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!





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

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!