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Monday, November 30, 2015

#12MofBliss + Journaling

When Em announced the theme for this month's 12 Months of Bliss, I was so excited to write a love letter to myself. I thought of all the things I'd say, all the things I would want to someday look back on.
And then things happened. News arrived at our doorstep like an unwelcomed guest.
All thoughts of that original love letter to myself went completely out the window. I mean, honestly, how can one think about yourself when there are bigger things going on around you. And that's when I realized that I needed to write that letter.
Writing and journaling for me is therapeutic (hence, the blog). It allows me to feel all the emotions I want to feel, to say all the things I want to say... And then I can go back to it, read it, digest it, laugh about it. Cry about it. And nobody is really offended in the process. I really wasn't sure what to do with this blog when life decided to unabashedly show it's dirty little face. A once open-book person, I became a recluse with my thoughts and prayers.
That's why I needed to write the letter. My thoughts were eating away at my very soul. The questions badgered my brain into exhaustion. I literally have a pad of paper and pen at my fingertips at all times now, waiting for the next question to pop in my head and I jot it down vigorously before I forget it.
While I was writing my letter, I had the lyrics of a particular song on repeat in my mind...
I'll stand
With arms high and heart abandoned
In awe of the one who gave it all
I'll stand
My soul Lord to you surrendered
All I am is yours...
"The Stand", Hillsong United 
No matter what we're about to endure God, we're standing with our arms high and heart abandoned, giving it all to You.

And you know what's so unbelievably crazy about this simple little love letter to myself and practicing the art of positive thinking - it was as if God completely swept away the anxiety and replaced it with peace, love, and comfort. I have never felt such a peace on my soul - peace that He has got this and that no matter what happens, He is good and kind and loving. This love letter to myself also made me realize something very important - I don't have to have it altogether all the time. I don't have to be the one to fix the problem because sometimes, I simply can't.

Thank you Em, for inspiring us to look within ourselves and to remind ourselves of how much we are really loved by our Maker. Thank you for your friendship Emily, because it's folks like you that remind me of the beauty in this world.

Ember Grey Twelve Months of Bliss
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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Cookie Mission

Last year, Hunter and I, along with some friends and family, decided to selflessly spend our Christmas morning delivering desserts and cookies to those in our little community that had to work and to those that didn't have a home to celebrate Christmas in. It was so wonderful seeing their faces light up when they received their Christmas tins full of love and goodness.
throwback to last year
Of course, we have to do it again this year. I'm pretty sure this will be a Christmas tradition for Hunter and I. We love the fact that through something as simple as giving cookies to others on Christmas day, that God's love is shown.
We always include a little bible verse that tries to sum up the story of the Gospel. Something quick and attention-grabbing. Something that says enough for those people to always have hope.
Always having fun 
With that being said, I've already reached out to friends and family letting them know we are planning on doing the Cookie Mission again this year. If you feel led to donate tins or want to pray over this mission, we would so unbelievably appreciate it! Happy almost-Thanksgiving!
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Monday, November 23, 2015

Gratefulness + An Update

Happy already-Monday-of-Thanksgiving-week! It's so hard to believe that 2015 is tying up its loose ends and will be hitting the road here soon to allow 2016 to make its grand entrance. Are ya'll ready?
With Thanksgiving in the air, there really is so much to be grateful for:
I'm so thankful that Hunter and I have the ability to provide food and shelter for our little family.
I'm thankful for our rowdy pups that keep us on our toes and frustrate us about 50% of the time.

I'm so sooo thankful for our parents who were tremendous helpers his past weekend in our youth's yard sale.
I'm thankful for sweet friends who really know how to rally around us and love on us.
I'm thankful for our ministry with teenagers - life is always exciting with them!
I'm thankful for our sweet Savior, who really has no reason to love me but does so tremendously.
I'm thankful for prayers, because they are so powerful.
He really does adore his mother :)

Speaking of prayers, I want to share some news and some thank-you's. Last week, I asked for prayers on a vague topic that I would soon share when the time was right. Today is that time. A couple of weeks ago, we received the news that my sweet MIL has been diagnosed with early stages of bone marrow cancer. To say we were shocked is an understatement. We all fully believed that she had an auto-immune disease and were ready to hear the news for that.
Not so much for the other news.
Nonetheless, that is the news that was given and such is life. We wanted to share with our families first before I shared the news on here. With that, I want to ask for continued prayers - prayers that peace and strength will continue to surround us as we are only in the beginning stages of this battle. Please be in prayer for my MIL - she's one hell of a woman and so strong, so just pray for her. I love her like she's my own mother.

Thank you to all of those that have prayed, that have asked about her, that have made sure we're okay. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts - we are completely humbled by the love that people have shown towards her, and towards us. But more so for her... She's the fighter here!

A Grateful Heart with Ember Grey
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Friday, November 20, 2015

This week's reads

I'm always finding interesting reads on the internet, whether it's other bloggers or articles floating around, and I'm of the mindset that you can never learn too much information. Of course, some you have to take with a grain of salt but hey, why not read up on what's happening in the world around you. Enjoy!
one:// We always joke that if we're not at work, we're at church then we're at work. If we're not at church, then we're at work. We might sleep somewhere in there, but very rarely. Ministry burnout is a real thing folks. And it can creep up on you in the dead of night, when you least expect it. Hunter and I are always trying to find ways to fill our spiritual wells and this article has some great tips!
two:// Hunter and I are always trying to explain to our teenagers why it's so dadgum important to be involved in something like youth. This article hits it squarely on the head. If you're a parent to a teenager, going to be a parent to a teenager, a youth leader, or a youth student... READ THIS.
three:// Always remember that no matter where you work, whether it's in the ministry world or the secular world, you are on a mission. Watch how you carry yourself, guard your words, and love others unconditionally. This needs to be applied in everything you do in your life.
It looks like I did a lot of "churchy" reading this week. Does my John Grisham crime book even that out a little? Happiest of Friday's to you and to you!

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Coffee Date

It's been a hot minute since we've sat down and had some coffee, talked about life, work out the kinks, etc. Come on, let's grab some brew in that ole controversial red cup #GetALifePeople #BestMarketingEver...
I would be quick to give you the biggest hug. People are all about that personal bubble nowadays and guarding their space. I say let's bust that bubble wide open and let's start embracing each other warmly and without fail.
I'd ask your advice on fencing. Simply put, our 2 pups decided to get smart after 3 months of being in the backyard, fenced in, and dug their way out. I came home from work to the animal control hanging out with them in my front yard. To top it off, it was on Friday the 13th #Superstitious #LittleStitious.
I'd want to know what your plans are for Thanksgiving and Christmas (because that's what Hunter and I celebrate). Would you be traveling? Staying close to home? I'm eager to say that we are actually staying home this year and we need it. Of course, hunting season opens Thanksgiving morning so I'm sure we'll be out in the woods #WeHuntForMeat.
I would ask what's going on in your life. How's work, school, relationships? I would ask because I want to know where your heart is at so that I could be in prayer for you. Did you know that if you actually say a person's name during your prayer it becomes that much more personal and bold? I had forgotten to actually say a person's name when I would be praying on their behalf. It really changes the way your heart beats.
In return, I'd ask for your prayers. Prayers over our youth ministry and our tiny little church that could. Prayers for peace as we are entering into a season of frustration and unanswered questions. I would probably tear up, fight back those tears, and not make eye contact with you. Simply because I don't like to cry in front of others.
I would ask that we do this again soon. I'm all about that personal time spent together. We never know what tomorrow will hold so let's embrace today for what it is.

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Monday, November 16, 2015

Gratefulness + Stillness

Whoa, a little bit of radio silence there eh? It happens, life happens. How in the heck have ya'll been? Preparing for Thanksgiving, I hope. Can you believe it's next week?
We've been busy on our end of life. Between working full-time jobs + leading youth (or herding cats) + events to raise funds for said cats to go to said camp + holiday shenanigans... It tends to take over your life. By the way, totally unshameless plug here... If you would like to donate to our youth's Go Fund me account, feel free to click on over to donate and help send our kids to camp in July.
When life tends to get that busy and when you have more things added on that sometimes aren't necessarily welcomed, I'm grateful for the stillness. Whether it's sitting on the couch with my husband, doing a girl's day with my mom, sending videos of us singing happy birthday to our 2 year old pup to my MIL to brighten her day, solving life's biggest issues with my dad or FIL... it's those moments of stillness that I embrace.
I'll try not to let the radio silence happen too often but, sometimes, life takes precedence. The good, the bad, and the not so great. Through it all, I will always say, "It is well with my soul, Lord. It is well."

I would like to ask for prayer - I really do believe in the power of it. At this time, it will remain as an unspoken prayer request but I will ask this: pray for peace. Peace in our family's hearts as we are digesting some information we've received. When the time is right, I will share, but for now all I ask is for prayer. Thank you, friends!
A Grateful Heart with Ember Grey
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Monday, November 9, 2015

Be still my beating heart

Did you know that November is National Adoption Awareness Month? No, you didn't? Welp, now ya know!
If you're relatively new to this here bloggity blog, you may not know that I am a huge advocate and proponent for adoption. Sometimes even more so than having a child of your own because, let's be honest, there are so many children all over the world that need loving families and homes.
My passion for adoption started at a young age, when we adopted my sister from China. Isn't she the most precious thing in the world??
I know she appreciates the posting of random pictures of her. Ha! So my passion for adoption started at a young age and has only multiplied since then. The love and bond really can be like none other. And for the record, I forget that my sister is adopted. And I don't see Chinese when I look at her. All I see is my sister, and that's that. I don't love her any less than my 2 biological brothers. That's just not physically possible.
My cousin and her husband are about to embark on a journey in a few short days, to adopt their daughter. My heart is so full of love and joy and prayer for them, and their travels. They already have 3 young children (much like my parents did when we adopted my sister) and ya'll, you should hear and see the excitement they exude over their new sister that's coming soon. My cousin was telling me how each night they sit down and pray before bedtime. She said, without fail almost every night, her kids will pray for their new little sister, Lucy.
So why write all this? I write these words as a testimony that it's okay if your family is made up of different colors, ethnicities, etc. It's okay if you decide to not have children and simply adopt to grow your family. It's okay to love on a child that needs a family so badly. Think about it - once you become a Christ-follower, you're ADOPTED into God's family (Ephesians 1:5).
I'm so fortunate that my husband shares just as strong of a passion of adoption as I do. We really don't know what God is going to do for our family, and how He's going to design it. Whatever He does, we trust Him and know that He is good and loving. If adoption is not your thing, I just ask you one thing. Pray. Pray for those children who don't have families, and pray that God will bring that right family in their life at the right time.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

There is always HOPE

Have you ever had those moments in life where you know a situation is just going to be bad, but ends up being better than you expected? It's almost like God is saying, "Now now little one, don't underestimate Me." His ways are always way better than ours, thank goodness.
I had a God-moment like that recently and it still blows me away that He can really turn a potential awful, into a potential beautiful. I fully believe that it was one of those times that when I fully let go and let God do His thing, He was allowed to move the situation rather than me. Does that make sense? Because I trusted Him fully and relied on His guidance fully, I stepped out of the way and let Him drive that vehicle.
It's moments like those that remind me this:
Even when you think all hope is lost, there is always still HOPE.
I think moments like those are designed specifically to remind us to stay humble. They're to remind us that we really don't have it all together. And more importantly, those moments happen to remind us to lean into Him and His unwavering love.

I walked away from that situation with the realization that there is potential for the Holy Spirit to move through that situation. And He has the ability to move strongly. Friends, when all hope feels lost, just know that there is always HOPE.

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Monday, November 2, 2015

Gratefulness + Skipping

Have you ever had those weekends where you come to work on Monday to rest from your weekend? That is definitely happening right now *cue Hawaiian breeze*. Just kidding, I would love to be in Hawaii but nevertheless, I'm here and exhausted.
I'm so so sooo grateful, though, for those Sunday's that I can skip church and play catch-up all day long. I know right, gasp! The youth pastor's wife skips church?! The horror! I like to call it bedside Baptist - God knows my heart and He also knows how dirty my house was. Cleanliness is godliness folks. Ha!
Take me back to Disney Springs and that relaxing night
But in all seriousness, it was so needed to be able to clean my house, get some grocery shopping done, enjoy lunch with my parents... Just slow down and do life. Hunter did join us later and we spent the rest of the day just being. Thank you, God, for Sunday's like those!
Hope ya'll had a fabulous weekend! I'm over the whole "time-slow-down" thing because uhm hello, Thanksgiving and Christmas!

Grateful Heart w/ Ember Grey

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