In my one and only photography class in college (to fill an elective spot with something fun!), I heard more than once, “true artistry is creating something extraordinary from something quite ordinary.”
I had to smile as I listened to Christie Purifoy and Mary Jo Baker say basically the same thing in their “Out of the Ordinary” podcast this week. How sweet to realize that little moments which could easily be overlooked, and may even grow tiresome on some levels, can become treasured glimpses of extraordinary in our very routine, ordinary days.
They asked us, as their listeners, to ponder where unexpected EXTRAORDINARY might be found in our own day to day? [what a gift to see His hand creating amazing GRACE out of the ordinary in their lives… and begin to recognize His touch in our own!]
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When I pause to think about it, two things come to mind … one from my own childhood home and one small but lingering thing my kids have kept alive, even though they are now big kids, starting to contemplate life decisions like cars and colleges and part-time jobs!
My little piece of extraordinary gives away where I was raised … Pennsylvania! As far back as I can remember, my mom has placed little electric candles in each of the windows of our home. They are set on timers to come on at dusk and stay lit until we are all deeply asleep, sometime after midnight.
I hold treasured memories of climbing into bed each night, hearing the house settle to a lovely quiet, seeing and feeling the soft glow of those little candles, cast across our darkened rooms. Even now, when I travel home for a visit, I fight sleep as long as possible, soaking in that glow. The word that comes to mind is “surrounded.” In that safe and happy place, loved and provided for by those who know and love me best.
Although the candles are present all through the year, the sight of them often takes my heart back to the holidays. I suppose we appreciated their light all the more during the darkest parts of the year. But it was also during those festive times that drifting off to sleep was accompanied by wafts of fresh cookies baking or a crackling fire, and the sound of Christmas music. There was no greater time in our year to feel “surrounded” than when we purposely chose to gather with loved ones, to celebrate, and to express gratefulness.
When we moved from Pennsylvania to Savannah, GA, over a decade ago, we continued the tradition, placing our own electric candles in every possible window. Neighbors were perplexed, since they had only seen such a thing at Christmastime. We persisted anyway. And I still loved the gift of falling asleep under the soft glow in a quiet house (at any time of the year!), feeling surrounded by our own growing family in the home God had provided for us.
When friends would come to visit for the first time, we would often tell them to look for the house with candle lights in the windows! We were from Pennsylvania, after all, and those roots run deep! It was so nice to hear how many of them viewed that unique touch as something warm and welcoming.
Now that we live in south FL, our home doesn’t have windows that are suited for electric candles. It was a sad realization for me. The rest of my family does not seem to miss them. But I do. So as a feeble second choice, I have a night light plugged in next to my side of the bed.
It is not quite the same as light beautifully reflected on the glass panes of a window, but I appreciate the soft glow all the same! Maybe one day, the Lord will lead us back to the northern hills where I can light candles in our windows again!
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My kids are much more practical and not so easily touched by aesthetics. (I tease them that they cannot be my children!) Their holdout traditions have much more to do with food!
Dad’s famous pancakes! Mom’s chocolate chip banana bread! Or Miss Barbara’s unmatched recipe for pound cake (with NO icing!) that my son insists on every year for his birthday. Yep! My kids’ favorite traditions are definitely about what tastes good!
When they were small and we were planning to be out and about for the day – park, zoo, beach, even errands – I would pack each of them a Ziplock snack bag with their water bottle. I would grab whatever dry goods were in the pantry – pretzels, goldfish, cereal, teddy grahams, and maybe a few M&Ms for something sweet – and create our own snack mix. I would stash their munchies in a tucked-away place and bring them out when absolutely necessary to settle the restless natives!
It always made me laugh when my parents were visiting and my Dad would whisper his request that I make an extra one for him! To this day, when we travel, I will catch my kids making themselves a snack bag for the road!
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How truly beautiful to realize that whether it is an aesthetic touch or something yummy for our tummies, it is the little things that linger and remain meaningful. Those easily overlooked, ordinary things, that mamas do to let their children know that they are loved and provided for, are really quite extraordinary!
How important, as well, to be reminded to look for the ways our heavenly Father loves and provides for us each day! There is no other who knows and loves us best! But to busy humans, many of His touches and foresight can seem small or be easily overlooked.
It is so encouraging to know, if we train our eyes to see, we will discover the truly EXTRAORDINARY artistry He is creating every day… right in the middle of what seems rather ordinary!
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Psalm 77:13 O God, your deeds are extraordinary!
Isaiah 29:14 I will again do an amazing thing for My people – an absolutely extraordinary deed.
Zechariah 4:10 Whoever despises the day of small things will rejoice…
I Corinthians 1:27 God has chosen the simple things to confound the wise.
Luke 16:10 Whoever is faithful with little things will also be faithful with much.