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 be 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.

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“You Can’t Fall Off The Floor”

Circa 2016. It was my first and last conversation with Uncle Mac. My mother and I visited him on a whim while in route to Oklahoma City. Murietta was an itty bitty ‘ol thing; home to a witty gentleman, frail in frame but strong in heart. He was my Grandad’s brother, and so, my Great Uncle. I didn’t know much about him other than what he shared during our visit. He was a proud owner of a small prepaid flip phone from Family Dollar and an owner of a driver’s license, though his vision was blurred.

A few turns off the exit and we’d arrived and nearly seen it all. As we sat on his sofa, my mother engaged mostly, and I spoke in occasional smiles and gestures. I can’t remember if I said much about myself, or gave any inclination that I was going through a difficult time, which I was. At Uncle Mac’s age, he had to be familiar with a difficult time or two. His little seed hit my heart so powerfully and has been growing ever since.

“You can’t fall off the floor.” – Uncle Mac

Uncle Mac didn’t know that God was all I had in this season. He didn’t know that I’d hit rock bottom. Or did he? Though my hope for a comeback seemed far off in the distance, his words filled my heart with instant joy and I belted laughter at the simplicity of that truth. He was so right. It was only up from here!

So be encouraged by him and myself. I’m certainly not at the top, but I can tell you I haven’t fell lower than the floor! Lol. I don’t care how low you are in this moment, or how low you feel you are. Count it ALL joy! I wrote this for you.

You or someone you know might be on the floor of life right now, but I’m here to remind you that victory is guaranteed for those who believe that Christ won and conquered whatever you’re facing indefinitely on the cross.

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of ANY kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. – James 1:2 (NLT)

I also wrote this post for him (God rest His soul!), and as a reminder to all of those who think they don’t have much to say or think their words don’t hold much weight. You do and they do! I wrote this for the person who occasionally doubts whether being who they are in this demanding world is enough. It totally is! I wrote this for all of you, and for me too.

Be blessed. See you at the top!

Called By Name #Identity #Wholeness #Certainty

My nephew Zion turned one years old last month, and man did that come quick! I feel like it wasn’t too long ago that I was rushing to Paris to fall in love with him. (Click here to read that story).

One of my favorite things to do in this season his life, is watch his development. I get a kick out of observing him try new things and discover so much for the first time. I see him fearlessly maneuver and attempt to figure out ways of doing. I see him formulating likes, and even testing his limits. He listens and studies our eyes and lips when we speak. He deciphers and identifies words that we say, associating them with things and people that we address. I love to see this!, and it’s a precious reminder of how we all should be with our own Abba, Father.

You know what I really love, though??? His response to his name! It amazes me how powerful names and labels are, and how they can become ingrained in an individual before they even make it earth-side! At just one years old, Zion knows that he is Zion, he knows that he is “Auntie’s baby”, that he is G-Mama’s “buddy”, that he’s his mama’s “little man”, and that he is “so cuuute!”, and incredibly loved. He knows and he doesn’t for a second answer by what he doesn’t know. I can only imagine how hard his development would be if he didn’t know his name. How strange it would be if when we called his name he never turned his head in acknowledgement.

“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you…” – Jeremiah 1:5 (NLT)

So I encourage you all today to open your bibles and discover your identity (like a child). I encourage you all to forgive whoever called you something that you’re not. Remove the debt and harsh labels (Matt. 6:12) and clothe yourself with the truth! How strange it is for us to not know who we are when our source (The word of God) and Resource (God himself!) is so easily accesible to us.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. – Psalms 139:13‭-‬14 (NLT)

Start fresh. Rule out any and everything that you’ve heard before, and declare in our heart right now, and adopt in your mind, right now, that our heavenly Father and Creator is the only One who is right! Let God be true and every man a liar! (Romans 3:4). Zion doesn’t rely on his own understanding, He trusts that what we are teaching him is what is right, as we should also trust God. (Proverbs 3:5)

I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” – Luke 18:17 NLT

When we know who and whose we are, the enemy’s foothold is loosened. The truth exposes lies and causes veils to fall. It grants sight to the blind. No more feeling our way through the darkness and crossing our fingers in hopes that we’re on the right path.

It’s time for certainty in identity! No more flip flopping doubts, embarrassment and pride about who we are! No more masks and weird phases, no turbulent cycles and emotional roller coasters. NO. MORE!!

“But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. ‘Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.’” – 1 Peter 2:9‭-‬10 NLT

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.

There is something about nighttime. #GoodMourning #Poetry #Grief #Sorrow

I’ve smiled every day since I remembered you were here
But then long after sunset
my eyes shed a tear

There is something about nighttime.

I’ve laughed many moments before the high tide of darkness arrived until, “Bam!”, the news…

was prescribed
I sighed
before I cried
and denied
then realized that…

There is something about nighttime.

I thought you were just dancing to the beat of a hip, fast song
But all this time, the lights were dim,
And I was totally wrong.

Man.

When I prayed for your fire
And I prayed for your faith,
I had no idea how much was at stake
Believe me when I say, I knew
not at all that…
ashes would await.

Gosh.

Lord, you said that joy cometh in the morning but for all of us, I am requesting an exception for tonight. Because…

There is something about nighttime.

©2013 • Chan’tel Nikole Grayson

CARPE DIEM. #Mothers #Daughters

What the heck?! I don’t know what just came over me.  I just went to say goodbye to mom before she departs for a short business trip and I felt my eyes well up.  I’m so sad.  I miss her already.  I have really gotten used to spending time with her.  This precious, invaluable time.  She’s only gone for a bit, but I guess I’m just thinking about the near future.  Geesh.

move-forwardI’ll never forget the vision that I had when living on the East Coast.  Without going into too much detail I will just say that in it, my mom needed me and the Lord gave me an option to stay or go.  As usual, I said yes to God’s proposal and easier said than done, I moved back.  Let me tell you, moving forward mentally is way harder than moving forward physically.  Especially when your physical move is literally back! Haha.  It’s like, really Lord?  I think so often we forget that we’re spiritual beings having natural experiences and that in actuality, none of the things that the world says are valuable mean much of anything to the Lord.  He delights in our obedience and lavishes in our love.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. – Isaiah 55:8-9 (KJV)

So many people want to do what makes sense when in reality a lot of our blessings in obedience require us to take leaps and do things that don’t make sense and possibly make us look a little crazy at times.  People want to be and do what they think is great.  Instead of loving their neighbors, they’re coveting after their neighbors.  People want to be or do what looks and sounds good.  Instead of respecting a person, they’re respecting a title.  But we need to forget about those worldly things that don’t matter start finally chasing, or re-chasing those eternal things of true substance.

If then you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead], aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth. – Colossians 3:1-2 (AMP)

be yourselfWe have to deepen our relationship with the Lord so that we can find our true identities through Him.  So that we’ll know who we are and in turn how to be.  So that when all in this world is stripped away, ha…not our identity.  I’m so sick of seeing a whole bunch of “turn up” copycats *rolls eyes*…have a seat already!

But yes, I was going to talk about my relationship with my mom…

Mother/Daughter relationships are so beautifully intricate.  So delicate like lace or something.  They go through ups and downs in milliseconds.  There’s battles between respect and assertion and assist and diversion.  So complex.  Figuratively speaking, I think the Lord definitely hand washes them cold and hangs them carefully to dry.

motherhood

Since my move back to the West Coast, I’ve really enjoyed the growth and transformation I’ve experienced in my relationship with my entire family, but my mother especially.  I believe every Mother/Daughter relationship suddenly hits this “Freaky Friday” growth point  where the daughter, now a mature, adult woman with her own life experiences, comes to this realization that her mom, who she for decades was thought of as this flawless, invincible superhero, is in actuality not *gasp*, in fact, she is just like her daughter who has become just like her mother, a mature, adult woman with her own life experiences.  This place of truth does something great (and rightfully so) and God does something greater as the relationship accepts and adapts to it accordingly.  We love and respect each other way more these days.  It’s so refreshing for me to see my superhero mom without her cape quoting Tamar Braxton saying things like, “You tried it!” and “Getcho life!” haha…oh goodness.  She’s truly my best friend.  I can’t wait to bless her with early retirement and a trip to Italy.

heartbeat

The other night I hugged her and rested on her chest for a good while; because I could.  When I did, I heard and felt her heartbeat, and it was like hearing an old, favorite song.  At that very moment a tear fell and I thanked God that my mom was alive and that I was too.  That we were here for this and the best is yet to come.  Now that, my friends is what I call Carpe diem.