Monday, September 25, 2017


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We've heard it a few times: "So, are you about done with the house now?" And then Bryce and I either laugh a lot or cry a little....kidding, sort of.   Friends, this Tree House Project is on the 5 to 10 year plan! Literally. We'll be chipping away for many years to come.

Here's just an overview of what is to come (hopefully, Lord-willing and cash-flow-supported). Red font means it's in process or already done and blue font means it's probably next on the list!

Main floor of the house
  • downstairs trim--in process
  • dining room board & batten wall treatment
  • kitchen: wine rack, toe kick under the cabinets, drawer front under the microwave--already done, sliding barn door
  • front door rebuilt with new door and sidelights (it's currently rotting away)
  • built-in corner computer desk in the library
  • build out the fireplace hearth
  • laundry room storage & functionality: mudroom-esque organization, built-ins by the washer/dryer, etc.
  • all new interior doors (10) and closet doors (10)

Honest picture here, folks. Current state of our master closets. Also shown: the last 5 boxes we have yet to unpack.....which we can unpack once the closets are fitted out properly. They're painted already--just need to build the hanging and storage systems. (By "we," I mean Bryce, of course.)

Basement and upstairs
  • master closet organization system
  • insulate attic
  • kids bathroom redo--tile shower walls, tile floor, new sinks & vanity top, etc.
  • master bathroom gut & remodel (add another sink? move walls & plumbing? it could be a big project...)
  • clean out the basement (currently a project/attic catch-all)
  • finish basement with two music studio rooms, a guest bedroom, storage room, and living area (this includes everything: walls, flooring, paint the ceiling, electrical, etc.)
  • new sliding door and window in the basement

There will eventually be a big grassy field back behind the driveway, all the way to the barely-visible barn. Bryce has cleared many trees and brush already. If we squint real hard, we can imagine it!

Evidence of cleared trees. There's still so many dead ones yet to clear. The yard is going to look so different over the next few years.

  • clean up the garage--in process
  • get a 4-wheeler--done
  • clean out the pole barn--in process
  • clear the brush field to make a yard between the house and the barn--in process
  • build a chicken coop--in process
  • new garage door and opener system--ordered (we can park in the garage this winter!)
  • install a gravel drive to the barn--ordered
  • build a garden (next summer hopefully)
  • new insulation, siding, and windows for the entire house (we're saving to do this one in the next year or two...#majorproject)
  • get chickens and maybe goats at some point

Thirteen years of neglect means that the flower beds looks like this. I'm so overwhelmed on where to start that I haven't even tried to tackle it this year. Maybe next spring . . .

And the outside list continues:
  • add flooring in the attic above the garage
  • build mini-barn
  • landscape around the house
  • grade and re-seed the yard
  • refinish the deck
  • add a window to the living room
  • build a front porch
  • rebuild the chimney
  • build a treehouse (#priorities)
  • and so much more.....create a pasture for the animals, build a fire-pit area, etc. etc. etc.

So now you can see why it's hard to give an answer to "so what's next?"  Hmmmm.....there's only a million things on the list! But this journey has been fun. And we're going to continue to enjoy the process of making our Tree House a home.

Monday, September 11, 2017

TREE HOUSE // Pantry & Kitchen Shelves

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In the 6-month-in review, there were glimpses of the pantry and the kitchen shelves. Here's a little more detail on those projects.

First, a way-before shot of the pantry! This was back before we realized the kitchen needed to be gutted. The original plan was just to keep the basic layout, repaint the cabinets, etc. But gutting eventually became necessary, and so Bryce ended up adding the cubbies into the pantry to bump the pantry forward to be even with the in-set fridge. 

And this This photo is just after all of the drywall was hung but not yet finished.

Bryce built out the pantry side cubbies and added shelves.

Next we filled nail holes, caulked, primed and painted--which was a tedious project. I love the end result of a completely painted space, but sometimes it feels like you'll never finish when you're in the middle of it.

Here's a before & after of the pantry door. I found this door on Craigslist--it's an old, solid wood door from an apartment building in Lebanon, Indiana. It looked pretty beat up but, after Bryce sanded and a coat of my new favorite friend: "dark roast" gel stain, the door is looking much better. (It's the same stain we used on the mantle.)

And here's the pantry today!
Cubbies for cookbooks and canned goods to the right and a broom closet to the left. There is an outlet in the lower opening so we can keep our hand vacuum plugged in (the blue light below). Our trashcan fits right in the opening.


And here are the kitchen shelves. This was Bryce's drawing of our vision for the final product.

Bryce built the shelves and here is a photo of my staining process in the basement. I used a gray-wash stain and then did 2 coats of a clear sealer. Bryce hung the shelves with black brackets and inset under-cabinet lighting on all of the lower shelves.

And here's the final product!
(Of course, the staging has changed even since I took the's a revolving door of fun for me to move things around on the shelves.)

Read more Tree House posts HERE.

Sunday, September 3, 2017


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Thank you, thank you for the wonderful response to my last blog post: Would You Answer the Phone? Sometimes we just have something deep in our soul that must be shared and it flies out of our fingers and we hit "publish" in a hurry and then it amazingly resonates with a whole lot of people. So, thank you for sharing the post. Thank you for not being afraid to read something hard and to let your heart be tugged on a bit (or a lot). 

Perhaps that last post made you start wondering about your part in the sad state of things . . . but I know very well (believe me!) the what-ifs and not-fairs that clamor loudly, often times drowning out the whisper of Jesus' call.

Just being honest: sometimes I do feel like life is unfair to me. "Woe is me...I have such a hard life with five preschoolers." And, honestly, sometimes resentment rises up. It feels like everything would be so much easier if Bryce and I hadn't taken this path. I could enjoy the older boys more....I could have another baby....I could visit my parents more....Bryce and I could get away....let's be honest (and this is probably the deepest reason), I would have more time for me. Behaviors frustrate me. Sometimes I feel little love or compassion or sympathy. But then I hate myself for feeling this way and frustration and anger overflows.

Then this story from Jesus jumps right into my soul with deep conviction:

the parable of the workers of the vineyard
the master gives some who work all day a denarius for their wage.
and then he gives others who came late in the day the same wage.
the workers who put in more hours started to grumble.

But the master answered one of them, 
"Friend, I am not being unfair to you. 
Didn't you agree to work for a denarius?
Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money?
Or are you envious because I am generous?"
So the last will be first, and the first will be last.
Matthew 20 (some paraphrase from me)

I sense Jesus saying to me:
I am not being "unfair" to you. Stop grumbling. Stop thinking only about your own life. Didn't you agree to love and to follow Me on My terms? For the sake of the Gospel? And now when I am giving you the opportunity to love these children, you resent them and refuse to surrender.

Don't I have the right to do what I want with My Own resources (i.e. you)? Don't I have the right to take care of My daughters and son, "disrupting" your little family in the process? Or are you envious because I am generous with them? Do you resent Me for asking this story of you on behalf of these children? STOP.

Don't you remember that My Kingdom is an upside-down one? Those who are first will be last, the least will be first. The orphan will be called "son & daughter" and will be given a family, a complete inheritance. This is my hope for them. I love them as much as I love your biological boys. And I have brought them to your family to be loved and cherished. Your task is to surrender and to be content. Content just to walk in amazement of and joy in My generosity. To allow Me to enable you to do it even though it is not natural--this is supernatural, Gospel, Kingdom, redemptive work.

Will you join God in His work?
Will you let Him give you courage?
Will you let Him be generous through you? 
Oh, He is a wonderfully generous God!