001 My Story, My Passion

From the Big House on the golf course (outer wealth with inward poverty) to a Tiny House (and contentment) and points in between.

or read…

Header Bio

Kitchen Simplicity Cover 11202017Hi everybody. My name is Carmen Shenk and I have a brilliant husband who is a Pipe Organ Builder, a cute little treat-vacuum dog, and a talented adult stepdaughter.

I am a published author. My first book came out in 2018 and I’ve got one coming out this year and a whole stack of books I want to write in the course of time.

I am in ministry, so to speak. I consider myself an interior designer. I’m not talking about the kind of person that picks the paint color or chooses the oriental rug (although I’m good at those things). I’m actually…

well maybe I’ll get back to that in a minute.

Life is really pretty good right now and I’m absolutely grateful. It wasn’t always this way. I wasn’t always happy to be in the skin I’m in.

judged my life


infert adoptionThere was a time when my family situation was pretty rough. I have wanted to have kids all of my life, but for 15 years I was a part of an infertile couple, followed by three years in the international adoption pipeline. We were in the process of adopting a sibling group of three children.  Our final referral came and I held that file in my hands and looked into the eyes of those children.  This was my final shot at being a parent, but I knew they would not be mine.  I knew that my best choice as their mom, was to not to be their mom.  My marriage wasn’t even a safe place for me.


Screenshot (104)At the time I was in debt up to my eyeballs. And I was stuck in a group of part time jobs trying to make enough money to keep the boat afloat and it wasn’t working. I hated those little meaningless jobs. I was a hamster on a wheel and there was such a relentless meaninglessness about my life.

I was a professional artist but finding time to create around all the financial stress was pretty challenging.  I had some success, but it was all dependent on me being present and able to focus… which is hard to do with overwhelming debt.


MINISTRYI had some ideas about ministry and talked to my pastor about it. He wasn’t positive about the idea at all so I asked, “So what’s the deal? Am I not qualified? Am I too young, what’s the deal?”

It turned out “the deal” was that I was a woman.



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I woke up one morning and I was devastated that I had wakened.  The divide between life and death got tissue thin for me. I was living right there on that dangerous edge.

When I realized how bad things had become, and how close I came… I knew it was time to do something.

It was time to save my life.  I had been so busy saying “This isn’t so bad… I can survive this” but it had become evident that I might not…

I needed an interior designer.

I lived in a beautiful house on the golf course, but my heart was rubble. I had outward wealth with inward poverty.  I needed an interior designer, not for my house, but for my heart.

3 things


I began to do some very intentional detoxing:

  • First with toxic relationships. (Not easy!)
  • Then I started to work on my toxic mindset. (A process!)
  • Then I started to work getting the toxic chemicals out of my environment. (So worth it!)

All of that *sounds* simple… but it wasn’t.  Not in the least.


At the time this was happening, I was living in a nice house of 3,600 square feet.  It was on the golf course and had an amazing view. I loved that house, but it was outward wealth with inward poverty.

Sweet CarolineFast forward a number of years and I’m living with my new husband in a tiny house of 125 square feet. I’ve had closets bigger than that! However, I had everything in my tiny house that I didn’t have in my big house on the golf course.  I had connection.  Intimacy.  Someone who believed in me.  I had love.

Xaver and I loved our tiny house and we loved the intimacy of our lives there.  We lived there for three and a half years, and those were some of the best times of our lives!

Currently we live in a small house of 660 square feet.  We miss our tiny house sometimes, but we have grown to love our smart, sexy, small home. All the lessons I learned while living tiny have been put to good use in this sweet small house. It’s becoming more and more “us” with each passing project. It’s a glorious work in progress.


I began to look at the ways that my faith had been shutting doors for people instead of opening them. In my study I discovered that God just isn’t the sort of person that slams doors.  In fact, God calls us to reconciliation… which means showing the world that the doors are open to all.  Yes, really.

found a faithopening doors

I’ve really fallen in love with trains.  There’s such incredible inertia when a loaded freight train comes to a stop.  It’s not easy to get that train moving again.

train tracks on rocks

When I unload some freight, that helps… but that isn’t enough. I have to back up that train and get all of those cars squished back together again. And then what happens?

The engine starts to move the engine.

Then the engine starts to move the engine and the first car.

Then the engine starts to move the engine, and the first car, the second car.

Then the engine starts to move the first car, the second car, and the third car and the fourth car… And before long, there’s real actual movement.

Train on a bridge at nightfreight train

When you wake up one morning and are devastated that you’re still alive, it’s time to unload some freight, and back up the train.  Start making some small movements.  Take some time for intentional self care.  Simplify one thing… then simplify something else, and keep going.  Explore a deepening faith.  These little steps might not look like much at the time, but each small step propels you forward.

And before long, a little more self care and a little more simplicity and a deepening faith and something is really starting to happen.  Life is starting to feel different. Very different.

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Some of us have to have to back up the train and we’re scared because we think we’ll never move again. We’re not bouncing off a rock bottom. We’re stuck there. But I’ll tell you the truth, today you are on the right track. Today something’s going to start moving and you’re going to start embracing intentional self care.  You’re going to start working at simplifying and you’re gonna explore an empowering spirituality.

And you know what? Before long there’s motion. Then there’s momentum.

Photo Apr 24, 7 40 06 PM

I believe in momentum. I believe in the train that’s going places. I believe that when you get to the intersection and it’s the car and the train, guess who won’t stop? That’s right.  The train won’t stop.  Once a train has momentum it is an unstopable force of nature!

You and I are trains and we are gaining momentum.  We are relentless.  We are tenacious, and you know what? We will not give up. We are not going to give up!

We’re embracing intentional self care, and purposeful simplicity.  You and I are embracing a powerful, empowering, door-opening kind of faith because God doesn’t slam doors. That’s just not the character of God. You are here for a reason.  Keep going!

Keep Going

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Thanks so much for visiting my website today, I really appreciate it!

Carmen Shenk
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