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Finding the little ‘extra’ in ordinary people

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I quickly slid off the red ribbon tied around the newspaper comic wrapping paper — an old Christmas tradition when we run out of store-bought gift wrap.

Hidden behind colorful Garfield and Classic Peanuts newspaper print was one of my favorite Christmas gifts — Susan Orlean’s book “The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup: My Encounters with Extraordinary People.”

I haven’t made the time to read it yet, but the last five words of her title kept popping up in my thoughts like the Artcraft Theatre marquee.

We all have had encounters with ordinary people, but it’s the encounters with ordinary people who share a little extra that makes them extraordinary in our eyes. The “extra” in the ordinary can be in the form of passion, leadership, encouragement, kindness, courtesy, humor, compassion or a multitude of other blessings. We happen to live in an area with an overflowing bucket of extraordinary people.

I suppose I first met Duane DeBaun about 25 years ago when he and wife, Kim, moved into my parents’ neighborhood and my brother Kevin’s home was directly across the street.

The father of three grown daughters, he owns DeBaun Services, the auto repair shop on Main Street in Greenwood. Duane is one of those extraordinary honest, down-to-earth guys that make you feel comfortable to be around.

Dr. Gary Johnson has led one of the fastest-growing churches in Indiana since 1990. Besides the fact that he is a consummate speaker, leader and worldwide teacher, he also makes time to mentor young men and fellow pastors around the world.

But it’s the small actions that make a person extraordinary: like making time to present a bouquet of 50 fresh roses to a couple who celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, presenting a woman who turned a century 100 yellow roses (her favorite) for her birthday, celebrating an 84-year-old man’s 72,000 swim laps, and last weekend rousing a crowd of more than 1,000 to cheer, whistle and holler louder than any Colts game for an 89-year-old man who came forward to be baptized.

An ordinary leader that goes the extra mile can show a church full of servants that the world is actually full of rock stars that glorify God by living ordinary lives.

One of my goals for the 2014 is to live an ordinary life and share a little extra passion, encouragement, courtesy and kindness.

How about you?

Janet Hommel Mangas, the third of seven children, grew up on the east side of Greenwood. The Center Grove area resident and her husband are the parents of three daughters. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net.

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