February is a dreary month but there are ways to let in spiritual light – even when mired in tasks as mundane as making lists. Several new books offer paths that authors have taken to transform day-to-day life by refocusing from the ordinary to the extraordinary.
The key is in your mindset, writes Jared C. Wilson, author of Supernatural Power for Everyday People: Experiencing God’s Extraordinary Spirit in Your Ordinary Life (Thomas Nelson, Jan.). He’s the editor of For the Church website and host of the FTC Podcast. Wilson repositions routine experiences into a form of worship, a way of reshaping life to look for God or miracles in day-to-day living.
“Jared Wilson helps us see that spiritual power is not something reserved for uniquely-gifted people or rare moments, but is already in ordinary Christians, right now,” said Thomas Nelson’s Webster Younce, associate publisher and executive editor. “We think the book will cause readers to reconsider what is possible in the Christian life.”
Thomas Nelson is also offering an updated edition of Here Am I, Lord … Send Somebody Else: How God Uses Ordinary People to Do Extraordinary Things by Jill Briscoe (Feb.). Bible study teacher Briscoe updates her classic work, first published in 2004, to encourage readers to find their mission field right in front of them. She uses the story of Moses as a backdrop to teachings about allowing God to live through them. Updates include study questions and conversation starters.
“Books like Jill Briscoe’s remind us what we need to focus on daily (life) so that the small moments and decisions of our lives add up to a larger story that transcends the sum of its parts,” said Daisy Hutton, v-p and publisher of W Publishing Group,an imprint of Thomas Nelson.
Another pastor addresses the ordinary-turned-extraordinary trend with Losing the Cape: The Power of Ordinary in a World of Superheroes by Dan Stanford, (Moody Publishers, Apr.) pastor of The Well in Kenosha, Wis., Stanford is first to say he’s no superhero. But he uses stories from his life and the Bible to remind readers that closely following God will infuse their every experience with a level of spiritual meaning and elevate their ordinary lives.
Eerdmans Publishing, known for its academic and theological titles, reaches into the trade market with Make a List: How a Simple Practice Can Change Our Lives and Open Our Hearts by Marilyn McEntyre (Feb.) author of the 2016 book Word by Word: A Daily Spiritual Practice.
“Marilyn has depth and grace writing in the life skills arena but without the easy, breezy answer. She offers an embodied way of living and exploring life,” said Eerdmans senior acquisitions editor Lil Copan. “Making lists is something we do every day; she guides us in exploring our priorities and how the Spirit connects with what we’re doing daily.”
Eerdmans sees additional publicity opportunities in the journaling and book group space for what she calls McEntyre’s “breakout book." Copan said, "We want to engage a wider market.”
Another upcoming book offers a different twist on how ordinary becomes extraordinary.
Ordinary Wonders: Stories of Unexpected Grace by Olesia Nikolaeva, translated by Alexandra Weber (Holy Trinity Publications, May) reveals the lives of Christian believers in Soviet and post-Soviet Russia through stories such as one titled, “A Blessing to Smuggle,” that take readers to where God works day by day in every life.