Can’t I Just Have A Normal Life?

Can I just say, the last couple of months have been hard. Like downright, knock you off your feet, curl up in a ball, and weep kind of hard. Frankly, I'd say the last 4 years have been this way off and on. But then, I realize I might say this a lot.

Depending on what I remember, life's been hard for a long time.

I keep thinking, "God, can't I just have a normal life?"

Immediately, it's like the Spirit says, "What's normal?"

And I chuckle in response, "You got me there."

Can't I Just Have a Normal Life?

I said this to a friend recently after listing off things I was dealing with. I blurted out, "UGH! Can't I just have a normal life?!" She initially responded with the tell-tale signs of, "Oh, girl. Me too!"

I took a deep breath and followed up with, "Whatever. Does anyone really have a normal life?"

We both laughed. Suddenly, we realized the ridiculous nature of our expectations. While our situations are different, neither comply with our version of normal.

No one has a normal life. Not in the way I've defined normal, anyway.

Maybe you've had these thoughts too? When life hits hard repeatedly and you wonder why you're life isn't like so-and-so, do you ever want to burst out with a similar plea?

We might scream, either figuratively on the inside or literally outside.


  • chronic illness affects you or someone you love. You're bone weary tired of it all & scared of outcomes.
  • repeated financial blows make it feel like you can never get out from underneath the mound of debts accumulated.
  • raising rebellious and/or strong-willed children is all-consuming. Trying to reach the heart of one of your children is a daily struggle. You feel lost, overwhelmed, and frequently lacking.
  • loneliness keeps knocking. It's been going on for a darn long time, only you're so hurt and angry about it you wouldn't say darn. You'd list off a whole other string of words, even if only to yourself and in the quiet of your mind lest someone think bad of you for doing so.
  • you know the pain of being misunderstood, dismissed, and treated poorly.
  • your challenges are not the ones you can talk openly about. If you did, many wouldn't know how to help. Or, maybe you've tried and what they said hurt even more.
  • it seems there's no one to talk to who's gone before you. No one to tell you what you need in order to navigate these challenges.

...and this doesn't feel normal. You're not OK with this kind of life and you want it to be different.

What is normal anyway?

I tend to think of normal as life free of hardships and long-standing challenges. This kind of normal says there will always be money to pay the bills. No one is sick. No one injured. Fear, anxiety, and sadness never hang around. Relationships don't break and people continually live in harmony.

But, you know what? Normal isn't a life absent of everything that is normal.

If normal is what's common to all people, normal is the reality of living in a world where sin, death, decay, and a prowling enemy surround us. Normal is how these show up in our lives on a regular basis.

This kind of normal doesn't sit on its haunches in ease. Rather, it's a life in need of help beyond ourselves because the pains of sin are frequent and deadly.

Our current normal changes because life ebbs and flows. The only thing that stays the same is Jesus. He is our constant. He is the source of knowing how to navigate our current normal, even if that looks like making hard decisions, or letting pride be stripped away and the process hurts like hell.

We zig and we zag. We fall and we get back up.

Rather than pleading for normal, we need to plead for the power of our abnormal God in the presence of our normal lives.

In our normal living, we find a God who is anything but. Nothing compares to Him and nothing ever will. God leads and equips us to walk through our current normal in a way that is abnormal to the world around us.

Normal is a journey we take individually, but experience differently. We don't walk it alone.

It's life, with all it's ups and downs, where something unexpected is always on the horizon. It's a journey in need of daily grace and mercies.

I'm taking deep breaths with this. I'm choosing to accept what my normal is because it helps keep me from living stuck. So, I'm thinking of re-framing my question.

God, can I just have more of you in my normal life?






2016 Favorites for Living Well

I can't help it. I wasn't going to add another post before the end of the year, but here I am. I absolutely love sharing resources with others. So much so, I once owned and operated a growing non-profit Christian library. Wow, what fun and craziness that was! While I no longer have the physical resources to share, I'm always up for sharing my favorite things. Especially, when I believe they are something you might enjoy and benefit from.

Besides, this year was another hard one. I want to go out with a few smiles. You with me? Yay!

2016 Favorites for Living Well

Favorite Posts I've Read

My Most Read Blog Posts

Favorite Books Read

Favorite Everyday Things

Real Talk About Real Relationships - subscriber freebie by my amazing friend Tracy M Steel

The Knot Project - real marriage challenges and conversations by Craig & Jen Ferguson, authors of "Pure Eyes, Clean Heart"

I've tried a LOT of pens. In fact, I have five jar/holders for my various sets. The ones I keep going back to are these. They are pens, not permanent markers and they write beautifully.


Day Designer continues to come out on top for me every time I scrounge around all the planner options. Whitney English offers great tools and fantastic freebie pages to help create a well-designed life.

Get a free sample daily page here.



The Instant Pot. I've wanted one for years and finally received one early for Christmas. I'm smitten.


Oh my word, we use this every day. It is a great alternative to a microwave and an oven for all those small fixin's and leftover reheats. I make melted and toasted yumminess and the kids love to heat up taquitos.



Buy Scrivener for Windows (Regular Licence)

Scrivener - an incredible tool for writers and I use it almost daily.



From my friends, I love these two things...

Real Talk About Real Relationships - subscriber freebie by my amazing friend Tracy M Steel

The Knot Project - real marriage challenges and conversations by Craig & Jen Ferguson, authors of "Pure Eyes, Clean Heart"

and finally...

What I'm looking forward to in 2017:

I can't wait to see what God has in store for you and me in the New Year! So much is available to us, let's jump in and find out more with His help.

BTW - we can do this together! It's better that way, isn't it? We can cultivate a life well-lived.
Join us in 2017 in the new Facebook Community "A Cultivated Life"


Hope for A Weary World at Christmas Time

Christmas has always held an incredible sense of wonder, particularly in childhood. Our family carried out traditions which helped me feel safe, secure, and loved. I've passed this on with a desire to rekindle old memories of joy and begin similar flames for my children.

On Wednesday nights we attended Advent services followed by soup suppers. The aroma of corn chowder with all it's cheesy and bacony goodness still gives me a thrill of delight.

In the private Christian school I attended, we spent weeks preparing for the Christmas program. We sang a multitude of songs, filed in to the gym finding our place in the bleachers, and spent hours waiting through rehearsals.

After the program, dad had a special treat for us. Ice cream in the shape of Santa or a Christmas tree. I didn't care much for the ice cream, but when dad bought this once a year specialty, I felt it.

On Christmas Eve we opened one gift. Always the same. Always expected. Always an ornament. For years we collected these treasures. As an adult, my children began collecting theirs.

Hope for a Weary World

When we moved back from the ranch in 2013, where we fostered and where my life changed forever, we came home without the treasures of my childhood. I've grieved ever since.

Maybe it's because this loss came at the same time I cried over dreams and children who were no longer with us. Or maybe it's because I felt the need to remember something good in such a desperate way, but the loss of our ornaments still brings tears to my eyes when I think about it.

Growing up I was shielded from the pains many experience in this world. Even so, my heart was terribly sensitive to what hurt me and what I believed hurt others. Without a major travesty, I grew to know depression, disordered eating, and self-harm as a way of releasing pain. Then I healed (some) and grew in ways I hadn't expected. For a number of years it seemed as if everything was OK, until it wasn't and I crashed in grief and anxiety.

Since then, I've known Christmases without all the pleasure of my youth. I've known others who grieve their loneliness and losses in ways I hadn't fathomed before. Somehow, in all of this I've come to know more the weight of waiting for what a world really needs.

Salvation. Redemption. The hope of everything changing because wrongs are put to right and evil is put to flight.

Isn't that what we all long for? Don't we hope for the way our world can be better than it is now?

As I sit near the fire each morning I'm reminded of the people of Israel. Of how they suffered much and how God continually urged them forward with the hope of redemption ahead. They believed it would look grand and they believed it would be magnificent. God's children were looking for relief in ways which He hadn't intended because they were looking to their circumstances rather than the work of their hearts.

For many, the presence of God in the weakly form of a baby was missed. While they watched for some grand relief from the oppression of their enemies, God came in almost undetected. Yes, there was a star, but how many missed seeing the great light because they were focused on the darkness around them?

All too often, that's me. I don't like it when God comes in ways which are far different than the answers I want. My flesh rises up when I'm challenged to put my trust in Him through circumstances that seem anything but just.

Among the festivities and fun, or the heartache and hard, lie our expectant longings for things which fulfill our desires. We put our hope in the things of this world when all along God has something more. His salvation comes for the transformation of mankind.

I consider words from the classic song, O Holy Night;

The thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices

Those who saw with eyes of faith, they knew. Who knew the thrill of hope which comes from knowing God's presence regardless of present pains? I wonder how few they were?

This year, will it be me? Will it be you? It can be us.


This is my final blog post for 2016, unless God strikes a chord in my heart and it's gotta play strong.
In the meantime, if you're looking for a little encouragement in this time of year,
please enjoy this collection of encouraging words from other writers I know.


Coming soon - A Cultivated Life Community.

Want to know more? Be sure to sign up here for the Snapshots newsletter.


Encouragement for When the Holidays are Hard

What Grieving People Wish You Knew at Christmas by Nancy Guthrie for Desiring God

If Your Heart is Broken this Christmas by Lauren Flake

Maybe This is What We're All Waiting For by Jennifer Dukes Lee

Invisible on Christmas by Dr. Michelle Bengtson

When Christmas Isn't by Dr. Michelle Bengtson

The Mourning of Christmas by Katie Reid

Sabbath Offerings: Hope for the Holidays by Mary Geisen

Finding Christmas in the Last Place You Thought to Look by Jennifer Dukes Lee

Grief When the Rest of the World is Celebrating by Lisa Appelo

In Labor We Wait by Kris Camealy

Two SIdes of a Coin by Heather Olson

Weeping Woman of Ramah by Michele Morin

Christmas Not Always Merry & Bright by Dr. Michelle Bengtson

When Christmas is in Boxes by Sara Borgstede

Grief is Crazy Like That by Teresa Stowell


Tips for the Holidays

5 Ways To Be Merry This Christmas When You Don't Feel Like It  by Whitney Cornelison

15 Ways to Take Care of Yourself This Christmas by Dr. Michelle Bengtson

My Gift of Less by Dr. Michelle Bengtson

Banish the Holiday Blues by Calvalyn Day of the Well Counseling & Consultant Group

5 Tips for Fighting the Holiday Blues by Anita Ojeda

How to Bring Joy to a Caregiver by Anita Ojeda

Ask Dr. B. : Help the Grieving at Christmas by Dr. Michelle Bengtson

How to Do the Holidays When You Want to Run and Hide by Sara Borgstede

10 Ways to Bring Joy to Someone Who is Grieving by Lori Schumaker

Two Triggers for the Post Holiday Blues by Dr. Michelle Bengtson

Managing Christmas Expectations by Tracy Walker

AUDIO SERIES FROM MOSAIC CHURCH AUSTIN - For Unto Us  (The Promise of Christmas, The Light of Christmas, The Song of Christmas)