The Start of a Brand New Life

“You Don’t Need More Space. You Need Less Stuff”

Ryan Mitchell

Hello. We are John and Barb Pabst and we are baby boomers who have made the BIG decision to GO TINY. You wouldn’t think going tiny would be such a huge undertaking, but it is. We are selling our house and most of our stuff and building a tiny house. It may look like we are giving up a lot, but we are gaining even more-FREEDOM. We are excited and scared at the same time. This is the very beginning of this crazy journey. We will use this blog to share our adventure with you.

Live Simply,

John and Barb


Divine Timing

We worked really long and hard to get our house ready to go on the market. The work seemed so overwhelming and we decided to sell it as is. We had an offer, but it fell through. That meant we would need to do a lot more work and spend a lot more money to get it ready. We got it on the market far later than we anticipated. We were emotionally and physically exhausted. All of our hard work paid off. Our house sold the first day to the first people who  looked at it for significantly more that we asked. What a miracle. We were able to pay off our first and second mortgage, our tiny house build, and quite a bit of debt and still have a good chunk of change left over. We were so glad, we didn’t settle for less. Divine Timing. 

Our tiny was not ready by closing, so we chose to stay in an airbnb. It would be like a mini vacation and give us a chance to decompress from the last few months. They even let us bring our cat. Two weeks living out of suitcases would be no problem. We soon were informed by the builder that we would need to extend the deadline by two more weeks. Our owner extended our stay by two more weeks. What seemed like an inconvenience, turned out to give us the much needed time to put important things into place, like water systems and electricity. Divine Timing. 

As the new deadline approached, we were informed that the deadline would need to be pushed back at least two more weeks. It knocked the wind out of our sails. We were tired of living out of suitcases. We were eager to live in our own house. Once again, the owner booked us past the new deadline. What a relief. At the same time, my mom passed away. We were able  to go to Chicago for the funeral and spend quality time with my sister and her boyfriend. I have also been able to slow down and process my grief without the added pressure of setting up a new house. Divine Timing. 

God has been with us every step of the way. He knows the deep yearning in our hearts to finally realize our tiny house dream. We are not guaranteed that our house will be ready by the new deadline. Any number of factors can cause another delay. Construction often takes more time than we want it to. We know our builder is working diligently to finish according to schedule. We trust him, but mostly we trust God’s Divine Timing. He knows what we need so much better than we do.

This process has helped me to grow in ways I never imagined. I have been reminded of  the brevity of life and the preciousness of relationships. I have learned that happiness and joy are two very different things. Happiness is dependent on circumstances. Joy is based on something deeper and much more constant. I am learning to have an abiding joy in the Lord. This would not be the case without Divine Timing.

When things are crazy and unpredictable look for the Divine.




Life Transitions

According to vocabulary.com A transition is a change from one thing to the next, either in action or state of being-as in a job transition or as in the much more dramatic example of a caterpillar making a transition into a butterfly. Transitions are a part of life. They are often very difficult and painful, but they produce such strength and beauty.  The last year has been a huge time of transition in my life.

In the middle of all of my topsy turvy life, I would face significant loss. My younger sister passed away in March. It was so sudden and unexpected. I was filled with shock and disbelief. I had barely begun the process of grieving the loss of my sister and four months later, my mom passed away in her sleep. Two of the most significant relationships were gone. I am once again in the process of working through new levels of grief.

Last week, we were able to honor my mom and the impact of her life on those around her. Although it was a sad and somber time filled with tears, it was a very beautiful tribute to this amazing woman. I invite you to take this time to get acquainted with her. My mom was an amazing storyteller. She was both fun and funny. She loved to play practical jokes and had a great sense of humor. She wore her emotions on her sleeve. She loved holidays and time spent with family. One of my cousins mentioned that she made everyone around her feel special and another cousin reminded me that she “got a promotion.” She passed on to me a fear of snakes and a love for country music.

The pastor shared that mom had experienced her share of challenges and transitions. Tenacity was the word he used to describe her. He reminded us of the many transitions in her life.  Mom was born in Eastern Kentucky. This was home to her and she loved it. When our family moved to Chicago, I was too young to realize what  culture shock she for her. She felt the loss of a big move, being an empty nester, retiring, losing loved ones, moving in with my older sister, dad passing, going to long term care. I did not see that the losses and transitions I am experiencing paralleled hers. My goal is the handle mine with tenacity and strength. 

The funeral director gave my sister and I a special gift of a framed picture of my mom. He hand painted an angel for my sister and a butterfly for me.  How did he know that butterflies have held a special significance for me. The butterfly struggles through transition, but comes out beautiful. 

In memory of Alice Davis Lewis, February 5, 1931 – July 30, 2018




Cat’s Have Feelings Too!

My name is Tiki. I am the Pabst family pet. My humans (aka Mom and Dad) are amazing. I do have Mom wrapped around my paw, but Dad not so much. Lately, some strange things have been happening. My parents have been talking about selling our house. They didn’t ask my opinion. How dare they.

Things have been crazy around here and I don’t like it one bit. So many humans have been coming and going. They are big, loud and scary. The thing that really bothers me is that things keep disappearing from the house. My favorite chair is gone and I have no place to hide. Don’t they know cats do not like change.

The worst thing is that I have to be in my kennel a lot. That usually means a trip to the vet. They leave me and more people come in the house. My head is spinning.

My parents go outside and spend the whole day outside and they don’t invite me. I sit in the window and voice my displeasure, but they pretend they don’t hear me. What is going on I thought I was the king of the castle and everything revolved around me. When they come inside, I ignore them. I’ll show them.

Now they’ve really gone and done it. They put me in the kennel and drove a really long way. I meowed my head off, but it didn’t matter. They brought me to a place called Air BNB. I am in a teeny tiny room. No place to roam, but great places to hide. I stayed under the bed for a whole day just to make my parents feel bad. My parents have the nerve to leave me in that teeny tiny room while they are free to roam wherever they please. So not fair! I hear them talking and smell food that they do not share with me. I meow repeatedly and try to push the door open. That gets their attention and they come back to hang out with me. I have escaped a few times, but it is short-lived. Mom told me we will be here awhile, so I’d better be on my best behavior.

One day Mom put this thing called a harness on me, so I could go outside the room and not run away. She took me outside in nature. I got scared and refused to cooperate with her, so I could go back to my safe place. Can’t they see how stressful this is for me. Cat’s have feelings too you know.

They talk a lot about something called a “tiny house” whatever that means. We are going to live there in a few weeks. They say it is going to be great. They seem so excited about it. I will let you know how it goes.




I have great plans for you.

God has been intimately involved in every aspect of our tiny house journey. He was involved way before it was even a twinkle in our eyes. It brings tears to my eyes as I reflect back on the last year. God has validated every step along the way, however, I did not see that.

When our kids were in high school and we contemplated our future as Empty Nesters, we were intrigued by the thought of traveling the United States in a RV. We went to RV shows and researched the lifestyle. We could not seem to see how this would be a reality in our lives. There were some enticing aspects of RV’ing, but we wanted it to be more than a recreational lifestyle. It is nearly impossible to live in an RV year round in the frigid Minnesota winters. We tabled the idea, but it continued to nag out our hearts. We believe God put that desire in our hearts from the very beginning.

Since that time, the Tiny House Movement began. I loved watching the shows about tiny houses, looking at pictures and reading about those who lived in them. Again, we looked at all the reasons it would not work, but the idea never completely left our mind.

Fast forward to a year ago. John and I separately felled the strong urge from God that it was time to sell our house. The sermon at church that day again validated that this was from God. We thought it might be to provide a sober house to those coming out of addiction. Those plans fell through, but the yearning did not. We knew something bigger than us was at work, but what? We have been through some unique challenges in life, which we feel called to help others through.

Shortly after that, we heard about a Tiny House Open House. We knew we had to go. After touring some tiny houses, we just knew we wanted to pursue this lifestyle. Should we build on a foundation or on wheels? Where will we park it. We met with the couple who hosted the Open House and thought maybe this is where we should build. Although we did not end up choosing to live in their tiny community, we were divinely led to them. They were an amazing couple and they had similar experiences that we did. The next day, we shared with some friends that we were pursuing building a tiny house and they were shocked because their friends lived on hobby farm and wanted to have someone park their tiny house on it. Hmm. More options. Where did God want us? We met the couple and instantly fell in love with them. Guess where we are parking our house? On the hobby farm. We were divinely led there. You see, I had just completed a certification in integrative nutrition where I felt compelled to live a life of sustainability and minimalism. We will have access to organic food.

So many things have fallen in place along the way that continued to encourage us that we were part of a greater plan. We found an amazing builder who is local to Minnesota and is custom building our home to meet our specific needs. Thank you Ryan Ott, from Midwest Tiny Living. We found a wonderful realtor, who guided us to do the hard, but necessary tasks to get our house ready. Our house sold the first day it was on the market. We found the best professionals to help with the big stuff. And we cannot adequately thank our friends who have given up time, energy, muscle to help us. They also provided moral support and prayers. Once again, God is so good. He has been so faithful to us.

God gave me the desire to use more natural, chemical free products in my home. I started using essential oils to make my own cleaning products. I had no idea at the time that I would become an oil addict. I use them every day and not just for cleaning. They have helped me stay grounded as well as manage my emotions during this chaotic time in my life. They are so important to me, that I am having a special shelf designed to store them. I need my tiny essentials (oils that is).

Are you hearing whispers from God? Do you feel the nudges? What about those crazy dreams and ideas that do not go away? My best advice is to be still and listen for the next step, the right step. God has big plans for all of us. I am so thankful to be following my divinely inspired path. I wish that for you as well.

The journey so far has not been all sunshine and roses. I have more than once lost sight of the fact that God is in control of all this. He had this plan long ago, even before tiny houses existed. We do not know with certainty what big thing is unfolding, but for now we are leaning on God to reveal the who, what, when, where. I believe the why is to support other baby boomers through the many life transitions they face.

Remember, God has big plans for you.

P.S. This blog brought to you by Balance.



Tiny Fest Midwest

Last weekend we attended the Tiny Fest Midwest, a tiny house festival in Omaha, Nebraska. What is a tiny house festival you ask? It is a gathering of those who live tiny, build tiny, aspire to live tiny or are just plain curious.  Just like any festival there were food trucks, vendors, camping and live music. Did I mention that it was outside and the weather was nearly 100 degrees.

Three tiny house festivals occurred that weekend. They were hosted by Tiny Houses Across America. Festivals were also held in California and Virginia.  This was a historic moment for the tiny house movement



There were tiny house builders and DIYers. There were great speakers and workshops. It was exciting to see two Minnesotans on the main stage sharing their tiny journey. They shared the ups and downs and gave tips on tiny living. One message we heard over and over was that the journey can be hard, but well worth it. Those who now live tiny keep inspiring us that our journey is worth every step we take. We are so thankful for those that have gone before us. We also feel excited about setting an example for other boomers to take the jump.

One of the best things of all, was touring other tiny houses. It was great to see the creativity of each home. The fact is, each home is truly unique.  Even though the space is small, you never know how each inch will be used. The creativity adds charm and intrigue to each house.  We were also able to see Skoolie Homes which are converted school buses. They were amazing. There was a company that donates all its proceeds to provide tiny homes to veterans, disaster victims or those in need. We even saw a tiny medical clinic. It was so great to connect with people on the same journey.

We really enjoyed our time in Omaha. It was so good to put the past few months behind us. We were able to reconnect with each other, enjoy great food and chill in front of Netflix. We are rejuvenated and ready for the next leg of this journey. Next year when we attend the festival, we will be tiny home dwellers.

Live Simply,

John and Barb

Embrace the Adventure

When we began this tiny adventure we were so excited. We enjoyed every step, from finding the perfect builder, to the custom design, to finding the perfect place to park it. It took a while to get the design just the way we wanted. Being baby boomers, we did not want to sleep in a loft and climb ladders or steep stairs, so our bedroom is on the main level. Our trailer foundation is extra long(34 feet) and was custom made.

We were so caught up in the fairy tale, we did not even think about the in between. Our bubble burst pretty quickly when we started doing the hard work of preparing our house to sell, which turned out to be all worth it (to be shared in a future blog). It has taken months to prepare it to sell but that all worked out. We know God has been with us every step of the way.

We sold, donated or junked most of our belongings since it did not make a great impression for potential buyers. It was an unavoidable reality.  Right now, we are sleeping on an air mattress.  It is a self-inflatable queen size bed and even feels better than our old mattress. I went on a shopping excursion to find big fluffy pillows to support our aching backs at the end of the day. They work pretty well, but the bed likes to slide away from the wall and that leaves us sinking. We have to make sure we inflate it daily or we feel like we are sleeping on a water bed. We have certainly had our laughs about this.

After a grueling day working on the house, we could not wait to sit down in our comfy chairs and watch the Food Network. Oh yeah, we got rid of our comfy chairs. We did keep a rolling office chair and some camping chairs. You can sit in them, but they do not ease your weary bones. The camping chair feels like you are sitting in a bucket and is hard to get out of. One of our priorities in our tiny living area, is to have super comfy chairs. We can’t wait!!!

Eating a meal together has been a challenge since we sold our table. No problem, we put together our TV trays and voila, it’s time for dinner.  Metal chairs to boot. You do what you have to do.

Our clothes are in big plastic totes. It takes us a while to remember where we put some of our important things, but hey, it’s all part of the adventure. We could decide to be miserable and complain, but we have chosen to embrace the adventure. It will make the end destination, so sweet. Keeping our sense of humor has been key in all of this.

The past 9 months has been more than we imagined.  Who knows what is ahead.  We believe something very good is waiting for us and we look forward to it.

Live Simply,

John and Barb

The Rocking Chair

When you downsize significantly, you need to part with a lot of stuff. It is so freeing to donate, sell or throw things away. Some things are much harder to part with. We were not prepared for the feelings of loss and emotionally detaching from gifts, mementos, etc. We sold a lot of our furniture since it would not fit in our tiny. We had an old rocking chair in our basement family room that John was not ready to let go of. He measured it and tried to convince me that somehow it would not take up space in our tiny living area. It was over 20 years old, a little tattered and I just could not understand why he was so insistent that we keep it. He revealed to me that he had such good memories of rocking our kids in that chair and holding them in his lap. I could certainly relate to that feeling since other things evoked those same emotions in me. Finding old artwork from the kids or reading papers they wrote held deep memories of special times with them.

We decided to declutter in stages. You cannot do it all at once. The loss is too big. We have a box for things we know we cannot part with. That box is pretty full. We also included items that we were unsure about. Maybe they didn’t hold as much significance as others, but we just could not decide at the moment. I’m sure when we move in to our tiny, we will let go of a few more things. Saying goodbye emotionally to objects, is much harder than we anticipated. This adventure has been like a roller coaster ride with ups and downs, twists and turns, and even stalled rides. It is both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. We know it will be worth it, but why is it so hard now?

As for the rocking chair, our son took it with him when he moved out. What peace it brought to John that it would live on for awhile.

Live Simply,

John and Barb

Creating Debt to Get out of Debt…

One of the benefits of “Going Tiny” is freedom from debt. However it is not as easy as it sounds. We have acquired more debt since we started this journey than we ever imagined. How did this happen? Initially we thought we would just pay for the tiny build with the proceeds we made from selling our current house. All we really needed to do is make a few repairs, paint some walls, add new carpet and call it a day. Were we ever in for a big surprise. Even though we did all we could, some unexpected and expensive repairs came our way.  We had to call in a five experts to do the work.

Second, we didn’t think about the fact that in order to pay for our custom build, we would need to pay in advance. We had to find creative ways to do this. First we went to a bank to get a loan, right? Wrong! We were surprised how difficult it was to get a loan for a tiny house. We would qualify for loans but were denied when they learned the money was needed to finance a tiny house. If we were offered a personal loan, it was far less than what was needed.  If the loan was approved the interest rates were outrageous. How in the world were we going to do this? God was looking out for us. The same day we had our last rejection we received some information in the mail about a special loan available to pharmacists.  In a short time we were approved for more than we  needed at a reasonable rate.

Third, we failed to account for the day to day expenses including our current house payment.  Living check to check was  a harsh reality.

The good news is, when our house sells, we will pay off a considerable amount of debt including our new build. Once we are living tiny, our expenses will significantly decrease. Right now, it is a little stressful. We have had our moments. One thing that keeps us going is to keep our eyes on the end goal. This is not always easy, but the encouragement comes at exactly the right time.

Who would have thought you would have to create so much debt to reduce debt?

Live Simply,

John and Barb





Let The Build Begin

It has been a while since we posted. We have been busy getting our house ready to sell. It is challenging to psychologically detach, but we are there. We are so excited that our foundation trailer is ready. It is time to start the build. Ryan Ott from Midwest Tiny Living, LLC is doing a custom build for us. Our trailer is 34 feet which enables us to have our bedroom on the  main level. We will be posting more updates and pictures in the coming weeks. Thank you for taking this journey with us.

Live Simply,

John and Barb


In mid November we had an unexpected house showing. We have many projects planned that will take a few months to finish  So we asked for help.  With just one request we had seven friends show up.  We have an acre of land with many mature trees. Five of us conquered the yard in a few hours.  Our deck needed a major cleaning. So we had friend bundled up and power washing away.  Last of all we had couple replace our over the stove microwave.

When the couple came, the house and yard looked amazing.  These acts of kindness are a blessing that we will never forget.  And by the way, if your looking for a house…