Why It Is Okay To Live An Ordinary Life

Why it's okay to live an ordinary life.

Have you ever felt like your days are just mundane, ordinary, and without the excitement you see in the lives of those around you? I’m so sorry. Sometimes, I feel that way too.

One of the “Slices of Hope” from my book, If Only It Were a Piece of Cake, is:

“Without the ordinary, there would be no extraordinary.”

And, this time of year, I can’t help but think of the shepherds who were told about Jesus’ birth. Maybe this book excerpt about those guys will encourage you today.

Carry on, friend. God works and meets us in ordinary places. I’m so thankful that He does.

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The following is an excerpt from the Discontentment and Insecurity chapter of If Only It Were a Piece of Cake – Slices of hope for life’s difficult moments

 

My favorite biblical example of ordinary people, in an ordinary place, who experienced an extraordinary moment? The shepherds to whom the angels told of Jesus’ birth. Talk about people just doing their job and getting on with life. These guys probably hadn’t had an extraordinary existence until that evening. The fact that they were shepherds in a fairly small town proves their ordinariness. Not kings. Not movie stars. Not even lawyers or biology teachers. They took care of sheep for a living. Sheep. Maybe throw in some camels and goats, but still, they ranked pretty low on the prestige scale. They saw the same scenery each day and night. They were probably buddies, sitting around a fire most evenings, talking about nothing spectacular. Ordinary.

And then one evening everything changed.

An angel of the Lord appeared to them and said, “Do not be afraid.” That he says this indicates they probably were a little freaked out. Who wouldn’t be? An angel shows up out of nowhere and tells them “good news that would bring great joy for all people.” (Luke 2.) The news that the Messiah had been born in their town. The One that would rule forever and bring peace and hope to all men was born in their town!

This is the best news they, or any of us for that matter, could have heard. This is life changing. This is world changing. This is eternity changing. The shepherds, just normal guys out with their sheep, heard the news first. And then they were given the opportunity to go see Jesus. They were among the very first to meet him personally.

Suddenly, their ordinary lives became extraordinary.

But notice this. They didn’t orchestrate it. They didn’t plan it. They really had nothing to do with it. They didn’t brainstorm or vision-cast, “Hey guys, let’s be the first to hear about the Messiah’s birth. Meet me in the field Christmas day. Wear your ugly sweaters.”

No! Of course not! They had nothing to do with the extraordinary. They just were doing their ordinary jobs, on an ordinary night, when God broke through the mundane and changed their worlds.

This makes me feel good. I can relate to the shepherds. I’ve never spent much face-to-face time with a sheep, but I’ve been known to live in some pretty ordinary moments. To know that living in the ordinary is all that is really required of me in order for God to show up and do the extraordinary, well that makes me smile.

 

For more, follow Christy on Facebook at Christy Cabe •Ten Blue Eyes•

You can find Christy’s books on Amazon, or learn more on her website here: https://christycabe.com/home/books/.

 

On Dreaming Small.

Three years ago I wrote the blog post below entitled, “I’m Going to Dream Small This Year.” Today I reread it and decided to post it again. This is a major spoiler alert (it’s my blog, so I can spoil it if I want)  but it’s about faithfully doing the little things in life. About dreaming small.

Little mundane tasks.

Bit-sized goals.

Gettin’ it done.

Today is New Year’s Eve, and as I scroll through my social media pages I see many references to big dreams and lofty goals. Our small group is coming over this evening, and on our agenda (along with lots of eating) is to review what our goals were last year and what our new goals are for 2017.

There’s a new year on the cusp. A blank calendar. A crisp page ready for life to splash across it.

The new year causes us to look ahead. To dream. To make goals.

And once again, I want to dream small.

I feel kind of strange saying that because tonight, when I share my goal for the year with my friends, I’m going to tell them it is to publish a book (again with the spoiler!) Publishing a book seems like a big goal. And believe me, I’m nervous, and giddy, and it feels rather daunting. It’s a big deal (more details to come later. I can’t spoil everything in one blog post.)

But, the process of writing the book has been a three-year journey. There have been countless little tasks, bit-sized goals, and mundane days of writing. I didn’t know while I was faithfully sitting down and doing the hard work in the little things, that it would some day pay off in a bigger thing. But, sometimes it does.

And, sometimes it doesn’t.

I don’t do the little things in hopes that they will lead to a big thing. I just do the little things because that’s what I know how to do. To finish the task in front of me to the best of my ability. To do that mundane thing again. And again. And to do it well.

Because big dreams are actually made up of a heaping pile of small dreams.

It’s time to get to work.

Here’s to dreaming small in 2017!

 

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I’m a day late and at least a dollar short.

It’s January 2nd and I haven’t made any official resolutions or goals yet for 2014. I’m still in “Christmas Break Mode” and I consider the fact that I did laundry today a pretty big accomplishment. Well, I haven’t folded it yet, but I did move it from the washer to the dryer. Yep, time for a break.

Anyway, I’ve been feeling a little anxious about not having any huge goals or big dreams for this new year. The world seems to be telling me that I need to dream big, shoot for the stars, be a pioneer in my day, blaze the trails and do it all with gusto. Even my spam emails are asking me if I want to eat healthier, lose weight, travel more and save money. I feel like I’m supposed to accomplish something epic before the ball drops again (the ball in Times Square, not me ‘dropping the ball’ …although that’s possible too).

But do my hopes and dreams for 2014 have to be so grandiose? If everything has to be so epic these days then nothing really is epic at all. I think I sometimes get caught up in  thinking that if I’m not doing something that’s perceived as magnificent or worthy of sharing on Facebook then I’m not succeeding. But, I don’t think that’s true.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating being lazy and complacent this year. I’m simply feeling stirred to do the small things well.

And as I’m doing the small things with excellence I may actually do something seen as big and honorable that others would admire, but I may not. I could make a mark on society, but I probably won’t even make much of an impact on my neighborhood. And I think that’s ok.

I’ve been studying the book of Matthew this year in a Bible study. We’ve been reading a lot of Jesus’ teachings and I’ve noticed that He likes to bring up a particular verse. It’s from the Old Testament and was written hundreds of years before He even walked on the earth, but I’ve found it’s still applicable to me today. Hey, if it was important to Jesus, it must be good.

Hosea 6:6 says,

For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.

This convicts me. Jesus repeatedly tells the Pharisees and His disciples that he wants their obedience, not their fancy words or displays of upholding the law. Jesus doesn’t seem as interested in a vision, big dreams or having a list of accomplishments, as he does our hearts.

So, with that in mind I’m going to try to dream small this year. I’m not going to aim to do anything epic or monumental and if I do, then may it just be a consequence of a heart that loves God and loves people.

I want to do things that society would view as small, but that God views as big.

Things like being kind to someone when I don’t feel like it or being joyful in the midst of a hectic schedule on a gloomy day.

Things like being patient when my child has asks me for the fourth time, “What comes after 39?”

Things like noticing that the lady behind me in line at the grocery store has a fussy baby and tired eyes and then asking her if she’d like to go ahead of me in line because I can stand to wait a bit longer.

Like listening at the school committee meeting with an open mind and willing hands so that I can help make a difference in my community by simply serving where I’m needed.

Like taking the time and energy to train and teach my children to be independent instead of frustratedly doing things for them all of the time.

Like extending grace to my husband when I feel frustrated that he forgot to take out the trash and instead thanking him that evening for all that he does for our family every single day.

Yes, things like that.

They are small dreams.

Basically I’m just hoping to love God and people better… and love myself less.

I’m pretty sure my goals for 2014 are about as opposite of epic as you can get. And I’m glad about that.

I’ve got small dreams for 2014 and I am ready to get started.

And I guess I’ll have to fold that laundry in the dryer sometime this year too.

Finding Sense In The Common.

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I pull the spoon out of the dishwasher and stack it with its fellow tablemates in the drawer. My motions are robotic. I do this same thing almost every single day. It is such a common task that I don’t even have to concentrate on what I am doing.

I push the clothes into the drum of the washing machine and reach up to grab the detergent. My mind is thinking about something else. There is no need to pay attention to each motion of the laundry routine. It is a common work in my life, and I have memorized the actions it takes to complete it.

“Grab your book bag.”

“Where are your shoes?”

“You will need a jacket today.”

All common phrases heard in my home each weekday morning. The same idea. The same routine. Over and over. And then almost always, I see the same results.

My life feels so common.

Being common doesn’t feel very empowering. It’s just so plain and normal. So mundane and run-of-the-mill. So regular. Isn’t that basically the definition of the word itself?

Common.

How can being common be significant?

How can my common life make a difference in this world? How can God use my common routine for His glory? How can common amount to anything at all?

But surely it does.

It just sometimes hides behind the extraordinary.

For example, in the Old Testament, Joseph does an amazing work of interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams in regards to a coming famine. He leads the Egyptians in the storing up of food for seven years in order to survive the impending drought. His ability and his leadership is so uncommon. He saves a nation from starvation.

But behind his uncommonness are the common. The farmers. The men and women who each day do the work of planting, and tending, and harvesting. The people who put their hands to the plow. The people whose mundane and run-of-the-mill tasks brought up the very food that was stored and that saved.

The common work provided daily bread for the saving of many lives.

Solomon, in his riches and splendor, in his uncommon life as a King of Israel, built a temple in Jerusalem that stunned the onlooker. It was majestic and extraordinary. But behind the amazing structure hid the men who cut the stones in the quarry. Who day-in and day-out did the heavy lifting. Whose brows dripped with sweat and whose muscles grew strong. They did the common daily difficult labor.

The common work laid the very foundation for the House of God.

A crowd of 5,000 hungry men sat waiting to hear Jesus. They then witnessed a wondrous moment when the lunch of a small boy fed them all. Their stomachs were full because of an uncommon miracle of God. Yet, behind the miracle, there was probably a mama who had simply packed her son’s lunch. She did the mundane, robotic task that she probably had done hundreds of times before. She did not know that the very hands of God would take the fruits of the labor, as meager as they were, and multiply them for the glory of God the Father.

The common work fed a multitude and pointed many to the power of God.

So my hands will continue to do the common work. To unload the dishes and reload the washing machine. To pack the book bags and tend to the growth of the children. To complete the mundane tasks that seem insignificant.

Because in the hands of God, the common is extraordinary, after all.


This post was inspired by the Five Minute Friday community where bloggers are encouraged to write for about 5 minutes based on a one-word prompt. This week’s word: COMMON

Do what?

He stared at me, waiting for an answer. I hesitated. His pencil remained poised in his hand, ready to fill in the blank. I hesitated some more. “I don’t know,” I said, “what do you think I like to do?”

My son shrugged and said, “I don’t know either but I have to write something. How about cook? Do you like to cook?” I nodded slowly. Yes, I admitted I like to cook, but I don’t love it. I mean, I do it all the time but I don’t know if cooking is something that should be written in #2 pencil on a homework assignment meant to discover more about a student’s parent and their hobbies.

Finally I gave my son a few ideas of things that I “like to do.” He chose one, basically because he wanted to get on with his evening, and scribbled it on the blank line. He was done and had moved on to something else. But I remained there in my chair and my thoughts. Is it really that hard to think of something that I like to do?

What do I do?

I feel like I do a lot.

I do actually cook. I clean up messes and mop floors. I do hair. I fold laundry. I have dinner with imaginary parrots (when instructed by my daughter that they are in fact at the table.) I drive my minivan to the library and grocery store. I read. I help with homework. I check Facebook. I support my husband’s work. I drink imaginary tea and change real diapers. I dress people and kiss “ouchies.” I pull weeds and get mail and do dishes. I meet up with friends. I laugh. I cry. I drink coffee. I snap pictures and watch as little hands draw pictures of their own.

I do a lot of things. But my son couldn’t think of anything that I like to do. This bothered me.

Days later I was still mulling over that conversation. Isn’t it apparent what I like to do? Doesn’t my family notice all that I do? If I didn’t do any of it would it even matter? How do I know if I’m doing well at what I’m doing if they don’t even know what I like to do?

This isn’t a new question to me. Years ago, I explained to my husband that since becoming a wife and mom I miss being evaluated. That may sound crazy, but I was just so accustomed to it up until that point in life. In school you get report cards multiple times a year telling you exactly where you stand in each subject. In my jobs, my bosses would make their expectations of my role very clear and then periodically evaluate my performance. Once I became a Mom, I was on my own. No one sits down with me and gives me a report card.

One year my husband tried. He took a passage of Scripture, Proverbs 31:10-31, and wrote out his thoughts on how I compared to the woman in the passage. It was super sweet and he even signed it at the bottom of the page. I loved the gesture and adore my husband. But when I read about the Proverbs 31 woman again, I saw verse 15,

“She gets up while it is still night;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.

Wait, what?! Female servants? She had servants? Ok, this isn’t an even playing field!

Nonetheless, I appreciated knowing for a time how I was doing. My husband’s poll was drawn from a relatively small sampling; one. But that one is pretty crucial. My man and our three children who, by the way, are the only reasons I do “get up while it is still night” are the only ones who truly matter when it comes to my evaluation. They don’t perform much formal critique of my work, but I’m starting to learn to take what I can get.

I have not yet received a report card or heard much constructive feedback from those I supervise. My underlings instead give feedback in the form of blunt food critique, bear hugs and butterfly kisses. They don’t really seem to care exactly how I’m doing what I’m doing. They are not even sure what I do. They don’t applaud me for a sparkling floor, drawers full of clothes or coupons clipped. They don’t care if I am the best in my field or climbing the ladder of success. They just want me. They want me to do life. And even more, they want me to do life with them.

That’s what I do. Life. I do whatever my hands find for me to do. And in doing those things, I strive to honor my Lord and my husband and children. I do each mundane task to the best of my ability. Sometimes it deserves an A. Sometimes I flunk. But most of all, I just do life. And I’ll have you know I like it. I like it a lot.

It was just hard to fit all of that on the blank line.