{I was a prisoner and you came to me}

35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25:35-40)

I remember studying this passage of scripture in Sunday school and actually thinking to myself "I'm glad you send me to the sick and not the prisoners, God." 

I looked at the guy in our class who works at the prison. That's just too hard. Those people are too hard.  Sure, someone needs to go minister there- I was just really glad it wasn't me. I couldn't do it. I couldn't go so far out of my comfort zone. And yet, His Word kept assaulting me with the truth of our calling to minister to those in jail...

Of course, that is precisely where He was going to take me, and I weep with joy that He would love me enough to send me to the jail in His Name. My friends and I that minister there are so wildly blessed by the Jesus we meet inside those cinder block walls. Sitting with women, in jail, singing songs to our King, with our King... no other worship service quite like it!

And then, last week, THIS happened. Seven of our girls were baptized, and it was one of the most powerful experiences of my entire life. 

I wish you could have been there. I wish I had pictures or a video. I wish that I had more than words to express the amount of Jesus that was in that place that day. The amount of grace. The amount of joy. The amount of peace. 

Still, I have a way you can join us in that place. I have a way that you can be a minister of grace in the Knox County Jail. 

I am looking for people to partner in a Bible ministry for the jail. Let me be real here, there is no shortage of Bibles at the jail. In fact the library has stacks and stacks of Bibles that people have donated or given or taken in there. The problem is, these Bibles have no study notes, no concordance, no glossary... no tools to help someone who has never opened a Bible before to understand on their own what they are reading. 

So, He led me to start getting these Bibles for the girls. 

As I asked the Lord what Bibles to get His answer was simple... "what Bible do YOU read". I know there are many worthy Bibles out there with study notes, but these girls really respond to the the Life Application Study Bible in the New Living Translation. I know there are less expensive options, but if this particular Bible can help these girls grow the deep roots they will need to withstand the temptations of this world outside those jail walls, it's so worth it!

And so, I invite you to join our ministry and bless these girls. The local Bible Bookstore, who is always incredibly supportive of this ministry, has offered to sell them to us, in bulk at just over $20 a Bible... so I'm looking for people willing to buy "one of those really nice Bibles" (as they call them in the jail) for a girl desperate for a hope and a future. Desperate for the truth. Desperate for the armor she will only find in these pages. 

If you want to buy a Bible (or two, or twenty)- just get in touch with me. There are always new girls coming in, and so the need will be steady.  You can email me at becky.boyles@gmail.com (also my PayPal address, just in case you were wondering) or text me at 812-890-1463. If we end up with "too much" money, there are many ways we can bless the girls- Bible Study guides they can do on their own time, books, etc. 

I was in prison and you came to me.

You may not be called to physically visit the prisoner. But you can still be a minister of grace to them. Can't wait to see who God will bless with partnership in this ministry! Thank you, friends!!!


{when i gave up on my marriage}

I remember the days when I was ready to give up. When it was hard to love you. When it was hard to love me. I remember loud, violent fights. I remember throwing things and screaming in your face. I remember slapping you trying to evoke a response.

Such a bitter wife you had, Jim. Such a broken, confused, bitter wife. Full of sin and sadness and hatred.

I remember words that tore you down. Cut to the quick. I remember betrayal. I remember hurt. I remember chasing anything that might make me feel whole... or that would numb the pain I knew inside.

I remember giving up. Knowing in my heart that we weren't going to make it. That there was no way. Imagining what it would be like to not have my children on the weekends.

And then, oh then… the unexpected.

Then I bumped into Jesus.

Looking back, He had been there all along, pursuing, wooing, calling… but this time I realized it was Him. This time I was ready to relent. This time I was ready to give up and give in and throw my heart into His hands…

And slowly He began to heal the hurt, the hate, the bitterness… the brokenness he found there.

You didn’t understand what was going on. You saw me going to church on Sunday and yet during the week I was still this mess of a wife sometimes. It was such a struggle between who I had become and who I was becoming. I walked out my fledgling faith so poorly before you at first.

But things were changing at the heart level.

And even that day when I stood in our empty house with tears streaming down my face saying  ”God, this is IMPOSSIBLE! He hates me now! I have ruined everything!!! Tell me God, how in the world can we NOT get divorced?” Even when everything in me said there was no way, we had gone too far, said too much, hurt too deeply… I wanted to turn that sinking ship around and find shore before we drowned.

It seemed impossible. Everyone could see it. Our family, our friends, our children.

And then, there are the prayers of a three year old. There are the prayers of a three year old girl in her bed that no one knew about until last year… there are prayers of a little girl saying “God, please don’t let mom and dad get divorced.”

And God was listening.

Slowly, I learned what it meant to really follow Jesus. How to love like Him, even when it was hard. How to bite my tongue when everything in me wanted to argue or nag or convince. How to walk as a Godly wife, in submission even to one who did not yet believe.

And then, I gave up for real. I  realized that I couldn't fix what I had broken, only God could do that. I couldn't undo the hurt I had caused, only God could do that. I couldn't make my husband fall in love with me again, only God could do that.  

It was not me, but Jesus in me… refining and teaching me through this marriage.  It was Jesus fanning the flame of my first love and giving me the want to to make it work. It was Jesus listening to a little girl’s pure and simple prayer to keep her family together. It was Jesus teaching me how to love my husband with His love.

Jim, it was hard. It was hard to know what a bitter wife I had been to you. It was hard to know that the words you spoke out of hurt, came from wounds I placed there. I am so sorry, babe… I am so sorry.

And then Jesus called this one with so many words to live a quiet life before her husband. To love you well, even when it was hard. To let you lead, even when I thought I knew a better plan. He told me to get so completely out of the way, that He would have direct access to your heart. I was learning how to love you like Jesus does.

And we began to fight again. Not with each other, but for our marriage.

We fought with the tools of compromise and apologies and patience and perseverance.

Ours is truly a love worth fighting for. When I’m driving down the road and I think about the way your smile explodes into your eyes… I still get butterflies. When you sneak behind me in the kitchen and kiss my neck… there is still electricity.  The love I have in my heart for you has never been this big or this pure or this full of admiration.

You amaze me, Jim Boyles. You amaze me with your quiet love. You amaze me with your quiet service. You amaze me with your gentle care of me. The way you flirt with me and make me feel pretty. Figuring out how to make all my favorite foods gluten free.  Giving me the space to chase hard after Jesus. The way you care for others: building bedrooms for dreamed-of-children, mowing lawns without ever being asked, rescuing from the side of the road, coaching little men in so many more things than baseball and football- but also character and integrity and sportsmanship.

Thank you for not giving up on me. On us. On our family.

Friends, if you are at the end of your rope… ready to throw in the towel and walk away. Know this… God is able. He is able to take something that is broken and hurting and make something beautiful. He is able to take a marriage that is coding and bring new life. He is able to take your bitterness and replace it with love, your anger and give you gentleness, your hopelessness and give you HOPE. He is able. If He was able to take the mess that was Jim and Becky Boyles and create the beauty that we now know, truly He is able to do anything

I won't sugar coat it and tell you that the journey was easy- it was not. There were few steps forward and many steps back. But when I look over at the man driving us to church on a Sunday morning, my heart explodes with praise to the God that restores. I thank God that He gave me a heart of surrender in my marriage! I thank God that He showed me how to love this man well... 


{from mud to mercy}

Today I knelt by a black plastic horse trough filled with grace from a garden hose.

This one whom I had just met a few months ago came toward me. Her loose fitting jump suit not fitting an occasion such as this, but it is the only garment she has. No robe of white for her baptism. No heated baptistery. Just a striped jump suit, cold water, and grace.

And these hands. These hands of mine that have stolen and cheated. These hands that have been perverse and vile and violent. These hands on hers…

This mouth that once denied God. Words that once cursed, lied, slandered. Words that cut to the quick and then exploded with a death blow. Now a flow of love from the mercy seat…

“Jesus loves you so much, my friend. He loves you with everything…”

Tears streaming down her cheeks and mine. This is not how we picture grace. Our hearts grow cynical. Names in the paper become faceless statistics.  

But those names have stories.

And for this one, her story just collided headlong into grace. And it is being rewritten.

“Are you ready, sister? Are you ready to follow Jesus with your entire heart, and mind, and soul?”

Tears become sobs… and “yes, yes, yes, yes, yes” comes tumbling out of a spirit that is desperate for a Savior. Desperate for the promise of a hope and a future. Desperate for HIM.

And then from the same mouth that once denied Him… “I now baptize you, my sister, in the name of the Father… and of the Son… and of the Holy Spirit”.

And hands that were once stained with sin follow her as she kneels forward. All in.

All in.

Face forward into grace.

Water from a hose become a symbol of union with Him. Union in death, and union in New Life.

Water turned grace in the wash bay of a jail gushing over the sides of a black horse trough… I feel it’s cool on my hands and up my arms… splashing feet that had once taken the path of the prodigal… soaking the hem of my skirt. The hem of my garment.

An anointing like no other. An anointing of grace I have never known. An anointing of grace I would never have dared to dream about or imagine when my own desperate sobs cried out to Him in my sin.

That He could use a wretch like me. That He could use hands that have done such harm. That He could use a mouth that has wounded so many… as an instrument of grace.

He found me in the mud. He found me in a pig sty of my own making after I had demanded my inheritance and ran off to the far country. He let me get to the end of myself… He knew I had to… or I would never see my own desperate need for Him.

He watched as I went my own way. He wept as I made wrong choices. He hurt as I denied Him.

And somewhere in that mess… somewhere in that darkness… He declared “THAT ONE… bring her to me”… and sending His Son right into the center of my messy heart, He did just that. He sought me… He rescued me… He sent people to love me right where I was at. People who spoke grace and lived love and stirred a desire in me for more.

And now, my hands on the back of one who had just arrived to the end of herself.  My heart overflowing with His love for her.

As she steps from the water, overcome by His love, another comes.

And another.

And another.

Seven times I kneel by that beautiful baptistery.

Seven times He issues an invitation to love and mercy and grace.

Seven times His Bride says “yes”.

Seven times hearts are overwhelmed and tears fall and forgiveness is received and lives are reconciled.

Seven times His grace covers His Beloved.

Seven times striped jump suits are traded for robes of righteousness.

Seven times it splashes over the sides of a horse trough that could not contain it.  

And I am undone.

From mud to mercy. If ever those words were ever true of my story, they were true today. 

{don't step here}

A few weeks ago I interrupted my kids' summer plans of vegging-out-in-the-air-conditioned-house-alllllll-day by forcing them to come pick wild flowers with me. I was helping with a party for a friend, and with the wild flowers in bloom along every country road in Southern Indiana I knew we could get enough to decorate.

I had been scoping good spots on my adventures to and from photo shoots for a week or so, and knew there was a place that had shoots of beautiful little purple flowers that would be perfect, so we would start there.

Begrudgingly, they helped me get containers of water in a galvanized tub and off we went.

I parked at the side of the road and headed into an overgrown patch of purple flowers that had caught my attention days before. All of the space around these intermittent patches of flowers was mowed and as I neared I saw why the mowers stayed away from here- it was wet, "marshy" looking soil. As I walked directly to the flowers I realized there was a small ditch full of water, and that just on the other side of it was muddy, soggy soil- just enough to keep me away from any of the flowers on this side.

"Don't step here!" I cautioned the kids, "it's nothing but mud." I turned and walked away to see if we could get to them from the side or back, away from the road and the ditch, thinking it would be a bit drier that way.

And then it happened.

"Hey mom! You can go right HERE------" and taking a big step over the water, she stepped HARD into the DEEP mud just on the other side of it.

And with a squeal, Tali was in mud almost up to her knee.

Pulling her leg out, her favorite Cons were caked in mud. Her new white shorts splattered.

I could have been mad. I just told her not to step there.

But all I did was shake my head, laughed out loud, and said "I told you not to step there... there's a towel in the back of the car", and went on looking for a way to the flowers, which I found.

As she cleaned herself up, and moved on to an easier location to cut flowers across the road, I happily collected the perfect purple flowers for my decorations, and thanked God for providing them at just the right time, mud and all.

And then I could see it.

I could see how He so often says "don't step here, Becky... this way is nothing but mud" and in my stubbornness and pride and thinking I can find a better-faster-quicker-easier work-around than His way... I step right in it.

At one point in my life, I actively sought out the mud. But that's not what I saw here. Tali didn't want to get mud on her brand new white shorts, and she DEFINITELY didn't want to have it seeping in every stitch of her Converse. She just wanted to help mom get to the flowers and thought she knew the way.

She didn't realize that my words of caution weren't about the obvious water in the ditch, it was because I could see the soggy soil on the other side. I recognized the mud shining just beneath the tall grass that obscured it from her sight.

Being a parent looks a lot like that. It's guarding our children and saying "don't walk there" because we can see the mud. We can see the heartache, we can see the pain, we can see the compromise, we can see the danger. I have said to both of my children at various times "I don't say no because I hate you, even if it feels like that- it's because I love you enough to say no".

Sometimes I have had to say no to things the kids really wanted to do. "All" of their friends would be there, or are playing that game, or seeing that movie, or are allowed to... Honestly, the easy thing to do would be to say yes. Honestly, this momma's heart never wants her kids to miss out. Honestly, I don't want to be the "lame" mom.

Honestly, I want to fit in too.

So I get it.

But at the end of the day, Jim and I are set as guards about our children, and their hearts. And sometimes our job is to say no. Even when the yes is a lot more comfortable.

And each of us have this Heavenly Father who is so much better than us at parenting. Sometimes I miss things. Sometimes I let something go and then look back and realize the slippery slope we've found ourselves on, how easily it would be to slide into the muck, and we have to regroup (which is even harder than the "no" would have been in the first place). Video games put on the shelf indefinitely. Television shows no longer tuned in. Relationships learned from.

But if I'm really honest, there was this voice in my ears all along saying "Becky, this is the way... walk in it". If I'm really honest I wanted to say YES to them so much more than I wanted to heed His "no".

My walk with the Lord has been one of learning that His "no" always has a purpose. A protection. I am learning that He sees things just beyond the obvious that I cannot know. I am learning that His way... that narrow road is worth it.

And my heart rejoices that my children are learning that too.

A couple of weeks ago, I had to give Tali what felt to me to be an all-too-familiar NO to something. I can't even tell you now what that something was, but I do remember the conversation we had later that day. We were in the car when she said: "Mom, you and dad always say yes unless you have a REASON. We know if you tell us no, there is a good reason why."

And my heart sang. For you moms with littles and it seems so hard and the answer always seems to be NO and it feels like a lot of chasing and stopping and disciplining... let me offer you this hope... someday they will see.

Some day you will be riding in your car, sipping on a Lic's milkshake, and your daughter will say "I trust you" and it will be worth it

Some day your child will tell you that he had a choice to make, and he chose honesty. And it will be worth it.

Some day you will have a daughter navigating an entirely new kind of relationship and you will give her advice and she will say "I just told him the same thing last night!!!" And it will be worth it.

They might not always like it (and we have had heated discussions in GameStop or via text message because of it), but somehow in this crazy-hard journey that is full of so much joy and adventure and peace... they are learning the purpose in the no.

Somehow, in this crazy-hard journey that is full of so much joy and adventure and peace... I am too.

I am also seeing that there is a lot more "yes" than "no" in our Father's heart. Tali said the same thing over those milkshakes- "Mom, you always say yes unless you have a reason".

Father is perfect in His love, and so, if he is telling you no, you can trust Him. Our God knows that the mud, whether it sneaks up on us or allures us, is a thief. It steals our time and our joy and our purity and our peace. When He says "this is the way..." it's not because He wants to keep us from the joy of another journey, it's because He so clearly sees the pain down that path.

Father doesn't want us holed up in our homes all of the time- He wants us out picking the flowers.  He wants us enjoying the journey. He wants us living this life, and living it to the FULLEST. He knows it can get messy out there, but if we will listen He will show us where to step. He will show us the way.

I think about Michelle Duggar from "19 Kids and Counting"... when she is talking to her children she will say "I need your eyes" because she knows "when you have their eyes, you have their attention".

As we walk this out, I hear our Daddy saying "I need your eyes"... He needs our eyes fixed on Him. He needs our ears attentive to His voice. He needs us to trust His path and His good purpose in our lives. Would you give Him those things today? Would you give Him your focused attention in this next step He is asking you to take? Would you allow Him to guide your parenting? Your next career step? That relationship decision?

Will you listen when He says "Don't step here, it's nothing but mud..."