Friday, July 13, 2012

Change, Part III: No Such Thing as Normal

As I conclude three posts to explain some changes in my life, I beg your indulgence for today's extra words.

normal : adj 1 conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected

There is no such thing as a normal life. We and our lives are unique, extraordinary, and filled with the unexpected.

When events in life turn our routines upside down, we adjust to what we call "the new normal"—as if life will now become "usual, typical, expected."

For most of my Christian walk, I expected change and even sought it, because I understood that becoming more like Jesus meant continual change away from my B.C. life. Aside from some "still learning the ropes" resistance during early years, I came to roll with the punches, accepting that whatever life threw at me was allowed by God, and His plans are always good.

Then life started throwing some serious punches. Slander. Persecution. Oppression. Personal attack from people who matter. Relationship losses. Injuries to myself and my loved ones.

I knew the right response was a balance between asking for accountability and extending grace and forgiveness. I expected things to turn out okay if I did these things. But my expectations weren't met, while the punches came harder and faster.

By spring of 2010, depression dogged me. My health suffered. I overcame the darkest depression in December 2010-January 2011 through purposeful Bible-reading and prayer (though depression still licks at my heels).

I thought I'd adjusted to stresses of "the new normal."

Then life threw its hardest punches yet. I can't say I've suffered more than anyone else. Cancer (and its debilitating pain) snuffed out the life of my bright sister-in-law and left behind her three young children. Christians are badly tortured for their faith in greater numbers than ever before. Atrocities prevail across the globe and in my neighborhood. Who am I to complain?

My precious sister reminded me that it never works to compare our circumstances to the good or bad of others. No matter how much someone else suffers, it doesn't mitigate our own suffering.

We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.
~ 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 (NKJV)

The punches, for now, have mostly relented. My physical health has yet to bounce back. My cardiologist is working on ways to ease discomfort, but my characteristic stamina and drive remain at a fraction of what they were three years ago. (Good thing they started out so high, LOL!) My new reality is that I can accomplish less in a day than to what I'm accustomed.

Something had to go. The time is fitting for God to close the door to all entailed with a publishing deal for my biblical fiction. A book contract seemed within reach—my skill is polished, my writing clean, my story well-crafted, my publishing agent highly regarded. But I write real-life-messy and carve out the Bible's not-so-neat solutions. An editor dangling a book contract requested I change my style. Readers want escape and entertainment, after all. I apologetically offered, "I'm not [well-known author]." Editor replied, "Why wouldn't you want to be?"

The blow of the question didn't hurt nearly as hard as everything else I've been through. In hindsight, I see that the sting necessarily stiffened my spine.

I've written plenty about the need to die to Self for the name of Jesus Christ, and (please, Lord!) may I never refuse that invitation. But I must also be true to the person God calls me to be.

So after four-plus years with a publishing agent, I am exiting publishing circles—at least for now. Temptation suggests that my battle-weary soul go one step further and withdraw from all public activity to simply rest.

But online ministry is a door the Lord holds firmly open. I once posted and tweeted daily, and now struggle to post to my blog once or twice a week, to dialogue with the readers I dearly love, to make it over to Twitter at all.

It is sufficient.

By God's grace and strength, I will continue extolling Him and edifying His body, whether online or wherever I step, however not-normal life gets, for as long as I draw breath.

: : :

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I
may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
~ St. Francis of Assisi


  1. Praying for floods of peace and for rest even in the climbing...

    He knows what He's doing, even when we do not.

    1. Karin, your prayers are a welcome gift. I know that I need not see where my Shepherd leads as long as I cling to His side.

  2. A difficult conclusion, to say the least, Anne. I'm happy to know you'll still be present in some manner online where we can at least occasionally cross paths. Mourning with you as you let go of something very dear. And who's to say where and how he leads next, no?

    I've stepped back myself in some ways, finding an important piece of something back in the process. I'm praying you find these next moments restorative, no matter how long the season.

    Love to you, my friend. I continue to be indebted for your gracious sacrifices on my behalf.

    1. Lyla, how grateful I am to God that He sent you into my life! Do you remember December 2010, when your prayers were so instrumental in helping me hurdle the oppressive darkness? You have been part of this story. I do hope that our paths will cross soon and closely. ; )

  3. God sweetly bless you sis, your journey will continue, but in different ways. That is ok. I totally understand, that is how it has been since my stroke. I love you, and will never stop praying for you.

    1. Densie, your faithful friendship and prayers have likewise been instrumental. So many days, when the weakness was greatest, I KNEW someone was praying for me. God has answered your prayers and ministered tenderness to me through you. Thank you, precious one. We have only a few days left here, you know, just a breath.

  4. Anne, your story moved me—thanks for your honesty and humility. I'm one of the WordServe authors. Last year David C. Cook released my book Sifted: God's Scandalous Reply to Satan's Outrageous Demand. I wrote it for people whose stories resonate as your's does. If you'll send me a note to with your address, I'll send you a copy of the book...

    1. Rick, I am so very touched by your kindness. I've known for some time that this battle is a spiritual one. I am most eager to read your book. Thank you for the generous offer. May God repay your kindness!

  5. Anne, your honesty is refreshing. This journey isn't for the faint of heart...I went through a very long season of struggle and "poundings." It was exhausting and depressing, and my health took beatings, too. Though I'm in a less intense season now, I pray I never forget the lessons that the fire taught me.

    I am thankful that you will continue to write, to minister, at whatever pace God allows you to. And I pray that His word and presence will be a balm to you...whatever happens with your writing!

    1. Dena, it's a wonderful, peaceful experience to know that my writing has always belonged to the Lord. I believe that He will continue to use the gift He's given me for His purposes, and I can hardly complain if part of those purposes are to refine my heart. He has, indeed, supplied needed balm—including your words.

      Please forgive the long delay in a reply. In addition to extra activities and travel, life of late has included computer issues and the death of a loved one's baby.)

  6. Annie, I am so moved by your faithfulness and the transparency in which you tell it your story. I have no doubt that this season of life (which you have been in for so long), will not be used in the future for God's glory. In fact it is already being used as a source of encouragement to others. Down the road you will be boasting of God's goodness and faithfulness to you (not that you aren't already)! He is refining You for his good and perfect will. I love you so very much! I only wish that I could take some of your suffering away. I am thanking God for putting an example such as you in my life!

    Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

    1. Mary, your comments bless me more than you know. See you soon!

  7. Just read all three posts, Anne. I'm glad you have a holy resolve and I know your relationship with Him has a lot to do with that. Thanks for using your gift to glorify Him and point toward His wisdom and ways. Praying for you that His presence and life will surround you in new and surprising ways. Blessings to you...

    1. Jason, thanks so much for keeping up with me. I wish it were possible for me to bless you as much as you bless me. May the Lord Himself return and multiply blessing to you.


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