Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Ordinary to Extraordinary!

Matthew 13:55
"Isn't this the carpenter's son? Isn't his mother's name Mary, and aren't his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas?"

Little Billy is always mischievous. His antics can put those of Dennis the Menace to shame!

At age five, he climbs into his father's car and releases the emergency brake. It sits on a hill. Dad glimpses from the window and races out the door, just in the nick of time. The rear bumper threatens to be crushed by an oncoming car. Disaster averted!

Little Billy's birthday falls on Christmas Day. His mother calls him her special Christmas blessing. He always gets an extra gift, a coveted one, of which his brother and sister are envious as children are wont to be.

This Christmas, it's a bicycle. Little Billy's eyes pop with delight. He can't wait to ride it!

On his first wild and reckless spin in the neighborhood, he wrecks it. His brother and sister are livid with rage. They refuse to speak to him for weeks.

Little Billy feels badly, too. Wasn't it just an accident?

Shortly after Little Billy turns seven, the Lord calls his father home. He doesn't understand why his mother is constantly sorrowful. She cries all the time. He doesn't want her to hurt, but he is hurting, too. Who will help him?

Now, Little Billy's impish behaviors escalate to dare-devilish heights. If he isn't climbing trees too high for him or balancing along the tops of picket fences, he is getting into fights on the playground. His older sister, smart, behaved, and responsible, constantly brings home notes from school. His mother grows weary of reading them.

In addition to the maelstrom of trouble Little Billy seems to create in his wake, his grades in school are hardly impressive. When it comes time to enter high school, his mother, exasperated and grasping at straws, decides instead to send him to an agricultural boarding school for young men. She hopes and prays this all-male environment will help Little Billy straighten up and fly right.

He is only too glad to get away from home.

To spread his restless wings . . .

While at the aggie school, Little Billy learns to milk cows instead of diagramming sentences, and shovel manure in lieu of solving algebraic equations. But, he learns work ethic, respect; he matures. He straightens up.

And flies right into the army after graduating.

After a year, at home on leave, he meets Nancy. They fall in love. He asks her to marry him. She accepts.

He starts thinking about something that has never crossed his mind before: college. A future. At the least, he can study agriculture . . .

So, what happens to Little Billy? The Trouble-Maker? The one no one thinks will amount to much of anything?

He earns a Ph.D. in botany, teaches at a major university for thirty years, is appointed dean of that university's two-year institution for twelve, and serves as mayor in the town in which he resides.

Still, the hometown folk can't see it. Whenever he has gone home over the years to visit his family and friends, he is still "Little Billy". They tell stories on him, recounting his miscreant deeds, shaking their heads in disbelief. How could one so ordinary become extraordinary?

They can't see it. They don't see him for who he truly is.

The people in Jesus' hometown are no different. They remember the "Little Jesus", the carpenter's son, the child of Mary. They refuse to expand their horizons. They refuse to believe. How could the ordinary become extraordinary? And, as a result, their miracles are few . . .

Little Billy realized some miraculous dreams in his life. What are the dreams you have for yours?

Will you pray with me?
Increase our faith, dear Lord, that we might see the real you in our lives. Transform our ordinary existence into extraordinary for your Name's sake. Strengthen our resolve to do your will and walk in the ways you have set before us. May the dreams we have for our lives ever be the ones you have blessed. Amen.

Did you wonder, while reading this, if Little Billy is a real person? Rest assured, he is. He is my beloved and one-of-a-kind Dad!

Psalms 72 or 119:73-96
Nehemiah 13:4-22
Revelation 12:1-12
Matthew 13:53-58


  1. Your dad taught my good friend, Richard, at Emory. Although I never met your dad, I can recall that Richard invoked 'Dr. Murdy' regularly. I am sure that I associated Dr. Murdy with you, whom I knew. But I expect that Richard is not the only one who regularly invoked Dr. Murdy's name, no doubt a very, very fine man. We are fortunate and blessed to have the parents God gave us.

  2. Wow! What a wonderful story! I can see this happening in our world and unfortunately, the perception people have of us early on are so difficult to change :( I tell my children this all the time.

  3. While I was reading this I knew Billy must have been real but I never thought he was your Dad! What an extraordinary man!

  4. Thanks, everyone, for stopping by and leaving your comments!
    @Hank - So neat to know my Dad taught one of your friends! Yes, we are so blessed to have had the wonderful parents we did!
    @Mary - Early perceptions ARE so hard to change; we have to be the ones willing to really open the eyes of our hearts to recognize positive changes in others over the years.
    @Nelieta - He still is extraordinary! :) I am one fortunate daughter!

    Blessings to all!

  5. Oh my goodness, when I read the end of that brought me to tears. God bless your dad. Great point made between that story and Jesus growing up.

  6. Thanks so much for stopping by, Kati!
    Yes, my Dad is an extraordinary man! I am blessed to be his daughter . . .
    Glad the connection was clear in comparing the hometown folks view of Jesus with what happened with my father.
    Blessings to you!

  7. What a wonderful tribute to your dad.. He must be equally proud of you!!!! Great post I really enjoyed reading it!!!

  8. This is such a wonderful story, Martha. Thank you for sharing. Isn't it great that we don't have to stay the way we were - that we can change and grow and become ourselves?

  9. Thank you, Jim, Corinne and Danny, for stopping by!
    @Jim - Thank you for your kind words! I will be sure to check on your latest post today.
    @Corinne - Thank goodness God does allow us to grow and change for the better! Thank you for your encouragement as always!
    @Danny - :)

    Blessings to all!

  10. Hi Martha:
    Let us harken back to What are you thinking. Any similarities between these two columns? As the saying goes:
    Sometimes we're too close to the forest to see the trees.

    Perhaps Nicco will turn the corner just as your Dad did. No! I'll rephrase that.
    Nicco WILL turn the corner.

  11. Hi, Chris,
    I was thinking exactly that when I wrote this! I have every hope that Nicco will succeed eventually. He has agreed to take the GED!

    Danny is relieved, to say the least!

    Thanks for all your wonderful support - so, so appreciated!

    Blessings, Chris!

  12. I have always admired your mother and father. I feel blessed to get to grow up around your family.
    When I read this I am reminded of your recent post "What Are You Thinking". Your father's experience may shed some perspective on that subject.
    It was my senior year in high school when I dared to ask to see my "permanent record". You remember how we were threatened all through grade school that our worst behavior and performance would be forever documented in that permanent record for all to see. When I looked inside I found a note from my second grade teacher which said that I was a below average student with no sign of potential and would drop out of school and certainly never go to college. As I read this I was the editor if the school year book, working part time, and had acceptance letters from American University in Washington D.C. as well as Emory at Oxford. I had to laugh at how silly my second grade teacher was in not realizing that every child must grow at their own pace.
    God treats his children much better than we treat each other. Just ask your dad :)

  13. Oh, David, how you have moved me by this revelation!
    In second grade? Really??? The audacity is unbelievable!
    When I was teaching, it was always drummed into us that every child can learn, just not in the same way. Difficult to integrate all learning styles to suit students' needs and guide them toward success, but absolutely necessary. I so tried to reach every child in some aspect of presentation; not sure I always succeeded, but my heart was in it.
    Yes, when I wrote this post, I had Nicco on my heart. Just got off the phone with my parents who loved this post; Dad was so honored. And, my friend, I am so honored by your kind remembrance of them.
    Thank you for taking the time to stop by and leave these wonderful, inspiring words!

    Blessings always!

  14. Hi, Luchi!

    Thank you so much for stopping by and offering an "amen"! I am so glad this touched your heart today.
    I pray always that my devotionals will encourage the hearts of others to know that God works daily miracles in their lives. Thank you for being a part of that testimony!


  15. Martha:


    As often happens, your post and my current post are synchronized. This is the time of year when I reevaluate the dreams I have for my life, and I'm moving into that process in a profound way this week. I'll let you know what I learn ;-)

  16. Oh, Linda, God is so good!
    I can usually write ahead, a post, and even two, but have been flailing around today, wondering if His message would ever break through.

    I was also given the message that this is the time of the year to reevaluate my dreams and ambitions, not just for myself, but in how I interact with those I love. Synchronized? Amen!

    Reflections . . . always, reflections. Especially, in the fall . . .

    I wait with baited breath to find out, sister, where you are and where you are headed! I can't wait to learn more!

    Blessings always!

  17. As I was reading this, I, too, was thinking of Nicco. Who knows what God has in store for him? Look at what He did with your dad? I think of Jeremiah 29:11-13 and Lamentations 3:21-26. Also, Micah 6:8 and Jeremiah 17:7-8, Psalm 1, Psalm 25,
    Psalm 55:16-18,22 Psalms 61-63, Psalm 86:11-12, Psalm 111:10,Psalm 112,Psalm 138:7-8, Psalm 139 Psalms 23,27,46,51,90,91,121 Proverbs 1:2-5,33 and Proverbs 2:1-12
    Proverbs 3:1-27 and Proverbs 4 Proverbs 9:9-11
    Proverbs 12:2a Proverbs 14:26-27 Proverbs 15:33
    Proverbs 18:15 Proverbs 19:23 Proverbs 21:21
    Proverbs 22:4,6,17-21 Proverbs 23:12
    Proverbs 28:20a Proverbs 30:5
    Ephesians 1:2-6, 15-23 Ephesians 3:14-21
    Romans 8:1-2,14-39
    Acts 20:32 Romans 15;13 Jude 20-25


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