A Season of Waiting

It’s hard to believe that it’s October already. September was a blur, filled with many changes and hardly any free time. Now it’s Fall and the temperatures have cooled, the leaves are starting to change, and we are in a season of waiting and expectation.

My job has been going well, but they’ve been putting me on the schedule for far more hours than I had requested, leaving me feeling exhausted and with little time at home. Between working five days a week (as opposed to the requested 2-3 max) at The Hotel and one day a week at church, I’ve been left with only Sundays off consistently, and I’m hoping that changes soon. I haven’t had much time to write, read, or rest, and I feel weary.

In addition to working so much, we had to say goodbye to Brennan’s car last week, leaving us with only one vehicle for the foreseeable future. This means many hours of sitting at The Hotel for one of us when our shifts don’t coincide (all too often). Now one of the windows on the van isn’t working properly and we’ll have to have that fixed soon. Money is tight, we each have our own minor physical struggles (ear infections for me, leg injury for Brennan), we’re too busy (and that is out of our control), we miss Tori, and we’re tired. It’s so easy to feel discouraged right now.

Tori has been in Heaven for six months and it’s amazing how easily it is for us to lose perspective already. After all that we’ve been through, all that God has brought us through, it’s still so easy to get wrapped up in all the things that aren’t going our way. We realized this earlier this week and we corrected our perspective – what we’re enduring now is nothing compared to what we went through with Tori, and we can’t let ourselves be overcome by these trials. We can’t allow ourselves to forget that God is holding us in His hands and is in complete control! He is faithful, He is good, and we are trusting Him during this season of waiting and uncertainty.

There are some exciting things happening this month for us:

  • We’ve been working feverishly to get our house ready to be on the market, and that will happen THIS WEEK! We’re so excited! You can read about why we are selling our home here. We cannot wait to be DEBT FREE!

  • We were featured in the Lancaster newspaper yesterday and are so thrilled that Tori is continuing to make waves across the state!
  • My manuscript is being edited THIS MONTH and we hope to start pitching it to publishers in November! I also have another book idea brewing, so I hope to start working on that project soon.
  • We’re headed to California this week for a quick trip to Disneyland! I was supposed to photograph a conference in SoCal and had already purchased my plane tickets when the conference was canceled…so, we decided to go to Disneyland instead!
  • At the end of the month, Brennan and I will be taking a LONG awaited trip to Nevada, Utah, and Arizona with Mission: Imperative where we will be going to most of the National Parks in the area! We cannot wait for this adventure, especially since all the details are taken care of and we paid for the trip long ago! What a great way to celebrate six years of marriage doing something we both love – traveling! ❤
  • I’m continuing to write for The Transcend Project along with members of our church. Please check it out! There’s SO much great content on there!
  • Also, I finally decided to release the live recording of the song I wrote this year (my first and only!). You can hear it here.

A few prayer requests:

  • Please continue to pray for us as we continue to navigate life without our Tori. We miss her terribly and there isn’t a day that goes by without us thinking about her constantly. We’re still doing well, but life is obviously very different without her.
  • Please pray for wisdom with decisions regarding potential offers on our home and where we will live after the house sells.
  • Please pray for favor with publishers, and that the right one will step up to help us tell Tori’s story and save lives through Newborn Screening.
  • Pray for physical healing for both Brennan and me.
  • Pray for us during this season of “waiting” for so many things – our home, future children, the book, etc.

Trials in this life serve a few purposes, but one of the most important is this: this world is NOT our home. It can never make us fully happy – only Heaven and the One who reigns there can. These difficult times won’t last forever – we just have to remember that. And so we wait on the Lord who is always faithful and good. ❤

Update: The Wall Project

As most of you know, we had set-up a GoFundMe a month ago to raise enough money to make our main living area more accessible for Tori – both for her safety (quicker access to her from the kitchen) and for new experiences for her (being in the kitchen in her stander).
   
 The project began while we were on our New England road trip…and then Tori went to Heaven much sooner than expected.
We weren’t sure if we should continue the project since the money was generously donated for *her* benefit…

…but, we realized that we needed to finish what we had started. We taught her to live life fully and to press on even when circumstances aren’t ideal, so we need to live that out in her absence.
The photos below show the progress as of today, and work resumes tomorrow morning. The framing of part of the wall is all that currently remains!
   
 As someone pointed out to us, we should finish it because we have no idea how we might be “paying it forward” – if we ever sell, who knows how this accessibility might bless someone else? ❤️
We are so disappointed that Tori never got to enjoy this new open space. Yet, we remember that Heaven is WAY better than our small living room and kitchen 😉

Tearing Down a Wall (Literally)

Brennan and I purchased our first home a little over three years ago. It was built in 1954, has plenty of space (1,800 sq. ft spread out on three floors), and lots of charm.

  
It was bank-owned when we bought it and needed a great deal of cosmetic work.

Thanks to family and friends with construction experience we have managed to complete most of the necessary work in our home without having to hire contractors (we did hire one for our two full bathrooms).

One of the projects we always had in mind was to remove the unnecessary wall between the living room and kitchen. It was always in the back of our mind as a “something nice to do someday if we can afford it” project. 

But, what started as a want has truly become a need as Tori’s reliance on her (massive) medical and adaptive equipment has increased.

Here is what it looks like now (real life photo, not staged, as evidenced by the stuff everywhere 😉):

  

Some of the difficulties this wall has presented in our daily lives and care of Tori are these: 

  1. Tori’s equipment cannot fit through the narrow doorway so she is confined to the small living room.
  2. If I am trying to cook, prepare her bottles, or do anything in the kitchen, it is very difficult to get to her quickly when she needs immediate care.
  3. I cannot see her when I am in the kitchen at all, so I rarely go in there when I am by myself with Tori (i.e. meals don’t always happen).
  4. We cannot eat meals as a family at our dining room table because Tori’s stander (or stroller) cannot easily fit through the doorways.

   

Recently a friend of ours with construction experience asked if we had any side jobs we needed to have done and we presented him with a list of everything we could think of that has remained unfinished because of Tori’s illness. 

We only have a small amount of money saved up for house projects so we told him he could do whatever would fit in that budget (not much).

I began thinking about the wall coming down on Friday morning and talked it over with Brennan and our friend. We decided it needed to be our greatest priority, even if it became the only project on our list.

Since we are going to California this month we asked our friend if he could possibly do it while we are gone (to keep Tori out of the dust), and he said yes.

Brennan and I took a leap of faith and set up a GoFundMe page to hopefully raise the $1,500 estimated cost to remove the wall, move the duct work and electrical components, build a support column, and figure out a solution for the floor that would now be exposed where the wall used to be.

We had never before asked for donations for anything so we weren’t sure how well our campaign would do.

Within three hours over $1,500 had been raised! Praise the Lord! 

So, we talked about it and raised the goal to $2,500 which would allow us to also completely replace the kitchen flooring so that it will match the living room floor in height and color (currently it is higher than the living room which also presents issues for her equipment on wheels).

Last we checked over $2,000 had been generously donated! 

We still can’t believe that we are going to come home from California to an open living room and kitchen…a space that will be so much better for Tori in so many ways!

We can’t wait to eat dinner at our dining room table as a family, to cook with Tori by my side, and to overall provide a better space to care for her needs.

Thank you all for your support and contributions – we will keep you posted on the progress! ❤️

Preparing a Place for Our Baby…Part Two

In my last post, I showed pictures of the progress we’d made on the baby’s room.

We had a lot of work to do between refinishing the floors and painting every inch of the room, but it’s DONE! My mom flew out from California for a week to help us with the painting and other preparations, and we are so thankful for her time and effort. The end result is a drastic difference from what we started with – though that wasn’t hard to achieve 😉 We still have things to do, such as hanging decorations on the walls, but the majority of it is done and we have about three months to organize and prepare for her arrival.

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We were SO blessed at our baby shower and were especially thankful to receive her crib! What a relief it is to have it in our home, assembled and ready for her! It is beautiful and we are so excited to have it already. There are still things that we need to purchase, like the stroller/car seat, but having the crib now relieves a great burden.

I’m 28.5 weeks pregnant, so she can come as soon as 9 weeks from now, which is crazy. This pregnancy has flown by and I can’t believe we’re 9-12 weeks away from meeting her!

Preparing a Place for Our Baby…Part One

When we bought our house in December 2012, we knew we had a lot of work to do. Thankfully, we received a great deal of help from friends and family and were able to finish a majority of the house in just a few months. We didn’t take the time/energy/money to do the rooms we weren’t going to be using, including the bedroom that will become our baby’s room.

This is what it looked like when we bought it:

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Lovely, right? It has affectionately been known to us as “the pink room” and I can’t wait for it to have a new name. 🙂 “______’s room” 🙂

The transformation began on April 19, 2014 when we were able to re-finish the hardwood floors in that room. We had done the rest of the house  over a year ago, but the pink room became the storage area for all of the furniture that went in the other rooms during the process and we couldn’t really do these floors. We didn’t think we’d be using this room for a while… 🙂

Now the floors look great and are protected by thick paper so that we can continue the renovation process!

Brennan removed the wallpaper border last night, and we’ll be patching/repairing the walls over the next couple of days. On Sunday a heavy coat of primer will be applied (thanks to some wonderful friends!) and then some fresh paint next week (thanks to my Mom who is coming all the way from California to help us prepare the room).

The preparation of her room is making this feel more and more real – in three months we’ll have a new family member!