July Beyond the Block

Hi All!  Ahhhh, it’s July!  So busy this month, but how thankful I am for this Beyond the Block series!  I think the big man upstairs knew just the ticket for keeping me grounded this year, amidst all my big projects and hectic family schedule, I’m pulled back each month to slow down, ponder, and re-examine some things.  What a blessing!  If it weren’t for this monthly commitment, I know I would surely get distracted and not dedicate this much-needed personal time.  Thanks for joining in with me!

So this month we’re stitching up a pretty cross/star combo that I’m calling “Serve” in honor of our personal  challenge to BE…a Servant.

Beyond The Block July

When it comes time to choose our Beyond the Block challenge each month, I simmer, I pray, and I go through the list of challenges I made last year to see which is tugging at my heart that month.  Sometimes I’m “in the mood” for one or the other, or have an idea about how I want to approach a specific challenge…so I usually am able to settle on one fairly easily.  But this month was different.  This month, as before, I did feel “called” toward a specific challenge, but the truth of it is, it was tough.  I had passed over “be a servant” month after month, each time opting for something else because, truthfully, I just wasn’t “feeling it”.  It’s funny, because this very hesitation is what caused me to go back to this topic.  Perhaps the challenge that I least “feel like” working on is the one that I truly need to work on.

Webster’s dictionary defines a “servant” as “a person in the service of another.”  To serve is to render assistance, to be of use, to help.  Yes, helping others is good.  My heart knows this.  But when I look to the Bible for instruction, I receive an even stronger call toward service- I Peter 4:10 tells me “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.”  In fact, not only does it call me to use my gifts to serve others, but if I look at Christ’s example, I’m actually to be…well, a slave.  Mark 10:44 says “And whoever wishes to be most important and first in rank among you must be a slave of all.  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as ransom for many.”  Time and time again, this message is repeated: “The greatest among you shall be your servant” -Matthew 23:11

So, we should serve.  What does that mean?  I think it boils down to a really foundational concept:  Humility.  No matter where I look, humility seems to be the key to practically everything.  Respect, compassion, gratitude, generosity- they all stem from humility.  Last is first. Lowest is highest.  It’s about understanding and living the reality that I am no better than anyone else, that my needs aren’t more important than anyone else’s.  Yes, I want to thrive and succeed just like everyone else.  I want to meet my own needs and to follow my dreams.  Can I do this at the same time that I’m striving to humble myself and to serve others?

I know the answer is yes, and the beautiful thing is that the two are inseparably linked!  The more I give, the more full I will be.  It seems contradictory, but what oh what a truth it is.

So what does this mean for me?  I know I am called to serve others, but how does this translate into my everyday life?  I’m a busy mom.  I’m already serving my kids and my husband every day, right?  I want to go deeper, so what does this really look like?  Must I join the Salvation Army and volunteer in soup kitchens every day of the week?  Here are some realistic starting points that I think I can build on as I embark on this challenge to think of others before myself:

  • Be patient when waiting in line, for anything.  Even when folks ahead of me are moving slowly, I can use this simple gesture- kindness and peace in the face of waiting- as a way to recognize that everyone around me has needs.
  • Eat what I am served, even if I don’t like it.  I’m the lady who has given a drink back to the barista at Starbucks when I don’t think it has the right amount of chocolate in it, or let’s my waiter know when I think my salad is shy of the avocado slices I know it deserves.  I always thought it was my “right” to demand the food I want because, well, I’m paying for it, and technically I do, but I recognize that what I’m really doing when I reject food either at a restaurant or someone’s home (unless I’m allergic to it), is creating more work for others, and making it known that I am a priority.  Can I just let this go, and eat what I’m served?  Especially when millions in the world are starving?  Yes.
  • Let cars merge in front of me.  I should strive never to be that driver who speeds up or acts like I don’t notice someone’s turning signal.
  • Bring food, even when I’m not asked.  This could be a meal for a family who’s just moved or had a baby, or bag of bagels and cream cheese to work or a meeting.  Who isn’t blessed by unexpected nourishment?
  • Serve at home.  This means ditching the “you have legs” reaction, and selflessly serving those in your home at every opportunity.  Filling a drink, packing a lunch, doing a chore that isn’t normally yours and expecting nothing in return.  What better way to inspire service and sacrifice in my husband and kids than to demonstrate it myself?
  • Be a friend.  This can mean so many things.  Listening ears, a thoughtful note, a generous carpool or babysitter.  I can go the extra mile to be a better friend.
  • Be a neighbor.  Could I mow my neighbor’s lawn in addition to my own?  Can I bring in newspapers that collect in the driveway?  How about bringing produce or flowers from my garden to someone else, even when I know I could use them all myself.
  • Volunteer.  No doubt there are immediate needs around us all for volunteer help- the nursery at church, the PTA at school, selling concessions at kid’s sports games or leading a youth group. I so often convince myself that I don’t have time for these things, but the fact of the matter is, I make excuses because I don’t want to do them.   I can work to put my schedule aside and give more generously of my time.
  • Donate.  Clothes, food, appliances, a vehicle.  Whenever I can possibly spare items that others are in need of, I can go out of my way to donate them.

And these are just a few ideas!  There are so many zillions of ways we can serve one another, and they’re not tough to find when we just start looking for them.  From the smallest of gestures- a friendly wave- to the largest of sacrifices, I can find ways to serve others every single day.  Do you have more ideas?  I’d love to hear them!

XO

Comments

  1. What a wonderful blessing to read this today Amy! I look forward to these every month, so inspiring and convicting at the same time. I love that your share your heart’s desire, especially when there is victory in the failure…there is generally another opportunity to try again. Your words about needing to work on the ‘challenge I want to ignore’ really hit home with me. “Procrastination” should be my middle name! Putting off (even the fun/good things) projects/people I ‘feel like’ I don’t have time for. That’s an on going battle for me. Blessings to you and your family! And thank you for another wonderful ‘Sugar Block”!

  2. Was looking for the latest block in my inbox to no avail:( Help, please!!! As always, looking forward to sewing this pretty next block!!!!

  3. JoAnn B says:

    I finally got caught up so I was anxiously awaiting the next block as well!!! Can’t wait to work on it :)

  4. Is is just me? I can’t find the link to the July block ;(

  5. Lots of great food for thought and the block is just beautiful.

  6. feel so moved by wha you have shared with us today, will take more time to think about it all.

    Also today discovered through the sassy quilter your BOM 2012 and will have a go at it

  7. Missing the link to July’s block too?

  8. Boy or boy did I need this! Thank you for a wonderful article this month. It is such a blessing that we are able to participate in the Sugar Block and be reminded of what life is really all about.
    Thank you, Amy for reminding me about some very important things that I’ve forgotten.

  9. I can’t find the link for July’s block. Please help!

    • Kimberly says:

      I didn’t receive mine until this morning, July 2 maybe because the majority of months have 31 days? Have you tried logging into the Members login Sugar Block Club icon on the right side of this page? I’m certain you will receive it soon :). Enjoy this months’ block. I can’t wait to get started! It’s beautiful.

  10. Amy, beautify written as always. I know how busy you are (well actually I can only imagine since I am now a empty nester) but I would like to strongly encourage you to read “Same kind of different as me” by Ron Hall and Denver Moore. ISBN 978-0-08499-1910-7. It changed my life and speaks to the power of serving. Please let me know if you get a chance to read it and what you think.

  11. Hi Amy,
    Thanks for all you do every month for me (and I am sure several others). I’m not one to comment often, but this month is one that I cannot let slide. God has really been speaking to my heart about some things lately, and you are just another instance of this. A recent podcast, sermon, and now your blog all seem to be pointing me down the the same path. Thanks for having an open heart and being the messenger for God’s word at a time when I may have been too busy to hear it on my own. I am truly thankful for you and your willingness to share your talents!

  12. HI, GREAT POST!
    YOU’RE THE BEST!

  13. Hi Amy – really love your wise words this month and especially the fact they are based on the one and only Truth. My hubby often says “Everyone is fighting some kind of battle.” We need to remember that the person who is doing “whatever” is someone God loves and treat them at such. Anxiety? We are more than sparrows. Fear? God is completely trustworthy. Sometimes the challenge is to put faith before feelings. We don’t always know the facts but God does. Serving helps us become more like Christ day by day. You’ve been a blessing to me once again and I thank you. Seeing your faith in action always makes me smile. God bless. Jean

  14. Thanks for the wise words today and sharing your gifts.

  15. Janet Green says:

    I try to have a balanced view of my life but occasionally I find frustration overwhelms me. I have 3 children and feel as though I have been serving everyone else for the last 25 years. And then I have an epiphany and realise that I am lucky to have a wonderful family that seems to need me so much. What would I be without them? (Maybe less sleepy ;)!!!!). It’s nice to hear someone so young to have the same understanding!

  16. Antoinette Gipson says:

    how beautifully put, it makes me want to be better at serving others thank you.

  17. Diane Isabella says:

    Thank you, Amy, for another beautiful Beyond. I think I will print out the word SERVICE and post it in my home and office to remind myself that I’m not just “doing my job”, but that I am constantly in service to people. It is so true that often we never learn of the impact we have had by our kindness, but trust me everything we do has an impact. Sometimes you do find out that what you thought was a simple action has had a life-changing effect on someone’s life. Think of the million things you do everyday. Make every action count because it really does count. Amy, you are an angel on this earth! Thank YOU for your Service.

  18. Rereading your July SugarBlock reminded me of a card I have over my kitchen window from Yogi Amrit Desei. . . I kept it there to refer to it often to remind myself of this. “Service-Work performed with the right attitude is worship in action. When you learn to work with love, your life will be an expression of joy.” He is saying the same thing you said in your paragraphs. I enjoy thinking about what you’ve written as I create the new block, so thank you.