“It’s what’s on the inside that counts… but outside is pretty awesome, too.”
When we moved into our mini-home we were uber-excited by the size of the bedrooms, the incredible amount of storage space (all things considered, this townhome has killer storage) and adorable back deck that overlooked the woods.
Our first housewarming gift was a set of deck chairs, perfect for having company, grilling out, or just enjoying a cup of coffee… outside.
We realized that when we opened up the blinds and looked out, we felt like we had an extra room. Perfect for playing, exercising, entertaining, gardening. We could see that we were not limited to our 1,008 square feet. Rather, we were unlimited by the amount of space that God had provided by planting us at end of a quiet neighborhood surrounded by grass, trees, quiet roads, and an endless sky.
If we needed extra space, all we had to do was step outside.
Nowadays, if you walk through any old house you might ask yourself, “how could they have LIVED in here?!” The fact is… they didn’t. Bedrooms were for sleeping. Kitchens were for cooking. The living room was for hosting visitors. The bathroom was for… well… bathroom stuff. And everything else was done OUTSIDE! The laundry. The “grocery shopping”. The playing. The learning. The working.
I was blessed to grow up on 19 acres out in the middle of Kansas where we couldn’t even see our neighbor’s house. My parents were generous and trusting, letting us play for hours… HOURS… out in the woods. We climbed trees, we let our imaginations run wild, we went on adventures. I remember “swimming” in the muddy creek with my cousin. Digging holes in the ground to make little houses and forts. I recall journeying just to the edge of our property and wondering what was over the fence. I drank out of the creek. Ate mulberries. Waded through reeds. Hunted for wild mushrooms (and wild strawberries!). And lived a glorious childhood… in my backyard.
If you’re finding yourself strapped for space, it’s likely that you haven’t exhausted all of your resources… just yet.
Now, we don’t technically have a yard. And what we would consider a ‘yard’ is unfortunately often littered by dog poo, so we must step lightly. But many of you do have yards. Many of you have “a bit of earth” which you call your own, and perhaps with the right amount of tending, can (and should) simply be an extension of your house.
Look out your window. What is available to you? Can you make it useful? Can you make it beautiful? Can you make it an extension of your home?
Perhaps you’re like my brother and his wife. When they bought their home, it was a little small for three girls, but the yard was big enough for a dozen! So the first thing they did was add a huge deck. Hours of entertaining, birthday parties, grilling out later, they could live out there!
Or maybe you’re like a friend of ours who lived in a small two-bedroom apartment with a tiny patio on the front. When I visited, the first thing I noticed were her flourishing pots of tomatoes, peppers, and beautiful flowers. Her patio was not large, but her use of the space made it both beautiful and functional (not to mention yummy).
If you own your home, do you have an outdoor area that you could call your extra room? Have you made the most of it? Have you wanted to get that swingset or thought about putting in some raised flower beds, but are delaying for whatever reason? Have you taken time to explore your neighborhood on foot yet or made the most of the nearest park? Have you been intentional about sticking your kids in the backyard and telling them not to come back in until supper?
Well, delay no more!
We live in a society that prioritizes our “stuff” over our “souls.” And let’s face it… our souls were made to breathe. Our souls were made to be free and to grow and to blossom and to imagine. Don’t get caught up in believing that just because you live in small space, you are limited in any way. With the right mindset. The right focus. A little creativity, and a lot of wide-open attitude, you can not only survive in your small space… you can thrive. The only thing that really NEEDS to be in that home is you, the ones you love, and some food. Beyond that, the world is your playground.
Talk about living large!
Thanks for reading this series on Living Large (while living small). I hope it has resonated with at least some of you. I know it has forced me to really open my eyes to what I’ve been blessed with rather than muddling in what I “don’t have”. And it has motivated me to be intentional about making the most of what I’ve been given. I’d love to hear if this series has encouraged you and I’d especially love any tips or tricks you have come up with over the years. Thanks for joining me!