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! 


Love
M

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 farm...as 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!)

Monday, February 16, 2015

Our gifts from the Lord these past many months!





















Come and sit by our warm toasty fire with me and let's get caught up! Here is your cup of tea! I realized that it's been 3 months since I've last visited with you, my faithful blog readers. I'm soooo sorry to have taken so long to "chat" with you. Life here at Grace Abounding Farm has been busy, and my time to sit and write and think clearly has been a bit well...a bit limited to say the least!

We have been incredibly blessed over these last few months. Did you know that Jeremiah and JoyAnna have been home for 6 months already? One half a year has already gone by. At times it feels like this is true and at other times it seems to have flown by. Does that make sense?

Take a peek at this photo.
Isn't it incredible? On the left is right after we landed in Manchester, NH on August 6th. The one on the right was taken February 6th. Look at JoyAnna. She is our little blossoming flower! What an amazing blessing she is to us. Look how withdrawn and to be frank..."drugged up" she is in the first photo, and look now!! Looking at the camera (ie:  me, who I must say...I am her favorite at the moment!). She totally has come out of her shell, and continues to do so. Jerry, too. His English is amazing and he has a servant's heart! Just the the other day he said to me..."Mom, please, let me do that for you!"....and..."Mom, you are a good cook, this food is very, very, very, good!". This is a child who came to us 6 months ago with NO English at all! NONE!

And so they are doing really well, and I can NOT imagine my life without them. They bring such joy and life into our home. They truly help us to enjoy the little things in life! 



JoyAnna finished her casting process, and has now been fitted with both legs in an A.F.O., which is a brace. She wears these daily, and sometimes at night, too, to keep her feet in the right position. We are waiting for an extensive equipment evaluation so that we can begin the process of physical therapy and also weight bearing and standing, and then gait training. This is going to be an amazing blessing! I say...TAKE THAT.....orphanage who tied her in her crib and did nothing with her! Take that! God has big plans for our JoyAnna...BIG PLANS!! And...she is a living and breathing testimony to the Grace and Mercy and Healing powers of our Lord wherever we go!! Everyone in the family is adjusting very well!


Glenn's work has been going really well. He was able to take a 4 week break over Christmas and the new year and work on some projects here to include new hard wood floors in our living room, our kitchen and our hallway. We LOVE them! 




We also have had a new addition to our family since we last "chatted". Meet Turner, our chocolate lab puppy. What an amazing blessing he has been to us. We took all of our Christmas money and pooled it together and decided to get a puppy. We researched and found a wonderful breeder up in Turner, Maine (hence the name) and took a field trip as a family to pick him out. We then went up in January (the day after Rosie's birthday to pick him up!) We have enjoyed reading the "The Art of Raising A Puppy" by:  the monks New Skete. It's been an invaluable resource in helping us to train him. Grace is his official trainer, and he's doing awesome! This Thursday he'll be 12 weeks old. He came to us at 7 weeks old! 



He's been such a blessing! Caring for a puppy is a wonderful resource to promote healing and growth in a family, and especially in adopted children, too! I promise to share more about him at a later time!

Speaking of Rosie....she turned 3 on the 21st of January...where in the world has the time gone??Where???? We had a wonderful celebration with Brittany and her family at McDonald's (Rosie's choice)...she had a great day! She's our littlest treasure from the Lord and we are soooo blessed to have her in our life! What a gift she is!




We are in the midst of our snowiest winter that we can remember. We've had 2 blizzards fairly recenlty. And...Glenn's snowblower has broken...so...here at Grace Abounding Farm, there has been LOTS of character building shoveling going on! Yay! We have fun while doing it, too. Here are some shots from yesterday...our entire morning was spent shoveling! 


Let me tell you something exciting about me...I've known about Trim Healthy Mama for a couple of years now. And I followed it for awhile off and on. Well...this is my 2nd week of following it whole heartedly and WOW! What a difference I feel! I lost 5 lbs and one size in clothing already! February 7th is my starting date and I promise to keep you posted of my progress! I would appreciate your prayers as I take on this adventure that I would be strong and stand firm in the Lord, and treat my "temple" in the way I should! That's soooo important!

Can I tell you some other exciting news? Our family is growing in more ways than one! Our daughter Brittany (married to Chris) is expecting our 3rd grand daughter in late June, early July. We are tickled pink!! Yay!!

And...our precious daughter Madelyn is in an official courtship with a wonderful young man from our church. And so at some point this summer, we will be gaining a son in love, too! (Photos to follow with permission from the young couple!) This is such a blessing to us! We really strive to train up our children in the way they should go, and it gives us great joy when they are following the Lord in this way! What a blessing! I promise to give more details and photos soon! VERY soon! It's ALL good! 

As I write this, I pray for some children in an orphanage in Bulgaria. Tomorrow they are scheduled to be transferred to a terrible place. Oh how I pray for these precious children. Please Lord, intervene. Please prompt families to come forward for them. Please, Lord! As our life settles down into a pattern and a rythym, and as we prepare to send off one of our precious children into her next chapter of her life...I find myself wondering what plans God has for our family this year. Will it expand again? Does God want us to say "Yes" to another child or children? We are ready..."yes Lord! we will go!" We will say..."YES"...and so we wait on Him, the author and finisher of our faith to show us...we cry out...."Here we are Lord....send us!'.....promise to keep you posted on that front, too.

It's been sooooo good to catch up with you! Soooo very good! Let me give you a quick update on everyone else:
Grace (18) hopes to finish her homeschooling this year and is working VERY hard to graduate! She hopes to pursue something in the medical field in her future!
Edward (15) is doing great. You'll often find him headed to work with Glenn to help him. That's been a wonderful apprenticeship for him.
Elisha (15) has 41 pen pals and if you are blessed enough to be on her list...you will get regular encouragement and blelslsings from her! If you aren't on her list and want to be...just let her know! 
Jonathan (11--soon to be 12) is going to be the tallest Winslow I do believe! He likes to do anything creative! 
Nicole(9) has become a big help in the kitchen!
and Rosie(3) she has 2 speeds...full speed and sleeping...and this is why I can spend this time with you right now....because she's sleeping!! :) :)

We are all doing really well here. We decided that 10 years with goats was enough, and so we no longer have them. We do have 45 laying hens, and so are always blessed with fresh eggs. We are planning out our garden now for the spring, and are excited about that! We have to put up a fence around it this year, though, as the deer have discovered it, and they've told their friends! 

There is a mud room in our future! Yay! I'm sooooo excited! It will be off the slider in the kitchen! Yay! I'll keep you posted on that, too. 

How is your family? Please fill me in! I LOVE to catch up! Please email me at winslow6_wp@tds.net, or friend me on facebook:  winslow gang is my name! I LOVE to use technology to stay in touch with you all! 

Well dearies...our time is coming to an end. Thank you soooo much for your prayers, your listening ear and your encouragement...they mean the world to me! Promise me you'll stay in touch!! It was awesome to catch up with you!

Till Next Time,
In His Love,

Mary




























Friday, November 14, 2014

Some days...





This is the day that the Lord has made! I WILL rejoice and be glad in it!! Right??

Ummm...well...in a perfect world and walking only in the spirit, I would be joyful and give thanks ALWAYS....BUT....

some days....I just can't...or I feel like I can't....

some days are sooooo hard. They seem to never end, and I seem to totally lack joy....and yet....I know that this is our mission field, and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is what the Lord has called us to do....

so why??  

why are some days so incredibly hard that I can't wait for them to end? If each day is a gift from the Lord...then I need to remember that, and NOT reject the gift because something doesn't go as I thought or as I planned it to go.

seriously......since we started this latest journey with the Lord 2 years and one month ago, it seems that NOTHING has gone according to what we expecxted or thought...and yet....we know that God is still in control! We know that! We believe that! 

And yet...I lack joy at times when I know that I need to dig deep and find it! When I know that God is the only one that I can get that joy from...NOT any human being...I know that! I believe that...and yet...

some days are just sooooo hard......

BUT...I'm learning to look for and celebrate the  bright spots. There are ALWAYS bright spots...

Let me tell you about a few!!

Recently my older children were in a play, and one famiy came over to help one of my daughters work on her lines. They had NEVER been to my house before! They'd met the kids, but never been to our house. So....they came over at a moments notice...No time to really get ready for them to arrive. 


our home is super active and can be VERY loud. They came over, stayed for a few hours and left. I thought to my self....ummm...well...that could have gone better...and was a bit busy beating myself up for this and that about the visit. The next day, I saw the Mom at the play, and she said...."Oh Mary...we had the BEST time at your house yesterday. There was soooo much peace and love there, I couldn't believe it! I've not experienced that in a long time! I went home and told my husband ALL about it! "



Seriously?? Are you sure you were at MY house....really??? I thought...Hmmm...am I my own worst enemy? YES!!! I am!! She wanted to come over again and have dinner and visit and learn how we can be soooo organized, etc. I was soooo humbled and blessed by her comments to me! Wow! That was a bright spot on a very hard day! You must know, too, that this was the  morning I loaded up all of the little kids and went to see the play! Whenever we go anywhere now, it's an event! So it was stresful getting them all there on time and being quiet and getting seated. It was sooooo hard!!! So I thanked God for that bright spot! And trust me...I've been able to go back to that and remind myself of that when it happens again on...some days....

and you know what?? Truly...lately...some days....are MOST days it seems! .....and yet......we forge ahead. Some days it truly comes down to taking the next right step and doing the next right thing...

If I don't start my day in God's word....that's a problem, a problem for sure for me and the rest of my precious family...and so I'm striving to do that every day! 

So the yesterday we went to the dentist. 8 of the 9 kiddos had appointments and so we loaded up and headed out very early yesterday morning for the one hour long plus ride to our beloved pediatric dentist who has watched over the years our family grow from 2 biological children to  the 10 children we have now. They cried with us when Zoey died! Anyway.....It was sooo hard to get everyone together and in the van and such....anyway...you get the point...so we got there one minute before our appointment...(it seems that we can not get anywhere early these days...) and we filed in...I'd like to say orderly, and quietly but ummmm...anyway...we filed in, checked in and prepared to wait to be called. This woman came over to me and said..."Can I ask you a question?"  "How is it that you came upon having all of these children with you? Do you do daycare or what?"...and I told her....."These are all of my kids, and they are all adopted!"...

She then got tears in her eyes and said..."Oh, God bless you! I was adopted, and I'm so thankful that you are willing to invest in all of these kids! You are an angel of the largest kind!"...and she hugged and hugged me. Well...I wasn't expecting that, that's for sure! But you know what...some days....no matter how things start out and no matter how I'm feeling, I still need to be shining God's light to others, and you know what?? This woman and her son saw the Love of God displayed in our family, inspite of me! And inspite of my attitude on the way to the appointment!!

Oh God ....are there times when I block you love and light with my lack of joy? Oh dear God...I'm sooooo sorry! Please forgive me! And so this precious woman at the dentist was a bright spot from God just for me!! And trust me...when JoyAnna was screaming in pain from her legs, and Rosie was in a fit and screaming on the van ride back to our home later that day...I clung to this bright spot, that was just for me! 

I just recently read that where there is joy, there is always gratitude! That's truly the key! And so the hymn Count Your Blessings has become my mantra these days....every day.....especially this verse:

Are you ever burdened with a load of care? Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings every doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by!

Count Your Blessings name them one by one!
Count your blessings see what God has done!
Count you blessings, name them one by one! 
Count your many blessings and see what God has done! 
And so that is precisely what I will do...not just some days....but ALL days...will you join me??