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All For The Love Of A Child

My Memorial Day weekend was fun, exciting, and exhausting. I helped add on to my sister and brother-in-law’s house, and all of this is being done for a child none of us have ever met before.

For this to make any sense, I first have to tell you about my sister, Cathy. She’s 13 years older than I, and she is one of the most giving people you could ever meet. She has a heart the size of Texas, has never met a stranger, is one of the most welcoming and accepting people I’ve ever known, and would do just about anything for anyone. If you’ve ever read the parable of the sheep and the goats, Matthew 25:35-36 describes my sister. “For 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, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Long story short, she’s the type of person we all hope to be, and are blessed to have in our lives. 

Cathy is also the mother of six, a step-mom to three, and a grandmother of…well…at least 10 that I can think of right off the top of my head.

Cathy and Bill live on 20 acres of riverfront land in a tiny 1-bedroom 750-ish square foot house that they built several years ago. Bill travels quite a bit for his job, so several years ago they decided to sell their huge lakefront house in east Texas, buy an RV and travel together. But then they decided they wanted a home base where they could come home to and not have to stay in the RV, so that’s when they built the little house. And until now, the little house has been just enough space for the two of them.

But now they need more room. You see, last April, my sister was on Facebook and read something about Heart Gallery, which is a website that tells about children available for adoption in the area. She knew at the time that they couldn’t adopt since they traveled so much and only had the one-bedroom house, but she decided to look through the profiles of the children just out of curiosity. She came across one particular profile of a teenage girl who really captured her heart, so Cathy began to pray for this girl regularly. After about three months, she decided to float the idea of adoption to Bill, feeling sure it would take him a long time to come around to the idea. To her surprise, Bill seemed up to it pretty much immediately.

Before they could adopt, they would be required to foster for six months, so they began the training to become foster parents last year. After they had completed quite a bit of the training, they found out that the girl had been placed with a family member who had finally shown up to take her. Cathy was heartbroken while also being happy that the girl finally had a home with a family member, and Cathy continued to pray for her.

She looked through more children’s profiles to see if there was another child to whom she felt drawn like she had to the girl, but she didn’t feel that same pull to any of the other profiles. Then in April, Cathy decided to look through some adoption websites one last time, and if none of them seemed like a good fit with them, then she was going to give up on the idea altogether. She looked through two websites, and nothing seemed to click with any of the profiles listed. She went to one last website, and there she was — the girl who had captured my sister’s heart. She was once again listed as available for adoption.

Cathy and Bill know little to nothing about this girl, but Cathy already loves her like she’s her daughter, and is so excited to be her mother. So now they’re moving full steam ahead to add on to their tiny home as quickly as possible so that this precious girl they’ve never met can come home and be a part of their family.

Just imagine. This girl is 16 years old and has been in foster care for probably two years, maybe longer. She probably thinks she’s going to age out of the system and be on her own in two years. She has no idea at this point that there’s a couple with so much love for her who are working day and night to add on to their home just so that they can bring her home.

So that’s where we came in. Starting last Friday, Cathy and Bill have had a steady stream of people showing up to help them build this new addition. Before any of the work started, this is what the end of the house looked like. They designed it to look like a barn, and even added some faux barn doors on the end to complete the look…

cathy and bill house 1

The week before help began to arrive, Cathy and Bill poured the concrete foundation footings.

cathy and bill house 2

And the floor joists and framing for the first floor were built on Friday…

cathy and bill house 3

On Saturday (the first day that most of us were able to help), this was the progress when I arrived around 8:30am. Most of the decking had been put down over the floor joists.

cathy and bill house 4

So while a couple of people finished the decking, a few of us got started building walls. We built them on the ground first, and then raised them into place.

cathy and bill house 5

So by the time I left on Saturday evening, almost all of the walls had been built and put into place for the first floor.

cathy and bill house 6

Sunday was mostly about getting the floor joists and decking in place for the second floor…

cathy and bill house 7

cathy and bill house 8

cathy and bill house 10

And also sheathing the first floor…

cathy and bill house 9

We got the OSB up on the whole first floor, got all of the floor joists and decking installed for the second floor, and also got all of the pieces cut for the trusses, and then took a break for dinner.

The weather was overcast and threatening rain almost all day long, but after dinner we started hearing thunder and seeing lightening in the distance, and knew we were in a race against the weather. It was already dark, so a few of us got up onto the second story floor and started building trusses. We had a system down, and each truss didn’t take long, but it was still very stressful working quickly in the dark with the light of one work light up there. We got a few built before the lightening got close, but we built the last few in the rain with the lightening swirling around. Needless to say, I didn’t stick around and take pictures when we were done. I wanted to get off of that building, out of the rain, and into my car to head home. It was an exhausting day, but we got so much done!

I wasn’t able to go back yesterday, but they built a frame so that they could bring all of the trusses up to the second floor and move them into place.

cathy and bill house 11

So that was the progress that I was involved in, but they got lots more done yesterday. I’m not sure if or when I’ll be able to go back and help, but I had so much fun working out there this weekend, and I learned a lot about building walls, floor joists, etc.

I can’t wait to see this finished, but most of all, I can’t wait to meet and get to know the girl who will make the first floor of this new addition her very own. Maybe there will be another niece’s bedroom decorating project in my future.



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35 Comments

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Theresa P
    May 30, 2017 at 9:20 am

    That is a precious story! I hope the crazy system will process everything quickly and that girl will be able to join your sister and bro-in-law soon! It will be a big transition for her to join such a large and loving family, after having moved around so much and not had much stability. But, all of that support will be a huge blessing. I’ll be praying!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Barbara H.
    May 30, 2017 at 9:42 am

    Great story. Prayers for the best possible outcome for all concerned!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Donna kimbell
    May 30, 2017 at 9:47 am

    Aw, much love to all involved!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Dale
    May 30, 2017 at 9:52 am

    Wow! Heartwarming! You will have to j keep us updated! PRAyers being said for all involved! It takes a village to raise a child.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Cheryl Smith-Bell
    May 30, 2017 at 10:06 am

    Wow! You did have a wild weekend! Blessing and prayers for your family and the house, for this new addition, and bless you for all your help, too

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Justin
    May 30, 2017 at 10:23 am

    What a wonderful story! We were able to take part in a fundraising event last weekend for a state-run adoption resource (for kids in “the system”) and my wife and I have been talking about adoption a little as of late, so it was a nice time to hear a wonderful story like this.

    Please keep us up-to-date not only on the project but how the girl is settling in. I’d love to hear more!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Carol
    May 30, 2017 at 11:25 am

    I pray that this girl’s heart will be open to the love and care that has come for her. Every child deserves to feel that! Bless you all!!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Elaine Morgan
    May 30, 2017 at 11:49 am

    A barnraising the way the Amish have done it for years. Love this story for so many reasons. Thank you for sharing some of your personal life with us.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Chelle Ellis
    May 30, 2017 at 12:02 pm

    What a beautiful story! You’ve energized me and made my day, thank you. Thank you to your sister, brother-in-law and your entire family for making a difference for this young lady. I hope for many blessings on this new chapter of all of your lives!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Carla from Kansas
    May 30, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    Great project Kristi. Why is the wood pink/red?

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Kristi
      May 30, 2017 at 12:20 pm

      Ha! I don’t know where the lumber came from, but that particular store sells studs that are pink. They’re already the exact length needed for 8-foot walls, so no cutting is needed. The pink color makes them easily identifiable on the job site so you know just by looking for the color which lumber is the exact size needed for wall studs..

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Karen
    May 30, 2017 at 12:19 pm

    the story and pictures did indeed remind me of a movie about Amish people I’ve once seen, just like somebody commented upon above. I’m in awe for this: the decision of your sister to foster the girl after already having brought up so many children; the way you all built that house (it just seems so unrealistic as I come from an area where you’d never build something entirely out of wood!! and by yourself!!!!) – I love the story and your family for doing this. My thoughts are with you.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Lisa Garber
    May 30, 2017 at 12:23 pm

    Never saw pink lumber before, is it treated for something or just special for building girls’ rooms? 😋
    Ya know this all looks quite expensIve. I wonder if anyone knows an Internet personality with a big following who could maybe start a Gofundme page….

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Rebecca B
      May 30, 2017 at 1:20 pm

      I was wondering about the pink wall studs too.

      • Reply To This Comment ↓
        Bill Greggs
        May 30, 2017 at 11:27 pm

        The studs come with cheap pink paint to indicate stud length (92-5/8″) Purchased at Lowes. Same price as 2x4x8′. Sure makes it easy to frame walls.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Kate S
    May 30, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    Much as I love all your decorating successes (and sometimes failures) – this story was just awesome! Thanks for posting – prayers for all of you as you welcome this young lady into your extended family 😀👍🏻

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Sandy L.
    May 30, 2017 at 1:35 pm

    What a refreshing story which is taking place now…and a change from all the bad news in the world…your sister and her hubby and the rest of the family ….and you…sound like really great people doing all of this for one little girl …..she is so blessed and does not even know it as yet!!
    Thanks for sharing!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Jeannie
    May 30, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    Kristie doesn’t have failures, she has re-do’s! Thank you, Kristie and all the other people who pitched in to help, it was great to read about such selfless folks.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Sophia
    May 30, 2017 at 2:57 pm

    This is really wonderful. We have friends that are trying to adopt, they have gone through so much ans till do not have a child, that they want so much. I am so happy for you family, sister and this young woman.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Betsy
    May 30, 2017 at 3:10 pm

    So the new daughter doesn’t even know yet that someone out there is putting on an addition for her and that the plan is to adopt her? If I read that right, wow how I’d love to see her reaction once she learns this! I wish a happy new beginning for everyone!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Val
    May 30, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    My hat down to your sister and brother in low! Very best wishes to the girl and all your family!!!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Marianne in Mo.
    May 30, 2017 at 4:06 pm

    What a wonderful story! And a wonderful thing for all of you to take time out of your busy lives to help out. As I read this, I wondered if your builder would maybe contribute some help. Couldn’t hurt to mention it to him! Heck, maybe even the suppliers would donate some of their goods!
    Hope this young lady knows how blessed she will be soon!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    dianepenelope
    May 30, 2017 at 5:09 pm

    what a beautiful story x thank you for sharing.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Erika
    May 30, 2017 at 6:18 pm

    That’s so awesome for your sister and her husband. And what a blessing you and the others were to help them build the new addition. Congrats ahead of time on your new niece joining the family shortly. Praying for all.

    God bless

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Gloria S.
    May 30, 2017 at 7:53 pm

    This story touched my heart immensely, What loving people you all are!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Ellen W.
    May 30, 2017 at 9:22 pm

    What a lovely story – it warmed my heart. Your sister, you and everyone else who helped are just the kind of heroes this girl needs in her life.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Sheri Hepworth
    May 31, 2017 at 3:51 am

    Way to go!! This is a great update!! How cool that you’re helping your sister with an addition and learning along the way. Congrats on the new niece-to-be! Adoption is a wonderful thing.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Genelle McDaniel
    May 31, 2017 at 6:47 pm

    Please keep us updated on this heartfelt story. Praying for all involved.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Jen
    June 1, 2017 at 10:27 am

    What an absolutely lovely story – thank you for sharing this with us! My heart overflows knowing our world has folks in it as lovely as you all…much love and blessings to you and your family on this new journey! I sure hope you get invited to help this young lady create her ideal “space of her own”. So awesome.

    Thanks for sharing the info on the pink wood – I was also wondering! Never saw anything like that. I just thought they were extra fabulous.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    designdreamer
    June 2, 2017 at 6:25 pm

    Awwww, Great story Kristi!
    I wish the best for your sister, BIL, and the new addition to the family. Hope all works out to the best of everyone’s ability.

    PS Was going to ask about the pink wood, but someone else did.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Tiffany Bush
    June 13, 2017 at 2:56 pm

    I hope we get to hear more of this family’s story!

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Alexis Facca
    June 29, 2017 at 7:21 am

    A completely heart touching story and a beautiful post. Can you share some more pictures of the finished project as well.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Gail
    February 15, 2019 at 10:14 am

    Kristi, It’s been a while and l have thought so much about your wonderful sister and her husband. I Hope everything has fallen into place and that precious girl has a forever home.

    • Reply To This Comment ↓
      Kristi
      February 15, 2019 at 10:23 am

      Well, it’s a long story, and I’m not sure how much of it is mine to tell. Let’s just say that they adopted her too late in life to be able to have any real influence in her life. The adoption was finalized, and she turned 18 and left a month later. She’s still in touch with them daily, but is making horrible life decisions. But my sister and brother-in-law are now in the process of adopting her younger sister. She’s only 14, so that means they will have a lot longer with her before she turns 18 to have a positive influence in her life and help her grow and mature and undo the damage that growing up in the system does to a child. Fingers crossed that the adoption can go through quickly.

  • Reply To This Comment ↓
    Gail
    February 15, 2019 at 12:02 pm

    Kristi, l am so sorry to hear this. But as you said, all the years in the system can do a lot of damage. God bless your sister and brother in law and all that they tried and are trying to do. l will pray for a great outcome with the younger sister.

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