2018 – Year of the Impossible

Now is the time to expect great things! 

We’re in a new season.

Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts. Zechariah 4:6 ESV

We’ve shared in the last post how to envision your greatness; now it’s time to walk in it! It’s not about if God can do it. It’s knowing that He will!

01/16/18 – Prayer Call Sound is a little muffled on this week’s recording. Sorry!

My God, the Deliverer.

If you think about it, God has always been a great deliverer. He delivered Moses and the Israelites from the Egyptians by parting the Red Sea. More recently in 2009, 150 passengers were miraculously saved while their airplane plummeted into the Hudson River. There are some scenarios that are just unexplainable. 

Our trust has to be so invested in God. We invest time in so many things and people but what about the goodness of our Great God? His infinite wisdom captivates us every time we call and yet sometimes we take Him for granted. 

Tune into God.

Like your favorite tv show or channel, (Mines are the Food Network and HGTV!) tune in to His presence. God has some great resources for us and some of it is only discovered in our alone time with Him.

Question God.

Now my statement does not mean to doubt God asking if we’ll survive the turbulence in our lives. But rather, inquire about God’s perspective. “Lord, what do you say concerning this situation? What’s your heart in the matter?”

God what is your heart right now? What do you desire to hear? Tasha Cobbs in Heart. Passion. Pursuit.

Heaven has an agenda. 

Have expectancy in your heart. Partner with God to see His results in your life. The Lord your God shall provide! 

Declare: I shall see miracles, signs, and wonders this year!

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!

“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.

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.

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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.

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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! *

 

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!

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

Crowned with Care: Recap of Priceless Gown Project 2017

proverbs31

These past weekends have been filled with many wonderful events. One of them being the Priceless Gown Project in Baltimore. I was blessed to volunteer at the event and am happy to share my experience with you.

First off, let me start off by saying that Baltimore is beautiful!  As I arrived at the Marriott hotel, I was greeted by vibrant pink & black attired women. Each had a smile on her face. These were also volunteers for the event. As we all gathered in the volunteer space, we were encouraged to promote self-awareness and assure each girl that she was beautiful. Leslie Collier, the organization’s director hoped that we had comfortable shoes on because the event required a lot of movement.

 

Gowns were beautifully displayed on the racks and shoes & accessories were laid out. We were able to check out the dresses and get familiar with the styles.

As we all conversed, we reminisced of our own prom experiences and high school stories. Us personal shoppers were tasked with getting to know the girls and finding a style that suited their body types and personalities.

The ballroom filled up with girls and their families as they were empowered by speakers, pageant titleholders, and artists. It was rewarding to see the smiles and hear laughter from girls who struggled with insecurities.

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Baltimore’s own Star!
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The 92q crew keeping the crowd live.
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Live, Laugh, Celebrate!

So many people came together to participate in and celebrate this event.

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These girls and gowns were exceptional!
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The men in black!
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Miss Exquisite shined even brighter than the gown she modeled.
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The royal walk.
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Miss Anne Arundel County Teen was a sweetheart!
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Miss Maryland and Miss Baltimore gave good profiles as we posed!

While participating, I recalled my own prom experience. A lady named Ms. Peggy, whom I had met on the transit bus, was like a mother to me. She always asked how school was going and would remind me of important dates coming up for school applications. I would try to sit next to her whenever I boarded the bus. One day, when I saw her she told me that her daughter (who was also a senior) had tried on some dresses at David’s Bridal. There was a dress on clearance that she liked and it was also in a smaller size. She thought I’d be able to fit it. I was so excited and told my parents about it. They talked to Ms. Peggy and agreed to meet up so that I could try the dress on. To my surprise, the dress had fit perfectly! I told Ms. Peggy that the day was my birthday and she paid for the dress. I will never forget that day and the circumstances that lead up to that point.

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Royalty came in all shapes and sizes! People came together far and wide to adorn young women with gowns, shoe, accessories, and confidence. These girls left with gowns, accessories, and confidence. Check out more info about the Priceless Gown Project here! God bless.

Nature Walk with Mom

Last week, I did something exciting. I went on a nature walk with my mom. I brought my a Panasonic DMC-G3 camera along and we hiked toward the trail. As we embarked on the nature journey, I stood in amazement. All around there were vibrant, dynamic works of art. Trees, grass, twigs, flowers to name a few. Mom and I found a spot with a chopped tree lodged near the forest. The ridges were alluring. This was a perfect opportunity. Clean, crisp air. Neutral weather. We smiled the whole way to the park.

 

I recall mom saying “Shantel, it would be nice if you captured that over there.” We saw an old church building, enjoyed swings at a playground, and admired the vast land around us. We were amazed at God’s creation and drew closer to explore its beauty.

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This is used to be a railroad.

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Mom prefers to be behind the scene.

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As we captured what fascinated us, we came across a gazebo further in the woods. It was the perfect place to relax and enjoy more scenery. I was able to get some good shots and mom took nice ones too.

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After sitting and relaxing, we headed back down the trail and saw more fascinating sites. I saw a compass which which was settled atop a tree. Mom spotted a bench that had painted leaves on it. That became our new object target.

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Such vivid colors in this painting.
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Two worlds collide.
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Every direction leads to nature.
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A candid shot! I was getting photo ready.
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Much better.

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Leaves and pine cones are a perfect mix.

These pictures tell our story. As stated by Thomas Browne, “Nature is the art of God.”

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Photos courtesy of Shantel Gross. Request permission if you would like to use them.