Monday, May 18, 2015


I heard a phrase one time that intrigued me to no end. The phrase is "celebrate the ordinary." It was used to show how ordinary things can be turned into an adventure rather than waiting for only "extraordinary things" to happen. Who experiences many "extraordinary things"anyway?  Much of daily living is lived in experiencing mundane often boring things that are more routine than exciting.

What "celebrating the ordinary" does is it keeps us appreciating what we have and are presently experiencing rather than always hoping something will happen that is exciting. It keeps us from wondering what we're missing out on in life. We're not missing out on anything. That's the point. Life is fun and appreciated where we are and with what is happening.

It is very similar to the old idea of "stop and smell the roses." Some people live their life without ever really enjoying their life at all. They may even miss seeing what they have and waste their time longing for what they think other people have or are afraid they have missed out on. What a waste of time and energy and of life itself.

Mary and I HAVE had extraordinary times together. We've pastored large, exciting churches as well as small ones some of which were just as thrilling. We've traveled in ministry to more places than either of us can count. We've gone to meetings sponsored by the multi-billion dollar Corporation for which she once worked. We've traveled to places like Hawaii, Israel, London, Egypt, and last year Greece, not to mention trips on our motorcycle to Colorado, Bear Tooth pass in Montana, Yellowstone and Jackson Hole Wyoming. Those trips can ONLY be described as extraordinary when you're on a motorcycle. Add to that the REALLY extraordinary events we've shared like the birth/marriages of children and grandchildren and who's to doubt that some really great things have been experienced by the two of us.

But, generally our days are presently made up of the ordinary and it is the celebration of those times that make life far more exciting. This is true especially now as age begins to dictate the slowing down of extraordinary times/events. In fact, the older one gets the more likely it is that attending funerals and going to doctors become more common place than do weddings and births or travel and sight-seeing.

This is when having learned to "celebrate the ordinary " comes into play. But I do think it takes learning this early in life rather than later on. You don't magically wake up one day doing it. It takes a commitment, time, and it takes a lot of practice when you're young and starting on your journey.

I could give a myriad of personal and present examples by telling about things like our noon dip in the pool. About 11:00 am we eat a good lunch sitting in our recliners, watching a couple of good hour shows recorded in the past few days. Then we adjourn to the pool and walk 20 times around, 10 with her leading and 10 with me leading. Then we float, we sun, we read, and finally go inside to the computers.

I could tell of our forgetting things as we get older but celebrate it by jokingly saying "There she goes," meaning she's losing it or "There he goes," depending on which one forgot something. This, instead of dreading getting older or getting upset that we are. We just are! And we are forgetful! "Celebrate it" is our motto. And we do.

I could even tell you about the moment we get in bed every night and Mary snuggles in close to my back. There is a small thing she says that makes me laugh every time. I will leave unshared what she says since it is personal and of a nature that would draw a censure from some I'm sure. But what do they know!! They just need to get a life, I'm thinking!    ;)

We started learning this "celebrating life" concept several years ago when we would take trips and Mary would navigate while I drove. We'd REALLY get upset and even fight if given wrong instructions or if we made wrong turns or whatever. One day we decided we would travel with a new philosophy. it was simply this! "There are no mistakes, only different ways of going and doing things we hadn't planned on. So we'll celebrate the unplanned." [Mistakes]

You ought to try it sometime. It will revolutionize any trip you take together. 

It carried over into other things for us and most little things, even ordinary things, have become an adventure. We've truly found that "Celebrating the ordinary" can be a great thing.

Try it sometime. But you have to be able and willing to laugh a lot. Especially at yourself!

Paul B.


Bob Cleveland said...

Indeed. Just think: if God ordains "ordinary things" ... then ...


Paul Burleson said...


Hmmmm indeed! LOL

Aussie John said...


In a world where the extraordinary is the demand, including the Christian scene, it's mighty refreshing to read your words.

Val and I have shared the extraordinary, as you relate, but,in retrospect the many "ordinary" things WERE the extraordinary.

You said,"They just need to get a life,I'm thinking!" They're too busy looking for "pie-in-the-sky" to realize what they already have.

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie J,

You've hit on a great point.

It may very well be that, looking back, the "ordinary" actually WAS the "extraordinary." And__if we hadn't been celebrating it__ we would have missed it entirely.

Ken Colson said...

Thanks for sharing. It has been exciting to read your thoughts over the years. We are convinced that you and Mary were at Southcliff for Rhonda and me during our 5 years at Southwestern Seminary. Much of your teaching has been absorbed and become a part of our lives. Thanks for sharing the human part.
Ken Colson

Paul Burleson said...


It's good to hear from you and Rhonda after so many years. I've often said the secret, from the human perspective, to those years at Southcliff was having extraordinary couples like the two of you around who had a hunger for the Word of the Lord and more importantly a hunger for the Lord of the Word. You honor me by stopping by and commenting. Give my regards to Rhonda.

Steve Miller said...


Just got back from a week in Mumbai India working with our missionaries and read your blog. My wife and I totally understand and agree with the "ordinary" approach. It truly is an absorption of what is important in life and enjoying it as well. Thanks for the wonderful reminder and don't fall in the pool before the 20 laps.


Paul Burleson said...


Welcome home!

Too late about the "don't fall in the pool" warning. It's kinda pitiful when you can't walk without falling IN THE POOL!! LOL