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!

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! *

 

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!

Trusting the Master

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I will call upon your name. Keep my eyes above the waves. Hillsong in Oceans

10/03 – Trusting the Master Call

You didn’t see this coming. It knocked you right off of your feet. And although you thought you covered all measures somehow tragedy still struck. It was the loss of a loved one, another job denial, a new balance added to your account, or having to start all over again. So many questions. So many questions. You try to make sense of it all but no matter how you cut it, it still does not add up. This, my friend, is the struggle.

You are truly, seriously lost, even though you know exactly where you are. Barbara Brown Taylor in An Altar in the World.

What God has revealed to me is that we have to trust Him. When we do, we are able to breathe and sleep at night knowing that He is caring for us. As the Great Shepherd, He looks after each of His sheep.

I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd. John 10:14-16

Even when you don’t understand God is still there.

L o o k, S m e l l, T h i n k, T a s t e, a n d L i s t e n.

Oh taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the man that trusts in Him. Psalm 34:8

As the loving Father He is, God covers us with His word and has equipped us for the journey.

Look for the reminders that God has placed in your life. Look for God in the little things. 

God is in the details. He’s in the wind. He’s in the trees. He’s in the earth. He’s in the flowers. Everything around you is giving a message. Tune in to hear the Master’s voice through your everyday occurrences.

Meditate.

Take time out of your day to center yourself and focus on what God may be trying to reveal to you. I sing, study, and play worship songs in the morning.

Connect with purpose-driven people.

It’s been stated that we become who we hang around. Be observant of who you are partnering with.

Trust that He has you.

Your situation is not too dynamic that it disqualifies you from God’s arc of safety. Fall into the Master’s loving arms.

He won’t take you into it until He’s prepared you for it.

Stop trying to rush the process. If you truly consider, you’re most likely not ready for the “next big thing” just yet. Use this time to recuperate and to rest in the promises of God.

Today’s feature song!

When oceans rise my soul will rest in your embrace. I am yours and you are mine.

Kissed by the Sun.

This week I went on an adventure. To discover the wildly beautiful. My voyage took me very far. From the plains of Maryland to the great wilderness. I went in pursuit of God’s nature. What I discovered was far more pleasant than I anticipated. Journey with me on this voyage through photographs.

First stop, on the trails to wonderland.
Beautiful, vibrant, trees collide with plastic, orange dividers. I feel welcomed as I journey down the trail. 

Next, I was greeted by this Royal Paulownia tree. Royalty welcomes me.
I had to take a closer look at this massive tree. It consisted of deep ridges so detailed that there was no doubt they were handcarved by God. Observing the plants at the base, everything pointed upward so I decided to look up.

What a wonderful sight. Such beautiful ridges and deep indentations. As I studied the patterns in the ridges, the leaves waved down below. I wanted to get a full perspective of the height, so I stooped down low.

I thought I’d just be observing the height of the tree but the base of it allured me as well. Nestled together were chiseled rocks and dandelions. Like little cousins, they were huddled together next to the tree.


The foliage stood tall as I knelt a little closer. I embraced each patch of green goodness.

My gaze then shifted to a bench area. The shadows created contrast in the green grass and bench.

There I sat, taking it all in. This was a moment of reflection. A moment of gratitude. A moment of peace. 


Then I realized something.


Here comes the sun, do do do do… 

The sun peered out between the branches and I felt this overwhelming warmth on my face. I was delighted!

Not only had I been welcomed by the greenery, the sun said hello with it’s warm rays. It was God’s way of showing me the harmony in all of His creation.

I hoped to capture the depth of these clustered leaves in contrast to the top of this tree. It was full but yet separated.


Then it was time to go for a swing. Woodchips, wind, and the faint creeking of metal on my swing as I swayed back and forth.

Then I rested under a tree. I had been wanting to do it lately but was too reserved. 

I clinched the grass in my hands. I planted my feet deep in the blades. I loved every bit of the moment. 

Some moments that I did not get to capture was the discovery of this beautiful, wooden chapel near the forest and a mellow deer kneeling down to eat plants.

Over & Out,

A Nature Lover

“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. Let the fish in the sea speak to you. For they all know that my disaster has come from the hand of the Lord . For the life of every living thing is in his hand, and the breath of every human being. The ear tests the words it hears just as the mouth distinguishes between foods. Wisdom belongs to the aged, and understanding to the old. “But true wisdom and power are found in God; counsel and understanding are his.” – Job 12:7-10 NLT

*All pictures taken on a Galaxy S7 🙂

Walks with God

I started out walking to the bus stop. Persistent, driven, and focused on getting to work. But all of the sudden, my busy morning commute turned into a peaceful stroll with the Savior.

I felt God in the wind. Heard His voice in the trees. Felt His warmth in the sky’s sun rays. Oh what bliss. Time stood still as we strolled. Moments like this were not always so evident.

I’ve always been on the go. If you ask my parents they’ll tell you how much of a busybody I was. Whether to work, school, family functions, or church it didn’t matter. I was ready to go. Always running late but always on the go.source.gif

One day, I was spending time with family downtown. We were exploring the scenery and checking out the quaint shops. But when it was time to go I quickly turned into the energizer bunny. I power-walked pass the crowds in pursuit of my destination. Then I heard voices calling from a distance. “Shantel.” When I turned around, my family was still far behind me. I had walked ahead of them as soon as we left the store. As I stood there, I thought to myself, Man, this is not good.

“Why are you rushing?”

I suffered from panic attacks and social anxiety. I thought, while in crowded, public spaces that the whole world was staring at me. It was difficult for me to enjoy outings with my family. I wanted to be free but fear paralyzed me.

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

Psalm 91:1 NLT

I recall contemplating calling out of work one day because I was afraid that people would stare as I crossed the streets. Now, here I was strolling down the street, taking in the scenery, listening to the birds chirp on my way to work.

Healing is ready and available to you. I know how it feels to be in that “dark tunnel” of fear. You feel stranded, distant, and alone. But you are not alone. The God of peace will rescue you. Just reach out. Don’t carry that burden by yourself. #Release. You have help in the refuge of God’s arms and those he sends to encourage you. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. You are not a mistake. Your life is far from over. Surrender.

I am free from that anxiety that once surrounded me.


God,

We thank you for revealing that you are able. That You have the power to heal and deliver. We take comfort in knowing that if we stretch out our hand to You, You will save us with your Mighty arm. You are compassionate God. As stated in Zephaniah 3:17, You will rejoice over us with joy, quiet us with Your love, and rejoice over us with singing. Your grace is enough. Send others in our paths to pray for us and guide us in encouraging others. Fear is already defeated and we believe that we are victorious through the blood of Jesus Christ as stated in Hebrews 9:12. Thank you for saving us. Amen

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.

A Harvest Season

 

The leaves are slowly changing. The breeze is cooler. I feel it in the air. It’s a new season. A new time to be alive. Fall is approaching. I will enjoy this late summer. How I’ve longed for this time. It’s not a midsummer night’s dream.

Thank you for the breeze. Thank you for the trees. Thank you for the sound.
If you want to see God look all around. His hands are in the branches. His smile is in the sun. His breath is in the wind. His voice is in the waters. His heart is in the details. Oh, what a time to be alive.

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.-Ecclesiastes 3:11