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Keep My Eyes to Serve, My Hands to Learn

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Keep the earth below my feet
For all my sweat, my blood runs weak
Let me learn from where I have been
Keep my eyes to serve and my hands to learn
Keep my eyes to serve and my hands to learn”
                –Mumford and Sons “Below My Feet”

Rolling over in bed, my eyes squinting open, I can see it’s still dark out. I inhale my husband’s soapy, snuggly morning scent, leftover from his shower the night before. I lightly kiss his shoulder and lean to turn off his alarm. I slide out of bed and a new smell dances along my upper lip as my coffee brewing downstairs beckons me. I’m careful not to step on any toys my carefree toddler has left strewn about our house. A chill runs down my spine as I mindlessly turn our air back up. Without a second thought, I search our fridge, bursting with food, and grab the eggs, juice, butter, and fresh fruit to make an easy, bountiful breakfast.

While pouring my cup of coffee, I can’t help but think of the events from the night before. It was after 10:00 at night and I could hear the little girl crying. The frustrated mother trying to console her as not to wake her teenage son who needed to go to school the next day. Five other families were trying to sleep that night as well.  I slept on a cot that night. A cot I was quick to curse for being incredibly uncomfortable. Oblivious to what was surely running through the minds of the conjoining families. I imagine they had thoughts I have never had to think about in my life. Worries about keeping their job to feed their family. Wondering if their youngest was starting to get sick, causing a trip to the doctor’s office that they couldn’t afford. I was cursing my bed that night while they were finding comfort in sleeping in a safe place. That frustrated mother of her two year old had never been more thankful to be rocking her little to sleep in a room with air conditioning. Knowing that she would be able to have a cup of coffee the next day and a guaranteed way to get her kids to school the next morning. That night waned on in a slow trudge for me, while going too fast for those families. I could hear the little girl’s cries carry down the hall.

And I kept hearing that little girl cry. I could hear her this morning as I am back in my home, carelessly pouring my cup of coffee, with more than enough food, not worried at all about doctor’s visits. Passing the day, without a worry about the general stability of a life filled with a husband and a blessed job, a healthy toddler, electricity, food, water, and a home I call my own.

You see a couple of weeks ago I signed up to be an overnight host at my church for our local Family Promise (FP). A few days ago, I had the privilege of just existing for these people. They didn’t need anything from me really. Just my presence so they could all stay in our church for a night of safety.

If you don’t know anything about FP, then I highly encourage you to check out your community to see if they have facilities there so you can get involved. These families that were staying at my church for the week are homeless, struggling to hold a job, struggling to feed their families, struggling to live a life I have lived so carelessly. Even now as I type this, I can’t help but heave a heavy heart for the people who need help in this life. People right in my own town. People I surely pass on the street while I’m yelling at my iPod in my car as they are walking down the street with their kids, hoping to catch the bus on time to make it to their temporary home for the week they have found through Family Promise.

I keep hearing that little girl cry as she calls to me. I see the young man’s smile again, grateful for a hot cup of coffee to start his day. I keep replaying the teenage boy’s story about how his mom and sister are never back before 10:00 at night because his mom finally found a job. All their fears behind their eyes, reaching out to me, calling for help.

And as I take my coffee in my own cozy home the next day, their eyes remind me of what I am grateful for. I am grateful for my home. I am grateful for a husband who warms my bed at night. I am grateful that I have a car to take my son to his doctor’s appointment. I am grateful for a fridge full of food.

I am grateful for these daily necessities that I so easily take for granted.

I am grateful for these daily necessities that I so easily take for granted.

I am grateful for these daily necessities that I so easily take for granted.

Everyone has a story. Things are not always what they seem. We have so many trials and tests in this life that bring to the surface who we really are deep down. But who am I when I am walking at the top of the trial? Who am I when I am walking through life on a high? Who am I when I can go to bed at night generally content?

I want to be grateful. I want to be grateful during the times I so easily forget to be.

I want to remember that God is a God of a woman with a roof over her head and the God of a woman who needs a roof for her family.

I need to remember that God sees that little girl crying in the night and God is holding her alongside her mother because of His incomprehensible love. God is holding her because a girl down the hallway volunteered to spend the night in a building, just to be present, so this family could have a night of safety.

What about you? What are you grateful for?

(This post also appears on gloryannaboge.com.)

 

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People Are Awesome #tacobell

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(This post also appears on gloryannaboge.com.)

This guy had been with Taco Bell for about two years. He worked on the line making the food, moved to the window and eventually became a shift manager. His small frame, tattoos, and what I would guess piercings, made him the stereotypical “punk.” Except he was about thirty years old and I don’t know about you, but as an 8th grade teacher, I have a hard time calling a grown man “punk.” I tend to think of hot-headed, mid-puberty teenage boys as punks. This guy had a sharp-sounding voice and easily commanded the attention of the workers at Taco Bell. Not so much like an 8th grade boy.

You see, my husband is a Mt. Dew addict and this Mt. Dew HAS to come from the Taco Bell that is about two miles from our house. Seriously, it’s a straight shot and my husband loooooveesss going there to grab his drink. It’s like the rest of us and our Starbuck’s addiction. Unfortunately, when I was pregnant with Asher, I became addicted to Taco Bell’s Gordita Crunch (I don’t know what my excuse is now!) and we got to know this “adult punk” pretty well. So, when you’re seeing this guy about two times a week (OK, 3-4 times a week, especially during the 2nd trimester!! I know, I know.) you start to talk and get to know these awesome people who work in the life of fast food.

Turns out he had two daughters, a woman he’d been with off and on to have two daughters with, and was working full time to support them, all the while trying to finish up getting his high school degree. As I got to know Matt (let’s call him Matt for privacy sake), I started to realize that this guy would give me the shirt off his back if I needed it. Matt was a hard worker who was doing what he needed to do to provide the way he could for his family. I don’t know about you, but when I typically go through a fast food restaurant, I tend to glaze over the workers and forget that they are real.

Fast food is well, FAST. The whole goal of these places is to get you in and out without even a moment’s notice of the hard workers behind all the fast. Have you ever thought about some of the crazy skills these people are either developing or honing when it comes to working at McDonald’s? The multitasking. The agility of flipping a hamburger while quickly reading the screen and wrapping a special order, all the while preparing for the next item on the order screen. My husband, who is an engineer, would absolutely struggle in this environment.

So as I got to know Matt throughout our pregnancy with Asher, I started paying attention to people behind the counter. I started reading their name tags and saying hello to them by name. And you know what started happening? The more we went in there, the more they started to get to know us and talk to us about our new beginning with our little family. The folks at Taco Bell started becoming pretty cool.

Of course, Mike loved this. I probably shouldn’t tell you this because the crazy Taco Bell people might come down on us through the NSA or something, but I can’t count the times Mike would get a free drink. I felt like Taco Bell became our Cheers. The kindness came to a peak after Asher was born. 

We planned to take Asher to TB (that’s what we call it in our house) to show him off, especially to Matt who had a soft spot in our heart. Mike had said we would by later in the week. You know what those awesome people who work many hours to meet other folks’ needs at Taco Bell did for us?

They rallied a bag of baby clothes and items to give us for Asher. It was one of the sweetest gifts we received.

I don’t always think to say hello to folks when I am getting lunch at Arby’s. I don’t always make eye contact with the multitasking queen behind the register. But I try. I try to notice people in the workforce more often. People who are doing a service for me. People who are working the grind to buy that first car. People who are happy to have their first job. People who are looking for extra money to help with their retirement. People who we probably don’t always consider hard workers, which is really unfortunate. Yes, there are always the teenagers who need to grow up and the lady who is skating by, but I don’t want to define everyone by a certain someone.

That’s why it is worth it to say hello using their name and acknowledging the service they are doing for you. You never know where that hello will take you. 

What about about you? Do you try to acknowledge people in the service industry? How do you do it? What stops you from doing it? Let us know in the comments below!

Peace,
Glo

(This post also appears on gloryannaboge.com.)

Some of us blogging buddies are committed to writing more weekly on our blogs! We have a variety of topics we’ll be writing about! To check out these lovely ladies and where their writing is taking them, click on their blog links below! And as always, tip your waters.
Aimme at mamacentric.com
Abbie at grumblinggrace.com
Emily at emilyfisk.com
Harmony at mywanderingheartsong.wordpress.com

 

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Mommy’s Little Hero

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I’m huffing and puffing, walking up the stairs, trying to carry this squirmy little dude on my hip while balancing a basket of laundry on the other. Asher is laughing and giggling while trying to see how hard he can kick his legs around before mommy drops the basket. Socks are toppling over the edge of heaping clothes, oozing out the sides of my basket. Oozing because Mike’s socks stink people. If you want to see a fun balancing act, watch a mom carrying her kid and a huge basket through a baby gate at the top of the stars, all the while a 70 lb freight train we call our dog, charging up the stairs. I sort of feel like this is my life lately. I am constantly going up and down. Overloading myself. Trying to get everything done.

I’ve come to realize that if I don’t watch myself, I can pretty much feel like this Every. Stinking. Day. The frazzled feelings. The not enough shaming. The mom judging. The days that get foggy.

Asher is all sorts of pre-toddler these days and I can see the challenges arising.

I worry that I won’t be enough.

Days can be hard as a mom. 

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As I’m sitting there trying to fold our laundry, Asher cruises on over to see what this is all about. Laundry has become his favorite new entertainment. Take the clothes out. Put them back in. Laugh about it. Take the clothes out. Shake them all about. Giggle. Hand mommy her clothes. Yank them back out of mommy’s hand. Laugh about it.

No joke. I had been sitting there working myself into what could have been a good o’l pity party, that would have ended with some comfort eating I’m sure, because that’s what I do sometimes, BUT as many times before, this little guy brings me back.

He brings me back to focus.

What can seem so mundane becomes an adventure.

 

We laugh together.

I remember how lucky I am.

I’m sure the worry will come back. The nag never seems to go away.

But it’s moments like these I need to keep her at bay.

I hear parents say a lot about how they can’t believe they are parents. The unbelief in the privilege they have of raising a family. I can’t say that comment always resonates with me until I start to worry about not being enough for my family. Then it all starts to make sense.

I choose happiness. I choose gratitude. I trust I am enough. I trust that God will continue to guide my heart as I hold my son’s hand. Really, he is leading me. Leading me deeper into my relationship with God. Growing my heart in ways I never knew.

I trust that he will know someday when he looks back that his mama loved him and in the midst of doing laundry, my heart was overflowing with gratitude for the joy he has brought to my life.

This mama is learning to be intentional with her gratitude. Read on for more encouragement to see the good in the mundane as a stay at home mom.

 

 

Gratitude: Disarming the Lies We Tell Ourselves

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It starts when I lay in bed for the night. I don’t know what it is about elusive sleep, but I seem to get most of my revelations when I can’t sleep. I started going through the ongoing list I like to title “ME.”

No one does the laundry for me.

No one cooks me dinner.

No one takes care of me, I mean right?

Clearly I do everything. I remember to feed the dogs. I remember to book the appointments. I am the brains behind family vacations. I am the one who bakes for the group fundraiser. I am the one who makes plans for date night. Am I the only one who likes romance?

Me. Me. Me. What about me? What about me?

We live in a culture that is constantly telling us that we need to love ourselves, take care of ourselves. Keep ourselves first. While I believe that taking time for myself and putting some of my needs at the top of my priority list is important, because if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy, but I struggle balancing this.

I tell myself I am neglected. I tell myself it’s someone else’s fault I lose my joy. I convince myself that others are responsible for my happiness and peace.

But if I am being brutally honest with myself. These are lies. 

Joy is a choice. Happiness is a choice. A choice that says I trust you God with all my heart. The joy of the Lord is my strength. Not if my husband decides to cook dinner one night (although I”m not saying he shouldn’t ever do that, you know 😉 ).

I can’t look past the two greatest commandments Jesus gave his followers. I find I am at a constant battle with one of these commandments.  A battle I am always fighting, with gloves held high. The commandments that say “Love the Lord with all your heart and soul” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

OK, God. I love you with all my heart and soul. Sure. No problem. At least it’s no problem today. It’s that “simple” second one that holds me up. 

How do you love others but still feel like you aren’t running on empty?

Feeling like I am the one who is always doing everything makes it hard for me to sometimes love others as myself, particularly those close to me, like family members or my husband.

I want to be intentional in my life. Intentional in loving others. I want to be intentional in giving thanks for God’s love in my life. I want to be intentional in strengthening myself in the Lord.  I want to choose the Lord to fill me up when I feel like I am running on empty. I want to make positive choices to try and prevent that feeling of being empty.

I want to be intentional while I am doing laundry.


I want to take the focus off of myself and focus on Him.


To help me stay focused on Him and the strength I get from Him, I plan to spend the next month being intentionally thankful each day. Taking my eyes off of me and looking to Him. Focusing on others. I’ve got this nifty little dry-erase board on my mirror in my bathroom where I brush my teeth. I have this here so each morning, as I get ready, I am reminded to start the day with gratitude.

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What about you?

I challenge you to choose to be intentionally grateful each day this month. There is no time like the present. This isn’t about some rules to try and please God. This is about striving to trust God with your hurts or worries or maybe, just maybe, those feelings of feeling neglected, and bring peace and joy into your life.

I don’t know about you, but at the end of the day, I can easily convince myself out of anything because I am exhausted. I’d like to still reflect at the end of the day, but I also want to try and start my day with being grateful because I know I am more likely to have a refreshed mind then.

For you, maybe that means the drive to work. Maybe it’s during your lunch or a quick coffee break at the office. Maybe it’s during nap time for your littles. It doesn’t matter when it is! Think about a time that lends itself to you being able to be intentional.

As I was lying in bed, throwing myself a pity party, I heard Him. I hear him. I hear Him call my name. I hear Him say “Gloryanna, you are mine. You are doing that laundry for me. You are remembering and taking care of others for me.” He encourages me to focus on what I am grateful for in this life. That the constant renewal of my mind is a process that begins with thanksgiving. I think of how many times Jesus started to pray by giving thanks. How many times prophets and servants of God in the Bible began their missions, their letters, their prayers, with giving thanks.


Gratitude doesn’t leave room for the lies I tell myself.

Gratitude leaves room for Grace. And we all know we need that. We just have to accept it.


I know, I know. I’m jumping around a little bit here. But bear with me. Join me.

Join me in being intentional in gratitude and disarming the lies we tell ourselves. Join me in choosing to trust God each day with our fears, our angers, ur worries, and remember who He is and be grateful for what He has done and what He will do.

Prayer for Today:
Thank you, God for reminding me that I am walking this life to serve you and bring Glory to your Name. Thank you for wiping out the spirit of self-pity and replacing it with your love for me. By trusting you with my fears and anger, I am releasing them to you. Trusting that you will work it out.
What else can you thank God for today to start out on an attitude of gratitude?

(This post also appears on gloryannaboge.com.)

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Enjoy the Little Things: Bubby’s Almost 8 Months!

 

 

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He laughs pretty much every time I toot.

We’re almost 8 months old. Yikes.

He laughs when he drops things. Repeatedly. On purpose.

Splashing is a good thing in the tub.

Naps are craptastic right now.

I never knew someone could be so impatient when eating peas.

Clinginess comes in spurts. Sometimes it’s like a tidal wave.bubbyshands

I want to just eat up his hands. So sweet.

I wish the top teeth would just come in already.

He’s a pro at grabbing his food these days. Except for those peas.

The boy has never chewed on anything except his hands. Ladies and gentleman, I give you the mystery of the wooden spoon. Chew toy #1 in our house.

Usborne touchy feely books, you are awesome.

Clinginess equals extra snuggles before nap time. Thank you.

 

To read more detailed summaries for Asher, click here.