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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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.

Overwhelmed. #poetry #gratefulness #reflection

I’m loving all that You’re doing
And how my heart smiles upon my face
I’m loving all that You’re brewing
With gladness, I receive this cup by faith

I’m grateful for that which I do not know
I’m trusting Your guidance in every step
I’m grateful for this opportunity to grow
And have comfort in knowing that even Jesus, wept

I’m loving me, because I’m loving You
And this couldn’t be a better time
To pour into new wine skins
Incredible new wine

When I look into the mirror
I see You
And I’m baffled that it’s the truth
My gosh, You’re really in there shining out
You’re really my Boaz
I’m really Your Ruth

This love cannot be written
And I lack the words to fully express
I’m overwhelmed by Your sweet kindness
I’m overwhelmed by Your caress

This is what healing looks like
This is what redemption does
It takes your mess and cleans it up
It embraces
It persists
It loves

I call for a recount of God’s goodness!
I call for rejoicing for what’s to come!
I sing Hallelujah for His faithfulness!
Sing Hallelujah, everyone!

© 2017 • Chan’tel Nikole Grayson

5 Immunity Boosting Staples to Get You Through Flu Season #flu #kids #health #immunity

Anyone who knows me, knows that kids are my life and I’m connected to them everywhere I turn.  They are adorable, hilariously honest, give the best hugs, and are full of love. Oh, and I can’t forget germs. Oh, the germs!  Unfortunately, many of these little bundles of love haven’t yet mastered the art of avoiding spreading their germs, so we’ve got to play defense!

For the most part, I steer clear of western medication and stick to natural remedies. As the temperatures change and flu season hits, I thought sharing this post listing some of my favorite natural staples to boost your immune system, was pretty timely.

It’s always good to begin building your immune system when you are well, but beginning at all is swell. All of these come in handy when traveling too!

Disclaimer: The below recommendations are solely based on my personal opinion, personal experience and personal research. I am not a medical professional. 

Here’s the list:

1. Ester-C

Now, this isn’t your ordinary vitamin C.  It has high absorption properties, it’s non-acidic, and it contains antioxidants called bioflavonoids that help rid the body of icky toxins.

Another awesome factor is that you can take these on an empty stomach. No excuses for skipping this vitamin! Seriously, it’s my #1 for a reason.

2. Traditional Medicinals Organic Echinacea Plus Elderberry Tea

If you’ve been sleeping on echinacea, I’m about to wake you up because it is a fabulous herb for building your immune system. For years I’ve been a fan of it, and also a fan of the brand, Traditional Medicinals, and their assortment of organic teas (Thanks mom!).  A friend hipped me on elderberry, and honey, let me tellllll you! Throwing elderberry into the mix makes for a deliciously fruity, lethal combination for fighting colds, allergies, viruses, and bacterial infections. This little tea bag is the truth y’all! It’s not the easiest to find, but Amazon also sells a 6-pack (totaling 96 tea bags) at a reasonable price, comparable to in-store prices.

Check out Traditional Medicinals’ Seasonal Sampler too!

3. Emergen-C

Remember Airborne? Well, swap it for 1,000 mg of this fizzling goodness instead. Jam packed with electrolytes, manganese, zinc, antioxidants, and 7 B vitamins…umm, YES! They have a wider variety of flavors than I once remembered too. You no longer have to choose between Tangerine or Super Orange…big whoop! I’m currently digging Super Fruit Pomegranate myself.

1 box contains 30 packets, and 1 packet is recommended for 4-6 oz. of water. Use your box sparingly if you’re just boosting and maintaining. I “Subscribe & Save” from Amazon and have a box shipped monthly.  Definitely don’t pay over $10 for a box of these bad boys.

4. Ricola Cough Drops

Riiiii-co-laaaaaa! If you are a singer or have a job that requires talking frequently, you can certainly benefit from stashing a couple of these in your purse or pocket before running out the door in the morning. These also help lubricate and soothe your throat while in cold climates or air-conditioned places like stores, churches, hotels, schools, hospitals, etc.

Like Emergen-C, they too have more flavors now, and even have the kind that ooze menthol and open up your sinuses if you’re into that sort of sensation. Ricola Cough Drops often range from 19 up to 130 count.

5. Mandarin Oranges

In my opinion there’s nothing like vitamins in their purest form. Mandarin oranges are a healthy and easy snack to pack on-the-go. Not to mention, the immunity boosting benefits of orange pulp continue working long after consumption.

Unless you have a citrus tree in your backyard, you’re probably heading to your neighborhood grocery store to pick up this little booster. “Cuties” and “Halos” are amongst the more popular brands of seedless mandarin oranges/clementines on the market.

You can munch on them in transit, throw them in your lunch bag, toss them in a salad, or quickly satisfy your late night sweet craving, all while boosting your immune system. They’re also pretty easy for toddlers to peel on their own too. For the win!

 

So, what’s in your stash? Comment below. I’d love to know!
Tis the season!

 

I’m Surprised By My Love For You #poetry #patriotism

I’m surprised by my love for you
I didn’t realize there was much still there

But in the light of such tragic events
I saw glimpses that you still care

Not in entirety, but you’re not all cold
and it’s so refreshing to see

How God resides in parts of you
and ignites the God in me

It was nice to find you beautiful
It was nice to find you great

I’m praying for you, America
May God’s will be done in every state

© 2017 • Chan’tel Nikole Grayson

Resilient Woman #Poetry #Resilience #Strength #Beauty #Encouragement

Resilient woman, how fine you are,
Taking out those knives drove in so far.
Resilient woman…so quiet, so gentle,
Never would have guessed that you could have went mental.

Resilient woman, How’d you get through?
Teach us, and pray for us, while we all pray for you.
Resilient woman, don’t give up now,
And don’t look back while your hand is on that plow.

Resilient woman, keep that smile,
Shine that light, this is all worthwhile.
Resilient woman, dry your eyes,
For this is all a blessing in disguise.

Resilient woman, don’t forget your praise;
A precious garment and weapon for all your days.
Resilient woman, keep your head held high,
And please don’t let it drop for just any ‘ol guy.

Resilient woman, I am you;
I am hope in the mirror as you face your truth.
So don’t ever doubt, all that you can be,
For God does miracles, just look at me.

© 2017 • Chan’tel Nikole Grayson

When the Wound Re-opens #Poetry #Prayer #Healing

When the wound re-opens
It’s a time to heal
In a proper way
While being still

When the wound re-opens
We can’t ignore
The pain that aches
The heart that’s sore

When the wound re-opens
It’s our day
To choose to turn
Whichever way

And dig deeply
To the roots
And to the core
Dig deeper
Deeper
Deeper
MORE

When the wound re-opens
EXCAVATE
And may all we find
Be faced, making no escape

May our ashes turn
To beauty yearned
Filling us with joy
Over lessons learned

When the wound re-opens
Pray for humility
To submit unto
The Potter’s wheel
Pray that all that’s bad
Be chipped away
No matter how much it hurts
Or how much we squeal

When the wound re-opens
Hope for something new
That leaves us unrecognizable in the best of ways
To position ourselves for God’s wonderful plan
And bring Him glory all of our days

© 2017 • Chan’tel Nikole Grayson