There are places of beauty everywhere …
In the everyday, the ordinary, the mundane, and the unexpected
We look high and low, but lose sight of what is right in front of us.
Sometimes the most beautiful part of our day is right next door.
What have you noticed recently? Have you pressed pause to notice the ordinary? If you stopped to take that deep breath, what did you see around you?
In recent weeks, as I read Shannan Martin’s new book, The Ministry of Ordinary Places, I discovered the blessing of pausing to notice the ordinary. I started looking for big and ended up discovering beauty in the small.
To notice the ordinary, I needed to step back, breathe deep, and see things through God’s lens rather than what others expect. What God showed me is how to find beauty in the cracks, side streets, and sweet conversations with neighbors.
When we take the time to notice the ordinary, we gain a sense that ministry is not meant to be an “across the miles” proposition, but instead close to home, in our own neighborhood. Think about the difference you could make when you realize you are as qualified as the next person. And all it takes is intentionality and attentiveness right where you are.
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In Shannan Martin’s new book, The Ministry of Ordinary Places, she describes her journey of noticing her neighborhood and it’s beauty through the simple act of walking to school, welcoming neighbors to sit around her table, becoming part of the neighborhood church community, and just being there with an open heart and willing soul. The simplicity of these acts makes it seem easy. The answer is easy and Shannan challenges the reader to live with intention by working to:
Uncover the hidden corners of our cities and neighborhoods and invest deeply in the lives of the people around us.
But Shannan doesn’t stop there. Living with intention involves getting to know your neighbors and staying around for the long haul. I’ll admit this is not always easy for my introverted personality. What about you?
What I love about The Ministry of Ordinary Places, is Ms. Martin’s format that divides the book into four parts. It moves the reader from understanding who your neighbor is to how to love like a neighbor, work like a neighbor, and love for the long haul. Each part is packed with gifted storytelling, real life examples, and a call to take the next step.
Here are some of my favorite quotes:
Though our lives feel ordinary and small, we’re compelled by the possibility of making a difference where the problems loom large.
Simply put, we cannot love what we do not know. We cannot know what we do not see. We cannot see anything, really, until we devote ourselves to the lost art of paying attention.
We were not made for the curated image of success and comfort but for the grit and glory of heartbroken humans on trash day.
Hospitality. It sounds kind of fancy, but its meaning is simple, bare bones, pure, and entirely holy–you are invited.
The way we spend our love is the way we spend our lives.
Sympathy without action is no more than wasted breath.
Shannan Martin lives her life noticing and paying attention. Her daily walks to school led her to begin this process of seeing the small in her ordinary life. Everything that Shannan continues to do looks like making space at her table for an impromptu meal, advocating for the neighbor’s kids, listening well, and just living as if the most important people are the ones she runs across on a daily basis. There is no pretentiousness, trying to fit in to what the world says, or seeking accolades. You will discover that Shannan is the real deal.
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In her book, there are Bible verses scattered throughout. The one that impacted me the most is from John 4:35:
‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest.
We can live our lives with blinders on or we can choose to notice the ordinary. The time is ripe right now–right where you are, so don’t delay! Jesus said the poor will always be among us as a promise. And when I think of poor, I believe it spreads across all socio-economic backgrounds.
Join me in sharing about Shannan Martin’s new book, The Ministry of Ordinary Places.
Thank you! I am so blessed by your beautiful spirit of community!
P.S. I did not get a chance to read your posts from this past week. I was gone on a mini vacation and I began my part time job. Please know how much I love your words and am looking forward to diving in this week.
P.P.S. You can order The Ministry of Ordinary Places by clicking HERE. (affiliate link included)