Today, I get to interview Lea Ann Garfias, author of Rocking Ordinary. Her answers to the questions I asked give us a glimpse into the joy she finds in being ordinary. I hope you enjoy her perspective and come away encouraged that all the ordinary activities that fill your days are divinely appointed to make an extraordinary difference.
Amazon affiliate links included for books.
Being Ordinary Makes More Difference Than You Know
What has been the most influential book you’ve read? (Besides the Bible – we know that affects all you do!)
You read my mind, LOL! It’s so hard to pick just one, because I’m always reading, and whatever I’m currently reading influences what I’m thinking about. But if I had to narrow it down, I’d have to say Pilgrim’s Progress. I’ve read it several times, abridged and unabridged, as a child and as an adult, for myself and reading aloud to my children, and I’m always struck by the humanness of the story. Christian fails so many times, he’s always facing trials and discouragement and struggles, but ultimately God delivers him from it all. It’s a comfort to know that my failings cannot get in the way of God’s beautiful plan for glorifying Himself through me.
(Abi’s note: The above link is my favorite version for grown-ups; my kids love to hear aloud and pore over on their own Dangerous Journey: The Story of Pilgrim’s Progress.)
Tell me about a favorite family-time memory you have.
Oh, my word, I absolutely love our family road trips. We are heading out to Washington D.C. right now, and I’m just giddy with excitement. Every time you put a bunch of Garfiases in a minivan with snacks and a map, there’s going to be hijinks and laughter!
You’re a busy lady with many interests and responsibilities . . . what daily habits do you practice to help contain your chaos?
I have to start with coffee and devotions. It’s a morning ritual I’ve practiced for nearly two decades, and it’s become a part of who I am. If my day starts right, then I have peace that God will accomplish what He wills with the rest of it.
At the end of each day, I look ahead at the next day’s appointments on our packed online family calendar and make a to-do list, thinking about my priorities and what’s most important to tackle and what I should let slide for the sake of sanity. I set out my clothes, tell my children what to expect the next morning, and make sure we have something for supper. Those little chores at night make me feel better prepared to do my best the next day.
Do you have certain family traditions that help keep you all unified and connected?
Those family road trips, obviously! Lol! We get away all together like that about once a year, and it builds memories, for sure. We are a very busy family, with four soccer-playing musicians, church ministries, my husband’s demanding job and soccer club, and my hectic writing and violin performing schedule. So about once week, we’ll put FAMILY NIGHT on the calendar, and everyone is required to be present for the meal and activity.
My husband and I, though, believe that our marriage is the most important – if we stay connected, we can better lead our children. So we prioritize weekly date night (even if it’s just in our bedroom watching TV with the door locked!) and a yearly weekend romantic get-away.
What do you enjoy doing most when you get personal time out with friends?
Eating, hands down. I try to grab lunch with a friend about once a week, and there’s a whole gang of us homeschool moms that meet for dinner once a month. Eating is my love language!
Beyond that, I like antique shopping. I have a friend that loves collecting Fiesta dishes like I do, and we are going out shopping at a craft fair together in a couple weeks. We’ll mostly just be looking, but she greatly encourages my heart whenever we are together. In fact, it was at this same craft fair with her last winter that I heard Rocking Ordinary was being considered for publication. I just broke out crying and trembling when I got the message, and right there in the crowded aisles she started praying over me and encouraging me in the Lord. She constantly builds my faith.
I love reading with my friends. Sometimes, I’ll read a book along with a friend across the country from me, and we’ll send each other quotes and thoughts on the book throughout the weeks. It draws us closer together and challenges my mind.
I also love book studies with groups of gals, and that’s why I wrote the Small Group Study for Rocking Ordinary. I wanted to make it super-easy for friends to gather together around the issues raised in the book, to ask some thoughtful questions to help them open up and encourage one another in the Lord. I’m really excited about how God is strengthening friendships that way.
What refreshes you most when you’re wearing down and need to recharge?
This happened to me just a couple months ago, when I completely wore myself out performing and speaking and writing. I cut a trip short and high-tailed it home to eat some boring home food, sleep in my own bed, hold my husband’s hand, and cuddle with my children. When I’m at the end of my rope, I crave solitude and boredom – two rare commodities.
Sometimes, though, it isn’t just a physical fatigue, but a deeper spiritual exhaustion. That’s where I find myself lately. So I’m being very intentional what I put into my mind: relaxing hymn arrangements, larger Bible reading selections, weekly verses to memorize, healthy reading material. I’m praying God will continually set my affection on things above, that I will crave Him most of all.
What Scriptures do you find yourself going back to most often for strength and encouragement?
2 Timothy 1:7 – I’m prone to fear and worry, so this verse reminds me that God’s Spirit within me is much more powerful than my own frailties.
What do you say when someone looks at your life, the different activities you’re involved in, and says, “But that’s NOT ordinary! I can’t do all that. My life is so much more mundane.”
I’m laughing, because that is what my friend said to me last week. Then she thought a moment and said, “Maybe that’s the point?” and I knew she got it.
We all feel mundane and unimportant and unsuccessful, and we all wonder if our lives are accomplishing anything. And then we see someone else and we think, “Wow, she’s so much more talented and attractive and successful than I am. I give up.” That’s why I need this book, my friends need this book, and you need this book. Because we all fight that same lie every day.
The truth is that we all are running different races. We all have different paths to travel, different lives to touch, different ministries to fulfill. God doesn’t ask me to raise your children or love your husband or reach out to your friend – that’s your particular ministry. Each one of those relationships, each ordinary day, is working God’s extraordinary plan for your life and for the thousands of lives that are touched by your example.
We each fight that discouragement every day, but the message of Rocking Ordinary is one of hope – you are already making a difference, you just don’t see it now. Keep running your race with patience (Hebrews 12), keep reaching out, keep loving those around you. Because every day we do, God meets us in the midst of our messy, mundane, frustrating, discouraging ordinary and makes each relationship, each day extraordinary.
Because you make a difference – you are rocking ordinary.
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Thank you so much, Lea Ann, for taking time to answer those questions and encourage us all to own our own race. To rest in God’s grace. To enjoy being ordinary.