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  • Maggie Wallem Rowe

Your Life’s Been Downsized: How’s That Working for You?

Once upon a time, you had a big home occupied by a busy family. Your calendar was filled with activities and appointments – church and school, volunteer and work commitments. Now everything you own fits into one small room, and you are the sole occupant.

You had a big job once with an impressive title, maybe even your nameplate on the door. Now the only place you see your name printed with any regularity is on the bills in your mailbox.

You had big plans once to travel in your later years with the one who vowed to love you for better or for worse. Who could have predicted he’d turn out to be the worse- his love turned fickle and faithless?

It’s not only homes that get downsized. Lives do, too.

People who were dear to us disappear. We may not have the physical stamina we once took for granted. Our money no longer stretches to the end of the month. Sometimes life becomes so much smaller that it’s hard to recall what it was like when the future loomed large – an immense canvas on which you painted your hopes and dreams.

When the world as you knew it has been diminished, how do you enlarge your vision to spot the small things scattered through your days that bring joy?

Our neighbors had this tiny "hobbit door" installed in the crawlspace below their stairs to create a reading nook for their grandkids. Aren't small things wonderful?


“A small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong.” James 3:4

You’ve got a little bit of time? Ask the Lord to bring to mind someone who needs encouragement today. Send a text, make a call, mail a card.

If you’re serving a little church or speaking to a small group or will only live somewhere a short while, invest in those around you as if what you’re doing matters for all eternity. It does.

You have a small amount of money? Leave quarters in the laundromat or dollars at the dollar store. Pay for the meal of the family behind you in the drive-through. Sleep well tonight in the knowledge that these small acts sparked joy for someone else today.

The only thing better than answered prayer is being the answer to another’s prayers.

“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones.” Luke 16:10


What’s no longer a part of your days that once took up most of your time? Raising a family? A demanding career? Caregiving?

Perhaps those responsibilities are past, but you’ve still got skills someone else needs and experiences others will benefit from. Where can you volunteer to teach a lesson, spend time with a lonely teenager, or provide respite care for an exhausted parent or spouse?

“Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-27


Perhaps you’re confined to your room in assisted living, but you can study cloud formations or admire the deep green of late summer outside your window. A caregiver arrives to bring a meal or lend a hand, and you can lift her spirits with a kind word or compliment.

If you’re home with small children, take them outside every day. Marvel with them over the miracle of butterflies perched in mud puddles or the intricate web of a spider. Learn from the littles that it’s OK to play. The dishes and laundry can wait. Their childhood won’t.

Keep a gratitude journal, and jot down the blessings that come your way. Reread your words on days clouded over with pain or worry or sorrow. Remember that every single day has the potential for something amazing to happen.

Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…” Zechariah 4:10

It happened here just yesterday. While I was preoccupied with picking up toys and planning meals, she zipped into the house and hovered near the TV before we could shout “Shoo!”

Maybe this sounds like that nosy neighbor you had once, but our uninvited guest was smaller – less than half an ounce – and decidedly speedier. With four adults, three kids, and three cats living in our home, doors are often left ajar. A Buff-bellied hummingbird weighing less than a marshmallow whirred its way into our living room faster than the eye could follow.

Our son carefully scooped up the tiny bird and carried her outside, gently cradling her between his thumb and forefinger. The children stroked her feathers before Adam released her into the blue Carolina sky.

Our visitor - isn't she a wonder?

Truman, 5, was full of questions. How can you tell a boy hummingbird from a girl? Why do the girls have speckled throats and green backs that shine like metal? How can something that small fly so fast?

Surely more important things took place yesterday. There were discussions and decisions and financial dilemmas of various kinds.

But the big thing we’re still talking about today?

That small bird. Our family got to touch a wild creature, and in return she touched us.

Life doesn’t get any better – or bigger – than that.

The best things in life truly are the small ones! (July 2022)

Maggie Wallem Rowe is an author, dramatist, and speaker who writes from Peace Ridge, her home in the mountains of western North Carolina. Her first book, This Life We Share, was published by NavPress in 2020. Her second, Life is Sweet, Y'all, released from Tyndale House this spring. Both are available anywhere books are sold. Maggie and her husband, Mike, are the parents of three young adults, two bonus kids, and six high-energy grandchildren.

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