No More Worrying

It’s when you are lost that you find the need of a Savior. – Shantel Gross

Worrying seemed to have always been a habit of mine. It was like a natural instinct. I had lots to worry about growing up – friends, bills, houses, recital performances, and more. I’d even create things to worry about in my mind that weren’t tangible at the time. Like owning a house (mind you, I was around 17), having a family, finding my wedding dress, and the proposal from my future husband. Remember, I’ve always been a hopeful romantic.

I remember one day balling my eyes out. I had got into a frenzy about something that wasn’t turning out my way. Heavy breathing, tears, and a sense of defeat. Those were my ingredients for this chaotic mess. I eventually sought out therapy and meditated on this scripture.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Philippians 4:6 NLT

Because I always wanted to know the answer to everything, it stopped me from enjoying what was right in front of me.

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18

Stop and smell the roses.

You can lose sight of your present treasures worrying about the past and future. It’s not about you finding out what comes next, it’s about embracing the journey. We are sailors and our hearts long to sail. So by faith, I challenge you to take that next step in trusting God.

Ways To Stop Worrying

Do something spontaneous! Live, Dance, Get Your Party On!

Address your issues. Sometimes we need to get it out of our heads and onto paper. Choose someone who is wise and mature to talk to, if need be.

Meditate. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul. (I sometimes listen to worship music while meditating.) Check some out here.

Count your blessings! Gratefulness is never the wrong option. Begin thanking God for what He has done. Praise Jesus!

Spend quality time with those you love. Friendship and companionship can help ease your mind. Being alone sometimes gives opportunity for the enemy or your thoughts to give way.

Keep that heart pumping! Exercise, workout, jog, or run. Your body will thank you later or eventually 😉.


To learn more about meditation and its benefit, check out this article!

I Wish

I wish I could block their eyes from seeing it. I’d shield them all. 

I wish I could cover their ears and protect them from the lies that spread like wildfire. I’d shield them from the darkness of this world. 

I’d cover them with my arms and serenade them with words of life, comfort, and healing. 

I’d help every child live a pure, youthful, innocent life. Their eyes would be bold and their roar striking. Their smiles forever vibrant. Their laughter’d echo in the airwaves filling the atmosphere with joy. They’d live a prosperous life.

Ooohhh…. but I find ways.

To be the home for the child that feels homeless. The shelter for the girl who innocence was robbed. The mother to a son who became a man too soon. For the jokester who laughs to cover his open wounds. The voice for the one too afraid to speak.

I am their peace while they are in my possession. For in that moment, they are mine. 

They are my children with no limits. My offspring with bright and glorious futures. They shine like the sun. Gleaming like the sun. And smile like the Son. This is Paradise.

Look at life with the eyes of a child. Kathe Kollwitz

This poem is inspired by my desire and efforts to end the exposure of children to pornography and sexual immorality.

To learn more about ending human trafficking, click here.

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!

Joy to the World

I’ve embraced this journey. Not knowing half of what I’d be getting into, I boldly proclaimed Yes.

Yes to letting go. Yes to allowing my heart to heal. Yes to a life of surrendering. And yes to being vulnerable. Because being truthfully honest, 2017 has been a year of surrender.

I’ve had to put aside my pride and realize that God’s guidance is needed to get through this journey. Although I have had many foolish habits, I’ve learned that God still provides. Although at times I didn’t manage my time wisely I’ve learned that God still gives grace. While scraping my knees several times I have discovered a new beauty. A beauty in crying out for help.

O Lord, I cry out to you. I will keep on pleading day by day. Psalm 88:13

There is such a beauty in crying out to God. As our loving Father, He is truly compassionate and able to bring healing. When we embrace our child-like nature, we experience God’s fathering nature.

They will be my people and I will be their God. Jeremiah 32:3

 

God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him. John 3:17

Imagine having one child. Pouring into that child, instilling wisdom in him, and nurturing him. Imagine a crisis taking place. A crisis so terrible that you had to choose to send your child away to another place to restore order. Would you give up your only child?

For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

I began to shift my perspective when I discovered the strategy of the Father. He gave His only Son. There were not multiple children to choose from. Jesus was the only one. Christmas is all about sacrifice.

The Gift of Christmas

Christ gave up His home in heaven to become man and go through the process that led to our redemption. Christmas is more than the presents we place under the tree. It’s about giving yourself to bring healing to others. Laying down your life similar to how we lay presents down before Christmas trees. Give your all to God this Christmas. After all, he gave His all for you.  It’s a holiday of celebrating the Father’s giving nature. So in return we give of ourselves.

Ways to Give

  • Serve at a homeless shelter.
  • Donate gifts to children/families in need.
  • Be kind to others.
  • Encourage someone.
  • Volunteer at a community event.
  • Donate items to the Salvation Army.
  • Donate to organizations that are serving in your community or internationally.

Healing in the Broken Places

What do you do when it’s up to you? You’ve prayed, you’ve fasted, you’ve waited and still the obstacle hasn’t moved.

12/12 – Healing in the Broken Places

2017 has been a year of trials and triumphs. There have been many leaps of faith that have brought me to this place where I currently am.  From leaving my last job to becoming an art teacher, I’ve been blessed with opportunities to spread light on many platforms.

According to my original agenda, I’d be on a totally different path by now. Because I had social anxiety,  I preferred to stay behind the scenes. I liked my life to be planned out and calculated. However, God had greater plans.

Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

2 Corinthians 12:8‭-‬9 NLT

Like Apostle Paul, I too begged God. To remove the obstacles in my classroom and help me get through. I wanted things to go my way and I was not liking the results so far. I prayed for God to give me opportunities to share His light, but when they came I became overwhelmed. 

However, God had still been my life coach. It’s almost as if HE was saying to me, “Hang in there buddy. You’ll see the silver lining eventually. Just keep going.”

God began increasing opportunities for me to encourage my students and others. I felt a press to trust Him even during the pressing times when I didn’t see results. I realized God would use me inspite of my shortcomings.

How do we make use of our gifts when we don’t see the bigger picture?

      S H I F T Y O U R P E R S P E C T I V E .

How do we go on when our passions are attacked? We draw near to the one who is able to refresh us and realign us. God allows us to face opposition in order to prove His revolutionary power on the inside of us.

We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.

2 Corinthians 4:8‭-‬9 NLT

I recall in an earlier post explaining that we must see what God sees. I will even go as far as to say, see the obstacle but realize that God has placed you there and prepared you to make an impact in those areas.

I sat in my classroom recently discouraged. I had just witnessed a fight in my final class and was completely disappointed. God clearly asked me after I ranted to Him my frustrations, Are you mad enough to the point of doing something about it?  Pain produced pressure and pressure produces power.

Let’s use these platforms, these weaknesses, these flaws to promote God’s kingdom. They are opportunities for Him to perform miracles in our lives.

For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!

2 Corinthians 4:17 NLT

Father,

Thank you for the trials. Thank you for the tests. Thank you for the setbacks. Thank you for the glory that is being produced. You show us how mighty you are to save. Help us to see from Your perspective and to press in Your presence even further. You are the God who was, who is, and who always will be.

With Love,

Your Child (Insert Name)

More Inspiring Scripture: Psalm 34:15-20

 

“Step Out” Faith

How can I continue? How do I go on? Is it safe to move on?

Imagine being in the face of a massive sea with your greatest enemies charging at you from behind. Talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place! Moses and the children of Israel were finally free from captivity in Egypt when Pharaoh had a change of heart. He decided not only to pursue the Israelites himself but to align over 600 charioters to help anihilate them.

When word reached the king of Egypt that the Israelites had fled, Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds. “What have we done, letting all those Israelite slaves get away?” they asked.  So Pharaoh harnessed his chariot and called up his troops.  He took with him 600 of Egypt’s best chariots, along with the rest of the chariots of Egypt, each with its commander. The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, so he chased after the people of Israel, who had left with fists raised in defiance. The Egyptians chased after them with all the forces in Pharaoh’s army—all his horses and chariots, his charioteers, and his troops. Exodus 14:5-9

There Moses and the children of Israel were. Facing the great, Red Sea with their livestock, their young children, and all they had. Their promises suddenly turned into petitions.

As Pharaoh approached, the people of Israel looked up and panicked when they saw the Egyptians overtaking them. They cried out to the Lordand they said to Moses, “Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness? Weren’t there enough graves for us in Egypt? What have you done to us? Why did you make us leave Egypt? Didn’t we tell you this would happen while we were still in Egypt? We said, ‘Leave us alone! Let us be slaves to the Egyptians. It’s better to be a slave in Egypt than a corpse in the wilderness!’”Exodus 14:10-12

Some of us have been in a similar predicament. We’ve taken a huge leap of faith only to see that thing that we feared come upon us once again. It is in those times that I am reminded to trust in God. Breakthrough comes when something within us needs to be broken. For their sake, it was the Israelites’ unbelief.

believe

1a :to have a firm or wholehearted religious conviction or persuasion :to regard the existence of God as a fact 

  • Do you believe?

 usually used with in 

  • believe in the Scriptures

b :to accept something as true, genuine, or real


:to have a firm conviction as to the goodness, efficacy, or ability of something


Although the children of Israel had left Egypt, Egypt was still in them. That place of captivity had accumulated in their minds. In my opinion,  it wasn’t the process of leaving Egypt that was the most difficult for the Israelites, it was the act of believing that they were actually God’s holy people and called to a greater destiny.

But Moses answered, “Don’t be afraid! Be brave, and you will see the Lord save you today. These Egyptians will never bother you again. The Lord will fight for you, and you won’t have to do a thing.”Exodus 14:13‭-‬14 CEV

It is imperative that we remember the One who has called us forth. He sees our greatest potential and propels us to move forward in victory. Regardless of where we currently are, it is our faith and God’s calling that will produce increase.

Instead of viewing your situation as a heavy weight to overcome, view it as a platform for God to display His greatness.

Stay firm and focused!

Step Out Faith Prayer Call


Without faith it is impossible to please God. I encourage you to make faith your first resort. It doesn’t have to make sense but it makes substance. God bless you on your journey to greater.

When Faith and Fear Collide

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase. Martin Luther King, Jr.

When faced with a dire situation it is easy to result in fear. If you’re starting a new venture, you may be afraid it won’t be successful. If you’re moving without a job lined up, you may fear that things won’t work out the way you anticipated. What I am reminded of is how certain figures faced challenges and pivotal moments in the bible.

Abram, later named Abraham, was challenged to trust that God would bless him with innumerable descendants although he had currently had no children. Moses was entrusted with leading God’s people out of Egypt although he had a speech impediment.

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. 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.  Genesis 15:1,2,4

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. Then the Lord told him, “I am the Lord who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land as your possession.” Genesis 15: 5-7

                         All or Nothing
What happens when we embark upon a new journey? A new beginning? We try to conceive the outcome in our minds. But things don’t add up sometimes. Here are five points that you should remind yourself of during those times.

Our protection is in God. (Declare: My protection is in God.)

The Lord is our Shepherd and he governs our lives. We not need to forget that He is protecting us even in times when we don’t understand.

Look up.

Although it seems easier said than done we must not focus on our physical circumstances. Tap into the presence of God through praying, meditating, and worshipping Him in your daily activities.

Our faith is moving things. (Declare: My faith is moving things)

Check out this passage of how Jesus describes the power of operating in faith! Faith is our currency. ‘In God we trust’ is on our money. We can’t move without it.

Recall what has already taken place. Sometimes it takes us going back down memory lane to be empowered. For me, it’s when I check through my journals and read testimonies of what God has done that inspire. Check this one out!

Sacrifice is important.

There will be times when you have to give up things you cherish in order to move ahead. Sometimes relationships, houses, and jobs but just know that with God it is all worth it.

“When she looked ahead she smiled because she knew the best was yet to come.”

 

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.