Envisioning Your Greatness!

Hello all and happy New Year! I’m excited about what God is doing in this season. He is bringing us into new territory and higher ground.

On our prayer call, we focused on Abram’s life and what it means to have vision.

Vision

  1. the act or power of seeing sight.
  2. A thought, concept, or object formed by the imagination
  3. The act or power of imagination.

    Abram was a man of great faith. He was called to leave his homeland and trust God in the journey of relocating. Although he had walked with God for quite some time, Abram had no children. And even in his old age the situation bothered him.

    Some time later, the Lord spoke to Abram in a vision and said to him, “Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great.” But Abram replied, “O Sovereign Lord , what good are all your blessings when I don’t even have a son? Since you’ve given me no children, Eliezer of Damascus, a servant in my household, will inherit all my wealth. You have given me no descendants of my own, so one of my servants will be my heir.”

    Genesis 15:1‭-‬3 NLT

    Abram loved the Lord very much but it bothered him that he had no children to carry on His legacy. How often are we too frustrated because of our “lack”? We sometimes see no breakthrough. No resources. No resolution. Believe me, I felt that way before. But what happened next is astonishing.

    Then the Lord said to him, “No, your servant will not be your heir, for you will have a son of your own who will be your heir.” Then the Lord took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!” And Abram believed the Lord , and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith.

    Genesis 15:4‭-‬6 NLT

    Count the  s t a r s.
    The maker of the universe gave Abram a vision. Something he could see and connect with. Although Abram was initially childless, he believed God’s promise. 

    Have you ever sensed an urge to do something phenomenal? Have you ever believed for something incredible? Your time is now to meditate on what God has for you.

    Write the vision. Make it plain. Habakkuk 2:2

    Get acquainted with where God is taking you.

    What God has given you is not by mistake or accident. It’s something that only you have. Make the steps to help manifest it on earth!

    Partner with GOD

    • Make a vision board
    • Jot down your ideas
    • Collaborate with like-minded people
    • Get acquainted with where God is taking you.
    • Pray always.

      I believe God for your breakthrough. What He has promised shall come to pass. Step into 2018 with expectancy in your heart and a pen in your hand!

      Prayer

      Father, 

      Thank you for investing in me. Thank you for seeing beyond what I physically see. Help me to believe your words and to walk according to my calling. Please help me to rest in the center of Your will. I will abide in You, free from chains of fear, doubt, and stagnation.
      In Jesus Name,

      Amen.

      Listen to the powerful song that was featured on yesterday’s call!

      2017 – My Year in Review

      Hey 2017. You’ve been phenomenal. You’ve been incredible. You’ve been kind.

      What a blast! My 2017 has been filled with leaps, twists, and many turns. I’ve witnessed and encountered many miracles also. Join me as I share my recap!

      While meditating I was inspired to write down this scripture as a beautiful reminder in my life.
      One of my favorite scriptures!
      I loved assisting the children in this art activity!
      I discovered several years ago that taking photography is one of my passions.
      Mom has quite the eye herself!

      Sis and I enjoyed Lunch with Laquisha!
      Cue the queen 2017!
      Dance Party!
      This year’s first #LoveSession was themed Purpose. And how fitting it was!
      I loved the energy in the building. Little did I know it would become my church home.
      Holy Host sent up the praises as I watched in amazement.
      Smiles before leading a discussion board.
      God had already put on my heart to sing “Even When It Hurts” by Hillsong.
      I recall sharing the good news and walking by faith on those early morning bus rides!
      Great book. You should check it out.
      Withlove is such a wonderful organization and I am glad to have served the homeless with them.

      Soon this would become my family!
      Cheers to starting the prayer call series this year. It has been a wonderful endeavor.
      I was invited to play with Holy Host one Sunday and the rest is history!
      Shine the light for all to see!
      It has been a pleasure meeting Jeremy and partnering with CYA Baltimore.
      Just girls discovering how to impact the world!
      The man with the plan. David Warren of withLove!
      You ever witnessed love and endurance? That’s what I witnessed at my grandparents’ 60 anniversary party.

      Cheers to over 100 followers on Facebook. Follow @ShantelGraces08
      This year I’ve witnessed a man receive his sight, pain leave a woman’s back, and more! God shown himself to be the God of miracles!
      Love fellowshipping with my sisters.
      Write the vision. Make it plain.
      Thus the Promise Ceremony and Conference was born!
      What a blessing it has been to teach and share my story.
      We are free to worship! This event was a huge success! So many youth and young adults recomitted themselves to Christ!

      Each one, reach one! Empower the youth. Show them their greatness.

      Tori’s been chillaxing for most of the year!

      One post that pushed me into greater!
      Let your light so shine!
      Art teacher life. Cultivate and inspire!
      Great things happen when youth with a mission connect!
      Healing and deliverance taking place in the city!
      Thankful to serve under their leadership.

      I’ve taken leaps of faith this year from leaving my previous job to teaching again and to starting the Promise Ceremony & Conference. Nothing is impossible with God! Be brave my friends! There is nothing to fear. If God has placed something on your heart, He is sure to help deliver.

      There is so much more that I could share but this sums up the heart of 2017. It has been filled with sacrifice, healing, favor, and abundant blessings. Thank you for joining me on this journey. There is much more to come. Happy New Year!

      Thankfulness.

      “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise.” Psalm 100:4


      As the seasons change, I am reminded of the beauty of fall. The leaves have turned this beautiful, auburn color with golden hues and hints of green. Even the air has felt more crisp and inviting. Tis the season of thanksgiving.

      THANKSGIVING PRAYER CALL

      1

      thanksgiving

      a capitalized :thanksgiving day

      :a public acknowledgment or celebration of divine goodness

      2:the act of giving thanks

      :a prayer expressing gratitude

      Upon swift walks to and from work, beauty has captivated me. It’s as if the earth has been trying to get my attention. Meanwhile, I have been somewhat engrossed in getting to my destination.

      Children out of their seats. Running around the classroom. Laughing, shouts, and paper planes. Welcome to my Thursday morning. As I stood there raising my voice and demanding respect I began to feel overwhelmed. I had one goal at that point: Get home on my lunch break. As I whisked through the next class, I swiftly got my things together. I was almost through those doors.

      wp-image-1505687249

      When I stepped outside everything was at a stand still. There was warm air, birds chirping, a gentle blowing breeze, and colorful leaves surrounding me. I felt slightly disappointed that I considered the day to be horrible when it was actually abundant. God encouraged me to embrace the moment and to be grateful for it. I sat on a nearby bench and took it all in.

      wp-image-1701529303

      Thanksgiving is a spirit. You don’t have to wait for Turkey day to be thankful and grateful. Show gratefulness in your life today. Don’t miss another moment!

       

      Here are some reminders:

      1. Embrace the beauty in each moment.
      2. Learn from your mistakes. Grow stronger, not bitter.
      3. Shift your perspective. Don’t be narrow-minded. Think of the bigger picture.
      4. Give thanks to God in all things.
      5. Stop and smell the roses (or shall I say pinecone this season?!)

      “Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing,  yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.” Matthew 6:28‭-‬29 NLT

      * Read Psalm 100 for more on thanksgiving. Peace and blessings! *

       

      The Dig

      Look within. Within is the fountain of good, and it will ever bubble up, if thou wilt ever dig. Marcus Aurelius

      There I was standing in the middle of my classroom…

      Wondering if I would ever have an epiphany concerning it’s makeover. Books, shelves, paper, and other materials surrounded me. Like lions peering out of the jungle, vibrant neon papers stood out. Some were used and some unused. Detox, declutter, and back to attempts of organization. I kept circling around piles of paper. Hovering over them, I would start to get rid of the junk then try something else.

      To my disposal, the classroom is huge! It hit me when I came home several days later: I hold the key to cultivating what is my possession!

      Pastor Stutzman says it like this: Adjust your attitude to be what you actually hope for.

      F A I T H .

      But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:6 NKJV

      Happiness is not about getting what you want; it is about wanting what you’ve got. – Michael Brodeur

      We already have everything we need we just haven’t tapped into all yet.

      I had almost become discouraged because of my frustration but after a while I realized how much I had. I began cutting out artwork and putting it on the walls. Making drapes with party streamers and turning the classroom into a big party room! My students also noticed the difference. Greatness was already there just waiting to be discovered!

      But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. II Corinthians 4:7 NKJV

      It’s time to start digging!

      • Recall the things you are passionate about. Write them down!
      • Stop panicking. The answer is in you.
      • Take one step at a time. Don’t rush to complete multiple tasks. Take time to create your best in each individual one.
      • Meditate. Spend time in God’s presence. Where do you like to meditate?
      • Pray.
      • Plan, prepare, and execute.

      To listen to this morning’s prayer call, click here.

      Be Present

      Freedom is where my feet are. Author Unknown

      10/10 – Be Present Call

      You can tell a lot about a person by the way they walk. Some are hurried, eyes straight ahead, feet pounding the concrete as they cross the boulevard. Some are lost in space. Eyes glazed over like zombies, detached from the world around them. Others are strollers. Taking in the scenery and enjoying the view. They view the earth as if they have just seen it for the first time.

      I tended to be the hurried one. Not just physically but practically as well. You’d catch me rushing through my life’s agenda trying to play catch up. Rushing to work, rushing to complete assignments, rushing to finish blog posts,etc. But something eventually caught my attention.

      The miracle is not to walk on water but on the earth – Thich Nhat Hanh

      P a u s e . While trying to play catch up the earth was steadily beautifying. It took my dad to share his concern of me being overwhelmed and overworked. It took me getting lost on my way several times. It took me listening to my pastor and reading “An Altar in the World” to realize that the present moment was beautiful in itself. And I was missing all of it’s glory.

      The earth is the LORD’s and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein. Psalm 24:1

      Some things that I’ve come to learn are the following:

      Stroll don’t scurry. You are passing up way too much beauty focused on what you need to do when you get “there”.

      Look up. I remember going on my nature walk and entering an open field and looking up. The sky was so vast and beautiful.

      Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? – Matthew 6:26


      Look down. While my dog strolled around. I noticed this handsome area with rocks, flowers, and  plants standing tall. I knelt down to take it all in.

      Consider the lilies of the field, how they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. – Matthew 6:28

      Look around. Every stopped in the middle of the sidewalk? Ever found yourself captivated by all that was around you. Try it.

      Just ask the animals, and they will teach you. Ask the birds of the sky, and they will tell you. Speak to the earth, and it will instruct you.Job 12:7,8 NLT

      Thanks for viewing!

      Trusting the Master

      pasture

      I will call upon your name. Keep my eyes above the waves. Hillsong in Oceans

      10/03 – Trusting the Master Call

      You didn’t see this coming. It knocked you right off of your feet. And although you thought you covered all measures somehow tragedy still struck. It was the loss of a loved one, another job denial, a new balance added to your account, or having to start all over again. So many questions. So many questions. You try to make sense of it all but no matter how you cut it, it still does not add up. This, my friend, is the struggle.

      You are truly, seriously lost, even though you know exactly where you are. Barbara Brown Taylor in An Altar in the World.

      What God has revealed to me is that we have to trust Him. When we do, we are able to breathe and sleep at night knowing that He is caring for us. As the Great Shepherd, He looks after each of His sheep.

      I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd. John 10:14-16

      Even when you don’t understand God is still there.

      L o o k, S m e l l, T h i n k, T a s t e, a n d L i s t e n.

      Oh taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the man that trusts in Him. Psalm 34:8

      As the loving Father He is, God covers us with His word and has equipped us for the journey.

      Look for the reminders that God has placed in your life. Look for God in the little things. 

      God is in the details. He’s in the wind. He’s in the trees. He’s in the earth. He’s in the flowers. Everything around you is giving a message. Tune in to hear the Master’s voice through your everyday occurrences.

      Meditate.

      Take time out of your day to center yourself and focus on what God may be trying to reveal to you. I sing, study, and play worship songs in the morning.

      Connect with purpose-driven people.

      It’s been stated that we become who we hang around. Be observant of who you are partnering with.

      Trust that He has you.

      Your situation is not too dynamic that it disqualifies you from God’s arc of safety. Fall into the Master’s loving arms.

      He won’t take you into it until He’s prepared you for it.

      Stop trying to rush the process. If you truly consider, you’re most likely not ready for the “next big thing” just yet. Use this time to recuperate and to rest in the promises of God.

      Today’s feature song!

      When oceans rise my soul will rest in your embrace. I am yours and you are mine.

      Love In Action

      This past week my main focus has been on being love. Not focusing only on myself but meditating on others and their needs.

      being

      1. 1a:  the quality or state of having existence b(1):  something that is conceivable and hence capable of existing (2):  something that actually exists (3):  the totality of existing things c:  conscious existence :life

      To be or not to be?

      It has been my goal to be intentional in my efforts with people. To be present. To be real.

      In a society where “get it quick” seems to be the motto, I’ve been focusing on getting it the right way. That means embracing the process and studying the necessary steps to achieving goals.

       

      There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death. Proverbs 14:12 NKJV

      The truth is, we have all struggled in some areas of our lives and one of my areas happened to be being intentional. Genuinely showing concern for people and being God’s heart on the earth. 

      Truth be told, I use to brush through conversations with family members, give quick, haphazard responses to concerns, and bypass their cries for my awareness. I was truthfully selfish. It’s not that I purposefully sought to hurt anyone but truthfully, I had been learning the meaning of love myself.

      What God has been showing me as of late is that being empathetic is apart of the human healing process.

      True empathy requires that you step outside your own emotions to view things entirely from the perspective of the other person. Author Unknown

      If we really want to change the world we must learn to become selfless. Putting our agenda and perceptions to the side and seeking the will of God. Allowing love to heal and cover.

      You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13

      I thank God for opportunities where I have been able to do just that.

      Here are some forms of love in action!

      My friends withLove put on a beautiful outreach event called the Love Sessions centered around bringing the community together.
      These artists shared with me that paintings were about robots, dinosaurs, and family!
      Such a pleasure serving food with Jerrod!
      We put on a secret Open Mic night for Leviticus.
      A group of friends and I came together to celebrate my brother Leviticus’ birthday! (He’s in the center).

      Although it has been a process in understanding how to be selfless, I trust that through life’s experiences, the Word, and people I will continue to grow in that area. 

      If you wanna make the world a better place take a look at yourself and made a change. Michael Jackson

       

       

      The Little Things

      Beauty is said to be in the eye of the beholder. What I find to be astonishing are often the things unnoticed. Take a look at some of my favorite little things.

      This sunbrella has finally had it’s time to shine. With the recent heat and clear skys, she offers the perfect amount of shade. And she’s purple!
      One day I decided to rock my floral socks in two colors! I felt fun and creative. Dare to be different!
      Anyone who knows me knows that I like to eat good ice. Not just any ice, but the soft, crunchy kind. When I found out it was served at a local restaurant I could not pass up the opportunity! Yummy!

      While commuting to King’s Dominion with my team, I couldn’t help but take pictures of the scenery. In this pic I captured the KD sign and myself as well! Such beauty all around us! I don’t think I could move fast enough!
      Stars from the 60th anniversary celebration!
      These flowers are from my grandparent’s 60th anniversary celebration. We honored them for their labor of love and sacrifices.
      I spotted this little one while looking beneath my desk. The little lady was as still as ever. I admired her beauty.

      Whether it’s a small feather from a bird or the cool breeze of late summer, learn to appreciate and enjoy the little things in your life. 

      “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones.”

      Luke 16:10 NLT

      Hanging with Holy Host!

      So as you may have seen on my social media, I’ve recently joined a group -Holy Host Ministries! It has been nothing short of amazing.
      I had been praying and seeking God for my next move in life. I knew that I was preparing for something great but had no idea to what extent. I continued leading the prayer call,  going to outreach events, singing and songwriting. 

      I grew up in a musical household so singing was natural. But then I recall becoming fascinated with the structure of songs and playing the music keyboard. I’d tap at the keyboard playing 3rds from the C major and  A minor scales. I still can hear my first song I created! One of my passions has been to connect with people through music and to share the beauty of it.

      Several months ago, God began sharing with me that I was going to join a local church in Baltimore. It was one that I had seen occasionally online but never attended. I noticed that a group I affiliate with would be having their next event at the church! I knew that that was my green light to go!

      When I arrived, I stood in the back of the church before the event started as the people gathered to pray.  God spoke these words to me:

      Why stay in the back when I’ve called you to be in the front?

      I was given the opportunity to lead the discussion table at our event. The theme was Purpose. A handful of people joined me including the Holy Host team. What amazed me was everyone’s transparency and desire to grow in God. The connection flowed so naturally. 

      From there I started fellowshipping at CAB. I was invited to sing and play keyboard with Holy Host on some Sundays. 

      Then one morning as I woke up I heard God say for me to join Holy Host. Out of excitement, I immediately messaged Leviticus, the founder of the group. He informed me that he and Justin, another member, heard God tell them that. When I thought about how everything transpired, I realized that it was God’s hand orchestrating the whole time.

      I have been given the opportunity to usher people into God’s presence and it has been thrilling. What I had prayed for, God surpassed with great measure. I rejoice in sharing a platform with others who are eager to make a difference. Our hearts are hungry for impacting the world.

      Balance, peace, and joy are the fruit of a successful life. It starts with recognizing your talents and finding ways to serve others by using them. Thomas Kinkade

      Check out upcoming events at Holy Host Ministries!

      Thank you.

      Kissed by the Sun.

      This week I went on an adventure. To discover the wildly beautiful. My voyage took me very far. From the plains of Maryland to the great wilderness. I went in pursuit of God’s nature. What I discovered was far more pleasant than I anticipated. Journey with me on this voyage through photographs.

      First stop, on the trails to wonderland.
      Beautiful, vibrant, trees collide with plastic, orange dividers. I feel welcomed as I journey down the trail. 

      Next, I was greeted by this Royal Paulownia tree. Royalty welcomes me.
      I had to take a closer look at this massive tree. It consisted of deep ridges so detailed that there was no doubt they were handcarved by God. Observing the plants at the base, everything pointed upward so I decided to look up.

      What a wonderful sight. Such beautiful ridges and deep indentations. As I studied the patterns in the ridges, the leaves waved down below. I wanted to get a full perspective of the height, so I stooped down low.

      I thought I’d just be observing the height of the tree but the base of it allured me as well. Nestled together were chiseled rocks and dandelions. Like little cousins, they were huddled together next to the tree.


      The foliage stood tall as I knelt a little closer. I embraced each patch of green goodness.

      My gaze then shifted to a bench area. The shadows created contrast in the green grass and bench.

      There I sat, taking it all in. This was a moment of reflection. A moment of gratitude. A moment of peace. 


      Then I realized something.


      Here comes the sun, do do do do… 

      The sun peered out between the branches and I felt this overwhelming warmth on my face. I was delighted!

      Not only had I been welcomed by the greenery, the sun said hello with it’s warm rays. It was God’s way of showing me the harmony in all of His creation.

      I hoped to capture the depth of these clustered leaves in contrast to the top of this tree. It was full but yet separated.


      Then it was time to go for a swing. Woodchips, wind, and the faint creeking of metal on my swing as I swayed back and forth.

      Then I rested under a tree. I had been wanting to do it lately but was too reserved. 

      I clinched the grass in my hands. I planted my feet deep in the blades. I loved every bit of the moment. 

      Some moments that I did not get to capture was the discovery of this beautiful, wooden chapel near the forest and a mellow deer kneeling down to eat plants.

      Over & Out,

      A Nature Lover

      “Just ask the animals, and they will teach you. Ask the birds of the sky, and they will tell you. Speak to the earth, and it will instruct you. Let the fish in the sea speak to you. For they all know that my disaster has come from the hand of the Lord . For the life of every living thing is in his hand, and the breath of every human being. The ear tests the words it hears just as the mouth distinguishes between foods. Wisdom belongs to the aged, and understanding to the old. “But true wisdom and power are found in God; counsel and understanding are his.” – Job 12:7-10 NLT

      *All pictures taken on a Galaxy S7 🙂