The kids can be absolutely and utterly insane, but as soon as I crack open a book and start reading out loud, the room quietens. They want to hear the journey through the pages I’m about to take, and a mere few pages in, the three are huddled around me, eyes poring over pictures and minds absorbed in the story.

The sermons that stick with me most are the ones that take me on a story. Either through vibrant illustrations from the speaker’s life or a unique allegory told to pierce my heart in just the right way, it’s the stories that best stick with us, not the three-point application. Admit it—it’s probably the same for you.

The movies that best suck me in and leave me hooked until the credits roll are the ones with a fascinating, remarkable plot—the Bourne series, Jane Austen adaptations, Ocean’s 11 through 13. It’s the same with the small screen—how else would early twentieth century England be fascinating without the Crawley family and the servants below?

We all love a good story.

And I believe we’re all in the thick of a story—our own personal Story, where we’re the protagonist. God is the author, and He’s orchestrated the perfect setting, characters, conflict, climax, and resolution for our storyline. And our own individual stories, from birth to death, are all part of One Big Story, a beautiful, redemptive plot that leaves us hanging gape-mouthed with wonder and obsession (I’ll give you a hint about the end though: it all works out perfectly. Better than we could ever imagine.)

But if you’re like me, sometimes my Story isn’t that terribly exciting. It feels easier to live out a good story when there’s adventure, chaos, and danger, and I’ve been there before. But that doesn’t comprise most of my life. Really, my days are mostly spent changing diapers, getting dinner on the table, paying our mortgage, and going for runs. It’s hard to believe you’re in the thick of something exciting when your days are—well, less so.

What does it look like to live out a good, relevant, gets-me-up-in-the-morning Story when it still just feels like…. regular life?

Believe it or not, there is encouragement that the mundane is still part of a Good Story. Parenting and living the day-in, day-out of raising three kids is not exactly erupting volcanoes and chasing after the bad guy and falling in love Victorian-style. It’s a lot of daily grind.

What gives me encouragement, then, is that the daily grind is shaping me into a better character for my story. Easy stuff doesn’t make me stronger. It’s the hard, repetitive challenges that build and shape me into a character worth reading. God’s not in any hurry to build His characters and then set them off in order to rush to the climax of the story. He’s a better storyteller than that. He’ll get there.

William Wallace had the darn English to contend with, but it was his early years of turmoil that shaped him perfect to lead the Scots in battle. Lizzy Bennett endured ambiguity, her position in Victorian England, and her mother, but those were the things that made her into a remarkable character we all root for when Mr. Darcy finally comes around.

Those daily drops of character-building were in their stories, too, but we don’t really see them.

No life is grind-free, but that grind can be more fun—or at least better-endured—if we trust in the Author of our story, who’s got the perfect climax and resolution in mind. Whether our plot feels more like currently in the character-driven art film phase or in the epic climax of tossing a ring into the fires of Mt. Doom, it’s all stellar. He has an adventure for all of us.

He hasn’t forgotten about you and your laundry-folding days or your hours spent in a cubicle. You’re the perfect character for the story He’s crafted just for you. And it’s gonna be awesome. The angels are popping the popcorn right now, I bet.

What sort of movie is your life like? How do you find contentment during character-building moments?

By Tsh, Simple Mom

  • kris scorza-sobieski

    i love it. every story in each of us is epic. because it is a story written by an epic god. thanks for sharing your thoughts and encouragement. –kris

  • Southern Gal

    Thank you for this encouragement this morning as I head into another week of (not so) mundane. Homeschooling this last child of mine who is 13 and 10 years younger than his older two siblings can sometimes feel like a never ending thing, but I know it’s what I’m called to do right this very minute. New perspective always helps. ;)

  • Janet

    To be at a place of contentment where I am in life and realizing what gift the Lord has given to me personally. I am a part of the body not needing to be the whole of it and do everything.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Yes! A great reminder. We all are cast in this big play, and we all have roles.

  • Giggles

    Great post,just discovered your blog and very impressed!This post reminds me a lot of John Eldredge and the way he speaks about being a part of an epic story.
    God bless!

  • Lisa-Jo @lisajobaker

    As a girl who sees life through the lens of a good movie to make sense of it some days, I loved this so so much!

  • Courtney

    I’m in a bit of a mundane phase, but I’m completely okay with that. Mundane can be nice sometimes, especially when we have the perspective you discuss here of life as a Story. Drama and climaxes will come; just enjoy where you are.

  • Amy

    Thanks for this reminder as I live another week struggling through laying in bed watching the world pass by because of my chemo. Feeling as if I am missing the story but now realizing this is part of the story God is creating for me. I just pray I can find a way to use it to glorify Him.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      You are playing a part that will have epic results, I’m sure of it—because we are in the hands of an epic, loving God. Blessings on your day, Amy.

    • Kim

      Hi Amy – I know we don’t know each other, but I just wanted to send you a little hug and encouragement. I’m so sorry for what you’re going through. I don’t know what it’s like to be in your shoes, but I did go through many years of serious illness and I know how it is to feel like the world is passing you by. Please rest assured that you are in the hands of our loving Creator, and He is up to something even when we can’t see it. It’s only in hindsight that I’ve been able to see how God used such a hard time for my good, and that He did more in me through those difficult years than I ever could have achieved on my own. Sometimes it’s the quiet, silent, hard to notice things that have the longest impact on us and those around us. I am far from perfect, but my husband tells me I’m the first person in his life to make him feel it’s OK not to be superman all the time. I don’t think I could be that wife to him if I hadn’t first seen that God loved me so much even when I was incapable of doing anything for Him in return. Your faith alone glorifies Him more than you can ever know!

  • Sarah

    I love this! It is a theme that keeps popping up in my life. I heard in a sermon a couple months ago that if in “God Time” 1,000 years equals a day, the average life would be about the length of a movie to God and elsewhere that the movies that are best loved, that win all sorts of awards and are blockbuster hits are all redemption stories. It makes me think that the world is hungry for the gospel so we go to the movies, and in the grand scheme of things, if our “movies” are also redemption stories, in heaven our life will be a blockbuster hit too!

    Thank you for posting this!

    • Nicky

      I am so sorry that you are going through chemo. It is hard to understand that these trials can be our story that He has planned for us. I am lying on the couch right now because I am having an MS Attack. It is my first one. I have missed several weeks of work and as a mom…….I, like you ,have had much time to contemplate my story and where it will head. I think this time has purposely made me slow.down to re-evaluate my life. Bless You . I pray that you get well soon.

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      Ooh… I like the idea of this. :)

  • Shari Grayczyk

    I love thinking about all of the lower stories the Lord is doing in my life as He is ultimately creating my Upper story. His Upper Story. I wrote about it in my blog a few weeks ago. Very interesting. I am currently in a laid back, slow moving, love story movie. I have yet to meet that love, but at 50 years old, I am waiting for the Lord to have him enter the scene. Loving my life as it is, but can be lonely at times. I do, however, enjoy contemplating just what all of these lower stories in my life are doing to help shape my upper story. College, career, kids, wife, mother, homeschooler, divorce, career woman, kids in college, cancer, healing, more cancer, more healing, more kids in college, still working, still relationship heartache. It’s all good, but can be a bit draining. A good movie, albeit a long one, and taking a LOT of winding roads; still awaiting the ending tho. If the past is any indication of the future, and I know it is, it’s gonna be AWESOME!

    • Tsh Oxenreider

      I love that idea of a lower and upper story. Sorta like all the small stories in chapter after chapter add up to one Big Story with a fantastic ending. :)

  • Sarita

    Good post. We need to remember that real life isn’t like a reality show. It’s the ” everyday” that’s our reality. Gods love and grace is our reality. From changing diapers to changing hearts that’s our real life. Aren’t we blessed to have the “ordinary” in our lives?

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  • Rachel

    I teach creative non-fiction at our local college, and this is what I try and show my students: the joy in mining your own life for details, really seeing this world in all its extraordinary ordinary. Through this practice comes appreciation.

  • Lisa

    I have to say that my epic story would be pretty boring, and you know what? That’s okay. He knows I don’t need the daily excitement and drama to be happy. I’m so grateful He knows me so well.

  • Karmen

    Well said! I have always felt this but never have been able to articulate it. You did so beautifully!

  • Breanne :: This Vintage Moment

    I was drawn in by the picture of Mary…and couldn’t agree more with the rest of your words.
    Even the most epic of all adventures need the seemingly mundane for their story to shine and to be realized. It’s the contrast that makes for a good story.
    And sometimes when you’re in the thick of the busy! exciting! always changing! you desire the quiet everyday things.

    We do each have our own story and we are all at different parts in it. Love how you peppered this post with pictures of great stories!

  • Rebekah

    This was such a welcome and startlingly appropriate read for me this morning! My own epic journey/story has stretched for just about three years now as our family has weathered unemployment (both my husband and I) and all its ramifications; dealt with emerging debilitating chronic illness; prayed through three cancer treatments for family and close friends. And through it all, holding fast to God and his word: being amazed by how 1 Kings 17:14 has been answered in our lives, and sometimes, falling human and crying out with Psalm 13 and asking, “How long, O Lord?” There has been so much learning – so much character building – along the way. It’s been amazing. And as much as I’m ready to see (so, so ready) what the next chapter holds, I know I wouldn’t be half as ready for whatever comes next without going through all the valleys of what we’ve walked through. Thank you for the reminder to hold on and wait for the next amazing thing.

  • Lisa R

    When life gets crazy and/or frustrating, I’ve learned to stop and ask, “Ok Lord, what lesson do you want me to learn now? I ready for whatever you have.”
    Thanks for the article, because I have a hard time capturing my everyday story (and I’m a scrapbooker!) because it does seem like the same ol’ stuff and not very exciting.

  • Margaret Feinberg

    Tsh, love the challenge to try to compare my life to a movie!

  • Shelley

    I feel like this message was meant for me, today, right now-thank you for being the messenger, Tsh! So totally how I feel in my life right now. Before mothering (11+ years ago) I traveled a lot and loved it a lot and now I’ve been living in the same place for 13 years – the longest I’ve lived anywhere, ever. Currently feeling a very heavy tugging to travel! move! explore the world! and the mundane seems especially mundane thanks the tug of the next big adventure waiting for me and my family. We are in the process of planning that adventure as a family, but time seems to be standing still.

    This post really touched my heart, Tsh. I need to remember to be more present now and have faith that the next adventure is being planned for me and will unfold in good time-not my time maybe but indeed – God has the BEST time in mind and for that, I can wait. While waiting, I will remember that the everyday blessings, that may seem mundan,e are all part of my movie and that I can still be the leading actress of that movie – even if it’s not yet a movie in the adventure category for me, at this moment. In the end, it will be the best adventure ever produced-for ME, directed by the big guy. Pure awesomeness!

    Thank you so much for the perspective and for your writing and sharing-pure awesomeness, indeed!

  • Alissa

    I remember a friend recounting her time on a summer mission trip in college – she went with the expectation that the summer would be filled with deep valleys, encountering brokenness and poverty, and great highs, in learning to trust God’s work thorugh those situations. Instead, she found herself washing load upon load of laundry, cooking the same lunch day in and day out, and cleaning a kitchen over and over and over. Her great discovery:
    It is easy to lean on God in times of trial and easy to praise God in those “mountain top” experiences, but MATURE FAITH means drawing near to God in the mundane and ordinary days and experiences. Why limit God to just the peaks and valleys when we spend most of our days in the middle.

  • Zipporah Bird

    I was just talking to a friend the other day about my 18 year marriage that started when I was 20 years old. It’s had it share of hard times, fun times, and boring times. The boring times are becoming the ones I long for the most. No matter the phase we are in, it has been the great romance that I longed for as a young girl.

  • Lindsey van Niekerk

    Love this whole thing!

    The angels popping the popcorn… that visual!!

  • Beth WIlliams

    In this mundane life of mine I find myself surprisingly content for now, although a little Hobbit (Frodo) adventure might be nice.

    It takes faith to be content with doing mundane tasks over and over. Just remember it is God who is writing your story and shaping you!

  • Jody

    Amen. It’s the same in each season of life – even when your kids are young adults. After all you are still a mom!

  • Debbie

    Life is a story, love this. Sometime when it gets hard we forget the lessons we are set to learn. As for being a mother, this is the most wonderfulo part of life. As mothers we forget that we are the teacher of this little person.

    When we bring God into the picture mothering is much more important and rewarding. All those little things we do everyday mold that little life.]

    To me the greatest blessing is being blessed with a child or children. It tells me that
    God trust us.
    Thank you,

  • Kim

    Love this! I have such a habit of getting super drawn into epic stories like Harry Potter and Downton Abbey. I’ve been asking God if there’s anything good that can come of that part of my personality or if I’m just way too into a good movie when I see it. This really spoke to me! I also loved what someone else said about the world being hungry for the gospel and finding that redemption theme in film. So true!

  • Trish D

    Love this! I’ve just come off of a three week long badly written sitcom – one absurdity after another, and quite frankly it wasn’t all that funny at the time.

    I try to remember that *each* and *every* moment is shaping us for God’s purpose. Even the mess-ups are part of the refining process, and while the end product may not be a “masterpiece” by the world’s standards, I want to know that I absolutely did the best I could (still working on that, by the way…)

  • Erika

    Today I feel like my life is one of those Bourne Identity films where everything moves at a frenetic pace and the camera is jumping around all over the place so that the picture never stands still and you feel a little bit nauseated trying to focus. I’m longing for a mundane arthouse film from a Jane Austen novel where everyone sits around reading and sewing. Hopefully tomorrow we can return to that.

  • Bobbi

    Hey Tsh,
    I haven’t been to your blog in a few weeks now, but was this inspired by Don Miller’s book Storyline? Such a great concept!

  • Kerry

    Thank you so much for writing this. A reminder that we all need.

  • kelly peay

    I realized awhile ago, that I prefered the day to day, even the the monotony of it. I don’t want the drama: Raising children brings enough, and anything beyond that might put me over the edge!
    I will take Downton Abbey anyday over Hansel & Gretel!

  • shari lynne @ faith filled food for moms

    I just love this Tsh..It’s beautiful and ever so true…I have been in recovery for almost 30 years and the first half of my life could be..a movie about sadness, chaos, the ghetto…BUT GOD
    The funny thing is..that 7 kids later and 5 grandchildren later and still being a SAHM/GRAMMY …it’s the hardest job I’ve ever had. It is sooo true that God shapes us through the mundane..the day in and day out..for how would we survive without Him.. I have always said that God gave me so many children because “I” needed so much work! LOL it’s true I admit it!
    Many blessings my sweet Sister!

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