One year ago, we stepped out of our comfort zone and into a houseboat. God called us to downsize, sell everything and simply to follow him. He didn’t tell us where we were going, but we knew he was guiding our steps. With an act of blind faith, our adventure began.
Ten months ago: We realized that life on the lake can be cold (even in Arizona!). We spent our evenings huddled around space heaters and learned to store blankets by the front door for our golf cart commute to and from the car. Chilly nights, no space for an actual Christmas tree and (very) cold showers made winter on the lake more than a bit challenging.
Nine months ago: God gave us a burden for our community and we decided to plant a church. Slowly, the pieces of our story began coming together as God revealed His plan. The lake became a haven for us where we could be still, pray and wait for God’s direction.
Eight months ago: I looked around at our crowded houseboat and wondered how I had accumulated so much stuff again. I was storing kitchen appliances in my dishwasher, and using the extra shower as a closet. (When five people and two dogs share less than 1000 square feet, you learn to improvise!)
Seven months ago: We bought a dining table for our back patio. We spent many mornings at that table, overlooking the water, drinking coffee and studying the Bible. In the evenings, we enjoyed our dinner outside as we watched sailboats cruise by. With the cold (finally!) behind us, we began to enjoy the great outdoors again.
Six months ago: Our children changed schools. They had already changed homes, communities, the church they were born and raised in. Now, they had to say goodbye to their friends. It was a difficult year for them, but how beautiful to lead them in saying yes to Jesus and trusting him with the unknown.
Five months ago: Maddie’s tenth birthday took the form of a slumber party on the houseboat. The theme of the party quickly became “improvisation” as the water and electricity to the marina was shut off hours before the party. We kept the girls entertained on the lake, enjoyed an ice cream sundae bar in the dark, and headed to a hotel to sleep. Our lessons in flexibility were well underway.
Four months ago: Summer was in full swing. We sat on the patio and listened to live bands playing in the distance. Boats cruised the lake, people roamed the docks, and we discovered that we had adjusted to life on the lake. We had developed friendships with the entire marina staff, learned the ropes, took on the challenges and made this boat our home.
Three months ago: Everything changed. Again. We couldn’t have predicted that the worst storm in twenty years would hit our floating neighborhood, severing our dock from the rest of the marina, destroying walkways, sinking boats and causing a mandatory evacuation. We walked away from our home not knowing if we would ever return.
Two months ago: We waited for the final insurance verdict on our home. Temporarily homeless, we lived out of suitcases while our future hung in the balance. The insurance company delivered the news: Due to structural damage and damage to the pontoons the boat was totaled. God gives and takes away.
One month ago: I wrestled with my feelings and thoughts, trying to make sense of the situation. God spoke to my heart through the story of Abraham. This familiar story suddenly came alive with new meaning. God asked Abraham to make the ultimate sacrifice by giving his son as a burnt offering. So Abraham and Isaac set out towards Mount Moriah where Isaac would be killed as an offering to God. I’m sure we are all relieved every time we get to the part of the story where God stops Abraham. It was a test, after all - to determine if he was fully surrendered and willing to give up that which he love the most.
I believe that John and I walked through a test this past season. How would we respond? Would we trust God? Would we have integrity on the journey? Would we willingly sacrifice the things we love the most in order to walk in complete obedience? Would we step out in faith despite the cost and criticism along the way? We were willing to do whatever God called us to do because we truly are passionate about radically following him, and we are fully confident of his leading, now more than ever.
Our adventure continues: We received back via insurance the entire amount we originally invested in the boat, which means we are moving back to land. We’re moving back to a house where my kids will have their own rooms and I will have a bathtub! (It’s the little things.) I look back over this past year and am so grateful for the lessons we’ve learned, the joy we discovered in the middle of a quiet lake and the memories we made as we stepped out and trusted God. In some ways it feels like a chapter in our lives is coming to an end, but deep down I know that this is just the beginning.
The best really is yet to come.