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Friday, December 20, 2013

Building a house or making a home?

These are our original drawings
Last summer, we decided to undertake the process of building our dream home in Northern Colorado. So, we're not pioneers or anything. Lots of people have done this before, right?

Well, maybe.

When I say "build our dream home" I simply mean we will act as general contractor on the project. I've had too many back surgeries to merit swinging a hammer, but we are prepared to be responsible for the hiring of sub-contractors and for the ultimate outcome.

Scary, I know.

We didn't plan on this journey, it sort of found us. We'd made plans for a major remodel of our current "forever" home, but one day, when I was supposed to be writing, I was shamelessly searching the internet. Just looking at some real estate sites.... when I came across a picture of a gorgeous tree-lined pond. My born-in-Colorado intellect rebelled. That picture was photo-shopped, for sure. I didn't think real estate with a view like that existed around here for under a million bucks.

View from my car 

A week or two passed, and I couldn't get that pretty picture out of my mind, so I persuaded my husband to drive to the address one weekend. Lo and behold! This country lot with a view of a tree-lined pond did indeed exist and it was FOR SALE!

 Just like that, everything changed.

Suddenly, we weren't going to remodel, we were going to build the home we'd always dreamed about! My blood pounded as we crunched the numbers. What we wanted didn't exactly fit with what we could afford. So we crunched some more numbers and adjusted our plans. We talked about foreign terms like "price per square foot" and "construction loan". (Affordability was huge for us. My husband is a minister and I homeschool, so we aren't exactly rolling-in-dough if you know what I mean...But that didn't stop us from dreaming!)

A few weeks and some prayers later, we decided we COULD do this. We should take the opportunity that felt like it had landed in our laps. I couldn't have dreamed of a prettier spot -- right here surrounded by my family and church friends at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. Ten minutes from our church and current community. This place has it all. 

Real estate was selling like hot-cakes (do hot-cakes really sell well?) and we imagined selling our current home would be a breeze, so we purchased the lot and put our house on the market. All systems GO.

Here's what we did first:

  • Closed on the lot (Wow. That was so exciting!) 
  • Started working with an architect on house plans. (Wow. That was so exciting!) 
  • Bought the water tap (Wow. That was so exciting!) 

Waited to sell our house. 

Waited to sell our house.

Waited to sell our house.

  • Finalized drawings on the house and started getting bids from sub-contractors
  • Ordered soil and perk tests
  • Finalized engineering on plans and soils
Waited to sell our house. 

I think you get the picture. We are STILL waiting to sell our house. So much for all systems GO. We are stuck like a sailing ship on calm seas. 

But, we were almost glad for the wait. Almost.

We hit some snags:

Here in dry Colorado, basements are the norm. Almost every home has one. They're awesome for future growth, storage, kids rooms... and we'd always planned on having one.

But our lovely lake-front property? Unless we wanted to debut as the next Noah's ark, we'd need to build high to get out of the water table which was at a shocking 4.5 feet in some places.

That meant NO basement and back to the drawing board with our house plans.

Waited to sell our house.

Bedrock is awesome for foundations! But not so good for septic systems. After soils engineering, we found we'd need an engineered system. No problem, right?


The engineering was the easy part. Because of the slow-perking bedrock, our system was colossal. The bid came in just under $20,000. Yep, that's 4 digest and dispel poop! 

Budget blown. Dreams shattered.

Waited to sell our house. 

But we aren't giving up. We are still going to build our dream home. Someday. SOON.

Join me on the journey. I'll be blogging about each step along the way. Our triumphs and disappointments. And maybe, you'll be inspired to learn from our mistakes and build your dream home one day, too.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Meet Zeke: Character Interview

Hear No Evil, by Mary Hamilton is the first in the Rustic Knoll Bible Camp series. Today I'm posting an interview with Zeke, Camp Director of Rustic Knoll. Zeke possesses an amazing talent for influencing campers for Christ.

Hear No Evil, Mary Hamilton  Available on Amazon

Interview with Zeke:
You have quite a talent for drawing. Have you always illustrated your sermons?
I’ve always enjoyed sketching and drawing. But I didn’t start illustrating my sermons until I became director here at Rustic Knolls. Keeping kids’ attention during my evening talks wasn’t easy. I thought back to when my daughters were little. We’d talk about Bible stories and they loved it when I drew the lions that Daniel spent the night with, or the ark with the animals. I figured if it worked for them, maybe it would work for teenage campers.
What led you to accept the job of director of Rustic Knolls Bible Camp?
I pastored a church for many years and saw how difficult it was to keep kids involved in the church. There are so many things pulling them away, things that didn’t exist when I was growing up. I grew interested in camps as a way to get them away from all their electronics and artificial entertainment for a few days so they can really focus on who they are and who God is and how those two ideas can fit together. Being director of Rustic Knolls Bible Camp has been a dream come true.
What do you see is the greatest need for kids today?
Stability. Security. So many families are crumbling and splintering and the kids don’t have a sense of belonging to a definite family group because that group keeps changing. If kids lose that sense of identity that tells them who they are and where they came from, they’ll go looking for it in the wrong places. Kids need parents who are committed to each other first, and then are committed to the kids.
How does Rustic Knolls try to meet those needs?
Kids come to camp with a lot of baggage, and I’m not talking about their suitcases. All the problems they’re dealing with at home come to camp with them, influencing how they interact with others, how they see themselves, how they respond to God. We try to learn what they’re struggling with and show them a different perspective, a godly perspective, so they can develop better ways of managing those struggles when they go back home.
With all the other things available to kids these days, from sports programs to arts and science, what do you think Bible camps offer that’s unique for kids?
Personally, I need a vacation every so often to get away from the rush and the demands of daily life. When I don’t have to deal with my own responsibilities each day, I usually get a clearer picture of where I want to go, what I want to accomplish. Sometimes those goals and desires get lost in the urgency of the daily grind. Kids need the same thing. They need a break from the daily stresses and problems of growing up. Bible camp offers a chance to see the big picture and reset their dreams, their goals. At Bible camp, they learn God values them for who they are, not what they can do or how they look. Even though it’s hard from them to disconnect for a week, it’s good for them to get away from the noise and listen for God’s still small voice.
Mary L. Hamilton grew up at a camp much like the setting for her Rustic Knolls Bible Camp series. She started out writing articles for magazines, and a Christmas play, Homespun Angel. Her faith is a strong influence in her life and writing. When she’s not writing, Mary loves the outdoors and nature, as well as opening her home to youth Bible studies, pancake suppers and breakfast with her special recipe waffles. She and her husband live near Houston, TX, within range of her three grown children.
How to connect with Mary
Twitter: @mhamilton122

Monday, October 7, 2013

What is God's role in our everyday lives?

This fall I'm studying something I've always taken for granted. I've always believed that God cared about the nuances of my life and was active in it on an everyday level. My prayer life has been fueled by this belief.

But the other day someone said something like, "I don't think God really cares about any of that. His goal is your salvation, beyond that, His perspective is eternal and He doesn't bother with the earthly things of this life." (loose quotation)

This little thorn has been prodding my heart, so I've begun studying the scriptures specifically for this answer. I'll be sharing some of what I find along the way. I hope it encourages you to study God's word for yourself.

But for now:

What do you think?

What is God's role in our everyday lives? 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

This is it!

This is it. THE milestone every author dreams of: My novel, Red Zone, has been accepted for publication by Lighthouse Publishing. 

There were times I thought I'd never see my name on the cover of a book. Writing and re-writing. Editing, deleting. Critique groups. Contests. But it happening. In E-reader, Kindle, Nook and Paperback. 

I have to admit, the work of writing feels suspiciously fun. I loved every second I spent making Red Zone what it is...and I know it will be a lot of work to make it ready for you all to read! But, I'm still hoping it's fun at the end of the process. 

If you like Romance

If you like Suspense

If you like Football or the NFL (or like someone who does) 

You'll love Red Zone

Coming Fall 2014