A New Kind of Normal Hope-Filled Choices when Life Turns Upside Down
In October 1999, bestselling author and speaker Carol Kent received the phone call that would forever alter her and her family's definition of normal. Kent's son, a naval academy graduate, shot and killed his wife's ex-husband in public view to protect his two stepdaughters from possible abuse. In the aftermath of this unthinkable tragedy, Kent wrote the award-winning book when i lay my isaac down, which carefully detailed the events surrounding the murder and the Kent family's journey through grief and despair as their son is eventually sentenced to life incarceration.
In this new text, Kent explores the last seven years in great detail and offers readers a transparent, heartrending glimpse into what this family has endured and how God has reached down and invited them to embrace this "new kind of normal" existence through His strength. Kent begins her family's saga with a brief primer on how they got to where they are now, starting with her son Jason's crime in 1999. She quickly transitions into their move from Michigan to Florida in order to be close to Jason for weekend and holiday visitation at the prison where he is an inmate.
In topical fashion, Kent inspires readers to examine their pain, disappointment and hurt through the lens of God's eternal perspective. She very ably challenges Christians who have experienced despair, doubt, suffering, disappointment, sorrow, loss and hopelessness to instead choose to respond to these life-derailing roadblocks with trust, perseverance, gratitude, vulnerability, relinquishment, forgiveness and purposeful action. Kent weaves the biblical story of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and her example to trust God despite outward and very often nonsensical circumstances into the bulk of the text. Each chapter also includes intriguing and relatable stories from other families who have faced the unthinkable in their lives and have survived.
Throughout the book, readers will discover a single underlying thread that ties each principle into a grand scheme of faith-driven response. No matter what the specifics, Kent tells fellow sufferers that Christians have a choice to make. Every day, writes the author, she and her husband have to choose to trust God despite outward dismal circumstances. Every hour they have to choose to believe that there is a purpose far greater than their eyes and minds can conceive and that God is intimately involved and actively participating in this life drama. There is nothing she wants more than her "...peaceful, comfortable, convenient, normal life back."
Instead, Kent understands that this "new kind of normal," when soundly embraced by faith, becomes "...the most empowering choice you will ever make." Though it is "...sticky, uncomfortable, agitating, and difficult," it will change not only your life but also everyone whose life you touch. And, writes the author, those who realize that God's intimate powerful care enables them to live one day at a time will be "splashing hope" into the lives of others because of their intimate relationship with the "Source of hope."
Reviewed by Michele Howe on November 13, 2011