In the Midst of our OrdinaryRead Now
Written By: Gay Idle
We are living in times that demand that we all be extraordinary.
Just look at social media.
So many are striving to make a name for themselves…or build a platform for their business. Saying, in essence, “look at me…I’m special…watch my reels…do what I do…buy what I buy, or buy what I’ve created…it’s extraordinary…I’m extraordinary…you too, can be extraordinary!”
This leaves us feeling anything but extraordinary as we compare ourselves to all the others on social media who seem to be living idyllic lives, with their seemingly angelic children, spotlessly organized homes, amazing pets, and beautiful smiles. We watch as people claim, either to have never experienced any hardships because they have it all figured out, or say that their hardships are well behind them and now they are prepared to sail off into a perfectly, peacefully settled sunset…and help you do the same. Uggghhh! Do you ever feel like it is all just TOO MUCH?!
Unless we realize that comparison indeed can be the thief of joy, we are at risk of joining the vast numbers of people finding themselves dealing with depression as a result of all this excessive social media mania.
Yes, there are many truly good resources to be found on social media platforms. Some resources are sources of encouragement and are there to spur us on to not just be our “best selves”, but to press into who God has created us to be. We at Pretty & Wise strive to help women live bravely and boldly into their calling. And most of us have lived long enough lives to realize this truism …
“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for extraordinary destiny.” ~ Reepicheep, the film version of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
Yes. It is true that God calls us to proclaim his goodness through hardships and trials. But, that is not the only way He shows Himself in the process of our journey through this life.
Most often, God calls us in the midst of our ordinary so that He might accomplish His extraordinary purposes.
How do I know this? We see so many individuals throughout scripture just living their ordinary lives when God calls them out to accomplish His extraordinary purposes. People like Joseph, Moses, David, Esther, and so many more. They weren’t called because they were extraordinary, but because our amazing God called them to accomplish extraordinary things to accomplish His will. He did not call them because they were already equipped with all they needed to carry out His will. It is God, Himself, who accomplishes the work through those who are willing to place themselves into His miracle-working hands.
James reiterates this point when he tells us that
“Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth” (James 5:17).
Did you get that? He was a man ‘with a nature like ours’. He surely doubted his own abilities, but He trusted God was true to His Word and because of that, God did a mighty miracle on his behalf.
So let’s look back at what influences we are allowing into our lives and the messages they bring. Is it the prevalent message that life is to be lived as an over-the-top adventure that will bring amazing rewards? The ‘go for the gusto’, ‘be all you can be’, and ‘be your best self’? We think that aspiring to these great heights will help us to build the beautifully fulfilled life that we all crave. But when we fail or when we fall, we are left wondering…what the heck?! We have set ourselves up for a deep discontent that digs itself deep into our souls.
So what are we to do? As Christians, we should aspire to live a life that is worthy of the calling we have received (Ephesians 4:1). Our aim is to please God, not because we want His favor but because of our love for Him. God does not shine His favor on us because of our own accomplishments, but because of His great love for us. That’s such a relief to me when I feel that I’m failing on so many levels.
I believe that God calls us as we are going about our daily life…in the midst of our ordinary…when we are actively seeking His presence in the midst of meetings at work, doing the dishes, changing diapers, or folding laundry. We need to get in the habit of acknowledging His presence in every moment.
God is not just there for us in the trials and hard moments of life. He is with us in the dailies, in every moment of our ordinary lives. Living into our simple and ordinary life provides the springboard to discovering innumerable opportunities for extraordinary faithfulness, obedience, and devotion to God.
In his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul is instructing believers to live their life in a way that will please God. He is in fact commending them for obediently living out God’s commands and urging them to stay strong (Thess. 4:1-8). He goes on to commend them for their love for one another and urges them to do more so in verse 9. And finally, in verse 11 we read this,
“Aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, ”
Lead a quiet life
Mind your own affairs
Work with your hands
Our aspiration…our ambition…the drive within us…should be to lead a quiet life. Not be a busybody. Do simple work. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like heaven to me. So excuse me while I go live in a cottage on the beach, do some vocal coaching, and work on my book! Well…maybe not. We’re not called to live this way in order to turn away from the world. The very next verse tells us why this is important.
“...so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.” vs. 12
To walk properly before outsiders. It’s all about our witness in this world. We are to live lives of integrity so that our witness for Christ is credible. This is what living this one ordinary life is all about.
1 Timothy 2:1-2 bears this out:
“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.”
In the midst of our ordinary moments, He calls us deeper still to something beyond what we are able to accomplish on our own. It’s hard to imagine that God calls us out of the daily tasks of everyday life…and yet He does.
Zechariah, in talking about God’s pleasure in the construction of the temple states this, “Who [with reason] despises the day of small things (beginnings)?” (Zechariah 4:10a, AMP).
Who indeed? The temple of God is the place where the Holy Spirit resides. Today the Holy Spirit resides in believers. “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
Please, let’s not despise this one ordinary life we have been given. We all begin somewhere. No matter how small and insignificant our daily routines may seem to be…this one ordinary life will be the vessel through which God accomplishes HIS extraordinary purpose.
Photo by Georgia de Lotz on Unsplash
No Ordinary LoveRead Now
Written By: Lyndsay Terry
The other day I was listening to a sermon that had nothing to do with this topic of “ordinary” but the speaker touched on something that struck a chord in me…
If God did not spare his own Son for you, why would He withhold any of the lesser needs or desires from us? That’s like buying an expensive Ferrari as a gift for someone, but not wanting to spend an extra $10 on a big red ribbon to put on the car. If you can spend thousands and thousands of dollars on a gift, why not $10 extra dollars? That is practically nothing in light of the cost of the gift itself.
Is it not the same with the Lord? If He paid the cost of His only child, why would He withhold healing from you? Why would He withhold provision from you? Why would He withhold marriage from you? Why would He withhold (insert blank here) from you?
And yet, sometimes He does … there must be a reason, but what?
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 (ESV)
God is always working for our benefit. If He says no to a lesser gift - the big red ribbon - it is because it will not be the greatest blessing to us. That’s a hard pill to swallow at times. Healing seems like the greatest blessing. Marriage seems like the greatest blessing. Financial provision seems like the greatest blessing. Whatever your heart sincerely longs for seems like the greatest blessing and yet sometimes the Lord says no.
Sweet sister, it’s for our benefit. It may not feel like it, but it’s true and He is trustworthy. His love is no ordinary love. He doesn’t give only what we want, He gives what is the greatest blessing to us. He doesn’t give based on what is happening right now, He gives with all of time in mind. He may say no to healing on earth, but He says yes to healing in Heaven - always. He may so no to marriage, but He says yes to a supremely intimate relationship with Himself. He may say no to abundance of finances, but He says yes to our daily bread.
All of these things produce more trust, more hope, more faith, and more love - no ordinary love - but fully reliant, fulfilling, steadfast love from us to Him and from Him to us.
I don’t have all the answers when it comes to this. I’m struggling with it myself. One of my dearest friends is terminally ill. They’ve given her just weeks. I’ve prayed for healing … we all have. The Lord has helped me understand something for the first time and has reminded me again and again when my heart just can’t stand it … Heaven is the greater healing. We pray for healing on this earth and when it just doesn’t come we often think we lacked faith. If we had just believed more or prayed more or trusted more … but truly, is not Heaven the greater healing? What a gift to pass through this earth and into the next with no more pain, no more sorrow, made completely whole, and in the arms of Jesus forever and ever.
So yes - sometimes God says no. And it hurts. It hurts so badly at times. But isn’t He good? Isn’t He trustworthy? Isn’t He worthy? His love is no ordinary love, sweet sister. His love is infinite and infinitely for our good and His glory.
Can I pray for you?
Jesus, help us trust in your decisions What to offer in blessing and what to withhold as a blessing. Help us to fully surrender our way for yours. Help us to see what you are doing and faithfully trust you when we cannot see. We love you. We give you our heart, our yes, our trust. You alone are worthy. You alone are faithful. We trust you Jesus.
Guest Writer: Ginger Harrington
Reaching goals doesn't happen without effort. Moving from intention to action is the first step, but our daily choices help or hinder us from forward progress. Building consistent habits that support our goals is a powerful way to press on toward growth and success.
“It's not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It's what we do consistently.” ― Anthony Robbins
Have you realized you aren’t where you want to be in some area of life? Maybe you even set a few goals or made resolutions this year and your progress has been sporadic.
We all have goals, aspirations, and dreams. Even the most unmotivated people have things they want to accomplish in life. Most of us–the imperfect types–have a list of areas ripe for growth and improvement. In essence, we don’t want to stay where we are…like we are.
Physical health, spiritual development, and personal growth are areas we often target for improvement.
When it comes to reaching goals or building better habits of health, what holds you back? Motivation, time, knowledge, skill, finances, equipment, or even current level of health can be obstacles to moving from intention to action.
The Challenge of Consistency in Reaching Goals
We may start strong but staying consistent is challenging. Last year I had a goal to lose weight. I worked at it (most of the time) and was sort of successful in a frustrating way. What's that, you ask?
I lost the SAME five pounds at least five times. Maybe more.
I stopped counting. At times I stopped trying. Let's face it, lack of progress is seriously demotivating. I had conversations in my head that went like this:
Inconsistency kept me running in place rather than moving forward toward my goal. The Yo-Yo Cycle of inconsistency can keep us from making lasting changes. Consistency is a battle, and the struggle is real. Can you relate?
Move from Motivation to Habit to Reach Your Goals
Jim Ryun said this about the role of habits in accomplishing goals: “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”
A vital part of accomplishing goals is establishing small habits and routines that help us succeed. The word habit is defined as “a usual way of behaving: something that a person does often in a regular and repeated way.” ( source: https://www.britannica.com/dictionary/habit)
Practice bridges the gap between intention and habit. The positive habits we build form a support structure for the life we desire. Small changes and helpful habits can become part of our daily steps as we pursue our goals.
Athletes and musicians practice new skills until they become intuitive, part of their muscle memory. In many ways, practicing helpful habits is like developing muscle memory. What once felt unfamiliar, requiring great concentration, begins to flow automatically.
Focus on Progress Over Perfection
I’m discovering I tend to sabotage my good effort when I fall short or default to old habits. Failures and setbacks prompt a cycle of shame and guilt in my self-talk. How often do we allow today’s lapse to defeat our next step?
Elevating perfection over progress can derail consistency in creating new habits and accomplishing goals.
What could it feel like to change your perspective and expectations? What if you let go of perfectionism, recognize progress, and celebrate growth? Shift your focus to the next right step and make the next good choice. This mindset shift fuels motivation to keep moving toward our aspirations.
7 Ways to Move Forward with Consistency
The more we choose well, the more consistent good habits become. This makes it sound easy, but changing our thoughts and patterns is hard work that takes time and consistent effort.
Consider how these words from Philippians provide a pattern for pursuing your goals:
“Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus”. –Philippians 3:12-14 NASB
Although this passage refers to spiritual growth and sanctification, we can discover some practical habits of consistency.
Don't let inconsistency or discouragement tempt you to abandon your healthy goals. Celebrate the small wins of your forward progress. In Genesis 1, God "saw" that each day's work of creation was good. The meaning of the word "saw" is to see, to look at, inspect, perceive, consider. God recognized and stated the value of the good work that was accomplished. How often do we do this?
One healthy habit that is OH-SO-GOOD for your soul is to value small victories. Notice what went well this week. We often discount the small positive steps we make, but success creates energy for more success. Honor the good effort of each step forward as you build consistent habits to reach your goals.
What encourages you to press on today? Fight for consistency but give yourself grace as you pursue the positive habits for a life well-lived. What next step do you need to take toward your goal today?
Written By: Nancy Foster
What is “Ordinary”?
According to Webster’s Dictionary Ordinary can mean:
1. Of a kind to be expected in the normal order of events: Routine, Usual
2. a. Of common quality, rank, or ability.
b. Deficient in quality: Poor, Inferior.
Oxford’s Dictionary defines Ordinary as:
Not unusual or different or special or unexpected in any way; usual
Synonyms of ordinary include Normal, Usual, Standard, Natural, Typical
It seems that somewhere inside of us there is a desire not to be ordinary. It may be because we think we’ll be lost in the crowd. It may be that we equate ordinary with inferior.
There are seemingly infinite ways for people to express their uniqueness or their desire to stand out. Differences are expressed through clothing, hair, body art, vehicles, not to mention bumper stickers on vehicles. There are expressions that scream, “NOTICE ME! I AM HERE AND I NEED TO BE PART OF SOMETHING BIGGER THAN ME!”
Well, I have come to believe that we are part of something bigger than ourselves, however we need to see ourselves from a different perspective.
I’ve read that a jumbo jet has six million parts, forty thousand rivets on each wing and that it takes 43 days for skilled technicians to build. I would not dare to say that the smallest rivets were not important. If I heard the builders say, “Yeah, this one had some rivets left over. We didn’t know where they should go. We didn’t have time to look, but it seemed sturdy enough. We threw the leftovers away.” I would not get on that plane.
I don’t believe God made anything or anyone for which He doesn’t have a specific purpose. If there is a “specific” purpose, it can’t be ordinary. Look in the Psalms. Ps. 147:4 He counts the stars and calls them all by name. Why would anyone waste time on counting and naming the stars, unless there was a purpose? Unless it was important? Unless it brought Him pleasure to count and call the names of His own?
God says SO MUCH MORE about you and about me than He counts us and names us. He counts our hairs. (I wonder if He has named them too?)
Psalm 139:1-18 is a beautiful portrait of the intimacy we were made to have with God. It is evidence that we are not ordinary. You are not ordinary. You are not inferior. You were not an afterthought. You were made, on purpose, for a purpose, that God Himself wants to reveal to you and He is excited to do just that.
Read it slowly as if you are reading it to Him as He is listening.
1 O LORD, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. 2 You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. 3 You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do.4 You know what I am going to say even before I say it, LORD. 5 You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand! 7 I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! 8 If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. 9 If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, 10 even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. 11 I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night--12 but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you. 13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. 15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. 16 You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. 17 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! 18 I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!
Read verse 17 again and again…
His thoughts about you are precious. Precious means of great value, not to be wasted or treated carelessly. Let’s not discard God’s thoughts about us because they reveal our identity. They reveal our value. They reveal our purpose and tied to all of these is His pleasure. (Rev. 4:11 Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.)
His precious thoughts cannot be numbered. This means He’s still adding precious thoughts about you to His repertoire. You cannot number something that is continually growing in number. He hasn’t laid you aside for the newer models coming along. His purpose for you hasn’t diminished alongside of anyone else.
Even though days upon days seem ordinary and nothing seems to stand out or make a difference, there’s much to be said for finishing the race and remaining faithful. When you look at yourself through the lens of the scripture, you will not see ordinary. You will see an extraordinary God who wants you to know He is near.
One of my favorite verses to mediate on is Zephaniah 3:17…
The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He is quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.
(Skip Moen says the picture of “quiet in His love” is this: “I don’t need to say a thing.” Imagine a conversation between people who love each other deeply and intimately. One is weaker and needy. But the other loves so much that He says, “You have not shaken my love for you at all. I don’t need to say a thing.” This is the silence of approval. When God is quiet in His love, His smile is more than we need, to know we are His.)
And I would add, His smile is more than we need, to know that we are not ordinary.
Ordinary to ExtraordinaryRead Now
Written By: Alexandria Brown
When did “ordinary” become such a yucky word in the English vocabulary?
When did the word ordinary become an insult when we talk about people, places or things? And why?
Everyone wants to do something extraordinary, ordinary is simply not enough anymore…don’t get me wrong, I long to do big things for God and His kingdom. It is not a bad thing to want to do extraordinary things in our life. It’s not a bad thing to have big goals and aspirations. It’s not even a bad thing to pursue them and work towards those big extraordinary things. That is good and great and I wish and pray that more kingdom people would grab hold of and run with what Jesus said in John 14:12 and do what He, Jesus, commissioned us to do, which is to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to Earth.
We know the verses. We say the prayers.
Our Father, Who art in heaven.
Hallowed be Your Name
Your kingdom come
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven…
Jesus commissioned us to go and make disciples and to go and do the works He had done and even greater. We are called to bring the extraordinary (heaven) into the ordinary.
As I sat, meditating and praying over this verse this week, I felt the Lord asking me this…
Are you willing to give up your view of the extraordinary to receive my (God’s) ordinary?
That question stopped my thoughts and drew my focus in and I began asking the Lord what that meant…
You see, I had been so focused on the extraordinary of what I believed God wanted and still to this day wants to do, heal the sick, bring freedom to those who call on Him, restore marriages and identities, and reunite families, that I was missing the very opportunities for those things to take place in my everyday life, my family and my workplace.
All throughout the Bible when we read God doing big and miraculous things He didn’t accomplish the unimaginable because there was some extraordinary circumstances or greatness that happened. Instead, when He worked miracles it was created out of every day ordinary things and people.
When David defeated Goliath, it was an ordinary day. A day that David loaded up some ordinary food to take to his brothers. Nothing special and yet, on that same ordinary day God used an ordinary person to do an extraordinary act.
When Jesus feed the 5000+ and the 3000+, let me tell you there was nothing extraordinary about those loaves and fish. Gordon Ramsey was not the chef of the day. Just simply ordinary people with ordinary food wiling to let God do something unimaginable. And God took the ordinary and created the extraordinary.
Seeing a theme?
God has called us to be extraordinary IN the ordinary. He has called us to be the salt and the light in the midst of our families and our workplaces, our churches and schools. I wonder how much time I have lost looking for the opportunity to do something great for God. Waiting for the next “big thing” to happen. Waiting for things to fall into place in order for that extraordinary opportunity to show its face and bring glory to God, when in fact, God is simply wanting us to allow HIM to create the extraordinary in the middle of our everyday ordinary?
What would happen if we created atmospheres of peace and love in the exact place we are? When we are at home and at work and at the grocery store. What would happen if we begin to use the ordinary everyday things to glorify God? Not just when we go to a big conference or on a mission trip or a prayer meeting. What would happen if we took God literally when He said “Go” or “Love God and love others”?
We don’t have to be the most educated or trained. I wonder what would happen if we truly let God use our ordinary selves in our everyday activities? If God could do so much with plain loaves and fish, what could He accomplish with me, His daughter, His treasure, if I only let Him?
As I sat their contemplating all of this I felt Holy Spirit asking me again,
“Are you willing to give up your view of the extraordinary, to see my ordinary?”
Maybe this is not something that speaks to you and that is totally fine.
As for me, I say yes Lord.
God I want all that you have for me. I do not want to miss the things big or small that You want to do in my everyday ordinary. I don’t want to wait for experience to have You move in and through my life. I want You, God, to use my ordinary to bring glory to Your Name.
Love you sis,
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