"May the God of hope fill you with great joy and peace as you trust in him." Romans 15:13

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Construction Update: Getting Settled!

Well. . .
Last week "it" happened.
We moved in!
It went NOTHING like this planner expected.  I thought we would make a plan.  I'd work ahead, schedule a few days off, and get us settled.  In reality, I walked out of the house one evening about 8pm.  I was planning on getting Joshua and Brenna settled in the camper for the night.  Chad, however, had other plans.  He was unloading the moving trailer.
I was a bit overwhelmed at first.
It WAS bedtime, on a school night for goodness sake!
But, I decided to just go with it.
That was last Tuesday night.
I spent most of Wednesday trying to clear off my desks at both of my jobs.
THEN, I spent Thursday through today getting us unpacked.
Being home for 4 days was totally glorious. (I did have to go into work for a couple hours on Saturday, but I'm trying to forget about that interruption!)  I love being home.  Being at home was/is my dream job - so pretending I was a stay at home mom for a few days was my dream vacation!
Let me show you what I got done!
 This is our front entry.
 These photos are the main floor bathroom.
It is the only bathroom that is completely complete.
 The shower Chad tiled is so wonderful.
AND, I can not tell you how much we are enjoying and appreciating long hot showers.
Plentiful hot water truly feels like a miracle.
 These photos were taken by my friend Lyra when she was in Awassa, Ethiopia.
I LOVE them!
 This is the entry off the garage.
It is very simply built out, with a huge cabinet for shoes.
I am so thankful to no longer be tripping over everyone's shoes every time I walk through a door.
 Opposite the show cabinet is a bench.
It is a largish open space that is working well for our crew.
 Next time you put a load of clothes in your washer, say a prayer of thanks!  Let me tell you, life is so much more convenient with these two treasures up and running again.
This cabinet is opposite my washer and dryer.  It is perfect for our family.  There is a shelf for each of us.  Once I have laundry washed and folded, it is easy for the kids to retrieve their things.
I have never had a laundry room that is nearly this effective.  While it is not very big, it is perfectly designed (thanks Paul!).  It is dreamy!
 My kitchen
 Once again I can not explain how much easier life is with a full size kitchen.  Preparing meals for a family of 7 using "real" appliances is so wonderful.  I have never, ever been more thankful to eat off metal forks, buy a whole gallon of milk, or bake a sheet of cookies.
We take so much for granted.
(and that is another post)
 Joshua Gebeyehu's room.
He is so proud!
He is also doing better and better with this transition each day.
 Jamison's room.
My tall son is very thankful to be sleeping on a queen size bed instead of the fold-out camper couch he slept on for the last 3+ months.
The loft.
 I just love how this room turned out.
It is so very cozy.
(Not to mention comfy!  Sitting on a real couch feels so good!)
 Brenna's room.
She unpacked and arranged everything all by herself.
Didn't she do great?
She has such an artistic eye!
 Sierra's room.
Jay put her bed together this afternoon.
I am so thankful for the help of our kids.
 Krissy's room.
She chose well.
It is so beautiful.
Not to mention comfortable!
I sat down on her couch the other night and she nearly had to kick me out.
It felt so good to cozy up in her room and chat.
I have missed late night chats with our teenagers.
It is SOOOOOO good to have us all under one roof again.
For the record, the house is not done.
If you look closely you can see unfinished items in many of the above photos.
Little things like missing trim here or a door knob needing to be installed.
There are also several BIG projects which need to be completed.
The completion on these items is not you typical "honey-do-list", it is actually required by the bank.  So we will continue to be very busy for the next ~53 days until we officially close on this home.
 This is the family room.
 As long as the weather holds, Chad needs to install stone on these pillars and the front of the house.
 This is the master bath and closet.
It still needs a lot of work.
 This is Krissy and Brenna's bathroom.
Chad poured this concrete counter top last week.
It is stunning.  He truly never ceases to amaze me.
This bathroom still needs tile, mirror, light, and water.
So although the work is not complete, we rejoice tonight. 
How else would I celebrate?
(In case you do not know, I love to buy a bottle of wine that has a significant label for the event I am celebrating.)
Tonight Chad and I toasted with "Castle Rock,"  because this castle rocks! 
We are so thankful.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


The highlight of my week has been watching Jamison race each Saturday.  As a wanna-be runner (when my life is not quite so busy, that is) I love distance racing. I am not much of a sports fan, but I have HUGE admiration for distance runners.  I love watching races, reading race/training strategy, etc. . .
So - watching my son run is totally awesome!
Seeing the brave, determined, and confident way he has attacked this cross country season is nothing short of pure joy!
Each and every week, he has set a personal record.
This week, his time was around 90 seconds faster than when he ran the same course 4 weeks earlier.  (And he was thrilled by his original time!)
Week to week, he has dropped 20, 30, or 40 seconds off his PR.
I truly do not know how he can improve so dramatically every race.
I truly do not know how he can push his mind and body to perform the way he has been.
This week, his goal was to finish in the top 15 so that he would score his first trophy race tshirt.  It was a tough goal.  He knew he had to pace himself with one particular team mate to complete this goal.  This team mate ran all summer, Jay did not as he was nursing a hip injury.  He can not quite keep up with this team mate at practice.
But, my son is a brave competitor.
(I am not.  I like safety, which makes me admire his calculated courage all the more!)
So he went for it.
Though he feared he would "die" near the end of the race, he went for it.
Because, "If I don't try I will never know what I could have done."
In all honesty, I never doubted that Jay would finish this race two strides behind his team mate.  That is just how my son works.  He sets a goal, and then he figures out how to accomplish it.
I did not take photos during the race, but Chad snapped this photo of the awards ceremony following the race.  Jay finished 12th, less than 2 secs behind his "faster" team mate.
And while his placing did not shock me, his time did.
Somehow, my determined son sliced another 40 seconds off his PR.
That is some crazy brave running.
Next week the boys do not race.
Any guesses what his goal is for the week after next?
I am not sure who is having more fun this cross country season, Jamison or me?!?
I do know, that I leave each race feeling so inspired to live like Jay races.
I want to live ALL OUT.
I want to live with courage, heart, and intelligence.
I don't want to save love, service, effort. . . for another day.
Thanks for inspiring me, son!
You are C-RAZY COURAGEOUS, and I want to be just like you!
PS - Thanks for praying for us this weekend.  It was a better weekend than the week, by far.
PPS - Sierra is so wishing to get in a couple of races this season.  Her tendon is feeling much better, and as soon as her custom orthotics arrive, she will be back to running with her team.  It has been a bummer to cheer instead of compete.  I am so proud of the way she has continues to support her brother and her middle school team mates despite her personal struggles!  

Friday, September 21, 2012

Construction Update: A Meter Miracle

It was an incredibly difficult week.  As I say that, realize I have a very high tolerance.  It was BAD.
I had started the week with high, but Chad and I believed realistic expectations.  I truly thought that by tonight I would be starting to unpack.  I thought wrong.
  • The HVAC guys never showed up.
  • The electricians never showed up.
  • The plumbers spent one day here.  I appreciate the work they did do, but it was like handing a pacifier to a hungry baby...
  • Our carpenter cut his hand, so he was only able to work about 6 hours all week.
  • Chad had a lot going on at work, so he barely worked on the house this week. Plus he has our bathroom about half way tiled and I am not sure I like the tile now that the countertop has been installed.  Tear it out?  Live with it?  I am just not sure.  How do I ask my exhausted hubs to tear out good work?  Yet is it a waste of money to have tile/countertop I am not very fond of?
  • The electricians put the wires for the under-cabinet lighting down too far, which means Chad will need to tile a backsplash now.  We had hoped to wait on this until we were ready for a fun project in like 2015.  I have not thought at all about what I want the backsplash to look like.  I have chosen so many things, it is just not fun any more.  Chad does not have time to do it.  But it has now been added to the list.
  • And the kicker. . . MDU told us they would not be able to install a gas meter until October 1.  We have been in the construction business for 11 years, and Chad has NEVER had to wait even close to that long for a gas meter before.  NO gas meter = no gas.  No gas = no hot water.  AAAAAAAAGH!
On top of all that, Joshua had the hardest week he has had in a very, very long time.  Some control, fear, attachment issues surfaced that I had hoped were gone forever.  Bedtimes have been similar to when he first entered our family, except where he previously just cried, he now has sophisticated vocabulary.  His words were not helpful.  They were weapons.  I was seriously defeated.  I did not know what to do to make his world feel safer and more routine in our current living situation.  These issues are also very difficult to parent through in the tiny space we live in.  I am not joking when I say last night Joshua and I cried him to sleep together.  I can put up with almost anything if I know my kids are OK, but when they are legitimately struggling I can not endure.
Last night I barely slept as I tried to search my brain for the right set of trauma parenting tools to use in our current quarters.  I knew we had to come up with a better plan if we were to get through the next couple of weeks.  As I tossed and turned (with a 4 year old on one side and my hubby on the other) I added my prayers to the prayers of several other dear ones that I sent a "911 prayer text" to late in the evening.
I woke up tired.  Joshua woke up looking for a fight.  Somehow the tools I grabbed for got us out the door with out a major melt down.  That was the first miracle of the day.
The second one came at about 1:45 this afternoon.  Chad came into my office and said, "Want to hear some good news for a change?  MDU is driving out to our house NOW to set the gas meter!"
I was near tears with gratitude. . . over a gas meter!  Never thought that would happen, but I am SO thankful.  So, as of tonight we have a gas meter.  The HVAC guys have us "scheduled" for Tuesday - which means that IF they show as scheduled, we will have HOT water by Tuesday evening.
That is a miracle.  Truly.
Here are a few other things that made this stressed out momma smile this week:
 The moving trailer is back!
Not sure when we will start unloading it, but at least it is here.
 The countertops were installed.
The finishing touches were completed on our cabinets.
I am thrilled with them.
 Joshua and Brenna were so excited about the booth that they insisted we eat on it right away.
 I agreed.
We ordered pizza to celebrate.
(Because I know you want a better look at my island...)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Construction Update: Flooring, Closets, and Trim

I know I keep saying this, but life at the Dietrich campers is craziness.  We are hanging in one day at a time.  We are thankful for how well we have lived during this building project.  We are also beyond ready to live in larger quarters with a few more conveniences.  This weekend was the first time I could REALLY see my kids struggle.  They are DONE with cramped camper living.  They are DONE with mom being busy all the time.  They are DONE with crummy meals.  They just want to be HOME.
For the sake of nostalgia, here is our daily routine.
5:45 mom gets up, showers, makes breakfast and lunches, gets kids up
7:20 head out the door for school/work
7:35 drop Jay and Sierra at Horizon
7:45 drop Joshua at Montessori
7:55 drop Brenna at Northridge
8:05 mom gets to work
12:15 mom leaves work to pick up  Joshua
12:35 mom and Joshua head to either the shop or my church office so mom can work some more
2:45 leave either office to pick up Brenna
3:05 Brenna in van, run a couple of errands until Sierra texts that she is done with xc practice
4:30 (ish) pick up Sierra and head home
4:50 work on a few house build tasks until Jay and Krissy get home
6:15 make supper
6:45 go back to constructing
7:30 start getting Joshua and Brenna ready for bed
8:20 go back to constructing
11:15 head into campers for a snack and bed
It is crazy, and we are all tired - BUT we are also very proud of what we have accomplished!

 Almost all the flooring is in place.
We hired someone to lay carpet.
Chad and Jim and I laid all the engineered hardwood.
(Because we have a concrete main floor, engineered hardwood was our only choice since I wanted wood.)
 Jamison's room is completely done.
 Krissy is still waiting on baseboard, but she decided to move into her closet anyway.
 Sierra followed.
 Brenna too.
Truth be told, I would have moved into our closet this weekend as well except that it does not have flooring yet.  It is really hard digging through our mini closets for clothes every day when just a few steps away there are roomy closets waiting for clothing!
 This photo could be titled "Love in Action."
Chad did not want to lay wood in the kitchen.  It is really hard cutting wood around cabinets, and he much prefers laying tile.  I begged for wood - this the love in action!
The wood flooring is 100% complete.
Minus cleaning that is!  New construction is so dirty.  The mess is beginning to make me crazy.  I have no idea how I will ever get these beautiful wood floors clean.  It will happen though.  In a few weeks we will have NO more construction workers tromping through the house, and momma will have it spit shined!
 Krissy, Sierra, and Jamison installed door knobs today.
It sounds simple, but any task completed is a blessing!
 Jamison also figured out how to install door stops.
It is SOOOOOOO good to be doing some of the small stuff!
 We made a big decision last week.
Riley will become an outside/garage dog.  He has not been in the campers all summer, and he is doing fine.  Like it or not, his golden boy hair and big dog claws damage a home.  So, since he is happy enough outside, that is where he will remain.
A doggie door and an outdoor kennel have now been added to the to do list.
After moving their clothes into the house, these two decided to move themselves as well.  They set up a bed on the floor (all our furniture is still in the moving truck) and have decided to camp inside the house instead of in the campers.  Once again, I am a bit jealous!
However we are praying that we will all be living inside the house by the end of the week.
Please join us?!?
The big thing that needs to happen is countertop installation.
They were supposed to arrive last week, but due to employee troubles at the granite shop, our job was delayed.   We MUST have countertops for the plumbers to return.  The HVAC guys need to return as well and then we will have HOT water.  That sounds like a miracle people!  The electricians will be back this week to complete their work as well.  Chad needs to lay tile in the master bath and closet, too.  (Along with a long list of other tasks - like tile in Krissy and Brenna's bathroom, concrete counter tops in there, texture, paint, windows, flooring, and trim in the family room, tape the garage, finish the storm shelter, stone on the house, install mirrors, tp holders, towel bars, and the list continues...) 
 BUT we should be able to LIVE INSIDE the house by the end of the week!!!!!
If things go as I am hoping the moving truck will come Thursday.  I will take Friday and maybe Monday off to get the majority of the house unpacked.  Chad will continue building as we need to have the rest of the list completed ASAP.
While I totally understand that countertop installation and hot water are totally non-issues compared to the very real issues of many, I ask you to pray for them all the same.  I am scared to be excited about the week, because I do not want to be disappointed.  Yet, we are all so ready!  The house is so ready!  So, I am trusting God's timing in this. I am so thankful to love and serve a God that cares about even the silliest of details.  I am trusting that each event of my life is used by Him to prepare me, grow me, shape me into a woman who more closely resembles the God I am so honored to serve.
I SO hope that my next construction update has some furniture and my WASHER AND DRYER in the photos.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Another PR

Jamison has had an AMAZING cross country season thus far!
He has "PRed" (set personal records) at every meet. 
He dropped 30+ seconds between his first and second race.  Today he dropped another 22 seconds off his time - which was extra impressive because it was 90* this afternoon!  (He races a 5K or 3.1 miles this year.  Last year he raced 1.9 miles.)
 Today he began the race in a unique position.  He was expected to be the top finisher for his team.  He had also set a goal to finish in the top 20 of the race.
Always before when racing he has had team mates to help him set a pace.  Today that was not the case.  He was forced to go it alone.  He told me he was very nervous starting out!

He accomplished each and every goal he set.
He DID finish first in his team.
He was 15th overall.
He set a PR of 19.11.
I am so stinking excited for him!
He is taking cross country VERY seriously.  Like no soda ever, no junk food, more water than you can imagine, ice baths, lots of stretching, 7 practices a week pushing harder than he ever thought possible serious. He ran his heart out today.  I have never seen him look worse after running, yet I have never seen him as satisfied with his effort either.  He was fast asleep by 8:15 PM.
However, I know he will be ready for for his 6:30 PM long run tomorrow.
Because, next week there is another race.
I LOVE race days!
I am so very proud of you Jamison.
You are running with such intelligence, confidence, and determination.
I am in awe of your progress.
Congrats on another amazing race!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Living in "Survival Mode"

It feels as though we have been living in "survival mode" for months now.  Everything is much more difficult than usual.  Hot water is in short supply.  Our refrigerator is tiny, thus only holds a couple days worth of groceries, which means I always seem to need to go to the store.  The sewer must be dumped by hand.  There is not quiet enough electricity to run all the things we wish, so we turn off the coffee maker in order to dry our hair or turn off the fan before plugging in the griddle.  Washing and drying clothing is nearly impossible.  Cooking is limited to grill or griddle.

It has been hard.

When the additional work we have taken on in building the house is added to the harder style of living we have chosen, it is overwhelming at times.

Truly all my energy is taken up by the tasks that need to be done each day.

I do not look forward.  One day is as much as I can focus on. 

I have not made any plans beyond completing the house.

I have nearly stopped reading, learning, processing.  All my energy is caught up in surviving this day.

More than being "home" I long for my brain to be free to concentrate on something more important, more exciting, more fulfilling than simple survival.  I long to dream, to plan, to relax, to listen.

For me, living in "survival mode" will be relatively short.  There will be an end, and it is growing closer!

For many, survival mode is ALL there is.  AND their survival mode is much more dramatic than my spoiled middle class American form.  I am "roughing it" by choice - and in very comfortable form.  I mean in no way to compare my minor discomfort with the day to day struggle of life in a Third World country.  I do not even mean to compare my form of "survival mode" with the struggle of a single mom living in a shelter.  I KNOW that my life is so much easier, even now, than the lives of MANY ever will be.

However, this season has given me a taste.  I have tasted the brain drain that happens when all your focus is on survival.  I have tasted the fatigue.  I have tasted the feeling of being sucked down and wondering how I will pull myself up.


I was reminded this weekend that this fight for survival is how many live each and every day, always and forever.  There is no hope for it to get better.  There are no dreams, just an endless struggle to survive.  Children do not wish to be doctors or lawyers or teachers, they simply wish to survive to be adults.

Can you even imagine?

I can not.

I really, truly can not imagine.

In a crazy way, I am thankful for this time of "survival mode."  It has given me a taste for what many live.  It has given me more empathy.

It has also given me more resolve to do what I can to bring hope to the hopeless.

Over this past weekend, in the midst of the craziest, hardest time I have had, a project I have prayed over for almost three years was launched.  It was a miracle.  I am still in awe.

My church launched a partnership through Children's HopeChest to join our church with a church in the slum of Jemo in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  Currently life in Jemo is nearly hopeless.  The people are in TRUE survival mode ALL THE TIME.  However, that can all change.

We can step along side the families and use our "much" to give them hope.  The first step in igniting hope into this community is to help them move out of survival mode. This is done through child sponsorships. 

Before God broke my heart for orphans, I did not know much about child sponsorships.  I was not sure they had much impact.  In the last 3 years I have done a TON of research, and I am convinced that child sponsorships (done through the right organization) can absolutely change the life of a child forever.

When a child is sponsored, they have access to medical care, food, clean water, school, and in this case the saving message of Jesus.  HopeChest sees discipleship as something needed to survive.  I could not agree more!  Feeding a child will keep him alive longer.  Only Jesus saves!

Not only does a child benefit from sponsorship, but his whole family is assisted.  For many families school fees are their biggest expense (no free education in many parts of the world).  Momma's have to choose whether to feed a child or educate him.  Can you imagine?  Medical care is not even an imaginable possibility.

When you sponsor a child, you lighten the load for his parents.  With that lighter load all kinds of things become possible!  Both parent and child begin to dream, to hope, to pursue - and thus the world is changed!  Girls and boys go to school, rather than selling themselves or begging to feed their siblings.  They graduate and go on to open businesses and serve their communities.

Beauty starts to break through the ashes.  Communities are transformed.

I invite you,

I encourage you,

I implore you,

to sponsor one of "our" kids. 

These kids, I will know.  Our church will visit them every 9 to 12 months.  We will personally make sure that they are doing well, that your sponsorship IS making a difference.  I will personally be on every trip I possible can be on.  (and if you like, you can join me as well!)

This is not your impersonal kind of sponsorship.  One in which you will most likely never meet, or know anyone else who has met, your child.  This sponsorship is built on relationship, not simply funds.

It makes me so exited I can hardly stand it!

We began with 150 children needing sponsors.  100 were quickly chosen.  50 remain.

50 remain.

That hurts my heart.  50 children still unchosen when we know of their need.  50 children still unchosen when all it takes to change their entire world is $34 a month.  I KNOW that each one of us, regardless of our income, wastes $34 every month.  I also KNOW that if I told you I was unable to feed my kids and $34 a month would make feeding them possible, almost all of you would quickly hand me $34.

These are "my" kids too.  And I am asking you to please, please help me care for them.

To sponsor any of these children, or any of the other 47 that continue to wait please click here.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


My life is crazy-full right now, but today I chose to push pause!
You see, two weeks ago, my sister (in law) gave birth to this little miracle.
 His name is Lincoln.
And I am so very thankful to be his Auntie, that I HAD to stop everything to spend the afternoon cuddling him!
I adore babies, like really, truly, absolutely adore them.  All. of. them.
But this little guy has a really special spot in my heart.  I have joked that I will not be as excited about a baby that is not my own again until I am a Grandma!  Little Lincoln is a long awaited miracle, and it makes my heart so happy to have him here.
He is also truly the sweetest, easiest baby I have ever seen.  He seriously did not even let out one cry all afternoon - and that is the norm!  I am not sure how my sometimes spicy sister managed to give birth to an angel baby, but she certainly did!  He is pinch-me-perfect!
 Joshua agreed!
He is BABY CRAZY!  On the drive to see Lincoln he told me, "I get to hold baby Lincoln.   I get to feed him and burp him.  But I will let you change his diaper!  That part is kind of gross!"
Auntie Teresa must have read his mind because Joshua got to hold Lincoln first!
As you can see, he was very proud!
Two miracle sons, snuggled up together!
My heart is full of gratitude tonight as I thank God for answered prayers.
Congratulations Teresa and Jeremy.  It was beyond fun to see you as parents.  You are doing such a good job caring for your precious little son.