Hi. I'm Val Frania.
A SHORT STORY ABOUT A LONG LIFE
I think we've lived 100 years worth of life crammed into 59. Many, when they learn that my DH (Dear Hubby, Mark) and I raised 15 kids, have asked for my story, so here is a brief synopsis.
Forming a Family
Married at 19 to my high school sweetheart has given me 38 years of wedded bliss. If you do the math, that leaves two unaccounted for. That's because the first two were hard. LOL It's a joke between DH and I. He's actually a funny guy even though I don't like to admit it.
We didn't want any kids when we were married, I know right? But once we had our first I got bit by the bug and loved what our new addition brought to our lives.
Back when I was a kid, I remember watching a news cast with a video of a helicopter hovering over a mom who was raising her baby up to the man leaning out with outstretched hands. They had no more room for adults, but she was begging that man to take her child out of her war torn country. Now that's love.
I asked my mom to adopt one of those children who were torn from their moms, but she said "No." I never forgot that scene. Do you remember seeing it splashed all over the news?
From that point on my heart was just yearning to adopt one such child. Which turned into 13 such children from overseas and locally. 15 kids, 2 homemade and 13 adopted. All are grown now and we are empty nesters. When people would ask us how we would cope once we became empty nesters, I told them I would invite them to the party. I was looking forward to finding out what I liked, wanted to do and discover a new way of life choosing every day what I wanted to do that day. It's been fun.
Reaching Out To Others
We started a non-profit called KIN, Kids in Need, that helped navigate the foster/adoption system and helped 16 children find forever homes.
We also bought a worn down HUD house and re-did the entire thing, renting it out in a very old part of town in Flint, MI. The renters had a fire, then when it sat empty a vagrant broke in and burned it more, so we sold it for $1 to the next person who wanted to fix it. Insurance paid for everything we put into it, so we felt blessed to have learned a lot during that time of rehabbing that came in handy in years to come.
Prior to those years of fostering and adopting, we had surrendered to ministry - not necessarily a job on staff in a church, but a ministry that God would send us that our family could do together. First came adoption and all that entails, and then eventually on staff full-time at a church.
Teaching & Ministry
Just after our last set of four came, we moved on from our local church to start a new one along with a school that would be run like a home school for families like ours and others who wanted a school tailored to their kids needs.
From there we eventually landed in a larger church two hours from where we lived that already had a regular Christian school but needed a resource room for those who didn't fit the regular mold of a Christian school. I started The Independent Study Classroom that featured just my kids the first year, but grew into more kids from other families who needed a different style of teaching but wanted the Christian atmosphere where spiritual things were also taught. We were able to sell our house and bought a much bigger one to hold our family of 17 with a MIL apartment for my mom.
That lasted for about 9 years. My DH was assistant to the pastor, and I did all the normal pastor wifey things along with teaching in the school full-time. Our days were full of ministry, school, and a lot of sports, basketball and volleyball mostly. I was the school and church photographer, yearbook advisor, was in charge of church and school publications, wrote a mom blog (MomofMany.net), and filled my days with educating and mentoring my own children. I started a DIY blog during that time, LoveMyDIYHome.com that has turned into a spot to host many of my furniture flipping tutorials. Both are still online today.
DIY & Furniture Re-design
It was then that I started painting furniture, which led into what I do now - I flip (find old, outdated, damaged furniture and bring it back to life and take it to market) and teach online all about furniture flipping.
When I say, "It lasted for about 9 years" I mean our ministry ended when the special needs of some of our "interesting children" became too much for the pastor. I ended up teaching another year there in the church school, but then we moved on after our youngest daughter graduated, put our house up for sale, finished graduating our last four kids via home school and eventually moved to Wisconsin to be near our grandkids.
We left that ministry terribly in debt, partly due to the need of our kids (that's too long of a story to tell here) and failed promises from our employer. Side note: don't ever count on financial promises from your boss. Hope for the best, plan for the worst. For us it was the worst, but God was faithful and has always taken care of us.
We sold our house at a huge loss during the housing market crash that hit Michigan and moved to Wisconsin on a prayer and a song. My mom moved with us and we spent two years in a tiny little rental house in the city until we found the house we are now in. It was a stretch considering our recent losses, but we needed to find a house that had an apartment for mom, who was fiercely independent.
In that tiny little house in town I started re-designing furniture and fell in love with the process.
After looking at what seemed like 100 houses, DH found one tucked away out in the country that somehow had been missed in the multiple listing. It was a repossessed house that belonged to the bank that needed a ton of work. It still does, but we're plugging away at it year by year. During our first few years in Wisconsin, I nannied for a local doctor, but quit about a year and a half ago to pursue my furniture flipping and teaching business full-time. My Mom passed away, so I now use her apartment for my workshop, craft room and studio.
I have 38,000 members in my Facebook Groups from over 100 countries and an online subscription based membership site, Furniture Flipping Blueprint, that teaches everything from where to find the project pieces to taking it to market. All of my furniture ventures are consolidated under one brand in one place, ValFrania.com.
Mark, my DH, helps me in the forum and in the trenches, finding, repairing and priming my pieces. My daughter works as my social media manager. The rest of my family finds me pieces and cheers me on. Life is good.
All of my prior experience has prepared me for this latest furniture flipping business venture. I have always had the desire to help others achieve success whether it be children who need a family or a painter who wants to learn to be an artist. I know what it's like to be in financial need, feel completely alone, desire more, and want to grow past what others only dream of. I am an over achiever and am looking for others who want to over achieve with me. And I never give up. NEVER.