It wasn’t livable. Dog hair throughout the home, rat remains in every drawer, cabinet, on top of the counters, stains in showers, tubs, toilets, layered up “gunk” on windows, mold and mildew bathrooms, plumbing needing repair, electrical needs and issues throughout the house and attic. In the photo below, the plumbing was all corrupt and leaking terribly.
If you know anything about electricity, you can probably guess what Rip said to me when he came down from the attic – “Baby, there is a fire waiting to happen up there!”
Every room needing more lighting, and there was dirt & filth everywhere we turned. You see, this house that we were asked to get ready to put on the market had been vacated uncleaned and left with extensive needs for 1 year. And every square inch of it showed enormous neglect and abandonment.
For us, we had never taken on such a huge project, but Rip and I pray about every single opportunity God brings to us and this one was a sure YES! Our initial motivation was to help our realtor friend, who had been contacted to list it, have a home that would sell … but that motivation soon changed.
The floral paper is mostly gone and now the entire kitchen is getting painted a nice neutral.
It wasn’t until Rip was already 1 week in that I finally was freed up to be able to join him. He had already shown me photos and told me what all he had already gotten done, but when I walked in for the first time this past Monday, I was shocked, but not discouraged.
I KNEW it was time to push back the sleeves and apply a whole lot of elbow grease because … we got a phone call. And it was that one call that changed our motivation tee-totally!
We found out that the house was no longer getting ready to be on the market, but we were now getting a house ready to be a home to a newly single mom and her 5 children, all under the age of 12. Rip and I looked around at what was soon to be “Home” to a family of 6 and we, dropped to our knees. We prayed asking the Lord to please enable us to get this work done because they would be moving in this week.
We decluttered and threw out trash. Rip built a wall. (see photos)
He then covered it with paneling to match the rest of the room, added trim and we got it all painted. The AFTER photo has not be taken yet, but all the wood trim is now white. The carpets were shampooed and the closets and closet doors all painted. Both of these two rooms were paneled, so we painted them all the same neutral color.
The 2 boys (ages 12 and 2) share one room and the three girls (twins 8 and a 10 year old).
Rip changed out fixtures, repaired plumbing, and together we painted and painted and painted. I also went from room to room sweeping, vacuuming, and deep DEEP cleaning.
But, the good news is….she came the next day with her children. I wasn’t there, but Rip joined me at the supper table this past Wednesday night at church and told me their reaction as they came inside. He said, “The kids came in and said, ‘Wow! The bathroom is so big!, then, baby, they ran outside to the backyard and just played, running around in the grass. They were so happy.”
(insert happy tears – yes, I couldn’t help but just shed a few right there over my lasagna (Rip too), because we had been working so hard for THAT moment!)
So, on Thursday, I was down on the dirty floor of the family room, scrubbing ‘something’ off the windows, and was looking out of them to the yard. And all I could think was that in just another day or so, there was going to be some little children in that house, looking out of that very window and probably wondering if Santa would know that they moved. I just put myself in the skin of those young children and found myself crying as I cleaned. I just cried. Their whole world was changing. And I wanted more than anything for them to walk inside to a clean and tidy and readied house…no, a readied HOME just for them. I prayed more and more asking the Lord to enable me to work hard, and get this all done. And HE CAME THROUGH! We would get to the house early in the morning and work until 7:00ish, (or later) and then …
God did even more!
As I was sharing a video on Facebook of us working in the house, a friend of ours, Anthony Britt, (missions pastor at our church), called and said a life group at our church wanted to help with any needs the family may have. Then, as I was pouring coffee in our church office break room, another pastor met me there, Barry Hardy, and said the church has finances set aside to also help. I told him what I knew she needed and within the next day or so, another pastor, Ben Atkinson, was pulling up at the house with a trunk full of things for them! Then, he went on to tell us that there were other life group classes that wanted to help meet needs. So, as I contacted the mom and talked with her, (very humble lady) she shared with me when they were planning to move in. It was sooner than we thought, so again…Rip and I got to the house early the next day and worked until …
She came in! She came inside with the children and it was the first time I got to meet her face to face. To see her children. I didn’t know she was coming so it was such a surprise!! Oh and the kids did just what Rip said they did on Wednesday…they ran through the house, looking around and placing their things in their “new rooms,” and then ran to the yard. But it was one thing that touched me the most. Just one.
To see her smile.
To see the smile on that precious mom’s face as she saw the work that had been done to make her a home was now the new motivation to keep going. Just keep on going!
We aren’t finished…more walls to paint, more trim to paint, more doors to install, stains to be removed from showers, … just a little more to get done.
We need to paint this sunroom because it’s where she homeschools her 5 children and that door has now been replaced with a solid door. The floors need scrubbing and Rip went ahead and took down all the blinds, and she’ll be getting all new window treatments.
Would you like to see what 5 extremely grateful children call a “big bathroom?” We got it all cleaned and ready for them to use, and right beside the toilet is a tub/shower combo.
While working in this home these past couple of weeks, we also managed to decorate clients homes for Christmas, install a couple of vanity sinks and a new toilet, help rearrange furniture in several rooms, decorate a couple of homes, do some shopping for a couple of clients, and we were able to help transform a former home office into a place for a friend’s 3 grandsons to hang out when they visit their grandparents! We painted this room, and then Rip built the bunkbeds, a pull-out trundle bed, and a small corner TV cabinet.
Morgan Peters and Rebecca Cartledge (mother and daughter team!), gave us some direction in what they wanted, and it was so much fun surprising their kiddos!
We bought the bed linens in the warm gray with Euro’s because these boys just don’t need anything light, and the spreads came from Bed, Bath & Beyond. They can be thrown into the washer and dryer and go right back on the beds. Now, it drove me CRAZY to leave those drapes UN-IRONED!!! I begged the sweet grandmother to please steam them…I just couldn’t stand leaving the two windows covered in wrinkles. But she assured me that when they walked into their new room, they were SO HAPPY!! A place to hook up their gaming system, watch TV and throw a football against the wall. After we got that room installed and linens on the beds, we were so thankful to have made them so happy!
Mine and Rip’s business is so much more than that to us…it’s ministry. God’s ministry. It’s how we experience Him daily and how we see HIM receiving all the glory! We do no paid marketing, no paid advertising, but our calendars stay full with some of the most wonderful opportunities to serve! We can’t thank God enough for this journey with Him and with some of the most amazing people!!
With Grateful Heart,