We are done

It has been too rainy to take the “ta-da!” After pics….so here are a few older pics I neglected to post earlier. We finished most of the work before Christmas and did the finishing right before New Year’s Day! Whoo! Talk about busy!

Anyway, I am waiting for the rain to clear, then I will clean the trash out of the yard and post some good pictures! I am going to put them in before/after collages.













Christian = Naive?

I am convinced that I must  not have the most recent edition of the good ole dictionary.  I am certain that if I look up the word Christian in the dictionary, that it most likely has the word NAIVE as the definition.  Or, is that just what everyone thinks?  I had to take down the sign in my yard touting my church affiliation due to the increasing number of persons knocking on my door asking for $.  Not only do they ask me for money and feed me some crazy, disjointed story, they get indignant when I tell them (truthfully) that I do not have any money, but I ask if I could feed them instead.  Need to get to the doctor in Leesville, don’t have a ride, need some money to make it there….do I look stupid????  Can’t feed your kids, you work at Sonic, you are hungry, need some money to buy groceries but are standing on my plywood porch puffing a smoke from a $5 pack of cigarettes?  Really?  I am, like most everyone else, trying to make ends meet myself.  In fact, in another week, I am marching back out into college world trying to obtain a second (hopefully more helpful) degree, along with a Masters.  I will be working part time, plus going to school full time.  We have cut several things from our budget to ready ourselves for the loss of my income.  We have not had DirecTV in over 6 years.  We recently were forced to get cell phones due to our rental business.  Before that, we were on a tight, no frills budget which did not allow for cell phones.  I do not have caller id.  Do not leave me a message saying “call me back” and expect me to know your voice AND your telephone number.  (Sorry, that is a side rant.  Am annoyed with persons who do not leave their name, telephone number and a brief message like my machine instructs them to DO!).  Anyway….

I have had more people turn their nose up at the food I have offered then I care to count.  If some of these people were “really” hungry, they would take what I offered.  I usually stock up on canned meats and different items that are easy to open and pack them in paper bags with disposable plasticware.  I had one guy tell me, I don’t have any way to cook or open anything you give me.  I told him that everything is cooked, all of the cans have pop tops and there is plasticware and a napkin in the bag.  He still didn’t want it.  Lol…some people!

I have even had some go so far as to say that they thought I was a “Christian”.  The next person who tells me that, I am going to ask them: “What is YOUR definition of being a Christian?”  Do they expect you to be a doormat?  Do they expect you to hand out money no questions asked?  Because they don’t get their way and I don’t hand over what they demand of me, that makes me NOT a Christian?  Sounds more like a toddler throwing a fit because they didn’t get their way.  I don’t remember Jesus waving his hands and creating money trees.   I am reminded of what Peter said to the lame man “Silver and Gold have I none, but such as I have give I thee…”  I think I am going to print that on cards and staple them to the bags….lol…although I think the point would be lost on most.

Ok, so what is my definition of a ‘Christian’?  A Christian is a follower of Christ through example and deed.  Being a good and responsible human being.  Being compassionate, but not an enabler.   Being merciful, but not smothering.  Loving others enough to hold them up when they need it, but also allowing them to learn on their own through trial and error.  To live your life morally, with integrity and weighing all things with a sound conscience, but not preaching to everyone else what they “should” or “need” to do according to personal opinion.  To have an understanding of Biblical principals and how to enact them in your life.  “…in all thy ways, acknowledge Him” Prov. 3:5. 

Above all, a Christian (or whatever you want to call yourself…Christ Follower, Bible Believer) is someone who enacts Matthew 25 in their daily life. 

Matthew 25:35-40

 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

 37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

 40“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

I have to admit that I am quite a miser.  And to think of even giving someone a dollar gives me a headache.  I work hard, as does my husband.  We pay taxes (which I am all for and think as responsible Americans we should pay our taxes).  I give to missions.  I give to our church’s building programs.  I pay tithes and offerings.  I donate time and effort to local charities.  I take food to the sick.  I visit the elderly.  I take care of widows.  I live on a tight budget and do my best to control our expenses and do not spend outside of our means.  Even if that entails living with less or living without.  So, when someone, whom I don’t know from Adam, stumbles up on my porch and asks me for money, it is rather hard for me to justify handing over money — I pinch so tight George Washington yelps — to someone that appears to not have a job and be drunk.  I am sure if food was what they were going to spend it on, they would gladly take my food bag instead and not worry about the money at all.  However, when they balk at the food, I know that the money was not intended for nourishing the body.

I have since edited this post a little and I would very much like to point out Bryan’s comments below.  I cannot say it better.


Projects – 2008 in Review

I was sitting around trying to think about what we did all year.  It seems like 2008 was a slow year for us as far as the DIY scene was concerned.  In the early part of the year, around March, we spent a lot of time getting construction bids and filling out mountains of paperwork for our construction loan, only for the subprime mortgage crisis to hit and, in the end, we ended up scratching the whole deal.  I had to go back through my pictures to see what exactly we DID accomplish this year.  I was glad to find proof that our year was not wasted.  Here is a pictorial review of our year:


Finished the rent house (Hallelujah!) and took our three year old employee to Chuck-E-Cheese.  Hey, we had to pay her somehow for all that painting she did!

chuck e cheese

employee viv


We celebrated our five year anniversary

anniversary flowers


My birthday!  Ahem….anyway.  In 8 hours, I cleaned, primed and put two coats of paint on the living room walls.  It wouldn’t have taken me 8 hours normally except that I: 1) painted alone; 2) pushed a very heavy 10 foot ladder around the room 8 times while I painted the middle and top of the room …twice! I have 13 feet ceilings.  [is it 13 foot, or 13 feet?]

living room bay

fireplace living room

lr bay

lr fireplace


In April, I redid an ugly 80’s dresser for Vivian’s room and, for storage, we revamped an old shelf my brother made many years ago by adding crown moulding to it and painting it.

Vivian's dresser

old shelf

shelf finished


We took down the ugly drop ceiling in the attic.   We also painted the Master Bedroom.

drop ceiling

master bedroom before

master bedroom in progress


I sanded, repainted and recovered an old chair I bought for $5.00 at a junk store.  I also managed to tick off the entire Ratcliff family and get called a potstirrer.   Hahaha….that’s definitely a new one for me!

old chair

chair finished


I started this blog. Yay!  I pulled a metal tray on wheels out of the garbage and remade it into a plant stand for my porch.  Click here for the details and pictures.  Even my husband could not believe I wanted something this ugly.  But it turned out well.

My new plant stand

My new plant stand


We went to the Philippines.  What a life changing experience!  Click here to see more photos of the trip.  In case you cannot figure out who I am, I am the very white girl in the middle!




Vivian’s Birthday.   Hurricane Gustav hit Cenla.  That was very interesting.  It took us about a month to recover and get all of the debris cleared and everything back to normal.  I can’t complain though, we did not endure anything like New Orleans did.  Click the link above to see pictures of that fun.


Was definitely not a project month.  I was caught up watching the media and reading the news regarding  local and national politics.  I did get a call from the Louisiana Historic Preservation Office in Baton Rouge telling me that they want to put my street on the National Register.  Which reminds me…..I need to give her a call.  That nomination is supposed to be sent to Washington in April.  I am definitely going to help make sure that happens!




I repainted and reappointed the guest room and stripped a fireplace mantel.

Spare room before

Spare room - almost done


We worked on the attic/loft area so we can add another bathroom upstairs.  Steven put up two porch lights in the back.  Steven stripped a door and a transom down to the bare wood.  We also stripped some paint in the hall that was caked on to the wainscoting.  Click here for December’s project pictures.

I guess all in all it was not a bad year.  We did not get as much as we wanted accomplished.  We didn’t nearly come close to the amount of work we did in 2007.  Oh well, put it on the list!  It will get done eventually!


Journal Excerpt from Recent Philippines Mission Trip

Staffing School, Bacolod City

Staffing School, Bacolod City

Handumanan Welcome

Handumanan Welcome

Handumanan Village

Handumanan Village









For all of my friends who asked how the trip went, here is a small excerpt from my journal.  More information to come.

Day One – Bacolod City, Handumanan Village, Negros Occidental, Philippines

Today Teena Orrola picked us up at the airport, it was nice to finally meet her and put a face to her name.   We immediately liked her and knew that our friendship and connectivity was going to continue after we left the Philippines.  She was very detailed and handed us all a schedule so we would know where we are going and what we are doing.  On the way to Handumanan, we took a detour to the staffing school her family owns and her brother runs.  The school staffs many cruise ships and other hospitality venues abroad.  Teena’s brother was very personable and he gave us a tour of the school.  We saw many neat things.  Boys and girls juggling bottles learning how to bartend, boys training to become engineers and girls training to be hostesses, cafeteria staff and more.  Unknowingly, we interrupted many activities and many classes as we passed because students waved and smiled at us because we were different.  We took many pictures there.  It seems that every time a camera was pulled out, people came from everywhere and lined up to get into the snapshot.  There were so many people we were photographed with that even looking at the pictures now, it is impossible to name them all or remember who they were.

Teena was not happy with her brother.  What was supposed to be a quick stop turned into a full blown tour and several, several pictures.

Once we got back to the van, Teena was tapping her watch, mainly for her brother’s sake, and loaded us all back into the van.  She told us that we were going to be late for the service at the Handumanan church.  We didn’t understand her urgency until we arrived at the village and realized that many of the people and children who lined the dirt path had been standing there for about an hour waiting for us to arrive.

We traveled for about thirty minutes to reach Handumanan village and on the way we saw many ox (which they call caribou) in the field hooked up to plows, chickens shackled to their tin lean to houses, farmer’s carts on their way to the market, home made food stands selling coconut juice on every corner and children playing in the street.  (picture)  Handumanan village was created in the 1970’s.  In an effort to relocate many homeless people who lived in the city under bridges and in public areas.  The city government created a village for the squatters and granted one lot per family.  This way they would own a piece of land and have something to build upon.  The people who live in the village are very proud of their homes.

Entering Handumanan Village, we noticed that even though homes were nothing more than a mixture of concrete, sticks, thatch or tin roofs with a dirt floor, underneath poverty was a very proud and humble people who were surprisingly always clean.  I am not sure how it was accomplished, but everyone was crisp, clean, washed and not a body odor whatsoever.  I find this part of our trip amazing.  Most villages are without running or clean water.    Sewage runoff is poor.  It consists of a hole in the floor of their house connected to a small PVC pipe.  The PVC pipe sticks out the side of the house and empties into a small narrow gutter  The gutter runs along the side of the dirt road and eventually empties into the creek.  The water treatment plant our church supplied pumps this same tainted water out of the creek for consumption.  This water plant that the church owns, supplies water to many within the village.

Upon arrival at the village, we saw many people and children lining the dirt road alongside of the church waving handmade flags welcoming us.  As we walked down the road, a special gift was placed around our neck, a beautiful shell necklace, and the children handed the ladies handfuls of flowers.  Some of which I pinned in my hair.  Pastor Tom was beaming with pride as he gave us a tour of the church and the school and he showed us the water purification plant our church provided.  Pastor Tom’s house was a humble dwelling with dirt floors, an unfinished roof and two bedrooms to share between his six member family.   We were then brought into the church and I have never before shaken so many hands or seen so many smiles.  The children sang welcome songs and gave a beautiful presentation.  Pastor Terry preached about Gideon and the power you have, although small in your own eyes, is a great power with God. 

The next day, before arriving at the village, Becky wanted to stop and buy supplies for the school the church runs, Philadelphia Christian Academy.  After taking a tour of the school and from being a teacher herself, Becky was impressed to buy school supplies, so Teena arranged for us to stop at a store on the way to the village.  The Handumanan church operates a school in the village as an outreach tool and also to educate the village’s children.  Most are too poor to be able to afford an education or to be able to travel into the city to attend a school.  Last year the church allowed the students to attend free of charge.  This year, because of operational costs they had to charge a fee for the students to attend.  The cost of tuition for one child to attend is 30 pesos a month.  That is less than a dollar. 50 pesos is a dollar. 

In the store, Becky and I tried to decide what school supplies to buy.  We kept looking at the two teachers who came with us for direction.  The Filipino women were very quiet and did not want to tell us how many supplies they really needed.  Finally, after much prodding, they told us they had 20 kids.  So, to be sure, we bought crayons, glue, scissors, paste, erasers, pencil sharpeners and tablets for 23 kids.  We later found out that they had 39 kids!  They just did not want us to spend so much money on them.  The cost for all of the kids’ supplies plus two reams of copy paper was $20.  On the way out, we bought two basketballs, a net, a capo for the guitar and 3 guitar picks for Jimmy to present to the music department.  Total cost of our shopping trip $40.   The looks on their faces when they received these much needed supplies: Priceless.

Seven words describe how I felt during this trip: Touched, Humbled, Awed, Puzzled, Unworthy, Amazed, Changed.

I was touched that the Filipino people were so kind and loving and they had no idea who we really were, they just knew we were from the POA (Pentecostals of Alexandria) and their Partners in Mission.  I was humbled because these were people who had a whole lot less “stuff” than what I have and they are happy and in love with Christ.  I felt very unworthy to be there trying to teach them anything.  Their pure emotion and love for God touched my heart and made me feel that I was a terrible example and unworthy to be there.  They did not hide their love for God and their love for God was not dependent on how well their life was going or how much stuff they had.  It was just a pure love for Jesus Christ their maker.  Instead of being the teacher, I became the student and I learned more from this one trip than anything I could have ever imparted to them.

Not everyone will be able to go on a missions trip.  If you are able, please go.  It will completely change your life and the way you view things.  But for the ones who are not able to go, supporting missions from home is equally important and your presence is felt through your love and the PIMs you send every year.  Jesus said in Matthew 9:37, 38

The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.