Monday, March 29, 2010

Shelly Says ~ "21 Days and Counting..."

till we begin our online bible study together!

I have gotten so much positive feedback about doing the Beth Moore Breaking Free bible study with you all via my blog!

This lets me know one very important thing: God has orchestrated our study for such a time as this!

I was a little hesitant to begin the study online... especially being so new to the blogging thing and without the 1st clue as to how I should facilitate an online bible study. Then, I just tuned into the Voice of Truth and followed the call.

As always, God does not disappoint. He has already placed it on many of your hearts to go on this journey together!

He went ahead of me and prepared the way! I have no doubt the logistics of doing an online bible study will work themselves out as I prepare to facilitate, now.

I am SO EXCITED to see what God will do in each of your lives as you break free from the bondage that keeps you shackled.

Stay tuned for more details as April 19th approaches.

If you are reading my blog for the first time, please see the end of my blog from March 25th for more info.

I am praying for each and every one of you who want to break free!


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Shelly Says ~ "I Walked the Walk..." Emmaus, that is!

My apologies for not writing sooner, sweet reader, but I have been on a retreat that has changed my life and ushered me further along my "ministry path."

The Walk to Emmaus is a 3-day retreat intended for spiritual renewal.

Retreatants personally experience Luke 24:13-35, which provides the central image for the retreat. Luke tells the story of that first Easter afternoon when the risen Christ appeared to the two disciples who were walking together along the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus.

* Information obtained/adapted from:

My experience, on the walk, opened my eyes to the fact that there is still something deep down that is imprisoning me and keeping me shackled to my old self. While I thought I was primed and ready for the next step in my spiritual walk, the main thing I realized is that there is still one area of my life that I need to die to in order to live for Christ.

While I cannot put my finger on exactly what is holding me back, I have no doubt that God will show me my faults.

My prayer is Psalm 139 (paraphrased in my own words): Search me, O God! Know my anxious thoughts. Reveal any sin in my heart... any wrongdoing... any old way of thinking that keeps me from You. Lead me in the way everlasting!

Will you pray for me? I want to break free from the chains of my old self, completely, and walk along the path that God has prepared for me in advance!

*** By the way, I "just so happened" ; ) to discover a book on my walk. Breaking Free by Beth Moore.

I am getting the feeling that I am supposed to share my Breaking Free journey with others.

So, while I am not sure exactly how this will play out, I intend to research the how-tos of conducting a bible study over the Internet with the help of my blog! Basically, it will be a book club and we can meet online to discuss our personal journeys and provide support for each other along the way.

Stay tuned! I plan to begin the study on April 19th!!!

If you are interested in Breaking Free: Discover the Victory of Total Surrender, please pick up a copy of the book... not the bible study... but the book!

I plan to begin the journey April 19th. Will you walk with me?


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Shelly Says ~ "The Only True Way Up Is Down!"

To go up is to succeed. To go down is to fail. Right? Wrong!

As we search for meaning and our place in this world, our soul is trained to think that we must climb some sort of ladder until we hit a glass ceiling. This sounds physically exhausting and quite painful to me now.

At one time, though, I bought into the hype and saw this "climb" as a great opportunity... not to be passed up.

At an early age (16), I searched for my worth in the corporate jungle. It wasn't long before I spotted the perfect ladder in which I would climb for the next 16 years of my life.

I climbed and climbed. I even hit the glass ceiling... several times.

When I would hit the ceiling, I would proceed to walk that plank and hop the next ladder on my way up another path. Think "Donkey Kong" on steroids. You know the one... made my Nintendo in the early 80's!

Using a joystick, I was not very good at the video game version; however, using my powerful will, I was a master of the real-life version.

I was determined to hurdle ANY obstacle that tried to keep me from my ladders and my goal to reach the top!

Then, one day, I bumped my head a little too hard and some sense was knocked into me. Finally!

As I tried to discern why I was not happy, even though I was very successful in my field, the words of one of my favorite artists came over the radio.

Toby Mac's "Lose My Soul" reminded me that it will not profit man nor WO-man to gain the whole world at the expense of their soul.

Wow! Those words shined through the darkness of my life and that truth set me free! I sought the truth, on my knees, in God's Holy Word. Matthew 16:26 came to life for me that day.

That day, the truth was that I had gained the whole world but I had lost my soul.

Thank God I was set free because I jumped off the ladder that day, free-falling into the arms of my Savior.

I realized that to rise out of the ashes from all the trail-blazing I'd done, I'd have to fall.

I realized that to go up, I had to go down on my knees and cry out to the only One who can redeem me from such despair.

I fell down flat on my face, prostrate before God, and I began to find my soul by looking up.

*** By the way, I am currently seeking God's plan for my new career. Step by step, I am walking the path He has laid out for me.

Instead of steep ladders, dangerous obstacles and glass ceilings... I am finding beautiful hikes, pictures of grace and freedom from limits.

I'm on a journey to stand on the Mountain of God!

When I reach the top, thank God there will be no glass ceiling on which to bump my head: For I know that clean, fresh mountain air and a refreshing drink of Living Water await me! I'm on my way!


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Shelly Says ~ "Be Still and Know that Yahweh is God!"

Earth's crammed with heaven,
and every common bush afire with God:
But only he who sees takes off his shoes.
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.

~ a selection of poetry by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Yesterday, I was prompted to read "Shimmering Bits" from one of my favorite devotionals, by Robin Jones Gunn and Cindy Hannan, Take Flight.

I was drawn to this particular selection because, the day before yesterday, I was having sacred time with God when some shimmering bits just outside my window commanded my attention.

A mixture of pine and scraggly, deciduous trees were swaying in the gentle breeze outside. Droplets of moisture, from the evening before, were clinging to the pines and glistening in the early morning sunlight.

The combination of the refracting sun rays and the intermittent breeze created a display of glittering glory like I've never seen before! It was as if God, Himself, was putting on this display and reminding me of His beautiful creation.

I sat in awe!

And, I wondered to myself, "How can pine trees, water, sun and a gentle breeze create such a spectacular display?" My soul answered back, "Because God created them and He is SO good!"

How often do you pause and delight in God's magnificent creations? Earth is FULL of them and you are often on Holy Ground, unaware.

Are you too busy (Being Under Satan's Yoke) ?

Are you too tired (Tangled In Routine Every Day)?

Be still and know that {He is} God. Psalm 46:10 {emphasis mine}

*** By the way, God wasn't done yet! As the sun changed position and the wind died down, I opened my bible to one of the suggested readings in the devotional: Psalm 91:14-16.
I sat, amazed in His presence on Holy Ground, as I read the passage. Sprinkled on the page were tiny dots of pearlescent glitter. That God, He sure is something!
I pray that I never have a craving for blackberries when the Greatest of Fare is awaiting my place at His table.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Shelly Says ~ "Will You Send Me?"

She Speaks is a life-changing conference for women seeking to explore the tug on their hearts to reach out to the world for Jesus. Hosted by Proverbs 31 Ministries for the past nine years, She Speaks encourages and equips women as they communicate God's Word through speaking, writing and leadership.

As mentioned in today's previous blog entry, the Lord has laid it on my heart to attend She Speaks this summer. I trust He will provide a way, financially, for me to go. I would like to invite you to be a part of this life-changing conference by supporting me during my time of financial difficulty. Even $5.00 will help make this dream a reality! Will you prayerfully consider partnering with me through a financial contribution towards a scholarship that will allow me to attend?

If you feel led to support me in this exciting call, you can call Proverbs 31 Ministries at 877-731-4663 and mention my name. Or, you can send a check payable to Proverbs 31 Ministries and mail it to:

Proverbs 31 Ministries
She Speaks Scholarship/Shelly S Cantrell
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105

You will be receipted for your tax-deductible donation.

There is another way you can help as well. Prayer is the most important part of this journey. Please pray for me as I enter this new phase of my life.

Your gifts of scholarship and/or prayer will be appreciated and blessed.

For more information, please visit:
I appreciate your time and prayerful consideration! May God bless you as you bless others in the work of His kingdom's cause.


Shelly S. Cantrell

Shelly Says ~ "He Speaks! Will She Speak?"

If you read my first post, you know that I feel called to ministry. While I'm not exactly sure what that looks like, I am taking one step at a time to find out.

After taking the first step which was talking to my pastor/friend (a.k.a. wise counsel) earlier this week, I felt more and more like my call to ministry has something to do with women, children, outsiders, speaking, writing, travel, photography and Africa. I also felt compelled to attend a conference called "She Speaks." Here's the story on that...

Last year sometime, a friend of mine mentioned that I should attend a women's conference. She said it would be perfect for me. * 1st sign When I asked her for more information, she said, "I really don't know much about it, but I really think you should go." I said, "Well, if you think I should go, and God has really laid this on your heart... well, I'll just go." She smiled and said, "Great! Check it out! It's called "She Speaks" and the only other thing I know is that it's expensive. It's like $600 or something to go."

My joy-filled heart sank when the dollar signs rose from our conversation.

You see, my husband (who I briefly mentioned in the first post) was without a full-time job at this time as well. When my friend said "600 dollars," my soul (mind, will and emotions) immediately said, "No. I can't afford that. That's not for me because I can't afford it."

Looking back, I realize that at that moment, I stuffed God in a box and put limits on His power. I let my earthly circumstances deem my worth and stamp out the fire that God had placed in me to minister to women.

Fast forward to this week. Tuesday morning, my husband told me that he thought about me on his way home the night before. How sweet! ; ) He went on to describe this "message" he heard on the radio. My take-away from his story = "She speaks. She is speaking."
* 2nd sign That's all I could remember. When he said those words, they cut right to the core of my soul and burned themselves right into my spirit. I did not know why, but I did know that these words were the "main message for me" of his story from the radio.

Take a small leap to that afternoon/early evening. I had a meeting scheduled with my pastor/friend at 5pm (yes, the same one mentioned in the first post and at the beginning of this one). * Keep in mind that I almost cancelled the whole thing because I was sick.

That morning, instead of cancelling due to sickness, I asked her if we could meet on the phone. She agreed. So, at 3:15pm, I positioned myself at the feet of God in our upper room and waited for her call (the upper room in our house is the upstairs room we have set aside where we have our sacred time with God). When I got up to visit the bathroom, she called. I missed the call. So, when I got back to my place in the upper room, I tried to call her back. I immediately got her receptionist and was transferred. Hellos were exchanged and the meeting began just as dead silence fell over the line.

"Hello," I called out. Nothing. The line was dead. "Call failed" were the words on the screen of my phone staring back at me. I was frustrated by this "brief" setback and I immediately dialed her number again. The phone would not ring. "Call failed" appeared on the screen again. This process was repeated SEVERAL times. It was after the ___th time that I attempted to place the call that I "lost it". Despair set in and big ole fat tears of defeat gushed from my eyes, down my cheeks and onto the "call failed screen."

I cried, "God help me! I need to talk to this woman!" Then, I tried one more time. Success! The call went through, she answered the phone and we proceeded to have the conversation I had been waiting for months to have with her. The conversation was concerning my call to ministry. I sought her counsel on the matter and we spoke for one hour and 15 minutes on the matter. During the call, there were several times when she excused herself and asked me to hold the line. I have to admit. I felt that sense of despair creeping in as she put me on hold to "handle other matters."

Needless to say, hindsight reveals the MANY things that kept interfering with our conversation. Hindsight reveals that satan was trying his best to keep me from her wise counsel.

You see, during this conversation, my call to ministry was confirmed! Something else was confirmed: I am to attend the "She Speaks" conference. Mid-conversation, my pastor/friend said, "Maybe you should check out 'She Speaks.' It's a conference that may help you." *3rd sign

As soon as she said it, my heart leaped for joy! The same heart that sank last year when my friend mentioned the price tag, leaped for joy at those words from my pastor/friend! God was speaking clearly! It was at that moment, I remembered the words of my husband just earlier that day.

But, how will I afford to go (my husband is still without full-time work)? Well, I've learned to leave the "how" up to God. I did not put Him in a box this go 'round. I exalted and praised Him because I heard Him speak and I heard Him calling! Praise God!

All God asks is for a willing spirit. He will do the rest!

"Here I am, God. I have heard You speak. Am I to speak? I will wait for You to reveal that to me."

*** By the way, when I told the story of the phone conversation and my despair to my husband, he mentioned that he has heard somewhere (couldn't recall) that satan has power over the air waves. WOW! I took note. "If that's true," I said, "then no wonder I could not get through to seek wise counsel. I felt despair and hopelessness when I could not get through to her. Was it really satan trying to keep me from calling her to receive confirmation on my calling?"

As I pondered these thoughts, I remembered something my pastor/friend said at the end of our conversation when I told her that I felt so much better after talking to her. I explained that at the beginning of our call, I felt defeated and devastated and like I should not be wasting her time. By the end, however, I felt sweet victory and a call on my life!

I asked her, "How do you know the difference between good and evil when trying to discern the Voice of Truth over the voice of lies/deceit?"

She simply answered, "You know it's satan when there's an overwhelming sense of despair."

I should also mention that my husband's remark about satan having power over the airwaves prompted me to dig deeper. I found Ephesians 2:1-2 (NAS) "And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air..."

Wow! My cell phone signal (which uses air waves for transmission) was disrupted. Think it was satan trying to keep me from my call?

Fear not! There is sweet victory in Jesus when you stand firm against the dark power in this world and tune into the Voice of Truth!


Friday, March 12, 2010

Shelly Says ~ "Here I am!"

I have heard you calling. Your voice is undeniable once I know how to tune in. Your voice is discernable once I block all the others out. Your voice is true when others lie. Your voice tells me to do things that others tell me I cannot. Your voice is ever more strong the closer I draw near. Your voice is clear now that I have committed to becoming more than just a good bible study girl!

When I first thought of diving into my next bible study, Becoming More Than A Good Bible Study Girl, by Lysa TerKeurst, I was excited and ready to begin! Then, life started happening. One thing led to another, and before I could catch my breath, my reserved bible study time slot became open to more work. Time to learn more about God turned into time to make more money. *This should have been my 1st sign.

You see, I am a recovering workaholic. Often times, my flesh tries to find my worth in my work when my true worth is found in Christ alone. It's good to be determined to work hard; but, it is bad to let hard work determine your worth.

Back to the point: To make a long story shorter, I decided not to take the bible study. I decided to take the work instead. Deep in my soul, I felt like taking the bible study was the best option; however, at the forefront of my soul was the desire to bring in more money to my financially-hurting household. Beware: Worldly desires often want to overrule heavenly callings.

That's when God stepped in!

I prayed that if God REALLY wanted me to take the bible study, then He would have to post a big ole sign. At the time, the only signs I saw were dollar signs.

Within days, I got a call from the lady who had hired me for the work. She explained that she would no longer need my services due to financial reasons. I hung up, confused and a little angry. But, now I was free to... find more work. That's right. As soon I hung up, my mind was on MORE work to replace the work I had just lost. By the way, * this should have been my 2nd sign.

Later that week, I met a friend for lunch. This friend just so happened to be the woman who referred me for the work that I was now denied. Over lunch, I explained to my friend how the work had been cancelled but I was not shaken because I was convinced that God would take care of me and find me more work. My friend must not have heard me say, "I'm looking for more work to replace that work" because the next thing she said was,"Great! Now you're free to take the bible study! We've got 12 signed up so far and I'm facilitating it!" * This should have been my 3rd sign.

My response was, "No, I won't be taking the study because I have to work:" to which her response was, "Don't worry about the money. I'll give you the books. You can pick them up at my office tomorrow."

I didn't know what to say next. I wanted to shout, "WHAT?!?!" I mean... was she not listening to me? Suddenly, I felt a huge blanket of despair come over me. We were near the end of our lunch time, so I decided to drop the subject and get out of there as quickly as possible. When I made that decision, the despair quickly dissipated, so I decided to stay a while longer and move onto other topics. Our lunch time ended peacefully and with her looking forward to me being present at the bible study... to which I just nodded my head and smiled.

Whew! Now, I could get on to that job search!

When I got home, I could not shake the undeniable Voice of Reason entering my spirit. I felt bad that I had no intention of picking up those bible study books. So, I told myself, "I'll pick them up and just look at them. Then, if nothing else, I'll do the bible study on my own if I feel like it's a good bible study."

I picked up the books. Then, I opened the workbook and read the first line: Have you ever wished you could not only know God's truth but also feel equipped to live it out in your everyday life?

"Yes," I answered aloud as I wept. This is exactly what I had been praying about for some time.

I imagine that God sighed deeply with relief at "my discovery." He could take a break from trying to convince me that this bible study had been written with me in mind. Finally!

Becoming More Than A Good Bible Study Girl touched me deeply. It changed me, rearranged me and convinced me to take a step I had not taken... into the unknown... where Jesus was calling.
He has been calling for some time, but I've been too distracted with work.

To wrap up the long story made shorter: Now, I am choosing to listen to the Voice of Truth. I am choosing to act on the call to ministry that I so vividly heard as I was talking to a dear friend and pastor earlier this week (one of many signs). While I don't know exactly what ministry looks like for me, I am now on a journey to find out.

Becoming More Than A Good Bible Study Girl means living the life I love to read about. "I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back!"

Philippians 3:14 MSG (from one of my favorite passages of Scripture)

*** By the way, I missed the last class because I was sick, but I did ask my friend (the facilitator) if I could borrow the DVD to do that last session on my own. After I got off the phone with my pastor/friend earlier this week, I sat down to complete the final session of the bible study.
It is poignantly named:

Becoming More Than A Good Bible Study Girl
In My Calling
; )