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.

Joy to the World

I’ve embraced this journey. Not knowing half of what I’d be getting into, I boldly proclaimed Yes.

Yes to letting go. Yes to allowing my heart to heal. Yes to a life of surrendering. And yes to being vulnerable. Because being truthfully honest, 2017 has been a year of surrender.

I’ve had to put aside my pride and realize that God’s guidance is needed to get through this journey. Although I have had many foolish habits, I’ve learned that God still provides. Although at times I didn’t manage my time wisely I’ve learned that God still gives grace. While scraping my knees several times I have discovered a new beauty. A beauty in crying out for help.

O Lord, I cry out to you. I will keep on pleading day by day. Psalm 88:13

There is such a beauty in crying out to God. As our loving Father, He is truly compassionate and able to bring healing. When we embrace our child-like nature, we experience God’s fathering nature.

They will be my people and I will be their God. Jeremiah 32:3

 

God sent His Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through Him. John 3:17

Imagine having one child. Pouring into that child, instilling wisdom in him, and nurturing him. Imagine a crisis taking place. A crisis so terrible that you had to choose to send your child away to another place to restore order. Would you give up your only child?

For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

I began to shift my perspective when I discovered the strategy of the Father. He gave His only Son. There were not multiple children to choose from. Jesus was the only one. Christmas is all about sacrifice.

The Gift of Christmas

Christ gave up His home in heaven to become man and go through the process that led to our redemption. Christmas is more than the presents we place under the tree. It’s about giving yourself to bring healing to others. Laying down your life similar to how we lay presents down before Christmas trees. Give your all to God this Christmas. After all, he gave His all for you.  It’s a holiday of celebrating the Father’s giving nature. So in return we give of ourselves.

Ways to Give

  • Serve at a homeless shelter.
  • Donate gifts to children/families in need.
  • Be kind to others.
  • Encourage someone.
  • Volunteer at a community event.
  • Donate items to the Salvation Army.
  • Donate to organizations that are serving in your community or internationally.

Happy Holidays!

I’m so grateful to have had this time to spend with friends and family, including you all. I pray your holidays have been festive, reflective, peaceful, and holy. Merry Christmas my friends!

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6 NLT

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

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! *

 

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.