Love Like the Beach

I want a love like the beach.

That safe place, number 1 on my list that I am always yearning to re-visit. A love that reminds me that though I am small, I am welcome to rest here. A love that invites me to its refreshing views and oh so wide, everlasting expressions of care.

I want a love like the beach.

That terrestrial, non-territorial environment whose winds whisper “just breathe”, “you’re fine”, and “it’ll be okay”. A love that exfoliates and smoothes. Whose seasonal chills grant appreciation for classic, summertime warmth.

I want a love like the beach.

A love outside of time, built on a rock and unphased by the storm. A love whose waves draw me closer and dissolve my tears. A love unapologetically like thanksgiving; serving the best of the best…in time. A love so abundant it should be annual, but it shows up daily.

I want a love like the beach.

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

1 Corinthians 13:7 (NLT)

©2020 • Chan’tel Nikole Grayson

“New Normal”

There is a lot of sensitivity and controversy regarding the terminology “new normal”, and I get it. Many (nations!) are experiencing grief collectively and some more intimately. A lot of our comforts are gone, and to be frank, some. things. just. suck! Feel that, breathe, and release that, friend.

God is doing something interesting in this season that we can’t ignore. Honestly, aspects of this experience have been a bit like déjà vu for me. I’ve been here before, and I’m telling you: this is a temporary, great and loving time of preparation that can be so refining if we let it! *sings* “Let every hearrrt, prepare Him roooom!”

I don’t know about you, but my soul yearns for something new! I no longer want to settle for the old, warped, way anymore. Maybe you have to wrestle with the fact that you really liked the old way, even if it was a little toxic. Own and grieve your truth, but I really do hope that you can eventually get on board with the great things that God has in store for us. Don’t you want Jesus to return?! Well, there are some things that must take place inside, out.

We can all come out of this at a new level in Christ, closer to who we’re destined to be. Whatever test(s) that you’ve been administered in this season, I know that with The Helper (the Holy Spirit), you can pass it! Whatever personal storm you might be caught in, I know that you can walk through it peacefully with the Holy Spirit as your guide.

Once all of this COVID-19 social distancing mayhem is over, we will never be the same again. For our souls’ sake, there will be a new normal and it’s a good thing! Allow my heart to elaborate, the best way I know how…

The new normal was birthed in quarantine.
It stripped us of our rags
Destroying every seam
It looked like a nightmare
Until we discovered it’s disguise
Some questioned, some drew near
Started to prioritize and compromise

True colors readily revealed
While we all sat with God
Exposed and finally still
Comforted by His staff and His rod

Laid off, furloughed,
Working from home
Wearing a mask, keeping our distance
Spending time with family
And alone

Snacks and more snacks
Another email and zoom meeting
Online schooling in pajamas
Tiktok, Instagram, Facebook,
Yet the time is still fleeting

Can’t sit at a restaurant?
Face your fears
Have a seat at this table
‘Wash your hands all ye sinners’
Trust God…He’s able

Everything’s been factored in…
to The Master’s plan of perfection
Please believe we’re still winning
The news you hear is full of deception

6 feet apart, or else 6 feet under
Is what they say, and so it seems
Whatever
Just save our souls first, Jesus
Is all my heart screams

So serious about The Sabbath
He lent us time for keeps
A sigh of relief and contrite heart of worship
Peace…as the nation weeps

This isn’t a game of poker
#StayHome
No bids on covid, all in on GOD
Straighter posture for the weak
20/20 vision for the road we trod.

©2020 • Chan’tel Nikole Grayson

I'm Talking About "Them"

Over the years, as God has been shaping and refining me, I have noticed that my character defends me time and time again. I’ve seen the enemy silenced, narratives debunked, and foes scattered. God knows how to get things done, my friends, and what an honor it is to be used to getthingsdone for the kingdom! It’s worth it to just show up sometimes.

The Lord  will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways.

Deuteronomy 28:7 (NKJV)

I know society tells us not to dwell on the past. I’ve said it too, but today I’m talking about it. I’m talking about them. Those we know have had negative conversations about us behind our backs. Those frenemies who have fired shots with backhanded compliments and somehow caused public humiliation…without public notice. Those who have allowed their jealousy to rise up and morph them into bullies, making us their target. Those who have rallied troops against you…and me. Those who have masked their nosiness with concern, only to vomit all you’ve shared, with, guess who? more of them!

This is what I have to say to you about them.

Forgive them.

Call me naïve, but I wholeheartedly believe that there are so many who know not what they do when they do those evil things. We don’t know all that is in our deceitful hearts (Jeremiah 17:9)! I think few people are hurting us intentionally, and many are living and loving the best way they can…even if that way is trash. Forgiveness doesn’t mean a rocked relationship will be restored to what it was. It may be better, it may be very different, it may or may not be both.

Forgiveness does not mean excusing.

– C.S. Lewis

Forgiveness can be super tough, but is always worth it. It keeps our most prized relationship (with God) intact and functioning healthily. The sin of unforgiveness is way too costly for us to allow it to gestate. It can manifest through bitterness, physical pain, strife, sickness, disease, etc., as it slowly… separates…us…from…God. Christ gave us a prescription for many things on the cross. Pardon them, He pardons you (Matt. 6:14).

Don’t bend for them.

I know the room is dark, but keep showing up and letting that light of yours shine. oh, and please don’t dim it when you get there. I know you feel alone, but God is on your side, fighting for you! Dwell on the good that God has done and keep a grateful heart. Don’t let them make you shrink back or give in. I know you don’t want them around, but God has prepared a pretty awesome table for you in their presence. The spread is for you, friend! 😉

You prepare a feast [table] for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.

Psalm 23:5 (NLT)

Pray and release them.

The truth is, we’re not the only one He loves, ya know. God loves them like crazy, too. They too are image bearers of Christ, (though it may be a greatly distorted image in this season of their life). We may unknowingly be a “them” for someone else. If you can find it in your heart to forgive and genuinely pray for them, it’ll do humanity some good. If you can release that prayer to heaven and leave it there, it’ll do you some good. Sometimes we forget that we really can change the world with prayer. As my late aunt would say, “prayer is the most you can do.” When we release them in prayer, the matter is out of our hands and head, left in the best hands of all. We are free to be, trusting that it’s taken care of by a Righteous Judge.

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

Matthew 5:44 (NIV)

This song is an oldie but goodie that God used to bind up my wounds and reaffirm truth. I hope it encourages you as much as it has encouraged me!

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Romans 8:13 (NIV)

©2020 • Chan’tel Nikole Grayson

Social Media

I’ve been comparing myself to Paul instead of you
And it’s amazing what Acts will help you do
Walking forward with my head held high
Drinking courage as I scroll pass
Bye…post.

Sorry, not sorry
You’re no longer welcome to my eyes
I can’t let them get lazy or God-forbid
Hypnotized
To gouge or not to gouge?
I’ll set a boundary for you instead
It’s worth it. I’m worth it.
The sin will only leave me dead

Paul had a thorn like me
And it kept him on the low
He was posted up everywhere
But never had a formal show
His fruit told his story
My fruit tell mine too

So if you’re ever scrolling and don’t see me…
No worries.
I’m good luv.
I’m serving.
I’m new.

Double tap, no more likes
Finally, are we free?
Remove the scale
Stop weighing him!
and her!
and them!
and me!

I’ll see you when I see you
Won’t miss you when I don’t
But every now and then
I’ll stalk your stories
Hmm…or maybe I won’t

This affair has ended
Those compliments you can keep
‘Cause then I’ll have to accept your criticism
And I ain’t lettin’ you sow that deep…

Social Media

©2020 • Chan’tel Nikole Grayson

AHEM!!!!

Let me clear my throat, folks! It’s 2020 and I made it!!!
Whew! Cheers…to…THAT! I know I’m not alone here.

In case you didn’t know, I have been living for 32 years (I just turned 33), and I have been blogging here for the past 8-ish. My embarrassing archives will go ahead and remain. Since it’s been a while, it’s a new year, and I see a few new faces here, I figured that is a good reason to re-introduce myself…kind of! So AHEM!!!! I present to you…

20 Fun Facts About Me

1. Give me a dance floor or karaoke and I come alive! No, seriously. I have a list of categorized songs that I can pull up right now. No alcohol necessary. Let’s go!

2. My personal bios are so difficult for me to write. A wise artist once told me that “we’re never just one thing”, and this statement couldn’t be further from my truth. I have done, can do, and will do so many wonderfully creative, tough, and humbling things. I also don’t necessarily believe that my identity comes from the things that I do (it changes in seasons!). One of my favorite roles, however, is being an aunt. I love my nieces and nephew so much, and another one is on the way! Yeee!!

3. I live an unconventional lifestyle serving God, and I love how His plan keeps unfolding for me. He knows me so well! The spontaneity and adventure life with Him brings is priceless!

4. Pre-200I went by the nickname, “Nikki” instead of my birth name, “Chan’tel”, and though most know me as Chan’tel in this stage of my life, “Nikki” occasionally burns my ears. In my younger years, my birth name felt more like a jacket too large to fit into. I often wonder how biblical characters like Abraham or Paul adapted to their name changes. 

5. My legs are probably hairier than yours during the winter 🤷🏽‍♀️, ’cause who’s not shaving unless they have a pedicure or massage appointment is ME! Too much information? I’ll spare you a photo of evidence.

6. I am finally admitting that I am a Yelp nerd. It’s a fun hobby for me that began with a heart to pay the favor forward after moving to a new state in 2011 (around the birth of this blog). Now, it continues to keep me exploring (gets me out of the house!), writing (good practice!), and somehow over the years has come with so many perks! (It’s neat to be elite).

7. Less is truly more for me. Less stuff (one could say I’m a minimalist) and less people (I can count my friends on one hand). I’ll take an experience over material possessions any day and a good friend with heartfelt conversation over many fans. Theee best!

8. I’m super low key. Partly because I think it wise and partly because I have issues with broken trust. I like living for me (and God) and if folks don’t know what’s going on, then I don’t have to hear their unsolicited opinion. I like to share information with purpose, not just because somebody’s nosey. What are your thoughts on this?

9. If you ask me what my favorite color is, I’ll say turquoise (also my birthstone) to keep the conversation short. It’s complex though. I like it all, and especially like wearing muted colors and earth tones. Accessories in coral are super cute too! Confused yet? I am woman, ha! Did not God create the rainbow?!

10. I’m pregnant…with purpose. And honestly, sometimes I feel overdue. Pray for your girl. I feel like I have been a spiritual doula for so many and now I’m in need of my own. Oh, so many dreams and goals. Oh, so many.

11. I often draft and prayerfully schedule out nearly all of my blog posts in advance. This means that most of my writings, though timely, are not written in real-time. I often minister to myself while reading along with y’all. It’s amazing. This post was written recently in November 2019.

12. I’m one of those people who listens to Christmas music year-round. Annnd?!

13. I’m naturally introverted, but the Holy Spirit is so good at balancing me out that many are convinced that I’m not. Oh, but I am!

14. My preferred methods of communication are written or video chat, and heartfelt over small talk. I don’t like talking on the phone, but I do because it’s unrealistic to avoid it completely, ha! Plus I have loved ones who prefer it.

15. My heart has been broken way more than it should have because not until recent years, have I learned how to guard it properly. I learned the hard way that hearts aren’t meant to wear on your sleeve. NonethelessI will forever love hard.

May the Lord teach and re-teach us how to guard our hearts appropriately and help us discern the motives of others and their interests in connecting with us. You, and all you encompass are beautiful. People will always want your pearls, so clutch them because they are precious.

16. I am single by choice and have not met anyone that has made me want to change that choice. For now, I’m enjoying the perks that may one day be missed.

17. I’m more of a no grey type of person. I’m all in, or all out. If you know me, then you know. No games. No gimmicks.

18. Some of my dearest relationships are long distance and I think it’s for the best. Maybe I’d be distracted from my God-given assignments if my sister-friends were all living in my current city. Miss them and look forward to reunions! I strongly relate to Paul in the bible and the longings in his letters.

19. The beach, sunrises, sunshine, iced lattes, hot tea, dark chocolate, smoothies, real fruit bars, leathers, bites, and twists. Belly laughs, random road trips, snail mail, instrumentals, handmade gifts, gel pens, hands-free purses and backpacks, naps, leather, lace, rainy days, foot massages, scenic hikes, surprise checks in the mail, frozen yogurt, hot sauce, hot wings, In-N-out burgers, tajín, karaoke, line dances, an awesome sale on things you need, kids, and Jesus please. These are more than a few of my favorite things.

20. A few months ago I decided I was going to stop waiting for certain circumstances to change before I started living fully the way I’ve been wanting to. I snipped some strings, sold some things, and now I’m soaring and catching wind! Weeeeee!! No limits. Let’s go!

 

©2020 • Chan’tel Nikole Grayson

Field Days

This past summer I had the honor of serving with Kaleo, a missions organization that partners with church plants (like Swerve Church) in select cities and states to help impoverished communities through various outreach efforts (i.e. assisting with school organization, food pantries, shelters, street evangelism, prayer walks, community clean-ups, etc.). In a nutshell, we spread love and share the gospel.

Kaleo hosts church youth groups (junior/high school) from all over the United States interested in serving, and they chose me (and a couple of others) to lead these groups that were arriving weekly to serve in Brooklyn (Bushwick). Such a great honor and experience. The harvest was and still is plentiful! May God bless the workers still there and send more according to His will!

Now I had originally planned on keeping my followers updated often throughout my time there, but I ended up only documenting a little on my Instagram stories (now highlights) and on a couple of posts. Between our long, sweaty days of serving and leading debriefs, it honestly wasn’t a high priority for me to talk to anybody but God (ha!)…’cause your girl was so tired! Just being honest.

I did, however, share a bit of my heartfelt perspective over on Kaleo Missions’ Blog that I wrote during my deployment. Though I was there for only a season, my investment was eternal.

In case you’re wondering what I’m doing now on this adventure with Jesus…welllll, my calling remains, folks! I will forever work with youth in some capacity, and I’ve recently adopted 22 little 4-year-olds. What can I say?! I am now crazy for Pre-K! 🤗🤪

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“If you think my hands are full, you should see my heart!”

©2019 • Chan’tel Nikole Grayson

Sediments of The Heart

I drink of lot of homemade and store bought natural beverages. As many of you know, for optimum taste, appearance and health benefits, it is recommended that they be shaken well, as the product settles naturally. Same for liquid medicines and vitamins.

Products not well shaken display a separation; having a murky, darker pigment at the bottom of the beverage. This is so, even if shaken and only left still for a period of time. What’s heavy sinks to the bottom. I mean, just look at the bottom of a lake!

Hmm. What’s heavy sinks to the bottom. Isn’t that true about the sediments of our heart, too? Not only does what’s heavy (painful, traumatic experiences, spoken and unspoken words and emotions) sink to the bottom, but they also get stuffed down by us way too often. We put them on reserve to address never, because we obliviously direct our focus elsewhere. Then, years pass by and we forget that that “thing” was ever a “thing”, because we’ve got so many other things going on floating above it. Just me? Oh, Lord, I hope not (lol).

Like natural beverages we do not function at our most optimal potential when we don’t allow the Lord to shake things up and let whatever issue float to surface. Stuffing is not a solution for anyone with a goal of freedom, and it’s also not an easy pattern to break – believe me, I know! With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can have healthy self-examinations. We can deal with issues of old…and new, because let’s face it, offence will come (Luke 17:1). But, we must first be willing to humble ourselves and look at it (2 Chronicles 7:14). Not being wise in our own eyes, internally belting, “Not I!” (Proverbs 3:7). Forgiveness and weeping are almost always counterparts in the process too.

Even Jesus had moments of lamentation, and He is the greatest man to have lived on earth!

It’s time for us to start getting to the bottom of things! Maturity welcomes the trigger and stirring that leads us to Christ. May the Holy Spirit shake us well and make us good!

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. – III John 1:2 (NKJV)

©2019 • Chan’tel Nikole Grayson