Unedited Thoughts on Our Life in Limbo


Our neighbors gradually clutter [read: trash] their front porch.

But when the mess spills over into their yard and driveway, the chaos begins to advance much more quickly.

Torn apart box springs and smashed TV’s and an old fish aquarium litter the premises and the slightly disillusioned piece of me honestly can’t help but wonder — are they trying to sabotage the sale of our house? Because a vacant property on one side of us, and a house and yard that look like theirs do on the other side, are not exactly screaming “This is the house you want to buy, peeps!”

They wake our son up at 5:30 this morning, standing on their front porch yelling because someone locked someone else out of the house.

During my kids’ naps, they pull their car up their driveway, just several feet from the north wall of our house, and blast rap music at full volume. And yell/rap along with it.

Thanks, guys.

Keepin’ it real here: I am not thrilled. Also keepin’ it real? The way they don’t give a rip about the state of their home or their neighbors is discouraging. Angers me, even.

But I guess we want whoever buys this house to know what they’re getting into.

Sigh. Unedited thoughts here for y’all tonight.


How do you continue to love well when you’ve bent over backwards to serve and bless and the moment you don’t do what they want, they’re angry at you? How do you demonstrate the Gospel when their very lifestyle violates yours? When their entitled mindset and life-orientation threaten to swallow you whole?

Y’all, I wish the picture I was painting was of a beautifully budding, Gospel-centered friendship with our neighbors, despite our countless differences. I wish I was writing a story of lives being transformed. Of Jesus revealing Himself, capturing hearts, setting people free.

But that’s not the tale I’m telling tonight, and it’s hard sometimes not to feel like we’re failing here. We’ve tried to love and we’ve prayed and we’ve spoken life, and actually….


What if the difference God’s wanting to make is more in us right now than in them?

Don’t get me wrong — I do believe He wants to make Himself known at a transformative level in their lives.

But what if, right now, all this is so much more about us learning to cultivate internal peace, nestling right up close to His heart, feeling its holy rhythm and living to its beat in this place? What if it’s about not letting that rhythm be drowned out or thrown off kilter by the chaos around us?

Yeah… what if that?


Our friend Sarah arrives at our house at 8:25 this morning, takes over kid-loving duties so I can find a few hours’ worth of fresh air for my heart. I kiss my littles goodbye and take off driving.

Heavy inner city atmosphere gives way to open highway, which gives way to the ‘burbs, and I’d be lying if I said suburbs don’t feel like a slice of heaven to me in this season.

A mere twenty minute drive, and the contrast is stark.


I pull up to my dear friend’s house. Diane’s kids are grown and flown, and in her spare time, she loves on women my age, and has cultivated the most beautiful oasis of calm.

I enter to hugs and offers of still-warm scones and fresh fruit and yogurt. She prepares it all for me despite my “Oh, you don’t have to do that…” Asks me to please let her serve me.

I almost don’t know what to do with myself, but I know I need to receive, so I do. Even though it makes me squirm a little inside to be so thoroughly, extravagantly cared for.

She pulls a hammock out of a plastic bin in the corner of the backyard, sets it up next to the flower garden. I haven’t told her that hammocks are one of God’s and my secret love languages.


So I scrawl my heart nearly illegibly in my journal, munch my fruit and my scone, and lay quiet a while in the back yard, listening to waterfall and birds and wind chimes.

The sun climbs higher, and I move inside after 45 minutes or so. I play her piano and let the mingled notes flow free, a mixture of deep-heart-longing, and intercession for my sweet friend. Father, bathe this atmosphere even more in your peace. Your nearness.


Diane sends me home after a few hours with fresh flowers from her yard, and upon entering through my back door, I’m greeted with kisses from my favorite little people — followed a little later by angry text messages from our neighbor, the contents of which are best left to the imagination. I try to respond with honesty and a gracious heart, which only draws more anger so I let the conversation drop.

I do take note, though, of how little I’m rocked by her disapproval, and I pray silent prayers of thanks, along with requests for help, as I blow bubbles and fly around on the trampoline with my boy at dusk.

And maybe our house will take months yet to sell, and maybe God’s plan isn’t to airlift us out of the chaos and frustration of our geographical location any time soon. Maybe there’s more forming of Himself in our deep places that He wants to accomplish here.

But I know His heart for me is rest… rest… rest, child. And if I can hold a hammock in my heart, nestle deep into this cocoon of internal rest for as long as we’re here– I’m gonna be okay.

And we’re gonna make it through this season. We are. Because His grace is sufficient for this moment, and for the next, and the next.

And His power’s gonna be made perfect somehow, in all these places where we’re running up against brick walls and we straight up don’t know what to do.

And if we emerge into our next season knowing Him more deeply, rooted in Him more deeply, all this ridiculous limbo will have been so much more than worth it.



Sharing this post with my sweet friends Lisha and Kelli and their communities.

This entry was posted in Encountering God in the Messy, Encountering God in the Mundane, Give Me Grace, Ministry, misc. walking with Jesus, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to Unedited Thoughts on Our Life in Limbo

  1. marvia says:

    I get it, and yes, I think it’s something He’s doing more IN us than through us. I don’t know what, but somehow it works for good in ways that i cannot account. Keep faithing it friend. I love that you are open to the rooting down.
    marvia recently posted…Though Your Footsteps Were Not SeenMy Profile

    • danalynnb says:

      Marvia, I know you get it, sister. Thank you for how you see me in the midst of my journey. Love you!

  2. Monica Benton says:

    Yes to the confusion of how to help but maintain your boundaries.

    • danalynnb says:

      Monica, yes. THAT question. I think that one will be a forever journey for me. Bless you, sister.

  3. Adela Just says:

    This is so beautiful, Dana. And I am so glad (albeit slightly envious) that you have an oasis to escape to in this season. I just sat with a friend today and told her that while I frequently question God’s methods, especially in our current season, I trust His end results. Sometimes that’s all we have to cling to. Praying for continued moments of rest for you, for the cultivating of that “hammock in your heart”. Love you.

    • danalynnb says:

      Oh sister… I ache for that for you – an oasis. Praying you know His nearness, the movement of His hands in your deep places, even before the end results are visible. Love you and with you, my friend.

  4. Shona says:

    Dana – I am so glad that you had an oasis, a hammock, and a piano to go to yesterday. God really knows you and loves you doesn’t he :) Keep that place of peace inside you. I know how hard that can be but you seem to be finding your resting place <3

  5. Deb Weaver says:

    Oh, Dana, how hard and how beautiful. Thank you for sharing this.

    Deb Weaver
    Deb Weaver recently posted…“Missing My Dad”My Profile

    • danalynnb says:

      Deb, that mixture of hard and beautiful — how hard *births* beauty — it’s what just undoes me about the Lord. The way He turns bitter into sweet. Thanks for seeing and articulating His moving.

  6. Hope says:

    This is unedited life, we all live it sweet sister. That there is dissonance in your heart is a good thing. That you have been welcomed into the sweet embrace of a friend offering you a cup of cold water and quiet is an incredible gift. The chairs of being unsettled does a number on us on so many levels. You are hanging tight and reflecting honestly as you go, that’s a beautiful thing!

    • danalynnb says:

      Thank you, sweet Hope. And actually… I think I like the “chairs” typo. It could speak of settling into being unsettled… and that’s what the Lord’s asked of us in this season. Anyway… your presence is a blessing, friend. Love to you.

  7. Hope says:

    *chaos not chairs lol

  8. Gayl says:

    Dana, so thoughtful, honest and beautiful! So good that you can find some peace and also see this as a time of pulling closer to God, trusting in His love and goodness to go with you through this time in your life.

  9. Lorretta says:

    I am so glad I stepped over your threshold today. And I’ll pray for you as you rest in the limbo which is, as you said, possibly the plan of God for now. Thank you for showing us what faithfulness *can* look like and what faithFULLness should look like.
    Lorretta recently posted…forever and a dayMy Profile

    • danalynnb says:

      Loretta, it is so lovely to see you here, and I SO appreciate your prayers as we rest in the limbo. I’m blessed by your encouragement, sister. Thank you.

  10. Dana … I love that you have a friend like this, a few hours to breathe deep and refresh … and the opportunity to share your heart words with us here.
    Linda@Creekside recently posted…Eternal GraceMy Profile

  11. Pat Baer says:

    Dana, your post made me smile. My husband and I have lived next door to the same difficult neighbor for over 25yrs. He has seriously been one of the most powerful tools God has used to shape our lives. Looking back there are many things I wish I’d done differently, and lots of ugly times I’d like to forget, but we’re both still here. The truth is I’ve been commanded to love him – not just tolerate him, but love him and I’m still working on that :))
    Thanks for sharing your story.

    • danalynnb says:

      Oh, Pat… wow. What a story you have. I love your candidness here, admitting there’ve been ugly times you’d like to forget… and I love your commitment to working out what it is to authentically LOVE him for the long haul. I am so inspired. Thank you for being here, for sharing with me. Blessings to you!

  12. Living “in the middle” is hard beauty. Much of NYC is like what you’ve described. I can walk a block in any direction and leave the comfort of my corner of 5th Avenue. And we have neighbors that just don’t seem to care and loud music and all the hood life you could ever want or not want to experience in my building, but it’s home, for now. I remind myself to live in the grace of that every day. You will get to the other side. There is always another season. Rest beauty, I know it’s hard but that “hammock in your heart” will serve you well. Use it. Love you and thank you for being here this week.
    Lisha Epperson recently posted…Give Me Grace : ResurrectionMy Profile

    • danalynnb says:

      Yes to heart-hammocking :) in the midst of the chaos. May you find rest in your own chaos too. Love you Lisha. So appreciate your presence and your heart.

  13. JoyMartell says:

    Your courage and honesty take my breath away! And the wisdom to find fresh air, a hammock, and a sweet sister to love you? Priceless! Writing about this journey blesses others, but even more, God is showing you this path, this place to be wherever it is. I think of Paul being “all things to all men”. But your family is in a place of being –physically and spiritually that has required you to walk close to the Father lest you lose your way. Blessings to each of you.

    • danalynnb says:

      Joy, you encourage me so much. Thanks for the way you see me. Yes, we need to walk SO close to Him – it’s one of the gifts of this season – this nearly-constant, keen awareness of our need for Him. Blessings to you, too, sister. Thank you for reading and receiving my heart.

  14. “maybe God’s plan isn’t to airlift us out of the chaos and frustration of our geographical location any time soon. Maybe there’s more forming of Himself in our deep places that He wants to accomplish here” – I’m right there with you – but with a different situation! Just what I needed to hear tonight!!! Thank you for sharing your sweet heart!
    bluecottonmemory recently posted…Like Broken Shells on a BeachMy Profile

    • danalynnb says:

      Oh friend… I’m really glad these words met you. May you know His tangible nearness to you and the sweetness of His working, forming, carving in your deep places. Grace, grace, grace to you in your own season of waiting on Him. Thank you so much for this peek into your journey.

  15. Kim says:

    This is the kind of post I like to read. Not because you’re in a bad situation, but because it’s real, not polished to a high gloss. We just moved from a neighborhood that had its problems (don’t they all?) and while we didn’t have neighbors like yours, there was plenty we were glad to leave behind! God has this all under control, even though I know the waiting is excruciating!

    • danalynnb says:

      Oh Kim, I so know you get this season. And yeah, I gotta keep it real, sister. I think keeping my story non-glossy is how Jesus shines through, makes Himself known — both to me as I write, and hopefully to those who read. Anyway – I hope life is going well in your new location, my friend. You bless me.

  16. Yes, love. Praying for you in all these places…and you’ve explained them all so well that I feel I’m right there with you. As always, the way you speak so intimately of God’s love for you touches me deeply. “What love is this…” is running through my head.
    Bless you, dear friend.
    Ashley Larkin recently posted…When Your Dream Seems Dead: My Mom, the GraduateMy Profile

    • danalynnb says:

      Ashley, love you for letting your heart be touched by mine… and by His. Thank you, sister. And thank you for your prayers. You are a profound gift. Yup. You are.

  17. You describe the difficulty so well and thank you for not writing in simple answers or piety. I’m so glad you have your friend’s oasis to minister to your soul. I bet you would appreciate this little bit of verse by Denise Levertov:
    Lord, I curl in Thy grey
    gossamer hammock
    that swings by one
    elastic thread to thin
    twigs that could, that should
    break but don’t.
    Thank you for linking your peace and your struggles with Unforced Rhythms.
    Kelly Chripczuk recently posted…I am (a poem)My Profile

    • danalynnb says:

      Kelly! I LOVE that poem. Thank you so much for sharing it with me. Wow. Also, the way you articulated this: “thank you for not writing in simple answers or piety,” blesses my heart deeply. I so long to leave room for the wrestling. To leave room for answers NOT to come easily and for piety to fly out the window because there is ROOM for REALITY in the heart of God. And not just room for it, it is where we are opened to the deepest, rawest, most life-altering *knowing* of His heart. Anyway… thank you so much for being here, Kelly. Really. Thank you.

  18. Pingback: In Which Change Happens Fast and Emotions Are Mixed and Swirling | Dana L. Butler

  19. S.L. Payne says:

    Dana, I totally understand how hard it is to be in limbo! It’s wonderful that you are able to escape and to refocus on God with such a mentor :) I struggle since I feel like I am constantly waiting and looking to the next thing coming and I miss so much of what I should be focusing on in the mundane. There is so much of our contentment wrapped up in our circumstances when we should be finding our contentment in Him. You’ve totally encouraged me to go find some quiet space (as much as is possible with my three sons and foster daughter!) and spend some extra time with God :) Thanks for sharing and linking up!
    S.L. Payne recently posted…The Beginnings of CommunityMy Profile

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