Renovation Week….I really don’t want to think about what week this is.

IMAG0386If we are going to be realistic I should know that nothing ever goes like it’s supposed to go when it comes to any renovation we start. I finally said no more demo when I walked out the back door of the house and saw this. Yes they removed the entire front wall and I was assured at the time that it had to be done. It’s not that I don’t believe them, it’s that I know Randy. He is a detail guy, which is great when you are building and designing your home since he will not be okay with anything less that what it should be. It’s just that I know this could go on forever.

IMAG0295So here is a picture of the interior after new windows are installed. Randy and Rick decided that this was once a chicken house. I’m not convinced of that, but it was something weird. If you notice on the left center of the picture there is a small yellow square in one wall section at floor level closest to the front window. There were a couple places like this with little hook and eye latches. Like a doggie door of sorts, though I’m not sure what people would have been letting in….or out……….


New insulation, and drywall going up.

IMAG0301All new electric. Get what I was saying before? Once you start it’s hard to stop. There were three breaker boxes in this 300 square foot space all with bad wiring.  Three times someone put wiring in this space.

IMAG0312Rick is holding the ceiling up 🙂 I’m not sure what we would have done without his help. Randy is going to be spending many hours at his house in the next few weeks. I don’t know if they have enough jobs to payback the hours he spent here!

IMAG0599 (1)Drywall in, but untaped. Looks a liiiiitle different from where we started.

In less than 5 minutes I covered a couple months worth of working all weekend and most evenings. My excuse for the delay in posting more renovation information is totally valid since I was working full time and finishing up my master’s degree. Seriously rough semester. But that is over now and I can really get into the reno. Yipee!!


Reno: Week 3


Several people have asked about the remodel so I’m posting a quick update with pictures. Like our backyard construction site?

We are 21 days in, so this is our three-week update in what we originally thought might be a two-week timeline. We didn’t expect the renovation to be this extensive, so I’m not stressing over it at this point. Randy has been working really hard with the help of his buddy Rick. I love Rick coming over to help, he totally gets me off the hook when Randy needs to talk through a problem. He actually understands, where I would just nod and say things like “That sounds like a good idea….”


Floor before, notice how far apart everything is and the pile of splintered wood? It was like termite Thanksgiving!


New floor isn’t going anywhere


Old furnace room turned into new closet.


I love the new ceiling height, all of the beams will be gone eventually which is going to keep the room much lighter. We’ve decided not to add the wall back in, the space is more useable without it.

There are new windows are in boxes in the center of the floor, which is a Home Depot score! They were a returned mis-order so we got a heck of a deal. I’m always frustrated at the lack of windows and their tiny size when we buy a house, which as you know has been way more often than we like to think about. So my goal in this remodel is all about light. I’m thinking this will be a wonderful studio down the road.

The goal is to be done with the structure and electrical by the end of this week, then we can start putting it back together. Insulation and drywall next week, and it will start to look like real space again!

Renovating/Weekend 1


I realize that I’ve never posted before and after pictures of our “new house” and it’s almost been a year that we’ve been here. I promise I will do that soon, but time is at a premium at the moment. I’m working full time and graduating with my masters in December. We have a LOT more people living here than we originally planned, and so that means all of our main house projects are on hold while we renovate what we call the “little house” out back. (It really needs a better name…….)



Renovation is always fun at the beginning. This is no different, even though it was going to be a quick project, mostly a spruce up. (Stop laughing) so of course we started by gutting the space. We didn’t really intend to, but once you get started it’s hard to stop, especially with what we were working with.





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Here we have our 20’ x 14’ guesthouse with a bathroom, walled off space for a bedroom and living room about 14’ x 12’. Our two main problems were that the ceilings were just under 6’, and the floors were really soft. We figured water had gotten to the sub floor since there was considerable water damage to the paneled walls. So our original plan was to remove the ceiling and the subfloor. Maybe replacing a few floor joists as needed. Which translates to……….. we gutted the place. You know how that works? In order to take the ceiling down, the center wall had to come down. And once we looked at the water-damaged paneling, it wasn’t worth salvaging since there was more to replace than save.





So this is where we ended up yesterday. I haven’t even taken pictures of what was done today. Picture this with no floor and with termites.

Its going to be fantastic I swear. The potential is absolutely there and with the sweat equity we bring, the added value is significant for the investment. My problem is that I can see it done and there are many steps to get through in the meantime. And there are a lot of people living in this house…….


I will keep you updated, both about my sanity and the renovation.

God knows what He’s doing


Several years ago I remember standing in the backyard of our home struggling to come to grips with all that was changing and happening in our family. It was probably 2008, at the beginning of all the craziness and I was watering the pepper and tomato plants, crying and telling God that I didn’t want a new normal. I liked the old normal just fine. It was comfortable. I was comfortable. Six years and so many life-altering events later I can’t really decide which are relevant, I’m watching the sprinkler water the pepper and tomato plants and marveling at what happened. I can’t really even tell you how I got here, or how I’ve changed. I’m just different. I guess that happens to all of us right? Who is actually where they thought they’d be at this time of their lives? I can’t imagine it’s too many people; I haven’t met anyone who says they are right where they thought they’d be when they were 40 whatever. (See I’ve gone from calling myself 40 something to 40 whatever. It’s a sign of growth.)
When I try to put into words what I’ve learned it’s hard. This is hard. I look for eloquent and deep thoughts to say so that others can learn from my struggle. But you know what comes? God knows what He’s doing. That’s it. That’s what I’ve got, and you’d think I could have learned that in a shorter time period than 6 years, but I guess I’m hard headed.
The last few months I’ve consciously let God do what He intended without my interference. Without me trying to make things happen, or come up with a plan. And God has done just fine with out my interference. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying I gave up trying to do things. I just really tried to let God work out the details and simply be conscious of listening to his guidance instead of running ahead of Him to make things happen.
I started this blog when I was heading to South Africa in January of 2008. I expected amazing life-changing things to happen, and they have, but those life-changing events didn’t form themselves into the picture I expected. I’m not sure it’s a better picture than the one I painted of my life. Art is pretty subjective after all, and I think my picture was beautiful. God’s picture is different. It’s not quite as smooth and lovely as mine was. But his has a lot more depth and life. Mine was coloring book, fairy tale pretty. His is real life seasoned with suffering and sorrow that makes joy even more marvelous. His is a masterpiece.


Fall Kansas Walks

Fall Kansas Walks

I took a walk this morning. It was cold and crisp and everything a fall walk is supposed to be. Augie even went with me so I wouldn’t be alone. Walking is kind of like praying, or just spending time with God, I never seem to remember the clarity it offers and how good it feels until I do it. Then I wonder why I was avoiding.

Anyway, my middle aged angst has had me in a tizzy the last few months. I thought I had everything figured out. Knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. Went back to school, really settled into where I was planning to work and grow and minister etc. Then God happened and I found myself re-evaluating, moving, and starting over again, back to square one with the whole grown up scenario.

So I’ve gone to God and prayed, “What now? Where do you want me? What do you want me to do?” I’ve applied for jobs all over everywhere, come this close, and since you cant see me I’m offering a visual of about an inch, to getting another job in a museum and then nothing but rejection. Re-evaluated, applied for other jobs, given up and stopped applying, then back to re-evaluating again, started substituting in the meantime. Honestly I wouldn’t be telling you this unless I had a reason. It’s very humbling to be the one that no one wants.

In the middle of all of it, God reminded me that it is very possible that I’m the crazy one and that He hasn’t change what he asked me to do all those years ago when I first came home to be a mom. I still have a kid at home who needs my involvement. Just because he is the only one here and my life is significantly less chaotic, doesn’t mean he doesn’t need me. I need to keep my priorities the same, which is easy to mess up in a job hunt. You get so wrapped up in the search and process that you forget the priority isn’t the job, or making something not quite right work for you just so you can get it. This is one of those times I need to trust Him in the process. It always works out the way God intended it. I’m just not so good in the journey.

One thing I really don’t know how to be though is mom of one at home. We’ve said a few times poor E is going to get way more attention than he really wants with the other two out. I have a feeling there is a whole new learning curve to conquer!

Other than that we bought a house! I have a whole new place to renovate! WHOOP!


Catching up…….or not….


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As soon as I catch up, I fall behind. No, really. I spend my life like that. I’ve wondered if it’s just me. If it isn’t you can respond and make me feel better about myself, or if you are inclined to see me run in circles, as you have the last several years of my life. Then by all means just carry on with your life.


This really is a week in which I feel like I’m losing it. I’m not trying to elicit sympathy or be self absorbed. Honestly I know the 6 people that read this probably realize that I am a lost cause and are simply shaking their heads right now. But I am really trying. I have a calendar and everything. And I write on it. In pencil. Because nothing seems to stay scheduled. Ever.


I know, you’re thinking right now “what on earth does she have to do?” She has no house (living with my SIL) She has no job (sporadic substituting doesn’t really count unless it impacts your wallet) Two of her three children are out of the house and living elsewhere. (They don’t even call that often!) And I’m thinking right back at you I HAVE NO IDEA!!


Lest you think I am a complete lay about whining about nothing, I am working on my masters degree…..for a career I’m not even in anymore…….sigh……


I give up.




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“Peace is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of God”

J. Oswald Sanders


You would think I would have much more time on my hands considering I really don’t have a house to clean.  Though our bedrooms are a mess, it’s hard to keep organized when things are topsy turvy. I don’t even know where most of my stuff is. Not that that’s a good excuse for not making the bed, but I’ve never needed a good excuse for that. (I’m in the “I’m going to sleep in it anyway” camp.) My SIL is fab and we have settled into their spare bedrooms. It’s not like home, but it is a blessing. I’m just hoping we get the chance to repay that blessing to them one of these days. I’m pretty sure our dirty socks really aren’t doing the job my kids think they are.

Crazily enough though, I don’t feel like I have a lot of extra time. While applying for jobs I am volunteering at a couple of local museums, mostly to feel out their programs and see how they do things, which has been both boring and entertaining. Yesterday I spent time at a semi-living history sight. I applied for an educational assistant position last week for this museum, but didn’t realize that meant dressing and playing the part of a 1904 school teacher (right down to the slamming the yardstick on the desk and scaring the pee out of small children) I’m not sure that is going to work out…….  

But things have been busy. Kids are everywhere for the summer. Church camp, Texas, China, Montana, Manhattan and here.  Before we know it summer is gone, Em leaves for college on the 17th of August and Caleb the week after. Poor Ethan is stuck with us all by himself after that. My classes start again on the 26th.

Randy has an interview tomorrow. The position looks promising, but honestly several have at this point, only to not go anywhere afterwards. Two positions we have felt great about disappeared because the company decided not to fill them at all. He is on hold for the one in Florida where the company is going through a merge. They put all hiring on hold in time to cancel his third interview.  He interviewed with one company in KC that was all fired up about him and asking him to call next week to continue and not to take another offer without letting them know blah blah blah. When he called back no one responded to voice mails so we assumed they weirdly had changed their minds. Then a six weeks later another call saying sorry they got caught up with lower hires but were ready to pursue him again was he still interested? Then no response to emails or calls again. What the heck?! I have an all new appreciation for what people go through trying to find work.

People think they experience peace when life is in order and things are good. But reality is that peace is something offered only by the presence of a living God whether life is good or bad. It’s hard to explain really, it’s like describing ice cream to someone who can’t taste. There is no foundation for understanding what’s missing when you haven’t experienced what is being described. Suffice it to say that God is offering our family peace right now. Life is good because God is.

When Christians suffer


When things happen we don’t understand, or when bad things happen it is our instinct to ask why. It is our instinct to think that if I do “A” then God will surely do “B”. Or if I had only done “A” better then God would hear me when I pray and this bad thing wouldn’t be happening to me.
We are dealing with unemployment. We sold our house and are moving away and in with family. Let me qualify this by saying it is not the end of the world. No one has a terminal illness. We are healthy. We are even happy most of the time. God is providing, not perhaps the way I would most like Him to, but He is providing. Things aren’t particularly rosy right now, but they aren’t horrible either!
It is our nature to rank our struggles (or anyone’s) by someone else’s just like we tend to do with our sin. Pain is pain. Struggles are struggles. You can’t really rate them and say just because no one died that really isn’t so bad. It doesn’t work that way. The crummy things we deal with are important and life altering to us. They are different for every person. Don’t discount someone’s pain because it doesn’t seem so bad to you. It still hurts.
My instinct in the middle of this time is to say “If I fasted and prayed maybe God would give Randy a job.” (If I do “A” then God will do “B”.) But reality is God loves me and wants His best for me no matter what it is I do. As a Christ follower my behavior doesn’t indicate His. Wrapping my head around that however, is really tough. I want to believe that there is some way I can retain some control over my life. That there is a way I can make God do what I want Him to do. If I tithe, pray, read my Bible, disciple someone, attend life group like I should, invest time in the Word etc then I should have a good life. I should be able to pay my bills and have a modest home and money that I can give to the needy and go on mission trips and pay for church camp for my kids.
But God says it’s not about me. That what I do doesn’t matter simply because He already did everything necessary for my good life. It is simply my definition of what a good life consists of that needs changing. The moment I turned my life over to God and said “You do this. I don’t want my best I want yours.” He took it. Guaranteeing me His best. Nothing I can do changes that, not that I would want to. I really do believe that His best is better than my best.
I have a little different view of Biblical suffering these days. I’ve been learning it for a while now. To begin with I assumed everything we went through that was bad was not biblical suffering. That in order for it to be the kind of suffering God told us as Christians we would experience that it had to be the type of persecution that Paul suffered in the New Testament. That in order for it to be suffering that God promises it had to be attributed to peoples perspective of me as a Christian. Now I understand most suffering to be biblical suffering. How we respond when pressed and beat up by life is what defines us, what comes out of us when we are squeezed is telling. Life squeezes us. Cancer happens. Job loss happens. Poverty happens. Abuse happens. None of them are ideal; none of them are what God wanted in the perfect world He established. But they are a result of the fallen world we live in and as believers what comes out of us when we are squeezed is really important. Any suffering that draws us to God is biblical suffering. Any suffering that allows God to reflect His goodness and divinity in our lives is Biblical suffering. When the Bible says that we will suffer for our faith it isn’t lying. There must be a way for God to reflect himself in our lives good and bad. Don’t only expect the good. It can’t always be good. Sometimes we have to reflect Him when things are bad. The big question should be why aren’t we suffering? Do we count on God’s goodness to bring only things we like? When bad things happen do we revert back to the formula of if I do “A” God will do “B”?
Honestly lots of times Christians don’t help. They say things like “Hang in there it will get better”, and walk away thinking “Geeze just get a job! Stop being so picky, I bet Home Depot is hiring.” Not all people of course, some get it. But mostly people don’t think about it until they see you, which reminds them you are suffering, and they hastily ask how things are going and say they are praying and they walk away and immediately forget that you are going through anything. They always seem surprised that you are still going through that thing you are dealing with. They rally in the beginning of trouble but slowly disappear as time goes by because it’s hard to walk through suffering with others. Sometimes it reminds us that we aren’t suffering at the moment and it’s like avoiding the teacher’s eye when they ask a question in class. If I ignore suffering in the lives of those around me, it won’t happen to me.
How should we respond? I’m not sure I can answer that. I really don’t want people camped in my living room to show how much they think about us or our situation. I don’t expect them to just send me money or try and fix things. But I love the example of Job’s friends in the beginning. They simply sat with him in silence the first seven days. They were there. If Job had wanted to talk I’m sure they would have responded. Their presence wasn’t a fix it. It was just love. We have friends who love us. We have friends who walk silently beside us responding when they see the need or feel the prompting of the Holy Spirit. I can’t tell you how valuable that is for me. I know my friends can’t fix things, I don’t expect them to. I know they can’t stop living their lives just because we are struggling, I wouldn’t want them to. But they are actively present, that means more than I can say. It makes me cry just thinking about it. How we respond when others suffer is equally as telling about us. How we respond when our brothers and sisters in Christ are suffering can reflect God to those around us.

Back Again


I realize it’s been a while since I’ve been here, but there are so very many ways I am back again. Since I started classes in August I really haven’t had much spare time. No reading for fun, just lots of reading, if the house gets clean or dinner gets made it could be considered a miracle. But my last class until fall ends this Friday. Yes I should be working on a paper that just happens to be due on Friday, but I’m in need of some emotional processing so I’m back to doing that here. Strange how the act of writing something down seems to help but it just does. So here I am processing things.

We are back to other things too, like being unemployed and trying to sell a house. These are things I have not missed. No, really I haven’t. Shocking I know. Honestly I think we have handled things well. Unemployment has been available this time since we weren’t self employed. I have been working at a job I absolutely love. Sadly it doesn’t pay too much, but it’s helped me decide what I want to be when I grow up and I love that. I just got back a few weeks ago from a mission trip to Madagascar. The picture above was take in front of Notre Dame Cathedral on our layover on the way home. I really need to catch you all up!! So many pictures so little time……….
You know me, I need a plan, and I am back to working without one lately. I really do believe that God knows what He is doing. Ultimately I want His plan, not mine, I know He knows all the good stuff and what’s best for us. I really do believe that. Today while we were talking I asked if we as a family could be present and aware now to be actively working for Him. When we are in the middle of all the junk, looking for reasons, understanding, and an indication of “the plan” we forget to be effective believers. Today I am trying to make sure my eyes are off of me and on God so that He can use me.
“A good man produces good out of the good storeroom of his heart. An evil man produces evil out of the evil storeroom, for his mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.”
Luke 6:45 (HCSB)

Sweet Freedom!


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Today is the first day of school. Which means sweet freedom for mothers out there, only half of whom will admit it. The other half is crying crocodile tears in their cappuccino this morning acting like they are sad for the quiet house or not trying to arrange that necessity called work around summertime schedules.

I will admit to missing them a little, the house feels emptier and I AM still in my pj’s……. Why it feels any different that I am up at the time I normally get up (working in the garden, cleaning house, trying to get motivated to do the reading for my class etc) knowing that they aren’t upstairs in bed but out actually doing something is beyond my understanding, but it does feel different. But the melancholy feeling has nothing to do with the kids being gone. Really…….

Anyway, like I mentioned on Facebook this morning, Emma’s last, first day of high school is today. Ethan’s first, first day of high school is today, and Caleb escaped the first day of class picture by going to college. I thought showing up at his dorm yesterday morning might have been overkill. My extra kid Trey (seen in the center in case you can’t discern him from my other always around kids) just thought I was crazy. Why did I want a picture again?

My first day of school was yesterday too, and after the meltdown of HOW MANY PAPERS DO I HAVE TO WRITE?!!! Brought on by perusing the syllabus. I have done what any mother with a brain like mine and gone to my children for help. I’m preparing them for college. They can put on their college applications that they helped their mother survive graduate school. I think that should count for something. I helped with plenty book reports back in the day, though my kids will tell you with a little resentment that I refused to do the project for them. This might be a problem for me now, just sayin.