So what’s the hold up?

After several months of pondering and pontificating about life’s hard questions, it’s about time that I blogged about something a little more concrete.  Some generous friends made it possible for the hubby and I to get away from our current situation for a night and thanks to that and this glorious and invigorating fall weather, we are heading back to the fray, strengthened and refreshed.

Here’s a quick update on the house.  Work parties have continued to arrive every Saturday and we have succeeded in redoing the electrical and are moving on to the list of small things that need to be done before sheetrock can be installed.

This, as you might imagine, after a summer of getting almost nothing done,  has been incredibly encouraging.

We have people constantly asking for details about the work that is going forward, wanting to know if there is anything they can help with and almost always concluding with some kind of a remark about how exciting it is to be close to doing sheetrock, since then, the end will be in sight.  And to this last  remark I always have to say yes and no.  The sheetrock is a huge step, yes, and will do wonders for boosting morale around here, but there is one other rather large project remaining that seems to be often overlooked in our calculations. And that project is…..

..the windows.

This big old house has a ton of windows, which is exciting as they will add much light and beauty to the finished project, but they are, as of yet, still to be made.

“Made?” you might ask.  “Why don’t you just purchase them like any other red-blooded American?”

“Good question,” I would respond. But there are a variety of reasons why we are making and not buying them. (and by we, I mean Steve, who is not an American) then reasons are these.

Our house was built in two parts- the front part of it is good deal younger but the back part of it was so old and in such terrible shape when we bought it that we pretty much had to start from scratch on it.

This means that we still have most of the original windows from the front part of the house, but most of them are in terrible need of refurbishment.  This I have been trying to do very (very) slowly all summer and the process looks something like this.


Here’s a window freshly removed from it’s old place.  Looks nice, eh? I’ll be honest with you- there have been many times that I have doubted we could ever make anything remotely nice out of these eyesores.  The first step, obviously, is to remove the old glass and save what remnants that we can.


As you can see, we’ve salvaged quite a lot.  The next step is the scraping- not a job that I delight much in, I must admit.




Sometimes the windows fall apart when you remove the glass, so we get to scrape each little individual cross piece.  Tons of fun, and makes quite a lovely mess.



Here’s just a portion of the windows. Some are done being scraped, some haven’t been begun and some have been carted away by kindly friends (ie saints) to their own homes where they work on them through the week.


Eventually, we get them down to their bare bones and there they wait to be painted, have missing parts restored, get their hardware cleaned up and then, of course, get reglazed and reglassed.  Quite a process.


I can’t wait until these are put back in their proper places of dormer and wall.  Not only will they be beautiful, but they will help keep out the cold, which is beginning to be a bit of a nuisance.



So those are the windows in the front.  The windows in the back have no originals to be refurbished and so, in order to comply with the code in our area for maintaining historical accuracy, we either have to pay someone to make them, or make them ourselves

Currently, they are just big holes, boarded up.


The hubby made a good start on the frames years ago, before everything fell apart, but as you can see, we still have a long way to go.


So long story short, the windows are what might just be holding us up for a while.  We are trying to get around the problem, but there really isn’t any way except to slog right through it to the other side.  As I said, we have people who are stepping up to help with the scraping and the sanding and even the building and we are so grateful.

But several of you have asked for a more specific thing you can help with and all I can say is, there’s an awful lot of wood and glass still to be purchased to make these windows a reality.  Any little bit would help! Thanks!



Shining like stars

It’s ten fifteen on a Saturday night.  I am sitting in bed but I can still hear the ringing of a hammer up at the house.  The hubby is motivated.  It’s been a long time, I think, since he has felt that way towards our house.

Over the past four weeks, we have had a work crew show up at our house every Saturday morning.  Some of the crew have known what they were doing, others have jumped right in and learned.

I, in the pessimism that has clouded my thinking for a long time concerning this home, half expected people to show up the first week, take one look and never come back again.  But people keep coming- and new faces every week. Their wives have given up their own honey-do lists so that their husbands can help with mine. They have braved the torrential rain and missed Saturday football. They have brought meals and toolbelts and laughter and the lighter work of many hands. And they tell me they will be back next week. I’m starting to believe them.

I went up to the house earlier tonight to check on the hubby and see if he needed anything and had a very genuine, deja vu kind of moment.  He was putting some of the finishing touches on the fresh wiring that our volunteers have helped us thread all over our big old barn of a house and I suddenly remembered him, many years ago, doing this exact same thing, the first time around.

I remember I was big pregnant with our third boy and we were spending many late nights at the house with our other two children who were sleeping in playpens covered with blankets to keep out the sawdust.  I remember watching my husband then, just as I watched him tonight,  twisting all that shiny thin copper in his capable (but much younger) hands, screwing on the little plastic caps that my once baby boys always thought were candy and tucking the ends neatly into the little blue electrical boxes as we talked about what it would be like for our little guys to grow up in that house. I remember sitting and watching, with my swollen feet propped up on a stack of two by fours while I dreamed big and optimistic.

The baby that was making my feet swell on that long ago day just turned seven last week. He is now old enough to help his daddy work on the house we thought we would bring him home to from the hospital. And as I tucked him into his little bed on the floor of the trailer the other night he said,

“You know how I have been having a lot of nightmares lately mom? Well last night, I had such a good dream!  I dreamt that I woke up in our big house and it was all finished and all my brothers and me had our own beds and we each had a really nice room of our own and a dresser to put all of our own stuff in.  And everything was painted so pretty- a nice blue.  I came downstairs and you were in the kitchen (there was actually a kitchen!) and you were making muffins again- blueberry I think. And you were just making them for us and not for everyone at church! And everything was just so nice and it wasn’t raining anymore.  Wasn’t that a nice dream, mom?

Wait- mom? Are you crying?”

Of course I was crying.  Wouldn’t you over such a pathetic little speech?  But they weren’t all tears of sadness.  There were tears of hope and joy mixed in.  The fact is,  we’ve grown a little in wisdom since we last really dreamed about this house being a home. (at least I hope so)  Our youthful optimism has been replaced by a more cautious assurance, founded less upon the certainty of ultimate success and more on the knowledge that God will provide for us, no matter the outcome.  We have had to let go of that naive frame of mind that declares, “All will go according to our own plans. All we have to do is put in the work.” and now, one of the most common phrases our boys hear every day is, “If God wills that we ever move into our house, we will do such and such.”

And as humbling as it is for mommy and daddy, instead of being born into the lovely and comfortable home we dreamed of for them and never knowing anything different, our children are seeing first hand what it is like to be the recipients of God’s provision through the hands of his generous people.  They are coming to understand, as we struggle through days in a difficult living situation,  that they are loved and cared for, not simply by their parents, but by a much wider circle of people- a much larger family and a much greater Father.

We live in a dark and difficult world and my children have witnessed more of that fact than I ever would have wanted them to at such a young age. But then, without that darkness, they would never have been able to see how brightly the love of God can shine through it.

And neither would I.

Thank you.