living in the {in between}

The debate was long and wavering. Do we stay in the new house or not? Aunt Sharon still had a few things to pack... I wanted to give her the space to do that, Jim was ready to get IN. The kids were excited to start their new school year from The New House. We had people lined up to help move on Saturday. This was Wednesday. Could we not wait a few more days for the dream God had planted in our hearts to be realized? Isn't patience a virtue?

Tali, the kid who always says the thing everyone in the room/family/group is thinking [not sure where she would get that from??] told Sharon (in conversation) it wouldn't really be our house til we slept here. Aunt Sharon answered "well, you can start sleeping here anytime you want!"

Yes, that's all Jim needed to hear.

The next day I called to see what he was doing... "taking the bunk beds apart". He was matter-of-fact. There was no room for discussion or debate. We were sleeping in The New House. Tonight.

This is for real.

I was driving in my truck and suddenly those tears that I had held onto for so long began to flood down my cheeks.

We are really, really, really moving.

After the disappointment of "the other house"... it was so, so, so, hard to let my heart believe.Despite the promises, the talk, the blog post, the facebook statuses, the decorations purchased, the plans made... I have to be honest with you, friends... I didn't really believe it until that moment. [insert ugly cry here]

The reality of God's faithfulness hit me like never before. He is a God that does what He says He is going to do. I have said that dozens, hundreds of times. Now I was living it.

How can something make you feel so small and so significant all at the same time? The awe of a God who is SO BIG that He gets to do whatever He wants to do? A God who knew from the BEGINNING the plans He had for our family? That the same God that spoke the UNIVERSE into EXISTENCE would give a flying fig where the Boyles family lived!? That He would love us so stinking much! That with the injustices of the world and the millions of prayers whispered, spoken, screamed every day... that He would hear MINE. A God so faithful that He would take us through the pain of disappointment so that we could learn how to lean... who let us feel *that* so we could fully appreciate *this*.

And so, the beds moved to Bruceville.

And with them, the Boyles family.

our first night in the new house
That evening was a blur. We ate some sort of supper that night, I think... [Lord tell me I fed the children the night before their first day of school?] We packed the back of my truck with clothes, bedding and other necessities. Beds went up. Jim made more trips back to Edwardsport for this or that which we needed to survive [back packs]. The kids lay on the living room floor watching a show in their kindle fires. And then we headed to bed.

I will never forget the feeling of laying there in my bed in this new house. I felt foreign. Like I was somewhere I didn't belong... sleeping in someone else's house.  Walking in the promise we had stood on so long. Jim and I could not sleep. Despite our exhaustion we talked through the night. I found out the next day, Tali and Zach lay awake deep into the night as well.

The next day I visited the old house. I expected to walk in and be washed by a wave of nostalgia, maybe even a tinge of sadness... but instead I found that it felt even smaller. More claustrophobic. The decor more dated. Less like home. In fact, it felt foreign too.

That night I told Jim, "here we have two houses... and neither of them feel like home"... don't get me wrong, we were over-the-moon, out-of-our-minds ecstatic about The New House... it just didn't feel like home yet. 

After exhaustion finally won the battle in the man next to me, I lay there alone with me thoughts. Two houses, no home.

As I talked with God that night... He whispered to my heart that this is a little bit like the life He expects us to live on this earth.
Friends, this world is not your home, so don't make yourselves cozy in it. Don't indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they'll be won over to God's side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives. 1 Peter 2:11 MSG
This world... no more our home than that old house. This world, crowded, claustrophobic, less than His desire for our lives. Toilet that doesn't flush right. Wallpaper border torn by the busy hands of a toddler. Carpets stained. Cracks in the ceiling from a tree limb that fell. And so small in the face of His Kingdom. The Kingdom that stretches across time and space.

Yet how many of us really feel at home in this Kingdom-life either? How many of us feel like we don't quite belong. We aren't quite good enough. We don't deserve a garden tub in our bathroom. Or more kitchen cabinets than we can fill. A living room that can comfortably host our friends. Sometimes I feel like I'm not good enough for THIS promise:
..."In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you..." John 14:2 NIV84
Jesus Christ, raised in the home of a carpenter... likely taught the trade by his earthly father... Preparing a HOME for me... for you... for us... in His Father's Heavenly kingdom!

When I think about that... the tears flow just as they did the moment Jim said "I'm taking the bunk beds apart".

This is really happening. He is really preparing a place for us. As amazing as this new house is... it is nothing compared the the one He is preparing in eternity! Good enough? I did nothing to deserve this house. I can do nothing to deserve Heaven. It's all His grace. His beautiful, astounding, extraordinary, amazing GRACE. This is the Kingdom life He has promised us, the eternity He has prepared for us... to join Him where He is.

But until then... we find ourselves living in the {in between}. In that place of being in the world but not of the world. In that place of knowing that our real home is with God, and feeling like aliens and strangers here... hearts that reside in the Kingdom, bodies in the world.  Laying in your bed, in Aunt Sharon's house.  But don't think that this {in between} time is just a time of waiting... no, it's a time of taking down the bunk beds and moving them on into the Kingdom. It's bringing Kingdom Living to this earth through our lives. It's living the Promise, and inviting others to live it with us. At first... it's going to feel pretty weird. When you first move into the Kingdom, it might feel a lot like you are living in someone else's house, enjoying someone else's promise. But the more time you spend in the Kingdom, the more time you spend painting the walls of your heart with the Word, the more time you spend communing with family there, inviting friends over and feeding them from your table... the more it will begin to feel like home.

We have been in the new house for three weeks tonight. We are still figuring things out- like how much cold water to mix with the hot in the shower (you know how you have it dialed right in to that perfect temp after fifteen years in the same shower?) How many clothes it takes to make a full load in that giant washer and dryer. That one must only use a small (very small) amount of bubbles when adding them to a bathtub with jets. That we can sweep the kitchen floor a dozen times a day, and it's still going to get tracked on. Where the outlets are (all fifteen trillion of them, it's GLORIOUS). We have painted the kitchen, hung a few pictures, decorated the tops of the cabinets... left towels on the floor overnight. We have begun to settle in.  Bibles on tables. Photography stuff piled in the door. This is where we live. In this promise fulfilled.

Tali told me that a couple of nights ago, she was laying in bed reading a book when she just closed it, and lay there thinking "I have MY OWN ROOM. This is MINE."

It's still surreal. Part of me hopes that it always is. That I can always feel the wonder of a dream fulfilled by the only One able. That as I walk through this house, bumping into things in the dark, I will be reminded of what it's like to walk out of this world and into the Kingdom. Eventually I will be able to navigate with my eyes closed... oh that my heart would be so comfortable in the Kingdom living that I will be guided by my spiritual eyes rather than physical ones!  That the grandfather clock chiming would always be a reminder that He is an ON TIME GOD. That our family will be forever changed by His faithfulness, and that we should never, ever, ever forget how faith opened the door to this new home.

Lord, would you help us see the beauty of your Kingdom here on earth? in our hearts? Will you help us to live this {in between} life... aliens here longing for there... to the fullest glory of You? Will you remind us daily of our blessings, of our abundant life in you, of the things that really matter. Not houses, not paint, not pretty decor... but eternity spent in you. Letting your Kingdom reign in our hearts and in our homes... bringing it to our communities and the people who desperately need it the most. Thank you Father, for your faithfulness, for hearing our prayers, and for loving us so stinking much...

A few more pics for your viewing pleasure... bringing the Boyles' touch to a new house is fun. bringing your heart into the Kingdom is even better :)
t&z on our back deck the first day of school

a rare picture of zach painting. this lasted approximately ten minutes.

on the mantle. surreal.

kitchen decor. and that's our new-fangled chore sheet on the fridge
(used a sharpie for the lines, and dry erase marker for the rest so we don't have to print one every week)

just portion of our counter space- and this picture alone is more than we had in our entire kitchen at the old house.
above our sink so that we may never, ever forget


when normal becomes extraordinary

Last night I stayed up with most of America, much of the world, and all of Twitterdom to watch the Women’s Gymnastic Team take GOLD GOLD GOLD GOLD in the team all-around competition. Were you watching in amazement with the rest of us? Did you cry when the final scores hit the board?

Isn’t  it funny how year after year, we come to find ourselves on first name basis with the entire team?   I still remember routines by Mary Lou, Carly, Nastia, Shawn… and last night’s performances by Gabby, Jordan, Ally (and her parents), Kayla, and McKayla will go on the shelf of my Olympic memories with the others.  [What about THIS vault… seriously!?]

It was truly something to behold. The women… girls really… on the world’s stage.  A lifetime of training, sacrifice, and dreams come down to this moment.  Two minute routines on a spring floor. Fifteen second bursts of power from the vault.  A minute’s worth of gasps as they twirl around the uneven bars.  Three minutes of courage and poise atop that beam.

{to this day I can’t see a beam routine without thinking about THIS sermon illustration by Francis Chan, take a few minutes to watch it. I’ll wait.}

Last night as I questioned choices about hair [I'm a stickler for a proper pony tail or bun, folks], found myself wanting to meet the adorable little female coach, and marveled at one nearly flawless routine after another from the Fab Five… I was struck by one word they kept repeating to one another as each went up to do her part…


Just do it normal. You don’t have to do anything supernatural or extraordinary or miraculous… because you have trained so hard, spent so much time in the gym, practiced this routine so many times that your normal has become extraordinary.

“Normal”… the word was comforting to the ears of this sixth member of the team (I cried like I was going to take the stand when they won, after all). “You don’t have to pull a trick out of your hat, Gabby… just do what you know how to do…”  Crazy release moves that look impossible to connect… that’s your normal

And I wondered…

If that isn’t what or faith walks should be like.

Walks where extraordinary leaps… are our normal. Where trusting God instead of clinging to the beam {did you watch that Francis Chan video? If not, go back and watch, we’ll pause the programming for ya} is our natural. Where we don’t have to pull any rabbits out of our hats because we have spent so much time in the Word, are so prayed up, and have practiced His presence enough that the supernatural becomes our normal and our normal has become extraordinary.

Where stopping to pray with a friend, right then and there is just what we do. Where laying hands on the sick and healing is the norm. Where God says “go” and we go. Or “wait” and we wait. When He asks us to give until it hurts and we actually do it. And then we see Malachi’s word come to pass in ourlives as glory and power pour out into us.

Where extraordinary ministries like Paul’s are birthed. He laid hands on people and they were healed. He was imprisoned and the chains just fell off. People would run home with bits of cloth he had prayed for because there was power and healing in them.

Ministries marked by obedience.  Ministries marked by having met God face to face. Ministries marked by changed lives. Ministries marked by being completely and 100% sold out to the cause of Christ.

You and I can have that tooWe can have lives where the extraordinary becomes our normal.

When we are willing to obey.
When we are willing to sacrifice.
When we are willing to really turn from sin.
When we are willing to be sold out for Him.
When we are willing to be in our Word. Every day.
When we are willing to pray without ceasing.
When we are willing to trust that He is enough. Our Divine spotter. And that even if we try, and fail… He will use that to grow and refine us.

I want that kind of ministry. I want that kind of life. I want signs and wonders and miracles and supernatural and extraordinary to become my normal.

But I am not  going to become an Olympian by sitting on my couch and wanting. And I’ve been doing a lot of that lately. I’ve been doing a lot of settling. And selfish living. And distraction.  It’s time to get this boat back on course.

It’s going to take work and sacrifice and obedience on my part. Like Gabby Douglas, it may mean leaving the comfort of everything I know to go deep into training for a year and a half (not seeing her mother a single time except for at meets…) 

Am I willing to give it all for Him?

Are you?

It may look differently than we expected, as little Jordan Weber discovered when cut from the Women’s All-Around Finals (which seems so, so, unfair…)

Am I willing to wipe the tears of disappointment from my cheeks and go to work for the team, the Body, the Bride… anyway?

Are you?

I want to live a life where “normal” looks a little like double lay out dismounts with a twist. Or aerials as high as my head. Or vaults that defy logic.  Where enormous leaps of faith are normal. Where miracles are normal. Where really TRUSTING Him is normal. Where normal has become extraordinary. 

Where normal is anything BUT normal.

[What about you? If you want to enter a season of training, of praying and seeking, with me... would you drop me a line? We'll figure out a way to set up a group... to hold one another accountable to deeper reliance on Him, bigger leaps, more extraordinary normals.] 

Father, help us to redefine our normal. Help us to have a faith that expects the extraordinary, and that trusts your will for our lives. Father… I confess that I have become distracted. I confess that I have not spent time with you, and Lord I long to change that. Would you help me? Would you send the conviction of your Holy Spirit to right my path? To turn my face toward you? Will you send along fellow athletes, Father, to work toward taking amazing leaps for you? I thank you for who you are, and for the way you can use one little word to refocus my life and my heart. I love you so much, Jesus… it’s in your name I pray… Amen.