Friday the 13th

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

ImageToday is Friday the 13th, and I am feeling very lucky–blessed, actually. A group of volunteers worked at our house this past week, and our stairwell and and upstairs hallway are completely transformed.

In the interest of full disclosure, I need to be very clear that although we did have lots of water in the house, it did not go to the second floor. However, with five feet of water inside, the stairway carpet had to be ripped up and the first floor wall of the stairwell was taken down. Therefore, the second floor wall and upstairs hall were affected. Also, many volunteers with muddy boots had walked on the carpeting in the upstairs hallway.

A group from Temple Baptist Church in Waterford, NY came to Schoharie for the week. They stayed at a hotel in Cobleskill and made our town their mission trip. The group is called TSM Engaged (Temple Student Ministry). All the students we met were really nice kids, and great workers. Their leaders were models of passion for God and compassion for others. And, they had great knowledge and skills for rehabbing homes. This group pulled up the carpeting, removed  the remaining wallpaper, skim-coated the old plaster with new, the primed and painted the walls of the stairwell and upstairs hall. Also, they painted two door to upstairs rooms and the front door. As it turns out, there was a nice finshed wooden floor under the carpeting upstairs!  Thank you, Lord, for TSM Engaged, and thank you to those at Schoharie Recovery and SALT Recovery for attracting and assigning volunteers.

I have had the priviledge of working twice at the Loaves and Fishes Cafe, the system of feeding the volunteers at noon each day. The women who work at this ministry have been serving meals every day since about a week after the flood, and will continue to do so for the rest of the summer. It is amazing tosee God work through those who cook at home and bring food, prepare and serve food, and then clean up and get ready for the next day. There are so many people helping from so many different sources.

A couple of weeks ago, we put a little bistro set on our back porch,and I have been enjoying morning devotions and coffee out there. A photo is included in this slide show.

We are planning on hosting an Open House during Labor Day weekend to re-dedicate the house to the Lord, to celebrate the rebuilding and recovery, and to thank all those who helped. I started this blog to keep our volunteers from far away informed. It would so great to see them again and let them see the fruit of their labor.

Advertisements

Commencement

This is graduation weekend in New York State.  Last night was Middleburgh’s ceremony and this morning was Schoharie’s. Much has been written in the local papers in recent days about the resiliency and strength of the Class of 2012. Many of these kids were among those whose homes were flooded, and almost all of them helped family, friends, and neighbors clean and rebuild.  In Middleburgh, students helped to shovel out mud and help rebuild ruined equipment in the tech rooms. The gym was flooded as were the athletic fields. The large key that is handed to each newly-elected senior class president from the graduating president was among the many casualties of the muddy waters.

This is a link to one of those articles:

http://www.dailygazette.com/news/2012/jun/23/0623_middleburgh/

This has been a very difficult year at school. Financial pressures, many employees flooded, concern for the students and their families, facilities rendered unusable all combined to create even more stress than we usually see at school. Sometimes, tempers were short, but more often, colleagues were very supportive and sympathetic.

Now that I am finished with school, I will begin the work of trying to organize the upstairs rooms and the garage,which have been housig rescued belongings. Many volunteers cleaned and boxed up households items that were not ruined or could be cleaned, and most of them have been untouched while we were busy with the rebuilidng of the downstairs. So now I will be spending much of each day with this next project.

The area has seen many volunteers this past week. Some finished painting our garage. Attracting volunteers to our area, and then matching them with the appropriate work site is a huge job, and we are so thankful for the people at Schoharie Recovery and Schoharie Area Long Term Recovery for all their efforts.  You might want to take the time to follow these links and read more about what is going on with the recovery effort, as well as some interesting media attention to our little village. Another example of the help and care we receive is the $10 gift card we received to purchase bedding plants. Since we will be doing some digging around the foundation later this summer, I am using lots of containers for my flowers this year.  

We cannot say “thank you” enough for volunteers and donors from near and far that have helped us rebuild and have encouraged us every step of the way. And, of course, we thank God for using so many people in so many different ways to provide that care and help for us.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It has been so long since I posted. Life is returning to “normal”. In our community we are calling it the “new normal”. There are so many changes that we have to learn to accept as the norm. With the beautiful spring weather, the robins have returned, and so have many village residents. The singing of the birds combines with the hum of power tools as homeowners and volunteers continue to rebuild. I’ve learned to appreciate walks through the neighborhood again so I can view the progress.

Our downstairs is almost finished now! Duane and Brad installed all the wood trim, and some wonderful personal touches such as the door for Sandy’s under-the-stairs den. The kitchen, breakfast nook, dining room, and music room all have Tiffany-style light fixtures. The kitchen has back-splash that is reminiscent of an old metal ceiling. Both the living room and the dining room have area rugs. The new dining room furniture has arrived, (although it is not in place yet), and the donated living room couches look elegant and are very comfortable.

I am recovering, too.  I have always been rather “scatter-brained”, but now it’s worse than ever. We call it “flood brain”. I realized the other day that my memory is improving because when I needed to put a new set of checks in my checkbook, I was able to remember that after the flood I ordered new ones and had stored them in my desk upstairs. When I went to fetch them, they were there! This may sound rather simple, but I have had so many moments of not remembering where I put something, or not remembering if I still have it, or remembering something that didn’t really happen, that this event was a real victory.

There is still much work to do. The downstairs little half bath still needs a sink. I am soon going to be making a decision about a new piano and finish up the music room. Then we will have to deal with foundation work, roof work, the stairs, and the upstairs hallway. But none of this is pressing, and we will have time to enjoy our new digs downstairs. This summer I will be going through the upstairs rooms where all the flood-surviving possessions were stashed in the days after the flood to clean and organize them. We want to make room for family members to visit this summer!

The following link is about one setback in an otherwise monumental amount of work, planning, creativity, and compassion on behalf of so, so many local organizers and volunteers from near and far.

http://www.fox23news.com/news/local/story/Theft-from-Schoharie-Recovery-effort/EeXgwLGUgEmsvyKlwXVjkQ.cspx?autoplay=1

Before I end, I want to share this link to a story in the Albany Times Union. The church in the article is the one where our son JJ and his wife Kate were married in November 2010. When they celebrated their one-year anniversary and looked through their wedding album, every place in it had been hit by Irene: the church, her Mom’s house, his parents’ house, and the cute little covered bridge where some of their outdoor shots were taken. The resiliency and faith of my friends, family, and neighbors,  still moves me to tears.

http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/At-tiny-church-a-time-of-renewal-3466567.php#photo-2791580

1 I will sing of the lovingkindness of the LORD forever ; To all generations I will make known Your faithfulness with my mouth. 2 For I have said, “Lovingkindness will be built up forever ; In the heavens You will establish Your faithfulness.” Psalm 89

Let Me Tell You!

We continue to see progress. Today I have no school because of President’s Day, but Duane and Brad are here working on the wood trim around the windows. They started coming back last week, so most of the windows are trimmed and I can begin painting. They have made the two windowsills that face the flower garden and bird feeder very wide so I can put plants there. There is a small shelf under each of the window sills, so it will be fun to put little knickknacks there. Our local superhero,  Josh, stopped by. It is always so good to see him. He spends all his time helping our town and surrounding area recover from the flood. He told me that union workers and their journeymen are now working on the house across the street from us, and his is the fifth house they have done. There are different teams whose expertise is sheet-rocking, or taping, or painting. He is amazed at how quickly each can get the work done. He also said that there will be 15 VISTA volunteers in the area for the summer. There is another group coming in who will be canvassing the area and checking with all homeowners to see how they are in the recovery process to make sure no one is overlooked and is getting the help they need. There are so many people who are working on behalf of all of the flood victims to help us in so many ways.

Two Saturday ago, on February 3rd, my two cousins who live in the Capital District came to the house. (Their grandmother and my grandmother were sisters, which means their mom and my mom were cousins. We’re not sure if that makes us third cousins, or twice-removed, so we just call each other cousins.) They have come several times to help clean after the flood. This time they brought a very generous check from donations from members of that side of my family. It will be used to get a new piano. They also brought a beautiful set of china dishes that their childhood friend and neighbor donated. It looks as though it has never been used. I am sharing a photo of one of the plates here so you can see how beautiful and cheery the pattern is.

Last Saturday, February 10th, our first pieces of new (to us) furniture were brought in to the house. A customer of Frank’s gave us a couch and we had been storing it in our garage. When two men from the volunteer center came to help bring it in the house, they realized that it was not only really heavy, but that it was too big to fit in the front door and then turn to get into the living room. By taking off the legs, it just barely got in. If the wood trim had been on the doorways, it would not have fit. So we need to keep this couch for a very long time 🙂 Its younger, smaller cousin was brought later that day by the customer and his son, and they had no problem getting that in. And, to give an idea of what it’s like to live in small town, one of the volunteers was the pharmacist who has filled our prescriptions since our boys were little. The other helper was his cousin who had come from Michigan to volunteer for a while. His wife, Sara, runs the volunteer center at the Reformed Church in Schoharie.  There are few photos of our new couches.

Frank installed the new Tiffany-style lamp (photo included) in the breakfast nook and there is a folding table there, so we had dinner together in our breakfast nook this past week. We can’t use the range yet–a cabinet has to be moved to make room for it, and part broke when Frank was working on it (not his fault–it just broke). The dishwasher has to be plumbed in, so those two appliance make a bit of an obstacle course in the middle of the kitchen. But we can use the beautiful counter tops, the fridge, the microwave, and our sink in the utility room to prepare food. The propane company came, and all the baseboard heaters that Frank installed now are giving us heat, so we are spending more time in the downstairs. I am so thankful for every step in the rebuilding and recovery process.

Our family is continuing to build in another way, too. This past Tuesday, the evening before Valentine’s Day, our youngest son Nathan proposed to very vivacious and talented Chelsea, presented her with a ring, and she accepted! She is an actress, so there will be some time and planning before a wedding date can be set. We are so happy to welcome her into the family and to get to know her parents and brothers as well.

I just have to keep thanking God for His provision and care for us and for so many people with tender hearts who want to help in so many ways.

Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me. Psalm 66:16

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Their Boss is a Jewish Carpenter

This is a tribute to Duane and Brad. Before August 28, we did not know either of them, nor they us. But a few days after the flood, Duane came to our house and introduced himself. He’s a retired contractor and wanted to help us rebuild. He heard about us through people at Calvary Orthodox Presbyterian Church,  where we have been worshiping since January. He attends a church in the same denomination in Amsterdam, NY, and he lives in Schoharie (on a big hill!). At first, he offered to store the wood floors and trim for us that needed to dry out and be reinstalled. After the clean-up  and gutting was finished, he and his friend Brad came every day to build. They adopted our house and showed up every day as though it was their job. But of course it wasn’t. Every morning Duane, Brad and Frank worked on the house then went to the Reformed Church in town for a hot meal. (Yes, people are still serving a hot meal for volunteers and homeowners every day.) Duane has rheumatoid arthritis, so they would then go home and rest. Brad traveled a great distance every day.

This is why I was able to see progress every day when I came home from school. On the few days when I did not have school and stayed home, I loved to work with Duane and Brad around. There lots of jokes and kidding–all good-natured– and the work was actually fun. I kept thinking about the bumper sticker, “My boss is a Jewish carpenter”. I didn’t hear Duane or Brad say much about their faith, but they were living it every day by giving freely and sacrificially of their time and talent to help us in our need.

They enlisted the help of others from their church. Bill was there almost every day, and his wife Marilyn, in her first year of retirement from teaching,was there from time to time. Alice loves demolition and is very good at cleaning up after the construction work. Marilyn and Alice would do nice things for the house for me, like leave a bouquet of flowers, or clean the windows, or clean the mud from a few stools and bring them inside so we could sit in the downstairs.

The team decided a few weeks ago to move on. There are so many people in need, and they have brought our house to the point where we have walls. There is just taping, painting, trim, and floors to go. And, well, a few other things. But every day I see places that have just been gutted, and some that look the same as they did after the flood. So the need in this area is still very great. They are now working on a house that was very near the water outside Middleburgh. The family had no one to help them at all.

When we tell our grandchildren about the flood, their names and selfless service will be part of the story. We will tell of the love and help from so many people in so many ways. God has used these people to give us hope and strength that was even more powerful than the raging waters that turned the things in our home upside down.

Blessed Be Your Name

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=du0il6d-DAk

Blessed Be Your Name
In the land that is plentiful
Where Your streams of abundance flow
Blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your name
When I’m found in the desert place
Though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed Be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name
When the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s ‘all as it should be’
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out
I’ll turn back to praise
When the darkness closes in, Lord
Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your name
Blessed be the name of the Lord
Blessed be Your glorious name

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

The lyrics above are from a praise song written by Matt Redman, with a link to a video with the music and lyrics. I first heard it when two friends sang it together in church a few years ago;  later, I added to my iPod. The words are based in Scripture, with the idea that we are to praise God in all things. I am reminded of this passage from Ephesians:

4 Rejoice in the Lord always ; again I will say, rejoice ! 5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Most mornings when I walk with Sandy, I listen to Christian praise songs. Whenever I would hear this song, I would think, “Well Lord, I am not in a desert place, and I am not walking through the wilderness. Thank you that my world is all as it should be.”  And I see now that God was preparing me for this time, when life is not so easy. He is teaching me to praise Him in all circumstances. This is a list of some of the things for which I thank Him.

1. Although it is difficult to thank God for the flood, I do thank Him for what I am learning and especially that I know He is close and that He is providing for us. And I know that I am most ready to learn from Him and walk closely with Him when I am in need.

2. I thank Him for my parents. We will be spending Thanksgiving with them for the first time in many years. I can’t say enough about what wonderful parents they have always been and continue to be. All the years of love, sacrifice, and hard work are beginning to take their toll; I hope to get the house back in order soon so I can spare more time away from home to visit with and help them.

3. I thank Him for my siblings and siblings-in-law. My sister and her husband came up from Maryland the weekend after the flood to help, and Frank’s brother Dan, his wife and one of their sons traveled from southern Pennsylvania that weekend as well. It was such a comfort to be with family at such a time, especially since we share the same faith and I know our family members are praying for us.

4. We have been embraced by a new church family that has been ministering to us in so many ways. God has used this denomination to send us financial help and volunteer workers from near and far.

5. All three of our sons are walking with the Lord and “all is as it should be” with their lives. When one of them is going through something difficult, I find myself wishing that I could take on that burden or trial instead of him. Well, now I am the one with the burden, and knowing that my kids are in a good place is one of the many things that helps to lighten the load. They have all been a tremendous comfort during this time to recovery, and have all helped with many aspects of clean-up and rebuilding.

6. We have new family members! It is almost the one-year anniversary of JJ and Kate’s wedding, and now they have added Noah to the Meredith clan. Christopher and Rashell have moved into a beautiful new home, Robert and Alex have a back yard to play in, and, Lord willing, Benjamin William will make an appearance around Christmas. Four grandsons in three years!

7. I am so grateful for my husband. He holds me when I cry, and he has taken on every task regarding finances and rebuilding. He is doing everything possible to take away stress and worry from me. He is usually exhausted and in pain, but keeps a sense of humor and a cheerful attitude.

8. The community I live in has been an incredible example of strength of character. I have written in past posts about the way people are working together and helping others. People are helping in so many ways: cleaning, demolishing, building, organizing, networking, cooking, serving, donating expertise, driving, loaning equipment, giving money, donating goods and services, and the list goes on. Needs are being matched with those who can help meet that need, and the result is beautiful.

9. I am thankful for my job and my students. These days I really need the paycheck, but I really love going to school everyday. My colleagues are very supportive, and I love spending time and making music with my students. Many of our students have suffered loss and are displaced; many helped to clean up the school after the flood. The school community is facing many challenges together.

10. I am thankful for the technology available to communicate and keep in touch with far away loved ones and to learn more about so many things. The internet and Face Book have been very valuable resources during the flood and recovery. I plan to write more about it in another post.

He said, “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The LORD gave me what I had, and the LORD has taken it away. Praise the name of the LORD!” Job 1:21

It is true that God provided everything I owned and lost in the flood. As my pastor pointed out, I was going to lose those things at some point in time anyway. So, at Thanksgiving and every day, I will praise Him for who He is and that I belong to Him.

Eleven Eleven Eleven

 

Today is Veteran’s Day, so there was no school. A crew of ten from North Carolina has been in the area all week, and some of the members worked at our house Wednesday and today. You can see photos of them and the beautiful walls they have built. It is very exciting to not only have walls, but to see how the new floor plan is looking. There is an opening in the dining room and the kitchen that were not there before, and the doorway opening between the kitchen and the dining room is much bigger.  We are hoping the openness will seem more welcoming.

I had the opportunity to see what happens at my house most days when I am at school. Duane comes to the house every day and works all morning. Usually Brad is there as well. Some days Marilyn and Bill are there, too, or sometimes Bill comes while Marilyn is substitute teaching. Duane is a “retired” contractor, but he is at our house every day as though it is his job. We did not know him at all until a few days after the flood. He heard about us from friends at church, and offered to help us rebuild. He is literally a god-send. The others I mentioned, as well as Alice who has come to help many times, are all Christians who want to be used by the Lord in our time of need.

Another God-send is Joshua. He has a real heart for the poor, and left a very prestigious job and hefty salary to work with various groups who were administering micro-loans in desperately poor parts of the world. He grew up in Middleburgh, and was one of those kids who was good at everything, graduating first in his class, and giving one of the most memorable commencement speeches ever. In college, he went on trips with other students to New Orleans to help clean up after Hurricane Katrina. His brother got married on August 27th, so Josh was in town for the wedding. The next day, Irene hit. Josh has not left yet. Every day since the flood, Josh has been working to help gut houses that can be saved, and tearing down houses where needed. He coordinated and guided the teams of volunteers that came to help in the days after the flood. He has recruited people to help, and now is the go-to guy for those who need help, and those who want to help. He was one of the first to show up at our house after the flood, and we knew he had the expertise we desperately needed. He has checked in with us often, bringing information, application forms, coupons for food, and helpers. He even had a crew here last weekend to rake our leaves and plant grass seed. He has made it his business to find the people who had no family or resources and desperately needed help. He has brought help and hope to all of us who were devastated.

Every day there is a hot lunch for all volunteers and home owners in Schoharie served at the Reformed Church. This started as an outdoor operation in the days following the flood, and the meals continue each day indoors. I was moved to tears when I realized that the church building and parish house next door were flooded and are in need of repair. The husband and wife team who pastor the church live in the village, and their home was flooded. And yet, they are serving others every day. The same can be said of the Presbyterian Church in town. That congregation is housing an emergency food pantry in their gutted sanctuary.

The beauty of  this love being shown is so overwhelming. I cry frequently in these weeks after the flood, but more often than not, it is when I realize that God has moved so many people to help us in so many ways. It might seem odd for someone whose home and neighborhood has been flooded to say this, but I am so blessed.

Walls!

We have walls! The wooden frame is dry enough, the wiring is in, and the insulation is installed. So now, it’s time for sheet-rock! I have included some photos of the walls in the living room and dining room. We have purchases two lamps that are similar, but not identical. The larger one will be in the dining room and the smaller one in the music room, which is adjacent. Then we saw an area rug online that looked like it would go well. So, we have moved to the decorating stage of this project.

This past Monday, Halloween, was my birthday. Our youngest son Nathan had been in Mexico, and returned that day. So we picked him up at the airport and brought him to JJ and Kate’s apartment to meet Noah for the first time. We ordered take out food from a recently re-opened restaurant in Middleburgh, and had a wonderful meal together. Through the miracle of modern technology, we were able to see Christopher, Rashell, and their two sweet boys, Robert and Alex using Skype. Nathan gave me a beautiful hand-made ceramic platter from Mexico, and JJ and Kate gave me a new bird feeder, seed, and a pole to hang it on in my garden. I have included a photo of that, too.

My cardinal has been coming to eat, even though the shrubs have been pulled up. I am delighted when he visits. Sandy and I have begun walking around the neighborhood again. Most of the debris is gone now, although we have to avoid the occasional broken shards of glass. We walk early in the morning when it’s still dark, so I don’t see all of the remaining flood destruction. So some more normalcy is returning to our lives.

Welcome, Noah!

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13
My entry today is about a different kind of construction. Yesterday morning, our son JJ and his beautiful and strong wife Kate welcomed their first born child, Noah Roger, into the world. Whenever a child is born, there are so many thoughts and emotions, but the contrast of this happy occasion with the recent flood  gives me much to ponder.
  • A year ago at this time, plans were being made for a beautiful candlelight ceremony in the Reformed Church in Middleburgh. Kate is from a large extended family whose farm and loving ways are very well know in our area. The reception would be in the church hall, and her mother, sisters, cousins, and aunts decorated it so beautifully we all thought we were in a very stylish banquet hall. On August 28, Irene brought rushing muddy water into that stately old building and scattered the pews like so many toothpicks before leaving mud everywhere. Here is a photo of JJ and Kate exchanging vows at the altar, and then the same spot on August 29th.
  • Both JJ and Kate’s childhood homes were invaded by floodwaters, and are now being repaired and rebuilt by God’s grace and lots of people He has sent to help. In the months nearing the birth, the joy of the anticipated birth was overshadowed by concerns for their parents’ homes and welfare. Kate and helpers cleaned and saved countless precious photographs and other keepsakes, and JJ helped demolish the walls of his own home and donned mask and other apparel for fighting mold in the basement.
  • They have known for a long time that Kate was carrying a boy, and they had decided on the name Noah. They know that their son will be raised in a generation that scoffs at God, and so wanted to give him a namesake who followed God despite what those around him thought or said. They did not share the name with anyone. Then came the flood. Kate wondered if it would seem like a sick joke to name him Noah now, after the flood, but JJ was more convinced than ever that it was appropriate. On Labor Day weekend, some of the many volunteers who traveled to come to our aid were Abe and three of his children. One was named Noah, and he was such a delightful person it just confirmed for them that this was the right name for their son. None of us knew before yesterday he would be named Noah, and JJ pointed me to this verse:Genesis 5:29:  He named him Noah and said “He will comfort us in the labor and painful toil of our hands caused by the ground the Lord has cursed.”This little boy is another way that God is restoring our community. Homes and businesses are being rebuilt, and this child will learn to love this valley as his parents and many relatives do.
  • Noah was born at the hospital where Christopher and JJ were born, and those events are so vivid in my memory that I can’t believe my babies are now daddies. How can it be that I am a grandmother? The changes were gradual, day by day, but looking back it seems to have happened so quickly. Yet, one of the many lessons I have learned from the flood is that life can be forever altered in a moment. I need to be walking close to God so He can guide me through those changes.
  • As I write this, our first born grandchild, Robert Joseph Meredith, is celebrating his third birthday. He needed heart surgery when he was born, and again this past January. Every day we thank God for His perfect timing and provision for giving the right doctors, hospitals, and resources so that today he is truly having a happy birthday.
  • First and foremost in my mind as we rebuild and remodel our home is to provide a place that is grandchild-friendly. I am envisioning spaces for play and storage of playthings as well as lots of room for family gatherings and sleepovers.  And we will tell our grandchildren of the many wonderful times their daddies had in this house, and have many more wonderful times in the new-and -improved house.

Jeremiah 29:11–For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Tuesday, October 18

Every day when I come home, there is something new to see.  Stewart’s,  the convenience store and gas station that is on the corner only two doors away, is set to open tomorrow at 4:30 AM. I am so excited about it, I might just go there at that time to be their first customer and personally thank them for caring enough about our little community to rebuild so quickly after the flood. It has been like a huge vote of confidence to see and hear the workers there every day during the very uncertain and difficult time following Irene.

Yesterday when I got home, the washer I have been using was on the back porch and is no longer needed because the new top-loading High Efficiency washer is now hooked up and ready to use. I did the first trial load a little while ago, and now the first official load is washing as I write this. Today, there are two big developments: there is now a wall and door at the bottom of the back stairs. This is the area where the laundry room used to be, so we needed a little wall. In the photo below, you will see a dryer. It is an old electric one that we are using until the new gas one is hooked up. When it is gone, the former laundry room area will become a “breakfast nook”. Second, in addition to most of the downstairs being insulated, there is now new ceiling in the living room! We are so thankful for the faithful volunteers who have adopted our house and come to work on it every day even though they are “retired”. We owe a debt we can never repay.

We are still waiting, some more patiently than others, for JJ and Kate’s little boy to arrive. Please pray for a safe delivery and healthy baby and momma. We know he will arrive at just the right time. I am reminded of the joke about someone praying: “Dear God, Please grant me patience, and please grant it NOW!” Instead, I am praying, “Dear Lord, please help me trust you, even though I should know by now that You always know what is best.”