Sing the Song He Gives

Two weeks ago my husband surprised me with a trip to Cancun, Mexico for my birthday. For months I thought we were going to Florida for a few days of fun in the sun. I never saw this surprise coming, so BIG kudos to hubby for such a special trip 🙂 While we were in Mexico, I took care to observe things closely because I enjoy having vivid memories after an experience is over.

We stayed at cute little place near the neighborhood where the locals lived. I loved this area because we were able to experience Mexico in a completely different way than we would have if we had stayed in the resort district. While on our trip, I took notice of:

  • The uniforms the children were wearing as they left school for the day.
  • The housing conditions of the locals in under-developed communities.
  • Stray dogs on several streets.
  • The abundance of white compact cars used for taxis.
  • Shoe-less children who walked through restaurants to ask for water and to sell little trinkets.
  • The beautiful reef replete with colorful fish.
  • The generic store names.

I noticed many other things while in Mexico, but what stood out to mewas the song of the birds. They sang quite uniquely to the birds I hear in the states. Where the birds in the states sing more sweetly, softly and intermittently, the birds in Mexico were more boisterous, consistent and deliberate with their songs. In both cases, the birds sing the songs they were created to sing—the song God gave them.

I highly doubt that the birds in Cancun are apprehensive to sing their song because they esteem the sweet, melodic songs of American birds as better than theirs. Additionally, I don’t believe that the American birds take a vow of silence because they don’t have the vocal capacity of the birds in Cancun who sing boisterously.

There are times as worship leaders when we can question the value of our gift on the basis of the strengths of another worship leader’s gift. This decision to compare ourselves to another can prove detrimental to the development of our craft as well as our ability to confidently complete the assignments we are given to lead worship. When an assignment is given to you, only YOU can complete it the way God intends. It wouldn’t matter if Chris Tomlin himself walked onto the stage. If it is your assignment, if God has given you the prophetic or spontaneous song for that moment, it wouldn’t matter if Stephanie Frizzell or Jenn Johnson came to take the mic.

We must learn to cherish the gifts God has given us. We must take ownership of the songs and melodies He has given us so that we can steward the moments He provides for us to share them. Yes, it is important for us to have mentors and coaches and models in our worship leader ministry function. However, when it all boils down to it, there is no one who can reproduce the sound God has placed in your heart. It’s time to start believing that He wants to use YOU for His glory! What a privilege!

Cheers to singing the song He gives us.

Xx,

-AMG

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The Story of Elle and Emma and Ecuador

About two months ago, my business partners and I launched the grand opening of our non-profit, Elle + Emma’s Bake Shop, which was the realization of years of envisioning and contemplating. Elle + Emma’s is a mission’s-based bake shop that partners with missionaries and Christian mission’s organizations in order to help fund the projects necessary to spread the Gospel and bring relief to those in the most dire need. By definition, to go on mission is to step outside of one’s personal boundaries, to cross over into foreign territory with the sole purpose of sharing Christ.

Without question, surrendering one’s life to Christ in this way takes courage, discipline, a selfless attitude and the perspective that the Great Commission was never meant to be the Great Suggestion. I shared in my last worship post that doing the work of a missionary is worship because worship is indicated by our obedience to God’s word. Thus, the launching of Elle + Emma’s denotes a practical acknowledgement of the Great Commission.

Taking all of this one step further, though, Elle and Emma actually engage in missions work along with baking the sweet treats folks buy to help fund the work of missionaries. But, who is Elle, and who is Emma, right?! Good question! It is quite a random story surrounding the naming of our business, but simply put, Elle and Emma are all actual people. In fact, they are us (my sisters and I). Alexis, my youngest sister, who goes by “Lexi” is L (or Elle). Amber, our middle sister, whose middle name is Nicole is “N” (or and). Then you have yours truly! I am Ashley, the eldest sister. My middle name is Marie (think of the “em” sound) and I am the Emma of the motley crew! I cannot begin to express to you how one brainstorming session to name our business produced such a wonderful collaboration of characters! lol

Although Elle is embarking on a mission’s trip of epic proportions, I would like to highlight my upcoming mission’s trip. In June of this year, I will be heading to Ecuador to serve the people in need in that South American country. Whether loving on orphan children, leading worship, teaching Vacation Bible School, spending quality time with the native people, or building a place for worship or learning, I will have an amazing opportunity to share Jesus in everything I do. This may sound cliche or uninteresting, but it’s truly an amazing opportunity for me to step outside my comfort zone and smack dab into the middle of an adventure with Christ. Sometimes I think we believe–and consequently cause the world to believe–this faith walk is boring or monotonous. Since the God we serve is so expansive and endless, when we find our walk is becoming boring, we may need to check our devotion to living obedient lives to Christ…because Christ is always challenging us beyond where we are comfortable!

My upcoming trip to Ecuador is definitely a test of my obedience and willingness to exit the zone of comfort and enter the zone of adventure! I am truly excited. So, if you would like to help me get into the field this summer to share Jesus, if you are passionate about making Christ’s name famous, or if you just have a heart for helping others, feel free to donate to help make this trip possible. I have a goal of $2,500…and believe me a little help from you will go a long way! I am going into the field with an organization called Adventures in Missions. Please feel free to check them out before deciding whether to head over to my mission’s fund link!

If you are interested in more information about Elle + Emma’s Bake Shop or if you would like to purchase your gourmet goodies, please visit our website! www.elleandemmas.com

Again, my mission’s fund link is http://www.gofundme.com/ashleymariegray.

Thank you in advance for you readership, support, and donations!

Cheers to Exiting the Comfort Zone!

Xx,

-AMG

Into the Field…to Worship

Me: Daddy, next year I’m going to Africa so that I can help in the missions field.

Dad: Mmmhm, we will see, Ashley.

Me: No, really, dad! I’m going to go!

Dad: One day. You will in due time.

The dialogue above is a short conversation my dad and I had about 16 years ago. I a was 10-year-old lover of Jesus who had a burning desire to go to into the missions field to “help.” Obviously my parents weren’t going to send their young child into the field alone, so they nurtured me to love serving and worshiping. As time went along, I still had a desire to go on mission with God, but it waned as other life milestones took center-stage and I developed in my faith as a servant.

Over the last seven years or so, though, the burning passion to go into the field and “help” has greatly increased. What is awesome about this resurfacing desire is that “help” is now more clearly defined. I have a personal ministry statement (and I encourage all believers, regardless of whether you have a title or are a part of the five-fold to have a ministry statement) that reminds me of my desires as it relates to serving God, both in His house and out in the world. My ministry statement reads as follows:

I desire to instruct people in how to connect with God by means of worship and biblical teaching, and to show people Christ through holistic missions work.

I wrote this statement about three years ago to give clarity to how I felt I was called to serve God in the kingdom. It has helped me to remain focused and remember the vision God has given me. How does this come into play practically? Well, I love worship and am one of the worship leaders at my local church. I compose Christian pieces and travel to lead worship. This ties into my ministry statement entirely because:

1. Worship, according to scripture, is obedience. And the Word tells us to go to every nation to preach the Gospel. I fully intend to fulfill this Commission. (Matthew 28:18-20)

2. I view music only as a platform to share the Gospel–hence why I don’t mention music in the statement–it is a means to a very important end (salvation and deliverance).

3. Teaching the scripture enlightens people to the truth of Christ and makes the Word clear through the help of the Holy Spirit.

So, the time has finally come (16 years after the conception of the dream) to go into the field to worship. I will be going to Ecuador this year to serve the impoverished there, and I couldn’t be more honored and excited! This is the beginning of a new phase in serving the Kingdom and it didn’t happen overnight. Keep this in mind, please, if you are discouraged that a dream hasn’t come to fruition yet. There is a season for everything under the sun. Therefore, if God ordained it to be…it SHALL be :).

For now, serve well where you are! I absolutely love THE local church and MY local church. I serve there weekly and am thankful for the covering of my pastors. The local church is the catalyst for what happens in the field or any other area of ministry outside of the church walls. Don’t abandon ship! Be faithful and the Lord will exalt you!

Here’s to Serving the Kingdom Well.

Cheers,

-AMG

 

P.S. I will be posting about my preparation for the mission’s field over the next several months. Look out for ways you can help mission’s work be carried out this summer!