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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Disciple Now weekend

I realized that I haven't done an honorary photo dump of our Disciple Now weekend with our students. On MLK weekend, we were able to spend a couple of days doing life and Gospel with teenagers and some awesome college leaders. It really was the best way for us to end our time there as youth leaders.
Please enjoy this lovely {borrowed} photo dump from some of our students because #bloggerprobz....

Unfortunately, I don't have really any pictures of the boys because what teenage boy is going to pose for the camera and take 50 shots just for fun? Ha! Even though we had such a small group that weekend, it really was great because it allowed us leaders to have a bit more one-on-one time with students. We were able to really find out some interesting things about them, talk about life, and just laugh over the silly things.
Thank you, God, for allowing us to have participated in such a wonderful ministry. Thank you for leading us in the direction we need to go in. God, we trust You and know that whatever You have in store for us next, we will go without questions. Well, I might buck the system a little bit but I'll eventually surrender. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

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Monday, January 25, 2016

Gratefulness + Recoup

Hellur Monday, you're a mighty cold one today! Well, cold for Florida's standards.
I so love that I can finally wear my stockings, boots, scarves, super-huge pea coats. My little eskimo-wannabe heart is content. With all the cold weather this past weekend, north Florida got to experience a little bit of "snow". I'll be very honest - I laughed hysterically over everybody freaking out at the sight of flakes that never touched the ground.
I will say though, I am so grateful for those eager-beaver folks because #letsbehonest, the world needs more folks like them.
This past weekend was really a "taking stock" kind of weekend. A weekend where I was able to just do what I wanted. Part of Saturday was spent shopping for myself, and then I was able to join in on a cookie ministry my sweet friend had put together with some ladies in her church.
Dinner plans with friends were so thoroughly enjoyed Saturday evening. Sunday was spent resting and cleaning. Resting because our oh-so-sweet pup decided to wake me up at 3:30AM with no intentions of slowing down. I really think I can handle anything a human kid throws our way when that time comes.
Rambling aside, I'm grateful for weekends and moments like these. Moments where I can recoup my sanity and really enjoy my me time. It's in those moments that remind me the beauty in life, and to make sure I'm enjoying each day. Hope each of ya'll had a glorious weekend! For all those who live north of Florida (which is everybody) and got to experience lots of snow - we loved seeing all the snowmen and snow angels!
A Grateful Heart with Ember Grey

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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Letters to Hunter

These letters are snippets into our lives and treasures that I can hold onto dearly as we grow old.


My my, it's been a whirlwind of 2016 already! It's hard to believe that February will be here soon. With February, it brings Valentine's Day, the halfway mark for my busy season of work, the start of your busy season of work (shoot, it's been busy since day one), and another month of life together.
We realized the other day that we're coming up on 5 years together. The longest relationship for both of us, and yet, the absolute best relationship. I love how we consider to be each of the other's best friend. I thrive on our comfortable, easy-going, let-your-hair-down relationship that we have. Knowing that I can trust you with the darkest parts of my heart is liberating.
Thank you for lovingly leading us through this time. It hasn't been easy because we have both somehow individually and together fallen off the grid with God. We have somehow allowed life to step in, make it's nest in every nook and cranny. We've realized that these lofty nests of this life aren't welcome anymore; thus, we've begun spring cleaning a little early.
I thank God daily for you. For your heart and passion to love Him so deeply. Because of your love for Him, it makes experiencing the dirtiness of life just a bit brighter. It makes coming out of our dusty nooks and crannies that much easier to seek His face and glory. I love that we are repairing our spiritual walks with Him separately, yet together, like the team we are.
We are one hell of a team.
Always your partner-in-crime,

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Monday, January 18, 2016

Coffee date + Learning to EMBRACE

A couple of weeks ago, I introduced ya'll to my word of the year: EMBRACE. I felt like change was on the horizons. I didn't know what it looked like, when it would come, how it would feel. Because of some recent changes in our lives, I felt a coffee date was just the ticket to catch up and share these moments...

+ If we were on a coffee date... I would first give you the biggest hug (because I'm a hugger and all about invading that personal space) and ask you how you are. How's work/school/family? Tell me what's been happening in your life. I feel like the world tends to be pretty self-centered so I'm trying to change that outlook. Ha!

+ If we were on a coffee date... I would share with you my struggles lately in my spiritual walk with God. I know we all have seasons. But my season has drug on for some time now. And it's depressing, frustrating, and lonely. I would also share with you that I am actively working with God in trying to pull me out of this season, and thanks to friends such as you, I'm inspired to be more positive about it.

+ If we were on a coffee date... We'd probably laugh at all things goofy going on in our lives because honestly, I'm always up for a good dosage of laughter. Plus, it's in my nature to be quippy and giggly before I get to the serious stuff.

+ If we were on a coffee date... I would share with you that Hunter and I have recently stepped down from our youth leadership positions. This is something we had both been struggling with separately, and it wasn't until we came together to talk and pray fervently about it, that we realized God was calling us to step down. I might have some tears in my eyes because my soul is at such peace with this decision. I've never felt more peace in my life over a decision that wasn't an easy one to make. But we know God is sovereign, He is good, and He will lead us. All this means is we'll just be a part of our teenagers lives in a different way - which might be better!

+ If we were on a coffee date... I would strongly urge you to find ways to fill your spiritual well daily. Because when you consistently pour into others (which can be rewarding!) but don't take time to pour into yourself, you become dry and empty. And then those that you're trying to pour into are at a disadvantage. Trust me.

I would end this coffee date with another hug and promises that ensure another date of some kind. My thank you's would be full and heartfelt - thank you for listening to my weary words; thank you for not trying to rudely pry into our personal lives in regards to our recent change (there are those folks that are going to do this), and allowing me to share what I feel is necessary. As a wise friend once said - not everybody is privy to all the details of your life. Thank you for being the friend I needed.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Let's brag on Him for a bit...

About a month ago, Hunter and I started a simple little ministry: providing gently used clothes to those who are in need through donations made my many people. A very simple concept really.
A simple ministry with a simple concept has become one of the most HUGELY humbling experiences for the both of us, thanks to the Big Man.
All we've ever wanted to be are the hands, feet, and heart of Jesus. A lot of that has been done through building relationships with people, loving them despite their human ways, because we're no better or different. So when God used those relationships to grow this simple ministry, we were mind blown. And honestly, we are still being mind blown each day.
His perfect ways of providing the means and resources to supply this ministry have been nothing short of amazing. His perfect ways of providing the avenues to reach those who are in need have been nothing short of amazing. His perfect ways of providing deserve all the glory and honor. We're just the messengers.
I cannot express my heartfelt gratitude and love enough through my meager words but I can do this: thank you to those who have donated and supported this ministry in all your wonderful ways. Thank you for wanting to see the work of Jesus continue on. Thank you for allowing us to share His love, because of your love.
If you have gently used clothes that you are looking to get rid of, please contact me or Hunter. We will humbly and graciously take those garments off your hands. Know that your donations are truly helping others. Know that God is receiving ALL of the glory because of your heart.

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Monday, January 11, 2016

Gratefulness + Beautiful Chaos

Hellllluuurrr Monday! How ya doin, darling? Good? Great? Me too....
It's hard to believe that the first day of Regular Sessions will be starting in the Florida Legislature tomorrow. Prepare to see and hear very little from me. Ha! I will say though, there is a bit of excitement and anticipation in the air around the office today. Maybe the fact that Franklin Graham will be here tomorrow praying on the steps of the Florida Capitol are also getting those nerves excited.
Anywho, so much to be grateful for on this cool, brisk Monday morning!
+ "Winter" is finally here in Florida. When I say winter, I mean we just bump the freezing temps at night. Pull out your parkas people!
+ This past weekend, we invited our sweet families and dear friends over to cook out and celebrate Hunter's birthday. Whoever said birthdays can only be celebrated one day obviously didn't know the meaning of a good time.
+ A fabulous group of gals at work. Seriously, we're like family and I'm so fortunate and blessed to be able to say that. It makes the long, tough days that much easier!
+ Star Wars because #letsbehonest, I geeked out when we finally went to see it on Friday. Hashtag, all the Star Wars feels...
+ We have a Disciple Now weekend coming up this weekend with our youth and I'm so excited about it! It'll be a great time of worship, small group discussions, and getting to love on each other.
+ I read this really good post the other day and had to share it here. This gal is hilariously crass but loves the Lord with all her heart.
Enjoy your Monday folks! Be sure to stop and smell the coffee today - life's way too short to miss the little things in life.
PS - for being a lover of all things football, I just realized yesterday that the National Championship game is tonight. That's how distracted I am with life. Somebody pray for me ha!
PPS - I just now realized I didn't take a single picture to document anything that happened this weekend... #livinglife.

A Grateful Heart with Ember Grey

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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Hot chicken on a rotisserie stick

If you're new to these parts, then you will soon learn pretty quickly that my husband and I have a passion for doing ministry and life with teenagers. We love the variety it brings, the joy in seeing a teenager "finally get it", and the dynamics that go into those weird teenagers. They really are a fascinating breed, ha!
Unfortunately, a lot of folks don't get that. Especially church folks (now I'm not saying ALL church people don't get it, just a select few... And I speak from experience).
Take it from a kid who grew up in church where the youth leaders rotated in and out like a hot chicken on a rotisserie stick - it sucked. Not having the opportunities to really build relationships with our leader, the lack of organization, and the pure frustration in always feeling like you were getting a new "flavor" each week are really some of the main reasons why I stopped going to my youth group. As I got into my later teen years, I was blessed to find a youth group that had the ability to remain constant while preaching the Gospel at the same time.
As I reflect back on that learning experience, I can so clearly now see the importance of having a youth group that was fully supported by the church family. I'm talking in terms of financial, morally, and biblically. Think about it - kids and teenagers are the future of the church. I know this may come as a shock to the older generations but brace for it: you are going to eventually die. I'll let you catch your breath on that concept real quick...

... Ya good? Okay let's dive into this a bit deeper. So let's be biblically hypothetical here - if I were an older generation (heck, even at my young age now), I would so desperately want to see God's work continue on past my time. I couldn't rest easy if I willingly squandered away my time with worries of trying to do church "my way", or not allowing any young kid in "because they don't fit the mold", or even if I said, "We already do too much for them. What about me and my needs?" I whole-heartedly could not rest easy if I practiced those behaviors just previously mentioned.

Why you ask?

Because it's not biblical. Nor is it morally right. And honestly, it makes you look like a brat.

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
-Proverbs 22:6 (ESV)

If you start at a young age of teaching children how to act, loving them like Jesus would, showing them how to be an effective disciple (hence, make more disciples), can you imagine the world we would live in?? Can you imagine the work that would get done after we are dead and gone??

That, my friends, is why investing in your children and youth programs at church are vital to the church's very core and existence. Without the church family to bring up and raise the next generation to be effective disciples, the world around them will do it for you. And trust me, the results aren't as pretty. Invest in the future, support the youth program, and for the love of God, treat the teenagers with some respect. You'd be amazed at the results.

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Monday, January 4, 2016

Gratefulness + Some love

Happppppyyyy New Year, ya'll! What an exciting, fast, whirlwind of the last several weeks. Last night, as we took down our Christmas tree, I couldn't help but to be so dang glad to get things back to normal. Well, as normal as normal can get, which isn't very normal at all. Ha!
As much as I love the holidays and all that it means for me, I also love the days that pass by without the constant commotion of all things red and green, Christmas lights galore, and new year outlook. I'm somewhat a creature of habit.
Tomorrow is my hot husband's birthday - such a babe. As we're getting ready to celebrate his 24th year of life on this earth, I can't help but to thank God for him. For his life, his love, his leadership, his quirky sense of humor, his work ethic, his love for God's people. I mean, ya'll, I've got a freakin catch!
But in all seriousness, I really could not imagine doing life without anyone else by my side but Hunter. His strong resolve and desire to so desperately serve the Lord in every aspect is literally what keeps me sane on my worst days. It's in our moments of frustration and weakness that we are able to lean on each other, put our heads together, and endure the storm.
Huntman, I hope you have the most wonderful birthday and year ever! You deserve every bit of happiness in your life. I know that God has infinitely huge plans for you, and I'm honored to be able to witness Him work in your life. Love ya boo!

A Grateful Heart with Ember Grey
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