Chasing Normal?

My sister once told me she believed God appointed to me the hard things I'm walking through because he is using my life to encourage other people to trust and obey him.

I want that, but I also confess I don't.

Part of me just wants a "normal" life with ease. No ongoing marital struggle. No conviction about things that the world around me, even my own family, think I'm being ridiculous about. But that part of me is a silent cancer in my soul and I choose to slay it with truth.

The truth is no one has a normal life. I get to hear lots of peoples' stories as a nurse. When you start talking to people you find out the abnormal things that are in everyone's lives. But the desire to have a normal life comes from something written in me, and in us all, that knows there is a normal. There is a life that is whole and right. There is a life that is good and desirable. There is a life full of pleasantness and pleasure. That life is Christ.

The idea that I should resist or flee the struggles I face to try and find a more "normal" life in another person, or a better income, or more convenience, or a better climate or withdrawing from people and getting back to nature, or whatever... that idea is a lie.  It's a trick.  It's a wild goose chase intended to keep you from facing reality.  It's a wasting of your life.  The reality is we are all messed up people.  We all have to face the wrongs we and others do and the damage it causes in our relationships and in the world.

Without knowing Christ, the abnormal lives we all live have to be explained and managed somehow. Enter religion, atheism, humanism, or any other ism people use to try and manage the mess we all are.  But with Christ, we taste of the normal life we long for.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! - Psalm 34:8 

The Bible talks about a new man, comparing Christ- the new man- with Adam, the first man, the man we all come from.  Adam and everyone after him live abnormal lives with a longing for normal life.  Christ came into the world to offer us his life. Real life.  Christ's life is given to those who believe him and love him.  As a Christian, I have the very life of the new man, the normal man, living in me.  And whereas before, the first man, the abnormal man, was striving to hold on to some semblance of normalcy, chasing it wherever he caught a glimpse of it, the new man I am knows I have it already.  So I can go through the trials and sufferings I face in life with an open heart and hand.  I can do like Jesus said and let my broken life be used to bring new life.

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. -John 12:24-25.  

That's a very strange thing to say to us abnormal people, holding tight to our lives, trying to self-preserve and keep our lives as normal as possible. But to the Christian, it is the new way, the normal way to live.

Jesus is God in the flesh.  The God Man humbled to dying human cells in an abnormal human family in a world full of the abnormal people damaging each other and the world around them.  He came bringing new life.  A life-giving life.  A life united with the God who made us.  And the way he did it was to die and over come death as the God-Man.  Now his life is in us who believe in him.  And his way is now our way.  We can give our lives away because we know we already have life in Christ.

C.S. Lewis said "Nothing you have not given away will ever truly be yours."

I don't know what Lewis was eluding to.  I haven't read the entirety of Mere Christianity yet.  But he points to the truth that when you have life in Christ, you can deny yourself, you can loose your life, because its yours!  Jesus said:

If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? -Luke 9:23-25

We all want normalcy.  But we all have to deal with an abnormal life.  We'll do so one of two ways- futile attempts at self-preservation and chasing glimpses of ease, comfort and normality.  Or Christ. The normal life I long for I've found in Christ.  Now I can let my difficulties and abnormal realities be opportunities to give away the life that is mine forever.

Thoughts On Abortion in American: Hope and The Gospel in My Crisis Pregnancy

Tomorrow is the 44th anniversary of the famous Roe vs. Wade decision by the Supreme Court which put into motion the legal killing of unborn babies in the United States.

From that date to today over 59 million babies have been aborted in this country alone. To put that in perspective, about 6 million Jewish people were slaughtered by the Nazi regime during WWII. That means the killing of babies in the United States is 10 times that of the precious lives taken in the holocaust.  I wonder if we'll ever look back on abortion in the United States with the same horror and shock as we do the holocaust.  I wonder if we'll ever think, "How could we have done that!!??"

My Mom's Crisis Pregnancy

I was born the year after Roe vs. Wade was decided. I am my mom's first viable pregnancy. I was thinking about that today. My mom didn't have a crisis pregnancy as a teenager. She wasn't pregnant as the result of incest or rape. But she did have a pregnancy that threatened her life.

My mom's last pregnancy, I guess technically, would be considered an abortion. She had an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy that could have taken her life had the doctor not removed the ovary and fallopian tube where her newly developing baby was growing causing the rupture of her fallopian tube and emergency surgery. I'm sure the folks who defend a woman's right to abortion would site my mom's situation as one of the reasons abortion needs to be a legal, medical procedure in the United States. I guess people will spin things the way that serves them best. The doctor did not perform an abortion to save my mother's life. He saved my mother's life by stoping the hemorrhage from a ruptured fallopian tube. The life that was growing in that dying place died as a result of that place being incompatible with human life. She grieved the loss of that life and three others who died before they could breathe outside her womb.

I've been thinking today about the fact that neither my mom, nor I have any idea what it feels like to be in a crisis pregnancy, but in thinking it through I've decided we both knew crisis in our pregnancies.  My mom was pregnant for the first 7 years of her marriage and married to a mill worker who provided a home, food on the table, and a car to drive, but it wasn't fancy. Someone else in my mom's shoes may have felt she couldn't handle another pregnancy. It would cost too much. It could effect her health. It was emotionally distressing. I'm sure my mom felt overwhelmed. And each pregnancy did damage my mom's body and caused financial strain. She suffers this day from horrible varicose veins that were tremendously worsened by her 3 vaginal births and 7 pregnancies. My mom struggled with hormonal changes, depression and emotional distress due to having babies. And there were times I remember that she came home with a cardboard box of government issued cheese, rice, beans and canned foods because my dad was laid off work and her small hairdressing, babysitting, housecleaning and flower arranging jobs were not enough to feed a family of five.

I'm so thankful for a mom who gave of herself for my sake and the sake of my brother and sister and the 4 in heaven.

My Crisis Pregnancy

I wanted desperately to be pregnant 10 years into my marriage and was told I wouldn't conceive without medical intervention. My strained marriage didn't need a baby to support and so my husband was actually relieved to hear he wouldn't need to worry about that. But God heard my cries at 29 and I conceived Connor. My husband wasn't happy. I felt the weight of burden increase when Connor was born. My broken marriage was barely holding together and now we had a child to raise. My body didn't quite know what to do with itself in the months after Connor was born and at one point I was so sick the doctors thought I had Hodgkins lymphoma. But by the time Connor was a year old my body was starting to recover and I found out I was pregnant again. I'm sure that would be the point at which some might say I was in a crisis pregnancy. Maybe. I'd say it was 6 months later when my husband left me.

I was seven months pregnant. 28 weeks. Barely viable. I'm sure for some that would have been the crisis that led them to a Planned Parenthood where they would have been directed to make an appointment to terminate a 28 week pregnancy. Instead I was in a hospital getting turbutaline shots and Magnesium Sulfate to stop my preterm labor probably caused by the stress of my family falling apart. Ryland was my crisis pregnancy, but the crisis never led me to think I needed to end his life, rather it led me to call on the One who was knitting that life together in my womb.

My crisis pregnancy was where I walked with God like I never had before.

Hope and The Gospel of Christ

As I've been thinking about abortion in the United States today I've thought about how I can't identify with the women who are choosing this. But I want to.

I think my lack of feeling a connection with women who choose abortion comes down to hope. I have hope. I had hope. I knew who I was and Whose I was and so when crisis came when I was pregnant, and when crisis came when my mom was pregnant, we depended on the promise of God- that we are his children, that he would never leave us or forsake us and that he would work all things for our good. 

And it's not just hope that is different in my case, it's the gospel.  I knew the gospel of Christ when my crisis pregnancy came and I clung to it!  Christ died to give us life. I believe that. And I believe that is the life we are made to live- a dying-to-self life.  A mom's life is a bearing of stretch marks, weight gain, postpartum depression, grief and pain from babies who've died in our wombs and wombs that have died too.  It's a bearing of varicose veins, hormonally induced hair loss, emotional instability, painful periods, financial strain, relational strife and a thousand other ways moms die daily to take up our cross and follow Jesus as we love our children more than ourselves.

The women who choose abortion have no hope outside what they can do for themselves and they don't see their life in Christ so that they know if they cling to their life (even at the expense of the life growing inside them) they'll loose it, but if they loose their life in a thousand ways everyday for Christ's sake for the baby that is being knit together in their wombs, they'll live!

Abortion is a Symptom

The thousands of abortions performed in the United States today weren't medically necessary abortions because a woman is hemorrhaging and a ruptured fallopian tube needed to be removed to save her life.  The blood of our babies cries out because of our self-centered darkness.  We kill our babies when we were made to die and suffer for them.  Every life that ever lived was born by a woman.  We were made to give birth to life though it rips us apart.  We were made to be fed off of and give and give and give of ourselves that another might live and live and live.  We were made this way because we were made in the image of God.  Abortion is a symptom of the denial of that purpose.  Without the conviction that were are image of God bearers we can create any sort of reality that suits us.  But the truth is the truth.  If we cling to our lives we'll loose it.  If we keep killing our babies to save our lives it will destroy us.  But if we loose our lives in the image of the One who made us, we will live.  Even though we die daily.

Moms are The Giving Tree

Have you read the book The Giving Tree?  You probably have.  It's iconic.  But if you haven't you should.  The Giving Tree testifies to the fact that we know it noble and right to give of yourself even if it costs you your life.  We know this enough to write a timeless children's book about it.  Moms are the Giving Tree in the flesh!  We are made to give life not take it.  Even it when it takes life from us.  Its beautiful.  Its Christ-like.  It honors the One who died on a tree to give us life!

I don't know exactly what I'm going to do now.  But after thinking about this all day I know I want to be more conscious of the high calling I have as a mom to the 13 and 12 year old sons I'm still bearing.  And I want to be part of stopping the women who are stumbling to the slaughter, blindly going against the Christ-like nature they were created to display.

The man called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. -Genesis 3:13 

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.  -1 Peter 2:21-24

5 Things Every Christian Can Do For President Trump (whether you like him or not) and the U.S.

Tomorrow the 45th president of the United States will be inaugurated into office.  I did not vote for Donald Trump. I'm one of those evangelical Christians that doesn't identify well with any political party nevertheless feels compelled to enact my right to vote in this country. I could not (and cannot) support Donald Trump's overt arrogance and shameless disrespect for others.  He is not a model of self-sacrificial manhood and he is certainly not a model of dignified leadership.  My pick for president obviously wasn't chosen and so now what.?

Lots of people feel passionately one way or the other about the President Elect Trump. I try to avoid saturating myself with media commentary, but headline after headline has to do with Mr. Trump's words, actions and selections for his cabinet and most of the mantra is leaning heavily towards either despising the guy or thinking he's the political savior of America. But even staying away from media, the people in my life have very strong feelings about the man who will be the leader of the free world in 24 hours. I have strong feelings too but they are tempered with a hotter and higher view of life than American politics and capitalistic economics. In thinking about where my hope lies, passion heats up. In thinking about what life is all about, faith rises.

I honestly feel embarrassed in my love for this country about the actions and words of our soon-to-be President Trump. Mr. Trump causes me to have to shy away from pointing my sons to the president as an example of decency and leadership. I don't like that. I want a president I can look to as a leader and a role-model. And I have some deep concerns about the tone Mr. Trump sets for multi-cultural and race relations in this country. But, because my hope doesn't lie in Mr. Trump and life isn't all about the United States of America I can breathe and not fear or dread the days to come. There are some things I can do though.

5 Things Every Christian Can Do For the President and the U.S. 

1. Live Like A Foreigner Here

"Beloved I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation." -1 Peter 2:11-12 

Beloved- that's you and me who love the Jesus we have never seen- we are not Americans first. We are citizens of the Kingdom of the Son of God's first, and forever. Our temporary visa here in the U.S. will not last forever. Only a lifetime- ours or the country's. We are sojourners here, exiles, foreigners, traveling through. So we aren't entitled people. We aren't begrudging people. We are thankful people who know this world is not our home. We don't settle in here. We're on the move. Running the race set before us. Eyes fixed on the Jesus our King.

2. Intercede Like A Priest Here 

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time." 1 Timothy 2:1-6 

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. -1 Peter 2:9 

President Trump doesn't need to appoint me to his cabinet, or employ me as a spiritual advisor to have influence in his life. I don't have to be a Trump supporter to be praying for him. God's people are a royal priesthood called upon to make all kinds of requests and intercessions for all people, including tyrannical kings, and foul-mouthed presidents. Christ's church has greater influence on this country than any election result when we call on the One who appoints kings and brings down kingdoms.

3. Spread the Gospel of Peace Like an Ambassador Here 

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. -2 Corinthians 5:20 "...and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace." Ephesians 6:15 

In a culture of violence, worldwide terrorism, racial tensions, and with a coming leader who seems to govern with guile and glib from Twitter, living in this country as ambassadors for Christ, with lives and words that implore people to be reconciled to God, we are the peace-peddlers that stand out apart. Tis human to jump on the bandwagon of criticizing one party or another, but Christian to draw attention away from all that to peace with God through Christ.  And we don't even need to enter the political arena to be an ambassador of the gospel of peace.  Our homes and marriages are a very good place to start reconciliation.  The war on the family and marriage is raging.  We should be self-sacrificing ambassadors of peace to our husbands and wives and children.

4. Stand Like A Good Soldier Here 

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. - Ephesians 6:10-13 

Unlike the peace-core, many people- even our elected President- may not think it noble or cool when we stand as ambassadors for Christ in a culture that calls good evil and evil good. It's going to feel like a battle, even in our own minds and in our own skin to be known by our words and actions as Christians. And though, like Peter said, we should be doing lots of good in this world with a humble, servant's heart towards those who malign us, they will malign us. We are not doing good to please people or the president. If we are trying to please people we would not be pointing them to Christ. Pointing people to Christ is sure to get a battle going even though we want peace. So in the coming days we need to preach the gospel to ourselves, stand for the truth and remember who we are and whose we are and where we're going and why we're here and then stand firm, unwilling to be moved by the current cultural tide.

5. Serve Like A Son of God Here 

Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one anothers feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. - John 13:12-16 

We have a Lord, a King who is not lording it over us but has served us with his broken, rejected, despised life- washing our feet, building us up, calling us what we were not, making us Sons of God. We are his and we are free. And like him, we do not use our freedom to lord it over others or to join the world in godlessness, instead we go low. This is the god-likeness Christ calls us to.  In the coming days we Christians should be amping up our going low.  The needs are overwhelming- moms in crisis pregnancies, racial divides, an over-burdened foster care system, children being trafficked for sex, our elderly ignored and abandoned, disabled and marginalized people everywhere.  That doesn't even begin to cover the opportunities for the people of God to take off their Health and Wealth Child of The King clothes, and put on their Feet Washing Like King Jesus Did cloths.

Our country may be going down a path we feel alienated from, but we can live light and hands off here because our home is not the United States of America. Our 45th president may not be a man we can get behind and support, but he is a man we can ask our Father to grant repentance to and stir and move according to his will. Our political system, international relations and marriages may be embattled, but we can be peddlers of the gospel of peace with God through Christ. Our foundations of family, society and order may crumble, but we can stand covered from head to toe in the impenetrable armor of God's faithfulness, promises and salvation. Our neighbors and society may not respect and honor our Christ-clinging lives and words, but we can serve them anyway with love because we know who we are and where we're going.

My Blog Facelift and a Little Mission Clarification

Yeah I changed my name again. I started blogging about 8 years ago actually. If you read through my blog (which I wouldn't recommend... much better reading material out there) you'd find this blog has gone through several name changes and paint jobs. The content has had a similar theme along the way with varying emphasis which if I plotted on a graph would directly correlate to the current state of my marriage.

I am a mom and wife of 23 years to a man who does not share my love and worship of Jesus.  We met as teenagers, married while I was still a teenager and new believer, and have endured many hard times together and apart.  We've been separated twice and nearly signed divorce papers both times.  But, for God's reasons (which are worth a lifetime of a difficult marriage) we didn't and so the saga continues and I continue to blog as a public display of my affection for Christ in this hard life.

I believe the truly Christian life is not wasted.  It's invested.  In eternity in the lives of those around us.  We die daily but not in vain.  We die daily to ourselves because we've seen a glimpse of the glory of God in the Jesus we've never seen with the eyes of our hearts and we're hooked!  We want his glory... at all costs.  We want him to be high and lifted up in all things, especially our lives!  And we want our lives to reflect the true nature of the God we were made to image.

And so I change my blog wallpaper here periodically and the title changes too because I'm being changed all the time.  I'm being developed and matured and conformed to the image of Christ and I want to encourage someone else and comfort someone else and grieve with someone else and rejoice with someone else even through a blog.

My heart for my home to be my primary field of mission for living out my life as a Christian, desiring my husband and children to join me in that life, has been the driving force behind this blog and the changing of titles usually reflects that heart.  Being a homemaker is not just being a mom and wife who doesn't work outside the home.  Being a homemaker is what all mom's and wives are specially designed and equipped to do.  It's a big topic on which I could blog a lot, and have.  But the term homemaker, especially in the Christian circle, has taken on a meaning that can cut a lot of women out of the picture.  I don't want to just be a blessing to stay-at-home-moms (although I want to bless them too!).  I want to encourage women of all circumstances to find their identity in Christ and to walk with him through this life.  Hence my return to A Woman Found.  As far as Sojourning Sheila goes, yeah, that describes me.  But I don't want this blog to just be about me.   Nothing wrong with that, I just feel like I might encourage another woman out there more if I don't just use this blog to write about me and my daily life stuff- I'll do that too, but I want to share the comforts I have been comforted in by Christ, and the sorrows I share with fellow suffers, and the joys only those who walk with Jesus know.  Only women, and men, found by Christ will really get what I talk about here.  Cause it just doesn't make sense without being found by Him.  And I want those who may read this blog, who don't worship Christ, to scratch their heads and hopefully pique their interest.  Maybe they would want to be found by Him too.

Ok.  That's all.

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