Category Archives: house restoration

new {free!} deck

We love our outdoor spaces.
In the past 2 years, we moved from this,

{This tree-less treehouse was designed and crafted by Andy and the boys, made from salvaged barn wood.}

to this,

to this.
Ever since, we have been throwing around ideas of how to turn that into a pleasant sitting area. We priced out pouring concrete, laying patio blocks or bricks and were ready to make our purchase…when we heard that someone wanted to get rid of their pergola. They were replacing their old wooden pergola with a new vinyl one. Didn’t need to make sense to us, all we heard was “free wood.” So, Andy drove up and helped them by tearing it down and taking some wood off their hands. And, they helped us by providing the wood for our new {free} deck! 

Yet another project in which I take no credit, other than bringing out lots of gatorade, iced tea and popsicles to hydrate handy-andy, as he made this… 

We are out here alot now. 
There’s just something about being outside. 
About leaving dinner dishes behind and taking our dessert outside. 
Drinking coffee and watching kids play tennis. 
Sitting down in the morning light, to open the Word and read this:

Such timely truth.
In a few days, we board a plane to Ireland. The trip will be quick, for the purpose of meeting a dear sister there who is serving in a very dark corner of North Africa. And, it involves leaving our little loves behind. In conversations with them about this, Miles asks with quivering lip “but what if something happens to you?” I want to assure him we’ll be fine, not to worry. That 50,000 people are flying above the U.S. right now. Or, it’s safer to fly than drive…yadayada…

But the “what ifs” linger, and I would never want them to be left not knowing what to think…if. We tell them that if something does happen, then it’s the Lord’s time to call us home. That we have done our best to make sure they will be cared for. They have so many people who love them. That we want them to follow after Jesus – He will lead them home to be with us when it is their time. None of us are guaranteed another day, so we must make each day count. That our hope is not in this world, for what it has to offer will not last. Our hope is in Christ, our Savior! My mind is confident of this. 
And I continue to ask the Lord to do His gracious work in our hearts.

Have no fear…
For the LORD will be your confidence.
~ proverbs 3.26

before and after

One year ago, we became the elated owners of one. big. ol’. mess…
laced with wondrous possibilities.
Folks, the “before” and “after” day has officially arrived.
Here she is!  
Before: January 12, 2011
After: January 13, 2012

|the back|
|front door|
and, after!

|living room|

in process…


|one of my favorite spots|

in process…


|standing in the kitchen, facing the dining room/living room|

|the kitchen|
in process…



before {we tried to salvage those cool built-in cabinets, but couldn’t because of the mold and the nasty}


|guest room|
in process
{hubby put some elbow grease into these babies}

|the boys’ room|

in process…

|master bedroom|
in process…


|upstairs bathroom|
before {astroturf and all}
in process…


|downstairs bathroom|
{wish we had a good before pic, but just imagine…
it was way worse than the upstairs bathroom…}

We made it!  Oh man, I can’t believe what we just we did.
Some dinners looked like this {daddy scraping paint}:

Saturday mornings looked like this:

But, it’s done.
And we are so very thankful.

Thankful for this season of life the Lord has brought us through.
Thankful for lessons learned along the way.  To not lose the vision of what could become.  To pour our energy, courage, resources, time into repairing something the world had condemned.  To not give up hope.  Oh, how I want my life to be so much more of this!  Not redoing another house, but investing in something that will outlast these four walls.  One great day this will all pass away when the ultimate Before and After returns {Revelation 22.12}.  

Thankful He doesn’t just leave us in our helpless state.  But continues in His work of transforming, renewing, restoring.  May the pictures of this earth never outshine the beauty that is to come!  And, may the award we are seeking be for the honor of the One named Faithful and True, the King of kings, Lord of lords {Revelation 19}.  

Then the King will say to those on the right: 
“Come, you who are blessed by my Father, 
inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  
For I was hungry, and you fed me.  I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink.  
I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home.  
I was naked, and you gave me clothing.  I was sick, and you cared for me.  
I was in prison, and you visited me.”  Matthew 25.34-36 {NLT}

Thankful for the chance to be involved in His restoration project.  
This house may look nice.  But it is worthless if it is not used as a tool to invest in our true home.

At that time, I will deal with all who oppressed you;
I will rescue the lame and gather those who have been scattered.
I will give them praise and honor in every land where they were put to shame. At that time I will gather you;
at that time I will bring you home.
~ Zephaniah 3.19-20a {NIV}

I am taken back by the outpouring of support and care for our family.  To those who have come alongside, lifting us up with prayers and words to strengthen…thank you.  I want you all to know how much your kindness means to us.  Your prayers are being heard!!!  Things are looking better than they did a week ago.  We are so grateful to see His hand giving our boys a calm and confidence, and putting dear souls in their days to look out for them.

We had some others to say THANK YOU to this week.  
To all those who lent a hand (or a tool) in making this nasty house our home:  guys who spent a Saturday in a pile of rubble, wives who let go of their husbands and their own “honey-do lists” for a few hours, people who dropped off a tool to make the job easier, friends who made gluten-free meals for our family in those blurred days of unpacking and no oven, people who loaded and unloaded our stuff, parents and grandparents who have helped in ways I can only hope to do for my kids/grandkids someday, kids who have been just so darn cute (and understanding of all of the above).  

* Those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed. *
proverbs 11.25

This was our little attempt to “refresh” those who refreshed us, and to say:

Last year we bought our first lavender plant.  After the blossoms were harvested and dried, I wasn’t sure what to do.  I stumbled on this youtube clip, a tutorial on making lavender honey.  It was super-easy, a little something special on bread, muffins, scones or in bedtime tea.  It has a pleasant aroma and calming qualities (which who can have enough of? 🙂  
Lavender is also an antiseptic, natural antibiotic, sedative, detoxifier.  It contains disinfectant, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties.  It is most commonly used for anxiety, depression, mental exhaustion, insomnia, scrapes and wounds, digestive problems, headaches, skin problems and women’s health problems. In addition to this, lavender can be used to treat exhaustion, heat exposure, fevers, aches and pains, over-exertion, jet lag, rashes, sprains, sunburn, sunstroke, bruises and burns.  

After taking on this house, we have needed some lavender honey in our lives …along with dear friends who keep us laughing 🙂

corners of our home

Thanks for all your kind comments.  We are overjoyed to see it come together!  Many projects are still to be done.  But with school starting in a week, we’re gonna soak in the rest of summer.  The to-do lists we will always have, but these boys I won’t {wipe tear from the corner of my eye}.

I have finished enough to forgive the boxes that will go unpacked until these boys are away for {gulp} 7 hours a day…
So, I bring you corners of our home:


 {the above bathmat will not be white for long, but that’s a whole other post 
about re-purposing what we’ve got}

 {can you believe we found that desk and chair (I recovered the chair) 
in the trash alongside the road?}
 {this has been my dresser for as long as I can remember – used to be pink, then lavender, then my dad stripped and refinished it.  looks like it belongs.}
 {note the new game table:  yay for church garage sales!}

 {Miles is pretty pumped to have his own space, which may be the theme of his room 
if we get around to it:  space.}
 {our pet fish, “sushi” is diggin’ the sea life mirror, an original “brett gregory” work of art}
 {the barn + chair (an original “T-pa” masterpiece) = hours of fun for Jude}

Of course, boys still make “bug playgrounds” {which involves lots of mud, and bugs}, walls get ketchup-y hand-prints, clifford’s trip to silver beach leaves our floors with enough sand to sweep into a mini-beach.  This could all drive me crazy {and it has a time or two}.  It is a conscious decision I have to make to not let it get to me.  I am known to say “This is not the time of my life to have a clean house”.  We teach our boys to pick up after themselves and I clean what I can.  But at the end of the day…frankly, there are things that matter more to me than extra smudges on the window.  ‘Cuz I have a feeling that someday I’ll miss those grubby little paw-prints and wish back the days of legos scattered, supper needing made, and being beckoned to play.  Why wish away the playing, the enjoying, the living?  And there you have confessions of a recovering perfectionist, learning to seize the day.   

Carpe diem, friends!


We have lots of catching up to do, don’t we?  First, we have internet!  Second, we moved!!!  It has been a full, fast, fun week of moving and settling, arranging and rearranging, scavenger-hunting for random items. 
Here’s a sneak peak…
 {above: slowly deciding what goes on our walls}
{below: loving the little things, like another peach tree in our backyard}
I made my first GF zucchini bread and zucchini lasagna this week to break in my oven.  I think we’ll get along just fine. 

 Many projects on the list still to do…
Paint the brick brotha is probably not one of them, but it makes me smile 🙂

Found this on the phone – didn’t know Jack had taken it, not even sure what we’re laughing about, but I love it – many good times to be had here!

One week ago, sitting down to a french press at 8.30 am, a wave of vulnerability came over me (ok, maybe it was more like panic), thinking how this would all get done.  Next thing I knew it was 10.30 am, and the truck was pulling out of our drive.   Friends and family had gathered, with a smile and a hug, sleeves rolled up, ready to get to work.  The truck was unloaded, we ate lunch, the guys went back for some odds and ends, the girls helped me get beds set up and the kitchen unpacked.  We were done by dinner.  Unbelievable.
I have pondered for days how to say thank you to all…  All those who labored on this house with such diligence and skill: laying kitchen tile on your vacation, asking the garbage truck guys if you can throw in some extra trash, building closets in 100+ degree days before the central air was hooked up, painting into the wee hours of the night.  All those who so cheerfully moved us, scraping your car with a tool box in the process, playing “musical mugs” – switching them to 3 different cupboards ‘cuz I couldn’t make up my mind, driving all the way from Ohio to help out a sister/daughter, sitting with our boys so they would have a constant in the chaos of people and things in and out.  All those who made meals for us – not any ole’ meal, but a gluten-free meal – that takes patience and love!  {This feels a little bit like I just won a Grammy and don’t want to leave anyone out, because you all are so kind!}  All those who dropped off thoughtful gifts, like: a box of 1000 Park coffee at just the perfect time, sharing their harvest (zucchini, cucumbers, green beans, corn), Udi’s bread and stuff to make sandwiches, flowers for our porch, antique beds for our boys.  
We are moved, by your care and generosity.

I really don’t know how to say thank you…
But I do know how to say you are welcome
Welcome, all!

room to grow

The house redo is {still} in full swing with 8 days until moving day!!!  A *huge* shout-out to each one who has helped in these final stages: Steve, John, Marty, Marc, Gabe, Jordan, Chris, Todd, Josh, Bob & Kath, SB, JB, Tim, Dan (guys from Cambodia, K-Stan and Brazil)!!!  We feel humbled and honored for the time you have spent serving us.  There’s a little “open house” in the works to say thank you to all who have lended a hand.  We feel so very grateful and blessed.  

The boys and I are road-trippin’ it to Ohio for a few days for Andy to paint 24-7 and for us to spend some good time with my fam.  The house is now trimmed out, with closets, and nights full of caulking, spackling, sanding, staining, and weeding…
Uh, weeding? you ask.
Yes, weeding.  Not that we need those removed as much as we need toilets before we move.  Maybe it’s walking into the house and feeling a little overwhelmed by the man-tools that have overtaken our dining room.  Maybe it’s the to-do list that seems like when 1 thing is crossed off, 2 things are added.  But, it’s where I found myself outside one night, weeding…   

Somehow it became less about uncovering the bushes I had planted.  We talk about the “weeds in our hearts” with our boys, explaining to them how there is stuff in there we let crowd out our joy, our peace, our kindness.  So I was thinking through what those weeds are, that I’d like to yank out, to make room for their love to grow.  Then it turned inward to: what are my weeds?  What is in there that I thought may turn into something lovely, but now see it’s just a weed that could take over?  
I love this little book, called “If” by Amy Carmichael.  It keeps it real for me. I thought of some phrases I have read often…  
If I can easily discuss the shortcomings and the sins of any;
if I can speak in a casual way even of a child’s misdoings,
then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I can enjoy a joke at the expense of another;
if I can in any way slight another in conversation, or even in thought,
then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If I covet any place on earth but the dust at the foot of the cross,
then I know nothing of Calvary love.

If the praise of man elates me and his blame depresses me;
if I cannot rest under misunderstanding without defending myself;
if I love to be loved more than to love, to be served more than to serve,
then I know nothing of Calvary love.

Beyond weeding out the impatience, bitterness, insecurity and pride that can take root and become full-blown before you know it…I’ve been thinking alot about what it means to make room to grow.  It’s a 2-step process, weeding is.  I went outside because the raspberry and blueberry bushes I had planted were being overtaken by thorns and thistles.  I want to see them *thrive*.  Why is it we tend to focus on what needs changed, removed from our {or others’} hearts?  I think the Gardener may see it differently.  He has planted in us love and joy and peace and kindness and goodness, and what a work of His grace when those have room to grow.  When all else is exposed for the nasty weed it is, uprooted, laid aside so that the lovely may flourish.

The fruit of the Spirit is love. joy. peace. patience. 
kindness. goodness. faithfulness. gentleness. self-control.  
galatians 5.22

Tomorrow.  1 mama.  3 boys.  1 car.  4 hours.  Each way.  
Perhaps a little weeding is what is most *needed*…that love may have room to grow.

and there was

 Does anyone else swap out tool box, drill, gatorade in their mind 
for legos, fishing pole, sippy cup? 
 Appliances arrive TODAY!!!  I have to admit, out of everything we had to buy to outfit this house, the stove was my most exciting purchase.
Ok, maybe this was my most-exciting too: old dresser turned vanity.  
Still needs the vessel sink on top and some of these.
 We’re all a little giddy to flip a switch, and WAAAH!
Can you tell?

From the sale of our “old” house a year ago to making a home out of a rental house to walking into our “new” house yesterday, we keep coming back to…
The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.  And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything, because He Himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.  From one man, He made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.  God did this so that men would seek Him and perhaps reach for Him, though He is not far from each one of us.
Acts 17.24-27

We walk into a house with LIGHTS! now, and how I can start to grow attached, calling it “my own.”  I look forward to getting settled, opening our doors wide, letting our light shine, but praying we would never grow too “comfortable” here.  This world is not our home.  So, our counter top plans fell through 16 days before we move…Yeah, it’s a bummer, but what does it matter if we have to move in without counter tops {and a kitchen sink – yikes!}, in light of eternity?  Really.  Contentment without growing too attached, that’s what I want to learn.  The art of losing myself in bringing you praise…

*another “lightbulb” moment this week*
My mom brought out a bag of home-grown, in-season cucumbers.  
I was standing there at the chopping board, wondering what to throw in with the cucumbers.  Mint!  Yes, of course!

I have no idea why this picture turned sideways.  Oh well. You get it, right?

Cucumber Salad
4 small cucumbers
Drizzle olive oil, white wine vinegar, and just a tad of honey over top.
Sprinkle with salt and cracked pepper.
Add fresh chopped mint.
Stir, taste, adjust to liking, the longer is marinates the tastier, enjoy!

*Also, birthday pics added to last post.  I wasn’t sure how to add them here, but can’t leave them out 🙂