summer book report: a trio of “ordinary” books, part 1

Summer is almost over. By that I mean we are two weeks and a few days away from day one of back to {pre}school! The summer has been good, in the way that hard things are ultimately good for you or that vegetables are good for your health. There were many days that felt like I was merely slogging through, like the long, hot days mid-summer when spring was a memory and fall a distant dream. My main tasks were (1) parenting my twin four-year-old daughters and (2) revising the manuscript for my first book to be released early summer 2016 on shame.  These are mutually exclusive tasks. No multi-tasking possible, and it was hard to feel distracted by one when seeking to do the other. Both tasks are also quite ordinary and a bit mundane. It is absolutely an unexpected and incredible opportunity to be writing a book but that doesn’t make editing sentences and punctuation any more glamourous. And, yes, being at home with my kids can be “the best hardest job in the world” when we’re having a blast at the beach or they’re being super-sweet, but these same kids still need to sleep, and get their clothes dirty every day, and occasionally (wink, wink) do not listen to my instructions.

My husband took a mission trip to Japan with our church in early July. He came back with stories of watching God at work in another culture and great pictures of Japanese sushi and Mt. Fuji. While happy for him, I felt a bit left behind like I usually do when he gets to have what I think of as “great frontline experiences” while I am manning the homefront.

But, oh, how good it is for me who can be so prideful and self-sufficient and self-everything to have to learn the hidden work of ordinary! And I was not left without guides, which came in the form of three books I read this summer.

Ordinary by Michael Horton called me to reexamine my definition and methods of success and happiness with the idea that the most important change toward Christ-likeness often happens in the most “ordinary” ways. It’s not only or primarily the mountain-top experiences that build faith, but the day-in, day-out challenge of faithfulness to where God’s placed me today. A few of the many quotes I underlined:

Even more than I’m afraid of failure, I’m terrified by boredom. Facing another day, with ordinary callings to ordinary people all around us is much more difficult than chasing my own dreams that I have envisioned for the grand story of my life.

This is not a call to do less, but to invest in things that we often give up on when we don’t see an immediate return.

When I find my justification in Christ alone, I am free to love and serve others in ordinary and unheralded ways.

Instead of mounting up to heaven in self-righteous ambition, we reach out to those who are right under our nose each day who need something that we have to offer.

We do not find success by trying to be successful or happiness by trying to be happy. Rather, we find these things by attending to the skills, habits, and — to be honest — the often dull routines that make us even modestly successful at anything. If you are always looking for an impact, a legacy, and success, you will not take the time to care for the things that matter.

It is precisely because of this extraordinary hope [of glorification in Christ], therefore, that we can embrace the ordinary lives God gives us here and now.

That’ll preach, as they say back where I grew up in the South. It’ll preach meaning and purpose to you as you’re doing dishes and picking up shoes and clothes of the little people or big people in your house. It’ll preach as you faithfully complete the spreadsheet and budget review and as you reply to emails and answer phone calls. It’ll preach to you and me every day of our lives actually. For ordinary will be part of each day we live, and God is at work right in the midst of these tasks. What hope that is for today!

Next up – A Loving Life by Paul Miller, coming your way in the next few days.

3 thoughts on “summer book report: a trio of “ordinary” books, part 1

  1. Pingback: summer book report, a trio of “ordinary” books, part 2 | hidden glory

  2. Pingback: Five Minute Friday: “yes” | hidden glory

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