Monday, August 11, 2014

Shedding the Stuff

The word stuff comes out of my mouth with a bad taste.  It get's snarled up like a bad word.  Stuff.  Gross. 

A friend just posted this on my facebook wall,

"Hey Kim. I'm having a serious house problem.  I keep thinking my house is too small, but the real problem is I have too much stuff. It's all over my house in piles. I have to step over room to put stuff away. How did the show teach you to get rid of stuff?"

Two things. 
I can completely relate.
The show didn't teach us anything.

:) That would have been nice, though!  If they came along with quick tricks or something! 

It took 2 years and a lot of planning and a slow change in mindset.

I think we've all been trained somehow to want.  That's the first thing that gets us in trouble.  Changing want into contentment, that's the trick. 

I stopped buying stuff. 
I realized one day when I went to Target to get a necessity that I hadn't been there in months!  Crazy!  After not being there in so long I realized how bombarded I was with colors, ads, lights, cuuute stuff, and, oh man, ish. There is was.  Want.  I had to get out of there quickly!  I did not want want.  I had walked into Target completely content with what I had.  And I left feeling like I had less!  Like I'd be happier if I had walked in with a full wallet.  And I DIDN'T LIKE that a stop at Target could TAKE AWAY some of my happiness!!!

That was a first step for us.  To stop the incoming flow of stuff.  (Not that I'd been shopping a ton prior to that, just that we had to be mindful of what we were allowing to take up space in our home.)

Then I put an empty box at the top of each closet and tossed stuff up there that I didn't need. 
Clothes that were too small or I couldn't get the kids to wear.
Toys that weren't played with.
Doubles of anything.
Things that didn't line up with our value system. (like Barbies -how did they make their way into our house in the first place!?)
Things that fall into the "what if" catagory.
Things we haven't used in years.
Things that we thought would make someone else happier than they made us.

I kept filling boxes!  And replaced them with empties to fill up again!
Slow progress. 

Then I read The Treasure Principle: Discovering the Secret of Joyful Giving and began to understand that this wasn't our stuff we were dealing with but that we were rather managers of what was essentially God's.

And to put it into perspective...  Here's a (random item).  How can we part with it!?  We've had it for so long, I remember when blah, blah, blah.  BUT God gave us this direction and opportunity to live in a tiny house.  What is His desire for this (random item)?  Does He want us to keep it (and have more excess)?  Does He want us to sell it (it is His, right? Not ours to profit from -especially when we're being given this mega blessing)?  Does He want us to give it away?  Yes.  Yes!  Jesus repeatedly tells us to serve, share, help, and give generously!

So from that point on the giving got easier.  Every truckload of excess donated to Church and Goodwill left us with the amazing feeling of freedom!  Every piece of furniture put out on the curb felt like the opportunity to give a gift!  And the slow process of shedding the stuff snowballed and got quicker!  Closets, cupboards, shelves, and drawers emptied and filled us with joy!

I learned once that organization experts say to start with the garage.  Because when you come home from work and step out of your car to see projects, unfinished work, messes, and a mental to-do list you pack on the stress before you even enter your home.  You home should be a retreat from stress!  Welcome and peaceful. 

The clutter in our house had been transposing into clutter in my mind.  Clearing it out physically has allowed me to clear my head mentally.  I find myself way more fresh, ready, and flexible now that the majority of the clutter has cleared. 

So this is what I'm left with.
I don't want want or stuff. 
What I want is to be clear of clutter, to bless others the way I've been blessed, to manage God's things by following His command to give, and to experience the freedom that comes with choosing contentment. 

Living out these values with the kids while they are this young is a blessing in itself.  Our hope is that they grow up to value the experiences we have together over the items they have in their closets.  Because I know if we don't have to pay for the square footage to store it we can be free'd up to follow God's plan for our lives and all the experiences that go along with it.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014




C'mon.  We didn't know how we were going to get a new roof either and that happened.  So, totes whatev.

Our TINY HOUSE will be finished in 2-3 days.
Right now it's at the build site.  Can't live there!
Then it will be moving to a family members' land (again, sharing details when it's allowed!) which we're so very thankful for.

Ryan works in Shakopee so the Tiny House cannot stay this far North for long. 

We have a few leads.  Our current favorite is a campground that is open year round.  We can stay there all winter!  It's only eight miles from Ryan's work!  The next nearest campground open through the winter is over an hour away.

The campsite is great!  Has perfect amenities for helping us transition during the first year.  This is our best option.  Aaaaaand the winter monthly sites are full.  :(  We're about tenth on the waiting list. 


We're praying.  My parents are praying.  Ryan's parents our praying.

Yesterday we were sharing these details with our executive producer and director.  They want to know exactly where we'll be staying and for how long; I just don't have the answers. 
Then I hear the words, "We'll take care of it."

Ha! She's immediately writing an email, filling in details, and delegating.  For us!
Did that just happen!?
WELL!  We will see what comes of this!

We know that they have 80 sites open in the summer and close half of them for the winter.  I'm hoping that this just opens up one of those that are destined to be closed.  Obviously they cannot kick someone else out.  Pshh, that would be bizarre.  I just think it's important to tell you that detail so it's clear we're not trying to be ruiners.  !

So!  Ryan says it's in God's hands.  :) 
Our prayer is just that God places us exactly where He wants us.  That's the ideal location for sure. 

This is FUN!  Actively pursuing every option while passively waiting for God to reveal His plans.  Easy. 

There was only one day a few weeks ago when I had worry about where we would live.  I sent it out as quickly as it came.  God has not given us a spirit of fear. 

So when people ask where we're going to put it (one of the top 5 questions), we say we don't know, and they're eyes bug out of their heads I remind myself -and them- that living in the tiny house is about flexibility, seizing opportunities, and following God's plan as He reveals it to us.  I don't need to know right now where we're going to be. 

That's the beauty of it!

Spilling over Abundantly!

I've been praying the Jabez prayer over the kids, Ryan, and myself.  Familiarize yourself with this prayer!  It's life changing.  The book, The Prayer of Jabez, is at every Goodwill for 50 cents. Promise. ;)

Here is the Jabez prayer straight up:
"Oh that you would bless me indeed and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from the evil one.  And that I would not cause pain."

Here is how I've put my own word into this prayer for our family right now:
Oh, that You would bless us indeed! And enlarge our territory! And that You're hand would be with us to guide and direct us!  And that You would guide our words!  And that You would guard us and keep us safe! And fight our spiritual battles for us!  And that when we make good decisions that follow Your will for our lives, Your blessings would spill over us abundantly and bless everyone around us! The end part in particular changed a lot over time.  

I started with:
"And that I would not cause pain"
and now I pray, "And that when we make good decisions that follow Your will for our lives, Your blessings would spill over us abundantly and bless everyone around us!"This part is important to me. 
 The Tiny House is an incredible blessing.  But it oddly feels kind of selfish.  Like, we're not deserving of this great opportunity.  It's only by God's grace that we're in this position!    So I'm asking God to somehow use this to bless other people because I don't know how on my own.  *Obviously, it's not the kinda home that I can use to start housing people... the first thought that comes to mind when thinking of blessing people with your house. :)  

***This is where it gets good!***

 I had gone into this day asking facebook friends for prayer support.  Our norm thus far had been to go to every shoot as a family and I'd been asked to come to this one alone.  I was really nervous about representing us on my own and not having Ryan by my side to fall back on.  My experience had been that once I was alone (he'd gone to class once) they really dug in with the personal questions. 
I arrived at build site and I'm being introduced to this guy who is (ach! I really can't say!  No spoilers allowed!) okay, he's providing something really beautiful that is needed for the build.  He starts by asking me why we're planning to live in a tiny house; he's never even heard of them before.

So I share that Ryan's been going to grad school for 7 years and that the student loans total more than our mortgage so in order to continue to live out our values of being a one income household, homeschooling, and steadily pursue the goal of financial freedom we're dropping the mortgage and living tiny!

He totally gets it. 

He is getting all revved up and tells me all about his family and their smaller than average home.  And how he is self sufficient in being the sole proprietor of his business and shares his hope that this exposure on the reality show episode and contribution to our tiny house episode will boost his business and he can provide for his family so his wife doesn't have to work and can stay home with their kids. 

The happiest tears well up (just for a sec!) as I tell him that that! is exactly what I've been praying for!  That we've wanted for our tiny house blessing to somehow be a blessing for others.  That I'm so happy that he is here.  That I share his hope for his business and family.  That I'll proudly spread the word on his, truthfully, super cool business. 

(I promise I'll link and share when I can spill on the supersecret stuff!)

So there it is.  God has a mega plan.  To wildly spill blessings all over everyone!

Today God brought me there just to show me how He has been guiding all along.  
My friends' prayers make this experience even better!  I'm so thankful that every time I ask, they jump on it.  I can feel it.   

Confirmation that this is GOOD!  
The tiny house is already proving to be amazing for our family. 
It promises to also greatly effect so many people in such a positive way!

I'm proud to be a little piece of this plan!  I'm proud to share in this joy! 

God!  God, thank you for this gift!  Thank You for placing us here, right now.  Thank you for the adventures You're sending us on!  Bless this man, his family, and his business!  Show us how You'll follow through on all of this goodness for Your purpose!  And help us to glorify You through it all.  AMEN!

Sunday, July 20, 2014


Today was real.

God is showing us outright.  It's blatant that, yes, we are following His will for our lives and He is giving us affirmation by clearing the path for us. 

This has been the story since the moment we started praying for a house.  We didn't even know we were praying for a tiny house!  We basically told God that we would trust Him to take care of our needs.  He has unlimited resources, forever, ever-reaching love for us.  He tells us that all you have to do is ask.  Ask with eagerness, trust, fervor, sincerity, and Glorify God in your asking and receiving.

So we did.  And you know what He provided?

Blueprints. To a tiny house.
Amazing, supportive parents...
who helped us get a truck, to tow a tiny house.
A need, excitement, and desire to minimize.
Bible verses and sermons that confirmed and reassured.
The exact amount of equity we need to finance the build.
People to design and build a tiny house FOR us!

There was one point in the process of being accepted for the show where we were told that we needed a bigger budget in order to move on and lock in.  We knew we could get a handle on the amount required but we had reserved that money to repair the roof of our house.  The roof is in terrible condition.  The shingles are curling and it looks trashy.  We need to get a new roof and the estimate was $5,000.  Without a new roof there would be no selling the house; if we were stuck with the house we would have a major debt issue on our hands. 
We oppose debt at all times.  But God told us to trust. 
He had brought us this far!  Keep moving.  Say yes to every opportunity He provides.

Okay!  So we did it; we were all in.  And passionately trusting.  We had no plan but to follow God's.
And do you know what happened?
God sent the perfect storm.  And a man who told us he thought he could get us a new roof.  All we could do was pray that the insurance would agree that our roof, which was so very obviously ruined by the sun and time, should be covered by insurance because of storm damage.

The insurance guy came today and gave us a check for $11,000.
We're getting a new roof for our house and the barn!

My jaw just hangs open. 

But seriously.
Why am I so surprised?  We trusted!  We prayed!  We asked!
Thank you God!  I praise You, God!  You ROCK!
God is providing and we are just engulfed in gratefulness!

Oh, that you would bless us indeed!  And enlarge our territory!  And that your hand would be with us and that you would guide us!  And that you would keep us safe!  And that when we make good decisions that follow Your will for our lives You would bless us so abundantly that blessings would overflow onto the people around us! In Jesus name, Amen!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Counting Blessings. One.

My husband Ryan.
Sometimes I feel like we're so different.
I'm very everything.  Jumping up and down excited!  Seriously frrrustrated!  Starving!  Exhausted! Soooo late!  Absolutely determined!  Or I gotta pee soooo bad! (Ryan recently told me that he doesn't understand that one, I guess I say it alllll the time.)
This is Ryan:  .
He is so stinkin' calm.  He likes Gandi's quote, "Speak only when it improves upon the silence."  The visual I think of is this:  Ryan's expressiveness would often read on a monitor as the flat line (okay, this is coming out all wrong already) making the littlest movement on the readout appear to be of great importance! Which evokes a huge reaction out of me.
Say, if Ryan opened the door right now and said, "I ((oh my goodness, I seriously can't think of an example! ummm)) will you come read this information?"  ((Geez, that's the best I can think of!?))  I would jump up from whatever I was doing, wondering "What in the World could this Possibly be about!?  It must be drastic news that has great affect on our life goals, financial situation, or health of a family member!"  It sounds like I'm exaggerating.  I'm not.  Ryan never says, "Come here, I want to show you something."  So, yes, it would have to actually be very, very important.
So this is where I feel blessed. Ryan is so accommodating.  So considerate.  He puts my needs first.  And I often don't even notice.  I don't realize what's happening because he is so subtle. 
Here's an example.  I eat seconds.  Doesn't matter if I'm full, I go back for more. (But really, I always start with a little because I know I'll go back around -besides the point.)  The point is!  There always is more!  And I only just realized it.  Ryan always makes sure to leave something for me so when I come back to dish up seconds, yum! more food for me!  He's been doing that for me for years!  Am I crazy?  Or is that better than jewelry on Valentine's Day? 

Ryan takes such good care of me.  He supported me when I ended my wedding photography business to stay home with our kids, he happily agrees and follows through on all the crazy things like homeschooling, eating 100% organic, moving into a tiny house, and even being on a reality show.  All while spending a lifetime in grad-school, moving up in his career, and providing for his family.
Okay, forget all that stuff about flat lining and eating seconds.  The point!   Of all the blessings God has for me in this life, so, so many of them come straight through the man He put at my side. 
Some of the biggest, best blessings are the ones walking this path right alongside us--- so subtle until we realize how cared for we are because of them.

Saturday, January 25, 2014


The kids inspired a  new goal yesterday.  Goal #10.

Take more pictures and PRINT THEM!

Sully and Story found THREE 4x6 family pictures and fought over who gets which one!  You'd think I could end the mayhem just by handing them another pic.  Nope.  That's all I have.  

Oy, as a photographer and a mother, I feel so guilty.  I hit burnout on the whole taking and editing pictures thing.  So I haven't downloaded anything in ages.  I'm in the stage where you have to delete pics off the CF card in order to fit more.  And prints?  Pleh.  Bottom of the list. 

Here's the goal.  Order 50+ prints this month.  (I'd like excess so they can do whatever they please with their copies.) AND continue to put an order in monthly.  They're dirt cheap.  We should fill a wall or something.  

Also, in an effort to preserve memories, I'm going record interview videos with the kids every three months.  The interviews have been my favorites of all the videos!  I want more.  

Look out! I'll be taping today!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Awesome Free Stuff!

The Craigslist Free Section. Goal #10


Yes, you'll find a thousand vintage (read old and gross) couches, used toilets, ancient televisions, dirt, rocks, and firewood that is actually a tree needing to be chopped down.

If you can just hold out long enough.  It's a hunt!  AND a race!  Your favorite!

A brand new perfect condition something or other! Open your email as quickly as you can!  Send the friendliest, most gracious message riddled with details about your muscular husband who doesn't need help loading and is available at any time day or night at the speediest speed your fingers can click!

and BAM!

Your house is filled with rockin' stuff that you didn't pay for and didn't steal.

Vintage Couches (actually cool and not gross)
30 years of Architectural Digest (one year is worth $30 on ebay = fun find!)
Junior size tandem bike
Brand new huge picture window (for the tiny house!)
Kids outdoor toys: water table, play house
Huge white board (I just have to figure out how to erase it)

I almost snagged a four wheeler once.  Saw a real mechanical bull.  And there have even been a few old cars.  If you ever need a piano you just have to pay for the movers!

The goal here is to find more materials for the Tiny House.  One window so far.  Almost had another!  Looking for tools and anything useful.
I'm on a mission.