Freedom.

So ever since the great news and success of the Promise Ceremony, I’ve felt like I’ve been rushing.

Rushing to stay busy and keep the momentum of everything going. But my body, on the other hand, has been like “Nah, Shantel. You need to slow down and rest.”

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
Ecclesiastes 3:1 ESV

Being newly engaged, there’s a lot that goes into it but I’m grateful for God’s Word and a partner who equally understands the importance of balance. My body has been through the ringer and I’ve felt the effects of all the commotion.

To give you a recap:

  • I hosted and directed the Promise Ceremony on 09/15.
  • Lead on the worship team at church and taught children’s church (voluntarily) on 09/16. Attended a workshop on kingdom wealth that evening.
  • Taught children throughout the week. (I’m a teacher.)
  • Went to my grandmother’s viewing on 09/21.
  • Attended and sang with family at my grandmother’s funeral on 09/22.
  • Had rehearsal the following day after service with my group.
  • The list goes on…

It’s safe to say that September has been jampacked and that’s not including the beginning of the month. But I’ve sensed God’s peace and have been reminded to trust Him throughout every season.

If God told the children of Israel to rest from their toil while in the wilderness and even rested Himself on the 7th day, who am I to try to be the Energizer bunny? There is an importance in resting and we can miss out on precious moments if we don’t choose to be still.

I took a walk yesterday with my love and we rested in that moment. Here are some pics of me sitting on a tree!

It’s okay to not have everything under control, but trust the One who does. He sees and He knows what’s best!

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures.He leads me beside still waters.He restores my soul. Psalm 23:1-3

If you would like more insight on resting, take a look at this awesome article.

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.

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.

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! *

 

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