Planted Not Buried

Hello loves! I hope you all have been doing wonderfully! I’ve been m.i.a but all for a good reason. To better myself as a writer, a host, a teacher, and an individual overall. As much as I’d love to get on here and post more frequently, I believe God has given me the grace to prepare for the wonderful things coming up!

Because I’ve been missing for a month, I want to give you a recap of what’s been going on.

  • I’ve been serving on the worship team and children’s church at my local church.
  • Leading in song and outreach with my group Holy Host Ministries.
  • Preparing for this year’s Promise Ceremony Conference. (Check out a recap from last year’s.)
  • Getting ready for the new school year. (I’m an art teacher.)

Planted Not Buried

Sometimes, there are things that occur in our lives that leaves us wondering why. Why we are left in this predicament. Why don’t we see the end result? Or do we have the skills or tools to endure? And how long will this season be?

I want to encourage you to maintain your hope. Don’t throw in the towel. There’s a reason why God has you where you are.

I remember struggling with finding out where my next place of employment would be last year. Or where my life time partner was (love story soon to come 😊). Or how I’d catch the bus to my last job with no money. But God challenged me to trust Him in those times and answered in His timing.

I want to encourage you not to give up. Don’t stop serving. Don’t stop working at what God has given you. Be consistent and watch God provide the next step. There are things that we need to learn in our current season that will prepare us for our next.

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he does shall prosper. Psalm 1:3 NKJV

Take a listen to this message by Michael Todd. It got me all the way together! (Pardon my broken English!) Some of us are being planted and don’t realize it. Don’t allow the weight of what you’re going through to allow you to quit prematurely. You’re worth the wait!


#plantednotburied

About Last Night…

So on Friday evening, a missions organization in Baltimore, Ywam (Youth With A Mission) Baltimore, hosted a worship session. In this session, unlike anything else I’ve experienced, praises arose from locals and visitors from all over with a spontaneous flow. There was no agenda, no tedious schedule, and no program. Just pure, authentic worship from the heart of believers.

As we gathered, we greeted one another with smiling faces. The atmosphere was warm as the lights glistened above the platform. What I love about the location is it’s rustic nature. The building is old but has beautiful elements that have been enhanced by co-founders Devon and Kristin Potler.

The band featured was the Water and Fire band, a young boy group consisting of two guitar players and a drummer.

What I loved about the Water and Fire band is not only did they minister through music but also spoke encouraging words and scriptures over us as they continued throughout the set.

Our praises filled the air as we sang songs to the King of Kings. As we lifted our voices with the band, each person worshipped in a different way. The spirit of freedom was there.

For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Corinthians 3:17 NLT

The whole night was bountiful as we embraced conversations, laughs, and hugs with each other. But one thing that really stuck out to me was the hour we sang songs from heaven.

During the end of the set, the worship leader concluded that although we get caught up in the busyness of life sometimes we must not forget to be still in God’s presence. The music stopped and voices echoed across the room with small pockets, of adoration.

I caught myself envisioning being with Jesus and casting down fear in an ocean before us. Jesus shared that He was with me; that there was no need to be afraid. The worship then began to arise with “oo’s”, heavenly language, and tunes never sung before. It was sensational.

We then retreated in singing songs more recognizable like “Good, Good Father” and “How Great Is Our God”. Take a look at more footage from this holy encounter. I’m truly grateful for the experience.


Stay in the know with Ywam Baltimore! Such an impactful movement with people whose hearts are on fire for God!

Also, be sure to follow our social media!

Journey to Rest

Despite my busy schedule as a teacher, musician, worship leader, and blogger, I’ve felt a higher calling upon me. A calling to rest. If God rested on the seventh day what makes me think that I’m too dignified to do so?

So I’ve decided to take a step back and enjoy the beauty that can so easily be ignored. In this moment, no longer was I Shantel the teacher, Shantel the minister, or even Shantel the adult. I became Shantel the explorer. As I started my journey, I got to fill my love tank with the wonders of Baltimore.

Don’t forget to stop and smell the roses. Walter Hagen

Take time to reflect on God’s goodness and embrace the wonders around you. There’s beauty all around.

Never forget that you are a work of art.

Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous — how well I know it. Psalm 139:14 NLT

Til next time.


To check out more amazing artwork, visit the Walter’s Art Museum in Baltimore, Md. Sites featured: Walter’s Art Museum, Peabody Institute, and the George Washington Monument.

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