Wednesday, April 27, 2011

My Mom

I'm writing quickly tonight to ask for prayer for my Mom.  It's been a rough six months or so for my parents, with my dad's serious heart attack in December and very slow recovery.  He expected to feel better more quickly, but it has been difficult for him to regain his strength and energy.  And just last weekend, I got an email from my mom, saying that she had had a CT scan on Friday.  For the last year, Mom had been experiencing some growth in her abdomen area, but assumed she was just putting on some weight and needed to be more careful about what she was eating.  But with her diabetes, she often ends up eating when she isn't hungry (often in the middle of the night!), and so that can be hard to control.  But as time rolled around to January or so, she began to feel some hardness to her abdomen area, and in the past few weeks has also experienced pain in that area.

So, she finally went to the doctor and they immediately ordered a CT scan.  The scan was done on Friday and she received the results on Monday.  The news was not good.  There is a huge mass in her abdomen that has grown and spread around some of her internal organs, and it will need to be operated on very soon to get it out.  They will not take time to do a biopsy first, but rather just try to remove it, if they can.  The doctor has warned her that the surgery will be a major one...a large incision, a lot of cutting, and most likely a difficult recovery.  They cannot say for sure what the mass is until the surgery is done.

With all of this information in hand, and after having talked to my mom on Monday morning, John and I decided that it would be best for me to be there for my parents at this time.  I was able to purchase a ticket that leaves on Sunday and arrives Sunday night (23 hours of travel but arriving the same day thanks to a 13 hour time difference!) and will stay for about 10 days.  I hope to be a blessing to my parents, to encourage them in the Lord, and to accomplish a lot of practical things to help them.  My brother Mark and perhaps his whole family will also be there, and we are thankful for my parent's home church which has also been very supportive.

Please pray for my parents, for the surgery which will likely be sometime early next week, and for the results of the surgery to be better than anyone expects.  Pray for me to arrive safely and to be able to be a true help to my mom and dad.  Pray for us all to be encouraged in the Lord, in His steadfast love and promises which do not fail, do not change, and are always for our good.  May we rest in Him and trust Him for all that we need.

And, since I'm still in the midst of my study/meditation on thankfulness, here are some things I'm thankful for in this situation:
*That I could so easily find a ticket that was reasonably priced and be there so quickly.  PTL for the technology to buy online and even be able to do something crazy like fly on a plane!
*That my mom's spirits are good.  She is ready for whatever comes and is not afraid.  Her faith is encouraging me!
*My wonderful husband's support in saying "you need to do this.  I will be fine with the girls."
*A house helper and dear friends in this city who said things like "Let me take your girls so you can make plans." and "I'll help you find a ticket." and "What can we do for you?"
*My trustworthy Father in heaven who has a good plan.
*The fact that we got a lot of our packing done (for our upcoming move) this week already! 
*****A huge praise is that we have secured a place to live in Louisville--already!!!  It's been in the works for a couple of weeks, but we just received confirmation this morning that it's ours and will sign the contract and send in the deposit early next week!*****

I hope to make my time on the plane a mini-retreat and plan to spend a lot of time in the Word and prayer.  Honestly I haven't gone anywhere without a child for so long that I am not sure how I will fill all the hours!  So my plan is to spend them with the Lord.  "If you seek Me, you will find Me, if you seek Me with all your heart."  I'm praying that He meets me in a special way during that time!  I surely feel the need for refreshment, strengthening, filling, and resting in Him.

Thanks so much for your prayers.  It is such a comfort to know that people all over are praying for my parents and our family, and to know that the Lord is honored by those prayers.  Thank you again.  I'll do my best to keep posting as things develop.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Update on Christin

Several of you have left comments or emailed regarding Christin's struggle with stuttering, thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement.  I just wanted to give a little update tonight...she is doing all right.  A week or two ago, I thought it was getting better, but now the past couple of days she's had more struggles again.

The strange part is that when she is playing with the other girls, interacting naturally with them, reciting books along with me as I read them, or reciting her memory verses, she does just fine, no problems at all.

But, when she wants to ask a question or is "put on the spot" in some way she often has trouble getting started.  Lately it has been an airflow issue; instead of the air flowing naturally it builds up behind her lips or in her throat in a way similar to what we would do intentionally if blowing up a balloon. 

I've been thankful, though, that it doesn't seem to bother her as much as it once did.  She usually patiently perseveres, tries again, and finally gets out what she wants to say.   We have been careful to get down on her eye level, look right at her patiently, and simply wait for her to make her meaning clear and then answer normally.  I am very thankful that she isn't crying about it anymore.  We do hope she'll be continuing to make progress, trusting the Lord for His good plan even in this "small" circumstance.

Related to this, we recently watched "The King's Speech."  It was an excellent, fascinating movie (with only a bit of language in one scene in the middle, careful for that) about the King of England, George the VI who struggled with stuttering.  I found the movie very compelling and was interested to see some of the techniques the vocal coach used with the King to help him speak more freely.  The movie was very well done and really showed some of the difficulties of those who struggle with stuttering.  But, the movie also reminded me that though stuttering could be a very difficult thing to deal with, there are much worse problems that exist in life as well.

And as always, our good and gracious Father is in control.  He has made our sweet Christin and will continue to guard, guide, and protect her.  And we'll keep praying for her!

Have a blessed Easter weekend, everyone!  We had a great worship service tonight and it's been wonderful to see my children understand more and more of the meaning of Easter.  Christ is Risen!  Christ is Risen Indeed!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Habit Newly Formed

I mentioned in my last post that we've been getting up Clara Anne at 6:30 every morning now to help her also fall asleep more easily at night.  But that wasn't the only reason.

We are trying to help Clara Anne get into a good habit of spending the first time of the day with Jesus.  It was such fun to put together a "Quiet Time Basket" for her, holding her Bible, some paper, colored pencils and crayons, a small music-making book with kids' praise songs, her special mug for a warm morning cup of milk, and a cozy blanket.  You can see she is also holding a Reader's Bible. 

Isn't this just precious?  We truly want to help Clara Anne to establish a good morning habit with the Lord.  It's just better for her to not sleep so late, but get up and spend some time in worship.  And her reactions so far?  At first she was just thrilled.  She felt so special and grown-up and was so eager to do it.  But about a week into our new routine, when I asked her how her morning time had gone, she said, "Well Mommy, I'm not always sure what to read in the Bible, it's such a big book!  And, sometimes I get sleepy."  Welcome to common struggles in the Christian life, Clara Anne!  We've all felt that way sometimes!  The past two days I have let her listen to CD's that have readings from Scripture as well as kids songs, which she loves.  Most of all, I want to make this an enjoyable time for her, not a "must-do" item to check off a list.  We're praying that the Lord will use these times to touch her heart, teach her, and bless her.  May these be the first of thousands of times of personal worship throughout her whole life!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Hitting the Highlights

I realize it's been a long time since I've updated my blog with family happenings...but there's just been so much going on that I've either been trying to keep up with life or trying to recover from keeping up with life!  So it goes...some seasons are busier than others.  But, tonight I thought it would be better to say something rather than continue saying nothing, so here's some highlights!

**We recently experienced the "stay-cation that wasn't."  I think this is probably always the danger with a "staycation" as opposed to a "vacation."  We tried, we honestly tried, to take a vacation, but life interfered!  Almost comically, issues kept cropping up that needed immediate attention and created a domino effect of new issues.  On the first day of our three day staycation, a friend called.  He will be renting our office space when we leave for the States, and wanted to move his stuff in that day.  So, John went to clean out the office so that our friend could move his stuff in.  Cleaning out the office meant cleaning out our basement storage unit so that we had space for office stuff.  Cleaning out the storage unit meant sorting, organizing, and then repacking so that there was room for everything as well as freeing up some space within our apartment.  Cleaning out within the apartment meant sorting through clothes, switching from winter to spring, getting rid of things too small for Christin, and dealing with various items we don't need anymore, so that we could then put BACK all the trunks and luggage and have room to walk through our house again! 

As well during the midst of this, our internet was giving us troubles--working occasionally, then stopping for no apparent reason.  We called the internet company and had DRAMA dealing with their repairmen, and finally they told us we needed a new password and so we needed the ID card number of the person who originally set up our account.  That person happens to be our landlord.  We were hesitant to call him, because we hadn't officially told him about our planned move, but we did call in order to get the info, in order to get the internet fixed.  Unfortunately the landlord was not too happy with us.  He had heard through the grapevine that we were moving and was upset that we hadn't talked with him yet (though our contract only says we need to give 2 weeks notice).  He wanted to know what we were taking with us when we left.  Apparently in this country, it's customary for the landlord to pay for repairs/improvements to the apartment.  He seemed concerned that we wanted a whole bunch of money for the improvements we had made when we first moved in three years ago.  After lots of tallying of receipts (by then it was day 3 of "staycation"), discussion, and negotiations, the landlord concluded that he didn't want any of the items we installed--kitchen cabinets and countertops, a bathtub, cupboards in the bathrooms, even the ceiling fans.  He said we could leave them in, take them out and sell them, throw them away, whatever, he didn't care, he just didn't want to pay any money.  Isn't that surprising?  But, it's all in Father's hands...we hope there will be a way to pass on some of these items to others who can benefit from them so that their value won't be lost.

So, after that, we had not had a vacation, but we got a lot done!  I did sort and organize a TON of stuff, including all five persons' clothes and books, and got a good start on items in my cupboards.  It's so funny, when I was growing up, on Memorial Day or Labor Day I can always remember my mom wanting to use those days to do a major cleaning project--clean the garage, clean out the attics, or organize the basement.  I always thought that sounded like no fun at all, but now I realize the helpfulness of getting things accomplished when you have days off!  So, I am thankful for all that we accomplished and feel like I have a great start on our packing in a few months.

Other highlights:
**I've been reading a great book by Nancy Leigh DeMoss called "Choosing Gratitude."  It's been wonderful!  I feel that the sin of ingratitude is so easy for me to slip into, and truly, I have so much to be grateful for.  This book is helping me to change some of my thinking and be more intentional about being grateful for all that I have.  The spiritual blessings alone that I possess in Christ--that have been graciously and generously given to me when I deserved none of it--are enough to spend the rest of my life being grateful for.  Oh Lord, though you have already given me all things, give me one thing more: a grateful heart!

 **Last week Monday Clara Anne slept until 9:45 before we finally woke her up.  She is our Sleeping Beauty!  But she also has trouble going to sleep at night sometimes.  I know she lies there awake, sometimes for an hour or two, before falling asleep.  So, we've determined to change that.  If she gets up earlier she should get tired earlier too, right?  This whole past week I've woken her at 6:30 and she HAS been more tired at night.  It's helping!  More on that in another post...

**Our sweet Christin has been struggling a bit with stuttering in recent weeks.  It began suddenly, and at first she was having trouble with certain consonants--"w", "y" and sometimes "m".  She would repeat the initial consonant sound again and again, sometimes up to 15 times, before she could get the word out.  And then other times, she wouldn't have any troubles at all.  Slowly it seemed to get worse, and she became self conscious about it and even upset about it, several times crying to me, "mama, my mouth won't work!" or "Mommy, I can't talk!"  One night it took her almost five full minutes to say "Can."  She kept trying, couldn't get past the /k/ and would start crying.  That was probably the worst moment of the last few weeks, she was crying and my heart just wrenched in pity, I cried too!  After that night, we made it a matter of more earnest prayer and it seems like the Lord is helping her.  From what I have read, stuttering seems to be a neurological difficulty--in Christin's case, since she was so very verbal so early, she knows exactly what she wants to say but lacks the motor coordination to get it out.  There is a chance it will never go away, but there's a good chance, because of her age, her gender, and other signs, that she will gradually get over it.  I was most sad to see her withdrawing some, being more reluctant to speak because she was afraid.  We have still encouraged her to speak, and I'm glad to say that at the end of this week she seems a bit better.  Whenever she is playing, reciting books or poems or Scripture that she knows, or interacting naturally with us or her sisters she does fine.  But when she wants to ask a question or is put on the spot she has a harder time getting going.  She's not stuttering over initial consonants, just sometimes can't quite get the phrase going that she wants to say.  Generally, I'd say it's improving.  We're praying for her.  I keep thinking of what the LORD said to Moses at the burning bush:  "Who made man's mouth?"  He is in control!

**And by the way, we DID get our internet fixed!  (Obviously, since you're reading this!)  It turned out we needed a new router, we didn't actually need to contact our landlord, but thankfully now it's all working (and we got those landlord issues settled too).  Whew, glad to have that taken care of!  We depend upon it a lot in our context!

**I made some fabulous cappucino muffins last week with a coffee icing that were just delicious.  After years of despising coffee, John says he's open to changing his mind and appreciating it instead, maybe my dreams of sipping coffee with my sweetie may finally come true!

**The girls have now done the dishes successfully three different nights!  Clara Anne washes, Chloe rinses, and Christin dries and stacks them on the dishrack.  They're doing a great job!  Last night John had a meeting so the girls and I were about to watch a movie (they had requested Ben-Hur) and so I got into my jammies and got the movie set up while they were finishing up in the kitchen!  I must say, I never thought this day would come!

**We've been looking online for rental housing in Louisville and actually have a couple of possibilities.  We're praying for the place Father has for us; it's been fun to look!  Homes in America look so pretty!  (It's all the green grass--might totally be weeds, but looks great to us!)

**We attended a friend's wedding on April 2 and had a wonderful time despite the cold front that moved in the night before; pictures to follow in another post!

**I had a date with Christin last week to spend 20 of her points for excellent behavior.  We went to Mickey D's for ice cream, then to Starbucks for a sucker for her while I read her a stack of books--Going on a Bear Hunt, The Owl and the Pussycat, and Goodnight Moon are still her faves--and then I bought her a helium balloon on the way home.  She was so proud to sit by herself in my bike seat, a big step up from being strapped to me in the Ergo.  I did use a belt around the seat and her waist to help her feel secure, but she did great!  She'll be three soon!

**And all around us, spring is springing in the most lovely way.  The weeping willows are putting out their leaves, the flowering peach blossoms and redbuds and tulip trees are in bloom, and bits of grass are popping up here and there.  Unfortunately the grassy area behind our apartment area has been overrun with dogs (and their poo) but we've enjoyed being outside when we can.  Last week I told the girls we would go outside and play every day if the weather was nice (a real committment for me, since that always means washing all their clothes when we get in from the dusty, dirty pavement, and giving them baths as well), and we did make it outside most days.  Sidewalk chalk, riding their bikes, and playing hide-and-seek and ring around the rosie were all fun activities.

Well, if you've made it to the end of this long post, kudos to you!  Now you know some of what's been going on at the Winds' house!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Imported Greetings

It's been more than a month (almost two already!) since Clara Anne and I enjoyed our trip to Thailand, but she hasn't forgotten.  Recently I came upon this scene:

What are you doing, girls? Why, saying hello in Thai, of course!  Thai people usually put their hands up in this way and then bow slightly as they greet someone.  I think my girls are hoping for another trip to the land of smiles.  They may have a long wait coming!

Monday, April 04, 2011

Searching for Signs of Spring

March 22, 2011

After winter's drab gray, the first signs of green are so welcome!  On this particular day, the sunshine looked warm and welcoming but there was still a chill wind.  Undaunted, we headed outside with baskets, scissors, and cheerful hearts, searching for signs of spring.

Since then, the weather has warmed up, gotten chilly again, and now seems to be slowly warming again.  We are so thankful for the Lord's faithfulness, shown in the changing of seasons.  The blooming trees, green grass, and warmer temperatures are so refreshing! 
Welcome Spring!