Monday, January 30, 2017

What's Next?

A lot of people have been asking us "what's next? Your house is sold, when do you move? Where are you going after that? When do you leave for Australia?"

Good questions. Wish I knew the answers :)

At this point, we aren't entirely sure. We are in a bit of a waiting game with the government- waiting on visas. Yes, we are still waiting on visas. It has nearly been a year since the first process of applying for visas began, but we still have barely any movement in that area. So we wait. We don't know how long we will be waiting for. It could be two weeks or it could be four months. And there's really nothing we can do about it except for pray.

But God knows when it will all fall into place. He has a beautiful plan that is far better and greater than the one I have for our family.

Don't be fooled by my confidence in the Lord, I have to pray everyday that I would be content and joyful in what He has for us. That confidence you hear is a trust in Him that He has given to me so graciously. I am a natural worrier- I would normally be anxious and worried about every detail, but the Lord has given me so much peace as we wait. I am confident that He is sovereign over the hands who hold our applications (or the desk it is buried on!). He is sovereign over when we will move, where we will live, what schools we are able to get our kids into, etc. But in His sovereignty, He wants us here for now. For however long until He allows the visas to come through.

So, as we wait, I long for God to use me where He has me- He does have us here for a purpose. I long to proclaim His great name and to get good, rich time with the people we love dearly here. Though my heart longs to be in Australia, my heart aches to leave this place. More than you could ever know. It brings me to tears even thinking about it. I can't bear to think of leaving so many people that I love and want to be near. So even though we are in the midst of packing and a huge unknown, I want to soak in the time I can with the people around me. I want to be entirely as the Psalms say: "Satisfied in the morning with Your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days." Psalm 90:14.

My prayer for this season is to trust in God's sovereign, good plan, to use us to proclaim His power and work, and to love those around me without abandon as we wait. This song by Hillsong really hit home at church the other day so I thought I'd share:

I lift my eyes
And sing out into the night Even when the world caves Even when the fight calls Even when the war's waged I'll take heart I know You are greater Forever You are Saviour I will sing Your praise With all that I have With all that I am Lord I'll stare down the waves Cause You own the tide I'll still my soul and know You wait for me on waters wild Where faith walks above the storm I won't let the storm weather my heart Won't let the darkness beat me down Sing in the night my hope alive in You I'll walk through the fire And not be burned Pray in the fight and watch it turn Jesus tonight I give it all to You
"When the Fight Calls" by Hillsong United
I know God is so much greater than my circumstances, so I can take heart, sing His praise, and find my hope in Him alone. And as we wait, be praying alongside us for God to work and expedite those visas for His glory! He loves to hear our hearts and desires. May HE be glorified in the wait. We are in a season of an unknown future- and I know we aren't alone in this. I have so many friends in this waiting phase as well: waiting on an adoption, waiting on a job, etc. I'm thankful that we can encourage one another and that we are not alone in this. I'm thankful that God is with us and knows what is to come. So we wait and find our hope in HIM and not our circumstances.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Making a House into a Beautiful Home Part 5: The Upstairs

Alright! We made it to the upstairs finally! This will be the last post about our house renovations. I hope you've enjoyed taking a sneak peek into the process of what our last 3.5 years have looked like. I'm sure you've noticed they have been messy and tiring, but oh so good. There have been moments when I wanted to just give up and sell it as is because I was sick of spending time on a house. But then there were moments when I realized how much God has taught me through this process- on hospitality even when my house is a disaster, on loving my family in the midst of chaos, on how to work alongside my husband and learn from him. That doesn't even include the amount of blessing we have had when I think of all of the people who have helped us with this house- there is a whole village of friends and family that have sacrificed many days to help us along the way and we are so grateful. We have learned so much about community, serving, and allowing people to walk through the messiness of life with us.

Anyways, on that note, here is the transformation of the upstairs. The crazy thing about the upstairs is that most of the work was done in the last few months before we put our house on the market, and there is only one reason it was completed in time- our amazing community of help that we had. Seriously, we are so blessed. So, here goes!

This hallway is at the top of the stairs from the downstairs funny "bathroom". Looks safe doesn't it? This picture is looking in to Hunter's room.

The inside of Hunter's room. What a beaut. :)

And the after picture! 

Both of the kids rooms had these dodgy closets that, again, didn't actually fit anything inside of them. Both of these were torn out and new closets were built in! So much better!

 Addie's room after

As you walk down the hall, you run into the bathroom door- which is also the hallway. Yep, you had to walk through the bathroom to get to the other two bedrooms. Once again, no privacy was aloud for a while in this house!

The finished bathroom! We built a wall to create a hallway and added a door that even locks :) Everything was rearranged, new plumbing, electrical, tub, tile, window...everything! You get the picture!

On to our bedroom, which was through the bathroom on the other side. (The brown door was the door to the bathroom/hallway)

Our bedroom finished! New closet in our room too which you can't see in the picture.

This picture was looking from our bedroom into the fourth bedroom- once again, no hallway. You had to walk from one bedroom into the other one and then through the bathroom to get to the other side of the house. And again, another safe set of rails on the other staircase. 

 Here is the fourth bedroom complete! There is now a hallway at the top of this staircase that passes by this room, our room, and the bathroom and connects to the other side of the house. So nice and private! Every room has a door and there are 4 legitimate bedrooms!

Just a few process pictures this time...Here is the studding in of the hallway and knocking out of walls to make this hallway possible. 

Hallway drywalled and mudded...that was a fun and messy stage...

Tiling the bathroom

Nearly done besides paint and a new window

There is the bathroom all finished again. Josh's dream bathroom!

And that's it! I don't have a lot of pictures of the upstairs, but it was a huge transformation! And the layout just makes sense now. And everyone has a bit of privacy and storage!

I hope you've enjoyed walking through the house with me. It is a bit emotional thinking about moving out of this place in a few short weeks. I don't think I mentioned- it sold after being on the market for only 4 days!! God is good to us and continues to pave the way for our big move back to Australia. Happy New Year!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Making a House into a Beautiful Home Part 4: The Rest of the Downstairs

Next up on the renovation posts is a quick run through of the rest of the downstairs- the dining room, living room, and entryway.

Here is the original look going from the kitchen into the dining room. 

And the after from the kitchen to the dining room!

The picture above is the before of the dining room and the picture below is the after! 

This view is almost the same view as the picture above: Looking into the kitchen from the dining room. As you can see, we switched the opening when we opened up the wall, so that you walk through on the right instead of on the left.

Now to go from the dining room through the entryway, which then leads into the living room. This entryway was so tiny. You can't tell in the picture but on the left side of the entryway, there was a little coat closet (that you couldn't fit a hanger in!). The closet made it hard to open the front door and get in the house. 

And the after! The doorway from above is the hallway on the right in the picture below. So much more open!! This picture really shows how the house goes together. If you saw the last post on the half bath and hallways, this kind of puts the puzzle pieces together of how the house flows now.

On to the living room before...

And after! New hardwood floors (the old ones were falling apart), paint, trim, drywall, electrical, and heat vents that actually go upstairs :)

Other half of the living room. The left door goes back into the entryway and the right door goes into the bathroom/staircase/basement/back door area that we once called the bathroom :)

...and the after! 

Here are a few process pictures, though I don't have many of these rooms for some reason. 

Putting in the new hardwood floors. We repurposed an old gym floor that we bought from a friend. This seemed like the coolest idea and was most definitely the cheapest...but boy was it a lot of work! We had to scrape all the tongues and grooves between each piece of wood before we could start installing them. Yikes! So bad! And then it was just extra terrible to sand when we went to refinish them. I don't think we will do that again, but it is a fun story and a piece of character!

Here's how the floors looked after...there were black lines from the basketball court everywhere.

And how they looked after sanding and staining them! Beautiful!

Here's the demo of the entryway. Hunter loved helping with this one!

I didn't take many pictures of the work in the living room, but I did take note of how good it looked when hubs was working on the heat vents. We had some nice holes in our ceiling tiles for a good while before he pulled those down and drywalled. But hey, the kids finally had heat in their rooms which is essential in this cold tundra!

Painting the trim...with a child on my back. You do what you have to do to get it done!

And here's a look at the finished spaces again!

 I truly love how open this downstairs space became and how our vision came together. It is a great space for entertaining which we love! That's a wrap on the downstairs! Next post we will move to the upstairs! I leave you with this awesome picture of my hubby before entering the crawlspace in the basement to work on the vents and electrical. I just couldn't resist...

 I think he will thank me for that one :)

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Making a House into a Beautiful Home Part 3: The half bath

And I'm back! This time we are going to take a peek into the half bath transformation. If you haven't checked out posts 1 and 2, here are the links to go back and see the before and after of the outside and the kitchen.


Alright, the bathroom! So much to explain about what this bathroom once was. If you thought the kitchen was wonky before, just wait until you hear about this bathroom (really, both of the bathrooms!). Both of them had, well, lets call it character.

The first bathroom we did was the half bath that is just off of the kitchen and living room. When we first moved in, this bathroom was the first thing we planned to do (until we got too excited about the kitchen and decided to leave it for a good few years!). In fact, we had to replace the flooring in the bathroom just to get the loan on our house because it was falling apart so much. This bathroom was very open and not so private. There was no door on the bathroom to start with. As you walked into the bathroom, you saw the back door of the house to go outside to your right. Straight ahead there were pipes coming out of the wall all over the place. As you walk through, you see that next to the toilet is a staircase leading you upstairs. No door, just a staircase coming right down at you as your going to the bathroom. Nice. It became normal to yell out if you heard someone coming in your general direction that the bathroom was in use. Oh, and I forgot to mention the basement staircase was also in the bathroom with no door on it leading down to our dungeon, old stone little basement. Whew. This "room", if you could call it one, was definitely the most interesting room in the house.

The pictures won't do justice for what this area of the house looked like, and they might be hard to understand how it all works together, but here we go!

Here's the "door" or rather doorway into the bathroom. Basement doorway to the left and outside door to the right. Flooring is the temporary flooring we put in so that we could actually buy the house, so it doesn't look so bad anymore :)

Nice pipes.

Yep, there it is. Staircase with a toilet at the bottom of the steps. 

Here it is after renovations! It is complicated to understand exactly what went down to make this into an enclosed bathroom, but I'll do my best. It took rebuilding the staircase another direction, changing all the plumbing, building some walls to make a hallway, and adding doors for privacy! Who knew getting doors on your bathrooms could be so exciting!

So here's the process. There were a lot of pieces of the puzzle to get figured out to make this one happen, so here goes! Demo helpers are at it again! 

This picture is me standing outside of the back door and it gives you a little picture of how it was all connected. The doorway straight ahead is the one to the staircase in the bathroom.

More demo. Not sure what we would do without my father-in-law's plumbing expertise to help us along the way!

 New bathroom is studded in and plumbing has been moved to new locations. It's starting to feel like a real room!

There's a look at the finished bathroom again! 

As you can see, we studded in the bathroom making it smaller and made the rest of the room into a hallway which now connected the living room to the dining room. This was a BIG transformation day as we knocked out this wall where all the crazy plumbing was.

New view from the kitchen/dining room area! So exciting to open this up to the living room!

Pipes are gone and in their proper, hidden locations :)

Tile and DOORS!! First door is the bathroom and second is the basement. 

Here's the view of the finished hallway looking in from where the bathroom "door" once was. The vision for this hallway was a huge ticket item for me to be willing to buy this house- so thankful for my husband's ability to envision all of this!

In order to make the staircase (that was once going into the bathroom) operational, we tore out the old staircase and build a new one that came out into the living room instead. This location makes so much more sense! It previously curved to the left where that doorway you can see is closed in.

Stairs eventually got carpeted and trimmed out!

Get yourself ready for the next post- the upstairs bathroom! It needed an equal amount of work to make it into a closed in, private bathroom. Stay tuned!