Friday, January 1, 2016

Looking Back...Looking Forward

Image found here
It is late at night on the first day of the new year. As I look back at 2015, I could list many things that have happened over the course of the year.

Last year at this time, I was spending my evenings browsing real estate websites, hoping to find a house within my budget that didn't need expensive renovation. Tonight, I feel very blessed as I sit in the home God has provided in the past year. 

Last year at this time, my father was still working full-time. During this year, he finally retired. Dad and Mom currently are preparing to move into my grandmother's house. I am very glad to know they will finally be in a single-story house with an attached garage - much more convenient and safer in the winter.

The six of us siblings are still scattered around the country. Janet and her family, Beth and I are all in Ohio...different cities, but same state. Doug is in Colorado, providing tech support to cell phone customers. Steve and his family are in Missouri. Rick and his family are in El Salvador. Most of us got together this past summer for a family vacation in Colorado. It was good to spend time with them in such a beautiful part of the country.

I am nearly halfway into my second year in my job as a high school secretary. Once again, I consider myself very blessed to be placed in a position where I can work with teenagers and with a fantastic group of dedicated professionals who I also consider my friends.

Even as I count my blessings from 2015, I also think of friends and family who have had difficult things happen in the past year. Some have lost loved ones. Some have faced health issues, either for themselves or others. For others, challenges are going on even now. My thoughts and prayers go out to them.

As we launch into 2016, none of us know what we will face. Joy or sorrow, success or failure, gain or loss. One thing we can hold onto no matter what we face. 

I can do all this through him who gives me strength. 
Philippians 4:13 

Let's hold on to that promise...and set out into the adventure that is 2016. 


Thursday, December 3, 2015

How About A Tour of Our New Home?


Well, we've been in our new home for over a month. Not everything is unpacked yet, but the majority is in place. I know some people have been asking about how the house looks inside. How about a tour?

Welcome in to our living room...complete with a Christmas tree.
We are very blessed to have found a piano that we could afford.
And here is the kitchen. A nice place for family time.



I love the roomy pantry.

In the bathroom.
My bedroom.





This dresser is older than I am. I am told my mother
assembled it while she was pregnant with me.

Rachel and a friend playing in her room.
In the guest room / office. The rocking chair came from Bali.
People who visited us in Bali might remember
this beautiful mahogany wardrobe,
now in its new home halfway around the world.

The hallway is big enough for a small bookcase.

Here is the laundry room at the end of the hall.

Yes, there is are some things to unpack.
Eight boxes are still full of books awaiting a bookcase
that will go in the living room.
I hope you enjoyed the tour. Come see us sometime.



Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Forward to the Future!

Today is a landmark day...in more ways than one. As I drove to work this morning, I heard on the radio station that today is "Back to the Future Day", commemorating Marty McFly's journey forward in time to the year 2015 in the second movie of the trilogy.

Sure, that is a fun bit of movie trivia, but Wednesday, October 21, 2015 is far more significant for Rachel and me. In fact, the exact time on the DeLorean's flux capacitor was 4:29 PM. What was I doing today at 4:29 PM? I was signing papers to close on our new home!

It has been quite a journey, and so many people have worked so very hard to make it happen. Each one of you is more special than you will ever know.

After the closing, I went to our new home.. Mom got this picture of me letting myself in with the key for the first time.

We carried in a few cans of paint. Some people from my church will go over tomorrow to paint a few of the rooms a color other than white. On Saturday, a few others will help move some of the bigger pieces of furniture. Boxes of books and things like that will take awhile to move over, but it will eventually get done. And finally, we will be in our own home.

We may not be going "Back to the Future", but we are stepping forward into a new stage of the future that our Heavenly Father has in store for us. He is truly so good.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

House Dedication Today

Today dawned bright and sunny, although a little chilly. By 11:00, things had warmed up enough to be comfortable as long as you were in the sun.


Friends and family gathered for the dedication of the new home built for Rachel and me by the University of Findlay chapter of Habitat for Humanity. It was an exciting day. The pep band and a couple majorettes from the University even came to be a part of the celebration.
University of Findlay leaders share a few words.
Various leaders shared with those who attended a bit of the history of this build and gave their well-wishes to Rachel and me. 

I had an opportunity to share my thanks with everyone as well. I had written out my planned remarks, even though I knew I wouldn't use the words exactly. I'll share here the planned text of my speech, so those of you who couldn't be with us at the dedication today can share in at least a part of this special day.

 
**************


As we stand here today in front of this beautiful new home, we are looking at the fulfillment of a dream. Rachel and I have had this dream since late January, but the University of Findlay chapter of Habitat for Humanity have cherished their vision for over seven years. Many people have been involved in making it a reality. They have spent countless hours in planning. They have raised the finances and given of their time, sweat and enthusiasm to build this dream.


Companies, too, have made major contributions. Many thanks to State Farm for their generous grant, and to Whirlpool for the appliances. Such generosity means a great deal.


Also a than­­k you to the various contractors who gave time to do things like excavation, wiring, plumbing, hanging dry wall, laying flooring, running trusses, and heating system, laying the sidewalk and driveway.­­­­


I have so very much enjoyed getting to know the people who have had a part in building this home for us. I wish I could thank each and every one by name, but the list would be far too long.


I do want to give a big thank you to the Habitat for Humanity board for their vision to provide a hand-up to families in need. Your vision is truly life-changing.


I will always remember our meetings with the family selection committee who chose Rachel and me to be the partner family for this build. I truly believe God guided us together to begin this journey that leads, quite literally…home.


 I’d like to give a special thank you to Steve Gibbs and all the crew leaders – Dan, Marv, Tom, Randy, Mark, Denny, Steve, Gary, Bob, Doug, Ryan, Adrian, Mike, Jack, Paul, Rick, Jeff, Cory, Rich, Glenn, and Levi. They worked very hard making sure our home is strong, solid, and safe. They guided a couple hundred volunteers in this effort. They have also patiently answered my numerous questions about what things are, how they are put together, and… and… and… the list goes on. I am told that I have been the most inquisitive homeowner Steve has worked with. Well, let’s just say that my questions reflect how little I knew to begin with. Anyway, they answered each question with grace and patience, and it is much appreciated.


Many thanks to Suzie Dyer, our family advocate throughout this whole journey. She and the family advocacy committee do such wonderful work helping partner families as their home is built. Unfortunately, Suzie isn’t able to be here today, but we have had many good conversations over these last months, and she has given me a lot of guidance and advice. Not only that, she has become a friend. I look forward to continuing this friendship now that the house is complete.


The good people at the Habitat office and Restore have been a great help. Ron, Wendy, Shelly, Lisa, Jeff, Chris and others have shared our excitement and have provided answers to many more questions. I appreciate each of them.


Most especially, there is another highly dedicated group of people I would like to thank – the University of Findlay chapter of Habitat for Humanity – both original members as well as those who have led the committee since it first began. This whole endeavor started out as your dream, and for seven long years, you worked diligently until the dream became reality. Some of you graduated and moved on from the University before everything finally came together. Thank you Ingrid, Stacey, Crystal, Coyne, Rachel, Emily, Leah, Brian, Brandi, Sabrina and Mackenzie, for your diligence and perseverance.

University of Findlay students
with Rachel and me on our front porch.

Finally, a HUGE thank you to the University of Findlay students, faculty members, coaches and teams, as well as the church family from Findlay First United Brethren Church in Christ, my home church, who labored diligently to give Rachel and me a home. We have had a good time together. We have raised walls together. You have listened to my stories over dinner, and I’ve heard some of your stories. You have listened to Rachel…and listened to Rachel…and been photographed by Rachel… what more can I say except that she has grown to love many of you and, I think, many of you have grown to love her. I wish we could have met each and every one of you, but that was simply not possible. Your labor of love is much appreciated.


I do want to extend an invitation to all of you who have helped build our house to stop by for a visit. Just please not all at once, though. And…you don’t even have to wear a duct tape name tag.

May God bless all of you who have been involved in this dream in any way, even more than you have been a blessing to us. After all, it was God Himself, working through so many, Who ultimately has given us what we see here today. I trust you will all share in His blessing.


This is one of the sentiments written on the wall studs in our house.
We may never see this and other well-wishes again,
but we know they are there. We are so blessed.
Now, as we look to soon moving in to our house, my hope and prayer is that it will be a place of refuge, filled with peace and joy, and will be a blessing to everyone who comes through the door. Thank you so much for our home!

**************
 Next time....I'll share picture of the inside....



Sunday, September 20, 2015

Class Reunion #35...Stories of Our Lives

This past weekend I attended my 35th class reunion.  The last one I made it to was the 10th reunion. I came back to Findlay from Northern Virginia for the 15th reunion. Unfortunately, I came on the wrong weekend and couldn't make the trip two weekends in a row.  So it had been 25 years since I had seen my former classmates. 25 years....A quarter of a century.... (Ew! That somehow makes it seem even longer.)

I know a lot of people have various reasons for not wanting to attend events like these, and that's OK. I was really looking forward to this one, though, and I was not disappointed. We started off with a tailgate party before the high school football game. As I pulled into the street beside the park where the tailgate party was being held, I immediately recognized one of my classmates. She had hardly changed at all. Most of the time, though, I had to take a peek at the nametag to make a connection.

When the game was about to start, we gathered at the football stadium where a section of bleachers had been roped off. Our team, the Findlay Trojans, had already scored a touchdown by the time I got there. Usually, I watch the game pretty closely. This time, though, I spent most of the game talking and listening to the classmates sitting around me. The Trojans scored another touchdown, but I missed it. We scored three more touchdowns, and I missed every one of them. In fact, the only one I actually saw happen was in the final seconds of the game, but there was a flag on the play and the score was rolled back. Even so, it was a pretty spectacular run. In the end, our team won 35-0. Perhaps appropriate considering which reunion it was for us.


This giant metal sculpture has been in the courtyard
of the high school for longer than I can remember.
Over the years, some have tried to have it torn down,
but others have insisted that it stay.
I have no idea what it is supposed to be,
but I'm kind of glad it has survived.
 





 Saturday morning, some of us gathered at the high school, which has expanded a great deal over since we graduated. Since I work at the high school now, I almost didn't go to that event, but I'm glad I did. I learned a number of interesting things that I didn't know before.

One of the highlights of the weekend was the dinner on Saturday night. I had a chance to catch up with what has been happening in the lives of my former classmates, even as they caught up with me. Those of you who know me now might be surprised to know that in school, I was one of the quieter students. In social situations, I would be more likely to sit back and watch everyone else rather than taking the initiative to talk to others. Add to that the fact that most high schoolers tend to have their own little group of close friends, and rarely think to include others. Well, Saturday night was not at all like that. I found that we all were able to cross those artificial high school boundaries, and anyone could talk to anyone.
 The long and the short of it is that we have all grown up. Our lives have gone different directions. Some have accomplished much and are enjoying that success. Some have had heart-breaking struggles. Some have come through those struggles victorious. Others are still in the middle of them.

Everyone has a story to tell. Stories of joy and sadness. Stories of love and heartbreak. Stories of family, work, and ministry.  Everyone's story is important because everyone's story represents a life that is of great value. These stories fascinate me. These stories touch my heart. These stories are now a part of me.
This collage was designed by classmate Renny Arredondo.
If you look closely, you will see it is made up
of the senior pictures of our class.
  

I am so glad to have reconnected with the class of 1980 for our 35th reunion. I am looking forward to #40 to hear the continuing stories of our lives.

Friday, September 4, 2015

New House Going Up!

I can't believe it has been three full months since I last wrote in this blog. Well, it has been, but I'm not going to write much today, either.  Instead, I'll share a few photos of our house in progress.
Excavation began on July 29th.


The foundation was done by August 5th.

On August 8th and August 12th, friends from my church came together to help put the floor in.

On August 15th, University of Findlay students, just back from summer vacation, came and unloaded the wall sections from the semi-trailer where they had been stored since April.
On August 15th, we did a test wall-raising to be sure everything fit right.




A great crew of builders.
One of the pieces of artwork that will be hidden in the walls of the house.

The actual day...August 22nd. The walls go up for real.

Rachel loves the pink hard hats.

So many pull together to raise the walls.

Walls went up inside, too.

On August 24th, the roof went on.


More enthusiastic University of Findlay builders.

August 26th.

August 28th, peeking through the front window.

August 28th

Caulking all the places cold air could get in.

Lots of teams from the university took shifts. The women's lacrosse team left their mark on one of the walls.


This is written on the doorpost leading into Rachel's bedroom.

When I left today, the drywall was being delivered...

...and unloaded.
Tomorrow at this time, the drywall should all be up, and I am pretty sure the siding will be finished. Professional drywallers will do the inside work, and University of Findlay alumni will work outside. Something extra special about that is the fact that these alumni were the ones who had the dream seven years ago to start a Habitat for Humanity chapter at the University of Findlay. They worked for seven long years to make that dream a reality, and tomorrow, they will get to work on the house that is the fulfillment of their dream.

Things have moved so fast, and so much has been accomplished in just over a month. In just a month again, the house should be finished. God is amazing, and we are so grateful.
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