Disciple Where You Are

It is no secret that after a woman has a baby things change. Our bodies change drastically, our hormones rage for control, our little bundles put new demands on our time over and above the demands that were already placed on us, we have to share our husbands with another human (or another human if you already had little ones)…EVERYTHING CHANGES! This includes our ability to continue to serving in the Kingdom in the exact same way we did prior to having babies.

As moms and Christians, I think it is so easy for us to get hung up on what we aren’t doing for the Kingdom of God. It’s so easy for us to put undue pressure on ourselves by comparing what we are doing in versus what another person is doing. But God doesn’t ask us to focus on what we can’t do for the Kingdom. He doesn’t even require that we stress ourselves out endeavoring to force our lives to mirror the quantity of service we carried out before having children. Colossians 3:23 validates this point of how the Lord values quality over quantity (although some of us will have more full schedules than others). It says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” (NIV).

This means whether you serve as a leader in your church, home school your children, serve as a vocalist on the worship team, manage a team for a company in corporate America, provide a home for foster children, go to school full time, or teach in the children’s ministry once a month, you should do it with all of your heart as unto God, not to please people and gain their approval. We are all called to serve God’s Kingdom in some way.  Whether we bring God glory as we work in the secular or sacred arena is irrelevant. What matters is that we obey Him by bearing His image properly wherever we are.

I am not saying that it will be easy to serve as a wife, mother, leader, etc…What I am saying, though, is this: as we prioritize efficiently and ask the Holy Spirit to show us what we should be doing, God’s grace will help us to accomplish all we need to accomplish! Second Corinthians 9:8 says, “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” As such, we must learn to rely on God’s grace, sisters. Never demean, underestimate, or despise the role you play in  God’s Kingdom. It may not be what another person is doing, it may not be as visible, it may not be as much as what you used to do, but it is valuable! The only exception to this assertion is if you know that you should be doing more and that you haven’t allowed the Lord to utilize your gifts at full capacity.Otherwise, continue offering yourself to God, bringing your gifts and roles and callings and responsibilities with you.

I can most definitely relate to all that I have shared up to this point! After I had our son, I had a hard time accepting that I couldn’t be as flexible as I wanted to be for the ministry. I also felt like I was not adequately carrying out the Great Commission or shining the light of Christ as much as I wanted. I thought, “Who am I reaching if I am in the house most days bound to the demands of a a little person? What can I do with a screaming baby in a cart in Target?” The Lord has spoken to me several times about these thoughts and perspective. Here is the summation of what He has been saying:

Disciple where you are. Serve well where you are. You are raising a little boy who will soon be a young man living in a culture that disregards Me. Train him to love Me, to honor Me, and to live in the world but not like the world.

Sometimes we get so focused on what we are doing for the Kingdom, rather than who we are grooming to take our place in the next generation. As Andy Stanley put it, “Your greatest contribution to the Kingdom of God may not be something you do, but someone you raise.” I couldn’t have found better words for this myself. Be encouraged, mamas! You were made for “this.” And only you know what your “this” is!

Cheers to serving well!

Xx,

-AMG

 

 

P.S. If you would like to help donate to get me into the mission field of Ecuador this summer to help disciple others, please visit gofundme.com/ashleymariegray

Advertisements

Cauliflower Crust Pizza Bites

Pizza Bites

Hey Friends!

Here is a quick (and I do mean quick) family-friendly recipe. Today I had limited time and ingredients on hand to make an after-school snack/meal for my 5-year-old niece and my 15-month-old. I have wanted to make cauliflower crust pizza for awhile and so that’s what I did. It was really easy and quick and only takes 5 ingredients plus whatever toppings you desire.

I’m sorry there isn’t a better pictures, but these little babies went quickly!

Enjoy!

Ingredients

1 large head cauliflower

1 egg, beaten

1 tbsp Mrs. Dash Italian seasoning (or basil and oregano)

1 c. Italian Cheese Mix- Mozzarella, Parmesan, etc. (plus extra for topping pizza)

6 tbsp. tomato sauce (I used Prego Combo spaghetti sauce)

Any toppings you desire (don’t add too many because it will weigh your crust down)

Parchment paper

Method

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Separate cauliflower florets from stem.

Put florets in food processor until it resembles rice. Or, chop the florets up finely.

Transfer chopped cauliflower to microwave safe bowl and heat for 8 minutes.

Remove from microwave and add egg, seasoning, and cheese. Stir until well combined.

Form dough into mini pizza circles.

Bake dough on baking sheet covered with parchment paper for 25-30 minutes until brown and crisp.

Remove from oven, top with sauce, cheese, veggies, and/or meat.

Place in oven under broiler for 2 – 5 minutes based on how you like your pizza.

 

 

 

 

Stay Focused

We don’t want to go to bed early, but we want an early rise. We can’t rise early because we wanted a late night. We want to lose the weight, but the couch and cobbler are much more suited to fit our “needs.” There’s mold growing in the shower because it hasn’t been cleaned it weeks, but we procrastinate because we are “busy.” Fast-forward a few years when it’s time to sell or move and the re-caulking must begin because of said mold. We want to graduate at the top of our class, but our study habits include Sour Patch Kids, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Facebook. We want to marry Mr. or Mrs. Right but continually fill their seat with individuals who are total opposites of who God desires for us. We want to expand our business or move forward with our career, but fear and intimidation stop us every time. We want the fruit of a prayerful life, but constantly succumb to bouts of a life of prayerlessness…

We want a lot of things! We want much fruit to be produced from our lives–but sometimes with little effort, little discipline, little sowing, and little dedication in relation to our expectation or desire. Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Just for information’s sake, Lent is celebrated by most Catholics and some Christians. It is a time of fasting and self-denial so that believers may fully focus on Christ’s saving work and become all He desires for them to become. With this in mind, the remainder of this post is to challenge you to look at yourself, pray, and ask the Lord what He desires for you and from. Remember, any time the Lord requires something from us it is ultimately for our good and His glory!

In the beginning of Luke 9, Jesus released His twelve disciples to go into different places to serve others by driving out demons, curing diseases, healing the sick, and preaching the Kingdom of God. As they were ready to go do the work of the Kingdom, Jesus told the disciples:

“Take nothing for the journey–no staff, no bag, no bread, no extra shirt. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them” (Luke 9:3-5 NIV).

In other words, Jesus was instructing the disciples not to labor over temporal things that would steal their focus away from Kingdom business. Obviously the disciples obeyed because Scripture goes on to say that the disciples “went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere” (v. 6).

You see that? The disciples stayed on task! They did not give their focus to fleeting things when God required their focus to be on Him, His plans, and His work. Upon first thought, attention and focus may seem like the same thing. But, I assure you they are not. Attention is notice taken of something important. Focus means to place something at the center of interest or activity; to pay particular attention to. Jesus understood that clothes, food, money, and other things were important for the journey on which He sent the disciples. However, He assured them that those things were already taken care of! The Father had already given attention to those minor details! (Take a look at Matthew 6:25-33 when you have a moment.) Instead, Jesus instructed the disciples to focus on eternal things so that they could see the fruit of the Kingdom be produced before their very eyes. What a reward!

Friends, sometimes the trick of both the enemy and our fleshly desires is to lead us to give our attention to sooooo many seemingly important, but temporal things. Eventually, when we come up for air after we realize we feel empty from the cycle of busyness that has become life. Each of us must remember that this is not our final home, there is a home in glory waiting for us–a home where our eyes will behold the heavenly treasures we’ve laid up for ourselves by grace during our earthly existence.

It is possible that when we give our focus to things that produce some level of success or satisfaction for us we are deceived into believing that we are doing what God desires. This is why prayer is important. Prayer helps us to keep our priorities in order, it helps us to keep on track with the destiny. Prayer helps us to stay on course when the storms of life arise and try to steal our focus away from the One who is our helper…in exchange for the momentary satisfaction of putting our human hands to work in an effort to “take care of things.”

So, today, take a moment to ask the Lord where your focus has been. Remember, focus places Christ at the center of it all and attention puts everything else on the periphery or the sidelines. What is temporal, fleeting, momentary, or not of significance can have your attention at some points. However, what is central, eternal, Kingdom-oriented, and Christ-oriented should have your focus! This could be an increase in prayer time, restoring your marriage, going into the missions field, going back to the local church, forgiving, being a good steward, etc. Listen carefully to God’s response and desire as you pray…and be ready and willing to obey no matter the cost.

Cheers to focusing on the cross, friends.

Xx,

  • AMG

Vegetarian Taco Lettuce Wraps ( Greek Yogurt Sour Cream)

Vegetarian Taco Wraps

 

In an effort to take my personal fitness and overall health to the next level, I have joined in on a challenge hosted by certified trainer Rob Booker, owner of Temple Fitness. The “See. Believe. Pursue Challenge” is a six-week challenge replete with diet and exercise regimen. This is the first week of the challenge and challenging it is, as each participant is encouraged to participate in a 7-day, no-meat, no-carb detox! Whew! It has been great so far (even though I have had some weak moments).

What has been great about this detox is that I’ve had the opportunity to get a little creative with vegetarian recipes outside of the normal salad, for example. The recipe I’ve decided to share with you all took me all of 20 minutes to prepare and plate. I did an evening grocery run to get the ingredients so I did not have much energy to spare after that. How do I know this recipe is a keeper even beyond the challenge? Because I wasn’t completely tuckered out after the meal was ready!

A great thing about this meal is that it is also family-friendly. Kids can make their taco wraps just like they want. Plus, substituting sour cream from plain Greek yogurt adds protein to your diet! I love this substitution and can barely taste the difference between the two. You won’t even miss the sour cream 🙂 Hope you guys enjoy!

Cheers to living well.

Xx,

  • AMG

Ingredients

  • Makes 8-10 wraps

1 can black beans or red beans (drained)

1 cup Gardein ultimate beefless ground (garden grown protein found in the frozen section)

1/2 bell pepper sliced

1/2 red onion sliced

2 jalapeno peppers sliced (optional)

Whole romaine lettuce leaves (separate and rinse well)

1 avocado chopped

4 roma tomatoes

2 1/2 teaspoons cumin

2 teaspoons black pepper

1 pinch red pepper (cayenne)

2 teaspoons Goya Adobo (optional)

1 teaspoon chili powder

2 teaspons garlic powder

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 cup water

8 oz plain Greek yogurt (as sour cream)

Salsa of your choice (I use Pace chunky salsa– mild or hot)

Method

Heat oil in skillet on medium-high heat.

Add all bell pepper, jalapeno, and onion. Cook until they begin to caramelize and brown, about 10 minutes.

Remove from heat.

Put drained beans in medium saucepan. Add water, balsamic vinegar and all seasonings. Stir and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to a simmer and let cook 7 minutes.

Add Gardein beefless ground. Stir and let simmer for 3 minutes.

Cut off bottom white stems of lettuce and fill with bean mixture.

Top with avocado, tomato, salsa, and Greek yogurt for sour cream.

 

Enjoy!

 

 

Are You the Wise Woman?

Proverbs 14:1 says, ” A wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” Wow! What a succinct but powerful statement! Although this scripture mentions that a woman builds her house, I think it is safe to say that Solomon (the writer of the Book of Proverbs) is not talking literal bricks here. When I think of the word house in this context, I think of people– husband, children, extended family, pets (is it a bit of a stretch to add Fido in?). So, for this particular post, I really want to focus on how a woman can build up her king, her husband, her covering.

Much pressure is put on the man to be the provider, protector, defender, superman, problem-solver, so forth and so on. Essentially, society looks at the man as the one who can handle it all. However, as I have been thinking on this topic lately, I have come to personal terms with the fact that this not how God views men; nor is this the expectation He places on them. In fact, why would scriptures such as Matthew 11:28 exist that encourage people (men and women) to bring their heavy burdens to Christ? Why would Philippians 4:19 exist if men were actually the providers? Let’s relieve some of this pressure by understanding that God is the quintessential EVERYTHING we need, not our husbands. The husband is–among other things–the leader of the home, the one who facilitates order, hears from God and prophesies over his home, leads the family into worship, and stewards well what the Lord provides. And, when there seems to be a shortage or lack in some area, the man seeks the Lord for direction and puts his hand to the plow. So, yes, the man works diligently to provide (thank God for my hubs!). Keeping this all in proper perspective, though, God is the ultimate provider, strength, foundation, problem-solver, protector, and defender as it relates to the family life.

With all of this said, how can a woman (queen) build up her man (king) as he seeks God, walks in his ministry call, builds his business, leads the family, presses through hardship, etc.? There are several ways this can be done, especially since you know your mate best. However, I have come up with a short list of things I think are universally helpful as we wives endeavor to edify our husbands, making them feel appreciated, valued, loved, and respected. As you integrate these practices into your daily marriage life to give your relationship a pick-me-up, not only will you build up your husband, but your children will experience the joy and benefits of witnessing a healthy, happy marriage!

  1. Build him up with words. Ladies, believe it or not, your husband needs you to tell him he is doing a good job. He needs you to tell him how manly or great he is, looks, or smells. Lately I’ve been telling Devin he smells so manly to let him know I love his cologne/smell goods collection (and just for a good laugh). Whether that will fly with you and your guy, idk! Hahaha. If your husband is going through a rough patch, don’t expect him to handle it alone. It is scientifically proven that men use fewer words than women, so don’t expect your hubby to come to you like a natural Wendy Williams and spill his guts. Not going to happen! Instead, you take the initiative to pray, speak over his life, and invite him (not force him) to tell you what is going on in his world, his heart, his life outside of the home.
    2. Surprise him. Show your husband you are thinking about him! Nothing builds a man up more than knowing his one-and-only still thinks he’s absolutely divine! Whether this is a spontaneous date night, a video game he’s been wanting, a card with a heartfelt note written inside, a free pass to hang with his guys on a weekend he was supposed to watch the kids, or something more “intimate,” make sure it is obviously from your heart and not just something you threw together. Men love surprises, too! I remember I sent roses to Devin’s job once and it was a big hit with him (and his co-workers). It was suuuuper out-of-the-box but I wanted to let him know I was thinking about him.
  2. Say “I love you” often. When was the last time you professed those three special words to your husband? Regardless of your personality type, your husband needs to hear these words often. I am more of an introverted and shy personality, which means I have to be intentional about sharing my fondest thoughts of my husband with my husband, not just thinking them–because he can’t read my mind. You should say “I love you,” but you can text it, email it, FB it, Instagram it, write in on the mirror with lipstick. I don’t know! Just let the man know you love him…and then still be nice (because nothing is worse than an “I love you” followed by a “I thought I told you to…” rant.)
  3. Laugh together. Nothing will remind you of the foundation of friendship you have with your king more than laughter. It tears down walls between wives and husbands, takes away the inhibitions, and just lets us be ourselves together. I can’t put this more simply. Just get together and laugh. We are up against so much in the day-to-day that a good laugh a day will be medicine for your relationship! Guarantee 🙂

Cheers to being the wise woman.

Xx,

  • AMG