When Ordinary Becomes Extraordinary

Seventeen years ago, I walked into a McDonald’s with my young son. We ordered lunch, and I picked up the tray, took my son by the hand, choose a booth, and settled in. Minutes later, chaos reigned. My son refused to sit, refused to be still, refused to eat. He fidgeted and whined and flung a French fry, tore up two napkins and scattered the pieces, and finally climbed across the table, grabbed my iced tea, ripped off the lid, and thrust his hand in deep reaching for the lemon slice. Iced tea erupted across the table and all over my lap.

Overwhelmed and exasperated, I wanted nothing more than to leave the restaurant immediately. I shoved my half-eaten burger in my purse, grabbed a stack of napkins and mopped up the booth, hoisted my squirming son onto my hip, took two steps, and stopped.

There in front of me sat another mom with a table full of well-behaved children, not one or even two, but four little kids, all laughing and talking and smiling and actually enjoying each other’s company. “How is that possible?” I silently cried. “How can she handle four when I can’t even handle one?” And before I even thought about what I was doing, I crouched beside her table, my son still writhing on my hip, and poured out my heart.

Fast forward seventeen years to a warm June afternoon in a quiet church where I sat listening to my now 18 year old son sing and play guitar in the worship band for his high school graduation. As the band finished practicing, the run-through of the slide show began and I gasped, “I know that name! Seventeen years ago that graduate’s mom led me to Christ and she doesn’t even know it,” I thought, though she soon would as a tear-filled, joy-filled, embrace-filled moment of recognition ensued.

One ordinary woman in an ordinary restaurant on an ordinary day investing one third of an ordinary hour in another, forever impacted the lives of more than a dozen members of one family across three generations. Why? Because that woman serves an extraordinary God!

That is the awesome, august, almighty power of the risen Christ, the sacred heart of the Great Commission, the amazing blessing of community, and the indescribable legacy of faith that changes the world. One life touching one life touching one life in ever-expanding circles spreading higher, longer, wider, deeper, farther than we can ever begin to imagine, than we will likely ever understand this side of Heaven. That is the incredible, unbelievable legacy of lived-out faith.

So what does it take to change the world? One ordinary moment filled with One extraordinary God!

Father, may we never be too busy to share Your love, mercy, compassion, and grace with the world – one heart, one life, one family at a time. Amen.

*THANK YOU, Susie VanEerden, for listening with a selfless, compassionate heart as I poured out my own nearly two decades ago. Your eternal legacy is beautiful and profound and farther reaching than you may ever know!

This post is part of the Christian Writers Blog Chain for August. Our topic this month is also “august” — “marked by majestic dignity or grandeur.” Check out each entry via the links in the sidebar to the left and may you be most blessed!

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20 Comments

Filed under Devotionals

20 responses to “When Ordinary Becomes Extraordinary

  1. What a remarkable encounter and far-reaching results.

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  2. I teared up reading this and reliving it with you. What a remarkable story! What a remarkable, and yes extraordinary God! Thank you for this beautiful piece!

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  3. Oh, my! What a precious story! Praise the Lord for Susie! May you both be blessed!

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  4. Another beautiful example how God intervenes at the exact moment we need it the most through ways (and messangers) we would never expect. Thank you for sharing this story. It is encouraging, inspirational, and heart warming. And, you never know who is reading that needed those exact words at this very moment in time. Bless you, Cindee.

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  5. What an amazing story! It is such a testimony to how we must be prepared both ‘in and out of season’ for you just never know when God will use us. (Even unknowingly!)

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  6. Almost seven years ago, something very similar happened to me. I was then fundamentally changed – brought to life in Him! Ever since then, I love to hear personal testimony. Yours is deeply moving and intensely inspiring. (which also speaks to your gift of writing so skilfully) Our unique personal stories are some of the most powerful tools we have to use in presenting our Father, Son and Holy Spirit to the lost, the seeking, and the hurting ones. In addition, I like your use of the word “august”. It would have fit well in my latest post. 😀 And Amen to your closing prayer. That is of huge importance!
    Special blessings upon you and yours.

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  7. What a wonderful story! God is so good.

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  8. You never know what simple, everyday actions will prompt God to glorify Himself. Great post, Cindee!

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  9. A perfect story every mother has lived through (the squirming child part). A perfect story of how every mother’s heart can help heal another mother’s heart. Praise God for the story ending!

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  10. What an amazing story!! That’s absolutely profound, and you are to be commended for stopping that day and talking with that woman. It’s not too often that people will humble themselves and seek the help of someone else. Thank God for individuals who are open to help those in need, right?

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  11. I’m in tears with this one. What a glorious story! Thanks for sharing it with us.

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  12. Fascinating story. It reminds us that we are to do the work and let the results rest in God’s hands. We can never truly know the effect of anything we do. Peace and Blessings

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  13. very cool !! we never really know how He is going to do things but I for one can only sit in awe of how truly amazing He is. Thanks for sharing this story Cindee

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  14. WOW! Yes, still wiping the tears from my cheek. It amazes me that at our worst moments, the Lord will still give us a vision of how He wants our lives to be joyful- You received an eternal blessing in a moment you thought all was lost. Thank you for sharing your struggle and triumph!

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  15. I almost don’t know how to respond to this, Cindee. I came expecting another of your wonderful poems . . . and I got a gloriously poetic testimony instead. Your story brought me to tears. Really. Not just the elements, but the way you told it.

    One ordinary woman . . . one ordinary day. And yet, aren’t they all? Is perhaps the most august element of all God’s works the fact that He uses ordinary vessels to accomplish them? That the Divine Potter uses the clay of the earth, just like the rest of us? That of all the things He could’ve become in order to accomplish His will, He became . . . a man?

    The august in the ordinary. We have to learn to see it . . . then we have to learn to be it.

    Thank you so much for your testimony, Cindee. I’m honestly blessed to know you better because of it.

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  16. I am here with Susie, my sweet sister in love, and she just shared your story with me. It brought me to tears, and I celebrate how something as ordinary as an outing to MCDonald’s can be made so extraordinary.

    Just loved reading this. 🙂

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  17. Steve

    I am the blessed man that has the wonderful privilege of waking up next to this Godly woman each and every day! Thank you, Lord.

    Lest anyone get the misconception that our house was/is always in order, let me please dispel any such notion. For some reason our children are normally very good in public, thereby casting a false illusion of “all is well in our household”. We have our challenges, and then some, just like any other family seeking to follow the Lord. Many of these challenges would had been much less in magnitude, if even they happened at all, had I been a more proactive spiritual leader in our home, but that’s another topic for another time . . .

    There is a “next chapter” which I think needs to be told as a continuation of this story now 18 year ago and counting. One of our children present at this McDonalds encounter was a constant challenge to us as parents as we endeavored to guide this child in Godly living. Even at a very young age he was much smarter in many ways than were his parents. He was always pressing the limits, sometimes out of his ongoing curiosity, other times in a rebellious step of defiance seeking to stake out his territory. Many times we were at our wits end, Mom crying out to the Lord for help while I reacting more with anger [never physical], discouragement and biting words. As a seeming last ditch effort to regain hope for our family and this child I finally acquiesced to my wife’s request to seek counsel. The single four hour session we had proved to be a pivotal time in our son’s life as he was challenged to carry out one seemingly very simple assignment: “do not ever put your head on your pillow at night until you have spent at least 5 minutes in God’s Word.” The competitiveness in my son was responsible for the first level of obedience, then came a hunger and desire for more time studying God’s Word and then came about a transformed life. Not “monkish” by any means, he was still very much a “normal boy” but now a boy who was beginning to live and be directed by the Spirit’s guiding hand.

    Fast forward through high school graduation, starting law school, moving out of the house to California, working fulltime in a law firm while in law school, graduating from law school, sitting for the CA Bar Exam . . . did I mention he met a Godly young lady along the way? He is to be married on April 12, 2012 to the Helpmeet for which God was preparing for him all through this growing and transitional time in his life. Thank you Lord for your faithfulness!

    Why do I share all of this in response to the day in McDonalds almost 18 years ago?

    1. To give ALL honor and Glory to our AWESOME and loving God that in spite of and through all of our failures His grace and mercy was/is showered upon our lives with innumerable blessings.

    2. To thank God for a Godly wife, for her faithfulness to God first, me second and then her family. She has been/is so sacrificial on behalf of her family. She demonstrates the concept of “dying to self” on a daily basis.

    3. To encourage any husband reading this to be a little – no, A LOT – more attentive to the many things our Godly wives do for us on a regular basis, many of which go without our thanks. Let’s be intentional NOT to take them for granted as we are so easily prone to do.

    4. To dispel any thought that there is any family that “has it all together”. Our family is a perfect example of imperfection; of one that does NOT have it all together. We give God the honor and glory for any good that anyone sees in our deeply flawed lives. By God’s grace we have come a long way but we require God’s abundant continued grace to sustain us on the long journey yet still to be travelled.

    5. To encourage those who, like us, had/have children with whom we have struggles. Lord, give us the patience to hear Your Voice of direction, the wisdom to understand it, the discernment to apply it, and the grace to wait upon You for Your results. He is faithful! As much in anguish as we were with our son during his rebellious time we now have such incredible joy as we bless him as he transitions into this next season of life.

    “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. Do so with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:15

    To God be the Glory!

    A MOST blessed husband!

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