Floods, Thieves and Babies


Remember the story of our friends and neighbors Jeremy and Leila who lost their house in the Nashville Flood of 2010? And then suffered another loss when their rented temporary home was burgarlized last Christmas? (Actually, I didn’t blog about that but it sucked.) Then they finally got to rebuild their dream house? Well, they have some exciting news… they’re adopting a baby!

I’ll be honest…I kind of hate the idea of fundraising for an adoption…maybe more so I hate that money is a road block for so many. But I also get it. It’s super expensive and there are a lot of people who understand the heart of adoption and want to help out in some way other than adopting a child themselves. Jeremy and Leila are a couple of the sweetest people we know. They’re quick to help others and slow to ask for help. They had planned to save and pay for this adoption all on their own but the 3 situations above have cut a painful chunk out of their savings. I know it’s very humbling for them to have to ask for help.

They finished their home study process just a few months ago and were anticipating a fairly long wait before they were matched with a birthmother. Last week they got a call that they were 1 of 2 top choices for a birthmother due in 2 months. They met her on Friday night. On Sunday night they got a call to inform them that she chose them, AND she was being admitted to the hospital with contractions, AND she’s actually due in just 1 month. WHOA! Talk about a whirlwind. Thankfully, the contractions were just Braxton Hicks and the bun is still in the oven. However, our friends now have just a few weeks to collect the funds they need (several $1000 more) before the baby is born. Baby boy will be full-term (37 weeks) next week so it could be any day now.

I know most of you probably don’t know J and Leila but I’m guessing a bunch of you have a place in your hearts for adoption and can sympathize with their crazy past year. Would you please pray for them… Pray that the finances come in in time, for peace and courage for them and the birthmother, for the baby boy to be born healthy at just the right time. And if you have it in your heart to take a step further, any little bit, even $5, could really help them out. More about their story and how to donate here.

CBB 3.0 – Update: FINISHED!


The last month and a half of construction on our friends’ home build was such a flurry of progress that I didn’t get any pictorial updates in the middle of it. I did, however, insist that they give me 5 minutes to take these photos on the morning of moving day before we started dropping boxes and clothes everywhere.

The stairway up from the garage:

The dining area, with huge windows overlooking the woods of Shelby Park:

The kitchen:

This doorway between the kitchen and dining area leads into the living room:

Straight on is the coat closet at the top of the steps coming up from the garage. Pantry on the right:

A tile backsplash was put in a few days after these photos were taken:

Front door entryway (which probably won’t get used much):

Living room:

Guest room:

Hall bathroom. I love having natural light in the shower:

Hallway looking back toward the living room, dining room and kitchen:

Laundry room:


Master bedroom:

Master bathroom:

Through the master bathroom to get to the huge closet. The floors in the bathrooms and this closet are heated, stained concrete:

Hall closet:

Bonus room that will become an office and music room:

Jeremy took this picture of the back of the house the day they got the keys:

Jason has been helping them with their landscaping the past couple weeks:

Moving Day was bittersweet. We worked hard and I didn’t get a lot of time to reflect on it with Leila and Jeremy but for me, memories of May 1, 2010 kept flooding back to me. (Pun intentional.) Their new home is wonderful and beautiful and shiny. It’s HOME. After living out of suitcases, moving from borrowed space to borrowed space for the past 13 months, they’re finally home.. That part of it is wonderful.

What I wasn’t prepared for was how different this was than a traditional move. Nothing was packed and organized like it should have been. Clothes and computers were at Leila’s brother’s house and were moved in piles, shopping bags and suitcases. Antique furniture was in another friend’s basement and was muddy with river water, cracked, dirty. Their TV (which survived being half submerged in water) was at another friend’s house. The bulk of it was in a storage warehouse, mostly outdoor tools, Christmas decorations and some clothing. An oil changing pan slipped out of my hand and liquid splashed against the concrete floor. I scrambled to find some paper towels, thinking I’d be soaking up motor oil. It was muddy, putrid river water. At one point, I picked up a box to load into the silver bullet and recognized my own handwriting on it. When I’m packing, I always label boxes as specifically as I can. It said: “Light bulbs, socks, misc.” I remember packing that box. We had been wiping mud off of dishes and glasses all afternoon in the May sunshine and packing them carefully away. There were a lot of random bits and pieces at the end of the day so I did my best to pack and label them. I can’t remember was “misc” was… a battery, a lid, some keys, perhaps. Cleaning off broken belongings, finding things thought to be gone forever, wondering where certain items ended up… the process of unpacking and moving in to this beautiful new house may be harder for our friends than I expected.

A new chapter has started for Leila and J. Thank God they’re not overly sentimental about “stuff.” They lost almost all their material possessions last year but they’ve come out stronger and wiser. I’m excited to see what wonderful things lie ahead for them and I’m proud to call these fighters my friends.

(Picture from my niece’s birth day, February 24.)

CBB 3.0 – Update (Walls, Floors, Paint, Cabinets)


I’ve had a very busy week. My husband is home on a break from traveling so we’ve been in full-force project mode at home. That means I have blog material but no time to blog. 🙂 So this is an update on our friend’s post-flood reconstruction house with photos and lazy captions. Click here to watch a video update from one of our local news channels that aired on the 1 year anniversary of the 2010 Nashville Flood. It recaps Jeremy and Leila’s freshly renovated house being flooded, their rental house getting robbed, the demolition of their flooded house and where they’re at with the construction of their new house. Here are my pictures from a couple weeks ago…

From the dining room, facing the kitchen:

Jason and Jeremy in the living room:

Living room with high sloped ceilings since it’s at the back of the house and paper covering up the finished wood floors:

Hallway from the living room. Master bedroom is at the end to the right. Full bath on the right. Guest room, laundry room and nursery on the left, which is toward the front of the house:

Guest room:


Master bedroom:

Deck off the dining room:

Maggie Moo, the cow-dog:

Bonus room (office):

Bonus room looking toward the kitchen. Lucy inhaled construction dust to the point of vomiting. Fun times:


Dining room shot from the kitchen. (Leila, Jeremy, Jason):

OK, all of those were my pictures. The rest of them are Jeremy’s pictures that I snagged off facebook.

Tile, countertop and vanity consideration for master bathroom:

Wood flooring installation:

Finished wood floors. Solid white oak with a stain mix of 50% jacobean and 50% dark walnut. Semi-gloss oil poly on top:

Full overlay style cabinets in the kitchen, oak with espresso stain:

Granite choice for kitchen countertops, “white sands”:

Radiant heat for concrete bathroom floors:

Master bath vanity in cherry wood with espresso stain, with finished “permacrete” concrete floors:

Same in the hall full bath:

Master bedroom accent wall in a brownish, copper color. (I’m not sure what is going on with the color in this photo. The foreground walls are either white or light gray…not blue. I didn’t take this photo but I think the orange is pretty accurate.):

That’s it for now. As you can tell, it’s very close to completion. Hopefully just another week or two and they’ll be moving in! Which should be pretty easy considering they lost 80-90% of their belongings in the flood… They have a mattress, clothes, dishes and kitchen items that could be salvaged, a few boxes of personal items, and some electronics that either weren’t in the house during the flood, have been recently purchased or survived. (Can you believe their LCD TV was submerged half way in floodwater and still works?!)

Bringing the House Down


Back in May I wrote about the flood that impacted Nashville and the surrounding Tennessee areas, including our friends and downhill neighbors Leila and Jeremy.

As a reminder, here’s what their house looked like after they purchased it and worked to fully renovate it:

Here’s what the house looked like during the flood:

And here’s the house at almost the peak of flood level. It’s the one on the right. You can see that the water is up to the base of the windows. It eventually made it half way up the window to a level of 4 ft. in the house. The water was too deep (and disgusting) for me to get a picture straight on:

So here we are now, 7-8 months later, and their house is finally being demolished. FEMA regulations required that the house be raised 4ft to be above flood plain. When the costs were evaluated it made the most sense to demo and start over. This process has been long and painful for our friends and it was so good to see tangible forward progress just before New Years.

Demolition was set to begin just around sunrise on a crisp morning:

A quick peak inside before it’s gone; everything of value had been striped out: windows, insulation, wiring, plumbing…

And before the sun was above the tree line, the house was a pile of sticks and bricks:

It turned out to be a bright, beautiful day and brought new meaning to a clean slate for a new year. I’ll do my best to keep you updated on the progress. Soon (once the snow melts…) the foundation will be poured and construction on their new home will begin. I’m hopeful that they’ll be in their new home by the anniversary of the flood.


Phone Photo Friday


Cheating this week. This photo was actually taken by my friend Leila’s iPhone during our post-flood clean up last Friday. I was stuffed in her back seat with bags of dirty clothes and she thought it was pretty funny.

Wise Words


“But now, this is what the LORD says—
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the LORD, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior”

Isaiah 43:1-3a

I like how it says when not if.

Hope is Rising


I took this picture because I was going to write a reflection on the kind of week I’ve had, based on the contents that I’ve been accumulating in my purse (rubber coated work gloves, bandaids, augmentin for dog bite injury, receipts for groceries, cleaning supplies and tools for our friends, medical tape, iron supplements, journal of thoughts on scrap paper, disaster area supplies list …) but the explanation of these items would sound like complaining. Perhaps discouraging.

And I was going to share about each of these photos

… something sad about my friend sorting through her drying photographs

…and why my husband is sleeping on a bare mattress

But the truth is, though it was a very difficult week, things are looking up around here. Energy levels are returning, the sun has been shining, smiles are back, there are blessings all around and plenty to be thankful about. The pain is not gone but there is a new level of joy coming. We’re going to be OK down here. 🙂

Thank you all for the prayers and encouraging words!