Using small things to explain large issues

Idaho woman shares passion for dollhouses in her ministry

Carolyn Kniefel uses her passion for miniature doll houses to explain God’s message. “Get into a Bible study group and begin your relationship with Him.”

Photo by Julia Hart
Carolyn Kniefel uses her passion for miniature doll houses to explain God’s message. “Get into a Bible study group and begin your relationship with Him.”



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African figurines fill a trunk display created by Carolyn Kniefel of Payette. It began her hobby with dollhouses when her children were young.

— A dollhouse given as a birthday present launched a passion for miniatures that still resonates for an Idaho woman.

Speaking to the Lower Valley Christians Women Connection yesterday, Carolyn Kniefel used a series of her favorite miniature dollhouses to illustrate her life.

“So often small things in life can become big issues if not addressed,” Kniefel said.

As she spoke of her childhood, 50 years of married life and her adventures along the way, she used her tiny creations to explained how she grew spiritually.

Educated to be a teacher, Kniefel said she has spent much of her life helping children to think outside of the box, to find purpose in doing small things.

“It was a lesson that took me a long time to learn,” she said.

“I’ve used my dollhouses to work through many questions,” she said.

Each one is symbolic of steps along the way.

“As I’ve reflected on life, I’ve found there are three very important things to focus on: maintaining a childlike awe and enthusiasm for things; to keep growing spiritually, and to keep a sense of humor,” she said.

As she described one of her houses, “Grandma’s Kitchen,” she related how conversation with her grandmother helped her to see herself in a different light.

“She would wait for a quiet time, and ask me to come sit with her and we’d talk.”

“Of course I probably rolled my eyes a lot, but she’d still tell me things like “have you ever noticed how loudly you speak?

“Or, don’t you think other people would like to talk sometimes,” Kniefel said.

She said those conversations with her Grandmother helped to make “…me a better person.”

Another of her miniature rooms features a dream bedroom, complete with a miniature four-poster bed with a desk and chair for writing and a fireplace.

She said it represented her teenage years when she spent a lot of time sulking in her bedroom.

“We had moved from Illinois to Idaho. I didn’t like it, so I spent one summer digging ‘spuds’ so I could earn a train ticket back home to visit my high school friends,” she said.

It wasn’t until she was on her way back to Idaho that she realized she was being unfair and unkind to her parents.

“I realized I was lonely and I was being selfish,” she said.

Once home, she began attending the YMCA programs and soon found herself attending a church camp.

“Someone gave me a Bible and told me to go find a rock and meditate on the book. I didn’t know what meditation was,” she recalled.

But she learned and she began to rely on the Word and her relationship with God began. “My prayer was simply if you can do better than me – have at it,” she said.

“That’s when I knew I needed to know more about Jesus,” Kniefel said.

She admits she was raised in the church and her grandmother spoke to her about Jesus.

“But until that moment on that rock I didn’t realize I needed to be personal with God,” she said.

Her advice is to get into a bible study group.

“Be interested in small things and create an open communication with God.”

The next Lower Valley Chrisitan Womens Connection meeting is Nov. 8, at the Barn Restaurant, 490 Wine Country Road.



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