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Summer 2012

It has been such a whirlwind summer. God has blessed us in so many ways. Just a quick recap: we moved to Virginia Memorial Day weekend. They started clearing our land on June 9. We found a new church to fellowship with new friends. Sean and Yelena got engaged on August 14. You can read their blogs about the engagement here: and here: It is so sweet to read each of their versions of how they got engaged. We are so crazy happy with their decision! In the middle of October Rick and I are flying to California to meet Yelena’s family and to celebrate their engagement. What a very special time in all of our lives.

In the meantime we continue to build our new home. Today marks the beginning of week 15. So much has already happened.

Front of the house




Last week we met with plumber and he is already almost finished with the rough in. We also met with gas, HVAC and electrician. The cabinet people came and drew out the cabinet spacing on the floor and we choose the wood and color of the cabinets. This week I meet with the granite, tile and lighting professionals hopefully for the last time. I have already been in the tile store 3 times, the lighting place 2 times and this is 1st official appointment at the granite store.

Rick and I “found” a new room in the house. As they were framing out the 2nd floor, we were scheduled to have two walk in attic storage areas. Well the side behind the garage is huge! It easily could have a cathedral ceiling and we could sleep an army of teenagers for  an overnight party! Ok maybe not an army but… We made the last-minute decision to have the builder change the HVAC, electrical and structured cable hookups so we can insulate and sheet rock this room. We will paint, trim and carpet it later but all of the difficult stuff will be done. This started us thinking about how God might be opening our eyes to how He can use this home for ministry. We know that we want to hold marriage retreat weekend in our new home. We will be holding our community group get together there. We spoke to the youth leaders at our new church and told them they can hold sleep-overs and bonfires at our house. We can have missionaries stay with us while they are on sabbatical or just in town for a few days. I can open up our home to friends who want to come over and work on crafts or just need a cup of coffee and a long talk! The possibilities are truly endless.

We want to make our home as open and as friendly as possible. One of the bathrooms is fully wheelchair accessible. We have an outdoor  ramp up to the side hallway door. All of the door ways are at least 32″ wide and the hallway is 48″ wide. Every guest room will have a dresser with a makeup mirror for the ladies and a luggage rack in the closet for suitcases. Our furniture says come on and get cozy, put your feet up and stay awhile. Our goal is to entertain strangers because then they can become friends!

I am overwhelmed by the blessing that we are able to use for God. There are going to be so many opportunities and we are praying that our hearts are open to them. My biggest fear is that I am not the greatest cook. I get by but that has never been my strong point. I am going to be asking for a lot of advice from my friends. If you have a favorite recipe for a simple appetizer, soup, entrée or desert would you please email it to me? Any suggestions would be appreciated! Once we are in our new home I am going to start organizing my recipes into easy to find index card boxes. I love to research so after the house decisions are made I may ask friends to give me cooking lessons!

Our life has changed this year in ways we never imagined happening. I Never dreamed that we would be living in Virginia. It never crossed my mind. Doors closed in so many ways but God opened so many more windows. I don’t know what tomorrow brings but for today I am happy to turn the corner and see what God has in store! Hugs ahead!

I posted this blog on my Tonia website. If you want to read it, here is the link.

Five Years, Birthdays and Bunnies!


Walls are going up!

Wow even with the heat index in the 100’s, the crew has been very busy laying the cinder block. They have been starting around 6:30 in the morning and quitting before 2:00 in the afternoon. It has been tooooo hot to work any later.  I have been taking a cooler of Gatorade and Powerade out to the guys in the morning. So just as a recap. The lot has been cleared, staked and the footprint of the house has been painted. The footers have been dug and then poured.  The next step was the cinderblock for the basement and crawl space walls.


This is the progress so far:

The outline of the basement walls being started!


First wall going up!


This Monday morning I arrived at the lot about 8:30. The crew has been working for an hour or two already. Here is their progress in that amount of time:

Front of house


Side of house


wall on the front of house being completed!


They are making progress. This week the gravel for the basement should be poured, the rest of the cinder blocks will be placed and the brick work may start. I am going to be there to take pictures every day.

In the meantime I have several tasks ahead of me. I meet with Gary & Lynn from Village Cabinet this Thursday. We are going to discuss the color of the cabinets and the layout. As soon as the colors are chosen I can make my appointments with the ceramic tile and stone businesses.

Choices, choices, choices! Well I am off to get more info for the builder! Hugs!

My Current Job

When we knew we were moving we talked about my job situation. For various reasons we decided I needed to quit my job before our house went on the market. I needed to be able to take the dogs out of the house during the showings while keeping the house clean. We also discussed what would happen when we did move. We decided that my temporary full-time job would be the home designer and planner for our new abode! Wow! So until we get moved into our new home I get to do some of the things I love to do, research, plans and ask questions.

Here are some of the things I have been doing in the last 6 months:

We found several blueprints & modified them to fit our current and future needs and budget! This was so much fun! I have been “planning” this house since we got married. We always wanted to build something that would fit our crazy life style. It had to be simple to keep clean and organized as well as tough enough for kids, teenagers, adults and animals! We wanted it to be accessible for everyone so modifications and designs had to be planned carefully. With the help of several people we came up with our basic plan. We are still tweaking it as we go along.

First Floor

We met our builder through Russ, who works with Rick. I had already talked to a few builders when we discovered Mike Konvicka of Mikkon, Inc. He has been the best. He has been able to help us translate what we wanted into a concrete plan of action. I have been researching house layouts and design needs for a very long time so know we had to put all of theses ideas on paper.

After three visits all of the plumbing and fixtures are complete: 2 sinks in the kitchen, 3 1/2 baths, the laundry room and a slop sink in the basement. I really had to learn what I liked and didn’t like. I had to learn to research the pricing and the designs very carefully. I was soooooo over budget the first visit. I went home and really thought about how I would use all of the different areas. The one splurge was to have a prep sink by the cook-top on the peninsula. My big sink is across the kitchen on my serving buffet side so I needed water and a place to roll out pie crusts and clean up. I have a corner air jet tub in the master bathroom. I love climbing in and reading at the end of a long day. It also will help with muscles aches after Rick has cut up all of the wood for our future fires!

We also spent a lot of time thinking about how we can make our house more user-friendly to anyone we have over. The door ways are all wider. We have a ramp on the side of the house coming into a hallway. One of the bathrooms is fully accessible to a wheelchair with a pocket door, roll in shower, grab bars around the toilet and in the shower. The first floor which is our main living space is all hard wood with the exception of the laundry room and half bath. We did this area of the house in a stained concrete flooring. Muddy footprints or paw prints can very easily be mopped up!

We designed a cat letter closet in the mudroom that has a motion activated fan that goes on when the cats enter! I found this on one of my home building forums. What a great idea!

We chose the brick, vinyl siding, shutters and roof colors and styles.

We also completed the interior door styles, the window grill styles and we are working on the entry door now.

We have been busy. I have a folder on my computer with all of my ideas for lights, colors, cabinets and decor. I also have a 3 ring binder with dividers with all of the quotes, our building plans, specification sheets and selection sheets. I am adding a construction calendar tab today. I carry this everywhere. I have needed to pull out the plans and measure as I have considered a light for the foyer or the size of the tile in the bathroom! Wow! Much more to come. I will keep you updated on our crazy building progress.

Latest pictures of our foundation steps:

The footprint or outline of the house is spray painted on the ground so the digging crew know where to put the different levels of the foundation.

The First Cement being poured for our new home

Cement in the corner footer!

Staking the Foundation

Today was a really wonderful day. I was able to be there when the foundation of our home was measured and flagged. Without a good foundation the entire house would be unsteady and unsafe to live in. So in order to have a strong home that will withstand storms, the foundation has to be started in just the right way. Today I watched as Mike and Woody walked the lot and decided where the best place to place the first two flags. These flags were the plumb line for the house. They gave direction to the rest of the house. Mike and Woody measured and re-measured. They showed me how to find out where the front of the house would be placed and what we would see from our front door. They adjusted the line a few times and then they started placing the other flags. The 4 corners were placed, then the flags for the garage. At this point Woody left to get his other equipment to be able to stake the foundation.

Mike and Woody measuring for the foundation of our home!

These men are true craftsmen. They take pride in their work and they take their time. I am confident that our new home will have a strong foundation to stand on! It reminds me of my foundation. My cornerstone that I can hold onto through the storms of life. What a great reminder!

More pictures to come as the building begins!

Digging the Well

What  a journey it has been as we build this house. Rick and I decided that this move was more difficult than we thought it would be. But we have adjusted and grown. There have been a few tense moments between us and things were said that we both had to apologize to the other one. Little things set us both into a tizzy. The ability to laugh together, cry together and communicate has been our greatest gifts. Once we get over the stupid stuff and have a good laugh than everything comes back into perspective. So we go on…. together; being refined and molded into new creatures. Every day I am discovering new truths about myself, some are good and some are the rough edges that need to be sanded down. So as I watch our home being built I can’t help but notice that our land and our home are being molded by master artists. Our architect, builder, excavator and now a drilling crew have been experts at what they do and they do it very well!

June 20: The rough excavation is done and this morning the well digging machine was brought to the land.  This machine is massive.

Look at this beast!

The crew set up in the morning and started drilling for water. I didn’t get there until 2:00 in the afternoon. The machine was so noisy I could hear it from inside my car with the windows rolled up! The workers wear ear plugs to protect their ears. When I got there they were both sitting down watching the drill. Not a word was being spoken. I could tell that something was wrong but I didn’t want to ask yet. I took some pictures of the truck and then hung out. I was getting very nervous and one of the guys started walking toward me as he pulled out his phone. He told me that they were almost at 400 feet and they didn’t see any evidence of water. He was calling his boss to see if they should shut down for the day and try again tomorrow. He mentioned they might have to do “some other things” to get water.

Now I was really nervous. Not only does it cost more to do “extra things” but we couldn’t get our final building permit without that water! SO I did what I always do when I am not in control, started praying! I just asked God to bless this job and that if it was His will then please give us some water. I reminded myself in prayer that God has been in control every step of the way and that He continues to watch over us and guide us. As I was praying the worker got off the phone and said they were going to go down to 420 feet then shut it down. He sat back down and I just continued my prayer. I thanked God for his blessings and for His evidence in our life and praised Him for this land. As I said Amen, I looked up and saw the worker jump up and give a thumbs up! We hit water and it was a gusher! I watched in awe and amazement as water started pouring out around the drill bit. It made a pool by the truck tire and started rolling down the slope! Hallelujah! God is SO Amazing and His timing and blessing just humble me. There is no doubt in my mind that His mercy and grace gave us water at that moment! We were at 400 feet and the pump uses a maximum flow rate of 12. Our flow rate was 40! Mike, our builder, said that we have more than enough water! Yippee!

I was so excited that I started cheering and taking pictures of the water all over the ground!

When God blesses the water comes rushing out!

We have water which means that we can build our home! I feel as if I saw a miracle. God parted the Red Sea for Moses, knocked down the walls of Jericho in front of Joshua and I saw an abundant supply of water when just moments before it was completely dry! Amazing, beautiful sight!

I need to remember this moment when I doubt and question in the future, as I know I will because of my flawed nature. There is no doubt that I saw water when I needed a reminder that God has a plan for this place and for me! What a cool moment!

Next Step is building permit and then they can stake the foundation for the digging to begin! The journey continues…..

I have been having so much fun taking far too many pictures of our land but we have never built a home before and probably never will again. I am saving them all at my Smug Mug hosting site! We have been talking about building a house since 1983 and it is finally happening. Of course the look and design have changed tremendously. We are now thinking of long-term use with an accessible bathroom and shower. No step entry next to garage and one floor living for us! Things change as you mature! We have designed this house with the help of our architect Mark and our builder Mike at Mikkon Homes! It has been so much fun but so much work to think through how we want to use each room and how best to use the space. I have started the nitty-gritty details now of picking out plumbing fixtures. I have already changed my mind three times so I can stay under budget.

We want our home to be open to anyone who wants to come and talk and visit. We will hold Family Fitness Retreats there as well as hosting the Art of Marriage bible studies. God has given us a desire to help marriages become stronger as the individuals grow closer to God! The future is ahead of us and God is guiding our path. Awesome and scary at the same time.

We have started getting to know people here in Virginia. I was invited to play Bunco with a group of ladies on Wednesday evening. What a hoot! 11 women laughing and talking as we tried to play the game! I am amazed we were able to finish because of all of the talking going on! Then last evening Rick and I went out to dinner with Mark and Sandy. Mark is the final architect on our home. We had never met Sandy so it was a great evening!

God has begun the process of helping me plant some roots. Today is three weeks since we moved here and the pruning process has been painful. Saying goodbye to my job, our home and our friends has really bothered me more than I realized it would. It is never easy to change and head in a new direction but this move has been difficult. It is good to start to feel the growth process start.

I will post more pictures and details as our home takes shape. Next step: digging the well!

Building a Home begins!

Friday, June 8 marked a significant moment in our lives and we were not home to even witness it; the builder had the excavating crew break ground on our future home! We were in Connecticut for another significant event! Rick’s niece, Leslie, graduated from high school! She will be attending University of Chicago in the fall! It is incredible to see how moments in a day affect the future. Leslie has left high school behind to embark on her new journey in college. She is such wonderful young lady and we are so proud of her! While she was graduating our lives also took a step toward our future. Here is a picture of one of the machines they used to start clearing the land.

Destructo Machine

We have three acres of trees and we are keeping most of them intact but the house area and the driveway had to be cleared to build! Here is a look at the cleared space at the end of day one!

Rick in the middle of future home site!

Monday, June 11

Our driveway has been started. We are going to have a 400′ driveway leading to the side of the house and the garage. We are truly going to be in the middle of the woods. Our neighbors are right next door but because of the trees we can’t clearly see them. We want our home to be a retreat from the world. A place where couples can come and reflect on their marriages and their relationship with God as a family. I want to have a sign over the from door that says: Welcome to A New Song: Psalm 40:3.

We want Our driveway to lead to a place where people can rest, reflect and grow closer to God and closer to each other. So when I saw the driveway cleared I became all choked up. It was as if God was clearing the path in front of us and giving us a glimpse into the future! Here is the image that I am holding in my heart:

Our path to the future!

God has blessed us and I can only pray that He gives us the strength to continue to do His will and that I give up my control as we walk forward!

Well we are in Virginia! WOW! Everything happened so quickly. The house went on the market on Monday, April 16. We accepted the offer on Friday, April 20th! Since we didn’t have a place to live I made a quick trip to Virginia to try to find a house or apartment. It was a very frustrating trip because I was hitting dead ends. We needed a short-term lease and somewhere that would accept all of our pets! No luck at all. But I  was able to get my car inspected and registered in Virginia. My plates were going to expire on April 30 in Pennsylvania so the timing was great! I returned home still not knowing where we were going to live! In the meantime we had to wait for all of the other closing details to come together. We started packing up the house. Rick needed to be in Virginia so once again we jumped into the car just 2 days after I came home! My goal was to find an apartment before the end of our visit. I prepared with a list of places and set out on my quest! I visited 8 places in a matter of a few hours. Rick and I went back to see one I had found and signed the lease! So we went from a 4 bedroom house with a 2 car garage and a basement to a 2 bedroom apartment with a 1 car garage and a storage unit! Wow! We really lightened our load!

Over the next month we started saying our good byes and packing up the house. In the middle of everything we had a sweet visit from Sean and got to meet his delightful girlfriend, Yelena! They made Mother’s Day and our Anniversary extra special. Yelena is a sweetheart and she will be the strong woman who we have prayed that God would send to be his partner. Maybe by the end of the year we will have more news! LOL

They left on May 20 and the mover’s were scheduled to come on the 24th! Packing went into hyperdrive! We sold our washer and dryer, gave away some other furniture and started packing up the rest of our life! Our first Oops moment happened on Monday morning. I was cleaning the downstairs bathroom. My cell phone was in my pant’s pocket. As I leaned over to flush the toilet after cleaning it, my cell phone fell out of my pocket and down the drain! Wait don.t go!! I turned off the water and went to get Rick. Imagine this conversation: honey I was cleaning the toilet and my cell phone decided to dive in for a bath! It was jammed into the bottom of the toilet. So Rick had to take the toilet off, carry it outside and turn it upside down to dislodge the phone! Needless to say my phone was ruined but after a new wax ring the toilet was fine! So my minutes were flushed away…….

Back to packing minus a cell phone! Thursday morning the movers came and by that evening we were in an empty home. We spent the night on air mattresses so we could be over our very confused pets. All 4 of them slept by us that night. They weren’t going to let us out of their sight! Friday morning, May 25th we finished packing the 2 cars, stuffed animals into carriers and harnesses, closed on our home and started the journey to a new home.

My verse for this entire change has been:  The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. (Genesis 12:1 NIV84). Well God has obviously been totally in control of this move. From the land that we found that was less expensive than we planned to spend but bigger than we planned; To selling our home in 5 days! God has a plan now I have to let go and start walking as He directs. I will admit that it hasn’t been as easy as I thought it would be. I have cried saying goodbye to friends. I have moped when my stuff has been packed away. When we finally got into our apartment I became overwhelmed by all of the changes. People whom I have come to depend upon are hours away and right now I have to allow time and intimacy to build new relationships! My emotions are on a roller coaster. Excited over the possibilities, scared about the changes and even overwhelmed about meeting new people! Usually Rick says that I can walk into the ladies room and leave with a new best friend, but right now I am overwhelmed with the thought of taking the time to get to know anyone. I think it is a part of the protection mechanism that I have developed as a part of each move I have made. What I need to remember is that God is walking with me and God knows the reason we are here. So I need to dive into the deep end!

So as of Tuesday, June 12, we are living in a 2 bedroom apartment with a 1 car garage and a storage unit. We have learned to take the time to open boxes before we go out or start a project! Our pets are happy as long as they have us and have a few pieces of furniture that reminds them that this is home! This is truly our temporary home and for now it is good! A new place, a new season equals new opportunities! God is a God of mercy and grace!


Wow! God is so good. After the whirlwind of painting and fixing up the house, it went on the market on Monday, April 16. Our first showing was that evening at 9:45. 5 days later, 5 showings later: Friday evening we received TWO offers on our home! We accepted one of the offers. So our house is SOLD! But we don;t have a place to live…..yet. Today’s goal is to make phone calls to find our temporary home in Virginia. I know that God has the perfect place set aside for us but I admit I am a little bit anxious about finding a place that will accept our many pets and fit the rest of our needs.

It was a bittersweet night on Friday because the reality of our move hit me right in the face. I cried knowing that we will be moving away from our church family! I am excited knowing that God has gone before us. I can’t imagine what the future holds for us but I know that God has led us through every decision and path. It was still very hard knowing that in 32 days we will be leaving Pennsylvania and starting over in Virginia. This is our first move without kids! When Rick and I moved into our very first apartment together Tonia was already 2 years old.  This was in 1983. We have lived in an apartment in Valparaiso, Indiana and a house in Valparaiso, Indiana. Then Sean was born in 1987 and when he was 10 months old we moved to a house in St. Charles, Illinois. We then moved to Nazareth, in Eastern Pennsylvania in 1994. Western Pennsylvania welcomed us home to Moon Township in 2001. Now here it is and we are empty nesters. So 2012 we will be moving to a rental home in Virginia and then in 2013 we will move to Powhatan, Virginia and into our new home. WOW!

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace

So now it is a time to pack up and move! So until I write again: Aloha!