The Bucket List Reimagined #5, Adding Extra to Ordinary

Adding the Extra to Ordinary

Miles from home, we were locked out of our pickup, under torrential rain that hadn’t let up for more than a few hours in months. No family–no friends with vehicles–no co-workers within a three-hour drive. With two preschoolers in tow, I stood ankle-deep in mud and watched my husband, on homemade wooden crutches following major knee surgery, try to thread a scrap of wire through the gap in the driver’s door. And that’s when I realized… I was living an extraordinary life.

Honestly, I never expected my life to turn out like this. The girl from rural Maine never imagined spending most of her life overseas. The junior-higher who read the World Book encyclopedia during study hall never thought of traveling the world. And even though the class prophecy forecast me as the first woman president, it was only because I was such a nerd. Believe me, nobody billed me as the homecoming queen or the star pitcher for the Pigtail League. Nobody saw me as special.

Except God. Remember in the Winona Ryder version of Little Women, what Marmee (Susan Sarandon) says to Jo (Ryder’s character)? “How can you expect to live an ordinary life when you have so many extraordinary gifts?” Someone else has called it turning up like a dime in a handful of pennies. Lest that smacks of vanity, I remind myself that Jesus put it like this, “…To whom much is given, from him much will be required…” (Luke 12:48).

“Every day do something that scares you.” —Eleanor Roosevelt

I never desired to stand out. I would’ve been content with an ordinary life. But God always wanted to draw me out of my comfort zone. The word “ordinary” is related to “order.” In my insecurity, I tend to cling to the common order, the normal life, the everyday expectations. God longs for me to think differently, give more, and never settle for a status-quo life in a cozy niche.

Droplet Gift #5: I choose to open my safe-and-ordinary life to whatever extraordinary path God has laid out for me.

What is extraordinary? My dictionary says, “Going beyond the usual or customary, exceptional to a marked extent.” God wants to touch our lives, mark them as special, and disorder our order with His order.

Extraordinary can mean…

  • Extra time, extra work
  • Extra duties, extra demands
  • Extra hard, extra long, and extra far

Extraordinary might also add…

  • Extra benefits
  • Extra rewards
  • Extra grace and extra joy

You may never earn a college degree, but your life experience portfolio could be bursting at the seams. Perhaps you didn’t give the valedictory address, but you’re committed to sharing your gifts–even in a language not your mother tongue. Even if you grew up in ordinary obscurity, you can grow older in the midst of extraordinary adventures, stretching challenges, and remarkable people of many races and cultures.

Maybe it’s not what you dreamed your life would look like. Instead, you got extra. That is, “…exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think…” (Eph. 3:20).

Soaked to the skin, we managed to break into the truck that terrible, tearful day. On another occasion, our family spent a tragicomic Christmas Eve in a lonely hovel and then headed home the next morning, weary and whining. BUT God delighted us with an amazing gift along the way–a pod of dolphins put on a show, just for us, as we crossed the channel via ferry.

What’s a dolphin turning up in an oceanful of fish? Perhaps an ordinary sight in the Chiloé Islands of Chile. But for me, another extra in my extraordinary life.

Lord, don’t take me home until… Your extraordinary becomes my ordinary life.


  1. One of my favorites so far – we often feel very ordinary with the things we do in our lives. Its wonderful to be reminded that we can live “extra’ ordinary lives through God.

    1. You’ve had a wonderful “extra”ordinary life too! I continue to be amazed at where God takes us all. And sometimes places we never wanted to go, but it adds up to quite a story…

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