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Dec 6, 2016

Update: New Beginnings and "Beauty From Ashes"

Hello friends! I'm here with a little update on our family life, you've been wondering haven't you? Hahahaha!

As you all know if you follow me here or on Facebook, our family home burned down on Father's Day, June 19, 2016 (you know I just realized it was the 19th - a day that occurs a lot in my life (not that I am superstitious at all, but it's just funny!), my birthday is the 19th, we were engaged on the 19th and married on the 19th.).  From that day forward we have been blessed in so many ways.  Was it hard? Did we miss our house and all our "stuff"? Sure!! The stuff part, for me, wasn't nearly as hard as the loss of my house - it really was special to me.  It was old, rambling, had a great attached barn and so much character.  We bought the house just before we got married, went there on our wedding night and brought all of our children home from the hospital there.  I thought that we would spend the rest of our days in that house, making changes and improvements as we went along.  God had other plans and I am here to tell you that God's ways and plans are always best!

Immediately after the fire we began hearing from so many people horror stories of dealing with insurance companies.  We were advised by some to hire a public adjuster, advised by others not to hire a public adjuster, to hire an attorney, and on and on.  But from the beginning we really had a good feeling from our insurance company.  They arranged for our family to move to a hotel the very next day.  Though we were in 2 separate rooms, they were at least side by side and we had our own space without being a burden on nearby family.  After a month, the insurance company secured a rental house and we moved into a house that is just 10 minutes from our property, is close to the school where our children attend band and chorus classes and although smaller than we are used to, has been very adequate for our family!  The house was furnished by our insurance company which also provided all the household items we needed to live.  We have been very comfortable here and are so thankful for how well we have been cared for.

Another thing that happened just after the fire . . . someone in our church told us about a big farm house and land that had been for sale for a few years in the same town as our church.  It was very close so on our way home that day we drove by the property.  One look was enough to convince us that it was beautiful, would be great for us, but we could never afford it!  At the time we had no idea what our insurance settlement would be or even how the process would go.  We did not have a clear understanding of how the policy was set up or what our options were so we drove away believing that was a closed door.

Over the next almost 6 months we have actively pursued rebuilding our house, that was the plan.  It has never been a dream of mine to build a house - or live in new construction so it took me several months to get used the idea of not having my old home, but I actually began to get excited about the possibilities.  We worked through several drafts of our "new" home, modeled after our original house.  It was important to me that it closely resemble our old house and that it maintain the character we had loved for 16 years. As often happens, our dreams and plans outgrew our budget and we were forced to scale back and take another stab at plans.  In the meantime, we encountered several problems with the town regarding building codes and setbacks.  We were told that our house needed to be moved to comply with the code and so we spent thousands of dollars clearing the back half of our property to make this possible.  When the plans were finally ready (or so we thought) we were told of another setback that we had to comply with and in our discussions with town officials we discovered that moving the house back was really not required after all! All that time and expense was unnecessary and lost.  That was a major disappointment.  There were other little things along the way that caused concern and stress but we thought it was all part of the process.

During all this time, we were still pursuing our adoption of Tessa.  We were committed to bringing her home, wherever that was!  Just about the time when our travel was approved by China and we were making plans to go get our daughter we decided to take a look around and see if there were any other housing options for our family.  Would that house we had looked at 5 months earlier still available? Would the owner be willing to come down on the price, would our insurance settlement be available if we bought instead of rebuilt? A quick internet search revealed that the house was still on the market and that there was a scheduled open house the very next day - how fun!

At the open house the whole family fell in love with the house and property - completely in love! It still seemed a long shot and we had so many questions but we felt strongly that God was leading us in this direction - we at least had to ask the questions, do the research, see if it was possible!  There had been another family looking at the property on the same day as us also and the next day we were told that they had made an offer on the house.  I was leaving for China in just days, there was so much going on but we made the calls, checked into our insurance situation and made our own offer on the farm.  With our offer, we sent a short write up about our family and our recent situation.  Our offer was rejected which, honestly we expected since we had offered quite a bit less than the asking price.  However, in the meantime, my husband was able to meet with another realtor who knew the property well, as well as a former owner.  As they walked through the house and buildings they were able to explain to Jeff all the improvements that had been made in the last 10 years.  He came away feeling much more confident about the condition of the property now having seen that not much work would be required at all! So just about the time I was boarding a plane bound for China we were submitting another offer and Jeff began corresponding with the owner of the house.  This man had also had his share of hard experiences, of life changes and hard times and was particularly sympathetic to our circumstance.  He kindly made a counter offer which was most generous in so many ways, but one we felt would not allow us to use the property to its full potential, so we made one last offer.  On my third day in China (actually, it was about 2 a.m., that I received the text), Jeff let me know that our offer was accepted and pending some inspections and a formal appraisal which our insurance required and needed to approve, the property might be ours!

To shorten an already long story, I will say that the next month was filled with inspections (which proved very encouraging), more talks with our insurance company, an appraisal attempt, revision and resubmission and finally last week word that insurance had approved the appraisal and as long as the purchase price remained the same at closing, we would receive our full settlement amount towards the purchase of the property!

Friends, I have to tell you how incredibly humbled we have been by all of this!! To think that God would ever give us such a gift, such an amazing home and property - one with income potential, growth potential and almost every item on our "wish" list is almost incomprehensible!  Because this is already long, I will save some of those details for a future post - it's amazing to see how God worked all things together and in doing so has blessed our family beyond measure!  It's a perfect picture of how God loves his children - we don't deserve anything good and yet, He delights to bless us, sometimes for no other reason than "to the praise of His glorious grace!"

I'll end this post by introducing you to our new home - New Beginnings (tus nua) Farm.  No, we didn't name it - the current owner chose the name when he bought the property.  We feel that God definitely orchestrated that little piece for us! ;)  We close on December 16th and although we will not move in right away (we are having the inside painted) we will be "camping out" there on Christmas Eve and will spend our first Christmas in our new home.

It's impossible to tell you how grateful, how thankful and how amazed we are!  Through the dark and uncertain days we remained confident in the goodness of God, we knew that His plan was unfolding and we looked forward to see what would come of this.  Why should we be amazed? God has shown His love time and time again, we simply need to trust and follow where He leads. He truly does bring Beauty From Ashes! Thank you friends for all the prayers you have offered on our behalf! Thank you for helping us and supporting us when we needed you most, thank you for being the hands and feet of Jesus to us during those early days!  I'll post more as we get closer to and after the closing, please continue to pray that all goes smoothly and that the closing and transition goes well!

Here's to New Beginnings!

Oct 3, 2016

Fall Fun

Yesterday was my husband's birthday so I had a good "excuse" to stamp up a quick card.  I used the sketch from The Challenge which was fun to use with the stamps I picked out! Here's the sketch:

The stamps are from My Favorite Things (retired unfortunately).

As you can see, I turned the sketch on it's side.  I love the way the ties worked as the element of the flags!

And since this was a fun and quick sketch to use and I was loving this paper pad and the Fall colors, I decided to play along with the TCP Tuesday #324 challenge from The Cat's Pajamas!  The challenge was to use Fall colors.  I just received Sending Me in the mail (it's back in stock- yea!) and since I have picked up a few Copics in the last week or two I used the sweet bun-bun.

I did a little paper piecing on the mail bag to give it a bit of dimension but otherwise it's a pretty simple card.  I'm loving the neat wooden dots my friend Kate sent - they go perfectly I think!

Check out the sketch challenge and the TCP Tuesday challenge for a bit of inspiration yourself!
Happy Day!

Tie Card:  Stamps: My Favorite Things (retired), Paper: Papertrey Ink, Dies: My Favorite Things and The Cat's Pajamas

Sending Prayers: Stamps: Sending (The Cat's Pajamas), Paper: Papertrey Ink, Dies: The Cat's Pajamas

Sep 20, 2016

Sending ...

Hello again! I'm on a little roll - I've made 5-6 cards in a week and I've enjoyed it so much! I really love getting back into stamping!

I used the TCP Tuesday challenge from The Cat's Pajamas for this card - use at least 3 patterned papers. I used 4, think I'll get bonus points? ;)

All the stamps and dies are from TCP - love the scrolly script, don't you?

I really need to replace my camera this week - the colors are SO much prettier IRL! 

Stamps: Words of Love (The Cat's Pajamas), Dies: Square Stamps CutUps Dies, Sending CutUps Dies (The Cat's Pajamas, Embellishments: Button, Twine (Papertrey Ink), Patterned Paper: MME

Sep 9, 2016


I received such a wonderful stampy package from another sweet friend yesterday, and as I was looking through the stamps and organizing my space I was inspired to make a quick card.  This sentiment pretty much sums up our past 3 months for our family!  We have been through a huge test - something I never would have asked for - but something I am quite sure we will be stronger for in the end!  The only thing is . . . I (none of us really) can't take credit for any amount of strength I have! Every ounce of strength to endure any test we have encountered as come from God. "The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.  And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you."  Psalm 9:9-10

The prayers of so many people across this country (and world!) have upheld us and encouraged us and God, in His mercy has been our stronghold! We are blessed, truly blessed!

Stamps: My Favorite Things, Patterned Paper: My Mind's Eye, White Paper: Neenah, Inks: Memento

Sep 5, 2016

Ode to my friends . . .

Goodness hello!  I'm not sure if I remember how to blog or if anyone even still blogs anymore?  Am I horribly behind the times? How do people share these days?  Feel free to educate me - I hate being out of the loop!

I'm just so excited because yesterday I actually got an opportunity to sit down and stamp!! WooHoo!! Now I have to say, my supplies are very limited at this point (I ordered some supplies, but haven't received everything yet, and I have since discovered some things that I forgot (or didn't know I needed) so more shopping is in order!), I only had 4 stamp sets to chose from but really, you only use one stamp at a time right? *wink*

To ease back into my crafty head-space I took a shortcut and participated in a sketch challenge that I saw posted by Broni Holcombe. It was perfect for my limited stash and was a great way for me to stretch and see what I could do with what I have!

Go easy on me, I feel like a total newbie! Oh and I haven't replaced my camera yet, so I had to use my phone - not horrible, but not ideal. ;)

Before I go, I want to take a moment to THANK YOU ALL for your love and support for our family over these last few months!  I was completely blown away by the outpouring of support (financial and emotional) that we received from all you lovely crafters - my friends, those I've met over the years, and many who I have never met personally!!  You rallied, you prayed, you loved, you gave and you will never know how much it touched us - how encouraging it was (and still is) and how your selflessness was used in our lives!!  I haven't been very active in the crafty community for almost 2 years now - but you didn't forget me - you didn't turn away - you showed up BIG TIME!!! Thank you isn't enough, no words are enough but know that you are all loved and cherished!! You are the reason I am here!!

BIG inky smooches Crafty Peeps!!

All supplies used (except patterned paper) are from Papertrey Ink

Apr 17, 2015

NEW - Help us Bring Lila Home!!

XPosted from our Adoption blog -

Happy Friday!! As I mentioned in my last post, we are working hard to raise the final amount we need for Lila's adoption!!  We have always had what we needed at each critical step along the way and we are praying that we will be fully funded in the next 6 weeks so that we will not need to delay travel!  We get on that plane TODAY if we could!  :)

So, here's our latest and greatest fundraising effort!  

Beautiful, 24 oz. Nalgene water bottles, made right here in the USA!! Each bottle is BPA free, will fit in most cupholders and is the perfect size for travel!  These bottles are perfect to share your heart for orphans,and  your support for our adoption!!  EVERYONE needs a new water bottle for Summer - think about your children going off to camp - they need a water bottle! Summer trips - need a water bottle!  Summer sports, bicycling, running, trips to the beach, trips to the park - need a water bottle!  Flying to China, or Africa, or South America, or Eastern Europe to bring home your new child through adoption - NEED a water bottle!  We'd be so thrilled, honored and grateful if you'd chose ours!!

Here is what the whole graphic looks like.

The top of the bottle looks like this.

If you would like to order one (or several) bottles, please just send me an email (jjmasse @ sacoriver . net).  The shipping one each bottle will mostly like be around $4 and for multiples I will simply charge you the actual shipping cost (it weighs about 4 oz.).

PLEASE feel free to share this post (or our FB post) with your friends and family!! The more orders we receive, the closer we are to bringing Lila home FOREVER!!!  THANK YOU SO MUCH!

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