The Love Encounter

I learned to love from a distance. As long as you didn’t get too close to me, I was fine. As long as you didn’t invade my space we were perfectly fine. But you were different.

You told me that you loved me and I felt something. As much as I tried to hide, you sought me all the more. I was afraid to let you in. I thought you’d see something that’d make you turn away. My heart had suffered enough damage.

It ached and dripped with bruises and scars from the past. You smiled softly, looking intently into my eyes. Placing your hand over mine, you held my heart with me. It was the one thing I felt that I had left. The one thing that I attempted to shield.

I felt warmth coming from your palms and fingers as I slowly released my grip. I finally decided to let you in. The flood gates opened and the poison began to drain. You said “I am life” and my heart began to heal. I could not have done this without you. I’ve needed you ever since. And you’re constantly, readily, and deeply available to me.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26

Being Love – Renee Beltran

Welcome to the Being Love Series!

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up, does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in inquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7


Our first guest is Renee Beltran! Renee is a speaker, mother, Mary Kay consultant, and the founder of Sisterhood of God Women’s Ministry!

Shantel: Hey Renee!

Renee: Hey girl!

S: Tell me, what is your definition of love?

R: Love is an action. I really love “love” movies. You know, the affection, the touching, and the romance. I used to think that that was what love is. Like If you don’t give me butterflies then I’m not in love with you! *laughs* But then as I grew in my relationship with Christ and really got to know who He was as a Father and a supporter it showed me that what I thought was love was actually lust.

S: Wow.

R: Love is “You’re this way. Those are your sins and this is your baggage. But, no matter what you carry, I’m choosing to make the decision to love you no matter what.”

S: *Laughs* You’re going in girl! When can you say is the first time you’ve experienced love?

R: *Exhales* It may sound weird but it’s actually the moment that I let go of this certain type of love. It was the moment when I prayed and fasted for a whole month and asked God if my son’s father was the man He had for me. Was this man ever gonna change? Was he gonna stop abusing me? Was he gonna come to Christ? And if so, were we gonna be together? And it was actually the first time I heard God speak to me.

S: Wow!

R: He told me “I don’t have this man for you. You can stay with him if you want but I won’t bless you in it.” So I made the decision and said “God, I make the decision to love you more than to love this man.” I got up, packed my things, and left. But when I left it was really hard for me because I Ieft with pretty much nothing. Everything was in his name. So I left with only my clothes.

R: Every night I cried because I really wanted my family but in those moments I really felt loved most. Just the fact that God spoke to me, and showed me what He had for me, and in the fact that I made the decision to get up and leave, He opened so many doors.

S: Girl, this is awesome! How do you choose to be love on a daily basis?

R: As I clean people’s homes for my cleaning business, I worship God. I put my headphones in and worship the entire time!

S: What would you say to someone who’s struggling with being love?

R: It all starts with loving yourself and learning who God is because He is love. Once you learn who God is, and what love actually is versus lust, you come to learn that you are made in God’s image. We confuse the two so many times thinking “Oh, this guy doesn’t really like me or I’m not getting this type of attention so I’m not loved.” For me that’s how it was. I grew up without a father so I didn’t have a male role model in my life, so if I didn’t get attention I thought “Well, maybe I’m just not loved.” We deserve so much higher, so much better than that. We have to learn what our best qualities are and not focus on the bad ones.


Be sure to follow Renee on Instagram, Facebook, and subscribe to her website www.reneebeltran.com!

To find out more about the Being Love Series click here! Thanks for reading! ❤

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!

Envisioning Your Greatness!

Hello all and happy New Year! I’m excited about what God is doing in this season. He is bringing us into new territory and higher ground.

On our prayer call, we focused on Abram’s life and what it means to have vision.

Vision

  1. the act or power of seeing sight.
  2. A thought, concept, or object formed by the imagination
  3. The act or power of imagination.

    Abram was a man of great faith. He was called to leave his homeland and trust God in the journey of relocating. Although he had walked with God for quite some time, Abram had no children. And even in his old age the situation bothered him.

    Some time later, the Lord spoke to Abram in a vision and said to him, “Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great.” But Abram replied, “O Sovereign Lord , what good are all your blessings when I don’t even have a son? Since you’ve given me no children, Eliezer of Damascus, a servant in my household, will inherit all my wealth. You have given me no descendants of my own, so one of my servants will be my heir.”

    Genesis 15:1‭-‬3 NLT

    Abram loved the Lord very much but it bothered him that he had no children to carry on His legacy. How often are we too frustrated because of our “lack”? We sometimes see no breakthrough. No resources. No resolution. Believe me, I felt that way before. But what happened next is astonishing.

    Then the Lord said to him, “No, your servant will not be your heir, for you will have a son of your own who will be your heir.” Then the Lord took Abram outside and said to him, “Look up into the sky and count the stars if you can. That’s how many descendants you will have!” And Abram believed the Lord , and the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith.

    Genesis 15:4‭-‬6 NLT

    Count the  s t a r s.
    The maker of the universe gave Abram a vision. Something he could see and connect with. Although Abram was initially childless, he believed God’s promise. 

    Have you ever sensed an urge to do something phenomenal? Have you ever believed for something incredible? Your time is now to meditate on what God has for you.

    Write the vision. Make it plain. Habakkuk 2:2

    Get acquainted with where God is taking you.

    What God has given you is not by mistake or accident. It’s something that only you have. Make the steps to help manifest it on earth!

    Partner with GOD

    • Make a vision board
    • Jot down your ideas
    • Collaborate with like-minded people
    • Get acquainted with where God is taking you.
    • Pray always.

      I believe God for your breakthrough. What He has promised shall come to pass. Step into 2018 with expectancy in your heart and a pen in your hand!

      Prayer

      Father, 

      Thank you for investing in me. Thank you for seeing beyond what I physically see. Help me to believe your words and to walk according to my calling. Please help me to rest in the center of Your will. I will abide in You, free from chains of fear, doubt, and stagnation.
      In Jesus Name,

      Amen.

      Listen to the powerful song that was featured on yesterday’s call!

      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.

      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