The Question We Never Faced

I have a scar. It’s not pretty, but it tells a beautiful story. Maybe you remember when I gave you the beginning of it—when I showed you my scar—when I acknowledged for the first time that unplanned Cesarean had done more than scar my abdomen. It had scarred my heart.

When I told you I was living with the emotional pain of unplanned Cesarean, I believed that pain might never heal. But then, online and off, we had these great conversations. I’d shown you my heart, and then you showed me yours. You questioned me. You encouraged me. Some of you scolded me. But most of you, at the very least, tried to understand me.

And unexpected though it was, through vulnerability, healing came—and it has put me in a better place now than I was then to tell you this which I share today. You see, there is more to the story behind my scar. That unplanned Cesarean would later become the backdrop to another story much bigger than I. A story of life, of grace, of unanswered prayer, and a story that would determine where we would go from there.

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The Question We Never Faced

Our Custom Home Exterior Design

Travis and I are having the best time working through the design phase of our custom build. So many decisions to be made and so many details to be agreed upon, but somehow we are doing it.

And rather well, I’d say. Our visions for our home are gradually merging, and what’s coming out on paper is feeling right.

We’re early on in the process to be touting our success already, having just decided the basics of our exterior design, but that being the largest chunk of the design requirements (next to finalizing the floorplan, that is, which we’ve agreeably accomplished!), I’m sure the interior elements will come along in like manner.

It’s pretty funny how my husband and I arrive at these decisions. We are both such studious, thorough, detail-oriented people; so the realization of desires involves lots of drive-by picture-taking around town, looking through countless photos on, talking, day dreaming, sketching, and thinking.

I’m certainly not the most artistic of people. In fact, even saying it that way hints at giving me too much credit. Oh, I can visualize what I like. It’s the transferring it to paper that’s difficult for me. It just takes time. And lots of inspiration.

That’s how we’ve arrived at this.

PaperArtist_House Exterior Design

I love it. I can see the colors when I close my eyes. I can see lights shining up on it in the dark of night. I can feel the warmth and life and love that will reside within. I can know the thought and care that has gone into the design, and I can call it mine.

We’re turning it in today. Our floorplan and our exterior design will go to blue print soon. And we’ll go to the cabinet store, the flooring store, and whatever other stores the process takes us to next.

What ideas and inspiration would you share with me as we continue to craft our new home?

HIStory Unfolding

Iowa History

I can always use a healthy dose of reminding that this world is so much bigger than me and my lifetime. The kids and I have been studying Iowa History in our homeschool co-op this month. As we’ve taken a deeper look at this land we call home and the people who inhabited it long before we did, my worldview has grown and my sense of self has shrunk.

It’s easy to get so hung up on our own little moment in time that we forget to look back. We forget to remember the past – and the people who were a part of it. The people who lived real lives, felt real emotions, spoke real words, experienced real things. Real people, created, loved, and known by a real God in a real place and time.

The lives and lifestyles of those who have gone before intrigue me, but more than that, it’s the big picture in which we all stand together that strikes me with awe. When I look up and out and away from myself, I see history – not just a record of the past, but an overarching story stretching from the beginning of time to forever.

Of all the interesting things I’ve learned about Iowa History this month, the most significant is this: that it’s all part of God’s grand story. No single historical record or artifact or event or life can be interpreted outside of this larger context – that from the beginning of time the Creator’s story of the redemption of man has been unfolding.

Living with an eternal outlook means not only looking forward, but also looking back. How has history, the unfolding of His story, impacted you?

Tips for Selling Your House: Before You List

We’re moving, and though we have plenty of experience with packing and relocating, this is the first time we’ve had a move involve the selling of a house.

It’s no small thing, selling a house. The largest thing you’ll ever own (excepting only its replacement, maybe) is changing hands, and it’s your responsibility to make it ready for the transaction.

A first-time home seller, I’m no expert; but I have picked up some tips as we’ve worked through the process.

Before You List: Preparing Your Home for Market

Tips for Selling Your House

Declutter – I am convinced this may be the most important thing you can do for your home prior to listing. Go through every room, every closet, every cupboard, and pack up everything you can possibly do without for a while. Out-of-season clothes and shoes; excess toys, books, and games; and extra blankets and bedding make easy places to start. Small kitchen appliances, dishes, and utensils you don’t use regularly can be boxed up, too. Even toiletries and other personal care items can be pared down temporarily. Clear countertops of everything that doesn’t have to be there. (I left out only my coffee maker, my knife block, and my spice rack.) Decluttering is a lot of work, and living without everything handy can be an inconvenience, but think of it this way:

  • what you pack now, you won’t have to pack later;
  • the more excess you can eliminate, the bigger your space will feel to potential buyers;
  • and the less stuff you leave out, the less you have to keep picked up, cleaned up, and in it’s place for showings.

 Tips for Selling Your House

Depersonalize – My goal when putting my house on the market was to make it feel as if no one lived in it. Having walked through a few open houses that made my skin crawl with their personal touches and evidences of occupancy, I didn’t want my potential buyers rushing for the door with that same “get me out of here” feeling I had experienced. Yes, the house is still yours, but buyers want to feel like it could be theirs. So do what it takes to create a neutral, non-personal atmosphere in your home.

  • Take down family pictures, and pack up personal knick-knack collections.
  • Paint the walls back to a neutral color. We learned that Sherwin Williams’s Kilim Beige is the most popular paint color in the nation. Buy a five-gallon bucket of it and watch old walls become new again.
  • Hide “used” items such as toothbrushes, towels, bath/shower supplies, toilet brushes, trashcans, dirty laundry (or clean laundry that hasn’t been put away).


Tips for Selling Your House

Clean and Repair – That a house needs to be clean to be listed shouldn’t have to be said, but some dirty little places can be easily missed. As you’re cleaning every inch of your home, remember to check these inconspicuous spots:

  • walls – Most of us probably don’t think to dust our walls on a regular basis. If you don’t, take a look up near the ceiling. You might be surprised how much dust collects there. And if you are planning to re-paint, be sure to dust the walls first!
  • vents – Don’t forget to look up. Bathroom vents (on the ceiling) and wall vents collect a lot of dust.
  • light switches and outlet covers – We don’t often look at these things even though we use them daily. Wipe down not only the front side, but also the top edge where dust accumulates.
  • light fixtures – Again, don’t forget to look up. Dust collects on the top sides of pendant lights, fan lights, and bathroom vanity lights.
  • windows – Natural light is a big deal to potential home buyers. Brighten your rooms by cleaning hard-to-see films of dirt off interior (and exterior, if possible) window panes, screens, and blinds. The absolute best cleaning tool for these surfaces is the Norwex Enviro Cloth and Window Cloth team.
  • caulk lines – Check along countertop edges in the kitchen and bathrooms for caulk that needs to be stripped out and replaced. This simple repair does a lot to freshen your home.


Tips for Selling Your House

Stage – Once your home is clean and cleared of all unnecessary items, put on the finishing touches that make your house feel like a home. You (or your Realtor) may want to consult a professional staging service to help you with optimum furniture placement or even to bring rented items in. They can also help you make paint color decisions.

Photograph – Home buyers are doing the large majority of their house shopping online, eliminating options at the computer screen. That’s why the pictures you supply with your listing are so important. Hire a professional photographer – one who has experience photographing homes – rather than taking your own point-and-shoot snapshots. (A good Realtor will take care of this step for you.) Just as you will for showings, remove unsightly items before photographing. Those “used” items I mentioned above don’t photograph well. Look through some listings, and you’ll undoubtedly see a few examples of what NOT to do.

Have you ever put a house up for sale? What other tips would you add to this list?

We’re Moving

After weeks of waiting to make it blog official, I can finally tell you – we’re moving! It’s hard to make that statement exclamatory, because although we’re excited to be custom building a house, we haven’t been just dying to leave this one, either.

I know I’m going to be emotional when we hand over the keys in a few weeks. This was our first house. It’s the home that has seen our family grow from three to six – the only home my daughters have ever known, and the only one my son remembers.

House for Sale

Many memories reside within these walls – cherished moments we’ll never get back. I have loved living here, and still do, and yet I know it’s time to move along.

The kids are excited, too. They like the idea of making a house look just how we want it – and of having a little more space in their corner of the world.

The coming weeks will see us moving into a rental home, finalizing design decisions for the new home, and watching construction begin. It seems like one of those things that ought to feel surreal, but it doesn’t… yet. Right now it just feels real and right.

Have you ever sold a house or built a new one? What advice can you share? We’re learning as we go!
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