The sun beats down mercilessly on the parched North Texas earth below. I inhale the salty, thick air and silently thank God for the invention of mango...
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A Review of Radically Ordinary by Nicki Cooper
September 12, 2014
Nicki Cooper is an English Teacher and Voices Columnist for the Dallas Morning News.
I’m 45 years old. No one can deny that’s middle age. I mean, even if I live to be 100, (which is unlikely considering my year-to-date cheeseburger count) I’m still creeping really close to the midpoint.
Since this realization hit, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what I would consider my lack-luster life. Sure, I gave birth to two boys; on the same day, actually. And as an English teacher, I’ve taught maybe 1,500 kids how to write a good thesis statement. But nobody’s called from Hollywood about turning my life into a reality show. And emails from former students are seldom that say, “Thank you Ms. Cooper for teaching me all that stuff about sensory imagery! It has totally changed my life!” Ok, they’re very rare. Ok, they’ve never happened.
Almost a year ago, I even started feeding breakfast to some homeless people on my way to work and have kind of adopted one as my 57 year old third child. But trust me, I’m not changing any lives. It seems to me I’m just giving them granola bars and fruit cups so they can spend their last dollars on Marlboros and Miller Light. So yeah, I don’t think I’m making much of a difference.
And I want to. I want to make a difference. But half my life is past and I just haven’t really. So how will I? Or will I just be content not to?
My life is pretty cozy and comfy and safe. Do I really want to step out of Cozyville in hopes that MAYBE I MIGHT change somebody’s world for the better?
Yes! Yes, I absolutely do. Because the world is thick with pain and injustice and thin with action and solutions and I’m just tired of being satisfied with that. And I’m just praying that God will show me a way to bulk up the thin part and make me part of the solutions.
In her book, Radically Ordinary, Marquita Burke-De Jesus tells the story of how God used her to bulk up the thin part. She was just a mom and a dance teacher. I hesitate to say that because she wasn’t really. No one is really JUST a mom and a dance teacher. God put so much more in all of us than that.
At the urging of a friend, she set out for Cambodia for two weeks to work with girls who had been rescued after being victimized for years by sex trafficking. And that’s when her heart broke. And then the broken pieces of her heart caught fire, and now she’s on a crusade.
Marquita is making a difference for victims of sex trafficking. She’s still a mom and a dance teacher, but now she’s also a hero to girls who really, really needed a hero.
I’m not suggesting you join Marquita’s crusade. I mean, unless you want to. Maybe your heart is broken for sex slaves, too.
Or maybe your heart is broken for victims of domestic abuse…. or drug-addiction…. or poverty. But I know that if you think about it, your heart is broken for somebody. And mine is, too.
Dear God, please don’t allow me to waste the second half of my life without taking action and being someone’s hero. Please break my heart and set it on fire for someone who needs me.
Please don’t let me spend my last years too cozy and safe. Please God… make me radically ordinary.