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The House That God Will Build

Simplify. A word that is often used, but seldom acted upon. Once a year, most of us will look in our closets and clean out a few items from our past. Pants that are too small (although we are secretly hoping we can fit into them later), sweaters that are just plain ugly and shoes that are outdated. We load up our truck and haul it off to charity. We get a tax receipt, claim it later and believe we did a good deed. But is it really enough? Is that one load going to make a difference? I’ve asked myself this question over and over again.

Now, we’re getting into building a house. We thought we wanted bigger and better and more. We lived in an 1800 square foot house and never enjoyed its space. We’re hoping to have more children and thought we needed more space. We have a lot of stuff, so we thought we needed more storage. We have old furniture, so we thought we needed new furniture. It was becoming more and more and more….and bigger and bigger. But does that mean better?

We have been very patient in waiting for our builder. They were tied up with Extreme Makeover for several weeks of planning, work and post-work. It seemed like it was taking forever because we were ready to say go in November. We’re building a house, it’s 3000 square feet, it’s going to green….blah blah blah. Well, we were wrong.

This period of waiting was actually God-sent, which I admit is hard for even me to believe.

Our church was having a sermon series was called, “Simplify” and after these past several weeks, it all finally hit me. Simplify. We need to rethink our thinking and simplify our lifestyle. This house is our opportunity to do that. This period of waiting really opened our eyes and gaves us time to look, think, pray and plan. My husband’s favorite statement of the sermon series was, “cut the beanstalk” because the beanstalk was the way to get to supposed happiness….riches and luxuries. This supposed happiness also brought worry and problems. Do you want the bigger house that comes with worrying about money? Do you want to live with possessions or do you want to live with provisions from God, the provider?

People always have said, building a house is a going to be tough on your marriage. Even though, we haven’t broken ground, I believe it will be the best thing that will happen to our marriage. Building this house will be building upon our marriage, our beliefs in God and our love for the rest of our lives.

We don’t want a bigger house because there will be more to clean. We don’t want more storage because there will be buying more stuff to fill those spaces.

The things that we do want:
1) Functional /Multi-functional space – not wasted, empty space
2) Rooms to live in – not rooms to close off from the world
3) Reuse and recycled features from salvage yards
4) Opportunity to provide space for someone that needs it
5) Room to grow without losing ourselves in enormous size

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. ~ Matthew 6:21

Ready to move forward, oh and this house plan is good.

Our family is ready for our new house.  The EMHE is over! Sunday was our last day at EMHE and we stopped by Willow Sands Farm to drop some things off. [For those that don’t know, Willow Sands Farm is next door to our future home]. Unexpectedly, Peyton was also dropped-off to play with Zoey, so Philip and I were able to volunteer at EMHE most of the day. Peyton was so happy because her and Zoey are basically the same age. They really enjoyed their time together. It will be better spent once we move there. Confirmation that this was the right decision and we are ready. Back to EMHE….it was a very productive day; we were in the home stretch and by then, we were simply helping out where we could and picking up litter/recyclables along the site. We spent quality time with our future neighbors and even met up with EMHE Design Celebrities (sorry, no Ty Pennington). Our friend, Christy, said this was the most fun she has had all week, recycling with us! Another confirmation! We were able to see the final results of the build and really soak in all its beauty. The quality of Sterling Homes’ work is unbeatable, at least to us. The EMHE resembles a barn, but it is in the country and it’s gorgeous!

Front of EMHE

During this time of EMHE, Philip and I were able to think hard about our new house. Philip may have looked at more than 250 house plans in a week and probably emailed about half of those to me with comments. I did look at them, but none hit me until the one he sent today. It was all on one floor, which was what I wanted originally. There were a few changes to it, but nothing complicated. Philip emailed it to our builder today. Hopefully we will hear from them before EMHE comes knocking again.

House Plan Idea

Just call me recycler, dumpster diver, bee chaser, box breaker, sod girl

This house is done and the family comes home Monday. I am so thankful! I finally can say that I personally experienced the extreme of the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. This week I was labeled recycler, dumpster diver, bee chaser, box breaker, sod girl, celebrity sighter, and filmstar. That is plenty in one week, thank you.


The Extreme Makeover experience is something that everyone should do at least once. I have met many amazing volunteers this week. These volunteers take time away from their own family to help another family that they don’t even personally know. That is something to applaud. Sterling Homes had a theme this week for EMHE, “Building on Faith” and I believe that everyone of those volunteers contributed to that theme in their own way.

Today was probably the most fun I had all week (except I cherish my Ed moment). My husband and I showed up around noon and jumped into a taping of Ed and Jeff Gordon racing Bobcats. We are in South Carolina, we have Jeff Gordon and we are racing Bobcats. Can someone say redneck? Oh, but it was fun. We had to cheer them on racing, run behind the Bobcats, jump over mud puddles and congratulate the winner in the Winners Circle – yes, it was Jeff Gordon that won. I even got a high-five from #24 himself. Another great moment! Can’t wait until it airs to see if I made it on screen. I will take autographs later.

Box breaker

Next we checked on some recycling containers, grabbed some cardboard boxes to recycle and headed for lunch. A few hours of filming makes a star hungry. After getting some energy, we recycled A LOT. We switched bags, grabbed more cardboard from around the house and collected bottles around the job site. I had a lot of help today, a couple of friends and my husband, and I couldn’t have done this without them. One of my friends and my husband were lucky enough to run into a couple of the EMHE designers: Paige and Ed, so we got photos and autographs. It really pays to recycle!

Sod girl

The final numbers for the recycling efforts for EMHE was 1880 lbs. of cardboard, cans and bottles! Almost a ton! I think it was a brilliant effort. Yes, I love my job! This episode is supposed to air in 6-8 weeks, so I will make to post it.

Reuse and Recycle at the Extreme Makeover House

So can you imagine having your house built in 106 hours? That would be amazing! The Extreme Makeover house is going to be built in 106 hours for a very deserving family in Loris, SC (in Horry County).

And I can’t believe that I am a part of this experience. I have very amazing friends, the builder – Sterling Homes is leading the project. I am honored to know them and become neighbors with them soon.

Also, through my job at the Horry County Solid Waste Authority, we are helping with the recycling efforts during this Extreme week. We have set-up recycling bins at the Volunteer Catering tent, the VIP tent, the Volunteer Check-In, the Production area and the Builder office. So far, we have collected and recycled more than 300 lbs. of cardboard, bottles and cans. We’re expecting a whole lot more later this week once the interior gets started.

The Design Team has a list of needs that include a lot of salvaged items. I have personally donated old rusty bicycles, old antique soda bottles and old metal pipes with a little help from my friends, Annie Johnson and Kendall Elvis. Not sure what the Design Team plans to do with these items, but it will be exciting to see the final result in the house. I hope to have more to give to them. The design assistant that helped me unload my car today was very kind. She welcomed me and after we unloaded the items, she said I could walk around and check things out. The site is very orchestrated and on schedule. It is absolutely amazing to see the progress on the house.

Donated these old soda bottles to the Extreme Makeover Design Team
Donated these old soda bottles to the Extreme Makeover Design Team

Reuse is an important component of this build. The family’s house was originally built by the dad’s grandfather in the 1930s. Unfortunately due to asbestos and much structural decay, the house had to be demolished. (Of course, for the Extreme Makeover show too! The show is not complete without Ty running crazy, screaming about destroying the house). I have heard that the team salvaged some of the family’s old furniture to incorporate into the house. They also saved the original bricks for another feature for the new house (such as a fireplace or firepit). I think that is very sweet and sentimental for this family to have these memories as a part of their new home.

My favorite personal memory this week will have to be being introduced to Ed Sanders, the British carpenter of Extreme Makeover. My friend and the builder’s wife, Missy Dill, asked me for a ride back to her house. So on the way to the car, we walked through the RV trailers of the production crew. Of course, I was carrying a recycling bin and placed in that area for them to use. While there, I looked to my left and noticed Ed and a member of the production crew standing at a golf cart. I started to ask, “Is that…?” and Missy said, “Ed? Yes, would you like to meet him?” My eager answer, “Oh yes, please, of course.” I think that out of all the Extreme Makeover Designers, he was the one I really wanted to meet. We waited until he finished his conversation on the radio, then he walked right up to Missy. They discussed some things for the show including the visit with a Make-A-Wish child, 10-year-old Maddie Connaughton, who has mitochondrial disease. Then Missy introduced me to Ed and the conversation went something like this (this is not exactly word for word because I was starstruck):

Missy: Ed, this is Jennifer Sellers.

Ed (insert British accent here): Cheers (shakes my hand and pulls me in for a hug) very nice to meet you.

Me (honored to receive a hug): Oh hello, you too!

Missy: She is doing the recycling this week.

Me: Yup, we have set-up bins all around and I will be around collecting bottles and cans and stuff.

Ed: (with lots of energy and talking fast British accent) Oh brilliant! Recycling is great! Have you talked with the producers? Do you have a team?

Me: (with a starstruck smile) Uh….yes….sort of….thank you…

Ed: Great! We will have to spread the word, I will tell Rachel. We’ll definitely help out.

Missy: Yes, she just placed a container over there for you guys (pointing to the one in the producer area).

Ed (insert British accent here): Brilliant! I love it, we will do our best this week. Thank you for what you are doing.

Me: (still smiling) Oh….No…..Thank you…

Missy: Can she get a photo with you?

Ed (insert British accent here): Yes yes, of course!

* My life is complete….well, you know how moments like this happen, then you replay them in your head over and over again? Honestly, I have replayed this one and I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

I can't believe we ran into Ed Sanders while there today!
I can't believe we ran into Ed Sanders while there today!

Extreme Makeover Returns, My House Waits

The Extreme Makeover Home Edition will knock on a deserving family’s door on Monday for the second time in Horry County.  The entire county is buzzing about the news and ready for a positive project to help someone in the community. This cold weather seems to have gotten everyone down, but next week will be warm and uplifting. Every time I run into someone asking about the build, I direct them to the website hoping they will volunteer to help. This house must be built in 106 hours, so the more volunteers the better.

During the event, the United Way is collecting canned food throughout the county to support local food pantries.  The goal is 100 tons of canned food! We have collection bins at our office at the Horry County Solid Waste Authority and will be expanding to collect at the recycling centers. Our company will also be helping in recycling efforts during the build while also pitching in volunteer work wherever needed.

I’m looking forward to seeing Sterling Homes – Harry Dill and Clinch Heyward and their team – bless another family in our area. I’ve never seen such compassionate hearts as I have with these guys. I look forward to the build and the whole experience!

All of the information about the food drive and the build is online at Extreme Horry.

While this project is going on, our house project is on hold.

Goodbye 2009, Hello 2010

I am ready for 2009 to end and 2010 to start. If I had to give the year 2009 a name, it would be “Time to Move On” because sometimes you just have to leave things in the past and move forward with your life.

It has been a long year and everything about our lives has shifted to another phase.

Time to Move On: Limestone Lane House. I knew that when we bought the house at Limestone Lane, it would not be our forever home. We loved the neighborhood, the location and the idea of the house. It next door to the college where we me and on a safe culdesac. I will miss memories from that house more than anything and I’m actually getting a little teary-eyed just thinking about this. Limestone Lane represents our first house together as a married couple and our first baby’s home.


We repaired, decorated, repainted and reconstructed many parts of the house. We painted all the rooms, opened up the kitchen, reconstructed the guest bathroom and even tried to resurface the pool. There has been a lot of laughing and a fair share of crying in that house. I also painted a mural in Peyton’s room that will be greatly missed. However, most of our memories were contained inside the house. We have a few memories outside because we never really enjoyed the backyard. There was no screened porch and no fence around the pool, so between mosquitos and a toddler, the house was not enjoyable outside. Also, this house was definitely not energy or water efficient. All of our bills were steep, no matter how many lights we turned off or how many times we turned the faucet off while brushing our teeth. The house symbolized more than what we could realistically do with it. It was time to move on.

Time to Move On: Building Our Dream. Since purchasing land in 2008, we hoped to start building before now. We listed our house twice and finally sold it in the fall of 2009. We were lucky. So the process started to build our dream home. It is a long road due to several factors: timing, planning, finances, decisions, and the Extreme Makeover Home Edition project. Okay, the last factor is a special circumstance that is definitely forgiven. I will personally 45631-Extreme Makeover Logo 2:Layout 1be involved with the EMHE project on a recycling standpoint and Philip will be helping friends in the catering tents. (More blogging to come soon!) We have met with Sterling Homes to build our house because we know them and are confident with their quality and dedication in building. Plus, they are involved in the Environments for Living Program that will make our house a certified green home. We couldn’t ask for anything more! However, until the EMHE project is complete, our house project is on hold. If you want to check it out, Extreme Horry is the website. As a part of the event, there will be an Extreme Food Drive to benefit food pantries in Horry County.

2010: A Year of Building. I believe that 2010 will be a year of building for our family. We will be building a home that is sustainable, green and hopefully, our forever home. We will be building into our family to make our love, faith and trust stronger. Hopefully, our family will expand too in this new home. We hope to build into our friendships with our new neighbors, which are old friends of ours. Building into our church will be another part of 2010 for us as we’d like to meet new friends and participate in church activities. 2010 will be a year of building for us and I’m looking forward to it. Let’s build!

The Green Road Ahead is Extremely Long

I have always been told that building your own house is a long process and that we should have patience, consideration and thoughtfulness. However, I didn’t really realize how long this could take, until now. Ok, honestly, I have to cut the process a little slack because we started this project the week before Thanksgiving and ran smack into Christmas. Family, good tidings and cheer does take precedence over building our new house – I guess. But now, we have run into another roadblock in the process, although I suppose I shouldn’t complain all too much because it is a very exciting roadblock. Our builder will have to change their business cards to reflect a “3 Time Builder for Extreme Makeover Home Edition”.

Oh yes, the Extreme Makeover Home Edition will be building a new home in our area with our builder, but it won’t be our home. Although, maybe we could share the resources and get this all done together in one week!? Wishful thinking, busted.

Our builder is Sterling Homes and we have been meeting with Bruce Atkins since November, he has taken a lot of time with us and us with him. Patience is a virtue, especially in planning and building a house. We didn’t want to rush into anything and our conversations with Bruce have been all positive and encouraging that we are making the right decisions. We received a floor layout and we’ve been waiting for the rest, including the price. We have a long road ahead of us. Then we hear a rumor about the EMHE coming to our area and I get the phone call that says, “Now you know why your house is taking so long.” Ok you got me. I suppose we can wait until after the Extreme Home Makeover Edition project in Horry County is completed to start ours! Although, it’s not really just a one week delay because a lot of planning goes into these projects before they happen. I’m looking forward to the day when I’m sitting on the backporch with my fireplace roaring and a glass of wine, thinking, “We could have been in here sooner, if it wasn’t for that EMHE project.” Haha – that was a bad joke. I think the project is a blessing for the family and this community. I look forward to seeing great things in the coming weeks!