Saturday, February 28, 2015

Home Sweet Home! Before and After Home Photos Part Two

The world of home improvement is not an easy one to reside in but it is SO worth it when the work is done! We are greatly enjoying the fruits of our labor.
Here is the second half of before and after photos of our new home!
In the boy's room there were only plywood floors with carpet tacks along walls. After much effort pulling all of them up we laid down wood laminate which we scored free off of Craigslist!
A pipe must have burst previously and they ripped through the wall to get to it. After installing all new plumbing materials we bought a new sheet of drywall and painted the entire room.
In the closet we just water sealed then painted the plywood floor. The boys are thrilled with their room and the space compared to our last home!
Oh, and that painting in the boy's room, here is a close up. I painted that for them and it turned out better than I had planned :)
The girl's room did not have any painting done and the ceramic tile was already there. They had a new window installed and a couple of tiles needed to be replaced.
This bottom bunk is where Brittany will sleep!
We just painted the girl's closet floor after bleaching it and water sealing the plywood.
The wooden set of bunkbeds was donated to us the day before we received the call for Brittany! God knows our needs before we do!
The bathrooms were just plain gross when we first saw the house. Nothing that baking soda, bleach and some elbow grease couldn't take care of!
The tile in this room was peel and stick laminate and was shifting and peeling up. We carefully removed all the tile and this is what we used in the kitchen for flooring.
The table was our dining room table when we were first married. It is 10 years old. Last year it stayed in a shed that ended up flooding and we had to toss 75% of what was in there. The table was covered in mold and I couldn't save parts of it but after some sanding, water sealing and painting it created our own little private nook to sit and talk over coffee.
Once the tile was pulled up and reused we put down more free wood laminate we scored free off of Craigslist!
This is our HUGE master bathroom and I LOVE it!
Two sinks, my favorite! That necklace holder is just a piece of painted wood with small nails hammered in it to hang jewelry on.
The shower took some scrubbing but the toilet was not salvageable and we had to replace it. Our friends at Mr. Rooter were a huge blessing to us in so many ways!
The tub is just amazing and yes we use it often! We plan on doing a tile mosaic around the tub some day soon. We have the tile and supplies, just gotta break that tile and get on it.
We are thankful for this extra storage space for tools, paint, Christmas decorations, etc. Without a shed or garage this closet is a tremendous blessing.
God has already answered a huge prayer of ours. We prayed that this home would be a place of much fellowship and a revolving door for many visitors. God has certainly used this home already, even in the very short time we have been in it and in all it's unfinished projects. We have had nonstop visitors, at least two a week, even though we live quite a drive from town out in the sticks.
We even were able to host an amazing family from Wisconsin just this past weekend. The Storms family was such a blessing to us and it was a great joy to offer up our home and our RV for 10 strangers to sleep in. While they were here we were able to learn of and attend an Abolish Human Abortion conference here in our town. It was very enlightening and rekindled a simmering fire within us for the sanctity of human life and the great need for the church to rise up and become serious about defending the poor, the weak, the orphan and the widow whatever the cost.
March is here already. We have plans this month to get seeds in the ground for our garden, fence in the remainder of our 7 acre property and begin growing pasture grass for the animals and get wheelchair ramps built onto our house for Brittany's arrival!
Here is a 6 minute video that we made to show a small snippet of our daily lives:
God is so good to us!

Posted by Shannon

Soli Deo gloria - Glory to God alone


Best of Facebook: February 2015

2/5/15: Click here to see photo on FB:

"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

It's midnight. I have reorganized our schedule and chore charts once again to make them as efficient as possible! Is planning, organizing and scheduling just super fun or is it something else? Is this what they call "nesting?" This unsettled, let's get organized, let's get cleaned, there is someone coming frenzy inside of me! Although I can't share pee stick announcement photos, adorable sonogram photos or bathroom-mirror-camera shots of my growing belly, there is still something growing and stirring within me.

I think of her name constantly. And I get strange feelings when I've loaded up the car that I am missing someone...and a wheelchair. I look over to the empty spot at the table that she soon will fill and imagine that smile from the picture. I daydream constantly about what life will be like when she is here. As we all gather on the couch for family worship, I wonder for just a moment, "Where is Brittany?" As quickly as the thought flitted in my mind I remember she isn't here yet. This is adoption pregnancy, it doesn't last as long but is just as real!

Peace and excitement are replacing fear and anxiety. God has been organizing every detail from the huge (we need wheelchair ramps on our house asap) needs to the I-didn't-know-I-needed-this needs. He is leaving us no room to doubt that this is His good and perfect will. So we continue to move forward in trust!

A man walked up to our table while we were enjoying our Chick-fil-A (especcially my free iced coffee) and said, "What you need is more kids!"
I look over, "Oh, yes Sir, we have already placed our order, they are on the way!"
He had himself quite the belly laugh then suddenly stopped, his face quickly fell very serious, "No really, you actually have more children on the way!?!"
I smiled and held back laughter, his facial reaction was priceless, "Yes Sir, we actually do have one more on the way!"

How can you look at this adorable view everyday and not want more!?! :D

Let me clarify for all of you who wonder and say, "Shannon, this special needs child you are considering adopting, she will take so much from your time, your schedule, your family and even your life! Why would you do that?"

Well friends, to be honest, this child cannot take those things from me because I gave those up a long time ago. I gave those up when I met a Man. A Man that looked upon me, in my wretched state, not as too much work, but as wanted. Not as too much time but as worthy of love. This Man willingly emptied Himself, gave up all His energy and even His own life to make me His child. To adopt me into His family, His kingdom, His inheritance and give me new life eternally.

This life is no longer mine but Christ who lives in me. Isn't that the gospel? "And He (Jesus) was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it." Luke 9:23-24 (see also: Matt 10:39, 16:25, Mark 8:35, Luke 17:33).

Did God not sustain me through taking in five kids at once? Did God not sustain me when saying yes to a little boy from MI? I cannot let my trust waver now! God has already proved Himself mighty in strength and God will certainly sustain me to parent this child as well!

We believe that every child is worthy of love and a family regardless of their physical, mental, emotional or behavioral needs. By stepping out in faith by being open and willing to adopt again, we are simply practicing what we preach!

We can't wait to meet you Brittany! On our way to Orlando now. We will attend a staffing at 11am tomorrow then at 1pm we will be visiting Brittany in her foster home!

Here is a 6 minute look into our day to day life. We filmed bits and pieces of our life over 3 days and I made this cute little video. Editing videos is kinda my alternative stress relief hobby to painting.

We celebrated two birthdays this week! Titus turned 4 on 2/22 and our Sam turned 9 today, 2/25! Saturday both boys spent the night at Nanny's house and baked like 10 cakes! Then after church Sunday we had a fun day of lunch, cake and badmitten at Nanny's house. Today I surprised Sam with a painting I have been working on. I can't believe Sam has been with us a whole year and my baby Tyman is all growed up!

Click here for Titus' story:
Click here for Sam's story:

Posted by Shannon

Monday, February 9, 2015

Feels Like A Mansion! Before and After Home Photos Part One

We are home! At least we know this is where God has us for hopefully a LONG while because moving just plain stinks! We have been on an up and down financial roller coaster for years. It feels like we are nearing the end of this ride with debt freedom in sight! We are SO close and finally relaxing from a month of very intense labor!

To recap, in June 2013 we put our big, beautiful $260,000 mortgaged house up for sale and purchased a raw 7 acre property. Then in Dec. 2013 our house sold more quickly than planned and God orchestrated details that resulted in us moving into a 600sqft trailer on 4 acres. Click here for more about that story: Debt Free Here We Come! Surprisingly we fell in love with that tiny home and were quite content our year there (although we are putting it up for sale shortly). Now we have just finished moving again!

To recap on our most recent move, we found and bought a foreclosure/repo 1904sqft doublewide mobile home for $11,500. We had it moved to our paid off 7 acre property for $6000. Permiting ended up costing $2000 and septic installation was $4000. Thankfully we our electric and water were hooked up by the county for free! We moved in Christmas Eve and shortly after Brian's awesome brother flew in to help us with the load of repairs. Click here for more details on our move: Move in Progress. This move has held blessing after blessing as we see God care for our every need and desire!

After tons of work moving our family and farm, now we are all settled in and loving it!


Now for the first half of before and after photos of our new home!

This is from the front door. This floor was horribly stained and this room smelled heavily of cat pee, yuck! After lots of cleaning, sanding and sealing we were able to install this beautiful new floor which was donated to our family from Flooring USA!

You can really see just how bad the floor was from this angle. This 400sqft dining/living room is HUGE compared to our previous tiny 600sqft house! How how I have missed having a couch and a living room. I still cannot believe it is mine!

Our dining/school room, the table and hutch were given to us by Nanny Diane and the hutch is full of homeschool and craft supplies. The bulletin board and cork board-turned felt board were from thrift stores.

Our living/tv room, all the stuff in here was from four local thrift stores in town. The huge reclining, sleeper sofa sectional was $150, the tv stand was $25, the coffee table was $15, the awesome picture was $10 and dresser to hide all our kids books, cds and dvds was free on the side of the road! That is $200 for everything!

From the living/dining room you enter the kitchen. We ripped up the peeling sheet laminate and were able to replace it with peel and stick laminate tile that we carefully pulled up from the master bedroom. 

Is this seriously my kitchen!?! I mean really, did you see the blog post showing our tiny house's kitchen? I am in love!

I just love the kitchen island! I can move around without stepping on all the little people that surround me! That black dishwasher in the before picture had a mouse nest bigger than a watermelon inside and smelled awful. I wasn't even going to try to clean it! The very moment we opened it up and saw the nasty surprise inside my phone dinged with a text message. It was from a friend saying their neighbor was needing to get rid of a working dishwasher since they were upgrading to stainless steel applicances and she asked if we needed it. God knows our needs before we do!

Another amazing "God provides" story right here. We needed a fridge. Brian had the perfect fridge picked out, a double door, freezer drawer, stainless steel fridge, but there was no way it was going to happen with the $2000 price tag. I convinced him to settle temporarily for a cheap, used one until we saved the money. We went by our favorite thrift store for appliances and lo and behold the EXACT make and model fridge he wanted was there for only $600. It was as if God picked it up and dropped it there the moment we walked in. Just amazing!

I just love this tile counter top. Maggie and Ty can almost always be found at those barstools while I am cooking in the kitchen.

Okay now if you didn't hear me the first time, I have SO missed having a living room and now I have, not one but, two! This is what the kid's call the "adult living room." I call it the fireplace room. :)

We are pretty excited about the fireplace! It is a working wood burning fireplace and we have never had one before.

So you know you want to hear more about God's amazing provision! Every piece of furniture in this room, the piano, the sleeper loveseat, the papasan chair, the four swivel rockers, and the five barstools, were FREE! Some from local thrift stores that know and love our family, some from friends and others from the side of the road. The rug Nanny gave us and the picture was from my parents ages ago. Oh, and here is a close up of our colorful schedule there on the wall next to our bedroom door. I got the idea from this book Managers of Their Homes and a trashed dry erase board.

Last room I have to share today is our laundry/mud room. There is also an enterance door here and this is where we mainly enter, kick off our farm boots, hang up our rain coats and throw dirty clothes straight into the washer. This is also were we store our animal feed and outdoor equipment in bins since we don't have an outdoor shed. It is nice having a real laundry room opposed to the washer and dryer next to the fridge.

Part two is coming soon and will include bedroom and bathroom photos!

In other news
Since we are settled in and loving our new home, we thought it was a good time to get our adoption homestudy updated (as it expired just before our move in Dec. 2014). Let me remind you we committed long ago as new Christians that we would put family planning in God's hands. We committed to do nothing to prevent or promote pregnancy and the same goes for adoption. While we don't prevent adoption by not renewing our homestudy and not being available, we don't promote it either. We do not actively seek children to adopt.  

As soon as we scheduled our adoption social worker to come our for a home visit we received a call from a case worker in Orlando with Wendy's Wonderful Kids. She wanted to match us with a little girl, Brittany, that has spent 8 years in foster care with developmental delays and asked if we would be interested. We committed long ago at the beginning of the journey that we would say yes to any call we received about a child. We would consider the call not from a man but from God.

Well, of course, we said yes. Honestly, with much fear at first. But God is quickly turning that fear into great excitement! We are just about done with all the checklist items for our adoption homestudy to be complete, 23 page application filled out - check! And signiture page Notarized - check! Four character reference forms handed out to friends - check! Dr. physicals for Brian and I - check! Home visit completed- check! Fingerprints done- check! Kid's physicals scheduled - check! This coming Sunday and Monday we will be driving to Orlando, FL to meet Brittany for the first time and attend a staffing with all her fostercare, adoption, medical and therapy professionals present so we can better grasp what her needs are and learn how to best care for her. The same way we have made a commitment to love our kids, before they came, and regardless of their abilities, health, race or behavior, so have we already committed our hearts to love Brittany regardless of the challenges! But that is a blog post for later :) 

Posted by Shannon
Soli Deo gloria - Glory to God alone