Tuesday, June 21, 2016


In spite of it having been a year since I last posted on this blog, please know that Caring For The House continues. I will forever be doing this. It is who I am and the purpose for which I have been created. God keeps speaking to me in this language. I want to be ever listening and learning.

In the recent year, my parents began the process of downsizing with the goal of entering the next season of their lives unencumbered and free to work if they want to, travel when they wish to, rest when they feel like it and reflect on a life well-lived. This is no small transition. This is BIG STUFF. It takes time, thought and prayer to make the changes. 

After several months of discussion, we invited them to consider living in the lower level of our house. It is a large empty day-light basement which we are not using. So we began drawing blueprints and designing the space to meet township regulations for it to officially become in-law quarters. I enjoyed this dreaming phase as we planned the timeline for construction and installation of everything needed to make it a lovely apartment.

A blank canvas to work with.
Nothing but a gas fireplace to work with.
But this fun little renovation project quickly became BIG STUFF when we discovered that the state and township regulations require certain things to make this move legal. In order for another "family" to live in the house, our land had to be surveyed to verify the septic tank is adequate. Due to the cost, we opted to hook up to public sewer. Because the driveway had to be trenched for this, we decided to have our whole driveway re-paved while we were at it. In addition, we needed to extend the driveway so my parents can drive around directly to their main entrance. 

A pit was dug for a grinder pump. Bye bye flower bed.
Trenching for sewer hook up went right through the driveway.
My tidy peaceful home suddenly became overrun with BIG machines. I no longer heard only the sounds of saws, hammers and drills...but I awoke early to the "beep beep beep" of large dump trucks backing into our driveway each morning. There was the rumble and bang of dirt and stones dropping into empty truck beds. Diggers and earth movers were running back and forth. I no longer could drive down the driveway or park in my garage. I had to walk through the woods from our neighbors who were kind enough to allow us to use their driveways to park our cars each day. 

The driveway disappeared.

Stones were delivered. That took care of the mud after all the rain.
On one occasion, I walked to my front window to find comfort in the only patch of lovely green grass and flower bed remaining...and at that exact time I witnessed the digger begin trenching for electric conduit for outside lighting. In that moment of defeat, the Father spoke. "This is BIG STUFF. No longer are you just doing a little renovation. I'm taking you further; into something you've never done before."

I had become comfortable with renovation. I could predict what happens at each phase of construction. I knew what workers to call for each task. I knew how to execute my design. And I've never before had to use big machines or destroy the whole property like this!

God spoke to my spirit that BIG STUFF is what he has for my life. I've become comfortable with what I can do. I can find my way through situations and execute my plans. But God has bigger plans. He wants to take me places I've never been before. He wants me to learn a deeper dependency and trust on Him.

So right now I'm declaring that I will open myself to dream BIG STUFF and watch for him to execute it. I will trust Him with the BIG STUFF.

How about you? 
Have any BIG dreams?
Life with God is BIG STUFF!

Sunday, February 1, 2015


Hibernate (verb): to take a season-long snooze; to pass the winter in a resting or dormant state; to withdraw.

Yup. That's me right now. I'm in hibernation.This cold weather compels me to curl up and withdraw. Caring for the house has come to a stand-still. I don't like it, but it is reality. Working a full time job only to drive home at the end of the work day in the dark and cold does little to motivate me towards action. The list of places to paint and fix in this house will have to wait a little longer.

But our new home is cozy and comfortable in spite of the unfinished areas. And since the sun decided to shine brightly today, we were inspired to set some goals because winter is now half gone...which means spring is around the corner. (I'm trying to be optimistic here) So this month you will find me on a painting schedule. And as soon as the outside temperatures begin to rise, you'll find us up on a ladder staining the exterior of the house or working in the flowerbeds ripping out weeds and parasitic vines.

So while we wait for motivation and energy to once again flow, I'll provide you with some before and after photos of some spaces we've already worked on. Enjoy...

Out dated tile backsplash and broken appliances had to go.
At one time it had been a lovely custom kitchen.

Use of space was poorly designed.
It took a couple days to remove the ceramic floor tiles.
It resembled a war zone...(we won the battle)
New cabinets arrived and were put into place after the new hardwood floor was installed.
It was fun creating a custom look. I united the upper and lower cabinets with matching bead board. Then our carpenter tied them together with some maple braces stained to math. Choosing a different crown molding and toe kick and varying the height added to the look.
I love the butcher block island and subway tile backsplash.
...and a small breakfast table makes this space very efficient.

A large Brady Bunch like stairway greeted you inside the front door. Note the large ugly closet built in the middle of nowhere.

The slate floor was the only thing worth redeeming.

The built-in closet was removed which opened up the space nicely. We kept the slate floor at the entryway and installed new carpet in the livingroom area.

I couldn't wait to remove the jail cell like bars and enclose the steps that go to the basement.
Isn't it amazing how different it makes the whole house feel?

The open space and vaulted ceiling were the only things to love about this space.

We moved in and had to live with the colors for awhile.

Our goal was to have the painting done before Christmas Day. The high places were tricky.
 Living room - AFTER...
Warm tones cozy up the space. Larger furniture will hopefully come in the future to fill the space.
The large windows give us lots of light and beautiful views. And over the holidays it was a joy to be able to host family and friends in the large space.
So you see, our home is quite comfortable for hibernation. And we know the season will pass. 

As always, there is a spiritual application to consider. It's as if we must curl up and get cozy, closer to the Father, when our soul is experiencing winter. While I've been battling this lack of energy and grayness, he has shown me he is there. As I've felt a need to pray more specifically during these weeks...he has answered quite clearly. Even in the cold and gray of winter, He is warm and tender and gracious. In that I find comfort.

May you find comfort as you move closer to Him during this cold winter season.

Thursday, January 1, 2015


Family room - a room for family. This is the space where we gather to relax, play and be together. But it's not just for family; it is for strangers, friends and neighbors too. 

Everyone wants to feel welcome and belong to someone. We need spaces where we can just be ourselves. This is my desire for this room.

But in the beginning, it was dark and dirty. Plumbing from the upstairs bathroom had leaked through the ceiling. The carpet was soiled and wet. It smelled bad. There were no lights. The sight of the stone fireplace gave me hope. It WILL become a warm place for family and friends to gather.

We didn't even own the house yet...but the listing realtor refused to fix the plumbing. So Keith had to patch the ceiling himself so the appraiser would give our bank the okay to loan us the money to buy the house. Don't worry, we had permission. Things just go differently when you're buying a foreclosed property from the bank. (It's a long story...believe me.)

 We replaced old sliding glass doors with windows.They were cheaper, and there was another set of doors right next to them leading out to the deck. Who needs 2 sets of doors? But the window delivery was delayed. Lighting was installed, too. So we moved into the house with things unfinished. But with new carpet on the floor and a comfy couch, we could still enjoy the space.
 While waiting on the windows, our carpenter was able to get ahead and used the time to install trim throughout the house...something we hadn't planned on. But the day the window was installed was a glorious day. 

What a view! 

Light filled the space!

And while the fireplace still doesn't work, we know we will surely enjoy it's warmth someday. 

A good friend created a beautiful fall wreath with grapevine and bittersweet to complete the look.

But THIS is the way it's supposed to be...snacks, reading, napping, watching TV, working on the computer; young and old, with family and friends, all generations.

This is our greatest calling; to love each other and to help others belong. I am challenged daily to extend grace and love to each person I meet, whether it's family, friends, coworkers or strangers.

As a new year begins, receive this challenge. Create space for others. Help them feel comfortable. Show them they belong. You will find prosperity and blessing along the way.


Thursday, October 30, 2014


The past few weeks have been filled with so many things, sitting down to write has not come easily. Last week was the final push to get the house liveable and approved for occupancy. Moving day happened and we are thankful it is all behind us now.

With a whole house renovation, it's difficult to determine which space gets priority to put the finishing touches on. All our floors are new, the plumbing, heating and electric is new. However lighting fixtures are yet to be hung and every wall, ceiling and all the trim needs painting. So we are living in a patchwork of new and old, updated and outdated.

I chose the front door to be one of the first things to be painted. It may seem unimportant and frivolous, but I want those coming to the house the have a good first impression. The welcome matters. A coat of black paint and door mat with well-placed pumpkins and a bench set the stage nicely. It says, "Someone lives here. Come on in."

The next space I gave attention to was a closet. This is my first ever walk-in closet!


It was a series of cut-up spaces with nooks and crannies everywhere. The carpet was dirty and the room felt very close and dirty. Upon demolition it appeared as though half of it was once a smaller room; maybe another closet or something.

But we gutted the space. New flooring and drywall opened it up nicely. Now all we needed was shelving, hooks and rods...


First impressions are important. It's what is immediately seen. We care about what others think. But we must not only give attention to what is seen on the outside. We must also care about what is going on inside. Our inner closets hold many thoughts, feelings and memories. These places are important too. I want to be sure that what is seen on the outside is a true reflection of what is inside my heart. This has been a reminder to me once again to care for my "house" both inside and out.

And now today, I must give attention to more closets. While these little places are often unseen and feel unimportant in the grand interior design scheme, they are actually what has become priority. Because when the closets are clean and organized, the rest of the house will be too. 

And truly, when our inside (unseen by others) is cared for, our outside (what is seen by others) is healthier. 

I wish you many blessings today as you care for your "house", inside AND out.

Sunday, October 12, 2014


I find myself drifting between two worlds. My hands are busy with tasks that are at polar opposite ends of the spectrum. A precious new grandchild is born at the same time we are in the thick of a whole house renovation.

It has been a reminder to me about how one must be ready for whatever life brings. And it has shown me how much I need to lean on the Father for his strength and wisdom to handle those things when they come.

Gentle, calm, careful, holding, caressing, tender and loving...
Rough, rip, smash, tear, destroy and demolish...

Life is a balancing act. There is a time and season for all things. And perhaps, at times, we can experience those seasons simultaneously. It is during this crazy and seemingly chaotic time that I lean heavily into God's promise that he provides me with his presence and strength to face each day. His purpose in it all is to transform me to become like him. 

Reading in Ecclesiastes 3..."For everything there is a season...yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God's work from the beginning to the end...God's purpose is that people should fear him..."

So today I embrace the tender and the rough, the sweetness and gritty...because I am able to see HIM in both.

Sunday, October 5, 2014


I felt it would be beneficial to sit down sometime and make a list of things we learned during our first official whole house renovation on Orange Street. It is wise and good to observe, reflect, and then live according to what we have learned. We can then apply these principles to what we are currently doing. It always strengthens my faith to reflect and recall God's faithfulness to me in the past.

So here is my personal testimony after being in the "School of House Renovations 101"...

1. God is the best general contractor one could ever have. He knows the end from the beginning. Trust him throughout the entire project.

2. Timing is everything. What may appear as a glitch which causes project time to be lost, will work out for the best in the end...and actually puts you ahead of schedule.

3. Creating boundaries and margins in time worked helps keep stress at bay. Stick to those boundaries as much as possible and it will prevent the renovation project from taking over your life.

4. Using the right tools and having a teachable spirit (learn from the professionals) is necessary to obtain the best results.  

5. Honor and respect all workers involved in the project. Their gifts of craftsmanship and care are gifts that God uses in his kingdom. Bless and pray for them, compensating them for their time with a generous and grateful spirit.

May you also be encouraged as you reflect on what you've learned from past experiences. God wants to take us further; in our skills and in our faith.

Romans 8:28 - "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them."

Monday, September 22, 2014


It's beginning. It has to happen in order to move on. This is the part I don't enjoy; tearing down and packing away all the things that I so carefully set in place three years ago. 
Room by room.
Closet by closet.
Shelf by shelf.
It all gets put in a box.

But starting again in a new house has some advantages and packing boxes becomes a time to ponder what's going on in life.
  • It's an opportunity to see how much stuff we never use, and therefore probably don't need. 
  • It's an opportunity to clean those corners and high places that typically are never touched. 
  • It's an opportunity to bless others with items I no longer use. 
  • It's an opportunity to recall memories from the past as I handle things like photos, books and gifts.
This time I've been packing slowly and far in advance of our move hoping to minimize the last minute stress that can occur. The dining room is filling with boxes. Each day a few more appear.

This is also a time of emptying myself. This "tearing down" is not pleasant work. There are many things in life I cannot control. Recently, I wrote in my journal...
 "Lord, today I offer all that I have again to you with open hands. Where we live and where I work is open before you. I give you complete control. Take what I have and use it as you want...We hold tightly to you. Come to us with clarity and assurance. We need your presence..."
Starting a new day with this attitude is advantageous. Emptying myself becomes a time to ponder what's going on inside.
  • It's an opportunity to get rid of negative attitudes.
  • It's an opportunity to allow God to point out places I've not yet given over to him.
  • It's an opportunity to look for blessings amidst all the negative.
  • It's an opportunity to recall how faithful God has been in the past.
Yes, this "emptying" is a slow process. But it's necessary. It is necessary if I want to move forward into a new place. And as I empty myself, may He fill me with his presence and peace.

 "Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord NEVER ends! His mercies NEVER cease! Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning." Lamentations 3:21-23