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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Dinner is Served!

What a blessed time we had last night celebrating Grace's birthday on the Cafe Lafayette Dinner Train. Grace had said, "Mom, from you and Dad for my birthday, I want to ride on a train!". Glenn and I went on this very dinner train 12 years ago for our anniversary and we LOVED it! So we reserved a table for 4 (we brought Maddie along as our time with her is winding down for sure!). We decided to sit on the upper level! It's one of the only remaining dinner trains with a glassed in upper level in the country! It was incredible! 

They serve a 5 course meal, and it's truly gourmet! Incredible attention to detail! It's an amazing experience and we totally recommend it! Thank you Martha for coming and staying with all of the other kids!!

Take a peek at our time!
Our two precious girlies! 

So this was my homemade dinner roll! Yup, that's the size for one person! It was hot out of the oven and they had herbed whipped butter! Yummy!

Then we could select our appetizer! This was mine and it was GREAT! 

Next was sorbet to cleanse our palette!
Glenn chose the roast pork ribeye. He said it was awesome! 

I choose the chicken and it was amazing! 

Madelyn chose the salmon and she LOVED it! 

Grace chose the vegetarian plate and it was really yummy!

 We also had dessert! I had key lime pie and the others had cheesecake! It was great!

 We had a wonderful time of fun, food and fellowship! 

Grace wore her souvenir shirt today!

What a blessing our time together was, and everyone here did great, too! Yay! 

Monday, June 22, 2015

"Yes", Lord, there will ALWAYS be room! Part 2 /Reece's Rainbow

**I'm going to consider this "part 2" of saying "YES to God!

Some days, (especially Mondays) can be hard. We had a VERY wonderful weekend, filled with a wedding, and also Father's Day and church and incredible fellowship that was a HUGE blessing!

Then Mondays are a dose of "back to reality". Sometimes we deal with kid issues because we are back into our routine and the safety of our home and that adjustment can be hard....yup...even for the Mom and Dad, too! 

So today, as I'm plugging along...Glenn and Edward are at work, Madelyn is working, too, and we are trying to wrap up school for the year.....and then trying to just get motivated for the week ahead, I'm remembering the scripture..."Do NOT grow weary while doing good for in due season you will reap! If you don't lose heart!"....and so I'm clinging to that, singing it in my head and trying NOT to lose heart!!

Well you know what?? God knows ALL of that, and so He chose to use these precious people to BLESS us amazingly today with this card!!

You know what??? You live your life, and obey God and strive to follow Him and show Christ to others. This card was EXACTLY the encouragement that I needed today to NOT grow weary, and NOT lose heart!

Thank you Mark and Jane Cheeseman! Thank you! This card really is perfect for us! Because there is ALWAYS room for more at our home and in our hearts! ALWAYS!!! Thank you for "getting it" and reaching out to us in this way!! 

We sure do LOVE you!!! 

Friday, June 19, 2015

What happens when we say, "YES, Lord, YES!" Part One/Reece's Rainbow

 You know what? God is good!! and you know when?? ALL THE TIME!! That's right! He is! 
I can't write this all in one post and so I'll do it in a couple.

So, come January of this year, we were going along with our life, which is VERY full, with 9 kiddos at home, when God started the prompting. ....."Hey, have you considered who I will bring to your family next?"....

"What?" I said. "Seriously God, our plate is FULL, we have sooooooo much going on, we, we, we, we,....." I was full of excuses and so was my husband. You see, at the end of January, early February, we had enough money in our savings account to put on a mud room. We live in a VERY small cape, and our space is limited with 11 people living here. So we decided a mud room off the kitchen slider would be awesome. Give us space, places to hang stuff, keep dirt from coming onto our new wood floors, etc. We had it ALL figured out! Right hun?? That's always when is happens! ALWAYS. When one of us gets the "nudge" to do something.

You see, even though our life was super full, it truly had settled GREATLY, and we were really sailing along quite nicely! (if I do say so myself!). To quote the lego movie...."everything was AWESOME! everything was cool with a capital "C" ". And...there was a mud room in our future to boot! Glorious space!!! YAY!! BUT....God saw something or should I say someone different in our future. God saw a way that we could continue to store our treasures in heaven, where moth and rust will NOT destroy. God saw a little girl. God showed us this little girl, again and again and again. And so in March, as a family we went and saw the limited release movie, "The Drop Box". 
 Have you seen it? It's out on DVD now! Precious blog readers, this movie changed our life! This pastor taught us so much about unconditional love! He's nearly 70 years old! A couple of the things he said in the film hit us right between the eyes and straight to our hearts:

Pastor: God sent them to earth with their disabilities. They’re not the unnecessary ones. They teach people. They live with smiles on their faces.
Pastor: We never faced any major troubles.
Glenn and I thought to ourselves, ..."how can we think that our life is too crazy with all that we have going on, and with JoyAnna and her special needs and all that we think is a LOT for us, when this pastor is caring for his own 27 year old special needs son with such love and compassion AND all of these other orphans in his care and the ones that get deposited into the box, too! 

And so we took  just about ALL of that money we had saved up for our mudroom, and we said, "YES", to this precious little girl. The mud room can wait! We were soooooo excited! We started researching and planning. Thing is, another family also said, "Yes" to our little girl, too! We said, "YES", at the same time.  And God saw fit that this little one would be matched with that family, why? Because God had another little girl perfect for us! Bait and switch?? NOPE! A total God thing! And you know what else?? God has put us in touch with this awesome family that God picked for that little girl, and they vacation only 1/2 hour from our home! We'll get to meet up with them next month! They are new to adoption and so God has shown us how we can minister to them and they can come along side of us. AND...how we can get our 2 Bulgarian beauties together sometime in the future!! Oh God is sooooooo good!

Okay, so we called our home study agency. They were just out to our house for our first post placement report for Jerry and JoyAnna. We asked them about a home study update for this new adoption. They told us that would be fine and someone would be in touch with us regarding when they could come out, etc. THEN, we got a call. A dreaded call. The agency had new management, and their clinical supervisor was NOT in favor of us adopting again so soon. Our children hadn't even been home a year yet. We needed to wait! UGH, and so we prayed. We prayed and asked God what we should do! We had NO idea!! We really felt like the door had closed! God prompted us to call back the agency and make an appeal to them. To tell them that Bulgaria had built in safeguards into their adoption system so that there was really no way you could bring home another child too soon! No way at all! You could commit to another child after 5 months, but that the new child or children would NOT come home for well over a year! So we made the appeal and they said, "YES!" We couldn't believe it! Well we should have believed it because God was in it! 

So they came for the update. Thing is, they were skeptical. Totally thinking that we were in over our heads! Seriously, the update meeting did NOT go well. Or so we thought. When they left, our eldest daughter at home said..."Mom, that didn't go well, and I do NOT like that lady!". So we prayed, and prayed, and prayed. They called us and said..."Okay, we are willing to do this, BUT, we have many parameters that MUST be met. They listed them......
1. Only one child.
2. You can NOT bring the child home before January of 2016.
3.  The child must be ambulatory (able to walk)
4. The child must be between the ages of 2-6.
5.  The child can NOT require surgery within the first year.
6.  The child can NOT have any severe special needs.
7.  Special needs accepted would be:  Down's syndrome, missing an arm, etc. 

The list went on! BUT you know what??? This list fit our little girl that God had shown us EXACTLY!!! And so today we just got this note from our home study agency:

"Hi Mary:

It is all complete!  Attached is a PDF copy and I am sending you two originals in the mail as well.  I’m also sending two originals to Little Miracles, per their request.

Please let me know if you have any questions or need anything else!"

WHAT???? This is a miracle! A total miracle!!!! 

This is truly what happens when you say, "YES" to the Lord!!! 

Can I get an AMEN?????

Monday, June 15, 2015

Look to the ant....Consider her ways....and be wise Proverbs 6:6/Reece's Rainbow

I was thinking a lot about the ant while out gardening this weekend. I'm always amazed to go out in the morning and find hundreds of little piles of dirt with holes in the top that the ants have worked on all night long. The ant is NEVER lazy or NOT doing something. 

Did you know that in His word, God speaks strongly about the ant as a wonderful example for us to follow? 

The next verse says: 
It (the ant) has no commander, no overseer or ruler, 
8 yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest. 

Considering the ant and her ways:
Her ways; her actions and manner of living, especially her diligence and providence, which are the things commended in her, of which naturalists give many instances, as that the ants watch the fittest seasons for all things, that they provide most plentifully against the time of famine, that they never hinder, but always assist, one another in their work, and unite their force together to carry away such things as are too large or heavy for one of them; that they prepare fit cells or repositories for their corn in the ground, and such as the rain cannot easily reach; and if through excessive rain their corn be wet, they bring it forth to be dried; that they bite off the ends of the grains of corn that they may not grow.

The ant has NO commander, no one telling it what to do, and yet it is ALWAYS working at something, storing away for the winter and gathering food when the time is exactly right.  They NEVER hinder one another and always assist each other in their work. They work together when something is too hard for one of them. They prepare proper storage for their hard work. Amazing! 

Another job of the ant is found on our precious peony plants from Glenn's grandmother Smith. A dear friend of mine was just commenting on our peony plants and how pretty they were, and how hers were so bright and colorful right now. I asked her..."Did you know that it's the ant who helps the flower to open?" and she did not realize this. I didn't either a few years ago, and so I was always brushing the ants off of the peony buds. Then I read this:  

"Ants are only attracted to peonies just before the flowers open. They dine on some of the nectar that's released by the flower as it opens. And, as it happens, the ants ultimately help protect the buds from other insects that might eat the flower. It works out well for ant and peony. The ants won't stay around when the peonies have finished blooming and won't hurt your house."

And so now I marvel at how God has designed this entire process, and trust His perfect plan even for something like the ant and the peony! 

If I am willing, there are life lessons for me even amongst my everyday jobs, like gardening, and yes, even weeding! Thank you God for ALL that you show me each and every day! May I always be tenderhearted and teachable! 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Top 10 things I've been thinking about/praying for this week / Reece's Rainbow Down's Syndrome

10.  Camping with our dear, dear adoptive friends this August--HERE, and how much fun we are going to have, and if we will all be able to fit in our camper. Hmmmm.

9.  The exciting gift I'm planning to give Glenn for Father's day. He doesn't go on the computer, so I can tell you all about it! I'm going to rent him a Bobcat for a weekend so that he can use it here on the farm! He is going to be soooooo excited!!! Sssshhhhh. I'm renting it for him HERE!! Check it out! 

8.  All of the things that need to be done in preparation for Madelyn's upcoming wedding in August. Food, invitations out, and all of that! Read her exciting story HERE!! Please pray for all of these details and that God would be glorified!

7.  Is the Keppra JoyAnna takes each day causing all of her mood swings and discomfort?? I think it is! You can read the article that I am showing my husband HERE . You see, if you didn't know, JoyAnna is from Bulgaria. We brought home her and Jeremiah last August.  In Bulgaria, JoyAnna was in a very difficult medical orphanage. She spent at least 4 years of her life in a crib with VERY little human interaction. She had many unnecessary surgeries and was given MANY if NOT all of her medical diagnosis unnecessarily, too. Why?? That's hard to know. Only the doctors there know for sure, but they will answer to God one day for this. Anyway, one diagnosis was epilepsy and she was on a VERY strong sedative for that there. Once she got here, she was weaned off that and put on Keppra. She has not had any seizure activity here in America and her EEG showed now seizure activity either. So....hopefully a sleep EEG is in her future and we can rule out the epilepsy and be done with the Keppra. Praying this is the case and would covet your prayers, too!  Just look at the difference in her demeanor from August 2014 until just last week! 

Isn't that amazing?? To God be the glory!! 

**Yes, I have 11 kids and think about a LOT of things! Yes, maybe sometimes I have smoke coming from my ears, too! :)

6.  When will my daughter Brittany have her baby?? She is due June 27th. Her last 2 girlies have been 2 weeks late. I can't wait to meet little Jolie! 

5.  Will my son Jon be taller than any of us soon? (he's 12 and already in size 18 pants for height) He has BIG hands and feet, and so I'm thinking, yes!!

4.  Will we be able to keep the deer out of our garden this year with our fencing? Praying so! They ate a LOT of our precious produce last year!

3.  Praying for relief for my daughter Grace from her Lyme disease. Please join me in prayer for this.

2.  Will JoyAnna learn to walk this side of heaven?

AND.....drum roll please...........

1.  What is will be like when I can go and hold our newest blessing and love on her for the first time! While I can't post her picture on the internet, there is a photo of her that you can see:  HERE And I have newer more up to date photos and videos of her. Can I describe her to you? Well, her Bulgarian name is just 4 short letters and it means:  God Has Added. We hope to name her Annabella Grace (her Bulgarian name) Winslow. She is the sweetest little cherub, she truly is, and she has been blessed with an extra chromosome! We are soooooo excited! Would you be willing to pray for us? You can help us bring her home either HERE, or HERE. Thank you soooooo much! 

And so...just a little glimpse into my world this week! And yes, the week is only half over! Of course this is what God says about what to be thinking about in Philippians 4:8.  I'll leave you with that! 
"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."

Monday, June 08, 2015

LOVE has WON!! It's Official! Our Reece's Rainbow Family Support Page is up and running!

10 months home!!! August 2014 to June 2015

Our family is living proof that adoption changes lives! Ours and theirs! The photos are worth MORE than 1,000 words! Don't you think?? 

God has worked out ALL of the details as only He can! We rejoice and give thanks this day! Please join us in prayer, love, and support! Please share our joy!! We sure do love each and every one of you!

On the side bar of our blog you can see our Reece's Rainbow family support page link. We'd love for you to pray and share!

You can also see our You Caring Page link, too! That's another way of loving on us!!

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts! 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Rejoice with Us!! "God has added!"

Will you join us in rejoicing in what the Lord has done? We thank you greatly! We have been matched with a beautiful little girl who just turned 5. She's in Eastern Europe, and has the gift from the Lord of an extra chromosome! She's absolutely precious! We have amazing photos and videos of her, and we love her already! We can't post them on a public forum, but if you listen to a little bird, that little bird would tell you to go to Reece's rainbow and look at a little girl named Claire that was just put on my family found me today!! Claire sssshhhhh. Remember, you heard that from a little bird!  Okay?? Also, we aren't sure if our agency is going to allow us to use Reece's Rainbow this time, so we'll keep you posted. However we've started a You Caring page and we would rejoice over any support given there. You can view that link here.Winslow's You Caring 
It was just asked what is you caring? It's a wonderful way to raise support that can go directly to the cause. It's great! 

Our little girl's  name in her homeland is P*p*. The Biblical meaning of her name is:  "God has added"! And oh yes, our dear God has added again greatly to our family

If you would like to email me, I'm happy to send you an updated photo of her, too! winslow6_wp@tds.net. 

I was just asked today the question that is often asked by family members who just don't understand....."You are adopting AGAIN??"....can JoyAnna even walk??" And I think to myself....why is this a criteria for God adding to our family again? It's not of course, and so I smile and tell her, "This is our mission field, and God is in control and it's such a wonderful place to be in His will". 

So where are we in the process? 

Our home study is complete, and we are in the process of preparing all of our other documents for our dossier. A familiar place to be, but a hectic place as well. We will be sending in our USCIS application for immigration very soon.

Jerry and JoyAnna have been home for 9 months! They are doing VERY well! They are thriving! Take a peek:

Would you join us in praying:
For precious P*p* and her health and well being during this time of waiting.
For our family as we prepare for God to add as only He can.
For our daughter Madelyn and her fiancĂ© Mitchell and their wedding plans.
For the upcoming birth of our newest granddaughter in late June or early July.

Our lives are full and so are our hearts!

Thank you ALL!

We sure do love you!

Monday, April 27, 2015

This precious girl.....and this Godly young man....

Are getting married!! What a blessing from the Lord! And: Holly Rebecca Photography did their beautiful engagement photos and is also doing their wedding photos as well.  Please check out her business! She's wonderful!  We can't recommend her enough!! Here, too is her Facebook page! Check it out! Holly Rebecca Photography Facebook Page

Holly Rebecca Photography

Friday, April 24, 2015

This precious little girl...

This precious little girl:  Miss JoyAnna Yanka Deneva Winslow turns 8 today! The picture on the left shows her at her orphanage in April last year. (2014). Although she's only been home since August last year, the changes in her have been a true miracle from the Lord! 

She is such a blessing to us! Energetic and truly joyful, she reminds us to thank God daily for ALL of our blessings!

She is certainly one of them! Happy 8th birthday love!! May this next year bring you amazing strength and growth!  We sure do love you bunches!

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 know...it'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! And...as 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 my..you 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!