Thursday, August 1, 2013

It Is Finished! (And We Won!)

Our current home is a wreck.  Our kids have been tending each other for days.  We have lived on Wendy's and Little Caesar's for the past week and a half.  But it is finished.  And it is amazing.

I can't even begin to describe the past two weeks.  On Sunday, July 21, Christi passed out on the bed as soon as we got home from church.  (That was back when we had a bed...and a dresser...and a kitchen table....)  I called all of the kids in to the living room for a family council.  I explained that the following 10 days would be the craziest of our lives.  Parade judging would be on the 30th, and until then, we just had to plan on all pitching in and doing the best we could to get the house finished in time.  For the older kids, that meant a lot of babysitting and managing our house, since mom and dad would be spending every spare second at the Puzzle Them Home home.  I was so impressed with their willingness to shoulder the load.  And boy did they.  I heard so many "What can I do to help"s over that time frame.  I would come home and find kids cleaning or weeding the yard or playing with their younger siblings or even passed out late at night on the couch cuz they had been so busy during the day.  Thank you Green kids!  You are fantastic!

It was a whirlwind.  We had many people who were skeptical that it could be finished.  But Bret kept everything going.  He begged when he needed to.  He yelled occasionally:)  He timed things just right.  And we finished on time (barely, but I'll get to that later;).

The last four days were the most amazing.  Christi was doing a ton with the interior, and I was working on the landscaping.  We had not budgeted much for either of these categories, so we were trying to do the best we could with donations and volunteer labor.  You've already heard about the Deseret Book donation.  WOW!!!  During that last 10 days, we also had ALL the sod donated, ALL the mulch donated and ALL the topsoil donated!!!  Thank you Tracy Davis sod, Diamond Tree Experts and Mascaro trucking.  On top of all that, the volunteer labor was truly amazing.

We had blogged about, facebooked and spread the word at church about our sod laying party on the 27th.  Even so, I was amazed by the turnout.  We had dozens of people there.  Church friends, community friends, even facebook followers we'd never met before.  And boy did they work hard.  We got everything except the park strip finished in one day!  On top of that, some of the mulch was spread, some more of the sprinkler drip lines were hooked up, more plants were planted.  It was fantastic.  But by the end of the day, there was still SO much to do.  I was very afraid the landscaping just would NOT be ready on time.  We still had to bring in 6000 pounds of rubber mulch for under the play areas.  Put some borders in between the real mulch and the rubber mulch, plant 30-40 more shrubs in ridiculously hard soil.  Prep and lay sod in the park strips.  Spread a lot more mulch.  Assemble a couple of toys for Elli's playground.  How was I going to do this myself?

Sunday after church, we went up to the property.  We were planning on doing mostly interior stuff, but shortly after we got there, people started showing up to help in the yard.  And then more people.  And then more.  Again, we had dozens of people show up to help us.  For the second day in a row!  Apparently it had been announced in the church congregation we are moving into that we needed help to finish this on time.  And boy did the help come.  The planting got finished, half of the park strip was prepped and sodded, almost all of the mulch was spread, more drip lines were put in.

Still, I was overwhelmed with what we had to do on Monday.  But Monday evening, more people than ever showed up to help.  For the third day in a row, we had over 40 people out in our yard, working hard to get everything done.  Elli's toys were assembled, rubber mulch was brought in.  (That stuff comes in 2000 pound bags-we had to have a back hoe lift it off the truck and onto the play area!)  Borders were installed.  Sprinklers were finished.  Park strip sod was done.  Some of the people stayed until after 1:00 am, working hard to ensure our home was finished by the time the judges came the next morning.

Finally, we had done everything we could do on the landscaping until the sun came up the next morning.  The judges could come anytime after 9:00 am, and if we weren't finished when they came, we wouldn't be judged.  So the pressure was on.  I went in to help with the interior, including laying the floor in the last room of the house without flooring.  My brother Tyler and I laid Soft Tiles in the exercise room downstairs.  I made a 3:00 am trip to Walmart for a few last minute items.  Some of the designers were there until 7:00 am.  Bret, Christi, Tyler, Christi's sister Leslie, Taylor and I were there all night.  No sleep!  It was exhausting!  But we had to be done by 9:00 am!

Oh!  How could I forget the guest room ceiling!  About 11:00 pm I went down to the basement for some reason.  Leslie saw me walking toward the guest room and said, "Don't go in there!"  I walked in and saw Bret on a ladder with his head through one of three large holes cut through the drywall of the ceiling.  I about had a heart attack.  There had been a water leak.  It turns out one of the valves on the master shower had been turned on just a little and had dripped for several hours.  Since everything was stacked on top of everything else, the tile in this shower wasn't finished until the wee hours of Tuesday morning.  So this water made it's way down to the ceiling below.  But Bret called Brady the drywall guy.  He came over and sized up the situation.  We put fans on it until 5:00 am and then the fix it crew came in and it was good as new.

Since things were going on right until the last minute, Bret scheduled his cleaning crew to come in at 5:00 am on Tuesday morning.  But they overslept!  Once we realized that they weren't coming, we went into panic mode.  We barely had enough time to do the things we had planned on doing.  There was no way we could do that AND clean.  We were doomed.  Then God sent the joggers.  Two ladies we didn't know were jogging by our home.  They had heard about the project and poked their heads in to see how things were going.  They could see how crazy things were and how much trouble we were in.  They left.  Apparently they made some calls, because within 20 minutes, about 15 women showed up and started cleaning our home.  We went like crazy.  It was another miracle.  I am not kidding when I say that the judges showed up at the exact time we were leaving the home with the cleaning supplies.

After the judges left, and the helpers left, it got down to Bret and Christi and me.  It was silent in the house.  For three straight months there had been saws and drills, noise, noise, noise.  But now it was done.  I don't believe there has ever been a home built with more love per square foot than this one.  The spirit was strong.  Christi and I walked around, looking at this sanctuary that had been provided for us.  We embraced.  And sobbed.  We are so grateful.

Tonight we went we Bret and his wife, Lindsay, to the Parade VIP night.  It was where awards were handed out.  We won!  We are so glad for Bret.  He has put his heart and soul into this for months.  He donated his contracting fee!  We are so happy that he has a Parade of Home Best Home award on his resume.  Thank you Bret!  We truly love you!  Please come by and visit anytime you want!

It's late.  I'm still a bit groggy from lack of sleep.  I hope this post isn't too discombobulated.  Before I go, I just have to say thank you to the many people without whom this project simply would not have been completed on time.  There are so many of you.  Bret and I have talked about it so many times.  There were so many people who came just when we needed them and provided help with things we weren't able to do on our own.  This was a home of miracles.

I will get pictures up here soon.  It is amazing.  In the meantime, here are a couple of facebook links:  (The first picture on this page is not our home, but if you scroll down, you'll see some of our exterior.)

I will close with a verse of scripture.  King Benjamin taught the following in Mosiah 2:23-24.
"And now, in the first place, He hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto Him.  And secondly, He doth require that ye should do as He hath commanded you; for which if ye do, He doth immediately bless you; and therefore He hath paid you.  And ye are still indebted unto Him, and are, and will be, forever and ever..."

We are truly indebted unto Him.  If we have done any good in our lives, truly we have been blessed far beyond what we have done.  Thank you to everyone who has helped or even just offered their love and support.  We have never felt more loved.  We will try with all of our hearts to pay it forward.



  1. My brother - I see the hand of our Father in pretty much all of this - including the "joggers" (who in our tradition were simply Angels incarnate) - to the Testimony of your Church community - to the Knowledge that with Him all things ARE possible...

    It was a forgone conclusion which home would with "Best of the Parade" - He wouldn't let us down on that one - rich are the rewards to the Faithful both in Heaven and on earth!

    Great joy brother - great joy - now rest for a while (or at least a minute!!)

    love you guys - aus and co.

  2. Even though there are millions of words in the English language, there are some things that still can't be fully expressed using them. It really is a miracle. God answers prayers and sends angels...and it is usually through the people around us. Following your journey has inspired me to be a better person as I read of the love and service that hundreds of people gave so selflessly. This story goes so far beyond the bulding of a house!

  3. Wow. Just wow! I wish I could have been there to do more the last few days, but I was there in spirit. So many miracles, and you are deserving of every one of them. Can't wait to see it in person!!

  4. So happy for your family! What a miracle! Congrats! ;)

  5. People are so good. Thank you for sharing your story. The world is filled with evil, but we still have more good! Hope, always hope!

  6. Oh y'all I'm so happy! This makes me cry! WHen is move in day??????

  7. So, I'm at work and just asked Jen for an update. Now after reading this I'm sobbing. My lesson at church on Sunday is on faith, which your family has always been an example of to me--especially through this entire process. Our prayers are with you as always. Xo. Love, Lori Gifford

  8. When God has a blessing to bestow on one of his children, isn't it generous and wise that He usually does it through another one of His children. In that way, not just one, but two of his precious children are blessed and magnified. In the case of Puzzle Them Home, it seems that already hundreds have been blessed.

    How humbled I am to have witnessed this overwhelming outpouring of love and service on behalf of Jeremy and Christianne . . . and my beautiful, darling grandchildren. To all who have contributed in any way, I express my profound gratitude. You have sown seeds that will shower ever-expanding blessings upon yourselves and countless others throughout all eternity. May God be with you.

  9. This is great!!! Congrats! You guys are such an inspriration. You have such a great family :)

  10. Wow. Truly the hand of the Lord has been in this from start to finish. I am so touched and SO happy for your family to have this amazing gift. I never knew a family more deserving of goodness than you. Blessings.

  11. Oh my goodness!! That house is AMAZING...literally a dream house. I'm happy for you and your family. Congratulations!!

  12. The house is beautiful congratulations! Before you know it, they will be handing over the keys and you will be sleeping on your own beds with clothes in the dresser. Almost there!


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