Life as a mother feels oddly significant and insignificant at the same time. The lives of those little people are in your hands. The weight and gravity of it sometimes overwhelms me. I am also overwhelmed by how many times I must scrub the chairs at my kitchen table. I am overwhelmed also by how THEY ARE NEVER CLEAN.
My life and my days are bound up in what looks (and often feels) ordinary.
But what I’ve found is that being ordinary doesn’t exclude being extraordinary. When you see me at the grocery store with four kids, you won’t see the whole story. You might think: That woman looks slightly frazzled. (I might be.) Perhaps she has too many kids. (Highly possible.)
What you would not expect: sometimes, before going to the grocery store, I call women sold on the internet for sex. I sit in a room with other women who probably also need to the grocery store later. We call women and we offer them a phone number. Which also seems like a really ordinary thing to do, giving a phone number.
The last woman who answered the phone sighed as she found a pen. She sounded so very tired. Perhaps she was having a very ordinary morning. I wondered about this: about her morning and her daily routine. I wonder how you come to be someone standing in a hotel room for photographs that will be placed in an ad online. I wonder about her story.
I gave her a phone number and she said that she wrote it down. She said I could pray for her and I did.
That moment might have been just a blip in all the other moments of her life. But it might have been a extraordinary moment in the middle of an ordinary day. Maybe she will keep a scrap of paper with a number on it in her purse. Maybe hope will bloom bright and hard right in the center of her chest—not like a flower, but like a fire. That hope will be the start of something new. Maybe she will not remember our phone call. Or maybe this five-minute exchange will be a grand moment in her life story.
Meanwhile I just keep having to do dishes. And helping people blow noses. Tonight I cut my son’s fingernails and reattached the head of a pink toy pony. If anything is ordinary, THAT IS IT. It feels normal. Boring, even.
But as time passes I have realized the significance of small things. Of kissing freckles on a cheek. Of saying a prayer together in the car on the way to school. Of asking for forgiveness when I lost my patience (again). Of making a phone call to a very tired woman and offering her a phone number.
I have come to know a group of women in my ordinary suburb. Once a month we show up in a living room and we mingle and drink coffee and eat brownies. We sit in a living room and listen to an ordinary woman share the story of how Jesus interrupted her life. (Because Jesus almost always interrupts. He’s anti-manners like that.) We sing songs and pretend like it isn’t just a little bit awkward to sing songs as adult women in a living room in the suburbs on a weeknight.
None of our stories are the same—the stories we hear from the woman sharing each month or the quiet stories that remain unsaid. We come together a little awkwardly with all our differences and similarities.
We may be ordinary, but we are significant. Meeting together reminds me of that. I am not significant because of the work I do, whether raising children or fighting human trafficking. My life is significant and extraordinary because Jesus has interrupted it. He brings significance to all the small parts and sometimes interrupts the normal to remind me that he is anything BUT.
Jesus colors the tiny moments of my life and weaves them into a larger story.
Pruning Hooks is a very weird ministry. It’s not in a church or a building. It’s not very dogmatic. It’s not showy or very loud (except during fundraisers at a brewery with an 80s cover band). It is a ministry of stories and ordinary women whose lives are interrupted to serve local needs.
We serve the children who need school lunches.
We serve day laborers who need quarters for laundry.
We serve teens who need prom dresses.
We serve meals to people coming from all over the country with life-threatening cancer.
We serve teen moms who need diapers.
We serve women who are sold in ads online.
I find Pruning Hooks hard to describe, which is why, after I talked with its founder Jackie Hooks about writing this post, I spent way too many hours trying to hammer words into an accurate portrayal. Pruning Hooks is a ministry of ordinary women who KNOW they are not ordinary. We may sometimes feel the rub of so many diapers changed or so many days of cubicle work or trying to make ends meet or so many different things. We may feel normal sometimes. We feel busy. We feel small.
But like Jesus, Pruning Hooks is a ministry of interruption and a reminder of the extraordinary that happens right in the middle of our normal.
I am reminded to celebrate the way my ordinary becomes extraordinary when Jesus interrupts. I am reminded that I am not alone in a sea of suburbia. I remember significance in relationships and in digging under the couch to find a size 5 child’s shoe. I am reminded of the marrying of ordinary to extraordinary when a baby who was also the God of the universe entered the world in a stable.
If you are local to Katy (or Houston), I would invite you to connect with Pruning Hooks and with Jackie. If you are not, I would invite you to let Jesus interrupt your life and to breathe extraordinary into it.