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.

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.

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.

More Than Okay

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Romans 8:37 NKJV

The volume in the music store I worked at was extremely high one particular day. As a receptionist I was used to greeting customers daily. Some would hesitate with a crooked smile. Others would bypass with a nod and continue browsing.

“Hello. How are you?”

“Well I’m still alive so I guess that counts for something.”

I would get a lot of responses in the tune of life being just okay. Then after a long string of customers being rung out, I heard these words. 

If only people knew that they were more than okay.

Many joked about how miserable their lives were. What was my evidence that we were more than okay?

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation… 1 Peter 2:9


    11/28 – More Than Okay Power Call

It seemed normal to also view myself as average. It was an easier tone to converse with and took the pressure off of feeling like an outcast. 

We sometimes seek ways to minimize our worth. We want to feel normal and human. We boast in our inadequacies with a tune of “That’s just the way life is.”

Above Average.

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him. Genesis 1:26,27

Truthfully, we are created in God’s image and are His temple. We have God-like qualities, traits and responsibilities. We are innovative, creative, unique, and powerful. Because we are made in God’s image we are called to stand out.

I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made… Psalm 139:14

You are abundantly blessed.

Royal and loved one, you are an exceptional being. Worth more than just going to your 9-5, waking up & going to sleep, and living life with no purpose. 

God gave Adam responsibility. He told Adam to be fruitful and multiply and placed him in the garden to tend to it. (Genesis 1:28; 2:15 ) 

We have work to do. We must display our greatness and use the resources God has given us to do mighty things for His kingdom.

Pray this prayer:

Dear God,

Thank you for calling me. Thank you for creating me with purpose and value. As stated in Your Word, I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Please forgive me for thinking less of myself. For not living a bold, meaningful life. I am above average and more than okay. Continue to show me what it is you want me to do. I live for you. Amen.

Additional Quotes & Scriptures

  • 1 Corinthians 3:16
  • We are what we believe we are. – C. S. Lewis
  • Have faith and you will see the great! – Shantel Gross

Matters of the Heart

We can conquer anything in this day.

Matters of the Heart – Prayer Call

For I know the thoughts I have toward you says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.Jeremiah 29:11

This past week I faced new challenges. New transitions in school and new challenges at home. Getting to know my students and adjusting to my new schedule. However, God’s grace prompted to strategize and perfect my situation even in sticky circumstances.

I began to feel conflicted and weighed down. My timing, mixed emotions, fatigue, and processing everything. I had so much on my mind and lost focus of actually creating steps to execute. Life has a way of hitting you in the face when you’re not paying attention!

Why do we struggle? Is it in our best interest? What I’ve come to realize is how we operate is a reflection of our hearts.

“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” Arnold Schwarzenegger

Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23

What have you been wrestling with? Fear? Doubt? Depression? Insecurity? Panic? Whatever it is, it will eventually drain you if you don’t release. This is not an overnight fixer but embrace that journey of God uprooting ever lie that you’ve partnered with.

What have you allowed to harbor in your heart? Have you become bitter? Have you lost hope? Have you become complacent?  Our hearts hold chambers and we have to allow the blood of Christ to flow through.

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

What are you meditating on? Whatever we believe shapes our reality. If you take on a lie that you’re unimportant or that you don’t matter your life will reflect that. The enemy loves when we partner with lies. Sometimes we do it unknowingly. We fear that things won’t work out or we joke about it. Meditate on God’s word and other sources of light. Read an empowering book. Listen to some worship music! I love instrumentals.

Side note: Be mindful of who is in your circle!

What are you speaking? Speak the truth. Speak affirmations like these.

G o d, y o u ’r e s t i l l g o o d.

Regardless of how bad you may feel your day has gone, there is always a reason to be grateful. You serve the King of Kings!

What are you wearing? I’m not referring to those nice khakis or ripped jeans you have on but what is your spiritual armor? When you wake up put on your armor! Read Ephesians 6:10-18.

If the Son sets you free, you are truly free. – John 8:36

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!

God Is L o v e.

On this week’s call, we discussed the importance of operating in God’s love. Because Christ sacrificed His life for our redemption, we can find ways in our daily lives to become more sacrificial.

As we embark on this journey together, take a look at some of our focus points and footage from this year’s Promise Ceremony and Conference!

Bear each other’s burdens. 

Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light. Helen Keller

My friend Renee inspired me so much throughout the process of the Promise Ceremony & Conference! She prayed for me, fasted with me, and encouraged me throughout it all! That’s real love.

Renee and I sharing a few laughs as she prepared her poem. Check out her ministry, Sisterhood of God!

Do not be afraid to tell God your needs.

I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4

Those moments when I made my petitions known to God, He supplied! There were even detailed requests i.e. videographer for my event, promise ring, new job, etc. Even if what you are asking for seems to be out of this world, believe in faith, seek God, and He will provide an answer.

Rings for the girlies!
Rachel and Deja delight in fun times! I’m grateful for their support of the vision. Justin supported tremendously as well!

Sometimes what we think we need is not what we really need at all.

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. Proverbs 14:12

I thought that I needed a lot of supplies and fancy stuff to make the #PromiseCC event a hit! Boy, was I wrong. With those who blessed me, God exceeded my expectations.

At this point, I basked in God’s faithfulness amazed at how my friends operated as a team.
withLove! Check out their website! Withlovemusic.org

Be intentional. When it comes to communicating with God we must be intentional about the time we spend with Him. For some of us, the best time to speak to Him may be in the wee hours of the morning. Others, midday and finally some in the evening. But regardless of the time of day, let us choose to be open to God about everything in our lives. After all, He has come that we may have life and that more abundantly.

Ada indulges in God’s presence.
Bowing before the King! I continue on this journey of purity with my Saviour.

                     09/19 – God is love.

Photos courtesy of Symone Wharton of IofTiger Fotography.