"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."
Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)
Well, this is long, long overdue, but absence makes a heart grow fonder, right? Anyway, I wanted to give a quick update of our little Jennifer Rhoda and then share the background behind her name. First of all, I'll take a quick tidbit from an email Stephanie sent to a friend to share how the past two weeks have been with our daughter, Rhoda. Stephanie wrote, "I feel like she has really bonded, adjusted, transitioned really well. I don’t know how it could go any better. Let’s hope it’s not just the honeymoon. She really does give the BEST hugs, and she is such a snuggle bug. Her favorite place is in my pack!! I still have some fears thinking about the future, her future, prejudices she will face, etc., but one day at a time." I feel the same way. Her smile just brings me such delight, her little giggle is contagious, watching her run is joy-filling and her hugs give me life. Today I called her beautiful and then I asked if she knew what that meant. She said, "Yes, like a princess." Yes, she is one of our five beautiful little princesses. So, thank you for your prayers. The road ahead will have its challenges, but we are so thankful for a great start.
Now, regarding her name. About 5 years ago when we moved to Bellingham, we met a family who we over the years have become great friends with, the Collin's family. Jamie served as the elder over me at Northlake and became a great friend and confidant during my time there. Their firstborn, Kyle, is a "special" needs child. He is super special alright. We love Kyle! They adopted two other kids, Kara and Nate, who have become great friends with our kids. It seems every story that I tell at night has them in it somehow. Stephanie and I have enjoyed their friendship so much, but we also have been challenged by them as well, especially by the seriousness of their commitment to love orphans and "the least of these." It is already a full time job to take care of Kyle as well as their two other children, but in the middle of an already full life, they also foster babies until they are ready to go to other homes (Landen is in the picture and has since gone to live with his father). It is a difficult, emotional, thankless job but such an important job. I remember a conversation with Jenny one time where she said, "I might be the only one who ever prays for this child." We have been so challenged and encouraged by their example of living for eternity and the sacrifice of what that means here on earth. Time would fail me to share some of the amazing stories that have already come out of this decision to love the forgotten and neglected children in their community.
Well, spurred by this example of love, we, too, considered fostering babies or children or something. (If they, having a legit excuse not to foster, are still willing to foster, we, who have no excuse, shouldn't we at least consider it?) Well, as it happened, we end up moving to Zambia. And after coming to Zambia and going home and then coming back to Zambia again, after praying about adoption and taking steps to prepare ourselves for adoption, and then having a beautiful little girl dropped from Heaven into our laps, it was so easy and perfect for us to name her after our friend, Jenny Collins. And what was even more perfect was that we got our little girl on July 4th, the same day we picked for her fourth birthday, which is also the birthday of her namesake as well. Pretty cool how God planned that! For those who followed us on this at times agonizing wait for Jennifer Rhoda to join us, the timing, as we knew it would be, has proved to be all too perfect.
So, her name is Jennifer Rhoda Allen. Rhoda is her only link to her past life. She has no history, no family records, no last name. So, we definitely wanted to keep that name in her name. The name Rhoda means "rose" and it may have connections to Rhodesia which was the name of Zambia (Northern Rhodesia) before their independence. We are going to continue to call her Rhoda until she gets older and can make her own decision. But, if you ask her her name she will tell you it's "Jennifer Rhoda Allen." It is so sweet to hear her say her full name. She loves her name. Today we went through every member our family saying their first, middle, and last name. She beamed with the insight that her last name is the same as ours.
So, thank you Jennifer Collins, for setting the example of what it means to love unconditionally. Thank you for your patience, your endurance and your sacrifice. Thank you for modeling for us how to live true religion by loving the orphans with your whole life. It is because of your example that we have a little girl in our lives who will proudly carry your name. We pray that all our children will follow the example that you have set for us and you will be blessed and encouraged to press on every time you see our little Jennifer Rhoda, that your labor is never in vain and that at least one more child has a family because of you.
Thank you Jamie for your tireless giving of your life for your children. Thank you for partnering with your wife, for standing in the gap when Jenny has been up all night with an infant or Kyle, and for sharing your wife with so many others.
Thank you Kara and Nate for loving your little foster brothers and sisters. Thank you for helping your mommy and daddy when they need a break and for having a good attitude when the baby is always crying. I pray that you will fully understand how special your mommy and daddy are to us and to God. We can't wait for you to meet our new daughter that has the same name as your amazing mommy.