Monday, March 30, 2015

Wish everyone could have an Aunt Elaine! What a treasure she is!

Aunt Elaine and Uncle Ron came to visit us in June of 2012! What a blessing! 

Who is this wonderful woman? And why does everyone need one of her?...Let me tell you! She is the sister of our twins Edward and Elisha's former foster Mom, Ruth! Got it?? I know, I's a bit confusing, but anyway...For 1.5 years Edward and Elisha lived with Ruth and Peter as foster children. They were 10 years old when they came here. Aunt Elaine, Ruth's sister lives in Ohio, and immediately fell in love with Edward and Elisha while they were with Ruth. 

When Aunt Elaine heard they were coming here, she asked what she could do to help out, and she gave 200.00 so that Glenn could build some cubbies in the girl's room for them instead of a closet, and also to buy a bed for Elisha! She is VERY generous!

Fast forward many years and she has just poured out love and attention on us as a family! She LOVES to send us care packages! Just LOVES it! you can see above...they aren't just plain ole' packages, either! She takes great pains to decorate them and she is super creative!

Losing my Mom 3 years ago this coming August was soooo difficult for me and for all of the kids. God gave us Aunt Elaine and her gift giving and creativity to help us with this! She is such a blessing! She LOVES to stuff her care packages with as much stuff as possible! She also LOVES tape! Both things my Mom loved to do as well! 

What are in the care packages?? Oh name it! Books, t-sets, socks, socks, and more socks, chocolates, lollipops, candy, pencils, erasers, oh and did I say books?? She LOVES books, blankets, clothes, and other really cool random things. She is a frequent shopper at her local Good Will store and they must LOVE her there! Take a peek at some of our wonderful blessings over the years!!!

We love you Elaine and we thank God for you daily! You are such a blessing and encouragement to us! You are a gift from God! This blog post is dedicated to you!

And so that is why we wish you ALL could have an Aunt Elaine! 


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

"Weighing In" on Weighted Blankets.....

3 year old Rosie with her 4 lb. blanket

7 year old JoyAnna with her 6 lb. blanket
11 year old Jerry with his 8 lb. blanket
It’s called a weighted blanket and they are wonderful with a capital "W"!! We just received ours! They were custom made by my dear adoption friend Shannon. Check out her Etsy site HERE. They are absolutely amazing!! You use the child's weight and height to make it just for them! Then of course the fabrics, too! 
Some of our littlest kiddos are pictured above with their blankets!
Let me fill you in. When we brought Jerry and JoyAnna home from Bulgaria last year, neither one of them had very good sleep patterns at all. That's from spending the majority of their lives in orphanages.
Jerry would suck his thumb and rock back and forth, back and forth. Not gentle rocking mind you...but pretty heavy duty rocking. So much so that it would shake and move the bunk bed he shares with my older son, Jon. After maybe 15 or 20 minutes of this, Jerry would finally fall asleep. Poor little guy.....we attribute this to needing to be soothed and hugged and rocked as a small child and not getting that chance. 
Now, with his weighted blanket, he rocks NO MORE!! Did you read that...NO MORE!! He falls right to sleep for rest time and for bed time and stays asleep in a nice deep and restful sleep. He's still asleep when my husband goes in to wake the boys up in the morning! It's amazing! Check out his picture above!! 
JoyAnna, on the other hand, was tied to her crib for 7 years. And so now, with all of her freedoms, she moves and moves and moves some more, even when it's time for rest or bed. She's in constant movement. She LOVES her blanket! See her photo above! She's on her side, sucking her thumb and totally at peace and resting!! She wakes up more rested and ready to go! This is crucial for her upcoming demands of physical therapy and standing/gait training! 
Rosie is our littlest blessing and although she's been with us since an infant, she was born drug addicted and had a really though recovery in the NICU for the first 5 weeks of her life. She LOVES her blanket and is resting peacefully under it right now! When we put it on her, it's as though she breathes a sigh of relief and relaxes immediately!
That extra pressure on the body is solo helpful for all kids!  We have read that the added weight causes the brain to release neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine that improve moods and induce a calming effect. We have totally found this to be true with our children!
We are now saving to order 2 more for 2 of our other adopted children! Maybe even 4 more for our teenagers, too! Oh and maybe a 5th additional one for our newest blessing coming soon! Read more about that: HERE
What an amazing blessing these blankets are! Just had to share this with you! Thank you Shannon!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

We press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called us...Phil. 3:14

 Jerry got to celebrate his first EVER birthday party!! What an amazing day for him! He's such a blessing and a treasure!

Pressing on...we are pressing on here at Grace Abounding Farm! Jerry turned 11 on the 7th, and Jonathan will be 12 one week from today! Sooooo hard to believe...time is flying here!

I'm reminded of one of my favorite hymns...Higher Ground! 

I’m pressing on the upward way,
New heights I’m gaining every day;
Still praying as I onward bound,
“Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”

JoyAnna got fitted with her sneakers today!

Lord, lift me up, and let me stand
By faith on Canaan’s tableland;
A higher plane than I have found,
  Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.
 My heart has no desire to stay
Where doubts arise and fears dismay;
Though some may dwell where these abound,
My prayer, my aim, is higher ground.

 And my heart really does have NO desire to stay where 
doubts arise and fears dismay. 

And so it is with that in mind that I ask you all to pray for us! 

Please! We have stepped out in faith and began
 another adoption process. 
Please pray for God's will and that God would order 
our steps and that we would obey Him! 
Thank you soooo much! 

I want to live above the world
Tho' satan's darts at me are hurled
For faith has caught the joyful sound
The song of saints on higher ground.

I want to scale the utmost height
And catch a gleam of glory bright
But still I'll pray till heaven I've found
"Lord, lead me on to higher ground."

Grace did an awesome job leading the kids in a 
play to celebrate Purim and Esther's life!

And....last but NOT least...Madelyn has found a dress! Yay!!!

And so we thank you ALL...for your love...for you support...for your encouragement and example!

We promise to keep you posted as we.....

press on toward the goal!

We love you guys!

The Winslow Family

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Here We Grow Again! (by 2 feet!)

Yes, it is true! Yes we are stepping out in faith and God has shown us our newest blessing! It's been an amazing whirlwind for us this past week to include taking our kids to see the Drop Box. What an amazing film that was in soooooo many ways and on so many levels an encouragement and inspiration to us!! A definite must see!

We are still in the VERY beginning stages and hope to be committed to our newest blessing early next week and so the details are sparse, but our love for this littlest Winslow is bursting at the seams! Will you join us in praying without ceasing??! We promise to keep you updated! In the meantime....would love to share with you our 7 month photos of Jerry and JoyAnna being home! Incredible!!

We love you and promise to keep you posted!

Monday, March 02, 2015

March "GLADNESS" here at Grace Abounding Farm because God says: "Serve Me with gladness: come before My presence with singing!~ Psalm 100:2

Doen't this photo just EXUDE such gladness??

Been thinkin' a lot these days about March, and Spring, and planting my garden...starting seeds indoors and all manner of things that happen in March around here. But this March....this month...brings even more blessings, and even more opportunities for growth and strength. You see this week, the first week of March,  JoyAnna begins her physical therapy. We go on Wednesday to meet her physical therapist and be evaluated! We are soooooo excited that she has reached this point and will be able to progress.

Just yesterday at church, Glenn gave the message. It was titled:  Standing firm, Standing strong, even if you are standing ALL alone!. It was an amazing message given by my hubby. Such an encouragement and such a blessing. In it he referenced JoyAnna, and her progress that she is making. Here is an excerpt:

                               "We’ve been talking a lot in our family about standing strong when it comes to JoyAnna, too. You all know that she is in the process of the Dr’s trying to undo all of the damage done to her feet and legs by being tied to her crib for 7 years. She’s endured months and months of a casting process to slowly make it so that her feet are at the right angle so that she can some day stand and maybe some day even walk.

Let’s take a look at this…because I truly feel there is a real illustration here regarding our walk with the Lord as a believer! Let’s look at JoyAnna’s right foot. This was the first cast on her right foot. Believe it or not, this was progress, GREAT progress, but not enough to stand. Could she stand after this casting? No..and you know what…looking at it, you may even think it hardly made a difference, BUT, it did! 

I feel that this is the same way with looking to God’s word to help shore us up and stand strong for Him. When we stand on His promises, and commit our lives to Him daily, we’ll have progress, it may be very slow at first, but don’t lose heart!! It does make a difference!

Look at JoyAnna’s 2nd casts on her right foot. Can you see the progress? This was in only 2 weeks time! But she still couldn’t stand at that angle, right?

Now, something to consider is this…the casting was replaced every two weeks right away…NO time in between! This reminds me of putting on the armor of God daily…and not leaving any part of it out!! Right? Otherwise we will lose progress! The enemy is always looking for a foothold in our lives, right?

And so look at this…her 3rd cast on her right foot They got a right angle! After only 6 weeks they got the perfect angle for standing! Look at that!!

BUT….this progress, did not come without GREAT pain and suffering on her part. During that 2 week period she cried and cried. She lived on pain reliever, and she didn’t sleep much and neither did we! You see that is when she got a huge pressure sore on the back of her heal. This sore was from the inside out and when that cast came off, the sore burst and it left a hole in her heal. It served as a reminder to me that standing firm and standing alone for God is not easy, and it can be painful for us. We aren’t promised that we will have an easy road, are we? Straight is the road and narrow is the gate, and it’s not an easy road! But look at the progress that this 2 week period made for JoyAnna! Incredible! And so due to the sore, they did another casting process  to allow it to heal more.

Then, once those casts came off, she was fitted for the leg brace that she’s wearing today on her left leg. And we had to wait another month before her heel was healed enough to have a brace made for her right leg. 

And so that brace is now made. She doesn’t have it on today, because we give her Sundays off from wearing it. It’s still very hard for her. Some days she can wear it only an hour, and some days she can wear it all day. We never know. She still has the sore on her heal, but it’s a scab now, but it still hurts her. 

Let me tell you something….one of the hardest things for me to endure each day is hearing JoyAnna’s cries of pain when her braces are being put on for the day. These are sobs of pain and agony…because her feet want so much to go back to “what they know”…and their old position…but when Mary or Grace work her ankles and massage them and get them into her braces, once they are in and secure, she calms right down. All of this so that one day she will be able to stand, and then maybe bear her weight, and then maybe, Lord willing to walk. 
Page Three

I know God has great plans for this little girl…I just know it. This leg braces…solid and firm standing alone, are really a perfect picture of what God will do in and through us if we let Him. If we will chose to stand firm, and stand alone each and every day! 
Sometimes our children complain about this and that…jobs that they need to do around the house, or the cold temperatures, or something like that. I am always reminding them of JoyAnna. Truly…she had NO reason at ALL to have Joy and yet she does…and has…even in the midst of all that she’s been through to try and get her to be able to stand some day!"

And so it's this message that I'm reflecting on today as we prepare to go to JoyAnna's first physical therapy appointment. First of many! That's for sure! We sure would covet your prayers! I know it's going to be tough. Just today, she could only wear her braces for the morning, that's it. It's sooooo hard some days. She's getting some skin break down on her left ankle now, too, which is so painful for her!

Then, on the 17th of this month, Glenn and I and JoyAnna will be headed to our local equipment center for JoyAnna to be fitted with whatever equipment she'll need here at home to help her. A stander, a special bed, a bath seat, a seat/stroller/high chair combination, etc. In the 6 months she's been home, we've just used whatever we've had on hand and made due. This is going to be awesome!! We are praising the Lord for the provision as well!

So you see here at our we prepare for the gladness of March  (including celebrating Jerry's 11th birthday on Saturday and then Jon's 12th birthday a few weeks later!) we look to the Lord and thank Him for our many blessings!

Over much of the country you'll hear and see celebrations of March Madness:

Not even really sure what that is....I think maybe college basketball. But here...we are full out celebrating March Gladness with the Joy of the Lord as our strength!

Sure do love each one of you and would LOVE to hear from you! Send us a note...we LOVE comments on our blog...or emails...or phone calls...or better yet...even visits!!

PS...can I share a little secret with you, too. This is another reason for gladness...another excerpt from Glenn's message yesterday:

"I know what God says in His word, and I know that this (adoption) is our mission field. As a matter of fact, we are seeking God’s will and His timing as to when to add to our family again! I promise to keep you posted on this! Please pray for me on this as well as it will be another test of standing alone…especially with my own family, and also with my fears about money and provision. I know these fears are from the enemy and NOT from the Lord!"

And so I promise to keep you posted on that regard as well!  (BIG SMILES!)