focus

Fix your gaze. #focus

The world we’re living in is crazy, and by crazy I don’t just mean Trump in America. We’re in perilous times. As I sit here and reflect on the rough day that I had yesterday, I’m thankful to the Lifter up of my head and my friends and family to remind me where to look.

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. – Psalm 121:1&2 (ESV)

I chose to rejoice and be glad yesterday. I chose to recount my blessings and be grateful for what I know could be so much worse. It’s easy to get distracted by our circumstances and let our emotions take a roller coaster ride. We don’t have to stay there. We can hop off at any moment. God has given us the freedom and strength to fix our gaze on Him instead.

straight-aheadI was thinking…
What if America could no longer rubberneck? What if the tragedies that are so prevalent in other countries were suddenly sweeping our states and dividing like never before? We’re getting there, but FEAR NOT.

It makes me think of how crucial it is that we learn how to fix our gaze on God, now.  That we pass tests, now. That we’re faithful in the small, now. It is crucial that we fall madly in love with the One who first loved us, now. That we become mesmerized by His beauty, NOW! The peace the world gives, my friend, is not everlasting. No matter what, take heart! Don’t you dare turn your head. Keep looking straight ahead at our Prince of Peace who has overcome the world. For when your eyes are on Christ…when the world fails you, you will not fail with it.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. – John 16:33 (NIV)

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. – John 14:27 (NIV)

Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil. –  Proverbs 4:25-27 (NIV)

 

2016

Sweet 16: A #Reflective #Poem and #Prayer for a #HappyNewYear

Whew.

You grew me up sweetly through the times that were bitter. I mean, I moved four times, wrote two books, and forgave seventy times seven, all while being a sitter.

Instead of buying, I traded. ‘Cause the new things I wanted didn’t cost dollars, they cost souls; something way more valuable than silver and gold. It’s just a fresh perspective on a word that is old.

Death was but a shadow that couldn’t stand the light, so we won. The truth? It made me free to soar over seas, flowers, and trees, pollinating like bees, please believe I ain’t the same because of it; see me. You will…when you start seeing Him. When He opens your eyes and your vision ain’t grim. It will be beautiful, and I smile at the thought of being a part of the giving of the gift that I got.

Like Mali said, “I fight for you, I’m right for you, I’m here on purpose”. And I’m not waiting to the end…of the year for the storm to be over and your heart to repent. By faith, I welcome the rainbows now, and before ’17 comes, I pray God makes it happen somehow.

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
– 2 Chronicles 7:14

© 2016 • Chan’tel Nikole Grayson

i-love-you
Image

#DearHubby: A Love Letter to My Future Spouse 

On October 24, 2014, following an inspiring bible study on the topic of “The Unloved Woman”, I decided to write a letter to my unknown husband-to-be. I’ve gone back and forth on my decision to share it for the simple fact that it’s his letter and was originally intended for his eyes only. But, I gotta.  I guess this is what happens when your wife-to-be is a writer. Lord, bless him! Here’s what I wrote to my boo thang (giggles). I hope there’s another woman or man out there like myself who can relate to this post and finds it timely and refreshing.

Hey Dear,

I went to bible study tonight and returned home feeling both blessed and a mess! The speaker brought a word to us on “The Unloved Woman” and broke it down, identifying the why and this unloved woman’s characteristics. She said an unloved woman is dangerous because she is likely to cause harm. There are 6 types of this woman, and I identified with “the single woman never loved properly”. This woman says they don’t want or need things as a cover up. She doesn’t believe it’s genuine. Dang, that was me.

I received the word that FAITH HAS A VOICE. I realized that all of my “waiting” was due to a lack of faith. I’ve been saying I don’t want, what I do want. I’ve been nonchalant and complacent. The speaker has this ministry for single women. They (we) made baskets full of goodies for our husbands-to-be. Mine of course, is for you dear ☺. Before I let you dive in, I want you to know that I’m doing what’s necessary to get right, and tonight’s exposure was a great first step. God’s going to heal me for you. You’re worth my time and I am too.

So, I got a basket. Initially I got it because even though I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do this whole marriage thing again, something in me knew it was right. So by faith, I will feel so right by the time it is full. I’m praying for you and me individually and collectively. I love you so much and truly want the best for you, so…I gotta do my part.

I don’t want you to have a broken woman. We will not awaken our love until it is time. I feel it won’t be long…so I’m working hard by submitting to God, being honest, and allowing him to make me whole.

Dear God, Please do not let my husband suffer on account of me. May I never blaspheme your word! Finding me as his wife WILL be good for eternity. 

I don’t want to be easy to love for just a while, I want to be easy to love for life. I bind the spirit of complacency. I submit to the Holy Spirit and say, “have your way, God.”

Any who…love you.

xoxo,
yo ☺

wp-image-2083523495jpg.jpg

FIG Modeling 

For years I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to work as a mannequin/figure model for Figurative Inspiration Group (FIG) in San Diego, California.

“FIG members take a unique approach to figure drawing. Fourteen award-winning artists gather each Tuesday at Bravo School of Art to draw and paint from a eclectic range of clothed models. Models are asked to take relaxed positions, as they would in everyday settings with attitudes to tell a story.”

It’s amazing what these talented artists can do in 2-20 minutes! I have mostly had solo modeling sessions, but recently, I have had a couple of shared ones, and last week’s session was shared with, *drum roll please*…my brother!! Yeeee! God loves me ya’ll! It was such a humbling treat that I can’t keep to myself.

The below is another great one. It nearly moves me to happy tears to know that she saw us. She captured both our look and essence so excellently! 

Drawing by Dot Renshaw

Special thanks to Judy Pike for arranging this sweet session and opening wonderful doors of opportunity. To God be all the glory!

Leave Empty

I want to leave this world empty.

Let it be known
That I gave it all I’ve got
And that I kept on walking
Long after I got shot.

They tried to kill me
But He healed me
And now I can surely say
There’s no doubt in my mind
That God isn’t The Way.

He’s not a man that He should lie
So there’s no good excuse
Not to serve Him ’til we die
Not put our gifts to use.

I want to leave this world empty
On time and On “E”
I want to leave this world empty
And full of all of me.

He paid a pretty hefty cost
For our sinful, wretched mess
Then He rose; sent Help
And proceeded to call us blessed.

I thought I lost some here and there
But He said, “Nah, they quit the race.”
He said I chose to keep on running
And they chose to save face.

I want to leave this world empty
Having done all I loved to do
Love God, Love People
Love Me, Love You.

I want to leave flecks of gold
That shimmer within smiles
I want to leave hope, lots of hope
That lasts a great while.

I decided long ago that…
I wanted to leave this world empty
On time and on “E”
So that all would know, truly
That I was naturally me.

So when that day comes…
Let it be known
I didn’t leave early
Let it be known
I hate being late
Let it be known
I’ve waited long enough
For that Oh, so precious date.

© 2016 | Chan’tel Grayson

 

Back to Basics
Image

Back to Basics.

Society convinces us that we have to be the masters and creators of our own destiny. We are consistently urged and praised for being trendy, multi-tasking go-getters, that ride or die, hustle and flow, with faces that are “beat” and “eyebrows on fleek”. Social, economic, and educational systems have been installed like conveyor belts to strategically move us along through life like lab rats, with little allowance to function outside of them. Death seems to be the only way out, and somehow, we have to get back to the basics. What does God say?

Wait for Him. (Psalm 27:14)
Be Still. (Psalm 46:10)
Trust Him. (Proverbs 3:5)
Seek Him. (Matthew 6:33)
Don’t Worry. (Philippians 4:6)
Your Beauty is Internal. (1 Peter 3:3)

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. – Romans 12:2 (NLT)

I find myself having to ask God often if He is pleased with me, and I find myself often shocked to learn that He is. I’m shocked because His way seems to strike such a nerve with so many people, that even I doubt at times, hmm…maybe I was wrong. I am grateful for his affirmations of the truth. I guess Jesus had the same problem on earth as well. He challenged the thoughts of many hearts and upset a lot of people by bringing His sword.

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. – Matthew 6:10 (ESV)

The truth forces people to make a knowledge-based choice that they are accountable for on the day of judgement. It disrupts their ignorant bliss, while making God smile. So if the world is unhappy with your decisions, you’re likely doing something right. You go, girl!

Sadly, we have gotten so used to the glory that God has bestowed upon us, that we seemed to have forgotten where it is from. “We woke up like this”, remember? No longer are we humbly asking our Father to move on our behalf. Instead, we are abusing His power and making demands and declarations to get what we want in our own timing. We’re moving on our own behalf, taking matters into our own hands, and although it’s unholy, it works.

“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. – 1 Corinthians 10:23 (ESV)

We have to get back to the basics. There’s much forgiveness to be asked of God and so much unlearning that needs to take place within us, but gratefully Jesus left us with a beautiful gift of help for the process; The Holy Spirit.

The masses want to be rich, and many are slowly dying, trying. We’ve allowed money to come in and take the wheel and drive our actions, when the most liberating path of life is one under the control of God. We all have desires within our hearts— some that God has placed there, and others that we may need to let go, if serving Christ His way is our goal. We must embrace the truth that we all have different God-given portions as well. Our portions may or may not even require that we have certain natural or spiritual gifts. That is the beauty of being a member of the body of Christ; we all have a different beauty mark.

With our variety of beauty marks, we share the beautiful promise that God will supply all of our needs. That’s a promise to rejoice over! Have you ever wanted something that you just didn’t need? I think we all have. I have found that grateful and content people are the richest people! Dollars are on the bottom of their list of things they perceive as valuable. Their enjoyment of life is not contingent on a paycheck or salary. They praise God when they have little and when they have much. They praise God for who He is, not for what He can do for them. They go back to the basics as often as necessary, returning to their first love, Jesus Christ.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. – Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV)

God is on your side, and I do genuinely believe that one of the many ways that He wants to bless us is financially, but He knows the truth within our hearts and for some us, let’s face it: money is a god in our life. It has way too much value! If God gave us all the money we could ever dream of today, and asked us to give it all to our neighbor tomorrow, He knows that some of us would struggle with obeying His voice. That’s a problem. So, He’s sweet and very patient with us. He tests our faithfulness on smaller scales. He’s a good Father who well prepares and equips His children. So when He pops the question on a larger scale, the truth in our hearts (regardless of the dollar amount) will be, a cheerful “it’s a small thing”. God is a jealous God, so if money means too much to you (and He knows if it does), then the chances of you getting it (from Him) are slim.

Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. – Philippians 3:8 & 9 (ESV)

We have to get back to the basics. At the end of the day, despite the many disguises, there are only two masters to choose from and serve; God or money. Every choice that we make is linked to the servitude of one of those masters. We have to decide if we want to know the truth, and be honest with ourselves about what we’ve been embracing as a lie. It can all be a humbling experience, but it births something beautiful and it is amazing how God’s grace and love remains constant through it all. You can do it.

*Special thanks to the LYBM team for allowing me to contribute this post!