Big or Tiny House? The Heart is What Matters.

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Have you seen the Amazon Prime series called Tiny House World? James and I started watching recently and are basically hooked.

The episodes are short and follow a script: A couple, family, or single person is looking to downsize or diminish their footprint by going tiny. The episodes cover international settings from Ireland to the UK to Australia, and the featured individuals have three options from which to choose.

Most of the time, they don’t pick the one we would, which is both aggravating but also not the point. The point is that they discover they can do more with less.

Even “Tiny” Can Miss What Matters

The tiny house movement certainly has its appeal. The incentive for these people is to be more environmentally friendly, rekindle family time in a smaller space, or enable themselves to travel more. While those are all great reasons to try an alternate lifestyle, the tiny movement can easily become as self-absorbed as the materialism that is its opposite.

Although there is no tiny-house movement in Scripture, Jesus clearly teaches several principles about what we should do with our “stuff” in the parable of the rich fool. It’s so short, I’m including it here:

Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods.  And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.” ’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

Luke 12:16-21 NKJV

Regardless of where we live or what lifestyles we choose, are we “rich toward God”? Do we remember that everything we have comes from Him and act accordingly? That’s the bottom line.

Takeaways for Any-Size Situations

At some point, you’ve probably heard that even middle-class Americans are “rich” in the global arena. That news may not make you feel great if your credit card bill is higher than you’d like or your car is threatening to go on a permanent holiday, but essentially, this reality means we are all able to give something.

Whether our proverbial barns are threatening to overflow or we’re simply meeting the month’s budget, Jesus’ words are a one-size-fits-all challenge.

  1. What do we value most? Are we sharing those things or keeping them to ourselves? That one thing could even be our time. Do we use it to bless others?
  2. Are we content with what we have, or are we always looking for more?
  3. Are we giving of our gifts and resources, or are we self-absorbed with our own pursuits and pleasures?

We have to be careful not to point fingers at those “richer” than ourselves and expect them to carry the heavy load. For the record, I know some people who are very blessed financially and are also incredibly generous. The key to remember is that we’re not responsible for how others handle their “stuff.” We’re responsible for how we steward what God has given us.

Ultimately, God cares about our hearts, not the size of our houses.

There’s another story in the Bible that reveals that the condition of our heart, not the size of what we own or have to give, is what the Lord prizes. In the parable of the widow’s mite (Luke 21), Jesus tells the story of a woman who gave to the temple all she had, which was next to nothing. Her gift demonstrated great faith that God would provide for her needs. Again, the issue is not how much we have or how much we give, but rather the attitude with which we view our possessions.

At the end of the day, the size of our home doesn’t matter. How we live does. Let’s live abundantly, give cheerfully, and love others generously.

~ Kristen

When God Seems to Smile

This life is full of highs and lows, isn’t it? One day, we’re smooth sailing, and the next, we’re doctoring scraped knees and disappointed hopes.

As believers, we can’t draw our joy from a perfect set of circumstances but have to find our contentment in a grounding relationship with God that stands firm through life’s sifting sands.

But every once in a while, God just seems to smile. Please don’t misunderstand me. The Lord is always good, but sometimes, He reminds us of His incredible generosity and the fact that He enjoys giving good gifts to His children (Matthew 7:11). It’s like he’s handing us a precious gift or a breath of fresh air. Maybe it’s an answer to prayer. Maybe it’s an impossible dream realized.

In my case, it’s the latter. Last week felt like all the pieces of a 1,000-piece 3D puzzle came together in minutes. Something I’d secretly wished but never dared to think possible … became possible.

Next time, I’m going to share more of the story with you, but right now, I just want us to pause and remember some way (big or small) that God has showered His blessings on us.

I know that sometimes, I stare too hard at life’s problems that I lose sight of God’s mercies at work. Let’s focus this week on those mercies, which start fresh every day.

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.

– Lamentations 3:22-23 (NKJV)

How have you seen God work recently? Please share your encouragement in the comments below. 

~ Kristen

When God Seems to Smile – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

 

How to Have a Happy Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day might be the one holiday that leaves people feeling polar extremes of warm fuzzy or arctic cold.

Honestly, it’s a holiday that holds a mixed bag for me, too. I had one boyfriend call our relationship quits on Valentine’s Day (necessary but not exceptionally thoughtful). Other years, I’ve celebrated “Galentine’s Day” with my girlfriends instead. This year, I’m focusing on old and new friends alike.

I guess somewhere along the way, I realized that I can celebrate Valentine’s Day, regardless of my relationship status.

Let me say that again.

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be about our relationship status. 

That’s where we go wrong. We see the heart candies, roses, and those ridiculous large bears and start to daydream of our romantic relationship or lack thereof.

There’s our problem. We make the day about us. Did get a card? Did he remember to send me flowers? Did she get me a gift?

When we make the day about us, we’ll be disappointed every time, because there is usually a gap between expectations and reality. I’m not saying we shouldn’t give gifts or send flowers. Not at all! Those things are wonderful and can be thoughtful expressions of love.

But here’s the kicker: We don’t have to have a specific relationship status to do so.

Valentine’s Day can be a day to celebrate the people we love. 

Maybe that person is a significant other or spouse, and if so, celebrate that special relationship with gusto. Relationships are gifts, and couples should enjoy a day set aside to honor their love.

However, we don’t have to limit ourselves to romantic relationships. Instead, we can expand our horizons so we don’t miss the other people we’re blessed to love. Maybe that person is a father, mother, brother, sister, son, or daughter. Maybe it’s the teens in our youth group or peers in our Bible study.

Bottom line: Make the day about someone other than you. Cook dinner for your parents. Send flowers to your little sister in college. Bake brownies for the church teens, or host a game night at your house. And if you do have a special someone in your life, find a way to show that person how much you appreciate him or her.

After all, Jesus Himself commanded us to love (John 15:12). He said that we’re to love one another as He loved us—and He didn’t just say He loved us; He showed it by dying on the cross for us (John 3:16). The love God wants us to model isn’t sappy or shallow but sacrificial.

My college Bible professor captured that idea in a simple definition of love. It’s one I haven’t forgotten and hope I never will:

“Love is purposing the good of another person.”

Isn’t that what I Corinthians 13 says? The “love” chapter is all about giving of ourselves selflessly. Love is not “self-seeking” but generous (I Corinthians 13:5 NIV).

This Valentine’s Day week, look outward, not inward, and see how you can shower the people in your life with love. I think you’ll find that when you do, you’ll have the happiest Valentine’s Day yet.

~ Kristen

I’m grateful to DailyPS.com for sharing this post on their website. Visit DailyPS.com for more practical and encouraging ways to live intentionally.

Tweetables

How to Have a Happy Valentine’s Day – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

This Valentine’s Day, look outward, not inward. – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

Want to Do More? Start Small.

“I feel like I should do more for God,” a friend recently shared. However, she already has a full-time job and ministry commitments. How can she do greater things when she barely has time to sleep?

I felt her frustration, because I’ve been there. For many years, I resented where God had me. My job wasn’t what I’d planned to do after graduation, and I didn’t feel effective or like I was making a difference.

Slowly and painfully, I learned something that seems counter-intuitive: Our biggest influence is in small faithfulness now.

But what if we don’t have much to give?

Sometimes, the bank account may edge dangerously close to the red, or there isn’t a spare second in our calendar. But each of us has something unique to give.

Remember the widow from Mark 12? What if she hadn’t given her two small coins, because she felt too embarrassed or ashamed at how much other people were giving?

Yet as Jesus points out, she actually gave more, because she shared out of her poverty. That poverty can take many forms (financial, relational, or other). Jesus doesn’t demand a specific amount but instead asks for us to do more with what we have.

Generosity has nothing to do with a price tag and everything to do with the condition of our hearts.

Click here to read the rest of this post at DailyPS.com.

~ Kristen

Tweetables

Want to do more? Start small. – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

Generosity has nothing to do with a price tag and everything to do with the condition of our hearts. – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)