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

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

My Trip to Paris #newbeginnings #love

I met him for the first time a month ago…in Paris, of all places! I arrived first. Hours later, a little past midnight, he arrived too. As he approached, I was amazed. He looked exactly like his pictures, and I found him to be so handsome; my handsome. Tears fell instantaneously at the sound of his voice. My prayers (and the prayers of many others) had been answered. Finally, he was here and the wait was over. *sigh*…FINALLY.

It’s the dream of many girls to fall in love in Paris. Who would have thought that I would be one of the blessed ones it actually happened to?! I would say it was love at first sight, but that only sounds nice.  The truth is, I loved him before we ever met face to face. I had talked to him and prayed for him countless times. Seeing him just changed my life forever. Now, I might be showing my age here, but I undoubtedly have a greater appreciation for the song, “I Knew I Loved You” by Savage Garden now.

I also have a greater appreciation for God’s sense of humor, because unlike many other girls, I fell in love in the unforgettable city of Paris, Texas! Below are a few photos of my handsome nephew, Zion. My brother’s new little family of three are all doing well! My sister-in-love did an amazing job delivering this blessing for us! God is good y’all, God is good.

 

 

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Dismissed by a Righteous Judge #Judgement #Mercy #Repentance 

A couple of months ago I traveled through a small rural town of Texas on my way to visit family in Oklahoma. It was good ‘ol Omaha! I quickly went through it and received a speeding citation that would cost me nearly a third of the town’s population in dollars. Dangit! I would so prefer buying an airline ticket.

The police officer who pulled me over asked, “Do you plan on being in the area any time soon?” I wasn’t sure if he was slightly ridiculing me after viewing my address on my driver’s license or what, but I chuckled aloud at the ridiculousness of his question, and belted a “No way!” out of my mouth. My response clearly caught the officer by surprise. He tilted his head like a bewildered puppy and asked, “No way?!”  I chuckled and repeated again, “No way.” In disregard, he proceeded to make hand gestures that gave directions to the courthouse around the corner, where I would be required to make an appearance. I thought to myself, “just give me my ticket, dude”, and he did. Insert low-pitched bitter growls and rolled eyes here.

I went on my way, and with the hour left to drive before arriving at my family’s home, I began reflecting and praying. I confessed my wrong to God. I was speeding and I did rightly deserve that citation regardless of how badly I didn’t want to attend court or pay anything. I was disobedient to His instructions to abide by the law of the land that I inhabit (Romans 13). My beef was not with the city of Omaha, my beef was with God. I pled for His grace and mercy. I knew there were steps that I would have to take to resolve this, but the first step would be to face things with God before attempting to handle them with man.

We don’t get to choose what is considered right, but we do get to choose whether or not we adhere to what is.

After later reading the fine print on my ticket, I discovered that court was only held the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of each month between the hours of 5 pm – 10 pm. Great. Oh…come…on, Omaha! I had the option to write a letter to the judge to request dismissal by a non-guilty plea, or to request a reduction by admission of guilt and completion of a grueling online driving course. I could lie and plead non-guilty out of fear of my consequence and fight this alone, or, I could tell the truth and hope that God would fight for me and with me. I chose the latter.

I wrote an honest letter and attended court accordingly. Thanks be to God, I found favor with the judge who was pleased with all of my efforts to resolve the matter! Not only was my ticket dismissed in entirety, but because I had to appear in court on an awkward 3rd Wednesday in the evening, it led to an extension of my stay, and the enjoyment of more time with my family. I was even reconciled with an estranged family member during this trip!

God has an amazing way of making things better than before. He has an amazing way of righting our wrongs when we acknowledge the truth. He is merciful! He dismissed my sin in heaven, before it was ever dismissed in Omaha. And for that reason, I was at peace with whatever happened thereafter. Knowing that I was pardoned by my Righteous Judge, Christ Jesus was all that mattered.

I encourage you to examine yourself and talk to God about whatever that requires your repentance too. There is nothing too small. In fact, there is nothing small at all. God wants His bride (us) without stain or wrinkle, or any other blemish (Ephesians 5:27). Go to your Righteous Judge in confidence, knowing that Jesus has already made a way for you. His grace is sufficient, and He is ready to hear your case and is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all you can ask or think.

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)

 

I want to leave this world empty. #legacy

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 Nikole Grayson

 

Can’t We All Just Get Along?! #Harmony #Unity

As I browse through the timelines and hashtags of social media, I see so many saints distracted. I see celebrity headlines and discussions highlighting Kirk Franklin, Kanye West, Kylie Jenner, Meagan Good, Donald Trump, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera! *gag*. When will it end?! It’s always someone, and if we’re not careful when engaging, it certainly has the potential to destroy our fruit.

weapons of mass destructionLook here: All of these people need Jesus, just like you and I. Where’s the remnant that is praying for them instead of reading and talking about them? We don’t need to indulge past the headlines to do that. Forget pop culture. Where is Jesus culture? Must we mix?!

 

Therefore, “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” – 2 Corinthians 6:17 (NLT)

Let’s be honest, some of us are just feeding our flesh with these discussions. We gave up “Scandal”, but we’re still “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” (no shade, I used to keep up with them too! lol). This type of chatter just fuels our sinful nature and employs gossip and drama as horrible department managers within our temple. We live in an era where fasts from social media are at times legitimately necessary, and sometimes harder than fasts from food! Believe me, I know. Been there, done that, do that!

 

blah blah blahI see Christians debating over justifiable topics too like what day the Sabbath is, or whether or not Christmas and Easter are pagan and should be celebrated; *sighs* my spirit is grieved. Meaningless! Meaningless! Meaningless! Here’s a suggestion: Keep every day holy. When we feud with one another we don’t represent our new spiritual identities in Christ. No! We shine light on our carnality, and remind the rest of the world why He was crucified.

Now, I’m not saying shut up and don’t ask anything. Questions are the devil, chile! Noooo. But, I do recommend that we check our heart motives for asking, stop relying so heart-check.jpgheavily on people for the correct answer, and we stop judging one another based on what we believe is the wrong answer. It’s meaningless!

This reminds me of the historical bickering in Paul’s day regarding the circumcision of Gentiles. Remember? This is what he had to say about that:

So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law. Listen! I, Paul, tell you this:
If you are counting on circumcision to make you right with God, then Christ will be of no benefit to you. I’ll say it again. If you are trying to find favor with God by being circumcised, you must obey every regulation in the whole law of Moses. For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace. – Galatians 5:1-4 (NLT)

Let’s forget about the legal nonsense and keep God’s grace in the race! Our reasons for wanting an answer should be purely for the edification of the church. In all honesty, some answers will likely vary from person to person, or season to season. I’m ever discovering that God is much more out of the box than I think. If you’re hollering that Jesus is the reason for the Christmas season, yet you don’t feel like it’s Christmas unless you have a tree, that’s a heart matter to address. Do you see what I mean, here? It’s much deeper, and what may be sin or inappropriate for me, may not be sin or inappropriate for you.  The heart of the matter and the preservation and growth of our relationship with Christ should be priority.

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. – Philippians 2:13 (NLT)

So, How about we put an end to all of this dissension and choose to agree to let God reveal His truth to us and make us right? There is power in that agreement. We don’t have all of the answers. We are but little children seeking an Almighty Father for keys to His Kingdom.

 Let us remain focused on this simple sum of instructions given by our Savior:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. – Matthew 22:37-39 (ESV)

i'm for truthA person who loves God keeps His commandments (See John 14:15), and a person who is filled with The Holy Spirit, and heeds the convictions of the Spirit, wants to be right for the right reasons. They don’t want to argue. They just want the truth to win, and one who loves God will rejoice when it does! ( See 1 Corinthians 13:6)

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. – John 16:13 (ESV)

Some things we don’t need to know, but the things that we should, I pray that the Lord would reveal them to us, so that we won’t suffer ignorantly due to lack of knowledge (See Hosea 4:6). If you happen to be that person in the body of Christ that The Holy Spirit reveals it to for us all, please do share it in love. In the meantime, the only question I have is…Can’t We All Just Get Along?!