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.

It’s our Anniversary!

Hey! It’s a celebration! Life to Your Soul turns 4 today!

We started this blog with the hopes of inspiring others in their walk with Christ and sharing personal stories. We are pleased to say that God and your support have exceeded our expectations. Because of your support we have hosted two events in Baltimore City, mentored hundreds of youth & young adults and partnered with other organizations. From the bottom of our hearts we thank you all! The best is yet to come!

I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. 1 Corinthians 3:6 NLT

Shine the Light

I was sitting there during my planning period with worship music blasting in the teacher’s lounge. Go Elevation Worship! As another teacher entered, I considered turning the music down. I thought to myself that she might not have wanted to hear it. But then the thought came to my heart, “What good is the gospel if it isn’t shared?”
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I’ve always been skeptical of causing a scene and drawing attention to myself. I never really liked being the center of attention unless it involved me making others laugh. I was lighthearted as a child and quite humorous around my family. But when it came to others beyond my home, I was quite sheltered.

I didn’t want to cause a scene.

As my walk with Christ intensified over the years, I began to notice how sharing the gospel was important. During my lunch periods in high school, I’d sometimes print bible verses and place them around the building while others were in the cafeteria or classrooms. You could’ve called me Batman because I didn’t mind helping others but loathed being seen.

Make me invisible.

Evangelism conflicted with my personal preference. Although sharing the gospel was vital and necessary, I didn’t want to do it on the count of drawing attention to myself. I would war within myself to do things because I didn’t know how others would respond to my acts of faith.

I am enough.

What it all really boiled down to was my fear of rejection. Fear that if others saw me doing things they wouldn’t accept me or my efforts. I yearned for acceptance but in the wrong way.

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10

I had to come to terms with the fact that people will not always like me. Some people may despise me for sharing my faith or how God moves through me. But that does not warrant me to limit shining the light.

“This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.”

Our lives are so important. We possess a light that the world needs to see. When we don’t share it, we hinder others from seeing the gospel in a God-ordained way. We must build up the courage to share His truth even through our differences. The world would be pretty bland if we we were all the same. Instead God has given us unique stories and abilities to reach the lives of others. Show Jesus, Share Jesus, Bear His light and Be It! No one else can do what you do, so do it boldly.

Prayer for Boldness:

God,

I pray that you would give us the strength and boldness to shine your light. To be the change that our peers need. Help us to be attentive and aware of what’s going on around us. You are answering prayers and doing so even through us. My we not be hindered by fear but recall all of the wonderful things you have done for us. Your will be done. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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 so 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


Check out this awesome song by Jamie Grace!

Here is the latest cover on my Youtube page!

Need prayerGod bless.

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!

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

 

Not Of This World

Maybe you are preparing for this holiday season. Silver bells… I’m sure some of you have already put up the Christmas tree & lights. Well, as you are preparing the house and getting the list together, I’d like to share this reminder with you.

You are not of this world.

Jesus’ trial before Caiaphas ended in the early hours of the morning. Then he was taken to the headquarters of the Roman governor. His accusers didn’t go inside because it would defile them, and they wouldn’t be allowed to celebrate the Passover. So Pilate, the governor, went out to them and asked, “What is your charge against this man?” “We wouldn’t have handed him over to you if he weren’t a criminal!” they retorted. “Then take him away and judge him by your own law,” Pilate told them. “Only the Romans are permitted to execute someone,” the Jewish leaders replied. (This fulfilled Jesus’ prediction about the way he would die. ) 

Then Pilate went back into his headquarters and called for Jesus to be brought to him. “Are you the king of the Jews?” he asked him. Jesus replied, “Is this your own question, or did others tell you about me?” “Am I a Jew?” Pilate retorted. “Your own people and their leading priests brought you to me for trial. Why? What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.” 

John 18:28‭-‬36 NLT

When questioned by Pilate, Jesus responded that His kingdom was not of this world. He knew that others could have defended Him but He remained driven. 

Imagine, being wrongfully accused by thousands and having to give a response. How would you feel and what would you do?

Jesus was sure of was His identity and the ONE who sent Him.

12/05 – Not Of This World

You are loved, treasured, and favored by God.

Because Jesus knew the Father’s love, He was able to boldly give an account of His purpose for being here.

We also must be reminded that we are here to produce good fruit and share the Good News of salvation with others.

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

John 16:33 NLT

Be faithful over what God has given you. Do what He has called you to do wholeheartedly.

Don’t be disheartened when people do not understand you. Do not be dismayed when they wrongly accuse you. Your heavenly Father is with you and His reward is greater.

Prayer for the day

Thank you Father for Your goodness. Thank You for Your bountiful mercy and endless love. When I am overwhelmed comfort me with Your steady hand. Remind me of your unfailing love and your kindness. When others do not understand me may I be content in Your approval.

*If you’d like to learn about Salvation, click here.

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! *

 

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.

Closeness of God

“In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth.” Genesis 1:1

How close is God truly in our lives?

This week we are focusing on the closeness of God. How He in fact is much closer than we think.

One of the areas that many of us have struggled with is transparency. We don’t reveal too much because we’ve been afraid that people will get too close. Well God wants us to bare it all! He delights in actually delights in hearing from His children.

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. 1 Peter 5:7

Something that we learn is that he thinks toward us. God actually thinks great thoughts about us because He believes in us! The next time doubt, fear, and worry try to creep up cast those thoughts down! They are from the enemy and we know he is the father of lies.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”  Jeremiah 29:11


What is in your imagination becomes your reality. – Sharon Nesbitt



When God breathed the breathe of life into us, we became living souls. Our very breathe is evidence of God’s closeness to us. He wants to feel our heartbeat. – Check out Genesis 2:7Genesis 1:24-27

Communication with our King should be on a daily basis. Whether it’s greeting God early in the morning or having a moment of release in your lunch break, God’s line is never blocked.

Try not to use this powerful resource only during emergency situations. Prayer gives us insight.

09/05 – Closeness of God

Here are some points we can take away from today’s lesson.

  • We have to be transparent with God in order to keep our hearts pure.
  • God is a personable God. He seeks relationship with us.
  • Regardless of how many times we connect with him, we can always gain a new revelation.
  • Christ is the living water. When we draw from Him we receive the perfect amount of refreshing to carry us through.
  • We are not restricted from His resources. God’s connection is unlimited.
  • We don’t have to have it all together but all things are working together for our good.

Hope to see you at the Promise Ceremony & Conference! For information, check out my social media! Click here for prayer.