A year of progress

It was a year ago this weekend that our tiny house adventure officially began with the arrival of our trailer. We had hoped to be finished and moved in by now, but we have pushed back our estimated move-in date so many times we decided to stop making one.

We’ve been working on the interior walls off and on since the beginning of January. We finished putting up the 1/4 inch tongue-and-groove pine board wall material and began priming it today. As I mentioned in this post, we had to finish filling the space in the walls with loose fiberglass insulation and we ended up using 5 bales worth. Thus the tedious 4 month project!

As the walls went up and I saw how cozy and pretty it was inside, I began to question our previous decision to paint the walls white. We didn’t want the cabin-feel that wood walls with knot holes tends to create, so in the end, we decided that we’d better stick to our original decision, and began priming this weekend.

Not too many projects left! Here’s to hoping move-in day is before this time next year! 🙂



Homemade Lancet Window

One of our fancy wishes for our tiny house was a lancet window in the loft above the front door. The Tumbleweed Elm tiny house was our inspiration. Tumbleweed told us they get their lancet windows from Lowe’s; however, try as we might, we weren’t able to find one small enough. In fact, Lowe’s said they didn’t even make them with the dimensions we were looking for (18″x24″).

So, what do you do when you can’t find the cute window? Make it yourself, of course! When Kyle said he would just make the window, I was thinking, “You can’t just make a window. Those come from the store.” As though windows just appear and aren’t made by someone somewhere. 🙂  But Kyle’s craftsmanship continues to surprise me!

After making a template of the desired size and shape, Kyle made a mold to create the curve to the sides of the frame. He glued 4 layers of 1/8th inch hickory boards together, then while the glue was still wet, shaped the boards in the mold, clamping it together until it dried.

The bottom of the frame was made out 1/2 inch hickory. After the glue was dry, Kyle sanded the sides of the frame and fastened them together, creating the lancet shape.

When the frame was completed, Kyle took it to a glass shop to have the glass cut. We decided on clear double blue chip obscured glass. He made a wood stop on one side of the glass and caulked the other side using a silicone acrylic caulk that the glass cutters recommended.

The exterior trim was made out of scraps of cedar boards (same as the rest of the exterior window trim). Kyle traced the window and and cut it using a bandsaw.

I love the window, and the lofts are quickly becoming my favorite spots of the house. I like the first loft for the unique window, and the second loft for the unique (and troublesome) roof line. Actually, I have lots of favorite spots. I’m also really excited about drinking coffee and having morning devotions on our homemade couch by the large picture window in the great room. And I’m sure there will be more favorites along the way! 🙂

PS. We’ve also been plodding along with the interior walls and ceilings. It’s taken forever and we’re really ready to be done with this project! With every board we nail in place, we have to finish stuffing the wall with loose insulation (see post on insulation for that whole story). More pictures on the interior walls to come, but for now, here’s a sneak peak!

Why not DIY?

Well, we’re back at the construction process after a month in Thailand for Christmas! Before we left in early December, Kyle had put in a one-inch layer of rigid foam board insulation in the walls and ceiling. We had originally bought enough foam board to fill the ceiling, but after some more research, decided that spray foam wouldn’t be that bad to do ourselves. Since we had the foam board, the entire house got a layer of foam board.

After a layer of foam board, Kyle ran all the wiring for the electric and installed all the electrical boxes. The week after we returned from Thailand, Kyle, Zac, and Kyle’s brother Dean filled the walls with spray foam. Originally, we were thinking about hiring out the spray foam insulation, but Kyle’s a diy kind of guy, so why not learn something new? He used Foam-It Green, a diy kit he found online. The kit came with foam, sprayer, and protective gear. After a few hours of prep, including heating the house to above 60 degrees and covering the electrical boxes, the actual spraying process took about 4 hours, plus clean-up.

As we began putting up the wall material, we decided that there was still an inch gap in most places between the insulation and wall, so we picked up some loose fiberglass insulation.

Not the most conventional way of insulating a house, but it adds up to R 17. One inch of rigid foam board (7 R-value), 1 to 1 1/2 inches spray foam (7 R-value per inch), and 1/2 to 1 inch of loose fiberglass insulation (3-4 R-value).

It made for an exciting weekend!

Lessons on shou-sugi-ban

After a month in Thailand, we are back at the construction and blogging on house-related things. The outside of our house has been mostly finished since mid November. The roof is all sealed up and trim finished. The shou-sugi-ban siding is all up (minus the front of the house). Kyle even made a makeshift door to keep the snow and wind out and a little warmth inside while he works through the winter.

Thought we’d give an update to the fading of our shou sugi ban siding that I mentioned in the Siding and trim blog. The sweet tiger stripes that comes with burning the cedar boards faded significantly once the cedar siding was installed on the house and exposed to the sun. After a few months of being all up, it’s starting to blend and the fading lines aren’t so obvious.

Without a lot more experimentation, we’re not sure how to make the burned look not fade. If you’re wanting to use shou-sugi-ban, maybe try a stronger seal. There are some places on the back of the house that need to be re-stained/sealed. When we are completely done, we will likely re-stain and seal most of it. We’re not counting on that brining back the nice shou sugi ban contrast, but at least it will ensure it is protected.

Here are some progression pics of the fading process.  After 3 months of exposure, the contrasting lines have almost completely faded.

Gifts for Christmas

Back in November I wrote a blog on materialism at Christmas and how Kyle and I and his family had chosen to give our Christmas away by serving the Church in Thailand. Many people have commented on the sacrifice it must have been to “give our Christmas away”, spend our Christmas in another country, sweating instead of curling up by the fire with family 🙂 but I want to tell you about the gifts we received this Christmas. They weren’t physical, but they were by far the most meaningful gifts I have ever received. I was reminded this Christmas that we serve a good God who loves to give us good gifts! 

Gift #1 – Connecting with old friends

One of the things Kyle and I were looking forward to the most was reconnecting with our Thai friends we grew to know and love when we lived there 2 years ago. And what a gift it was to see our friends’ maturity with Jesus grow and their leadership and commitment to serve him even when it meant personal or family sacrifice.

The first gift from God came the day we arrived. Our plane was delayed 4 hours in Chicago, causing us to miss our connecting flight in Tokyo. We were bummed that we would likely miss church Sunday morning due to this delay, but had come to accept that as we waited in Chicago. However, when we arrived in Tokyo, we learned that our flight into Bangkok Thailand would arrive at 5:30am Sunday morning! We could still make it to church to worship with our friends! After being picked up at the airport in Bangkok, tired from around 36 hours of travel and running on adrenaline and pure excitement, the missionary informed us that Kyle’s good friend, P Chin would be preaching his first sermon that morning!  When we met P Chin over 2 years ago, he was a believer, but very rough around the edges. Before he knew Jesus, he was a murderer, drug dealer, and spirit channeler, and although he had experienced much healing and transformation in his life, he still liked to argue with authority, especially the pastor. Since we left, he had been growing in his leadership and softening his heart to authority, and about a month ago, he started Bible school to become a pastor. The Sunday we arrived was his first sermon and God blessed us greatly by being able to be there to hear it!

Later in the week, I was reminiscing with our friend Knot about how much he had grown since we first met him over 2 years ago. He was not a believer back then and was consumed with making money. He had since committed to follow Christ, been baptized, shares the Gospel with anyone he meets, and leads a Bible study in his home. He told me that after we left, he had realized that he didn’t have enough time to serve God like he wanted to, so he quit his job so he could serve God better. I was floored by this comment. He said it so matter-of-factly, like it was the most logical thing to do if one doesn’t have time to serve. So many times, we use not having enough time to serve as an excuse not to. But this money-driven businessman had been transformed by the grace of Jesus and now works only part time so he can serve in the church. What a gift to see the seed that was planted years ago, growing, bearing fruit, and planting seeds of its own!

Gift #2 – Serving with family

Our family’s role in the Christmas outreaches was to help with kids games and activities, bake hundreds of cookies and Christmas goodies to share, and serve the missionaries in several other random ways. Between our team and the TREK team who serves there full time, we helped the churches host 10 outreach events in 9 days. Kyle and I had been a part of similar events while on TREK 2 years ago, but what a gift it was to serve with family – to see how each person’s gifts and passions combined to make a great team, to cover for one another when someone was sick, to learn from one another as we studied the Bible together, to see their passions come alive as they served, and even to serve outside our comfort zones and be stretched together!

Gift #3 – Giving meaningful gifts

The Thai church received 200 Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes this year to give away at the outreaches. These shoeboxes are packed with hygiene items, toys, school supplies and other things to bless needly children. Our family has packed OCC boxes for years and this year we got to be a part of seeing the other side of OCC boxes. Even though there was not enough shoeboxes for every child at every outreach, there was always enough gifts for every child to receive something for Christmas. For many of these kids, a small plastic toy was the best toy they maybe ever had. At an event at a factory complex, the kids played with the cement blocks, rocks, sticks, or whatever else they could find in the dirt field. A toy means a lot to a child like that.

On Christmas morning, we woke up early, enjoyed a “white Christmas” view outside with the fog all around, then headed to a preschool owned and operated by a couple from one of the village churches. These kids live in a remote tribal village in the mountains and if they didn’t have a preschool to go to, they would be going to the rice fields with their parents and wouldn’t know any Thai when they began school. Pastor Son and his wife Wana, opened this preschool 13 years ago to serve the children in their village, giving them a safe place to play and learn Thai. We hung out with the kids and gave them each a coat. Despite being in the tropics, it gets down to 55 at night there in the mountains – quite cold when one lives in bamboo huts like these kids. It was special for the whole family to spend our Christmas morning blessing these kids in this way.

The best gift given this Christmas, however, was the gift of the Gospel. Another name for Jesus is Immanuel, which means “God with us.” This name took on new meaning for me this Christmas. Being God, Jesus was all-powerful while he was on earth, but he submitted himself to the Father’s will. When he was faced with betrayal and immense suffering, he could have called angels to save him, but it would have been against God’s perfect plan. Imagine the self-control required of a martyr who could free himself at will! This was necessary, though, for him to provide us with right relationship with God. But he didn’t do it out of obligation. No! He did it because he loves each of us so deeply. Jesus desires relationship with every person on earth – the Christian, the atheist, the Buddhist, Muslim, and Animist. But because God is holy and perfect, our sin separates us from God and we cannot have right relationship with him.  The Bible tells us that all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory and the wages of our sin is death. But all along, God had a plan to save us from our sin and that plan was for Jesus to take our place so we could have right relationship with the Creator God who loves us so dearly! That is why Jesus came to earth as a baby over 2000 years ago. That is why we celebrate Christmas.

THAT my friends is the best Gift anyone has ever given – the gift of salvation!

Thousands of people in Thailand heard this Gospel for the first time this Christmas season, and our family was blessed to be a part of it.

The Gospel is the best gift anyone can give!

Materialism at Christmas

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, with Christmas right on its tail! It was this time about a year ago when Kyle and I began to evaluate our accumulation of stuff, began to map out floor plans and think about tiny living as a real option for us.

So as we get into that season of “shop, shop, shop,” I have have a proposal for you to consider. It’s not new. I don’t take credit for it. I just want to share it with those of you who are looking for more meaning to Christmas, to the American Dream, to life. For those of you who are pursuing a tiny house lifestyle, perhaps you will be able to relate to some of these thoughts and rubs with materialism. And to all of you who read this, I hope it will shape the way you choose to send your money this Christmas season.

Every Christmas, our church does this thing called Advent Conspiracy. From their website, they are “a global movement of people and churches resisting the cultural Christmas narrative of consumption by choosing a revolutionary Christmas through Worshipping Fully, Spending Less, Giving More and Loving All.” One of their invitations is to spend less money on the meaningless gifts and give more to people who really need it.

Living in North America, we are some of the richest of the world. If you have traveled outside the States you may have seen this. Let’s look outside ourselves and to others this Christmas season! God has given you the resources you have so that you can meet the needs of his people next door and around the world. Check out the video below and consider what God may be inviting you to do with the money he has blessed you with this year.

Kyle and I are not big gift givers, so for several years we have tried to be more conscious about the gifts we buy for family and about giving to ministries helping the lesser fortunate. We are excited to continue this habit more intentionally as we downsize our life and live on less so that we can give more.

On a side note – This Christmas, we are embarking on another venture to Thailand with Kyle’s family on a program with MB Mission called “Give Christmas Away.” Instead of exchanging gifts, we are giving our Christmas away to serve the missionaries and Thai church as they host outreaches for their neighbors and tell them about the sacrificial love of Christ. We will be working alongside the same missionaries we worked with 2 years ago when we were on the TREK program with MB Mission. (You can read more about our adventures on TREK in the “Missions” page of this blog.) Kyle and I are excited to hang out with our Thai friends who became like family to us while we were there for 7 months. We’re excited to introduce them to our blood family and to serve alongside friends and family as we share the true meaning of Christmas with Thai Buddhist who have never heard.

give-christmas-away banner2

How will you choose to use your resources this Christmas? Will you consider spending less on gifts and giving more to meaningful ministries this year? Christmas doesn’t have to be stressful or break your bank. It doesn’t have to feel empty.

Jesus intends for us to have full life, but the only way we find it is by giving it away!

Siding and trim

Fall has officially arrived here in Kansas, brining many beautiful days to be working outside! While the roof was plodding along (check out that project here), we’ve also been putting up siding.  It’s been exciting to see projects moving forward, the outside getting closer to completion, and work beginning on the inside.

Here are a a few pictures of the siding going up over the last few weeks. What do you think of the shou-sugi-ban siding? (In case you missed it, here’s a link to our post on burning the siding.)

Trim: While friends have been focused on hanging siding and Kyle has been working on other small projects and started some inside work, I’ve been focusing on getting the exterior window and corner trim and fascia boards painted. Got that finished up this weekend.  As of today (Oct 12), the only thing that remains to be done on the outside is finishing up the siding on the lofts, building a front door and window for the front loft, and trimming a few trim pieces on the roof.


The goals is to be completely done on the outside and the walls insulated by winter so we can continue working inside. In the last two weeks or so, this has started to look like a reality!