Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Before and After: Main Bathroom

I'm a little late in posting pictures of our bathroom, but here it is, nearly a year after we started the project! We went from July to February without a working sink. Never again will I take washing my hands in a bathroom for granted! The bathroom was the biggest project of the whole house to date, and I love the outcome.

I didn't get great shots of the bathroom when we moved in, but I think you can at least tell it was in disrepair. I think I probably was afraid to step in far enough to get pictures, haha. The walls were weird blue and as you can see, they were filled with holes and general yuckiness.

I had been pinning away on Pinterest while we were thinking of how to remodel the house, and I really loved the scheme of black/grey/white with happy yellow accents. We settled on grey walls and then found tile at the ReStore for the floors. We installed a new white toilet and all new plumbing, as well. I took the picture of the flowers at a park near our house.

The tub was absolutely the most disgusting part of the bathroom. I adore a nice bubble bath, and I wasn't about to put the kids in this one either, so keeping the tub was just not an option. It was beyond clean-able!! It was a good thing we made the decision we did, because not surprisingly, David ran into lots of mold issues lurking behind the old tub, and he was able to get rid of it before installing the new one.
I had never bought a bathtub before, but I realized that they have all different depths. We found one that is 18" from the bottom to the top drain. We all really love the new, deep tub!

The vanity (you can kind of see it in one of the top before photos) was actually quite nice, but it was just too big for our small bathroom, and the top didn't go with my black and white scheme. David found both the top and bottom of our new one at the ReStore. Unfortunately, they did not fit together as well as we had hoped, so part of the delay in having a working sink was that it took him a long time to figure out how to get them to mesh without breaking the top. Those things are not cheap! He finally got it all working together, though, and I think it was worth the time we spent brushing our teeth in the kitchen for this.

We also added a ceiling vent fan and light, and painted the trim around the door white and the trim along the floor black. I looked and looked, but never did find a window covering I liked, so last weekend, we bought some custom frost and applied that to the bottom half of the window, as well.

I am so happy with this bathroom ... it's just what I pictured back in June 2013 when we first looked at our fixer-upper!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Because of Christ

I had the weekend of March 14-16 planned for months.  My family was going to leave Thursday night and drive over to Illinois to visit the Robbins family, as we try to do at least once a year.  We would relax and visit, and attend their church's missions conference each evening. Everything was going to be perfect.

But then, plans changed, and the trip was going to be cut a day short.  Then plans changed again ... and again, and again.  What was going to be my idea of a perfect weekend just kept falling through.  I was hoping that by now I would understand that God's plans are better than mine, but I have to admit, I was sulking by the time Thursday rolled around.  My family was going to stay home, and I was to drive to Illinois by myself.  I was more than a little nervous.

The weekend was crazy-busy, a total whirlwind, and yet, one of the best few days I have had in my life.  God used so many people and circumstances to show me His power, I am just awed.  I don't think that I can accurately describe in a blog post what I experienced, but I just wanted to try and share briefly what God has done in my heart. I believe He revealed a small taste of what heaven will be like, and I am certainly ready for Him to come back for us anytime!

The weekend was filled with friends - no, family. And it didn't matter how long I knew them, or if I knew them at all.  They are family because of Christ. 

There was Jay and Hannah, whom I had never met before, but who left as my friends.  There was Heidi, my close friend and former roommate, a confidante and a support who I've known for years.  Her parents, who think of and treat me as their own.  Willi and Heidi, who were friends of mine in college, but have moved to Germany and I've not seen for five years. Kelly, who I've known a long time and who ended up marrying a childhood friend of mine. There was Terry, a distant relative with whom I've recently reconnected, and her family.  I even went to her father-in-law's funeral - a man that I did not know - and I left thinking, "I can't wait to meet him in heaven!" And there was the church congregation, who has made it their goal to get to know me and my family, and to pray for us and to welcome us with open arms every time we visit.

There were two very distinct moments this weekend that moved me to tears, and I can't get them out of my mind.  The first was when I was sitting at the funeral of Norm, a man that I did not know but who was dear to my friend. For that reason, he was dear to me, in a way. While waiting for the service to begin, I had a brief thought of, "Why am I here?" But then, God answered.  The piano began to play, and I knew.

When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound and time shall be no more,
And the morning breaks eternal, bright and fair
When the saved of earth shall gather over on the other shore,
When the roll is called up yonder, I'll be there!

It doesn't matter that I never personally knew Norm.  He's a child of God, and he is in heaven right now, looking into Jesus' face. And because of Christ, I will be there too. And I'm sure we'll be friends then. 

The second came in the morning service yesterday, during another song.

Great is thy faithfulness, O God, my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee.
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be

Great is Thy faithfulness, great is Thy faithfulness,
Morning by morning, new mercies I see
All I have needed, Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me

It was a special music, and I saw my college friends Willi and Heidi, with their three-year-old daughter Sophia, singing with pure hearts to their Savior.  Sophia knew every single word, because her parents have taught her the mercies of God.  I reflected on my life - the formative years and those I remember much better, the years from college on. I thought about when I first met Heidi S. ten years ago, when I was in college and she was in high school.  Willi, I met in Germany the summer after, and Heidi and I met that fall.

What fun we all had in college, and yet, how different we all are now. Through it all - good, bad, easy, hard - God has been faithful.  He has been our Father.  He has provided all that we've needed, every day. It's okay that we hadn't all been together in five years, because God has knitted our hearts in Him. Though time passes, we are still following Him, and that makes us family. It allows us to pick up where we left off, or to meet people we've never seen before, and to bond instantly.  

I am so thankful for each twist and turn of my life, and I'm thankful for the faithful friends who have been there all the way.  I am thankful that this weekend was not my plan, but was so much better because it was God's plan.  I pray that I am able to recall the lessons I have learned in the past few days and to love others more, knowing that everything that happens, every relationship that is made, is only because of Christ.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Knowledge, Wisdom, and the Heart

We were invited to a party.  I was so excited to go! I thought about it, planned my food, and played how it would go in my mind for weeks. 

Then I found out who else had been invited. What originally was going to be a fun evening with friends turned into a dreaded event, simply because of one person who was going to attend. It was a man who takes every opportunity to share with others just how smart he really is, to the point that I don't like being around him because, well, I just get tired of hearing it!

I went, and I really tried to enjoy myself, because it was a great party, but the guy was relentless.  Every time we played a game, he interjected with facts and quotes. Every time one person talked, he had to rebut.

In all honesty, after only an hour I was seething with anger and was ready to leave.  I was also ready to jump in this guy's face and give him a piece of my mind, telling him just how much I don't care about what he read, or heard, or surmised based on who-knows-what.

But then it hit me.  I do that.  Oh, I may not do it on such a large scale. I may not interrupt conversations with my "knowledge". But I definitely like to get a word in more often than not.

How many times do I give unsolicited advice about parenting? Or share with other ladies the "correct" way to make cookies? How many people do I tell for no particular reason all the places I've visited and all the people I've met? 

This has me thinking, and has been a huge area of concern and study since that party.  I do believe God created us (some, more than others, maybe) to desire to learn, study, travel, etc.  So, if knowledge itself isn't wrong, then what is?  What about it is making me cringe?

It is the attitude behind it.  It's the heart, the motivation. 

Why do I seek knowledge?  Is it so I can show off when a subject comes up?  So I can move up the ladder in a social circle or at work?  Or is it because God has created me to love learning, and because I desire to seek truth?

We've been studying from 1 Corinthians in Sunday School, and I am struck by how relevant so much of what Paul says in this letter is to my conviction on this subject.

1 Corinthians 1:20b says, "Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?" and verse 25 says, "...the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men." I know he's not necessarily referring to knowledge, and the sharing of knowledge.  But can't anything that is gained out of a wrong motive be foolishness? 

1 Corinthians 1:27 goes on to say, "but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the strong ..." meaning that to those of us who think we are wise (i.e. sharing knowledge to make myself look good, or to appear strong) are put to shame by the ones we think look foolish.  (A good example is my very humble husband, who knows a whole lot more than he lets on but is so moldable and usable by God because of it).

And Proverbs 18:2 says, "A fool does not delight in understanding, but only in revealing his own mind." How very convicting!

When is it okay to share knowledge?  There are plenty of times - if my heart is right.
1 Corinthians 1:31 "... just as it is written, 'Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.'"

It is my prayer that everything that I say and do would be pleasing to God, to edify others, and to bring others to a saving (HEART!) knowledge of Christ. 

If it's to make me look good, I pray that I think twice before it's said ... and may I treat others with grace who have not yet understood the importance of humility in this circumstance, praying that they learn to boast only in God!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Before and After: Bedrooms

I know, I know.  I've taken my sweet time posting any before-and-afters of our new house.  I finally decided to take some pictures today so I can share the blessing we have in our home!  When we first got into it, it had been foreclosed upon and some friends of ours had taken out all the "garbage."  It was quite the job for them, I'm sure!  And once we got it, it was basically a blank slate, minus the bathroom, which we (and by "we" I refer to my husband and father-in-law!) gutted.  Pictures of that to come soon.

Samuel's Room

Here is Samuel's room now.  I got a lighter blue for the walls, and the ceiling was cleaned and painted.  David and his dad also re-textured the whole upstairs (which contains the hallway, bathroom, and the three bedrooms), which fixed a ton of holes and other imperfections!  We carpeted both of the kids' rooms.  I still have work do to finish the windows - they all need paint on the trim, and I'm still looking for the perfect curtains for this room.

Both of the kids' room floors looked like this.  It's a wonder what carpet will do!
Our Room
So actually, our room wasn't too bad.  And I know this is a different angle, but you'd probably rather see this than a shot of our messy dresser!  I got a medium tan for this color, which I just love!  We also installed a ceiling fan and light.  I'm still looking for curtains for this room, too.
Girls Room
I think the girls room has the most noticeable difference.  The wall color was my choice, and it came out a little more bold than I thought.  But the more decorated the room gets, the more toned-down the paint seems.  I think it's going to be just fine when all is said and done.
We figured out pretty quickly that someone "closet smoked" in there ... the walls in the closet were yellow and stinky!  We did the same in the girls' room as in Samuel's room - new paint on the walls and ceiling and new carpet.  I'll get another set of curtains eventually, and we have some cute decorations for the walls in both kids' rooms.  Hey, I'm not doing so bad! We lived in our North English house for five years and I didn't even buy any decorations for their room in that time!  I have to feel inspired before I know for sure where I want to hang things.  We're getting there. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Rachel Baby

I know it's been a long time, when here I was, all excited to get back in to blogging regularly.  Anybody else have that "Busiest Time of Year" feeling, though?  I mean, I'm having fun! But I am certainly lacking in the "time" department. 

One thing that I've done with the other two kids, and that I've been wanting to do with Rachel, is to share the story of their birth days.  We celebrated Rachel's first birthday this past weekend, and it was incredible to reminisce about how she came in to the world, and how much has happened since then!

When we accepted the position that David now has in October, we did so on one condition: we would not be moving until after I had delivered Rachel.  I was 7 months along, and after having the best-doctor-ever deliver my other two, I just couldn't fathom finding a new OB just weeks before delivery. So all along, David and I knew that once the baby was born, our lives would become very, very hectic.

I had never been induced before, but given the circumstances - we would be moving on December 28th, plus my doctor was not going to be on call much around my due date (Dec. 17)- we decided at the last minute that induction was going to be the best route this time. Dr. Wenzel gave us the info sheets and said to call in around 6:30 on Friday morning, December 14th, and that we could be admitted as early as 8:00. We got to work finding a friend to watch the older kids and preparing ourselves for delivering a baby just three days after we decided to go ahead and induce. Friday morning came and we called as planned.
 They said that I was going to have to wait, as others were in line before me, and a few ladies had gone into labor in the night. This had happened before, when I was wanting to be induced with Julia and actually ended up going into labor on my own. They put me off for hours and by the time they let me in, she came very quickly. But this time, there was no sign of labor ... I just wanted to have the baby before life got too crazy! Labor and Delivery told me, essentially, "Don't call us; we'll call you." Excellent. Dr. Wenzel was very understanding of my apprehension and actually called me personally twice throughout the day to discuss the situation.

  And what do you think David and I did all day? We packed. And packed, and packed, and packed! It was mentally and emotionally and physically exhausting. Finally, around 4:00 that afternoon, I received a phone call saying to make my way in around 5:30. I was so thankful - I felt terrible for the fact that my friend had had Samuel and Julia all day long, and our parents were just on hold, waiting to hear that we were going in. I got to the hospital around 5:30 and the ladies told me to sit in the waiting room. I couldn't believe it! She said they had gotten several more ladies in labor and that I would just have to wait for a bed.

  I think we sat in the waiting room for at least a half an hour, and it was very sad because we watched the news all day. The Sandy Hook shooting had taken place earlier in the day, so of course, that was all over the networks. I eventually decided that they had forgotten about me, and went to the front desk. Dr. Wenzel was miraculously the one sitting at the desk, and I explained to her that our parents would be arriving and I would appreciate at least being in a prep room rather than sitting in the waiting room when they got there. She led me back immediately and broke my water. With my other two, once she broke my water, I immediately dilated to a six, and then to a ten, and was pushing within a very short amount of time.

This time, that didn't happen. I was at a four when I got there, and after pitocin and a couple of hours of pain, I was still at a four. How frustrating! I asked for my "usual" - a half dose of Nubain. They told me it had been recalled. I remember asking, "so you mean, it's all or nothing??" and they said that was precisely what they meant. I really didn't want an epidural, and though Dr. Wenzel wasn't pushy, she recommended it. I held out until around 10:00 that night. We were struggling some with the baby having an irregular and often very low heartbeat, and my blood pressure dipped into the low 40s several times.

 I was still very hopeful to deliver soon, and really believed that I had dilated enough that it would be anytime. But when Dr. Wenzel checked, I was still only at four. She said that I was likely unable to relax enough to be able to dilate, and once again recommended the epidural. Even though I'd given birth twice before, they were completely natural (minus that half dose!), and I had never felt the intensity of pain I had that night. They had to dial back my Pitocin because of it.  My parents and my mother-in-law came to visit, and I so badly wanted to have some time to talk with them, but the pain was so bad that I couldn't even breathe through contractions. I decided that the time had come for an epidural.

I remember really shaking terribly through that epidural and being so nervous that I wasn't being still enough. I don't know how the poor anesthesiologist got the needle in the right spot! But he did, and he was excellent. They were right ... the epidural really helped me to relax. I mean, REALLY! I was on cloud nine! And I was dilating at last.

But then, Dr. Wenzel changed her mode. Before, she had been in and out of our room, chit-chatting about life and food and babies, and suddenly there was an urgency about her. She only allowed my visitors to come in for about a minute at a time, and she constantly monitored me. The baby's heart rate was apparently very close to being dangerously low, as was my blood pressure.

 I realized that they were at least somewhat preparing to do an emergency c-section. They were doing one on the lady next door, and made it very apparent that they were considering coming into my room first. It made me a little nervous, but probably not as much as it should have. I believe God gave me the peace, though, that everything would be fine. I was worried about my baby, and wanted to lay on my right side so that I could watch her heart monitor on the screen. But every time I went to my right side, we reached the dangerous numbers much more quickly. Time ticked on, and I fully felt the effects of my epidural. So nice!

 I had no idea what to look for as far as when to push, but a felt a tiny bit of pressure once, then a second time, and I pushed the call button. When Dr. Wenzel came in, the baby was already crowning. (oops!) I actually had to wake David up for the birth, which I thought was hilarious since the other two times I was yelling at him so much about who knows what, there was no chance of him napping!

  Rachel Elizabeth was delivered at 1:35 am on Saturday, December 15th.  She was just beautiful, and my smallest baby by over a pound, weighing just 7 lb 4 oz.  I was enamored instantly.  Dr. Wenzel had to do a shot of adrenaline in order for my blood pressure to normalize, and recovery from an epidural is a bit harder I thought, but otherwise, I felt great the whole time we were in the hospital.

Our hospital experience was awesome, and we saw it almost as our little retreat before the big move.  We didn't have many visitors, but that was definitely ordained by God.  We needed the time, the peace and quiet, and the stability of the hospital routine for those three days.

I am so thankful once again as I look back at the third labor and delivery experience.  Though there were scary points, and it definitely didn't go according to my personal plan, I can see how God's hand was so obviously controlling each moment.  I have nothing but wonderful memories of the entire time, and I think I will always hold it as a special time in my heart, because it was the last bit of time we had in our "old" life.  We moved when Rachel was exactly two weeks old.  I cherish that time we had in our familiar hospital, with familiar doctors and nurses who are dear to our hearts. 

And now, a full year later, I thank God for my sweet, energetic, LOUD little Rachel Baby!

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Classic Julia Story

I was going to come back to blogging with a bang.  I wanted to share how God has worked in our family, how He has provided, some huge lessons we've learned. Something life-changing.
But when I tried to type yesterday, the keyboard and the website weren't working together.  I gave it a valiant effort, but gave up thinking that God must not have wanted me to share right that moment.  I don't know - sometimes my thoughts and words don't match up the way I think they do, and I come cross wrongly.  Who knows. 

So, I will wait on those "big" blog posts.  Maybe next time.  Instead, I have a classic Julia story.  If you know her at all, you will surely be able to picture her saying this!

This morning, Julia brought me her little pink Bible, as she often does.  "Read me John 19:26," she said.

Well, okay.  I don't even know if there is a John 19:26.  I took the Bible and said I would look for it.
For future reference ... the book of John has 21 chapters, and there are 42 verses in chapter 19 alone. I proceeded to read a bit about Jesus on the cross. 

I got to verse 30.  "Jesus tasted the vinegar.  Then He said, 'It is finished.'  He bowed His head and died."

Oh, dear, I thought, here we go.  Julia has a fascination with death lately, which has generated some great discussions on salvation, but I wasn't sure I was up for that at an early hour this morning. 

She looked at me.  "Hmm," she said, shrugging her shoulders, "I guess He ate too much."

Yep.  Classic Julia.  Theology to follow ... another day. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

This is it . . . we've found "the house"!

God is always at work - always moving, always showing us His ways.  And His ways are so much higher than ours!

Last time I posted that we had reneged on the house we had been planning to buy.  That was a Wednesday. Two days later, we were signing a lease for a home.

On the Sunday before we backed out of the house, David was looking through craigslist to see what was available since we hadn't kept our eye on the market as much recently.  He came across a home that was listed to be sold "as is" or to be fixed up and sold for a higher price.  He called the owner, and it turned out to be a relative of our sister-in-law, who buys homes like that as a business.

We are going to buy the house but it needs some major (cosmetic, not structural) renovations before we will be approved for a loan.  Fortunately, a lease to own program was available, and David and I decided to go that route.

So, we are knee-deep in our home renovation project.  David has done similar things many times, but never on his own home; I have never been a part of such a huge undertaking.  We are so excited to be able to make this home our own, and it even has room to grow in if we stay for several years.

I can't wait to post lots of before and after pictures and will start doing so as soon as we get some rooms finished!  We are working on the bedrooms and a bathroom right now and plan to move in as soon as those are done.

Thank you all for your continued prayers!  It has been a very exciting several months and we expect nothing less for the future