Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Snapshots of the Extraordinary


My life is not an extraordinary story, by any means, but lived out day by day, in small scenes. I think the pages of my story are filled with a fair share of lovely occasions and remarkable moments, but the pages chronicle far more ordinary days. 

Yet I think it's out of the ordinary that sometimes I see snapshots of the extraordinary.

My niece Devon and I spent a day in my kitchen making peanut butter cups for Easter dessert. I was trying a new recipe and the chocolate turned out far too thick to dip the peanut butter dough in. 



As we dropped the dough balls into the bowl of melted chocolate we had a hard time retrieving them without completely dunking our hands in the chocolate to fish them out. 

Which meant chocolate on the counter, on the floor, on Devon’s clothes and even an airborne glob that dropped from Devon’s hand onto my foot. 

Devon surveyed the mess and said that this looked like just another chocolate explosion in auntie’s kitchen. 



I told her that’s how baking is sometimes. It’s an experiment to find out what works. A failed recipe doesn’t mean you quit baking. It just means you make adjustments. Do something different. Keep trying. 

There are dozens of different ways to make the same dessert. With each messy baking adventure, you learn something new. If you don't give up, eventually you will have something delicious. 

As I said these words, I realized how much my heart needed to hear them too.

What if my disappointments and failures lead me to the gifts of extravagant grace and unshakable faith?

Like a snapshot of the extraordinary.



On Easter, I went to church with my sister’s family. I sat in the backseat with my niece and nephew as my brother-in-law drove us in his new car. I asked Devon what the two small compartments in the ceiling held. She shrugged and told me to press the buttons to open them. 

We looked at each other as two tiny compact mirrors descended from the ceiling. It wasn’t quite what we were expecting. The more Devon thought about it, the funnier she thought it was. 

I laughed with her as she dissolved in giggles.  



I thought about how surprising gems are hidden in places I wouldn’t expect. How even though it's not easy, I want to persevere through difficult circumstances and not give up because when I look back I find that my faith grew stronger.

It's easy to let doubts make me question the very things that I know are true. Discouragement can leave me feeling ungrateful and restless. But God uses these times to show me a stunning new facet of his character that I haven't encountered before.

What if I realized that concealed under these difficult experiences is the outrageous hope I so desperately need?

Like a snapshot of the extraordinary.



My sister hosted brunch for us at her house. The table included a place for Floppy, the stuffed dog that arrived in Devon's Easter basket, with his own plastic food and cutlery. 

(Look closely and you'll see him seated at the table bottom left.)

The kids aren’t very interested in eating fruit cups, baked French toast or a Southwest egg casserole so they don’t stay at the table for long. They head out to the pool to wait for me to take some family photos. 

When they tire of posing, they start jumping over the little waterfall as it splashes into the pool.



Still in their Easter finery, I watch them run and leap. Unconcerned about risking a stumble or fall, they trust that they’ll make it to the other side.

I thought about how I'd rather keep pieces of myself tucked away to keep people at arm's length. Sharing parts of my story scares me because emotional vulnerability makes me so uncomfortable.

But I remember how a friend recently shared painful parts of her story I'd never heard before and it made our friendship stronger. I know if I let my guard down, sometimes I discover a valuable connection that I hadn't expected. 

What if I realized I had more emotional courage to trust others with my story than I thought?

Like a snapshot of the extraordinary. 









While I’m turning the pages of my story, I want to leave room for what God wants to write in that space. Space for fresh faith, patient perseverance, steadfast resolve, and a wider perspective to consider his purposes for my life. 

My story's plot is still unclear since I can't know what's going to happen in the future. The cast of characters may change through the years, but I'm amazed when I consider the impact those in my life have on my story. 

My story has its share of conflict, but the interruptions, challenges and obstacles just invite me to follow God more closely as the narrative unfolds. 

I hope I’ll always be looking for those moments of extraordinary in the snapshots of my story, hidden in the most ordinary of days. 

And what if I realized that the theme of my life story is to know, trust and follow God, the one who's writing my story? 

One extraordinary snapshot at a time.




I'm linking up with Bonnie Gray at the Faith Barista as we share our posts with the writing prompt, Your Story. Click the image to read more!





17 comments:

  1. I love the idea that the interruptions and obstacles just invite us into something even better. I needed this post today. Thank you!
    Christy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Christy,
      We have to have hope that God's plans are good for us, don't we? I'm praying them for you and for me, sweet sister!

      Delete
  2. Valerie-
    This was EXTRORDINARY! I loved this part..."A failed recipe doesn’t mean you quit baking. It just means you make adjustments. Do something different. Keep trying." A good metaphor for life and for baking! I'm such a better cook than baker...but I keep trying! :) Have a wonderful week. Are you going to inRL? It is Saturday. I am driving to Kissimmee to go if you want to ride let me know! Jenn

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jenn,
      Oh how your words encourage me! Thank you for your comment! I can't make inRL in person on Saturday but I'm registered and will enjoy the content this weekend, though. I can't believe it's been a year since we met at last year's inRL - - what a lovely friend you are!

      Delete
  3. What precious times you have and lessons you learn from observing life with your niece and nephew! I love the pictures, too. :)

    You mentioned how God uses times of discouragement to show you a stunning new facet of His character. I love this. Thank you for blessing me today, Valerie.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Trudy,
      Yes those times of discouragement are meaningful, aren't they? Thank you for being here!

      Delete
  4. You, my dear friend, are one of GODS extraordinary gifts! Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sammie,
      I feel the same way -- an extraordinary friendship -- your very effervescence encourages me -- you are a joy to be around!

      Delete
  5. You are 'extraordinary' yourself and by sharing your introspections with us, we all realize that with every article you write. There is always something uplifting in each article - thoughtful and provoking - urging us all on to a deeper level with God's involvement in our lives. Thank you for always sharing with us. Love the pictures, too! You've mastered photography very well!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sharon,
      I cherish your encouraging words! They mean more than you can know -- I love it that you're here every week! Much love to you!

      Delete
  6. What a lovely post....thought provoking for sure. Thank you for sharing such beautiful photos and words. Love what you say about finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. With God all things become extraordinary don't they. Beautiful!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Renee,
      Love it that you're here and sharing your lovely words -- you are an encouragement to me tonight!

      Delete
  7. yes, yes, yes!
    living His story, for His glory
    on step at a time

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by -- and yes, it's one step at a time but sometimes that isn't so easy to do!

      Delete
  8. Lovely and sweet post. Thank you for sharing your Easter day with us. What wonderful memories you are making with Devon, she will treasure them always.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Susan,
      I know I will treasure the memories too!

      Delete
  9. You niece and nephew wonderfully illustrate your point!

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for reading -- I love to hear your comments! To leave a comment, you can choose an ID in the "comment as" box or just choose anonymous. Choose your ID first, write your comment in the box and hit publish. Your comment will be visible just as soon as I can post it!