All about me – a story of hope

All About Me – a story of hope

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I grew up on a 40 acre dairy farm.

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We lived in the oldest farmhouse ever that had all the magical details we DIYers strive to recreate today. High ceilings with beefy thick mouldings, authentic tall skinny windows, and old doors with flat black hardware. We also had the massive big red barn and side buildings out back just like in all the storybooks.

We also had other animals other than cows. Horses, barn cats and an outdoor dog that ran after every motor going by, including frightened Mr. Motus on his bike!

I still smile at the fond memories of my mom gently shooing out my hidden barn cat or three from inside the house with the end of her broom. Animals had their place which to her meant outside. (still love ya, mom!)

My bedroom had what was called, donna (who knew?) conna walls. In today’s world, that means floor to ceiling bulletin board heaven. It was a breeze hanging up my velvet horse posters.  My mom let me choose the colour for my room which was a weird minty vibrant green. My rad green and my fuzzy posters and wacko bedding to match. I loved it and that’s all that mattered to her.

I was always artistically inclined. I won contests in elementary school and even had one poster proudly on display in town for a whole month! I aced art all through highschool. But one of my first paying jobs was working for a greenhouse down the road.

Boss man Graham needed signs painted for a flower show and asked me to take care of that. I’ll always remember his compliment, “I just LOVE the colour combinations of the lettering!” I didn’t know anything about paint and colours other than how much paint was left in the pot, but was glad he was glad nevertheless.

Growing up, I took on various jobs that had nothing to do with art, but looking back, I liked arranging stuff, right down to the display shelves at my brother-in-law’s gas station. One day I landed work in a major department store (my version of a lottery win back then) and eventually figured out how to work some art magic into whatever I did.

In the women’s clothing department, I arranged the displays so the colours would bring you in from the isles then push you back toward wall displays. My best days EVER were when I could work in the back stockroom wearing jeans and scribble hand done illustrations on signs for our big warehouse events.

All about me - a story of hope via

Then there was talk of the store going under. Believing the stories, I started looking for other work. I knew this time I wanted to do something with art. I applied for a sign shop not having a clue what premask or anything else they did was. I had never even touched a computer at that time. I slapped together some drawings to prove I had something to offer and landed the job. I couldn’t believe it!
I was so relieved to work in the art industry while the store chain collapsed. I felt safe, and it felt so right, but so surreal. I LOVED my work! And then, I got fired. They never did tell me why.
Down but not out, I found another job that weekend in the auto graphics industry (pin striping cars for body shops and dealers). It was a commission job so it was like I worked for myself. And then I got fired from that one too. Nifty…
See, I apparently had a little issue. I was assertive and wanted to learn. You couldn’t throw enough info at me. I was hungry to do my best and flew beyond expectations. I. Just. Wanted. To. Learn.
 Stumped, I wondered if I was entering the right profession. I mean, fired twice?! And that’s when I spotted an ad in the paper for a graphic design class, complete with a sign division. I signed up immediately and became a fulltime student for half a year.
Because I knew lots of the material from my last 2 jobs, I decided to purchase sign equipment and practice with it once I got home from school. School by day, and 3 cracked open library books at home by night learning my new computer and vinyl cutter. I’d learn something, then at night create what I learned bringing in a ready-made sign the next day. (what a show off, huh?)
Before school was even over, I was running my own sign and auto graphics business off a pool table in my basement. I worked from home until a local body shop invited me to rent their small offshoot building for my storefront. I accepted! And the school I was in called me back and asked me to TEACH the class I had just taken. (it paid to be a show off)  Three storefront transitions and 2 employees later, I had a very successful biz.
All the while, I was an antiques fanatic to the extreme. I took in weekend flea markets with my brother and sis-in-law as well as big time scary auctions. I always had a boatload of rustic goodness going on wherever I went. I ate and drank the stuff.
My then husband and I had finally moved into our dream home. I’ve lived in other houses before, one even being built for us, but this older one was THEE one. Only 12 years old but built from an 1800s floor plan, wrap around veranda, on 5 gorgeous acres, it was the hilt of going historic. And as you can well imagine, I landed the perfect home for my rusty relics.
We accumulated a horse, 3 indoor cats, 1 dog, chickens, tried sheep for 1 day (that entails its own post), 2 cows and an attack rooster. (I now HATE roosters) I had finally come back home to the roots I had grown up with. Farmer’s daughter all the way. I was HOME.
Then the unheard of happened. We got THE CALL. After waiting 7 long years on an adoption list, our baby was about to be born. I was about to become a mom!!!
I quickly morphed the storefront plans, took out a loan and built my own shop on my property so I could be closer to my newborn son. I had it all. And I started working part time so I could raise my son. I truly HAD. IT. ALL. As well as a new big fat loan.
And then one day, the walls came tumbling down. My marriage came to a very abrupt end. And I had to let the house go. I couldn’t hold onto it on my own on a part time wage with a young son. So not a part of the plan.

All about me - a story of hope via

I took out another loan and fixed up the house so it would sell for top dollar, taking 6 months to fix.  I was raising my son, running my very part time at the time biz, renovating, running a farm, and learning how to be a single parent all at once. Then it was time to sign the papers to release that newly renovated home with nowhere to go.
I detested every house I looked at. My price range really left me with very little to select from. I then decided I had to venture outside of where I had planned to live, desperate for a place to call home.
I took a drive through a quaint little town with one 3-way stop as its main intersection, when I spotted a friend on the side of the road. We stopped and talked for a moment and he highly encouraged me to move to his little community. A suburb in the middle of the country.

I eventually chose a house in that very community with one of the most incredible mountain view backyards that I’ve ever seen.  It was so reminiscent of where I just came from and the only shred of familiarity I clung onto with every fibre of my being.

But it was FAR from the home I had just come from. However, at the time, I was truly grateful to have found such a lovely community to raise my son. And while you cannot change the outside, you most certainly can on the inside.

It was then that my son and I moved into what we called, the pink house.

All about me - a story of hope via

The new ‘black coffee’ trim colour goes on – fall 2009

It wasn’t pink, but the burgundy trim made it look pink. And there was nothing but nothing that was ‘me’ on the inside nor out. But I knew that could be changed. So I swallowed hard, and lived among the…

All about me - a story of hope via

whatever you call it. Good grief. (this was the basement thank goodness!)
Once settled in, I started hacking away at the house. However, the things that went wrong were clicking at a much faster rate than the things I could keep from going wrong. I collected a few tools and books and attempted what I could. Truth be told, with no building skills, I was getting buried. FAST.
Remember the friend that encouraged me to move to my little town? His name is Dan and he is an artist.
This is his website.
It was right around this time that Dan needed help with his themed environment work to which I volunteered, striking the deal that he needed to teach me EVERYTHING. His line of work entailed  utilizing every tool imaginable. I was quite taken aback that he accepted my lousy offer. The interview process went something like this.
Dan- “Do you see anything here you think you wouldn’t be able to do?”
Me – “AFTER you teach me, nope.”
Dan – “See you tomorrow!”
And I started to learn how to work with tools on my very first day. This man had faith in me and my capabilities and single handedly helped to build my self esteem when it was very down. I was meant to be in that small town and was meant to have his crew and family help me along my way.

Learning to weld / All about me - a story of hope via

Using a chop saw for the first time while cutting my stairway spindles.

My skills and own tool collection gradually grew. I was fixing toilets on my own, putting in new tap sets, and even tinkering with lights. But it wasn’t enough. I had a toilet that was about to fall through the floor and every window in the house leaked x 1 trillion other things going wrong daily. And I didn’t have the funds nor knowledge to do anything about it.
I struggled. Oh I struggled. Living in dysfunction was so very difficult. What was even worse was living in an UGLY house that I couldn’t make pretty because funds were burnt up fixing things. Ugly AND dysfunctional. Nice.

Wires sparking, toilets leaking, stove stopping on me, cupboard doors literally falling off hinges. I started feeling pretty low about it all. You know that feeling when you’ve hit bottom because what’s burying you eventually reaches suffocation stage? Yeah. That. I was stone broke with a house made out of broken sticks.

I had stopped decorating and buying and collecting my loves. What was the point? It would look ugly here anyway. I did what I could with paint, right down to painting the cupboards and countertops, but paint just wasn’t the same as glue.
It was right about then that I went for walks with my dog to get OUT of the house. And I found a nearby cottage-type home for sale that I fell in love with. But big problem. How could I possibly unload my house riddled with problems in order to move to this problem-free one? Every waking moment was either working or fixing something on the house. I had little time for my son.  My current life as is, was NOT working.
I walked by that nice house for a week. It was unoccupied so I could sneak in and peek through the windows and dream of better. I started to bond with the property it was on and one day, I sat in the field out back, in emotional agony. I needed a sign. I needed to know, should I do this? I held my head in my hands, and prayed.
“God, I need your help. I need a sign from you. Is this the place I need to be? Please give me SOMETHING to work with here! I can’t keep going downhill. I’m dieing inside. Please help me.”

All about me - a story of hope via

I got up and snooped around one last time. I came up to a barn in the back and knew, if I moved to this new place, that the barn would have to be for my biz for the house was too small. It was a barn that was revamped into an office already so it was in my eyes, perfect.  I desired to stick my head in that barn, to gain some perspective. Filled with hope, I went to the window and full knowing it would never open, I pushed on it anyway. And it freely slid right open… gasp!
I was so excited I nearly died that moment! I stuck my head in to get a grasp of the space and WHAM. The stench hit full force. How can this be?! It looked so nice and clean inside! I knew right then I could never work in a place that stunk that bad and disappointed, slid the window shut. And head for home.
I had to let go of the functional adorable cottage house dream and stay in MY place. So I cried.
And prayed.

Not 10 minutes later, I received a phone call. It was my neighbor Janette. She was so excited she could barely contain herself. She wanted me to come over right away to tell me something.

I went over and sat at her kitchen table. She shoved a brochure my way and I started to read. It was something to do with an extreme home makeover in her church. They were wanting to help someone in the community that needed reno help. I thought, COOL, as I just loved working with tools and get dirty, and asked,

“Do you want me to help?”
To which she replied, “No.”
“Well, what then?”
“I want you to accept this. This is for YOU. I nominated you and your name was chosen. We want to help you fix YOUR house if you’ll let us!”
I thought I was going to pass out.
Oh. And stubborn ol’ full of pride me, for the good of my sanity and son, said a very humble yes.
It was the hardest yes I’ve ever given.

All about me - a story of hope via

The first mission with my new friends was the back steps.

Little aluminum ladders are SO HEAVY! ๐Ÿ™‚

The church team started to build the very next day. I was woken up with the banging of my back stairway. I couldn’t get outside fast enough to help! A friend suggested I start up a blog to document the progress the church made on my house. Having NO idea how to blog, I googled how and fired up Our Extreme Home Makeover Experience
My first post is the letter from Janette HERE, dated April 2008. A day before my birthday.

All about me - a story of hope via

All about me - a story of hope via

All about me - a story of hope via

My work office ceiling downstairs

Walls torn out. Windows replaced. Roof installed. Electrical redone. Floors put in. Surreal. Absolutely surreal. The church, sponsorships and I shared the budget necessities but they provided the labor.

Truly a miracle from above.

But then we came to the kitchen, the last room left. There was no more sponsorship, offers, nothing. Except their help. They encouraged me to purchase a kitchen so they could support me with some labour. I took a very deep breath and took out another loan. And we went for it.

Kitchen before / All about me - a story of hope via
But the deal was, they wanted to give me more than simply replacing the ugly. They wanted to make my dreams come true. I reluctantly told them what I wished I could see happen.

Kitchen before / All about me - a story of hope via

And that was the removal of the walls so it could become an open floor plan… 

Rustic industrial farmhouse kitchen makeover with metal island

Rustic industrial farmhouse kitchen makeover with metal island

Rustic industrial farmhouse kitchen makeover with metal island

Rustic industrial farmhouse kitchen makeover with metal island
Take the kitchen tour HERE

And three amazing dream windows overlooking the back yard. So that’s what they did!

kitchen before

Rustic pallet wood sawhorse desk with large reclaimed wood office sign
From dining room to kitchen blog office

Bathroom with ladder towel holder via Funky Junk Interiors
I learned so much working on the house with the team. I did lots of drywall work, some plumbing, some electrical, painted everything you see, and even tiled the floors on my own. When the team left, my bathroom looked like the above. It was amazing!

But even that changed…

Bathroom after / All about me - a story of hope via

Bathroom after / All about me - a story of hope via

Bathroom after / All about me - a story of hope via

Salvage farmhouse bathroom makeover

As my abilities grew, I (as in all by myself!) upgraded the bathroom even more by planking my own ceiling, created a cool wall treatment, beefing up the window frame, and more. As time went on, the more I grew, the more I could do.

Imagination Corporation fireplace redo via
Friend Dan of Imagination Corporation felt my upstairs needed a nice focal point. So he and his team,  revamped the fireplace by adding cultured stone on top of the old brick. The stone was donated by Yarrow Hardware.

HERE is a post on how the fireplace was rebuilt.

Stone fireplace makeover with metal corbels and beefy faux wood mantel

And here is a sample of how I play with it today.

You can catch many more fireplace posts HERE


Our Extreme Home Makeover Experience

I haven’t focused on the house crew, however if you wish to see the inner workings of how the house became where it is today, there’s a whole lotta reading over at the Extreme blog. 2 year’s worth. ๐Ÿ™‚

They are the most wonderful group of people ever, and I’m ever so proud to call them my friends. And am so very grateful that this experience came my way.

However, this was apparently only the start. While I had a pretty home inside, I had a LOT of loans to pay off and work I wasn’t exactly loving any longer.

Right about then, a freak accident happened, which changed EVERYTHING yet again. In the most profound of ways imaginable.

Apparently my story was FAR from over…

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219 thoughts on “All about me – a story of hope

  1. Well that was just the coolest post to read Donna…I LOVE getting to know you more thru hear your story.

    Isn’t it so true that our best creativity is born of necessity? And isn’t there something surreal and ‘real’ about bringing back to life something that we’ve given up hope for? Like dreams, or junk, or crappy houses. They begin to change us in return.

    You are a living breathing example of someone who understands that we are blessed to be a blessing. Such a privelege to have someone like you in my life.


  2. up with the birds, eh girl … i just read this word for word .. most of it could be my story …the farmgirl …outdoor pets only … hubby leaves … etc …however, I got a new hubby with TOOLS … he shows me what and how ..and I love him for this …anything I suggest he tries .. his tools are not pink, altho husband #1 had pink tools ( if ya catch my drift)

    let’s chat …I’m in the midwest, too …
    love ya

  3. Thank you for sharing your story Donna. I actually read the whole post – and that is way beyond my normal blog attention span! You are an inspiration in many ways. Looking forward to tomorrow’s announcement.

  4. Thank you for sharing your amazing story.Isn’t it wonderful how certain people can come through for you so unexpectedly? I am so glad that it worked out (is working out)in the end and that you and your son have a happy home.

  5. Love this post and you sharing such a personal, yet inspirational side. How blessed you have become by staying strong and not giving up.
    I have a few of my own tools and will be improving my skills this year…and I do have a hubby…
    Living it up at Lakewood,

  6. I am crying reading this, don’t you love it when God gives you a “burning bush”. I love that GODS hand rebuilt your home for you. What a blessing you are, I am so thankful that you are willing to share this, it is so encouraging. I can’t wait to get to know you more, your work is amazing but your heart brings me back.

    Cha Cha

  7. Hi Donna,
    reading this post actually made me cry. Not because of the hard times though – because of your strength, determination and positive attitude. Last year was pretty tough for me and I can normally cope with anything but things just seemed to get on top of me so this post has given me encouragement and I thank you for that. Your home is gorgeous too!

  8. What a great story! It’s always nice to know where someone has been. I think everyone has been at some low a time or two. You are lucky to have had a great group of people for a support system. You are truly an inspiration to those that you can rise above and come out on top.

  9. Your strength is an inspiration to all women. What an incredible journey you have been on! Thank you for sharing your story. You could be the poster girl for a tool company – your gorgeous. All the best, Lori

  10. You have an amazing story and my prayer is that many who are struggling will find you and be inspired.

    I too am a graduate of the school of hard knocks (in fact I believe I have a PhD. ๐Ÿ™‚ but what didn’t kill me definitely made me stronger and so I wouldn’t change a thing.
    Be blesed.

  11. Donna, your story is such an inspiration. So many may have just given in to the sad circumstances and given up. Your strength and determination and positive attitude are amazing. Proof that we learn the most from the most difficult lessons in life and though at the time it may not seem like a blessing, most often, hard times bring the biggest blessings. Thank you for sharing so openly! In doing this, you will no doubt provide encouragement to many, many others!

  12. Donna, I read your blog often, but comment seldom — mostly because your posts can really hit me and I don’t even know what to say. Your Christmas one blew me away, I started a comment several times but couldn’t get the words down. Today is no different, but this touches me on so many levels (no jokes, please) that I couldn’t stay silent. Awesome, awesome, awesome post. Thank you for sharing, I read every single word. I’ve been renovating our homes for years and know my tools and love it! But, yes, it was because I had little choice. It’s not fun feeling like you are constantly struggling. And I do enjoy creating things from seemingly nothing. I’m also a believer in “signs” (the God kind, not necessarily the graphic kind) and God sent you a GOOD one. And in church Sunday a basket was passed and we could choose to pick from random paper stars with a word to focus on for the new year. My word: Prayer. God has definitely directed my path in unplanned ways too. Last year (and coming up this year), I had several speaking engagements where I was able to share my love of junk with a message of faith. It helps to bring in a little extra money as well as sharing what I do. It might be something to think about. Anyway, thank you for being so willing to share.

    p.s. I guess this “comment on steroids” makes up for all the times I didn’t comment.

  13. Wow, you’re an inspiration to all of us and what a story! You’ve had some back luck and been so lucky in other ways, thanks for sharing your story. 49!, never would have guessed that! ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. I love your story,, i’ve been following your blog for awhile now and I love it. Quotes are one of my favorite things.. and Dan’s is no exception.. I will be borrowing that for a craft project (with credit given of course).. You are truly an inspiration,, wishing you all the best in 2010.. cant wait to see whats coming. I’ll be here.

  15. Thank you so much for sharing. I love decorating blogs, but my favorite blogs also share a piece of the writers life. I feel like I truly know where you come from now. You’ve had an uphill battle, but it has made you stronger despite it. God has truly blessed you in so many ways! Your story brings tears to my eyes – God Bless you!

  16. Great story Donna. My life has run along very similar lines. I am divorced with two daughters.. mind you,they are older 18 and 21, but I’ve been divorced for 9 years, so they were smaller then. Had to rebuild my life. I’ve owned 2 homes since then. Am currently in a fantastic home that I’m sure the previous owners left when everything started to need repairs. Enter me. I love my money pit though. It will be fantastic one day. But one day at a time! I’m so glad things have turned around for you. You have the strength and determination to do that for yourself! I have worked my way up from virtually nothing as well. Feels good to accomplish much on my own.
    Congrats! You are definitely an inspiration to all single women out there!

  17. Beautiful post Donna. What an amazing life journey you have been on. I’m sorry for your hard times, but you’re right, you have truely been blessed. And what a wonderful blessing your son is. We’re almost the same age. I’m turning 48 this month. Somedays that feels old and some very young. One of my goals this is year is to run a half marathon with my dad who’s turing 70 today. Many more blessings to you and Happy New Year!

  18. What an inspirational story! You are proof positive that dreams do come true…with a lot of hard work. Thanks for sharing your wonderful story and beautiful home with us.

  19. I marked your blog in my favorites the first time I read it because it was more than a decorating blog. You are self-less, and real. It’s an act of giving when you open your soul the way you did to share your story. The bonus is sharing your knowledge and skills with us! I so look forward to checking in with you every day to see what else I can learn! God is good, and you are certainly one of his blessings!!

  20. I wish you would stop making me cry at work…LOL… your post touched me so much… this post has a very familiar ring to it… never give up Donna… I am going to be 55 next month and I couldn’t be happier as a single person (with a part time boyfriend that lives in another country) and it works for me… my marriage crumbled under my eyes and I chose to walk away with a 4 year old daughter and $13.00 in my pocket and no working skills or job… it was the best move I ever made and oh what a journey… I worked very hard to become the person I am today and I admire you so much for putting yourself out there and sharing your story. I had a saying like Dan that kept me going… “I felt sorry for myself because I had no shoes, until I saw a man with no feet” and I still live by those words today. God Bless you Donna and I hope and pray whatever you chose to do you will be happy.

    Hugs Deb

  21. What a truly beautiful blog post! You are one amazing and inspiring woman. I like others, read this post word for word and was deeply touched. My only wish right now is that we did in fact live closer so that we could have that cup of “coffee and oogle over my kitchen”.

    Thanks for sharing and blessings to you my friend.

  22. WOW! I really needed to read this today. It’s awesome how you can share your testimony of “GOD’S” timing being perfect!! And there being “POWER” in “PRAYER”,just when we think we can’t handle one more thing!! Thanks for being an inspiration to us! Many more “BLESSINGS”!!


  23. I gotta say I have tears in my eyes right what a time you had..God was Faithful! An amazing testimony of complete reliance in Him! Your friend was such a Godsend..your very fortunate! Your house is a gift…. wow!Thanks for sharing!

  24. I loved hearing how God has done great things for you. I was a single mom with four kids and I learned that I could do anything I set my mind to. I ripped out carpet, layed wood floors, cut and installed trim, removed old, creaky stairs and replaced them with wooden treads and more. I’m remarried now and my husband has a hard time with me being so independent. I have to sometimes ask for his help just so he feels needed.

  25. This is the first comment I think I’ve ever left on ANY blog and I read blogs (including yours) every day. You have truely touched me with this story. I am a single mom, and have struggled for years. I currently rent a house and know that I should buy, but am scared of exactly what you went thru and not having the funds for repairs. I keep telling myself that God will work everything out for me, as he always has, and after reading your amazing story-I think I finally believe myself. I adore your blog and everything you do, but I don’t think I can put into words how much your blog has touched me today. Thank you from the bottom of my heart

  26. Thanks everyone!

    After reading your comments so far, I realized I may have come across like all the wrong was done unto me throughout my entire life. We all have more to our stories and I’m no exception.

    But I will say, this story has brought me alot closer to my spirituality, which is something still pretty new for me. This story provides a ‘soft’ testimony of how one can reach out when in need. And if there’s a way I can help you or answer your questions in that regard, I’d like to try. ๐Ÿ™‚ My email is in my profile.

    One of my hardest things ever is accepting help from others. My pride can get in the way, however when you have up to 15 people working on your house on a given day because they WANT to, how can that story not touch you in some profound way?

    The fastest words I had to learn during this phase has been, ‘thank-you’, rather than, ‘no, it’s ok.’ So, thank-YOU. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Funky Junk Donna

  27. Thanks for the post. Something I needed to read right now. I am at a point in my life that I don’t know what is next. As my boys get older my mommy days are coming to an end and I need to figure out what to do with my life. I have always known it needs to be in a creative way and that is what I crave. I have been reading your blog for the last month or so and I have always related to you and your love of junk. I love to reuse and repupose things and make things beautiful on the cheap. Maybe I’ll send you some pictures of my repuposed junk! LOL, Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚ ~Anita

  28. Donna, here I am at work, reading your blog when I should be working. Overwhelmed because we have a house that has so many things that either look like you-know-what, don’t work or work in their OWN way, pay cuts, college tuition, anxious about taking my real estate exam next week (we need more income, so hopefully a broker will take me part time WHEN I pass), husband overwhelmed with work & home repairs – I may be sluffing off work, but I believe God led me here.

    YOU, ladybug, are my bestest friend today. Here I thought your life was perfect because you create such beauty, but it’s beauty from ashes. Thankyouthankyouthankyou. I pray you continue to receive great blessings, because you have blesssed.

  29. thanks for sharing such a wonderful story {your story}. i happened upon your blog and love it. i have forwarded it to my mom and brother who are just a crafty and amazing as you. i wish you nothing but the best in your upcoming endevors. i also wish you nothing but success in the coming year. have a wonderful day!

  30. I recently found your blog and I’m amazed at your courage, thank you for sharing your story and I look forward to your new series. If you have a minute stop by my blog and enter my giveaway. Take Care

  31. Donna,

    What a fabulous post! We (my husband and I) also have had so many ups and down with the uncertain film business here in Vancouver, probably more downs I would have to say. But what I love about the down times is that it it has made us so resourceful, it is amazing what has been born out of necessity. Often you are forced to take risks that you wouldn’t normally take when everything is feeling comfy. I love that!

    Thanks for sharing your story! A friend of mine once told me, “God doesn’t take anything away with out replacing it with something better.” I’m not entirely sure if that is true, but so far it has been in my life. I have learned to trust that something good will come out of the challenging times, and it always does.

    Looking forward to your announcement tomorrow!
    You have been so blessed and now you’ve become such a blessing to us!

  32. God truly works in amazing ways! How wonderful that he showed Himself so faithful to you. I was so in need of this post today. I have so many things that need fixing and updated around here, and my husbands work schedule is so not normal, that I need to learn to do more, so I can help w/progress. I have what I am feeling like is a totally ugly kitchen, and needing an update on a budget. We have had some large expenses this year that have held me back from making the commitment. Can’t wait to see what you have coming up next. Jackie

  33. Donna, what suprises me that despite your challenges, your determination, your ability to overcome, you still manage to find time to give back and be appreciative. You are an inspiration of strength and perserverance. I am so glad to be able to read your journey. Ana

  34. Very nice post.

    Don’t know what more I could write that hasn’t already been written, but on another note, I’m curious what theming company Dan owns.

    My “day” job is entertainment theming, so I’m curious….

    Would love to see some of your sign work as well.


  35. #48 Tina,

    Oops! Meant to link up to Dan’s website. I’ll do that now. Thanks! Here’s the direct url…

    and his ongoing journal (blog) on what he creates.

    I should also add, he knew what I was capable of and didn’t ALLOW me to say I can’t do it. Encouragement can go a looong way for those in need of it. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Among what I’ve done there:

    hand sculpted concrete
    buiilding frameworks for his creations
    fabricating of all kinds of faux creations
    faux painting of CNC routered signs and objects
    working with tools of all kinds
    stuck a bazillion lights on a candlelight parade float (LOL)

    FJ Donna

  36. You are an inspiration to strong women everywhere. I sometimes wish that I had the funds to buy everything I want for my apartment, but that wouldn’t really be any fun, would it? Thanks for reminding me.

  37. Thank you! I needed this read more than you will ever know! (more than I knew) I’m currently unemployed…worked at a pet hospital for 20 years. Have been down on myself trying to figure a few things out..looking for ‘signs’. Your words have given me Inspiration…thanks.

  38. Donna, I don’t know if I needed a good cry today but just had one after reading your story. Can you come over for coffee :)? Your strength and resilience is inspiring. Thank you for sharing your heart!


  39. Donna, your story touched my heart…. I was a single mommy for years before I married my sweet Andrew and adopted the girlies… I had 2 little boys to take care of and NO money. I left a beautiful custom built home and had to move into a 2 bedroom mobile home… I feel your pain… I ended up making that trailer as cute as it could be, but it still wasn’t my house…. I can still look back on those trials and smile…. God was using those circumstances to teach me some lessons about myself. This post made me just love you to pieces, and I can’t wait to see what your future holds….

    love and peace sista,

  40. What an amazing and heartwarming story, Donna. Thank you, thank you! You have shown that anything is possible. I want to read the other blog and catch up on the extreme makeover story. I’m not afraid of tools, but I have much to learn. My big project for the new year will be making built-in bookshelves for our den. I don’t know the first thing about it, but I figure I can learn. If at all possible when the time comes, can I run questions by you?


  41. Donna,
    I am so proud of you for taking the time and having the courage to share more of your story! What a blessing your story is to me as I sit looking at the future and wondering how in the world the bills will be paid. Your testimony will bless many. So excited to learn more from you :).

    Blessings girlfriend and nothing but blessings,

  42. Amazing story and testimony of God’s keeping power and timing. Even this post has been saved for such a time as this. You are the best, friend! Thanks so much for sharing, I love you even more now!

  43. Donna you are such an ispiration to so many people in so many ways! This post was great! I loved rewading it and am looking forward to getting to know even more about you down the bloggy road we travel on! Thank you for being the wonderful person that you are! AMAZING!

  44. A very wise man (and I’m totally paraphrasing)has said that God will allow us to go through hard trials becuase he thinks we are ready to grow some more.
    Thanks for being a great inspiration. I hope your business picks up soon. I know how you feel about not being able to do what you want to your house because of lack of funds. It can be a little frustrating. But I’m grateful for the many blessing we have. Nothing matters more in life. I’m sure you are a great mother, and that’s what matters most in this life. Your friend Dan has amazing talent! I just checked out his website. Thanks again for your wonderful blog. You are truley gifted!

  45. Wow, what an amazing story, and yes indeed – very inspirational. I’m sure it hit many of us, as it did myself, at such a good time. Thank you for such an uplifting read.

  46. You’ve reminded me of a hard time I went through, being alone, broke, raising two kids, etc. I found a book called something like, “A Woman’s Guide to Household Repair”. I was so shocked to find that I could do some of the things I learned to do. Since those days, I’ve married (25 years now) a man who builds custom homes, and is, let’s say, a lot more of a perfectionist than me. I’m happy with that, but I am totally admiring your spirit! Great friends you have!

  47. Aw, Donna, darn it, you’ve RUINED my mascara. And I was soo proud of myself for actually putting makeup on today…:)
    Thanks so much for sharing your story, you are so inspiring, and I for one, am in awe of your strength.

  48. Thanks for sharing your story. I have loved seeing your home projects on your blog and you made me cry with your heartfelt history. It is wonderful to read a reminder that there is a bigger plan for each of us than we can imagine for ourselves. You are an amazing woman and I would love to learn how to do even a snippet of what you are now capable of.

  49. I’m at such a crossroads in my life right now, and your post brought me to tears and gave me the strength that I need. Thank you soooooo much for sharing your story. Sometimes we can feel like we’re all alone in our pain. But then it’s moments like this that we realize we have so much to offer others with our stories. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  50. So I commented when I first read this post but it looks like it vanished! I wanted to say thank you for sharing your story with all of us. I love read ing your blog and I love that it all reminds me of home. I grew up in Mission B.C. and seeing your photos makes me smile!

  51. What an awesome story!! Thank you so much for sharing that with us. I couldn’t stop reading. I was enthralled. I shed a tear when I read about the home makeover project. It made me think of the extreme home makeover on tv. I always get weepy eyed watching good people get something good done for them for a change. And I’m glad for you too. You so deserved it! And now look at cha! Wow!! Love your blog. Love learning more and more about you along the way.

  52. Donna, Words cannot express what your story has done for myself and many others reading it. I so feel like I am walking the tight-rope of life. The bills keep coming, the husband loses yet another trucking contract, unpaid time off over the holiday for myself. I guess your words are meant to shed some light at this given time for so many who feel like they are struggling. There IS always HOPE! I thank you for your inspirational message. I always have and will continue to call your blog “my home away from home”. Thank you!

  53. I tried posting on here several times last night, but my internet kept going out. So, I’m back today to say what a wonderful story you’ve shared. I know that you’re an insiration to so many, and I know that you will have a prosperous year with all of your new ventures.

    You know how I feel about your talents, and what I’ve said behind the scenes has been with utmost sincerity. I truly believe in you and can’t wait to hear about all of your successes this year.

  54. Life does have it’s little surprises. We are tested in more ways than we can ever imagine. It’s scary when you realize your living a very bad dream.

    It’s how we handle all the obstacles and move forward that counts. Most of the time we’re too busy surviving that we forget how to live.

    I know how this blog inspires you because my website does the same thing for me. I’m having a lot of fun finding creative people like you. People that have the same interest and are willing to share their talents and secrets.

  55. This is Dan – Donna’s friend and neighbor. I enjoyed reading Donna’s story – even though I’ve watched it for real as she has lived it for the last years. Believe me the reality was a LOT tougher than she lets on in her story. And yet she came through it all in an amazing way.

    I have nothing but respect for single moms who have to do it all in life and often very much on their own. I couldn’t even imagine how tough that must be. I have been blessed with a wonderful partner, Janis,in both business and life. We’ve been married a little more than 35 years. She provides the balance in my life in every way imaginable.

    I like to surround myself with positive people, folks who don’t let their circumstances (no matter how bad) define who they are or what they are capable of. Donna is such a person. I’m proud to call her friend.

    I believe Donna will do some pretty amazing things in the coming years. I’ll be watching a few blocks away with great interest. I’ll also be here when she needs a little encouragement or a tool of some kind. I know too that when I need a helping hand she will be the first in line. That’s what friends do.


  56. I just loved reading your story Donna. I was drawn to your blog last year because of the cool stuff you made and the fact that you are a fellow Canuk helped too! Although I do not comment often, I read you all the time. This is shaping up to be a great year. Cheers!

    PS: I may be way off base but did you work at Eaton’s?

  57. I would like to post a comment about Dan’s post above. To have a friend such as Donna and yourself is just a dream in mine and my husbands lives presently. We live in a community lacking faith (in most anything), high divorce rates, high number of suicides and my husband and I fear for our younger generation. As we semi struggle to make ends meet, keep jobs in this hard hit economy, and keep a home, we long for POSITIVE friendships with others who may or may not be facing the same tribulations.
    Finding Donna’s blog was a very good thing to say the least. I find her inspiring and graciously fun. She has inspired me to take on more than I ever dreamed I could possibly do on my own as a woman. She was, until this post, my secret angel friend. I feel comfort every time I read her post. I feel excitement every time I follow her tips and make something beautiful in our home.
    She is very fortunate to call YOU friend. Your post was so genuine and your words regarding your wife (“I have been blessed with a wonderful partner, Janis,in both business and life. We’ve been married a little more than 35 years. She provides the balance in my life in every way imaginable”) brought tears to my eyes. This is the way my husband and I feel about one another. We remind each other on a regular basis, not that we have to, but, we want to.
    Your belief in Donna’s abilities is so touching. You must realize too, it is friends like you, your wife and the wonderful support system she has had around her which helped to guide her and encourage her to create a beautiful life so full of love, creativity and passion.
    I think I’ve probably said enough……why must I always write a full novel about everything ๐Ÿ˜‰
    However, you BOTH deserve to hear what you not only do for each other, but others as well.

  58. What an amazing story about life, love, and overcoming obstacles! I hope you wake up each morning and look in the mirror and see someone who you are so proud of!

    Thank you for sharing your story!

    Kat ๐Ÿ™‚

  59. I think there are so many out there including myself who needed to hear a story like yours. It’s encouraging for people to hear other’s stories and know that they are not alone! Thanks for sharing it. Nothing like a some down time to get down home on some decorating!

  60. Your story is so very happy making. It excites me that you could make such a cute, comfortable, chic, cozy, cottage (the 5 Cs). I love you projects and your story truly inspires me. Thank you so much for sharing.

  61. I believe everything happens for a reason. We don’t always know why things happen the way they do. But if the bad things didn’t happen (failed marriages, jobs ending, etc.) we would not learn and grow. Sometimes we need a big push in the right direction. Been there too. Being a strong woman (and you ARE a strong woman)is not something we set out to be. We just keep getting up when we get knocked down. It’s obvious by the comments that you have touched many lives with your candidness. Keep getting up.

  62. What an amazing, inspirational life story Donna! As a frustrated artist myself you make me want to do something about that and be creative! I have no excuses! When you were talking about the area you were moving to, I thought it sounded like home to me, and sure enough it was! In fact, I just drove past the Imagination Corporation on Saturday. You have a very pretty spot there to create, keep it up!

  63. Donna, I am so proud of you. I know I just read your blog etc. But this story (your Life) is so inspiring. That’s the reason to be proud of a new blogger friend. I am so tickled for you to be on so your think you can decorate. I love yur vision.
    smiles, alice

  64. Donna,
    Thanks for your inspiring story. Our family went through a financial meltdown recently and it has left us with tears & our hope hanging on by a thread. I needed this blog today…I needed to be reminded God hears me. I needed to be reminded that it is ok to dream for something better and ask for help when it is needed. I am so glad that your prayers were answered & that good, kind people showed up as God’s hand to help you. I love that you have courage & that you can be strong even when you feel weak. I too am a thrifty mama (having been a single mom for 13 years will do that) and I love antique hunting, garage sales, thrifting, finding “funky junk” as you call it. We may not be rolling in money but that doesn’t mean we aren’t wealthy ๐Ÿ˜‰
    I look forward to your blogs!! Thanks for your lessons–I am gonna love being a tool woman arh arh haha!
    <3 Cynthia

  65. Hello, I have just discovered your blog and am delighted to find such an inspiring lady, as yourself. Your home is lovely and your friends and neighbors are so special. What a blessing. Apparently God wanted you right where you and your son are. Lovely story. Thank you for sharing it.
    I am your newest follower.

  66. I loved reading your blog, it is wonderful seeing God in your life. As I read the comments they answered one of my own questions…did you hitch up with Dan? He sounds like a great friend. It sure seems as if there are lots of stories out in this world to be told. We all have ours and many good and bad things going on. The only thing that keeps me going and wanting to continue is God. I want only what He wants in my life, good as well as bad.
    Thanks for sharing and I love your creativity!

  67. Wow Donna – I needed a break from my day job and read your blog – about me – you inspire me!!!!!!!! I have had a marriage for 17 years that stunk and then just found out a few months ago that the guy was gay – explains a lot – anyway I am sorting out my life at 48 and after reading your life I believe I may just be able to come out of this alive and have fun!!!!!!
    lots of love and hugs


  69. I found your blog while surfing the net a few weeks ago, but just now had some time to cruise around.

    I love your style and your sense of humor. In reading your story I laughed and cried. I think that you must be a truly amazing person.

    I live a boring 3 bedroom 3 bath ranch in a small town. This house is an EXACT copy of every house in the subdivision. I live here with my husband and 2 small sons…I am so tired of bland/boring walls with no character…so I am going to borrow some of your inspriation, style (which ROCKS) and the know how that you share in you and your friends share and try and “liven” up my home!

    Thank you for sharing your story. I can’t wait to be able to link up to!

  70. Donna, what a wonderful story…I truly love happy endings, and I feel that all along your path has been leading you to where you are right now. I’m very happy for you! I think that the story will continue to progress, however. This time we’ll be able to witness the second chapter with you!

  71. Love that fireplace redo. We have the most plain blah fireplace in the world. It’s right on the floor with just ceramic tile surrounding it and piece of thin wood for a mantle. Your redo is exactly what I have envisioned. I wonder how we do the floor part, since there is no step up. So nice getting to know you a little;)

  72. Wow what a story…goodness I could relate on a few levels being divorced a few years ago and having to restart life and budgeting…this article is very inspiring and I commend you on trying something new everyday,I love that!!!

  73. Wow, Donna…I’m sitting here with tears running down my cheeks!

    Since I found your site just a couple of weeks ago, you have been a great artistic & decorating inspiration to me, giving me a push to complete some projects that have been on hold for a while.

    Now add personal inspiration as well.

    Thank you for sharing your story. It hits home for me, since I’m going through a divorce and trying to balance working full time, supporting a too-expensive house, and trying to figure out what approach to take financially in a bad housing market & bad economy, plus still stay upbeat and take care of my kids. (And dare I add trying to blog and still find some creative time for myself?!)

    The story of your extreme home makeover reminds me that there are still so many good and kind people out there in the world, willing to share their gifts with others.

    Thanks, Donna!

  74. God is so good, isn’t he? Thanks so much for sharing this story. It’s so nice to “meet” you. I’ve only just stumbled onto your blog, but am definitely a follower now. ๐Ÿ™‚

  75. This is a wonderful and inspiring story. I want to put your link on my sidebar so I don’t lose track of you. Is that okay. I am at
    My house needs so much work and I just don’t know where to turn, but I think finding you will be a good thing. So, I hope to see you again soon, and certainly invite you to my blogspot as well.

  76. Hi Donna:
    i do not know how I got here, to your blog, but I just finished reading your story and tears are running down my face. How great. Life happened to you and what a life : )
    How nice to read bout you hear how you grew and are growing. I know your son is super proud of his Mom!!!
    Now I have to get back to your home page so I can follow and keep up with your adventures.
    Peace & love

  77. HI Donna…We only love a few miles apart! Thank you for sharing your story and for inspiring me. I have my own story and although I love my life now I am thankful the trip got me here….
    God is always faithful.
    Thank you …Colleen

  78. Well, Donna…after reading your story…your life…I feel as though I know you, at least, a little bit.
    The important stuff, like, your heart and your determination regardless of what this life may throw at you.
    For this…I am thankful.
    Thank you for sharing what you have, so far.
    I look forward to keeping up with the rest.

    Take care sis (I feel like it is okay to call you sis)….isn’t it ?

    Until next time, take care!

  79. wow! donna! that is some awesome story! God is awesome- He gives us what we need, when we need it. it is a blessing to be forced to use our God given creativity, i feel the same way, if i had more money or different circumstances- would i be as creative? thank-you so much for sharing your story, i had a lump in my throat the whole time i was reading it- not for sadness, but for God’s grace and provision for you and your son! God bless you and your son! thanks for sharing your creativity w/ us!

  80. Hi Donna, I finally found you again!! I was so happy when I went out looking that I did. I have missed reading your post, and I just read this beautiful story. I have been on a very, very similar path as yours. I was really feeling sorry for myself today and then read your post which gave me the words I needed to hear. God has been very comforting to me as well. I was laid off almost 5 months ago, I feel like it was meant to be. After being laid off twice in 2 years and working as a secretary for almost 30 years I felt like he was telling me “this line of work is killing your creativity!” (at least that is how I see it ๐Ÿ˜‰
    I started back to school (photography) and I just know it will all work out. I am so glad I found your blog again. When I was laid off I didn’t get to copy my “favorites” off my computer. hehe

    Thanks for the lovely story, I feel like I truly know you now. Take care, Valerie

    ps: what happened with your shed? Did you get it finished?

  81. Wow. I am in tears, reading your story. How amazing, inspiring, and encouraging! I absolutely believe in the power of prayer! thank you so much for sharing so much of yourself…it makes me want to visit everyday. I love what you do, and hope to learn a lot from you ๐Ÿ™‚ I am new to blogging, and new to repurposing old things, so I’ve got lots to learn!!! Thank you again!!

  82. Well Donna, I’m a little late to the party, just recently discovered your blog and now after reading this uplifting and emotional story of yours, I guess you could say I’m a LOYAL follower now! You have a most amazing story and are truly blessed to be able to share it with people you don’t even know! But I want to thank you for inspiring me, because I too love thrifting, junking and decorating, but since marrying my Husband 10 years ago, we have moved 12 times! All for his desire to move up the corporate ladder, only to have that ladder come crumbling down on us TWICE (the last time losing not one BUT two of our homes!) But I stand beside him, picking up our boots and dusting them off. But I still dream of my own little piece of heaven, a few acres with a little menagerie and a place where the kids can run free. Thank you for reminding me that it’s never too late for dreams to come true!

    Big Hugs to you,

  83. Donna, I have been reading your blog for a while and I thought you lived in Texas but the scenery didn’t look like any place I knew in Texas so I decided to check out your profile.

    Wow, what a touching, beautiful, hopefilled story. Nothing touches like the hand of God, nothing hits the spot like He can. And nothing can hold back the spirit of someone who seeks God’s guidance.

    I am hooked and reeled in. You have me, your can do spirit has me, your ability to communicate clearly has me. I am so inspired by you and I can not thank you enough.

  84. I read this along time ago when I was lurking about and hadn’t started my blog yet. You touched me by your story as we had quite a few things in common. The main thing is that you are able to articulate emotions and feelings and you convey hope and positivity. You are like the Rocky of Blogland! You will be all that you set out to be, like Dan said. I believe in anyone who believes in themselves.You are an inspiration..old and tired you have heard it before, but it is the truth Donna!

  85. Donna, you and I would be best friends, we are much alike. Good for you and for your friends and last but not least God. Keep that hammer ready girl. ๐Ÿ™‚

  86. Hola Donna, I feel so happy for you, and for the answer from Above, you are really blessed and what you share is great and I love so much to see you working with the tools and redoing your furniture and so many else. I think I have found great inspiration in your wonderful blog… thank you so much.
    Greetings from Chile,
    maria cecilia

  87. Wow! Love this post – so awesome. A lot of women can relate to this story – single mom all alone having to rebuild. My story too and my mothers. Let’s hope not my daughters. I found my prince charming – I hope you find yours – or I suspect he might be that son of yours!

  88. Donna,
    While searching for “Shabby Chic” ideas I found your blog. I too grew up on a dairy farm. I love turning a flea market find into something beautiful and useful. I love log houses and my life seems to be totally connected with these rustic structures. I own an old 1850s log cabin that I use for a country getaway. I’m now trying to find ideas on converting one or two bedrooms of my log cabin home into a country inn, thus the reason for looking for shabby chic ideas. I live from pay check to pay check. It is a struggle to do what I want to do on my small salary. However, your blog, your inspiration, your zest for life has left me with a new outlook on life. I have been so blessed to have found your inspirational blog. God bless you in all that you do.
    Judy Mullins from Kentucky

  89. Wow…what a inspiration you are! What a great story. I pays to never give up. That’s what I keep telling my daughter who has no motivation. I should get her to read your story.


  90. I enjoyed reading this honest post, Donna. I can relate to feeling so overwhelmed and unsure. I’m there now after a series of unfortunate events and a house that needs so much work, is so NOT me, blah, blah. Blogging has been such a wonderful, creative outlet for me and has connected me with some truly talented (and fun) gals like you. I’m still a tad unsure but I really feel like I’m doing what I’m ‘supposed’ to be doing. Your story had such a happy ending and with all your talents, will soon be a fairy tale ending for sure.

    Thanks for sharing your inspiration,

  91. Donna!

    You are incredible! Thank you for posting this! I have read your blog for quite some time and just stumbled across this. I really feel like I know you! ๐Ÿ™‚ Blogging buddies! I also wanted to thank you for all of your tutorials and how-to posts! Everything you do is truly “Funky” and FUN!

    Mallory @ Classy Clutter

  92. Thanks for this post…I loved it and feel so inspired by your story. I just started a blog(I have 2 posts!) and hope some day to count you as a blogging friend:) I just made a sign with the quote “She didn’t know it couldn’t be done, so she went ahead and did it.” It reminds me of you:)

  93. You are an amazing woman…mother…creator…and most of all, inspiration. I just found your site tonight and it’s going to take a month to see it all and take it in! You need to write a book! Your sense of humor and timing is fantastic! Thank you! Lori

  94. Thank you so much for sharing from the heart and truly inspiring so many: including me. You have a wonderful positive attitude, and I am glad to have found you. I will be back to learn!

  95. Donna,

    I WAS too tired and then I came upon this post and so enjoyed hearing your story. Thank you so much for sharing it.

    Back in my “old” life when I had a 9 to 5 job I was traveling overseas and had to take out some clients. There was a man who was indirectly related with our company and we ended up talking most of the night (really, just talking – we are both happily married!). He said something to me that night that has stuck in my head and I have turned to so many times. “Do something everyday that scares you.” When I first started my business 6 years ago I actually managed to track him down and contacted him and had such a great conversation with him. The funny thing is he said he just mentioned me to someone a week before and we had not seen each other or spoken in many years. Your story solidified for me that first pushing yourself beyond the barriers we have for ourselves is priceless and two, we never know the power of the other forces in our lives that make things come together and fall in place. Your story of asking for direction and getting it so clearly is amazing and truly valuable. Thank you so much for sharing it!


  96. Well, must know by now that you are pretty much my hero..after reading this book of yours, you’ve moved up more notches on my “hero ladder.”
    You are truly an amazing young lady and I am very proud to blog with you.

    I enjoyed reading all the info on your life.And, I am totally in love with your cute kitchen.
    Good good luck with your business and thank God every single day for that boy of yours.:))

  97. Wow. I’m so glad I read the whole story. Very inspiring. God was with you all the way. I remember praying when i was a teenager – Lord, if you want me to be a nun, then, let me see a rose (I think it was a rose) sometime today. Guess what? No rose. Now, four kids later, I know that becoming a nun was not for me, that He had other plans.
    Have a wonderful New Year. Linda


    Your blog is one of the reasons my creativity as kicked in! It is so much fun!

    Thanking the Lord for you!

  99. I just found your blog today. The timing could not have been more perfect. I am in a huge transition in my life and this is so inspiring. Thank you for sharing your journey. Your words have poured into this empty vessel..empty from pouring and pouring and pouring into others.

    Bless you.

  100. Donna, just found you and I’m so glad I read your story. Your blog is amazing, but I believe God made YOU amazing as well! I pray that you will have eyes to see Him working in your life every day and give Him glory for how He has gifted you and provided for you.

    I follow Christ, and now I’m following your blog, too!

  101. I haven’t even looked at how old this blog is and maybe it’s new, but I have a story so much like yours of poor desperation to spun creativity. People ask me all the time how I can be so creative…it literally came from wanting what I couldn’t afford and making whatever ‘it’ was. Now I can afford almost anything, but I choose to make it instead. A proud creative outlet. Forge on to a full life and I will come along for the ride. Terry

  102. I just read your post “all about me , a story of Hope”. I have somewhat of a similar story myself. I am just rediscovering myself at 48 yrs old after raising 3 children on my own. MY house is far from perfect and I too do a lot myself. You have no choice… throughout the years I have purchased and built up my power tools. It feels great to be able to say I did this all on my own. This summer I have plans to complete my deck. When I fall I dust myself off and get right back up again. I will follow your posts and learn. Great motivational post.

  103. I am crying reading this, don’t you love it when God gives you a “burning bush”. What a blessing you are, I am so thankful that you are willing to share the ups and the downs with us all. You are an inspiration and the Lord is using you mightily! I am along on this journey with you! Blessings my friend!

  104. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful story of your journey. It is great to read about God’s blessings and to get that nudge we all need to remind us that there is always hope. You are such an inspiration.

  105. What a wonderful story of courage and faith. You are an inspiration to all women and I am so glad I read this because I too believe YOU CAN!

  106. Thank you so much for sharing your story. You are truly inspirational, and your son is so lucky to have you. Looking forward to exploring the rest of your site now!


  107. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful story. You are my inspiration and you show that you can do anything in life if you want it badly enough and attempt to do it. Looking forward to you sharing more of your endeavours with me.
    Thanks again Donna:)

  108. For some reason I am only now getting around to reading your story and it brought tears to my eyes. It takes a strong person to succeed under what must have seemed like hopeless conditions. And it takes grace to accept the help of others.
    Thanks for telling your story, I am very inspired by your struggles and your successes.

  109. HEY Ms Donna, I’m so HAPPY to have found your blog; ignored everything else in my life today, sipped several cups of coffee, and spent a most DELICIOUS time here! Your spirit is infectious and inspirational lady!! I wish you WELL. My own blog is brand spankin’ new, and you’re already on my blog roll! I’ll visit often. Blessings to you and your precious boy. Deborah (in Nova Scotia)

  110. Well – I’m a little over a year late to this post {but then again, I didn’t even think about blogging until late 2010.} What a true inspiration you are with your faith, your strength, and your unwavering perseverance! I can see that your story has touched so many hearts and lives as it has mine. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m like many of the other comments, linking to your party and enjoying your adventures and creations but never knew your story. You are my hero and how blessed is your son to have such a strong Mom?

  111. I’m fighting tears right now. I just read your story. If you read my blog, you know how important my faith is to my life. To see someone else so touched by our Awesome God’s loving hand is enough to give me goosebumps (literally)! What a blessing to have a blog buddy out there who is setting such a great example for not only her son, but for all who read your blog. Thank you for taking the time to tell your story:) Blessings!

  112. Wow, and wow. I needed to read this story tonight. I knew you were one tough cookie, but I had not read the whole story. What an amazing journey you have had. Now you give back so much through your blog and all the information you give to so many. You are definitely doing something right in life and I bet your son will grow up to be an amazing kid too because he has seen what someone can do with faith and determination and the goodness of others. Have a great night, can’t wait to read what you have in store next. -K

  113. Donna,
    Thankyou for sharing your story! You amaze me on your determination to learn to do things yourself. It is so good to catch up with you and where u are these days.

  114. Dear Donna,

    Like you. my mom’s marriage had a very abrupt end. And also like you, my mom was very attractive and could have easily remarried. But (again, like you) she chose to focus on her children (and secondly, her career). As I child, I felt bad that my mom didn’t remarry. I assumed that my mom needed a husband in order to truly be happy.

    But as an adult, I am so thankful for her devotion to me and my four siblings. The divorce was hard on us, but thankfully, she didn’t make things more complicated with a new guy.

    I am so touched by how close you and your son are – in so many ways you remind me of how my mom interacted with us – she was so proud of us, supportive of us. And she showed me that happiness is not only found in a picture-perfect marriage. You can be happy by being a creative, strong, godly, confident woman.

    Now that I am an adult, and a wife, I find that more and more, I admire the strength that my mom demonstrated to us kids. My marriage is solid, but my true confidence is in the Lord, and I think it makes me a better mom to feel this way.

    Donna, your blog is very inspiring. You are a hard-working, beautiful, strong person. Your son is blessed beyond measure to have you all to himself. I am certain that he feels so secure, in spite of the past. God bless your beautiful family! In Christ, Ngozi

  115. Wow…that was powerful. I recently started following your blog and enjoy it immensely but I will look at it in a whole new way. I am truly inspired by your strength and perseverance. I am always amazed and how God leads us where we need to go….right now I am wandering a bit and I’m so glad I was lead to read this post. I need to stop moping about and get to creating more and see where it takes me. Thanks for the inspiration.

  116. That…was a heartwarming story. Thanks for sharing because most people don’t. I hadn’t truly taken the time to read your story and had just looked at your “stuff”. So glad I did, because now it’s personal and I’ll be so proud of everything you do, even though I don’t know you! P.S…I lived in BC, on the island, for 3yrs when I was 19 and it is sooo beautiful…you are blessed!

  117. Thank you. For sharing. I clicked over after reading your closet post cuz I figured it was time to get to know you better. I needed to read this today.

    It’s true – if it wasn’t for the poor economy, I wouldn’t be blogging, or creating wall decals out of my paintings – both dream jobs. Which, for right now, are labors of love rather than money-making ventures. But that’s okay.

    The point of all this is – I needed to read your story of inspiration today. So thank you.

  118. Great Job!! I really like your stuff. I am making you white gate right now. It is now laying on my kichen table ready for the hinges.
    Im so happy it has all worked out for you and you son. I enjoyed reading about your life.
    Thank you for sharing.

  119. Wow! I read your story last year, when I was just discovering blogging, and I was deeply touched and inspired. In fact, it was probably one of the first I read, didn’t really know what blogging was or how to comment, being brand new on the computer Then I followed you, from time to time checking out your posts. Today I reread your story and I am so impressed. It is the end of a really difficult year for me. I lost my home of 10 years, had to relocate with no money. But I feel that God provided for me when I found a 1973, very inexpensive mobile home where I am safe and near my daughter’s. I’ve made the best of it and I thank God every day for my humble new home. I am strangely at peace, because of your example and encouragement.
    Even reading the many comments on your blog today was also uplifting! There are so many wonderful, talented, caring people out there supporting and helping, and sharing with each other.
    I know I will be okay, that all things are possible, and I must be grateful for whatever I have and keep on moving forward, doing my best, trusting that things will get better. I must remember what’s really important and keep living a joyful, hopeful, loving life. Being content no matter what my circumstance, knowing that everything happens for a reason.
    Thank you for sharing your story of hope and may you be abundantly blessed in the New Year!

  120. Because of you and your wonderful blog, I am getting a barn tomorrow! I discovered a wonderful old barn on craigslist. The owner is giving it away for free to whoever will tear it down and remove it. My wonderful husband has wrangled some friends and borrowed a trailer to give me this wonderful wood and tin! Not sure what all I will do with it, but you can take credit for giving the inspiration!

  121. The beauty of a human spirit shines throughout your story. Amazing! Your son is so lucky to have you as his creative mom! ๐Ÿ˜‰ and you are so fortunate to have some fabulous neighbors and friends! You have so much spunk and energy! Happy New Year!

  122. Donna, I have loved your ideas on FB for some time now, used some of them and even added to a couple of them. Tonight I read your story and now I will look at everything you do with an even greater respect. Think I even have a little more confidence in myself too now! Think YOU are my new HERO! May GOD continue to BLESS YOU!!!

  123. Donna I don’t know how I came across your blog and I never ever read bio’s… but something lead me to read yours. What an inspiring story would make for a great movie/book maybe that should be on your list of things to do. I really enjoy your blog and look forward to it! Be blessed as much as you have blessed others. Peggy C

  124. Thank you for sharing your story, Donna. I admire single moms who have pulled themselves up, brushed themselves off and then shown the rest of what can still be achieved. Being a single mom and a successful business owner is an impressive combo. I’m still working on the successful part but, thank you for your inspiration and for sharing your talent!

  125. This story made my heart sing, Donna. Even though I know God works for our good through the toughest of circumstances, it is still encouraging to hear it first hand. Best wishes to you and your son-may your lives be filled with sunshine and good times. ๐Ÿ™‚

  126. What an amazing (and at times, sad) story. I am truly sorry for the loss of your marriage. But SO glad for your attitude that has allowed you to shine on and find the path that you are on! What an inspiring story!

  127. I have been following you on FB for a couple of months now,, which led me to your blog. I am not very computer savy, as far as blogs go but, have stored yours in my favorites!! I check on you almost daily to see whats new,not really new… Re used, re purposed, re cycled. Such great ideas and inspiration. What a wonderful story I just read about you, thank you for sharing

  128. I love reading your posts about how your house used to be and how it’s now… I purchased a cottage after a break-up… And everything needs to be redone! I’m only at the beginning of the process, but I’ve already learnt so much about houses, diy and myself! There are tough moments and also sweet ones, even in a very unfinished house. Your story is truly a story of hope for others!

  129. Donna, thank you so much for sharing your story. I just finished my morning devotion and a verse that sticks in my head is “for when I am weak, I am strong” . Although my circumstances are different from what you experienced, When you said that you were looking for a “place to call home” I had an AHA moment. Anyway, God bless you my friend….you are much appreciated

  130. Donna,

    Oh. My. God. LOVE your designs. And your blog. AND your story. And hearing about how youโ€™ve overcome so many obstacles right now at this point of my life has been very, VERY inspirational.

    Iโ€™m about to be laid off from a company Iโ€™ve worked with for twelve years in Bosnia, Afghanistan, Ottawa and most recently the Alberta oils sands. Rather than try to find another well paying job here Iโ€™ve decided to go home make a huge career leap from office work to carpentry. I donโ€™t have anything lined up yet but Iโ€™m gonna make it happen. I attended Jay Shaferโ€™s workshop in California last February and will be building this tiny house, and I already know Iโ€™ll be building at least six pieces from your tutorials. I canโ€™t wait!


    Anyway, thereโ€™s so much Iโ€™m going to learn from your website but for now Iโ€™d just like to ask you: who designed your website?? I wouldnโ€™t be surprised if you built it yourself (seriously, is there anything you CANโ€™T do?), and whether you have or havenโ€™t, would you have any tips on how to create an awesome header like you have? Iโ€™m originally from Newfoundland and will be pulling my tiny house on wheels to a gorgeous piece of land my father left my sister and me in Trinity Bay once itโ€™s built. I would like to incorporate a fishing net and a polaroid of my tiny house on my website home page much like you have your clipboard and notes.

    I know you must be busy and I may just have lots (and LOTS) of time to work on my carpentry and website skills depending on how the job hunt goes, so there is no rush.



  131. Donna! Wow! I just discovered your blog and love it! I love your story and hung on every word. You sure have had your challenges and look at you now! I love your home and I love, love, repurposing what someone else might consider junk! God really does hear our cries for help and the makeover story of how your house became a home is inspiring! So glad that you got your dream of being a mom! Mine never did come true but thank god my husband had a son so now I’m a grandmother of three! My step-son was 6 when my husband and I married almost 30 years ago. We’ve been in our home for over 20 years and it’s still a work in progress. Can’t wait to read through all the stories on your blog and see all the creations you’ve come up with! Your persistence and hard work has definitely paid off!

    Since being diagnosed with a genetic heart condition last year (that has caught-up with my energy level) I’m not able to do much hard intensive labor but I do what I can. My dear husband helps me with any of the heavy stuff and all the painting of the walls but I can still paint furniture! I retied from working at a large prestigious university last year and am now doing more creative things (something I should have done all along) I love painting, sewing,gardening and photography! Your story is a good one so I’m going to follow along and see all the projects and creative things that you come up with! I would love to learn sign painting! I was looking for classes but couldn’t find any. Any ideas? I live in Michigan. Keep inspiring us all with your creativity!

  132. Ummm…. and then what? I was reading along and then you said something devastating happened that singlehandedly changed your world forever … and it ended. What do I click on to keep reading, please. Amazing story, love how you write, so glad you got your “new” home.

  133. I am enthralled with your story, Donna. I have been following your projects for at least a year now. But I’ve never happened upon your actual story until now. I found myself here from the link in today’s post. I must tell you that I really needed to read this right now! Thank you ever so much for sharing this.

    I’m continuing the story next, but also wanted to say how lucky you are to have Dan as a friend! I have mentioned before that I’m in the sign business at my day job and his work is definitely something I’ve familiar with for the past however many years I’ve been in this industry through Signcraft Magazine. It’s completely amazing and so interesting to know that you have also been a part of that amazing work! What a small world it really is…

  134. your story made me cry, filled me with hope, and thrilled to hear how the church rose up and did such an amazing thing. your home is a daily reminder of that love, compassion, and honesty we all look for. Enjoy every moment!! You so deserve it!!

  135. Boy – you are some kinda gal:)! And by the way – I would have loved to have worked with people like you in my past jobs – great initiative and drive (non-existent where I worked) a joy to be around people like you.

    But I have to say – I didn’t think your house looked awful before – I really didn’t. Your kitchen before is twice he size of mine and your bathroom is way better than mine – all before the makeover.

    Truly – I would be thrilled with the house before. I love my little house – but it needs a TON of work and I still love it:)

    You are an inspiration – my best wishes to you and your family!

  136. Tammy I found your blog maybe a month ago and I am now just reading your story…. balling my eyes out…!! Didn’t even finish yet. I’m at the part where you show the pool hopefully it’s not what came to my mind… but oh my goodness for you to get such a opportunity to have the Extreme Makeover…wow…and to get the chance to learn how to use all of those tools and such.. I would love to do that..!!Ok going to continue reading…

    • Donna, I’m sorry for some reason I thought your name was Tammy. I follow a few people and didn’t relize that until after I posted my comment that I put that
      Going back to finish reading..

  137. Loved your story! My story is similar but different. Lol. I’m learning to do a lot on my own because of my husband’s illness. I love your blog because we have very similar taste.

    • Wow! What an uplifting story. Going through tough times myself and probably going to have to sell a house I love for something smaller. Fortunately I have some skills and lots of tools to fix about anything, so I should be OK.

      I found your site looking for camping tips. My retirement plan (10 years from now)is to buy a camper and hit the road until I can’t drive any more.

      Keep posting. You are an inspiration.

  138. Donna…I am so glad you shared the link to this post today. I enjoyed every word, maybe because I know the end ( really just the middle ) turns out so well. Very very proud of you my friend. Hard fought, hard won and well deserved ~ you are a one woman show with a never ending run! A big hug to you Donna,

  139. Donna, it’s so wonderful learning about you. Your extreme house makeover is incredible! It’s amazing how the world looks out for us when we are truly in need.
    Big hugs, Jamie

  140. So glad I stumbled upon your blog. Your story had me in tears. It gave me a renewed hope that God can and will come through just when you think there is no hope. I love stories that have something exciting happen when you least expect it. I am at a cross roads in my life. I too am starting over, but at age 61. Not sure where to turn, but now I do not feel so anxious over it. God always comes through and usually at the last minute. I have always loved anything artistic and have so many ideas and things I want to do but no funds. I have been looking into blogging and advertising via social media and sites like Pinterest. There are so many tutorials. I want to open an Etsy store to sell my crafts and your blog is such an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your story.

  141. So happy for you to get all that free labor.Your bathroom and kitchen look great, Time and hard work.They all must have felt you were more than worthy of all their time. Just when you needed help. Did you feel indeed worthy? New Friends for life?

    I need to buy your grain sack stripe stencil. Is it straight $11.oo or more with being Canadian? Want to stencil both curtains/pillow covers and bed skirt with the grain sack stripes? How much extra for s&H? and tax? Please let me know in an email how much I need to send. Can hardly wait to get started. Will also be painting grain sack stripes on my coffee table and maybe other side tables. Once I get on a roll hard to stop me. Look forward to receiving your email with total price. Hope you’re having a great week. We live in western CO, few miles west of Grand Junction, out in rural area. We’re 2 seniors living on our SS and barely making it but it’s ok, just think of the adventures we get to have. I’m 78 as of July 21, and Mr.Furry will be 77 on Oct.,21st. We’ll be married 50 yrs. on Nov 30th. He married me with 3 young kids in Tucson,AZ. Our was Oct.18th, 68 and we got married on 11/30/68.We’ve lived in a few places like MT and KY.besides AZ, CO., and CA. He was in the Air Force in Tucson., helicopter Rescue and Recovery, was in Jolly Greens squadron as flight engineer left on12/26/68.
    Happy wedding to us. Think we’re still flying by seat of our pants.
    Have to say am pretty doggoned enviousof your trip tp Maui. Mr.Furry was stationed in Hawaii f/2yrs.beforebeintransderred to Tucson.Wemet where I was working at laundry/dry cleaners by the base.Good luck with your house.

    • Hi Jane!

      Feel free to email me at to discuss the stencils! Best thing to do though is load your cart and bring it to a subtotal (without paying) so you can see the prices it would add up to for your given delivery area. All our prices and shipping are in Canadian, so your credit card will do the current US conversion (which will show lower). You can get an guestimate by loading a free converter online to figure that out, but it ultimately falls upon what your card is currently giving.

      I highly suggest to hang tough until there’s more than just a grain sack stencil you desire as shipping will be more than the stencil! ๐Ÿ™‚

  142. Donna! Oh My Gosh i am so into your story. You are a strong, independent woman. I too was a single mom out on my own but i didn’t start to chase my dreams until a year ago. I want to be your best friend. ๐Ÿ™‚ I don’t have a website yet. As i said i just started my furniture painting business in booth here i Florida. But in case you would like to see who is your biggest fan. I’m going to read the rest of your story. You are incredible!

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