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!

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.

Plants and Seeds

A time of harvest. A time of blessings. No more strife. Please, stop stressing. Joy is here. The sun peers. Through the leaves of green. What a glorious scene. You thought this was the end. But joy cometh in the morning, my friend. Seed, time, and harvest. Water your crops. Let it penetrate your seed. There is no more drought. While others were drying and leaves were dying, you were planted by rivers of water. Now you rise toward the open skies. What a blessed time to be alive. You survived the storm. You overcame the chills. There have been deep valleys and hovering hills. But mighty are the works of His hands. Tenderly, carefully guiding you in His plan. Cultivating your mind and causing your stems to rise. Oh, what a blessed time to be alive. 

He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. Psalms 23:2 NKJV

Hanging with Holy Host!

So as you may have seen on my social media, I’ve recently joined a group -Holy Host Ministries! It has been nothing short of amazing.
I had been praying and seeking God for my next move in life. I knew that I was preparing for something great but had no idea to what extent. I continued leading the prayer call,  going to outreach events, singing and songwriting. 

I grew up in a musical household so singing was natural. But then I recall becoming fascinated with the structure of songs and playing the music keyboard. I’d tap at the keyboard playing 3rds from the C major and  A minor scales. I still can hear my first song I created! One of my passions has been to connect with people through music and to share the beauty of it.

Several months ago, God began sharing with me that I was going to join a local church in Baltimore. It was one that I had seen occasionally online but never attended. I noticed that a group I affiliate with would be having their next event at the church! I knew that that was my green light to go!

When I arrived, I stood in the back of the church before the event started as the people gathered to pray.  God spoke these words to me:

Why stay in the back when I’ve called you to be in the front?

I was given the opportunity to lead the discussion table at our event. The theme was Purpose. A handful of people joined me including the Holy Host team. What amazed me was everyone’s transparency and desire to grow in God. The connection flowed so naturally. 

From there I started fellowshipping at CAB. I was invited to sing and play keyboard with Holy Host on some Sundays. 

Then one morning as I woke up I heard God say for me to join Holy Host. Out of excitement, I immediately messaged Leviticus, the founder of the group. He informed me that he and Justin, another member, heard God tell them that. When I thought about how everything transpired, I realized that it was God’s hand orchestrating the whole time.

I have been given the opportunity to usher people into God’s presence and it has been thrilling. What I had prayed for, God surpassed with great measure. I rejoice in sharing a platform with others who are eager to make a difference. Our hearts are hungry for impacting the world.

Balance, peace, and joy are the fruit of a successful life. It starts with recognizing your talents and finding ways to serve others by using them. Thomas Kinkade

Check out upcoming events at Holy Host Ministries!

Thank you.

Don’t Cheat Yourself

“I can’t believe this is happening to me!” “Who would’ve thought that my life would end up this way?” “Why me, Lord?”

So many questions raced through my mind.

“Why don’t I still have my car? Why are these bills piling up? Why is everyone around me succeeding?”

Another failure. Another set back. Another temptation to throw in the towel. Had I done something wrong? What sin did I commit this time?

Growing up, I always wanted things to be perfect. In my depiction of perfection, the ultimate goal was to have the approval of my peers. I wanted everyone to be pleased by my accomplishments and lavishness.

Perfect a :  being entirely without fault or defect :  flawless b :  satisfying all requirements :  accurate c :  corresponding to an ideal standard or abstract concept

My definition of perfection was to be married by 22 years old, have a spacious house, a fancy car, and two years later, start having children. My vision of perfection was to have two college degrees by 25. However, my reality was fearfulness, anxiousness, and procrastination. I wanted to help others, especially children, see their worth but internally I was struggling with my own confidence. When hard times appeared I was a “train wreck.”

You’re never going to be happy with what you get, if you’re never happy with what you have. – Claire Wineland

Panicking became a habit when the bills were due or deadlines for various things came up. You see, I thought I had the right formula: Pray, wait, look for the answer, worry. I would pray to God for a miracle; pray that He’d help me get through these trying times. Then I’d wait for a response and look for some form of an answer. Finally, when things were not lining up according to my speed preference, I would worry. It was foolish, I know, but somehow this became my staple when tough times presented themselves.

And who of you by worrying can add one hour to [the length of] his life? – Matthew 6:27 AMP

Eventually, I became tired of my habit of “freaking out” and decided to do something different. I decided to be still. I decided to examine my life. I decided to perform a reality check. The truth was I was spending too much worry about problems and too less time enjoying everyday. I had wasted so much time trying to put the pieces together, that by the time the issue was resolved the day would be over. I finally realized that every storm had a beginning and an end. I cried when I realized what I was doing. I apologized to God for not using the time He had given me wisely. Then I apologized to myself for contributing to my own destruction.

God had given me a new day to live. I started to smile more often. I started watching people enjoy their lives. I started to go to parks more often. When I’d wake up the sun would shine on me and I’d embrace the moment. The more I began to focus on the beautiful moments in life I began to think more clearly. I began budgeting and organizing my time wisely. I began to invest in my own ideas, gifts and talents.

live-today-inspirational-quote

I say all of this to let you know that life is a treasure. We are given one life on this earth. If you are frustrated or focused on your problems, you can miss a great moment. Let God’s light into your life. Change your perspective. Sense the opportunities where you can encourage others. Appreciate each new day. God loves you and He took the time to create you, a beautiful, unique, and treasured being. Love yourself. Let love guide you in forgiving others. You can not move forward with baggage from the past. Regardless of what has happened to you and what others have said,  you are a remarkable being.

 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. – Ephesians 2:10 NLT

I encourage you to say this affirmation: I am a blessing. I am wonderful. I am powerful. I am not my past mistakes. I am not the problems that I am faced with. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I will see with eyes of gratitude. I will be a light because I have a purpose.

 

Life More Abundantly

For the longest time I considered traveling the world. The pictures on social media, the landscapes in magazines, and the travel guide videos were astonishing. This, I thought, is living life to the fullest.

world view

The crystal clear waters, the sparkling sand, the lush green fields, and diverse culture were a few things that drew me. I wanted to experience Earth on the other side. At the time, I had commitments and responsibilities that were freshly added to my list of things to do. But sometimes I would stay up at night, envisioning my escapades.

Although I still have dreams and aspirations, I  have come to realize that I can live life more abundantly at my current state. I can smell the roses while taking my dog for a walk. I can start conversations more with people around me. I can check on my family members and friends more often to see how they are doing. I can daily do a self-check to make sure that I’m not harboring any negative energy.

Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. – James 4:13,14 NLT

We all have those moments when we’re so focused on our future that we forget about the present. Our present day is a gift (Thanks for the quote Master Oogway from Kung Fu Panda!). Live in the moment and savor each day.

Be anxious for nothing, but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. – Philippians 4:6 NAS

Here’s a prayer that you can pray to God:

Dear Father,

Thank you for blessing me with this day. I acknowledge that it is a gift. Show me how to enjoy it and impact others in a great way. Guide my heart and remove every stain. Clear my mind of negative thoughts so that I may please you. Help me embrace the opportunities that you have placed before me. I know that you hold tomorrow in your hands. May your will be done because it is what’s best for me.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen

Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it’s called the present.- Master Oogway

Check out my cover of Cece Winans’ “He’s Concerned” here!