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Rocking Ordinary: Holding It Together with Extraordinary Grace Review by Rebecca Ray and April Elstrom

Lea Ann Garfias
New Leaf Press
1 (800) 999-3777
3142 Highway 103 N
Green Forest, AR 72638

Sometimes I feel like my life does not make a difference. I feel like, since I am not curing cancer, serving on the mission field or even contributing to our household income, that I am useful or important. I know that this is one of Satan’s lies, and that the self-doubt that I experience is simply an attack on my esteem to keep me from being able to be a full participant in God’s plan for my life. However, that does not make the feelings go away, and it does not always make me feel like I am truly influencing others. So, when I received the opportunity to review Lea Ann Garfias’s, Rocking Ordinary: Holding It Together with Extraordinary Grace, I knew that it was a divine appointment for me to sit and have some encouragement spoken into my life.

This is a book written for those of us who are in the messy trenches of raising children, in those days when our laundry is piling up, we think we might never find the bottom of our sink and the children will not stop arguing. Although, I would not say that you would have to be a stay-at-home mom or a homeschooling mom to enjoy this book, I do think that it is a special source of encouragement for those of us who are stay-at-home, homeschooling Moms. I think that we have a special need for encouragement in our every day lives because our lives are so centered on our families.

Garfias’s book is split into four parts. The first part deals with success and failure. In this part, she lays the foundation for the rest of her writing. We begin with a look at what success is and an examination of how we’re gauging success in our lives. It contains the reminder of how we are all running different races and allows us a beginning path towards showing grace with each other. This flows easily into how we treat each and the opposition that we run up against and how to assess its validity. Then, the first part ends with a call to reach out to others and why we should not evaluate our relationships on the basis of what they do for us.

The second part of the book deals with the important people in your life. This discusses our primary relationships, starting with God, moving on to our marriages, and going through parenting. There is a chapter devoted to each of these central relationships, and then Garfias moves onto a section dealing with the painful parts of our past. Chapters in this section include dealing with painful childhood homes, overcoming sin and the past to pursue what is good, and dealing with difficult people and bullies.

The final part of the book is called significant influence, and in this section Garfias addresses several common issues that we face. These include leading from the pew in our churches, influencing our neighbors and communities, showing compassion towards others, budgeting our time wisely and living out our dreams. These chapters help you to apply the previous three sections of the book in your own life.

Along the way, as you finish each chapter, there are scripture readings and questions for reflection that add greatly to the personal application of the book.  If you only do one application question, take the time to make the list of people that you impact regularly at the end of chapter three. That is perhaps the most encouraging and impactful thing that I have done in quite some time. This would make a great book to get together with other Moms and to read in a Bible study or for Mom’s Night Out with your homeschooling group.

As for me, I found this book to be full of encouragement, and it lifted me up on many occasions. I found myself highlighting and underlining passages, transferring quotes to my commonplace book and using the reading that I was doing in the Bible along with this book to create some worshipful expressions of Bible journaling. I have really experienced some spiritual growth and some personal encouragement from this book. Some have been minor, such as the reminder that the young Moms that I talk to do not really understand the difficulty in balancing leadership at church with their families.  It’s a weight they have to experience for themselves.

Other things, however, have been major, such as the reminder that as a steward of the gospel, I am called to be faithful. Another major source of encouragement was the reminder that God gave me my Husband and children before my ministry and that my best way to serve God’s Kingdom is through my consistent service to and care for them. Other ministry opportunities will never bear the fruit that they should if my priorities are out of line.

My recommendation is for all homeschooling moms who need a dose of encouragement to grab this book, not just for yourselves, but to share and to discuss with others in your life. I will definitely be recommending it to all of my friends.

-Product review by Rebecca Ray, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, September, 2016

And Another Review:

I've been a mother for twenty-one years. Twenty-one years of feeling very ordinary and frequently finding myself lost in the mundane details of everyday life. In that time, I've experienced the disillusionment that comes with family illnesses, financial struggles, postpartum depression, and overall frustration with life. That disillusionment can steal our hope, our joy, and our vision.

Lea Ann Garfias is a homeschooling mother of four. She balances motherhood, marriage, church ministry, and housework just like the rest of us. She has struggled through childhood pain, adult fears, and health problems. She gets it. She understands what it is to feel discouraged, alone, and just too ordinary. She has written Rocking Ordinary to encourage us to look beyond the unfinished chores and disobedient children to see God's greater purpose for each of us.

I am not sure what I expected when I picked up Rocking Ordinary to read. I think I expected a light-hearted book that laughed at the trials we all face and would leave me feeling encouraged and awesome, just as I am. Instead, Lea Ann takes things deeper. She encourages each reader to face their pain, the difficult people around them, and their fears. Her questions after each chapter help us examine our weaknesses and areas where we can reach out to others more.

Every chapter in this book shows us the influence we have right now. Not just the obvious impact we have on our children, but also our neighbors, the lady sitting beside us in church, and our husbands. Lea Ann encourages us that God can use us, flawed and ordinary as we are, if we let His grace flow through us to those around us. Sometimes her words sting, when we realize that we can and should change.

“Imagine for just a moment what an hour of your day would look like if you were completely intoxicated with the Holy Spirit. If you were totally given over to God, how would your to-do list read? What would your reply to your children sound like?” (Rocking Ordinary, page 70)

That is just one example of Lea Ann's challenge to let the Holy Spirit use our ordinary lives, ordinary homes, ordinary personalities and struggles to make a difference in the world. The answer isn't in becoming extraordinary, but in God's extraordinary grace working in us. Oh, I need that grace! Rocking Ordinary wasn't the fun book I expected it to be, but it was definitely what I needed to read.

-Product review by April Elstrom, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, October, 2016