's plan. David was probably a unicorn from the beginning. But did he just immediately walk into the place that would be his crowning glory? Nope. 

He legit had to wonder if he would LIVE. He spent years fighting and fleeing. And all of this even after being promised greatness. Not only that, he spent 7 years at a mediocre job (in comparison), with multiple struggles, and a lot of hard work.. but he was faithful (and really it would've been easy for anyone else to slack off after being promised a nation, but he didn't). I bet that took patience; and a lot of it.

One thing that stayed constant was that he just straight up asked God what to do with EVERY decision. And even after God answered him once, if the situation came up again (like exact same circumstances), he went to God and would ask for direction again. He had a lot of faith and a lot of patience.
This spoke volumes to me.
Perseverance: when you are and when you are not sure of the end result
 Persistence: continually seeking God's power and direction, even if you think you know it already
Patience: even when its really hard. For my season now, the patience is huge. I am a go-getter and feel that I can persist and pursue through rough conditions but the patience gets me every time. 

So here is my reminder. 
To myself & anyone else that may need one. Pursue patience through your perseverance. And pray. And know you are not alone and a lot of other people are needing, seeking, and searching-- and for now, patience may just be your answer for this season. 

Recipe: Rainbow Carrots & Unicorns (jk... Roasted Egg Plant & Zucchini) 

This is a great way to spice up a plain old vegetable side dish for holidays. And you're bringing something healthy to the typically insanely delicious yet not so health conscious gatherings.

- 1 bag of rainbow carrots
- 1 eggplant
- 1 zucchini
- any other veggies you want to add.. potatoes, squash, artichokes, etc.
- Spices (rosemary, paprika, pepper, garlic salt)
- Cashews
- Cinnamon Roasted Almonds
- Freeze Dried Apple Crisps or Chips

Steam carrots in bag in microwave until soft, then slice. Cut up other veggies into slices. Spray all with coconut oil and place on aluminum foil on baking sheet. Sprinkle with lots of rosemary, paprika, pepper, and garlic salt. Bake on high (450 degrees) for about 20 minutes (flip at the 10 minute mark).  Once everything looks super crispy, remove from oven and place in baking dish. You can layer, or just mix it all together.

Top with crushed cashews. Then sprinkle with crushed apple crisps and honey/cinnamon roasted almonds to add a slightly sweet taste and special spark to your veggies!

Monday, November 2, 2015

This One Time We Played Truth or Dare.. And Now.. We Have This...

" Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works." Hebrews 10:24

TRUTH: Around 70% of my time spent in ALL of my 6-9pm MBA classes was on stylemepretty/pintrest/theknot, etc.. looking at weddings, planning a wedding (that was like 5 years into my future), planning everyone else's wedding.... Visions of peplums, tulle, confetti, and glitter danced in my head. We all thought symptoms of such wedding intoxication would subside with the execution of my own wedding and a life of wedding sobriety would ensue.... I'm now 2.5 years post wedding and I may still have a problem.

TRUTH: I Love Weddings.

So.... I did something about it... Keep reading to find out what...

Ben and I reflect on our wedding and re-live the moments often. I bring out the full videography from ceremony to sparkler exit on our anniversary each year. BUT one of the best tangible memories we have from our once in a lifetime moment is our footage from the Guestbox. 

The Guestbox is a video booth, rented by the event hosts, and set-up for guests entertainment at special events (weddings, proms, retirement parties, graduation parties, corporate events, corporate christmas parties, etc). Everyone wins because after the hilarious moments in the booth are recorded- a montage of footage is pieced together to create a memorable video highlight reel of the best performances. 

Before entering the booth--> the guest picks a TRUTH or DARE card-->they then enter the solitude of the tent, read their chosen task, and perform. 

What happens inside the tent, stays inside the tent---- except it doesn't---at all--and that's where wonderful happens.

We LOVE having this video to share with friends, families, and reminisce on all the amazing people, times, and obvious fun that was had on our special day. It helps that we can't stop laughing uncontrollably every time we watch it.. mainly because it reminds us of each specific friend,  it captures their personalities, and it strengthens our love through the constant memory of how much love and support our marriage has from our friends and family.
We actually loved this service and product so much.. that we decided- it's going to be our first child! We've adopted the Guestbox and have revived the services! 

Our wedding was the final wedding for the Guestbox in 2013 (but there were many before us, we could spend hours watching them all- here) and since it has been "resting" for it's big return to business. The original owners experienced a season of life filled with little humans & another growing business (The Big Fake Wedding), which caused them to halt business at the Guestbox. Ironically, this happened on the brink of popularity in the wedding industry. Check out Buzzfeed's recognition of how unique and awesome this idea is... 

A few other wedding guru's have also seen the potential for mad memory making through a one-of-a kind entertainment opportunity for guests. 
SO! All of this means that... The Guestbox is back in business! We're now booking weddings for 2016! And we couldn't be more excited. We can't wait to invest in each and every couple, company, friend, family member, stranger, ice-cream corporation (please?!) that has interest in including this booth at their next event. 

Marriage is so important-- if our services can help build up marriages through a reminder to be kept forever of the friends, love, family, support, and laughs during this life season- our job is fulfilled. 

People are so important-- don't underestimate the value of a tangible memory of the smiles, jokes, dance moves, confessions, and love shared in moments of hilarity. 

Fun is so important- don't miss opportunities to encourage friends to tell truths, belt it out, share embarrassing stores, and dance like no one is watching (because really no one is.. until the video's released) 

Now here's your DARE: Tell all your friends! Check out MORE videos!! Visit the website! 
Contact us now :) 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Wedding Tour 2015: lessons from hot people & cold coffee

Wedding Tour 2015 

Lessons from a month of weddings. 
I literally spent 9 months of 2015 looking forward to September. I knew I would get to watch so many amazing people start their lives together. Blah, Blah, Blah... I was really just super excited to show off  my dance moves. and eat cake. so. much. cake. 
But really, 3 weekends in a row of weddings was a whirl-wind and amazing. I was surprised by the things I learned from these experiences. And really, they don't have much to do with marriage. Just Life. 

1. Growing up is required; Growing apart isn't. 
So many people talk about how much they miss college and how those were "the good old days." 
I see it differently. 

We're getting to watch the people who shaped who we are go through life and its really really exciting. We watch them grow and love and change. We get to enjoy new experiences together- marriages, proposals, babies, buying houses, buying businesses, creating professional careers. We get to support the evolution of our favorite people, encourage them, learn more about them, and continue enjoying them. 

Even though usually growing up comes with distances in miles- I have a new appreciation for how much technology allows those miles to shorten.  I really want to be better at conitnuing to appreciate and value the people I get to CONTINUE doing life with.  

2. PEOPLE can be your passion.
One of the weddings we attended in New York, resulted in some of best memories of this year. Not only did we get to experience life in one of my new favorite places, Saratoga, New York, I saw friendships that left an impression on my heart. 

Our friend Kristin served as an amazing host and watching her life those 3 days opened my eyes to how much I desire to be a friend like she is. She is literally passionate about each of her friends. They're a real family. She's excited to talk to each one of them on the phone (real talking- not texting- like voice to voice). I want to be that passionate about my friends, strangers, and just people. It was such an encouragement so be reminded of this. 

3. Expresso + Gelato is heaven sent. My for real new obsession. We went to a cute gelato shop in the downtown area, Saratoga Gelato and I devoured the vanilla gelato + expresso (which is technically called an Affogato). Life changed. I made sure we went back there one two more times for my treat. Next time you're at a fro-yo shop with this option--> I encourage you to go for it! 

Or you can make your own! 
I would use the Starbucks Cold Brew Expresso (which can be purchased at most grocery stores)  + any vanilla ice-cream (1 scoop). You could also try it with an iced americano from Starbucks + frozen yogurt or ice-cream.  

Short and Sweet for this Tuesday
but I hope maybe you now will spend some time today thinking about: 

WHO can be your passion this week
WHO you can catch up with (or send that text to, or dial those numbers for a real phone call) 
WHO you could invest in

People matter. Life together is important. Friendships are more important than really anything else. Make your tuesday mean something. And if you don't feel like it.. drink some expresso + ice-cream and make it happen :) People are worth it. Always.