Monday, March 24, 2008

Construction Begins

We sold the house in August of 2007 in hopes to start building our new home soon after. Well, its March and we've just broke ground a couple weeks ago. It's a LOOONG process.

We had to get the lot surveyed and put the lot in our name and get our plans put together. It took a pretty long time to get our budget for the construction together. We had to get bids from all the subcontractors together to help figure out the budget. Keep in mind this is our first time building and contracting a house construction. So, we had alot of learning to do along the way. Then, we had to apply for the building permit. The more I learn about government regulations, the more I get aggravated with the whole deal. Just imagine, the USA is BY FAR, the best country to live in so it's hard to complain. But, its still CRAZY.

We also had to choose a bank to do this financing. We were very particular with what we wanted. We wanted a 15 year fixed interest rate, one time closing for construction and final loan. Most of all, we wanted a good rate. We got a list of 5 banks and had to provide bunches of paperwork just for the pre application work. After that, some banks started dropping out for one reason or another. Some didn't do one time closing for construction and final mortgage, some didn't return phone calls in timely manner, made it easy for us. Then it was down to 2 banks and one could meet some of the things the other bank did. So, one left standing. Sort of worked itself out. 

We were ready to break ground. We were originally above flood plain, but wanted to bring in some dirt anyway. So, we had the pad built up. They had to do moisture test and compaction test. 

Then, we had to put up batter boards. These help you keep your forms level and at the right dimensions and also square. Very important.

After running the string from the batter boards, you start putting up your form boards. Easy concept, hard work! You have to drive a stake every couple feet for support. Concrete is VERY HEAVY and if you don't stake the board right, your foundation will be wavy.

Here are the tools of the trade. Mind you, I've been working at a chemical plant for the last 10 years. It's been a little while since this body has seen hard labor in an outside condition. Me and father in law did Saturday and Sunday of 7am to 5pm to get all the foundation forms up. He's 62 and he worked CIRCLES around me. He's amazing. 

Then, we had to drive more stakes and put in kicker boards for more support. So, we had to swing the mall DOZENS of times to provide support stakes for the stakes that were supporting the 2X12 form boards.

Then, we had the plumber come in and "rough in" the plumbing that will go beneath the concrete. We had no electric under the foundation. 

Then, we had diggers come in to dig footings. Footings are deep and wide trenches that usually go under load bearing walls that are filled with rebar and concrete to provide maximum support for your frame.
BTW: In the picture above, the construction in the background is the new Bluff Road Elementary School in Geismar. So, if you're on Bluff Road about 1 mile from Hwy. 74 and see a bunch of construction where a cow pasture used to be, you're real close to our house to be.

I'm sure I've butchered spelling for some of these construction terms and even used wrong terms. But, its real fun to learn all this stuff.

We're hoping to finish the footings tomorrow and have the post tension installed and concrete poured by the end of this week or early next week.

Brandi is working on getting the interior stuff all together. She's having fun with that too. We've picked out the flooring and design of our cabinets. Glen, Brandi's dad, is doing the cabinets, he's also the one I helped with the forms. He's only been doing carpentry work for 30+ years, but we went with him anyway.

We'll give more updates later, I'm sure. Its gonna be fun. 

They came today 3/26/08 and laid cable and rebar for the post tension slab.

After the footings were dug, we had to have pest control come spray the foundation and then we put down the plastic sheeting for moisture barrier. Then it was ready for the post tension people to lay cable and rebar.

We have to construct "floating forms" and get the forms inspected. Then, we'll be ready to pour the concrete.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Another reason to GIVE!

One of the cool things I've learned through Dave Ramsey is the true purpose of giving. We know God doesn't need our money to do His will. I like reading Genesis and His creation story. He didn't take up an offering. He just spoke, and He created. He's God.

God doesn't command us to give to earn His love or earn salvation. God loves His creation, you and me, with a perfect agape love. We can't earn salvation by following the giving laws, cause salvation is by grace through faith in Christ Jesus.

So, why does He has us give?

Part of our journey on earth after accepting Christ as our Savior is being transformed from our "old self" into the image of Christ. Jesus was the ultimate giver! So, by having us give, God knows we will be transformed into a giver, like Christ.

Found THIS ARTICLE that some scholars wrote to help prove why God's plan for us to be givers is a good idea. Many people tell you the most fun you can have with money is giving it away. Here's proof.

I remember a defining moment for me and being a giver. At Shell Chemical, we take part in the United Way. We were doing our annual sign up for our giving and just a couple of months before, a news story broke out about some executives of United Way abusing funds given by donors on personal use. I had made up my mind that The United Way had disqualified itself from deserving my hard earned money. Just as I was proudly about to mark a big ZERO in the giving box, my spirit was given a BIG CHECK!

I felt like I had to make a decision about why was I giving. I had to decide if I trusted God or not. After that I determined MY RESPONSIBILITY was to obey God and be a giver. I would be accountable for MY DECISIONS. The United Way executives would be responsible for THEIR DECISIONS.

If we look for it and with ALOT of help from the enemy, we will find reasons not to give, we will find reasons why our local church has disqualified itself from deserving our hard earned money. But, think about it, is it OURS to begin with? Could we make a living without gifts given by God? Could we be where we are without the doors God has opened?

I've had that mindset and it isn't fruitful; it isn't life giving. Let me spare you many troubles and encourage you to find reasons to GIVE! Not reasons NOT to give. Do it with a good heart and do it out of obedience, expecting NOTHING! That's when God brings the "something." And His "something" is according to HIS riches in glory!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Catch Up Pics of Jada

Some pics of Jada and the family I got since our trip to the Seaward's in Sept. 07. Sorry for the delay. Enjoy. She's growing up SO FAST!!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Porch

I've avoided posting about this specific subject for a good while. Many reasons, some good, some not so good. I believe God gave me a vision which prompted me to share about this today.

I've worked at Shell Chemical for almost 10 years. I make my 10 year anniversary March 16, 2008. It's been a GREAT 10 years here. Shell is one of the best companies to work for in my industry. Shell Chemical Geismar is one of the best plants to work for on the river in this region. A great company with great comensation and benefits. But, for several years, I knew this is not where I'm meant to be. We knew a different season for us was approaching.

Brandi and I have been preparing for the time when I am supposed to resign from this job and pursuit full time ministry. God has opened alot of doors for us in many ways to help us along the way. I'm SO THANKFUL to Pastors Dino and DeLynn for creating an environment at Healing Place Church for Brandi and I to realize our calling and also to gave access to resources that has allowed us to make the transition from what I'm doing now to what I'm supposed to do. A big part of that has been Elevate, HPC's Internship program and bible college.

I was at work and the building where I work is elevated on a 2 foot high slab. There is a porch on each entrance. I was standing on one of the porches at the corner looking down at the ground surrounding the building. Now, even though God has opened all these doors and Brandi and I have prepared for this for the past 2 years or more and we've sought Godly wisdom from many men and women, I still have thoughts of "what if" or "is this right". But, not anymore. The porch is about 20 foot by 30 foot in area. It's elevated about 2 foot off the ground and I'm about to "step down".

I thought about how I'm not just stepping down from a position, but from compensation and benefits and job security. Then, I truly felt God saying to me, "This elevated porch is only about 600 square foot in area. You may be stepping down, but look at the area of the ground you are stepping down to." I looked down and the ground, of course, goes on as far as I can see in all directions. I can't begin to estimate the area that is there.

Yes, we're stepping down from a certain "elevated" income and a certain "elevated" lifestyle. But the area that is attached to that "elevated" income and "elevated" lifestyle is only 600 square feet. The area of the "lower" income and "lower" lifestyle is infinite!

Whatever God has called me to do, by obeying His leading, I will infinitely expand the ground that I have access to.

I hope by sharing this, I have encouraged some of you as I have been encouraged. April 1, 2008 Brandi and I are stepping down to expand the ground we will have access to. It's very humbling. I know the responsibility I carry by following His leading. But, EVERYWHERE He has led us up to now, He has also PROVIDED the way for us to accomplish our goals.

We have NO REASON to believe He will not do it again. We fully expect Him to do it again.

Monday, March 03, 2008

His Heart For Orphans Crawfish Boil

Tommy & Aimee Poche' hosted the His Heart For Orphans Crawfish Boil this weekend. We had our quarterly meeting and discussed alot of exciting things for the future of HHFO at HPC

We hadn't been in a while and it was good to be there and spend time with those friends and let Jada play with the kids. 

I really believe this Ministry is important to God. In the Old Testament He consistently mentions caring for the orphans when He is rebuking and
correcting the people of Israel. We may not ALL be called to adopt, but we are ALL called to care for the orphaned.

Check out the pics: