a new season.

Whoa. 2 months since I last wrote? Time has FLOWN, and I don’t know where it went!

These have been 2 super busy months for us. Some days, I feel like I’m skidding into the parking lot of the bank 1 minute before they close and I have to make a payment. We’re nothing but efficient at the last minute now. HAHA.

So we are a little over 2 months into our foster care journey now, and I can’t even tell you how huge of a blessing this has been. When we said ‘yes’ to our call, we had about 10 minutes to decide, and a 2 hour drive to meet our little one. I can’t tell you all the crazy things running through my mind during that looooooong ride. We literally said ‘yes’, I flew home, we told our kids, packed our bags, and headed out the door. There wasn’t much thinking involved.

That car ride was a doozy. It was 2 hours of the most intense, yet blank thinking I’ve ever done before. What in the world were we doing? How were we going to do this? What would this be like? I was nervous. Like sweaty, heart-racing, muscle-weakness, NERVOUS. There were alot of unknowns with this case, too. And I think that only added to my nervousness.

To say that all of that melted away as soon as I laid eyes on that little one (LO) is an understatement. I felt the peace of God like I’ve only felt a few other times in my life.

Those first 3 weeks were rough. LO was dealing with a major change and some medical complications. We slept little, worried a lot, and tried, in vain, to soothe our LO. At this point, I didn’t know if things would ever improve.

Oh, but now. NOW. I can’t imagine our lives without LO, and we are seeing SUCH major improvements in LO’s health. We still have some hurdles to jump, but we are making progress, and doing things I never thought I’d see.

I could talk about our adjustment as parents, but the real superstars have been our kids. They literally had 4 hours from the point they found out we were getting LO, until the time we held LO. They haven’t missed a beat! I can’t believe how much Parker has matured in all of this. He is genuinely helpful with LO, and the love I see him show LO brings me to tears most of the time. And Rhyan? Well, she thinks she has a new life-size baby doll to play with. Her love for LO is fierce and motherly. Our goal in all of this with our kids has been to show them to love and care for others, and to have a servant’s heart. And I see that in them now. It’s nothing we are doing, either. It’s the handiwork of the Lord that’s at work in our lives right now.

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Have a blessed Sunday!

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following.

Less than 1 month ago, I wrote a blog post talking about saying ‘YES’ and doing what I felt like God was leading me to do, even when it was far outside of my comfort zone. At that time, I had just signed up as a Lipsense distributor, which was a huge leap outside of what I feel comfortable doing. I thought, okay, this is good enough for now. I’ll do more later on.

And then God said – NOPE, NOT DONE YET.

In my last post I referenced Ben and I taking initial steps to do something we had felt led to do. I was ‘vague-booking’ because I didn’t feel ready to share, just in case things didn’t work out. Besides that, we were in the very early, initial stages of doing this.

So you can imagine my surprise when I got a phone call from Ben that said “Hey, I know we weren’t anywhere near ready for this, but we’ve been asked to take in a foster child.”

SLAMS ON THE BRAKES.

I’m going to stop here and rewind 11 years ago, when Ben and I were dating and went on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. On that visit, we decided that adoption was going to be in our future. We didn’t know how or when, but we both felt that tug to adopt. And for the past 11 years, we’ve not lost that tug. We’ve researched, made calls, prayed, researched more, and prayed a lot more. Up until a year ago, we were in different places. We knew we wanted to adopt, but just weren’t sure how we wanted to go about it. Ben wanted to do international adoption, and I wanted to domestic. I was feeling led to do foster to adopt, and Ben was not. So we agreed to pray until we both were on the same page. And then one night, Ben said, “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I feel like we need to start with foster care.” Talk about Jesus chills right there. He had said early on this wasn’t something he even wanted to consider. The Lord works, ya’ll!

We started back in September talking with social services, and met with them a few times, asking lots of questions. We were still hesitant to jump right in because we were scared (still are). What if it didn’t work out? What if we were in over our heads? What if we failed? What if? What if? What if?

And then we both realized: we can make excuses all day long. We can think about all of the different ways we could fail, and this could be a bad decision. OR. We could say ‘yes’ and follow Him, wherever He was leading us. I will say, for most of my life, I’ve tended to say ‘no’ because I didn’t want to be uncomfortable, or I’ve let the fear of failure dictate what I’ve done. The few times I’ve stepped outside of what was my ‘norm’, I have experienced some of the most incredible blessings.

And this one is most certainly at the top of the list.

So we are foster parents right now, and I can’t begin to describe how much joy this has brought our family. Speaking for myself, I’ve been humbled. I’ve been put in situations I’ve never been in before, and saw things I’ve never seen. This experience has brought me to my knees in prayer and praise. It has changed my purpose, my outlook, and my heart.

My kids have amazed me through this process. They’ve stepped up to welcome their new ‘addition’ and have been such big helpers. They love this child, and in the sweetest way possible, they are learning that there is a ‘bigger picture’, and they are getting to be a part of that. Right now we are loving this child to pieces, and relishing in our new reality, day to to day.

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I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared to death, because I am. Many people have asked about the future of the situation. I don’t know. I really don’t know and a big part of me doesn’t really even think about it. I like to say, I feel like I am holding God’s hands and closing my eyes, and letting Him lead me.

I don’t want to see, I just want to trust.

Have a blessed Sunday!

 

 

 

 

 

casting your care

When I merged my old blog onto this one, I got pretty tickled looking back at all of my old posts. Man, life has sure changed in 5 years! It’s also been pretty amazing to look back and see how God works. I specifically think back to the time I quit my job into be an unpaid student teacher in order to pursue a job that would be more family-friendly, and we were clinging to our faith and His promises when our bank accounts were suffering. I wrote a lot during that time, questioning what I had done. I can imagine that God was saying, “oh Brittany, if you only know the plans I have for you”.

The last 5 years have brought a lot of blessings, laughter, tears, sorrow, grief, and growth. But the one thing that has been consistent throughout is Him. Sometimes, I get totally wrapped up in the world, and the troubles of the world, and I lose sight of Him, and His holiness. I panic, worry, and stress myself over things that are beyond my control. When did I forget that He’s always been the King of the World? I have to remind myself of that daily!

He’s moved in my life, and He’ll move in yours if you let Him. I struggle with that part daily. I know He can, but sometimes I try to hold on to my fears, worries, and struggles myself, thinking I can take care of them. How many unnecessary burdens I’ve carried! It’s a daily process for me to turn it over to Him. That is what He wants us to do 🙂

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you”. (1 Peter 5:6-7)

Have a blessed day!

Status Update

I’ve been writing this blog sporadically now for the past 2 or 3 years. When I quit, I had lost all passion for writing, because I had gotten too caught up in trying to get 2-3 posts out per week for an ad requirement. I didn’t like that one bit. I felt pressured and it wasn’t fun.

When I quit, I really missed it. Writing was my creative outlet, and my way to express and share with others. So, every now and then, for the past couple of years, I’ll come back here, and write a bit and remember that feeling, and it makes me miss it so much more.

For the past 2 years, I have felt God leading me somewhere. Where? I don’t know. I’ve told Ben many times throughout this year, I feel like a car in neutral, revving the engine up. I’m ready to go, to do, and I know He is the one revving that engine up, but I’ve simply not known where He wants me to go. I’ve been praying over this for a long time now, and I keep coming back to writing, and pursuing my own venture. But I’ve never made a move on that.

Every year, on New Year’s Eve, I write a letter to myself. It’s a recap of the previous year, and my hopes for the New Year. Do you know what my letter said when I opened it just 2 weeks ago? At the top, it said, “THIS YEAR I AM GOING TO”. But you know what? I didn’t. So…

I’m 30. Life is whizzing by. I have been so blessed with my family; an amazing husband, and 2 precious kids. Over the past few years, I’ve found myself doing what I was happy doing: taking care of my family. Don’t get me wrong, I am STILL happiest when I am taking care of my family. But what I lost over these last few years was my ability to say ‘yes’ to the things that challenge me and to go for it. I’ve chosen to sit back in the safe zone and be ‘comfortable’ with what I have. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But I know for me, God is wanting more.

So.

THIS YEAR I AM GOING TO.

Ben and I have said ‘yes’, and are taking the initial steps for something that we have prayed about for over 10 years. I plan on sharing about it one day soon.

As of this month, I also posted a video of myself on Facebook. If you realllllly know me, you know this was a redunkulous thing to do. And no, redunkulous isn’t a word. I’ve stepped out, said yes to God’s leading, and have started working on a new little venture.

So, what I’ve learned so far is that comfort zones are a really good place. You’re happy, content, and rolling through life. I liked my comfort zone. I didn’t want to step out. But what I’ve also learned over the course of the year is that when God says ‘GO’….you GO. Soooooo… I’m going (and learning) that growth doesn’t come from comfort zones.

Have a blessed day!

 

 

about modular homes pt. 2

Picking up where I left off last month last month from the time we ordered our house, until the time we got it set up on our land was about 3-4 months (we had a 1 month delay due to the some crazy miscommunication). In the meantime, we graded our driveway, dug and built our basement, and got the foundation ready. This was a lengthy process too. We had a phenomenal guy to dig our basement and stuck around and helped us do some other things as well. Ben and I decided we wanted to try and do as much work to the basement as we could to save some money. Forget the fact the neither one of us had any carpentry/building experience.

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Once we had completed the basement, and the house was here, we pulled the 2 boxes and dormers up to our site. Then, a large crane set the boxes on top of our basement.

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Once the house was set, the builders ‘raised’ the roof, literally. The roof was folded on top of the house. Once they raised both pieces, it formed our 2nd story.

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They then placed our dormers with the crane, and finished the roof and siding. Setting the home took about a day. It took about a week to tie the roof in and get it sealed off.

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After the house was completely set, we were left with a downstairs that was about 75% complete, and an upstairs that was completely bare. As I mentioned earlier, we chose ahead of time that we would be finishing some aspects on our own. We did choose to let the builder’s contractors finish the upstairs for us, so that was the next step.

We let our builder’s contractor take care of everything upstairs, including framework, drywall, flooring, electrical, and plumbing. To finish the upstairs probably took about 1-1 1/2 months. The only thing that we did upstairs was add the light fixtures. We ordered everything from the builder for upstairs.

Meanwhile, downstairs, the builder’s contractor took care of installing the remaining cabinets, plumbing, and tying in the marriage walls. The marriage wall is where the two boxes are joined together. On the interior, this means putting up drywall, and finishing the look. While this was going on, Ben and I tiled our shower and laid our downstairs flooring (we chose laminate).

Our house was set on our foundation in September, and we moved in February of the next year. It took us about 5-6 months to finish enough to move in. We made the cardinal sin, and moved in before we were completely finished with the house. Now, 2 years later, we’re still completing things (adding a bit of trim here, installing a door there).

If I could go back and do it all again, I would have done a few things differently (listed below, along with my final pro/con thoughts) :

  1. I would have toured more homes (whether modular or on-site built). A friend I worked with told me before we built to go to every open house in real estate we could find to get ideas. I didn’t do that, and sometimes wish we had.
  2. I would still go modular. It was efficient, and cost effective, and for us, the pros outweighed the cons.
  3. I wish we would have researched builders a bit more. While we did conduct research, and visited 4 different builders, our builder would not be my choice again. The company that actually built our home was great, just not the local guy we went through.

which brings me to those:

1. PRO-Cost effective. I feel like we saved several thousand dollars going this route.

2. PRO-Efficient and sturdy. Our home was built in a factory, not subject to rain and weather. It was also built to withstand a 70 mph, 8 hour trip down the interstate to our home.

3. PRO-Quick build. 60-70% of our house was built in 2-3 weeks.

4. CON-Floor plans can be limited. The size (width and length) of your home must adhere to Department of Transportation guidelines. Remember, your house is traveling down the highway. It must still fit on one lane of the road. I think this limits some of the character of your home in terms of layout.

5. CON-Room layout can be limited too. In order for your home to be built in box segments, your room layouts can be constricted. I wanted a bigger living room, but due to the joining of the 2 boxes in our living room, we couldn’t do that.

6. CON- The house will ‘settle’ (as all homes do), and that can cause cracks in the drywall, etc.

At the end of the day, we are very happy here. I am so thankful to have a home that we designed to watch our kids grow up in. Really, I’m humbled by that. The walls, floors, windows, and doors don’t really make this the place that I love – it’s the family that I have inside these walls making memories and ‘life’ here that makes me love it so much.

Have a blessed Sunday!

an owner’s perspective of modular homes

This March, we will have lived in our house for three years. I feel like I’ve gotten to know her good enough now to write a post like this. We typically have ALOT of questions about our house because it’s modular, so I’m going to devote some time talking about the pros and cons of modular homes based on OUR FAMILY’S observation/opinions.

Let me start by saying this. Building a house (whether it’s modular or ‘on-site built’) is exhausting. The whole process was really fun, but exhausting. Note the photo below, where you’ll see one grinning idiot and another exhausted man. This was after we poured the basement walls ourselves in 548 degree weather.

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When we started looking to build, we did quite a bit of research on what type of house that we wanted, and how we wanted to build it. In the end, we decided to do a modular home. It was the best option for our family for a couple of reasons. It was quicker for us, (somewhat) easier for us, and ultimately cheaper for us for the style of house that we wanted.

I’m certainly no expert on modular homes, but when you compare price, length of build, and ease of build, I would say that it very much depends on the style of house that you choose. Basically, to determine which is the better, more efficient route to build a house (modular vs. on-site built), I think it should totally be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Just because we found it cheaper to build it this way, doesn’t mean that it would be cheaper for someone else. Does that make sense?

So if you’re unfamiliar with modular homes, basically what we did was take a house plan that we liked to a modular home builder. We did research for about a year on different builders and companies, as well as looking at tons of house plans. Once we chose our builder, we gave him the plan we liked (it was one we drew on a piece of notebook paper),  and then he modified it to make it ‘modular’.

The process of getting the final plans drawn took about 2 months. We had to do some revisions based on the specifications we had. I would consider this to be one CON of modular homes. Due to freight limits and marriage wall considerations (I’ll explain that later), there are some restrictions on modular homes. A modular home is stick-built in a factory (ours was built in Pennsylvania), and then it must travel by interstate on a semi, to your land. So, obviously, there are some limitations on the size of a house traveling down the highway.

Once we had the plans complete, we picked out everything we wanted for the house through the manufacturer. At this step, it’s completely up to you. You could get your house delivered to you with practically everything to complete it, or you could get it with 60% more work to do. I would probably list this as another CON to the process, though it’s not as much a CON as it is an area to be very careful. Usually, when they** give you a base price for the house, they are giving you a price with basic features (basic cabinetry, basic flooring, etc.) So if you want the nicer features, you have to pay more. If you want to do some features yourself (which is what we did), they will ‘credit’ you the cost of the feature. So, for example, say they factored in the price of flooring into our home and we decided to do our own flooring (which we did). The builder may have factored only $1,000 for very BASIC flooring into the price of the home, therefore, they’ll give us a $1,000 credit on the house. In the end, we ended up spending more that $1,000 on flooring. So you have to be careful in these situations, as the cost can quickly add up.

For our house, we ended up doing our own downstairs flooring, tiling in our shower, bathroom vanities, countertops, painting, and all lighting fixtures. We did these things on our own because I wanted to avoid a ‘cookie-cutter’ home as much as I could. I would say this is another CON of a modular home. For things such as cabinetry and lighting, you do have several choices, but, I feel like they were fairly ‘typical’. I didn’t feel like you had much of a choice to make your home look really unique. Before we built, we toured 4 model homes at various builders. Even though those homes all had upgraded features, to me, they all looked alike. I guess I was disappointed in the customization offered in modular homes. You can definitely customize it, but you’ll need to do some things on your own if you are looking to avoid a ‘cookie-cutter’ home.

After we ordered our house, it took about 3 weeks to build in the factory. That’s CRAZY. It was actually probably less than 3 weeks to build. I would list this as a PRO. The building process is very efficient. Once built, it travels to your house via the interstate. Ours traveled as two ‘boxes’ from Pennsylvania to our home (about an 8 hour trip).  I would list this aspect as a PRO for modular homes. In order for your house to travel down the interstate at 70 mph, it has to be strong and sturdy! I definitely feel like our home is built well. The 2x4s and 2x6s used to build our house were nailed and glued together, making for a stronger build.

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I’ll share more details about the setup, and my final observations about the PROS and CONS in my next post.

Have a blessed Monday:)

**When I am referring to ‘they’ in my post, I am referring to our builder. Keep in mind that options, pricing, setup, features, availability, customization, etc., vary from builder to builder. This is OUR experience with our builder and isn’t meant to be a generalization of all modular home builders.

Life at 30

I hit a major milestone last month….

I turned 30. 30. THIRTY.

I can’t even believe I’m typing that. Seriously, blows my mind. For as long as I can remember, I thought of 30 as ‘official adulthood’. This is the point where you drive mini-vans and wear turtlenecks and take family vacations (for the record, I’m doing 2 out of 3 of these things now).

For me, 30 feels good (mostly). I have read several places that 30 is your ‘peak’. I’m not buying that. I think you are as old as you feel and act.

I’m so very thankful for another year of life, and I’m excited to see where the Lord leads me this year. I’ve been praying about a couple of things for our family and I’m looking forward to seeing the direction He leads us with those prayers.

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Have a blessed Friday!