One Step @ A Time

“2020 is gonna be huge!” “Vision 20/20!” “Clarity and Increase!”

These are some quotes that flooded my newsfeed leading up to the new year. There was a sense of “get ready” in the air and people were preparing for the next big thing. Although I initially joined the momentum, I discovered an even greater revelation later on.

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Life Lessons – Plan & Prepare

Hey there. Have you ever felt like you’ve been doing so much but on the outside it appears like you’re living under a rock? That was me not too long ago.

You might have wondered, “Where has Shantel been?” or “Why haven’t I seen her post frequently?” Well if you didn’t know already, I’M GETTING MARRIED!! 🙂

Last September, my fiancé proposed to me during a conference I’ve hosted called the Promise Ceremony. Towards the end of it, he spoke about living a pure lifestyle, rapped an ode to me, and surprised me with a proposal. It was awesome. Now we’re getting married this September!

In addition to future bride, there are several other hats that I’ve been blessed to wear. I sing in a group called Holy Host Ministries. We perform in the DMV area using dance, rap, song, and spoken word. I’ve been a worship leader, speaker, teacher, children’s church teacher, and family gal. I love connecting with people and being a part of a spirit-filled community. But things have started shifting in response to this new chapter of my destiny.

des·ti·ny | \ ˈde-stə-nē \

Definition of destiny

1: something to which a person or thing is destined
2: a predetermined course of events often held to be an irresistible power or agency felt that destiny would determine their future

I felt like God had hid me for a while in preparation for where I am now. I kept hearing “Keep Writing” or “Prepare Now”. Like a surfer getting ready for a wave. I was honestly frustrated but I see why He prepared me.

We all have God-given assignments and purposes we are meant to fulfill. And there are times when God hides us or things slow down strategically to prepare us for something greater.

Everytime this has happened in my life I was being prepared for something bigger than the last season in my life. That is how the Promise Ceremony was born. That is also how Life to Your Soul was born. Can you relate in some way?

We sometimes get discouraged when we don’t see “it” happening. But then “it” arrives and we’re overtaken by the wave. Let’s work at preparing now and being in position. We must shift our perspectives and tune in to God’s because it’s a great change on the horizon!

Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving… Colossians 4:2 NKJV

Hold fast to dreams,
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird,
That cannot fly.

Langston Hughes

Here are some tips that have helped me:

  • Invest in yourself. Read books on the direction you believe you’re going. Check out podcasts or related videos as well.
  • Don’t be afraid to mess up, as my fiancé has told me. You’ve got this because God’s got you.
  • Plan ahead. Invest in a weekly or monthly planner. It’s worked wonders in my life.
  • Network. Hang out with others who are successful and proactive. It can give a boost that you won’t regret, especially when you need encouragement.
  • Pray, fast, and worship. Have intimate time with the Father and His word. It will replenish your soul and help you tune into the Spirit. Read more here.
  • Give thanks always! Regardless of what it looks like, you are still blessed. Appreciate the little things which lead to greater.

Prayer for Direction

Dear Father,

I thank You for this opportunity to seek you. Thank you for this new season you have me in. I pray that You will show me how to proceed forward. I surrender my will to yours. If there are any hindrances/distractions, I release them to you. Help me to overcome. Even though I’ll have trials, I receive the truth that You are with me. Help me not to be discouraged. Please send others who can help edify and encourage me on this journey. Thank you for hearing my prayer.

Amen.


Donate to our marriage here! Thank you for your continued support!

Strength in Weakness

Just finished up another powerful prayer call with my sisters in Christ. If you didn’t know we host it every Thursday at 5pm EST. Our topic tonight was on “Weaknesses”.

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

What I’ve been dealing with lately is anxiety. Considering getting married in 2 months, transitioning jobs, ministry ventures, and other things, I’ve felt a little all over the place! I’ve found myself trying to find a balance in the midst of it all and haven’t got there just yet.

In the above scripture, Paul begged the Lord three times to remove the “thorn in his flesh”. However, God responded with telling about His grace. That means that the thorn was not nearly as important as God’s grace for Paul and His power to display in the midst of the struggle.

Because of that, I am encouraged to believe that regardless of the “thorns” in our flesh we can still have hope. It may be the start of a new chapter in life, a change in scenery, a trial, or a loss. I believe we should expect God to move on your behalf. After all, we are His children. He can get the glory and show Himself strong even in the midst of our weaknesses. His grace is sufficient for us.

suf·fi·cient
/səˈfiSHənt/
adjective & determiner
  1. enough; adequate.
    “a small income that was sufficient for her needs”

No matter what you’re facing right now, you’re still here for a reason. So let’s admit our flaws, reveal our imperfections, and trust in the assurance of a perfect God. His strength is made perfect in our weaknesses. I encourage you to trust in the Lord more today.

A Prayer to Trust God More

Dear Lord,

Thank you for this opportunity to trust you more. You would not put this challenge in my path if You had no plan to walk with me through it. After all, life is not just about the destination but also the journey. Please shift my perspective so that I can see what you’re trying to show me. I accept You in my heart Jesus and believe you rose from the dead for me. In faith, I trust Your process. In Your name I pray, Amen.


Take a listen to this powerful ballad and visual by Lauren Daigle called “Rescue”. It’s been refreshing to me : ) God bless.

Click the image or click here.

What Are You Birthing?

Happy Mother’s Day. While serving in church today, the importance of mothers was brought up in many examples. A story was told of a man named Peter Richley who was saved because of his mother’s prayers.

On this fine, rainy day where we celebrate mothers all around the world, I’d like to pose a question to you. What are you mothering? What are you birthing?

We all have the ability to birth things in our lives. Children, friendships, partnerships, ministry, businesses, clothing, prayers, songs, etc.

If I can encourage you today, I’d say don’t stop carrying what you’ve been given just because you don’t see it birthed yet.

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way on the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:19

There are many examples of mothers and people who have birthed things out of the creativity God has given them. Truthfully, regardless of if you are a woman or not you still have the power to birth.

I’m currently in a transitional phase in my life and I know all too well how uncomfortable it can be enduring the “growing pains” as my pastor would say. But what’s growing inside of you is necessary. So hold on and keep the faith. Love you all and look forward to continue sharing insight of what’s taking place in my life.

The love of a mother is the veil of a softer light between the heart and the heavenly Father.Samuel Taylor Coleridge

I thank God for all the mothers around the world and especially those who have mothered me. I thank God for my mother, her prayers, and love for me. I hope you all enjoy this day and honor your mothers.

Thanks for reading and supporting. Be sure to stick around. There’s more news abiut this season in my life coming soon.

My Beautiful Mother.

The Meaning of Purity

Purity is more than abstaining from Premarital sex. – Shantel Gross

Growing up, I thought I knew what it meant to be pure. I knew that when people asked if I was still pure, they were trying to see if I was still a virgin. I honored my decision to walk in purity but did not know in depth what it meant to live a pure life.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Matthew 5:8 ESV

In my pursuit of purity, revelation came like raindrops from the sky. I studied workshops, speakers, videos, scripture, and articles on the topic.

Holy Spirit began showing me that purity is beyond not having premarital sex. It is a mindset, a heart condition, and a way of life.

In Psalm 51:10, David asks of God “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” He cried out to God after having had slept with a married woman by the name of Bathsheba. Not only did he sleep with but after finding out that she was pregnant, he had her husband Uriah purposefully killed while at war.

I can only imagine the agony and stress that the adultery caused the kingdom. But King David remembered one thing. To call on the name of the Lord.

Pure

  • not mixed or adulterated with any other substance or material.
  • without any extraneous and unnecessary elements.
  • free of any contamination.

Our intentions must be pure just as well as our actions. We must strive for purity in all encounters of our lives, more importantly within our hearts.

Living a pure life requires surrender. Every wound, every desire, every lust has to be surrendered to the One who can carry it all. Our Heavenly Father.

Although not always easy, we must guard our hearts so that how we live is a reflection of Christ, who is Love. We must love unconditionally and this is only achievable through the Holy Spirit.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6‭-‬7 NLT

It’s okay if you don’t have it all together or all figured out. Trust me, I am the same way. It is not merely in our ability to accomplish things on our own but our trust in God. Allow Him to lead you. Be encouraged my friends!

PRAYER:
Father, Help me to live a pure life. As your Word says, create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me. I surrender my will to you and give you permission to expose and cleanse me of all unrighteousness. I need you. Thank you for loving me and hearing my prayer. Amen.


Check out my latest Facebook live about living a pure life here!

The One I’ve Waited For

I dedicate this post to my fiancé and Jesus as a testament of what God has done in my life. I am truly thankful. We can do it friends. Trust Him and surrender.

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”
Matthew 6:33 NLT


There I was, with tears streaming down my face and hands lifted toward Heaven on the bedroom floor. I had just surrendered my will to God. I had stopped worrying about who Mr. Right was and when he was coming into my life. Relieved and liberated, I stood there experiencing the joy and freedom that only Christ brings.

I continued living and encouraging youth and young adults to walk in freedom and purity. I had such a great revelatory moment of embracing my singleness.

As I continued empowering others and attending community events, I received a notification one day. It was from you. You liked one of my posts. It didn’t really strike me because we were already acquaintances. But throughout the days that followed you liked another, and another, and another… and another.

What was going on? I was quite unsure but I knew for certain that you were trying to get my attention.

As time went on, eventually you shared that you were attracted to me. You asked me to pray on it if I felt the same. Flattered but afraid I shared that there was a small attraction on my side as well.

With courage from my close friends, sister, and pastors, I decided to give “us” a try. We started our foundation as friends and inched our way to something more as we both realized that God was in this.

On April 30th, you asked me to be your Wonder Woman and I consented. Several months later, on September 15th you asked me to marry you. I said yes!

You’re the one I’ve waited for. You complement my life and support my calling. We have had our bumps in the road and challenges but God has carried us through. I love that we are doing this His way and embracing purity.

To my life partner, I love you. Happy Valentine’s Day Lawrence.

Wait on the Lord and be of good courage.

It’s a Great Day!

Just like any other day, today is a great day.

I woke up the other morning feeling blessed. Thankful for the cool breeze and 70 degree weather. It was another beautiful day. With warm colored leaves all around. This was the day they called Halloween.

I grew up celebrating Halloween with my family. Mom dressed me up as a black cat one year using a pair of black tights for my cat ears! We’d go around the neighborhood, all 5 of us plus cousins and an Aunt, like the Brady Bunch knocking on doors. I don’t think I cared too much about it, I just knew that I liked the free candy!

As I got older and discovered the origin of Halloween, things started to change. I realized that it was a pagan holiday and the costume wearing originated from the concept of people attempting to ward of ghosts. On Halloween, it was believed that the boundaries between the worlds of the living and dead became blurred.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 ESV

I realized that although most festivities are done in fun, I must uphold a standard.

We must pray and ask God for guidance. After all, we are made in His likeness and image. We must choose to be the light no matter what day, hour, or age.

Royalty is my identity. Servanthood is my assignment. Intimacy with God is my life source.

Bill Johnson

As we all embrace this fall season, I commission you friends to find ways to show gratitude.

Photo courtesy of Aquila Evans Photography

Here are some helpful tips:

  • Meditate.
  • Spend initial time with family, friends, and those God has placed in your circle.
  • Start reading a devotional.
  • Laugh. Don’t be so serious!
  • Thank God for something new every morning. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22‭-‬23 KJV
  • Appreciate nature. All around us are beautiful things to admire.
  • Get a planner and plan out your day. Don’t be afraid of making changes or playing it by ear sometimes.

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The Love Encounter

I learned to love from a distance. As long as you didn’t get too close to me, I was fine. As long as you didn’t invade my space we were perfectly fine. But you were different.

You told me that you loved me and I felt something. As much as I tried to hide, you sought me all the more. I was afraid to let you in. I thought you’d see something that’d make you turn away. My heart had suffered enough damage.

It ached and dripped with bruises and scars from the past. You smiled softly, looking intently into my eyes. Placing your hand over mine, you held my heart with me. It was the one thing I felt that I had left. The one thing that I attempted to shield.

I felt warmth coming from your palms and fingers as I slowly released my grip. I finally decided to let you in. The flood gates opened and the poison began to drain. You said “I am life” and my heart began to heal. I could not have done this without you. I’ve needed you ever since. And you’re constantly, readily, and deeply available to me.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26

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.