I want to thank New Leaf Press for providing me with a copy of Rocking Ordinary in return for my honest opinion.
I am a pretty ordinary girl–ordinary with a capital O. Really, I don’t think people that meet me get any other impression. Even my Myers-Briggs personality type is pretty run-of-the-mill–it’s thought to be the most prevalent of all the personality types. I’m a mom, a wife, and for fun I write instead of sleeping. Some people sew, run, or scrapbook. I write.
I think there are Christians with extraordinary lives, exerting significant influence or facing down danger for Christ in ways most of us never even aspire to. For the most part, though, I think most Christian ladies live ordinary lives.
That’s not a bad thing at all. In writing to the believers at Thessalonica, Paul had this to say: “But we urge you, brothers, to do this [love one another] more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.” (1 Thessalonians 4:10-12 — Words in brackets are added for clarity from the previous verse.)….
It’s good to live a quiet, ordinary, respectful, hard-working life. That’s what we’re called to do.
So… Can God Use My Ordinary Life?
You know, the apostles were pretty ordinary guys, too. They were fishermen, a tax collector, and–well, there was one revolutionary: Simon the Zealot. Others following Jesus were housewives, beggars, children… just ordinary people following an extraordinary God.
The whole Bible is full of ordinary people. Sure, there are kings and queens as well, but many of those kings and queens were originally just ordinary people–shepherds, a Jewish girl living under Persian occupation, a boy raised by a priest, a young man looking for his father’s donkey. Those ordinary people lived extraordinary lives of influence only because the Lord willed it so.
I’ll never be a queen (you, either?), but I do have a very real opportunity to live out my faith in Christ in a way that will glorify God. I can rock this ordinary life in my own flawed way, gifted by the Holy Spirit as He sees fit. I can bring salt and light to the world around me by virtue of the fact that I love Jesus.
Rocking Ordinary by Lea Ann Garfias
In her book Rocking Ordinary: Holding It Together with Extraordinary Grace (New Leaf Press, 2016), mom and homeschooler Lea Ann Garfias shares stories of her life and challenges readers to consider the influence they can have in their ordinary, everyday lives. The book resonated with me in many ways. Reading Rocking Ordinary was like sitting down for tea with a good friend. First, I got to hear what was going on in her life. Garfias then used those stories to edify me and to encourage me to look for the areas and people in my life that I could bring salt and light to. At the end of each chapter, there’s a couple of Bible passages to read and some journaling work or questions for discussion.
I really enjoy the new hybrid-genre-books that are part memoir and part non-fiction Christian living. Rocking Ordinary sort of slides into that category. Garfias doesn’t tell her life story in chronological order–it’s more topical, but her stories aren’t merely introductory lead-ins to a lecture or a how to chapter. She truly shares her life while teasing out lessons on living for God’s glory. I found that encouraging and engaging.
Life is messy. I learned long ago that it’s unwise for me to feel that my life may be a little messier than someone else’s, but sometimes I still fall into that trap. Lea Ann Garfias shared her history with such candor that I was able to think, “Ah, she’s my people. One of the deeply wounded that can give testimony to the fact that God alone can heal mortal wounds and set the injured on a path to bring light to others.” Garfias’ confessional stories helped me think through the areas of my relationships that I can do better in, without causing me to wallow in past miseries or contemplate previous pain. She clearly has a gift of being able to edify and instruct while being real–without complaining or excusing.
There was a point in the book where Garfias sort of took on the church’s stance of women in ministry. I wondered where she’d take that, but in the end, she just encourages women to get involved in the areas God gifts them in. If she’d encouraged women to stand up and preach, this would be a very different review. However, she didn’t make that recommendation. I decided I can see where she’s coming from–after all, here I am writing this blog because it’s something small I feel I can do for the Kingdom.
I really enjoyed Rocking Ordinary. It reminded me to keep going. I can rock this ordinary life–and so can you. In all things, to God be the glory.
Rocking Ordinary Chapters
Part I — Success and Failure
1. Run with Patience
2. Do Not Be Afraid
3. Reach Out
Part II — The Important People
4. The Most Important Part
5. Love, Leadership, and Marriage
6. Raising Leaders
Part III — The Painful Parts
7. Misshapen Homes
8. That Painful Past
9. Painful People
Part IV — Significant Influence
10. Leading from the Pew
11. Community Influence
12. True Compassion
13. The Time Budget
14. Dare to Dream
Purchase Rocking Ordinary
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~ Danika Cooley
Danika Cooley is the author of When Lightning Struck! The Story of Martin Luther (Fortress Press, 2015), Wonderfully Made (CF4K, 2016), and Bible Road Trip. Her work has been featured in internationally-recognized children's magazines over 150 times.