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 Heart of Worship

“God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” John 4:24 KJV

Worship is a total experience. Once the music starts, the whole atmosphere changes. Voices raise, hands stretch out, feet are swayed on. Everyone comes together in expectation waiting to experience God’s presence.

Worship

  1. to honor or reverence as a divine being or supernatural power
  2. to regard with great or extravagant respect, honor, or devotion

20170519_130338Worship is not just a gathering with others. Worship can become a lifestyle. On the morning commute to work, take time to reflect on God’s goodness. How immeasurable is His love and how faithful He has been to us. My gratefulness and worship now expand beyond Sunday service. I’ve caught myself worshiping in the market, in the car, on the job in the bathroom, and many other various places. I get so filled just thinking of how bound I was by fear and how free I am now by Christ’s love.

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name”

Psalm 100:4 ESV

You don’t have to perfect yourself. Let Christ’s love do the work.

20170524_084617Take the first step in your transformation process. Once we experience God’s presence we go on a clean sweep rampage. We tend to try to clean our own lives and fix everything including those around us. God admires our zeal, but it is not our job to be the quicker-picker-upper.

But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other , and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.

1 John 1:7 NLT

The truth is we all have had moments of worship in our lives. It is through dancing. It comes with singing. Through ministering before others. Worship comes from the heart.

Let all that you do be done in love. 1 Corinthians 16:14 ESV

Whether that’s singing, teaching, fasting, modeling, dancing, constructing, cleaning, typing, styling, or anything else; do it in love.

We can’t worship in spirit and in truth without love. No matter what you do may your heart be humble. Give your burdens over to God and reach out to Him. He’s waiting for you.

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Thank you Father for your love. Thank you for giving me access to your amazing grace. Your peace is like none other. You are the best thing that has ever happened to me. I can come freely to you, knowing that you will not judge me but you will embrace me. I appreciate your ultimate sacrifice. I appreciate your guidance. I surrender to you. Every pain, every scar, every thought, and every intention. Cleanse me for only you can. Heal me and I shall be healed. I receive your gift and I choose to worship you with a heart of gratitude. Forgive me for ever doubting you. Forgive me for ever thinking my plan would be better than yours. Make me over. Change my walk, my talk, and my thoughts so that I may please. With you, I am free. No more chain hold me down. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

If you prayed that prayer and would like more information on worship and salvation, click here.

Peace and Blessings!

Whom the Son sets free is free indeed.

What A Love

I recall having this demented idea of love. I thought that love was similar to what you saw in the movies. The main character would be an emotional wreck.

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Then out of the blue, someone would come to her rescue. And they’d live happily ever after, right?

Lights, Camera, Action!

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I loved love. Studied princesses like the bible, observed wardrobe choices, and fancied the royal lines. In order to be great, you would have to hang out with the great, right? I needed to know what it took to live happily ever after.

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What really fascinated me was the concept of the royal kingdom. There were so many people called to serve in it. You had paupers, handmaids, royal guards, florists, and many more. They all seemed like a close-knit family. I envied their royal lives.

I grew up in a lively, modest environment. Although a family of seven, mom and dad never intended for us to see their financial struggle.

Sometimes I’d go to school and see the girls with the latest accessories and clothes. I’d wish for those things. I wanted to fit in and wanted to feel accepted. I would pray for things to change.

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I would believe for greater things. Mansions, cars, watches, you name it (in my Shirley Caesar voice)! Lacking did not set right with me. But I realized something was lacking within me.

I couldn’t grasp it but something was missing. Although it was nice to dream for great things I was not fully satisfied.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.

Matthew 5:6 NKJV

I came to learn that what was missing my devotion to Jesus. After an encounter in His presence, I fell head over heels. I learned that I was already apart of a royal family!

His love took away shame, feelings of inadequacy and gave me new hope. I was able to utilize faith in different areas of my life and trust Him to move in the areas that were still a work in progress.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV

Release negativity, bitterness, self-righteousness, doubt, and fear. Your Glorious King has commissioned you. He has called you as His own. Accept your royal heritage!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

Hebrews 12:1 NLT

We are no longer in poverty. The King is here and He is here to stay. I am so glad to know that He loves us and accepts us as His own.

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But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.

1 Peter 2:9 NKJV

*Most pictures featured are from one of my favorite movies, Princess Diaries.

Hallowed Be Thy Name

Um… Hi God. It’s me Shantel.

Prayer has been incorporated in my life for as long as I can remember. It would be in the wee hours of the morning when mom would call us to pray. Tired, cranky, and half-sleep we’d gather in the living room of our home. Mom would begin thanking God for all of us, for clothes, shelter, and food.

After thanking Him for all of those things, mom would praise God for His goodness. As a child, I did not understand why she’d lift her voice and cry out at that point. I also couldn’t comprehend why we were up so early. But as the tears rolled down mom’s face, I knew she was sincere.

As I got older, prayer had become more of a chore in my eyes. We would pray before church, during service, before bed, and early in the morning. Prayer was a central focus in our home but not in my heart. But soon things started to change.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28 NLT

My world seemed to be crashing down during high school years. I battled with low self-esteem, depression, peer pressure, and a sharp tongue. Eventually, my problems had reached their boiling point. I was not eating right, was not focused in my classes, had lost motivation even at home. Prayer seemed to be my only option. As I sobbed in my bedroom one day, I tried to muster up the words to say.

God, nobody likes me… 

I wanted to be accepted by God although I was broken inside. He was my only hope.

Will you marry me?

That question came from a place of emptiness inside. I was ashamed and realized that although I had participated in prayer and gone to church, I did not know God for myself. This was my chance to experience Him personally.

As I laid there, I felt a sense of relief. It was almost as if God had whispered Yes. in my ear. Somehow I felt His love. My tears of sorrow and shame turned into tears of joy.

Come close to God, and God will come close to you.

James 4:8 NLT

I began thanking God for loving me and caring about me. My whole outlook had changed. I had become confident in my prayers and eager to learn more about it. I would volunteer in church to lead prayer. God encouraged me to pray for my family, friends, peers at school, and those who had done me wrong.

God restored me and took away my guilt & shame. I am thankful for this powerful resource that we all can possess.


Prayer is a very important portion of a believer’s life. It is something that we should not avoid. God desires a relationship with us. Check out the following quotes and scriptures about prayer.

  •  Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
  • 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
  •  And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. – 1 John 5:14

If you have a prayer request, fill out the form here.

Enjoy National Prayer Day.

Take This Mountain Weight

One thing about being in God’s presence is vulnerability. In Christian culture, we are instructed to seek God but I recall feeling ashamed and at times scared to approach Him. I recall thinking that God would judge me if I presented myself to Him in prayer. This reminds me of the woman with the issue of blood.

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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.

Beauty in the Brokenness

You never know what someone is going through behind the walls of their eyes. You smile, they smile. You say “hello,” they say “hello.” You ask “How are you?” They reply “I’m fine.”

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‘Tis the Season

We know that it’s that time of year.
Smiles on their faces.
Hearts filled with cheer.
A new dawn has come.
Laugh everyone.
It’s time to celebrate.
Extinguish the hate.

‘Tis the season to be jolly.
Fall on your knees.
Worship the King.
Pursue Him like the three wise men.
Love and joy will He extend.

When younger we thought all about the gifts.
And boy, would we laugh at all the myths.
Like, “Santa came down our chimney so fast.”
Yeah right, the chimney we never had.
But hearts were set free.
A family were we.
Had ups and downs.
Even dressed like clowns.

The peaking through doors to spot a big gift.
The wrestle of wrapping a pogo stick.
The reruns of holiday movies and shows.
The chill down my spine when hit with snow.

The smiles on the faces.
The warm, sweet embraces.
The joy in our souls.
The heat when it’s cold.
These are the moments I cherish so dear.
Tis the season for love everywhere.

When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.  And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.
-Matthew 2:10,11 NLT

♡Happy Birthday Caden♢

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Photo courtesy of Shantel G. All rights reserved.