Agape House Journey - Fits and Starts
Updated: Dec 7, 2021
Agape House firstname.lastname@example.org Hi, we are Karen and Phil Ashford. Karen is a Registered Nurse (RN) with 13 years of professional experience in a hospital setting. Phil is a business process SME and is in business development working remotely with clients needing TPRM (third party risk management), BCP (business continuity planning) and InfoSec. www.linkedin.com/in/philip-ashford
We are going tiny with our Agape House a 26 foot home on wheels that expands on both sides to become 15 feet wide. It is RVIA certified and NOAH certified so we have the best of both worlds – a moveable lifestyle that allows for flexible work/life balance and the ability to stay for long periods on or off-grid* but able to move when opportunity beckons. Being built to National Association of Alternative Housing (NOAH) standard allows us to meet the revised ICC Appendix Q standards for tiny structures which are becoming accepted in various states and counties nationwide. https://www.tinyhomeindustryassociation.org/appendix-q/
Karen and I got the tiny house bug several years ago and went back and forth about the best way to go about it. I hoped to build one myself and Karen thought that was unrealistic with my work schedule and the fact that we lived in Annapolis, MD - not a THOW friendly zone. Our apartment was in the downtown area allowing us to walk downtown to the harbor as well as to church and local coffeehouses and restaurants. I was able to work from home owing to an accident that left me in need of surgery and physical therapy - unable to drive for nearly 9 months! This translated to a recognition that I could be productive remotely, even venturing out after I could drive to visit clients across the country or the occasional face to face meeting with the federal team that I supported. This represented the New World of Work and we embraced it.
During this time we went to Tiny House Jamboree in Arlington, TX in 2017 and were blown away by the variety and accessibility of a simpler style of living. Everything from tiny teardrop trailers up through 5th wheel giants (giant tiny houses?), Schoolies and Yurts. People were becoming mobile or at least flexible in their living arrangements. We attended the seminars and met many of the luminaries of the genre responsible for the rapid expansion of awareness, acceptance and code and zoning details related to going tiny.
After a trip to the Holy Land in January, 2018 and a tremendous ACTS retreat at our church in February, we were (we thought) ready for what ever the Holy Spirit had in mind for us. We were not expecting to return from a business trip in May to a notice that our house (rental apartment) was being sold in 2 days with the upshot that the young couple upstairs bought the house, announced they were tripling our rent and when that did not cause us to instantly move out sent registered letters to both of us to vacate in 60 days. Stunned, we asked for God's help and sure enough, got a call the same evening from the producers of Loud TV who make the show Tiny House Nation. They liked the story that Karen had sent them on a Facebook ad and wanted to talk about using our experience on a future show!
We had done no prep and shooting was to take place over the Labor day week end when we were supposed to be moved out of our then apartment. When you put things in God's hands - it all works out and we were on camera on schedule -only 60 days later!
(Season 5, Episode 5 https://www.netflix.com/title/81016914 ) Agape House was ready for camera over the labor day weekend in 2018 and we shot footage in Annapolis and the Hagerstown, MD areas.
After the show wrapped we exhibited the house at the MD Tiny House Expo and over 800 people came through Agape House over 2 days and were delighted.
In 2018 a host of challenges landed on our plate including having to vacate our home of 15 years, personal health issues and the near loss of Mom after a fall and complications. Somewhere in the middle of all of it we were given the grace to take a major leap of faith which has led to the construction of Agape House our tiny house on wheels and mobile office for Phil's work and Karen's next step in her career.
We put our tiny house plans on hold when Phil’s parents needed our help to prepare for assisted living and now nearly a year later we are ready to head south to Florida to start our tiny house adventures.
Our blog - "Our Agape House Journey" - is launched now that we are contractually free to provide backstory, photos and technical details surrounding our decision to go tiny and what it has taken for us to do so thus far! Until recently, Phil's work was taking him from coast to coast. Karen is exploring the kinds of work she would like to do that will facilitate our evolving lifestyle choice. * Solar decisions and specifications are pending