Cloudy Days

In recent months I have had more cloudy days than I would like to admit, but I have began to realize how important it is for us Christians to actually talk about them instead of projecting this image of a struggle-free, happy-go-lucky life. Social media doesn’t help either, as more often than not, it’s a reel of good times – which I actually don’t think is all bad, until comparison rears it’s ugly head.

Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. – John 16:33 (NLT)

The past 4 years of my life have been incredibly challenging. God sure knows how to prepare us! I have grieved several unmet expectations of perfection, despite knowing the word above. And to be honest, I’ve lost a lot of hope for tomorrow in the process.

I used to sing the same optimistic song: “The best is yet to come!” But, new year after new year, I have waited, and the road to the best has been flooded with tears and more growing pains. My heart has gotten pretty sick of the deferred hope (Proverbs 13:12) for the long-awaited responses to my ancient prayers. My new song belts, “Great is thy faithfulness!” unto the Lord, and in my state of reality or doubt (yikes!), it also faintly whispers, “Even if You don’t, I will be okay…and I will praise You”.

“I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” – Mark 9:24 (NLT)

Do not be ashamed if you have felt or are feeling this way. The healing process begins with honesty. You are not alone! Let me say that again. You are not alone! Myself, many other believers, and our Savior feels your pain! I don’t know about you, but I find it so comforting to know that Yeshua has endured everything that we have or ever will. And we have a book full of reference points to help us with our challenges too.

Quick Story.

At the end of December 2018, as the new year approached, I began reflecting over the year. To be honest, I ruled it as overall horrible, and was feeling quite depressed about it. Before I could swim in the deep end of that lie, my Godmother who loves to take photos and document memories randomly sent me a slideshow full of captured fun times we’ve shared in 2018. Talk about God’s perfect timing.

I literally laughed out loud at how ridiculous I looked sulking, when right there in my face was proof that it wasn’t all so bad. I’m tellin’ y’all…THE DEVIL IS A LIAR! And you want to know what was even more ridiculous?! Some of the moments she shared were recennt! I’m talking within the last month, recent. Geez Louise.

See how depression warps our perceptions regarding our current circumstances; causing us to believe lies and throw a pity party of one? Things just aren’t clear through the lens of depression, my friends. In its selfish nature, it causes us to look for justifications to remain downcast. Instead of mentally going down a slide of injustices, we should be recounting the goodness of The Lord and thinking on virtuous things (Isaiah 63:7; Phil. 4:8). For some of us depression is a short season, and for others, a long one with evidence of being a stronghold. In both, God is the answer.

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. – Psalm 43:5 (NIV)

Now, I am not ignorant to the fact that there are a select few who remain depressed because they flat out refuse gratefulness. Maybe they fear freedom (a real thing), and having been bound for so long, those demons have become family. Maybe they don’t want to relinquish the sympathetic attention that they may gain from wallowing. Only when we genuinely decide that we want to be victors instead of victims is there hope for us through Christ.

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength. – Proverbs 17:22 (NLT)

We also can’t forget that certain foods and beverages trigger mood changes as well. They can cause dips in emotions and/or increases in anxiety. Examine yourself and any habits that may be contributing. We worship God in our eating as well. Give us this day our daily bread, Lord… spiritually and physically! Ask God what you need for today. He knows and has gone before you.

Bottom line: It is impossible to be depressed within the presence of God. The fruits of His spirit are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). So I encourage you to fight to praise Him for who He is and not just what He has/hasn’t done. Worship is key in the slump of depression.

One of my favorite ways to worship the Lord is in song. In no special order below, I have listed 20 songs that have helped me (and others) during dark times when it seems the enemy’s lies are just so dang loud. Maybe some of these can help you jump start a healthy playlist of your own. In my opinion, there’s nothing like reading the lyrics as you listen to really penetrate and motivate the heart to fight.

I pray that each time you get up, you get up stronger.

  1. Draw Nigh (Psalm 42:1) – Fred Hammond
  2. You Say – Lauren Daigle
  3. Fear Is A Liar – Zach Williams
  4. It Ain’t Over – Maurette Brown Clark
  5. Power to Redeem – Lauren Daigle
  6. You Are – Javen
  7. Get Up – Mary Mary
  8. I’ll Find You – Lecrae
  9. I Smile – Kirk Franklin
  10. King of the World – Natalie Grant
  11. Tell Me Wear It Hurts – Fred Hammond
  12. I Ain’t Done – Andy Mineo
  13. Still I Rise – Yolanda Adams
  14. Even If – MercyMe
  15. Yesterday – Mary Mary
  16. Let Your Power Fall – James Fortune & FIYA (feat. Zacardi Cortez)
  17. The Breakup Song – Francesca Battistelli
  18. Please Don’t Pass Me By – Fred Hammond
  19. You Can’t Stop Me – Andy Mineo
  20. Speak The Name – Koryn Hawthorne (feat. Natalie Grant)

Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault. – Jude 1:24 (NLT)


©2019 • Chan’tel Nikole Grayson

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New Jacket. New Season!

Throughout my waiting for God’s move in different areas of life, I have learned that patience is a posture. We cannot be both trusting of God and stressed. Faith is not anxious and worried about tomorrow, and like Father Abraham, we are counted as righteous because of our belief.

A few months back, and on a whim, I decided to accompany my parents to the mall. This is unusual because for the most part, I have primarily been an online and essentials only type of shopper…with the exception of Targét, of course. We always got time for that!

Any way, I was down for the mall excursion and figured, eh, maybe I’ll find a jacket today. I had had a lightweight, casual and semi-neutral colored jacket on my mental wish list for a while now. Years, actually.

We went to Burlington with high hopes, and I went straight to the women’s medium jacket section and began browsing. I tried on a few jackets without a mirror, until I found a jacket worthy of a search for one nearby. Since the mirror closest to me was occupied by another lady, I walked quite a ways off from my starting point (towards the large section) to scope out the fit; it was a nice jacket indeed.

However, in the corner of my right eye, adjacent to the mirror serving me at the time, I saw an abandoned reject of another’s hanging limply on the rack off-the-hanger. It was a displaced olive gem, that ironically looked like my size.

My eyes lit up. With excitement, I took off the jacket I had on, and put on the green one. I knew immediately…it was it! That quickly, I had found the jacket that I had been desiring and patiently waiting for, for years. Wow!

Firstly, I wasn’t even shopping over there in that section. I began in a familiar section. I had to move far from the location of the old one to get closer to the new one that was for me. Hello somebody!

Secondly, the jacket was a size that I would not usually select to try on, let alone, purchase! There was no way I would have even stumbled upon it without the divine mirror hunt.

Thirdly, it fit exactly how I wanted it to and was priced reasonably! It was for me. I could cry at how God was using this jacket to minister to me, and how sweet of Him to not forget the little things and my aged petitions.

I believe God placed this message in my heart to share:

More of that is coming! Not just for me, but for many of you as well. God is going to bless you with something that you have been waiting for, for a very long time. He’s going to do it easily and suddenly. It is going to be easy, because it is time. It didn’t work out before because it was early. But God is on.point, like my new jacket (😉🙌🏽). I am grateful. Everything is going to fit because it is made for you. It is going to be larger than what you are used to, but you will fit into it, and you will wear it well. It is yours; a gift from your Heavenly Father. The old will not do in this season.

Praise Him in advance. Hallelujah!

©2019 • Chan’tel Nikole Grayson

Grown-ish.

After watching several interesting “The Skin Deep” YouTube videos of people playing this cool card game which initiates heart conversations, I purchased a couple of card sets of my own to play with others. One of the questions asked on one of the cards was:

At what moment did you realize you found yourself?

It has been a little shy of 4 months since I have turned 32, and I have reflected and stretched so frickin’ much. Yet and still, this question was and still is complex for me. I can think of leaps in my maturity and pivotal experiences that helped me get closer to wholeness, but as I get older I realize that we’re all on a lifetime journey of becoming complete in Christ. He did the work, yes, but we are walking it out. He had to pick up His cross, and now we are picking up ours and following.

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. – Philippians 1:6 (NLT)

I am scratching all future new years’ resolutions and declaring that my eternal resolution is Yeshua: Jesus, My Redemptive Savior and Friend. He is truly my only Answer, Way and Hope of better. At the age of 32, all I want is The Truth without dilution or perversion. Four years ago God was teaching me that He was all that I needed, and today, He’s all that I want. .

“The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.” – Isaiah 40:8 NLT

I am becoming increasingly sound and secure in Christ, but maybe it won’t be until age 90 or something (lol) when I can confidently say that I have *clears throat* “found myself”. Afterall, I am still discovering God. With Him as my focus, all of the rest will come, right?

While there are many childish things I have put away, there are also a few childish things that I have adopted (Matthew 18:3-4). I got a lot of questions for my King, loads of things to continue to unlearn, debunk and grasp. There are more experiences to test me and more areas of my flesh to murder. I am still exploring heaven…on earth.

“When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” – 1 Corinthians 13:12-13 (NLT)

My discoveries thus far have been wonderful, peace-granting and stabilizing indeed, but I am not done. Or, not completely undone, I should say. So, if you’re anything like me…cheers to being grown-ish! It won’t always be easy unraveling, but let the adventure continue!

©2019 • Chan’tel Nikole Grayson

Somewhat of An Ode

I know you can’t stand forever
But before your demise
Here’s somewhat of an ode
To last a lifetime

In my heart there will always be memories of you, me, and the seas
The sand between my toes
Unbeknownst
Hiding evil mysteries

I know you can’t stand forever
Because the good book says you won’t
And the God you said you served
Is the God who assures you don’t

I read He put your soothsayers to shame
Don’t act surprised, you had it coming
Found out it truly wasn’t a game
And for your pain, there was no numbing

Tick Tock, Tick Tock
My God will not be mocked

It’s only a matter of time
before your tides run dry
The salt can’t soothe your wounds
The water can’t caress your lie

Confession:
I sing your anthem well
with nostalgia and grief
but for the vets, not the nation
For in you, I’ve lost belief

Why is that song so beautiful?!
Was it all part of your plot?
Did you give us something mesmerizing
To disguise our land in rot?

I pray for grace, ’cause I’m still here
But I’m telling you now, we’re done
I’m not calling this place my home
I’m from heaven, like The Son

No more relaxing by the shore
Pretending well is what you’re doin’
No more looking to you for justice
Just praying…and waiting on your ruin

Tick Tock, Tick Tock
My God will not be mocked

©2018 • Chan’tel Nikole Grayson

Lost Files: Petty Theft

I recently found an old memo that I wrote in my kindle that I thought I’d share with you all. It’s about an experience that I had in June 2016 testing my integrity and well, my identity in Christ, to be honest. Though some aspects of this little note may seem too silly to mention, I really hope it ministers to someone struggling with integrity. Integrity is one of the many marks of a child of God, and it’s such a beautiful root of trust that intertwines with the motivations of our heart.

I can’t remember if I actually published this note in my book, Before You Soar. It may be a “lost file” or an excerpt. Either way, I’ll just keep it rough and copy and paste it below “as is”, and hope you’re blessed and encouraged.

A testimony of faith.
The Lord’s refinement.
Embracing the process.
In the valley.
In the fire.
Through the storm.
New creation.

Deliverance.

Job. Loss of friends.

June 11, 2016 – morning

I understand how or why people who have little or none steal to meet their need. I’ve been tested to justify breaking of the 8th commandment on several occasions during this season, especially since I’ve been living in this house unfairly compensated. I’m talking petty thefts like a few q-tips and little body wash to just stay clean in this heat. Coincidentally it’s the same brand I use. Satan is good at what he does. My soap is in a container broken into little pieces and I dare not throw it away. I used a few q-tips and felt convicted, so recently I purchased some to refill their package before I move out. They’ll never know, but me and God will always. I can’t be trusted with much if I’m unfaithful with little. If “it’s just a q-tip”, then I just need to leave it alone. It doesn’t belong to me and it isn’t part of my living arrangement agreement. She is to provide food only, and I’m grateful she finally stepped up to the plate on that one. I don’t want to do to her what she was doing to me.

©2018 • Chan’tel Nikole Grayson

When All Feels Wrong

When all feels wrong
Yet God is pleased
Hold on
Hold on

When cracks expand to pot holes
And threads part seams
Hold on
Hold on

When smiles twist and turn
Upside down
When hearts plummet you 6 feet
Underground
When the jury is hung
When only you’re around
Hold on
Hold on

When all feels wrong
Yet God is pleased

Let us remember, the
lions’ den and their mouths that shut, the
praise that broke the bars at midnight, the
faith that slew the arrogant Philistine, the
crucifixion that split the temple curtain in two, the
girl who was “only asleep”

Thank God for, the
Red Sea that parted, the
cloud that rose above the tent, the
virgin who conceived a King, the
grace and unconditional love that leads us to repent

Oh God, Let us not forget
Until we hear
Well done
Well done

I will praise you, Lord , with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done. I will be filled with joy because of you. I will sing praises to your name, O Most High. – Psalms 9:1‭-‬2 (NLT)

©2018 • Chan’tel Nikole Grayson

Grief + Healing

My dear aunt passed away a few months ago. I did not attend her funeral, but the Lord knows, as does she, I was present when it mattered.

Since then, I’ve been grieving. More importantly, I’ve been honest with God about my grief and have trusted Him with it’s appropriation. I’ve had days of super strength, days of stoic numbness, a few sudden with tears, and some with spurts of laughter. Today was laughter and tears. All days, gratefully, I’ve had peace.

Just this morning I met a lady that looked like my aunt did in her younger years. Man, it was so good to see her. She was listening to an audio book (something my aunt would be doing) and she had a lot of bags, and a lot of things in those bags (something like my aunt) lol. I chuckled to myself, teared up, and thanked God for the spurt of laughter. This is grief…coupled with healing.

I think it’s so important for us to not just stay stuck with our grief, but to also marry it with healing found purely in God, The Father. We can move past it properly this way. Do you know that it’s okay to move past it? Have you granted yourself permission?

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven…a time to cry and a time to dance. – Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

Now if it’s your season to cry buckets, I get it. By all means cry on without remorse! But if you know deep down in your heart, that you should have been dancing a long time ago, this is your opportunity to cast your care for real, for real…or again any way. Guilt is NOT from God. Never feel guilty for God’s favor. Feel GRATEFUL!

1 Peter 5:7 says: “Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares for you.” Do you believe that?! So that means, yes, even though He allowed your loss to occur, God cares for YOU!! Is scripture going to be your foundation or are you going to believe a lie? The choice is yours.

Let’s not just carry this weight of grief. Let’s feel it in all of it’s gory, sometimes seemingly unreasonable pain and injustice. Ugh. Let’s release it unto God and release each other to process it in ways unique to ourselves.

Let’s give the devil a black eye and an eviction notice, telling him HE CAN’T RUIN OUR LIVES by causing us to tighten our grip in seasons we should be loosening it.

Let’s also pray for appropriation in our grief, so that it is not displaced; turning into bitterness, addiction, and who knows what else. Let’s not let it begin squatting on our hearts; extending past it’s seasonal expiration.

God wants you joyous! That’s one of the fruits of His spirit! And I would personally hate to see you skip past your happy season, because you’re holding on too long to the sad one. You know what I mean? I know you do.

Well, that’s all I really wanted to say. I don’t have a fancy punny ending or anything like that for this post. Oh! I did see an Instagram post by another person who was grieving. They suggested writing a letter to a loved one and releasing it in a balloon. I thought that was a pretty neat idea, and I think that will help me in my process. God-willing, we’ll do it, as writing was something special my aunt and I shared together. A letter seems swell.

In the meantime, pray for me while I pray for you. Enjoy this short clip of my aunt (Author and Speaker, Andrea Grayson) sharing her testimony at a Women’s Conference in San Diego a couple of years ago. Love her and you so much.