On Tiny Houses and Stewardship

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When I was a child I had a dollhouse, built for me by my grandfather and my mother, and I loved all things miniature. I knew where to go (in both Winston-Salem and at the beach where we vacationed every summer) to find tiny food, tiny household objects, and tiny furniture, and I thoughtfully saved my money to be able to buy new items for the magical world that came alive inside my dollhouse.

Recently my husband, Mark, had the pleasure of helping someone wire a tiny house. The home was less than 300 square feet and I couldn’t wait to see it. I had of course heard about the tiny house movement and seen them here and there, but had never had the opportunity to go inside one. I figured as a fan of all things miniature, that I would love it, and I did. However, as we walked out of it, it struck me that were I to live in one, I’d have nowhere to easily assemble 1,000 piece puzzles (a favorite pastime) or to store the Christmas ornament collection that means so much to me. It didn’t take long for me to think about the clothing I own and how it could probably fill an entire tiny home and I don’t think I own that much clothing!

If you visit the Wikipedia page for the tiny house movement, it says, “The tiny house movement promotes financial prudence, eco-friendly choices, shared community experiences, and a shift in consumerism-driven mindsets.” There’s an element of stewardship in there… becoming Christ-centered rather than self-centered (consumers), and recognizing that all that we have comes from God. As stewards we are called to give freely and joyously rather than accumulating more and more for ourselves.

I can’t help but wonder if Jesus were here today, would he live in a tiny house? In a simpler space where there is only room for what really matters? And what is it that really matters? When I try to answer that question I come up with a few things: relationships, trying to put back into life more than I have taken out, faith, health, giving generously…these would definitely fit in a tiny house.

“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

It is believed Paul wrote these words while in prison, a time when he certainly could have been anxious. Instead he reminds us to seek right relationship with God, who has promised us He will provide for us all that we need. As we move from becoming self-centered to Christ-centered, our worries decrease. It’s easy, really, but we easily forget this simple message as we fill our homes with more stuff and waste time on what society tells us should matter.

How can we live a “tiny house life” as followers of Christ and stewards of God’s world? Rather than worrying about whether we’ll have space for our ever-growing collection of fill-in-the-blank (for me it’s those 1,000 piece puzzles!) or enough money for the next emergency or the most convenient time-saving methods for daily activities (which often come at a high cost to our precious planet), what if we instead spent more time in prayer, more time helping our neighbors, and more time as channels of God’s abundant blessings, allowing them to pass through us to become a part of God’s work in the world? This might be a tiny start, but it would make a huge difference, and I can’t help but think it would make God happy.

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Laura Watson

About the Author:

Laura joined the Foundation in April of 2012. A native of Winston-Salem and member of Home Moravian Church, she has worked in the Florida school system, at Salem College, and as Assistant Director of Laurel Ridge, the Southern Province’s camp and conference center. When she’s not busy with stewardship and capital campaign consulting for the Foundation, Laura enjoys running and fundraising for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), as well as traveling with her husband, Mark. She also serves on the Salem Academy and College Board of Trustees, the Salem Academy Alumnae Board, and the Triad JDRF Board of Directors.
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